What’s that sore? 

Q: My new girlfriend has oral herpes. She got it by going down on a guy who didn't tell her he had it. Can I contract this disease by kissing her, French or otherwise? Can I get it through vaginal or anal intercourse if she only has it in her mouth?

A: More than half the population of the United States has or has been exposed to oral herpes. ("This? Oh, it's only a cold sore.") While the virus remains in your girlfriend's system, you are at risk only by direct contact with the lesion on her mouth or its viral shedding. While mouth kissing of any kind when there is no visible sore isn't absolutely safe, nor is her giving you unprotected oral sex, the risk is not enormous.

Q: After a few weeks of dating I was pleasantly surprised to find my new boyfriend's penis to be very large and thick. During intercourse it feels great, but in order for him to come inside me he has to thrust in and out for longer than I'd like — and it hurts. When I give him oral sex he comes with slow, soft, gentle stimulation. How can I get him to come inside me without having my head banging against the headboard?

A: Grow a tongue inside your vagina? No? OK, then tell him your preferences and practice, practice, practice. If the hard, thrusting finale remains your boyfriend's requirement rather than a preference, then try a position where penetration is not so deep, such as squeezing your thighs together

Q: I hope you can help me to understand my man. We have been seeing each other for close to three years and have done so exclusively for the last year. He is very good to me and my children. But we have never had intercourse, although we are otherwise very intimate. This situation is really beginning to get to my self-esteem, I can't figure out what's wrong. Here's what I do know: He has no difficulty getting hard. We engage in a lot of sex play but he never lets me perform orally or get him off in any way. He mounts me missionary style and rubs himself against me until I feel him about to come, but he always stops himself. He knows I can get off this way and it seems to turn him on, but there’s no real sex. He once told me that he was afraid he would wind up hating me if we had sex. When we first met I told him I had a pussy like a Venus’s-flytrap. I was just kidding but he brought this up years later when we were discussing our problem. He says I put too much emphasis on the actual act, that I should appreciate the fact that he loves me and that he is trying to be a good role model for my kids. The kids are really attached to him and their grades in school are much better. He is adamant that he feels no sexual attraction for me, but how can I believe him when he is the one who initiates the sexual play we do enjoy? I am a widowed lady in my mid-40s. I never had much of a face and now my body is going south. I can't help worrying, as his job keeps him around younger, sexier women. I also have a history of incest. I was raised to pleasure my man, to define myself by my sexuality. My partner knows this and he says that in some ways this is good for me, to realize that he loves me and will stick by me if we never have sex. Should I resign myself to a sexless relationship? He says he feels pushed into it. But after three years what am I doing wrong? I feel like the most repulsive woman on earth.

A: You two are a perfect example of the dictum that two people with pieces missing can’t create a complete relationship. You and your guy are having sex; what you are not having is intercourse and that's because your man is squirrelly on the subject. Do not for a minute think his avoidance of it has anything to do with you or the degree of your attractiveness. Since he doesn't see this avoidance as a problem, you probably can't look forward to any changes in that department. You, however, could certainly benefit from some therapy to deal with your self-image. When you feel more complete, not solely like an increasingly unattractive incest victim, you can make a more informed decision about whether you can live within a relationship that offers benefits for your children but no intercourse for you. Isadora Alman is a board-certified sexologist and a California-licensed marriage-and-family therapist. Contact her via this paper or askisadora@aol.com. Her Sexuality Forum is at

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