I, uh, fell down the stairs. That's all.
December 14, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

What to tell buttinskys about bruises from sex?

My boyfriend and I like to have rougher sex sometimes, and I really like when he bites me. I bruise pretty easily, so even though he's not like gnawing at my bones, he still leaves marks occasionally.

Sometimes it's in a place I can hide, but sometimes it's not. (I live in Southern California, where long sleeves and pants are not an option for covering up all the time).

Lately, I've gotten people asking about the bruises, either directly with "What happened?", or even worse sort of jokingly, "Did he (points to biter boyfriend) beat you up?" Both his co-worker and his mom asked me this and I'm not going to tell his mom that he likes to bite me when we are doing the nasty.

So, hivemind, what are some things I can tell nosy people who ask about my bruises? (Snappy comebacks, good excuses, something to diffuse the situation, etc).

(Oh, one more thing, I'm not into contact sports, so I don't have a believable out with that excuse. )
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (70 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to worry people, you could tell them you walked into a door.

Otherwise just smile coyly and say something secretive.
posted by devnull at 8:22 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Smiling coyly works ... for everybody but his mom. That really complicates things. I think you have to tell her the truth, because anything else could plant the seed of abuse in her mind.
posted by jbickers at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you have a dog? I get bruises daily from the dog accidentally biting me, knocking me into things, etc.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2010

Just bat your eyes and say, "Love bruises!" and let them wonder if you are kidding or not.
posted by hermitosis at 8:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Oh MY GOD! It was the weirdest thing, I was walking along the street and this homeless dude comes out of nowhere and BIT me!!! What the hell? And now I'm kind of feverish, and ........BRAAAAAINS!!"

"Damn, I have no idea. I get random bruises and I just don't remember. I hear that's common when you black out."

Of course, there's the Miss Manners appropriate response,
"Thank you so much for your concern."
posted by teleri025 at 8:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

You have two choices here: stop getting bruised where people can see, or deal with the fact that eventually you are going to be asked if you are being abused and realize that no snappy comeback or excuse is going to get you out of that one. Hell, even the truth might not get you out of that one, easily.
posted by griphus at 8:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

"Oh, who knows? I bruise if you look at me weird."
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2010 [52 favorites]

Also, there are plenty of extremely lightweight or sheer garments that will cover you up in the summertime without overheating you.
posted by hermitosis at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

"What bruise?" *peer quizzically at bruise* mumble, mumble, "Man, I dunno, I'm always banging into stuff."

(I have this conversation all the time; in my case it happens to be true, so I sure hope people believe it!)
posted by endless_forms at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]

I bruise really easily, and that's what I tell people who ask. Even just riding the subway I wind up with mystery bruises.

If they're really obviously bite marks though, that may not work...
posted by JoanArkham at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010

"Oh, that? Yeah, I bruise really easily and hit my [body part] on the [piece of furniture/car door/railing outside our house]. You may have noticed, I'm a bit clumsy, haha"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010

posted by Greg Nog at 8:31 AM on December 14, 2010 [116 favorites]

I have a medical condition--thrombocytopenia--that makes my blood slow to clot. While it's not life-threatening, it means I bruise very easily. I sometimes have "OMG, were you in a car accident or something?"-level purple and yellow bruises. Yet I literally have no idea where I got them from--maybe I bumped into the doorframe? Or the corner of a table? Something so minor that you go, "ow," and then forget about it immediately. But if the bruises are visible people will ask me about them. I have sometimes gotten the half-joking, "You have so many bruises on your arms all the time that it made me wonder if your partner was beating you..."

I just shrug and say, "Honestly, I don't remember where that bruise came from. I bruise really easily." People don't usually push, and if they do, I just repeat that.
posted by not that girl at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2010

The trademark of good spin is never to lie and never to tell the truth.
posted by JJ86 at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]

Roller Derby.
posted by schmod at 8:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

A coy answer will likely cause your questioner to be more interested in your bruises rather than less, which is fine if you get a kick out of sparking their imagination as to the nature of your sexual proclivities but not so much if you really want to be discreet.

"Oh, we play-fight a lot and I bruise easily" would work for bruises that are obviously bite-marks without giving away too much insight into your personal life.

Otherwise I'd go with a version of medieval maven's or endless_forms' answers.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Oh, I must have bumped into something (Like my partner's teeth!). I bruise easily."

