Dear Em & Lo,
I recently hooked up with a guy from work, but unfortunately things did not end up well. While we were having sex I got my period and it was brutal. I was so embarrassed that I didn't want to finish. He was generally nice about the whole situation but things just haven't been the same. I quit responding to his texts and now things more awkward than ever. I have to go back to work but I don't know how to act. How should I handle this unfortunate situation?
You turned a little spill into a scene from "Carrie." He was nice about it, it sounds like he would have been happy to keep going and he continued to text you. But you? You freaked out, stopped responding to him and have probably been acting all weird at the office. All unnecessarily!
Look, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Accidents happen. You cannot set your watch by your period -- sometimes it shows up a little early, sometimes a little late. If you were at his place, you could feel a little bit bad about staining his sheets and could have apologized for that. But it's nothing a good soak in a bucket of ice water can't fix (plus, he should probably be washing his sheets more often than he does, anyway). And if you were at your place, then don't sweat it!
We'll say it again: The natural and normal occurrence of menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of or grossed out by. You're having sex: you're already dealing with mucous membranes and bodily fluids and semen! And do tell us exactly how semen is so much better/less gross than menstrual blood...? Oh, that's right, you can't, because it's not. They're either both gross or they're both no biggie. As a sexual creature who has to live with her reproductive system for the rest of her life, we suggest you embrace the latter perspective.
Actually, we insist on it. Because you are responsible for helping teach guys this lesson, too. While your coworker sounds like a cool, accepting, well-adjusted guy, your overreaction only served to suggest to him that there is something gross and unnatural and shameful about women's real bodies.
Unfortunately, the way you handled the situation was way worse (i.e. more off-putting) than the situation itself. You could have set the tone by admitting embarrassment but ultimately laughing it off and moving on together. But instead you freaked out and your freakout may have driven him away. The best you can do is work hard on getting rid of this guilt and shame, accepting your body -- and sex -- as inherently imperfect, and not taking it all so seriously. Then maybe someday you'll be able to laugh about it with your coworker.
Your bloody valentines,
Em & Lo