Stop With the “I love you,” Already
Kim Carney / msnbc.com
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 4/10/2008 8:55:51 AM ET 2008-04-10T12:55:51

Why would a man say "I love you" constantly? What could possibly make a person sneeze when aroused? And is there a solution to a small clitoris? Sexploration answers your most intimate queries. Got a question? E-mail us .

Q: I am a 59-year-old woman with a 65-year-old fiancé. My problem is that he is constantly saying “I love you” to me. You think this is not such a bad thing? How about 12 to 15 times an hour? He also expects me to say it back to him, like some robotic response, but I refuse to say it constantly because I feel it decreases the meaning of the statement. I have explained this to him, and he said, “but it is nice to hear it, too.” The more I refuse to repeat it to him each time he says it, the more he keeps saying it. What is wrong with him?

A: When I was a teenager I worked in a Baskin-Robbins, where I learned that it really is possible to get sick of ice cream. I consider this one of my life’s great disappointments. The idea that it is possible to hear “I love you” too many times from somebody you really do love, as opposed to the creepy guy down by the bus stop, must come as a disappointment, too.

Most of us are thrilled to have the usual "Bye, love you" as our loved one is walking out the door, or the good night "I love you" before turning off Colbert. But there may be an explanation why your man is going way beyond the more typical two times per day.

Andrew Christensen, a psychologist at UCLA and an expert in “demand-withdraw” couple conflict (in which one partner’s demands cause the other to withdraw) says that your case is not the classic model, but there are elements. Your fiancé is demanding “I love yous” and you are withdrawing them.

He can’t diagnose your situation, of course, never having met you and all, but, he says, “sometimes these are almost like compulsive acts. If he really does it that often, he could be seeking reassurance” that you do, in fact, love him.

His need for that reassurance could signal an underlying anxiety disorder. Just as a person with an anxiety disorder might check over and over again to make sure a door is locked, your fiancé might be checking to make sure you love him.

“There could be some sort of power difference he feels,” suggests Christensen, the co-author of the book "Reconcilable Differences."

“Perhaps he feels she is a wonderful catch and he can’t do any better, but she has more options," he says. "That could make him feel insecure in the relationship. Being directly or indirectly aware of a power differential can lead to anxiety and reassurance seeking.”

He suggests trying again to talk to your fiancé, explaining that this really is annoying, and if that doesn’t work, seeking some professional advice.

Q: I have had a condition that has plagued me since I started puberty. I sneeze when I become intensely aroused. Obviously this can be a mood-killer. Are there any remedies for this condition?

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A: Well, you could date a sneezing fetishist. Just a suggestion.

You may have vasomotor rhinitis. The condition is a kind of catch-all medical phrase that means, roughly, “You’ve got something screwy with your nose and we don’t think it’s an allergy.”

According to studies, it may be linked to your autonomic nervous system, but that’s a whole long story. The short version is that the blood vessels in your nose go all wacky when you are aroused and make you sneeze.

Treatments can include antihistamine or steroid sprays, and one study even suggested Botox. Anyway, see a doctor.

Q: I have a small clitoris and I’m pretty sure it’s leading to my not being able to have an orgasm during intercourse. My partner can please me with oral stimulation but I still feel like my sex life will always be lacking in some way. Is there any way to fix my problem?

A: Maybe you have a small clitoris and maybe not. I mean, have you measured? And then compared with a bunch of other women?

Researchers have, you know, and they’ve found there is a huge range (“huge” being relative when we’re talking a few square millimeters) of normal. And besides, you can’t really see most of your clitoris. It’s like an iceberg. Lots of it is below the surface.

More likely, as writer Mary Roach explains in her new book, "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex," it’s not the size, it’s the position — specifically, how far away it is from your vagina’s opening. Your lover may not be hitting the target.

So try new positions, like sitting on him cowboy style, or using pillows under your pelvis. One team with the New York City Department of Health (apparently taking time off from restaurant inspections) successfully experimented with something called the "coital alignment technique."

One more thing: As we have said before, and will no doubt say again, most women do not orgasm from intercourse alone. Close your eyes and chant that over and over, slowly.

Brian Alexander is the author of the new book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction.”

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