The italicized part you only say in your head.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:40 AM on December 14, 2010

Just say you bruise easily, since that's actually true. Basically, what you're doing is saying "I bruise easily, so it leaves marks on me when my boyfriend and I have rough sex," but stopping the sentence a little early.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:40 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think the longer the explanation, the creepier it seems. Something coy and short would be best... Things like "well, I hit [part] on [x thing] because I'm clumsy" would totally make me think something was up, especially if the person is often bruised. It's a stereotype, for sure, but frequently bruised women who make lots of excuses for said bruises automatically correlate with domestic stuff for me.
posted by ShadePlant at 8:42 AM on December 14, 2010

"The same place you got yours."
posted by The World Famous at 8:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is really no good answer. Well, there are two, actually:

1) "I like rough sex," and/or

2) "My boyfriend abuses me"

IME, anything coy makes it sound like you're covering up for #2. Be responsible and don't let him bite you anywhere that isn't easily cover-able year-round. Seriously. A (false) accusation of abuse against your boyfriend can get him in some deep shit if someone thinks you actually are being abused and are covering for it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

"I'm Batman!"
posted by chengjih at 8:45 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

I mean, can't he just limit his chomping to areas typically covered by clothes? I kind of figured that's what most people do and that's why you don't see a lot of people walking around with hickeys or scratch marks. I don't think I've had a visible hickey since I was twelve. (Is hickey even a word? It seems so Fonzie-retro.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:46 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

These what happened?! bandages might be appropriate but it seems like urban outfitters might not have them anymore. :/
posted by tangaroo at 8:49 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

A different tack: vitamin E and witch hazel are both effective in making bruises fade quickly.
posted by foursentences at 8:50 AM on December 14, 2010

You can say "Oh, boyfriend and I were wrestling".

This allows most people to divine what you really mean without embarrassment, while also allowing unusually naive people to think you and BF just wrestle a lot.
posted by emilyw at 8:52 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

There's makeup that is meant to cover bruises and/or tats - try that? Or have a small "bite ok" zone?
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:54 AM on December 14, 2010

yeah, i'd have to say that the answers supporting the vague to direct truth are best. if you tell a nosey friend/coworker etc that its from rough sex i assure you it will NEVER be a topic again. as for BF's mom, just say "they're "fun" bruises" and let her divine the meaning on her own.

posted by chasles at 8:55 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I move through the world like a pinball and always have some sort of idiot injury, often somewhere really visible like my hands and lower forearms (doorknobs are a bitch), and when people ask me about it I generally say, "What? Oh, I don't know" and put some real irritation behind it, as if someone just asked me about a rash or stick-out ears or some other tactless thing. It tends to stop them from doing it again.

There is, however, a very fine line between having fun that's not other people's business and walking around using the world as your voyeur. There's plenty of gnawable areas that would remain underneath a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, if you wanted to be conservative about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2010

"I got these bruises having fun."
posted by xueexueg at 9:07 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

"I asked where someone got their bruises from."
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:12 AM on December 14, 2010 [23 favorites]

I'd just look at them blankly and say, "I like rough sex."

They'll think (hope) you're joking....and probably stop asking.
posted by motsque at 9:15 AM on December 14, 2010

"Oh that? It's nothing." *move subject back to whatever you were talking about before*
posted by *s at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2010

With a shrug, "I bruise like a banana."
posted by workerant at 9:28 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have random bruises all over from being super clumsy and stupid people always asking them. I usual answer with some variant of the 'Oh I have NO IDEA where I got this stupid bruise. I bruise so easily!' thing. It never even occurred to me that someone would think my husband was abusive toward me. Honestly, I don't even think it occurred to the people asking. So my suggestion is to just totally sever the link between bruise == rough! sex! in your mind when you're out and about so that when someone asks about a bruise, it's more 'this old thing?' with a roll of the eyes and less 'Oh no! Now you're going to find about all this awesome rough sex I'm having!!!' with the panic and coyness and the made-up excuses.
posted by flail at 9:29 AM on December 14, 2010

For general inquiries, "I bruise easily." People jokingly asking if your boyfriend beats you I would icily inform that abuse is not a joking matter, followed by "I bruise easily." I wouldn't tell more of the truth than that unless someone took me aside and seemed genuinely concerned.

Arnica gel heals bruises quickly for me. Vitamin C is another common suggestion, but I haven't tested it myself.
posted by momus_window at 9:30 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love love love this question because I was in the exact same situation a few months ago: my SO's biting left bruises - oddly enough not bite marks, just bruises - on my upper arms on enough occasions a friend jokingly noted the bruises in front of a group at a party. I laughed it off, but within the hour I was taken aside at a party and quietly, seriously asked what was going on.
She did not ask if I was being abused, just simply said, "OK, seriously, what's with the bruises?" I didn't offer an excuse or explanation, I just looked her dead in the eye and said, "Everything is fine, there is nothing going on that is or ever will be of concern. Okay?"
Shockingly, this worked. I also asked my SO if he'd relocate his preferred biting area onto clothing covered areas for a few weeks. The combination of these things seems to have worked.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:37 AM on December 14, 2010

I just look at the bruises quizically and say, "Oh, I'm not sure, I hadn't noticed them, but I bruise really easy and I run into things constantly." These are both true statements, so it works for me.
posted by stormygrey at 9:38 AM on December 14, 2010

"We have a lot of tickle fights," you say with a chipper smile. "I bruise easily."

