Welcome to "Ask MISTER CARL." I'm Carl Sandler, the founder of the gay mobile app MISTER. You can also find me on SiriusXM Radio OutQ's The Morning Jolt discussing gay dating and relationships. In this series I invite readers to share challenges that they encounter in their dating and love lives. Remember, there are many ways to look at every issue. If you disagree with something I write, be positive and share your own strategies or suggestions in the comments.
Dear MISTER Carl,
My boyfriend and I have been together for about nine months, and I couldn't be happier. He's smart, hysterically funny, and sexy as hell -- basically everything I've always wanted in a guy. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Perfect wants to marry me! Last week he asked a friend of mine what my ring size was, and now I'm terrified he's going to propose. I mean, I do love him, and I'm not against getting married someday, but we're both way too young for that kind of commitment right now (we're both in our early twenties). I don't want to break up with him, but if he asks me to marry him and I say no, that's probably going to happen, right? How do I stop him from popping the question for at least a couple more years?
--Not Ready for the Fairy Tale
Victory often comes with responsibility. Having the legal right to get married means that gay men and women now have to learn to manage the "joy" of engagement proposals, engagement rejections, and bitter divorces -- just like straight people.
Getting gay-married is a big commitment for anyone at any age. And most 20-something gay guys I know can barely commit to a B-side quarter share on Fire Island, let alone a life partner. In my experience it takes a lot longer than nine months to really get to know someone, so tying the knot so soon sounds like it might be a bit premature.
But never mind what I think. The fact is that you clearly aren't ready to commit right now, so you'll need to find a way to communicate that to Mr. Perfect before he surprises you with a flash-mob marriage proposal on YouTube. With gay marriage a timelier topic of conversation than ever, bringing up the subject organically shouldn't be too difficult. Ask him his thoughts about it over dinner, and tell him how you feel about it as well. If he is planning to propose and chooses to break up with you rather than wait for you to be ready, then that says a lot about your future compatibility.
Dear MISTER Carl,
I'm a gay guy in my mid-thirties who's more than a little paranoid when it comes to sex, especially STDs. I'm not shy about asking a guy his status before I sleep with him, I always use condoms, and get tested for HIV every three months like clockwork. Now I'm hearing about HPV and its link to cancer and (ack!) anal warts in gay men. And the worst part is, I've heard pretty much everyone has it and might not even know it, because men often don't show symptoms of the virus. I'm beyond freaked out! How do I know if I have it? Should I be worried?
--My Asshole Is Off-Limits Until I Get Answers
It would be great if rug burn were the only thing you risked during sex, but unfortunately, HPV is just one of many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you can get through intimate sex. Gardasil is a vaccine for HPV that is highly effective at protecting men and women against the most common strains of genital warts and anal cancers. Gardasil is recommended for gay and bisexual men up to the age of 26 but should be taken as early as possible (starting as young as age 11 or 12).
Since you are in your mid-30s, chances are fairly good that you -- along with an estimated 75 percent of all sexually active people between the ages of 15 and 49 -- have contracted the HPV virus at some time in your life. Some strains of HPV (there are more than 100 of them) can lead to more serious health issues for men (particularly gay, bisexual, and HIV-positive men, according to statistics), including genital warts and certain cancers. (Anal warts do not turn into anal cancer.) The good news is that most guys with HPV never develop any symptoms or health problems, and the infection goes away on its own.
Once exposed to HPV, the virus does remain dormant in your body, so taking steps to prevent reinfection and spreading it to others is important. Using condoms during oral and anal sex (and dental dams, if you're into butt munching) can reduce your chance of infection, but latex won't protect you 100-percent, since HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom. Sorry, guys, but abstinence is the only surefire bet when it comes to HPV prevention.
But you don't really think I'd recommend that, do you? Life is full of too many great experiences -- and orgasms! -- to live in fear. I'm happy to hear that you're proactive when it comes to owning your sexual health, so why not add getting to know your butthole to your to-do list? When you're in the shower, gently swirl the tip of your finger around the inside of your anus. Notice anything that isn't silky smooth? It could be nothing. It could also be an anal wart. Wash your hands, stay away from having contact with the area, and get your ass (literally) to the doctor's office to have it checked out.
Next time: "Can I get XXX with my BFF without it ruining our friendship?"
Have a question for me? Send it to AskMrCarl@misterapp.com.