Campus Life advice

A dropped class and a dry spell

Auntie Matter on low grades and low sex drive

If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at Questions have been edited for length, clarity, and content.

Dear Auntie Matter,
My girlfriend says she loves me, but hasn't wanted to have sex the past two months. I don’t want to pressure her, but I miss sex, and I feel like it’s an important part of a relationship. How can I ask her about this without making her feel bad about it? What should I do if she simply never wants to have sex with me again?
— Sad About Sex

Dear Sad,

Auntie sees two questions here: how do you approach this discussion with your girlfriend, and what do you do if you can’t resolve the issue?

As for the first question, you should approach this topic as you approach any sensitive topic with your partner. Bring it up when you are alone together and both calm. Don’t blame her for how you feel, but instead state how you feel and what you’ve been thinking. Ask her genuine questions about what her side looks like. Has anything changed in her life? It appears from the wording of your question that you used to have regular sex. If nothing is clearly different in her life — e.g., she is experiencing unusual amounts of stress, she started a new medication, or something happened to make her feel differently about sex — then perhaps she should see a doctor to find out if something is wrong physically.

If, after you have this conversation, the two of you continue to rarely or never have sex, you will have to decide what your priorities are in the relationship. Are you satisfied enough with the other aspects of the relationship such that when you weigh the lack of sex against them, you still want to stay? How important to you is partnered sex? Are there sex-adjacent things that would work for both of you as a replacement for sex? Lastly, is the situation permanent? If you’ve been together a long time, this period may be part of a normal ebb and flow of your sex life, and maybe she’ll change her mind again. Ultimately there is no clear answer Auntie can give you, both because she does not know the particulars of your situation, but also because she does not know you. Only you can decide what sort of relationship is fulfilling to you.

Dear Auntie Matter,
What do you do when you’re in a class where you think you’re the dumbest? I’m in this class with all my friends, and they are doing well but I am not, and I want to drop it. I’m ashamed of the idea of dropping a class when everyone else I know is doing fine. Also, am I just dumber than my friends? I never thought I was before and this has me questioning myself.
— Falling Behind Friends

Dear Falling Behind,

First things first: if you can drop the class without repercussions (delayed graduation or overloading a future semester), and it is interfering with your happiness and ability to do well in other classes, Auntie recommends you drop it. The one caveat is that if the class is a requirement for your major, you may want to stay even if you are not doing well because if you drop you will just have to take it again. Also, it seems like you have some friends who could help you, which may not be true in future semesters. However, if it is not a major requirement, Auntie thinks you ought to drop the class.

Your question, however, is mostly not about whether to drop the class, but about how you feel about dropping it. You say you are ashamed. It seems like you might be worried about two different things: both how your friends see you, and how you see yourself. On the question of how your friends see you, it is worth noting that your friends need not know you are doing poorly in the class — people drop classes for all sorts of reasons. However, Auntie does not think you should go out of your way to conceal that you are struggling. Dishonesty is not a good habit, and the act of concealment itself will make your secret more shameful. Would your friends really change their opinions of you if they knew you were not doing well in some class? Is that what you look for in friends — people who get good grades? It seems unlikely. Your friends probably will not care if you drop the class. You can likely be open with them about why you are dropping it (if they even ask), and quickly discover that it does not change how they see you at all.

The harder nut to crack, of course, is how you see yourself. The easy thing to say here is that one class doesn’t determine how intelligent you are, and that you may be just as technically quick as your friends, just not in this particular arena. That may even be true. But you should try to contemplate and accept the harder alternative: what if your friends are just smarter than you? It would behoove you to get comfortable with that possibility, because it is likely that in your life you will not always be the smartest person in the room. Ultimately, you cannot dwell on changing the givens in a situation; if you are just less academically talented than your friends, you may simply have to be content with it. What you must do is identify your constraints, accept them, and choose the best plan in light of them.