Those not in the know laugh it off. Those in the know blush and stop asking nosy questions. Everyone wins.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:44 AM on December 14, 2010

I woke up with a random assortment of bruises the other day (as I requently do over the weekend...) one of which was a little bite mark. Was concerned until I remembered I had played with a puppy the day before.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2010

The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.

(Tell them that.)
posted by phoebus at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

Say whatever with a big ol' dreamy smile and a happy sigh and a faraway look. This plus "Oh, you know..." works for me.

No one is going to take abuse charges from a 3rd party seriously enough to ruin his life.

I did have a nurse ask some pointed questions about inner-thigh bruising right before surgery but "my boyfriend...it's consensual" with the aforementioned look of contentment took care of that. No hospital social worker visit or anything.

I sympathize-- shoulders and arms are bite-able in a rather unique way because of their location and shape.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2010

Ironically, you get high-fives and "DUDE!" if the genders are reversed in your scenario. Had an ex who loved to bite and treated my back like a cats scratching post. But the answer to queries about bruises and scratches are the same as everyone above:

"That's not anything that you need concern yourself with."
posted by elendil71 at 10:27 AM on December 14, 2010

"sex injury", said with a total stone face.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mod note: few comments removed - stay on topic or go to metatalk, folks
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:07 PM on December 14, 2010

Slowly break out in an evil/mischievous grin. Raise one eyebrow.

"Are you sure you want to know the answer to that question?"

Worked pretty well on my parents. They changed the subject so quick that their conversation redshifted. Or maybe that was just them blushing, as is fitting and proper. Nosy parkers.
posted by kataclysm at 12:18 PM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]

"Don't worry, it was fun. But the details are on a need-to-know basis. Do you need to know?"
posted by ottereroticist at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

I like kataclysm's answer even better. This kind of thing is only for people you are close with, who might legitimately be concerned for your safety. Strangers should get the more neutral "Oh, I bruise really easily."
posted by ottereroticist at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2010

I don't have anyone biting me during sex or knocking me around but I do bruise extremely easily. I always have some kind of bruise on my body somewhere. Plus I'm a klutz.

So just tell people that. "I'm a klutz and I bruise easily." It's as believable as anything else since it's absolutely true for some of us. Then again, maybe a lot of friends secretly think I'm being abused, who knows?
posted by katyggls at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2010

"You shoulda seen the other chick!"
posted by Danf at 12:45 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are they too small for a band-aid? I think bruises usually mean "a good/funny story" in nosy people's minds, so they ask. Asking about what's underneath a band-aid I think will throw-up more of a boundary flag for people. And anyone who isn't deterred can be told whatever you want -- it's not like they're going to make you show them.

And those big square band-aids like the ones they use at the doctor, or even gauze and surgical tape, will make people think "doctor" and that it's none of their business. This works especially well with co-workers because medical issues are usually off-limits for nosiness in the workplace. They'll think you had a biopsy or blood taken or something.

But ultimately I'm wondering where these bite marks are that they're showing. If you just can't control yourselves in the bedroom, buy longer shorts, or a one-piece bathing suit, or higher-rise jeans. Maybe if your husband understood the comments you're getting, especially from people wondering whether he's abusive, and that those comments make you uncomfortable, he'll start being a little more careful.
posted by thebazilist at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2010

Whoops, your boyfriend.
posted by thebazilist at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2010

"Eh. You can't put on a costume and make Gotham safe from crime without getting a little banged up on occasion." or "Every once in a while the super-villain gets in a lucky shot."

Or you're in SoCal - how about "Yeah yeah, I thought taking a night job as a stuntperson was gonna be SO EASY..."
posted by phearlez at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2010

at the risk of being deleted again, i'll say just that (1) there are people who are abused, (2) often that abuse shows up on bodies, (3) sometimes reasonable people will do or say something to try to stop it, and (4) this is a good thing. if you're going to knowingly display what can be interpreted as typical signs of abuse, worrying less about whether someone interprets it as such than whether they will say something, the victims of real abuse aren't going to be particularly well served if you're going to use that as an opportunity for a snappy comeback or coy evasion.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:30 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Crime ain't gonna fight itself you know."
posted by dougrayrankin at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mod note: comment removed - do not start a derail about abuse issues. email each other directly. Sorry folks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:04 PM on December 14, 2010

"They're fun bruises" or "I like rough sex" is the only type of answer that's going to convince people to stop worrying if they're already concerned that he's physically abusing you.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't support making it a joke. If a friend took that route with me, I'd worry more. That they were being abused but were in denial about it. I'd say that I bruised easily and be vague and confused about how it happened. Or say you've occasionally taken up indoor climbing or something that causes bruises.

