Ugh, relationships, amirite!? All full of "other people" and "other people's bodies" and "other people's stuff touching your body." It's a recipe for Problem City: The Food.* For instance, don't you hate it when somebody finds your vagina repulsive, yet keeps putting his penis in it over and over? I certainly do. MORE ON THAT IN A MINUTE.
Now, there are a lot of relationship problems that are not only worth pushing through, they're genuinely rewarding to push through ("relationship" is actually Francais for "putting up with all your stupid shit because of snuggles"). For instance, maybe you like the window open when you sleep so you can fucking breathe like a lung-haver, and your partner likes the window closed because you're dating some sort of chemosynthetic prokaryote native to anoxic deep-sea trench-mud. That's a golden opportunity for you two to put the "PROM [night]" in COMPROMISE and have terrible sex on Jeremy's older brother's futon! With the window half-open. Or maybe you say "oysters" and your girlfriend says "ersters." Not as bad as it sounds! That person is probably a fucking freak in the sack because what is even an "erster" srsly wtf. Or maybe your boyfriend hates putting the new roll of toilet paper on the holder—like, pathologically—so instead he just leaves it balanced on top where it can easily fall on the floor and become covered in rogue pubes and spiders. (JUST A HYPOTHETICAL.) That's all shit I can work with.
But then there are some problems that just really, really aren't worth it. That line can be muddy—sometimes there isn't one monumental issue that cracks the thing open; sometimes it's an accumulation of smaller annoyances and incongruities. However, there are some non-negotiable bullshitteries upon which we can all agree. "I hate vaginas in general, yours is especially repulsive, and I will only touch it in the dark with a tarry barge-pole" is probably #1.
So. I'm just going to quote this Guardian "advice column" in its entirety:
My boyfriend of three years has never actively looked at my vagina or shown the slightest interest in it other than the usual foreplay. He performs oral sex occasionally but always under the darkness of the duvet and has admitted he doesn't find vaginas particularly attractive, joking that mine is especially repulsive. I feel hugely hurt and ashamed and his behaviour makes me consider him childish. He jokes that bodily fluids are disgusting and always washes after sex. I feel self-conscious and unattractive and worry that we'll never enjoy the explorative sex life I've had with previous partners.
Besides biological factors, each person's sexuality is created and influenced by early experiences: family attitudes to sex, friends, religion, along with the messages about sex received from school, the media and society. Your boyfriend's background may have made it difficult for him to be comfortable with his sexuality, or with your genitals. And like many men, he may have picked up a misleading notion of an ideal kind of vagina ("neat", evenly proportioned and hairless) from media images. Help him receive some sex education to adjust his sexual attitudes by inviting him to join you either watching educational DVDs or reading a well-written book that accentuates sexual and physical diversity (for example Our Sexuality by Crooks and Baur). Discuss the material as equal adults, not teacher/pupil, and reward him when he demonstrates maturity.
I'm sorry, I must have a cataract or something from too much eye-rolling, because I can't see the part where the Guardian tells that girl to BREAK UP WITH THAT IDIOT FUCKING YESTERDAY. I don't care how much you think you like this dude, and I don't care how "nice" he is to you when he isn't telling you that your fundamental anatomy (your literal fundament) is so filthy and revolting that he needs to wear a hazmat suit just to coexist with you beneath the duvet. That's not something that a loved one thinks, let alone says to your face when you're at your most vulnerable. Even if the "vaginas are icky" attitude can be explained away by weak "social conditioning" apologia, the acting out on it can't.
Not to get too deep into gender dynamics, but can you imagine a dude sticking longterm with a woman who repeatedly told him his penis was disgusting? And yet our entire culture telegraphs to women that our vaginas our disgusting and it's our responsibility to "fix" them. That our lady flowers (my boyfriend called it a "hag bag" the other day—KEEPER) need to fit some weird, arbitrary archetype in order to be free from shame. Now, obviously penis size is an issue, and I'm sure men and women struggle with comparable levels of internal shame about our genitals, but there isn't a whole industry built on penis-lightening creams and penis-shaving boutiques and cosmetic (not size-based!) penis surgery. It's really important to take a step back and examine whether or not every part of you is being treated with the respect it deserves.
Your boyfriend is not a "nice" dude, and he's certainly not a dude who's going to sit down with you, watch an educational vagina DVD, and be receptive to squirts of positive-reinforcement liver-paste. (On the upside, I didn't even know vaginas could play DVDs!) Certain things are not salvageable. Or, at least, they're not worth the emotional capital you'd have to spend to salvage them. If he expects you to treat his penis like a lime popsicle at an August outdoor wedding, while he approaches your vagina like it's a pile of wet dog shit he has to dig through to find his car keys, I'm guessing this isn't going to work.
Or you could try the DVD thing.
*Mixed metaphor, you say!? SAVED IT.
Image via Anna Omelchenko/Shutterstock.