DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I think I'm allergic to my boyfriend's body. Every time we start making love, I start sneezing. He works in construction and often has fine dust in his hair and all over his clothes when he comes home. I suggested this was the problem and he said, "Are you telling me I'm dirty?" I mean, he showers when he gets home, but I wonder if he still has construction dust in his hair. -- Sexual Sneezer, St. James
Dear Achoo: Experiment with this problem. Step into the shower when he's shampooed and squeaky clean and see if the shower is a no-sneeze lovemaking zone. Can you lie on a bed together without sneezing and coughing? (Bed clothes can collect dust.) Now try making love with him when he's just home from work and still dusty, before the shower. You may find the problem is not related to dust at all. Some people react to sexual thoughts and stimuli with sneezing. Recent research says it may be some crossed wires in the autonomic nervous system or erectile tissues in the nose that become engorged and seek release. Good news? Nasal decongestants can help sexually-induced sneezing. Other people just sneeze because they are nervous about upcoming sex. A psychologist or psychiatrist could help you with that.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I witnessed a case of elder abuse -- not physical, but the equally-damaging spoken words that reduce a person to feeling like a worthless burden on society. This lady received a tongue-lashing from her son that left her sobbing for hours. She blurted out later that death is much less painful than life, and that her greatest wish was to die to end the emotional suffering. She dedicated her whole life to bringing him up selflessly and to help him achieve success. She was his true guide, friend, philosopher, companion and a perfect critic, as she knew him better than he knew himself. Should I get personally involved by confronting her son or should I report this abuse to someone? Her tears have transferred over to my face. I cried just replaying this incident in my mind. A man may have 10 wives, but only one mother, so cherish her to the end! -- A Cry For Help, Winnipeg
Dear Cry For Help: She needs the son to change his treatment of her, but not to lose him totally, as that would also break her heart. If she is in a care home, report the incident to someone who could speak to him. If she's still in her own home, other relatives need to be notified about this, such as other children, or any sisters or brothers who may be alive. They need to step up to end this bullying. You have witnessed this and will regret if you don't help her. Your telling the son off is not going to help much, although letting him know how much he hurt his mom the last time he lashed out might help. Suggest social things they could do together rather than sitting and staring at each other during visits. Even a deck of cards and a cribbage board can take the focus off trying to make conversation. Also, ask the son privately for his side of the story. Not all mothers have been kind to their children when they were growing up. The words "perfect critic" stuck out in your letter. This doesn't excuse the verbal abuse, but it's good to know both sides of the story.
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