Seriously though, jokes would worry me more.... but the truth would too. If a friend of mine was regularly covered in bruises and told me it was from their partner, sex or otherwise, I would worry about him/her.
posted by taff at 6:00 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

If they look like generic bruises and not specifically bite marks, you can blame martial arts classes. (It helps if you actually take martial arts classes.) I bruise easier than overripe fruit and that has gotten everyone off my back with no follow-up questions.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:46 PM on December 14, 2010

Please don't say, even jokingly, that someone abuses you if you aren't abused. My friend was having a routine test in the hospital (she needed a ride so I drove her) and when the nurse asked her if she felt safe at home, she made some joking comment about her husband abusing her (I'd been asked to step out so I wasn't there for the comment) and they started filling out paperwork and made her get on the phone with the local domestic violence shelter. It was embarrassing for both of us.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:05 PM on December 14, 2010

Every few weeks, the last thing I remember is seeing the full moon rise, then I wake up a day later, my clothes in shreds, thistles all through my hair, covered in mud and scratches and bruises and blood.

And the REALLY weird part is, the blood never seems to be mine!

I also feel really lethargic even though I've only just woken, kind of that feeling you get after thanksgiving dinner
posted by -harlequin- at 11:04 PM on December 14, 2010

"Lumpy mattress.........." and walk away.
posted by Taurid at 11:32 PM on December 14, 2010

Can you take up a rough hobby to blame it on? Someone above mentions martial arts, but it could be roller blading or something else.

If you really want to be convincing, take a pic of you and BF on roller blades. You don't have to do it often, just every 6 months or so to update the pic.

Then when someone asks, you have a ready made excuse - "I fell roller blading. Here is a pic!".
posted by I am the Walrus at 6:07 AM on December 15, 2010

"I bruise easily". If they push it just repeat, "like I said, I bruise easily", and give them that long level look that says "If you ask me this question a third time you will wish you hadn't."

Really, some people are so damned nosy.
posted by Decani at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2010

You just have to draw a line; it's none of their business. But I don't say this out of principle, I say it because of stuff like this:

taff: Seriously though, jokes would worry me more.... but the truth would too. If a friend of mine was regularly covered in bruises and told me it was from their partner, sex or otherwise, I would worry about him/her.

A lot of people will think they know better than you; even if they do know the truth. You can't really stop this judgemental behavior, but you can at least put them on notice that it's unacceptable have them stop.

"Don't worry about it, Mom." That should get the message across. If they make a joke or imply something about abuse, you need to tell them that isn't funny and offensive to you and your boyfriend.
posted by spaltavian at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2010

I'd go with a shrug and "I bruise easily." Hopefully you can say it without blushing. Blueberries are good for bruises, as far as I know.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2010

I bruise easily too and I usually just tell people I get random bruises and forget where they came from a lot. I also sometimes tell them I think I have a secret ninja identity that I do not consciously know about and she gets up and fights crime in the night because that is the only thing that makes sense to me.
posted by NoraReed at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2010

Also, I would steer clear of the covering-up-with-long-sleeves when it is seasonally inappropriate to do so. It'll save you questions from random strangers, but it might raise red flags with people who see you routinely -- I was always taught that wearing clothing designed to cover bruises/scars/marks is a major warning sign of domestic violence, IV drug abuse, and/or self-injury. Personally, I'd be more worried about someone who was covering up bruises than I would be about someone who had a visible bruise but wasn't acting self-consciously about it, and I'd be much more likely to take them aside and ask them if things were OK.

And yeah, don't make my smartass comment to people you don't know all that well - the Miss Manners-style icy courtesy works well to deflect questions while respecting others' boundaries. But I promise that if you say it once to a family member, you will never ever hear another peep from them on the subject.
posted by kataclysm at 7:58 AM on December 16, 2010

I bruise very very easily - I once had a bike fall that left me looking like I'd been sexually assaulted (landed right on my chest and caught my inner thigh on the saddle on the way down). I also accidentally cut and burn myself a lot, and I have bouts of dermatillomania. I've only had people comment on it when it's been really bad (and I pre-empted it with the bike fall) as most people don't want to be seen as nosey, so I imagine you're pretty bruised up. If 'I bruise easily' isn't enough (and people WILL worry if you're looking like you've been beaten up) then you need to think about where your bruises are going to go and talk abotu it with your partner.

Your other option is using Dermablend to cover them up - this stuff is often used by burn victims or self-harmers and it will cover up the marks.
posted by mippy at 8:59 AM on December 16, 2010

I bruise easily, ALL THE TIME. for no reason. a lot of the time, it looks like it is either from option #1 or option #2 mentioned above, even though it is not. So I'm not lying when I say 'I honestly have no idea, I just bruise really easily!"

I suggest you use the same line, even though for you it might be a lie. People really don't need to know anything about your sex life.
posted by custard heart at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2010

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