How to Do It

A “Nice” Guy Suddenly Said Awful Things to Me During Sex

Is this normal?

A woman gasps beside a lit-up speech bubble with an exclamation point.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Christopher Jolly/Unsplash and Milkos/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to howtodoit@slate.com.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a late-20s woman. I recently went on few dates with a “nice,” cute guy, and we hit it off enough that I invited him up after the third date. When we started having sex, all was fine—uninspired maybe, but fine—until, when we were marching to the finish, he started saying pretty horrible things to me. First it was “whore,” then “you like that, you stupid slut?” and then one other thing I’m not even going to type. I was extremely turned off and wish I had said so immediately—if he had been paying attention to my face at all, he would have noticed. It was weird after, and he left. He is now texting me as if he’s confused why I was distant. I know I should have told him on the spot, but I was kind of stunned. Is there any hope with a guy who thinks it’s normal to do that? Does any man really think this is what a woman (or a man, for that matter) wants to hear, unless they’ve asked to be degraded? Others have told me this is more of a tic than anything for a lot of guys. Like, really?

—Verboten

Dear Verboten,

This guy showed you who he is, so believe him. I like to say that people who tell on themselves early on are doing you a favor for filtering themselves out of your life efficiently, but I don’t think being called a “whore” or a “stupid slut” or something unprintable qualifies as a favor. This guy sounds like a tool—a raging woman hater at worst and someone so clueless and socially incompetent as to be a liability at best. Worth avoiding, either way.

Yeah, people talk shit during sex. It can get a little crazy, and these words might seem ridiculous or even alarming in any other context. But name-calling without permission crosses the line, especially when it’s so hypocritical. (You were both having sex—what made you the whore?) You’re not a stupid slut for agreeing to sleep with him, but it’d be pretty dumb to do it again after witnessing his behavior.

That said, don’t be hard on yourself for failing to stop this guy in his tracks—you didn’t ask for this, and you reacted the way that you did. Completely understandable. If you’re feeling benevolent, you could tell him exactly what bothered you so that he thinks twice before his next impromptu degradation, but you are under no obligation to do so. You’ve been through enough. I take issue with the people who effectively have chalked this up to a boys-will-be-boys–type shenanigan. His debasement qualifies as a tic only if you think of misogyny as some uncontrollable force like the weather. But we know that it isn’t, and here’s a small way to help control both it and, more important, your life: Ditch this dude. If ever a situation justified ghosting, this is it.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a bisexual woman who is happily married to a man. Overall, our sex life is great. I have a higher libido than my husband, so sometimes it doesn’t happen as often as I would like, but he always makes up for it when we do it. He is great in bed. The only real issue I have is I really, really want to try anal sex. And my husband is absolutely, 100 percent against it. He says it is disgusting and he would never “stick it up there.” I understand his squeamishness, and I would be willing to, uh, thoroughly clean beforehand. But he still says no. He won’t even consider it. I have no desire to seek out anyone else to try this with. I love and want my husband, but he just won’t budge. Obviously, I don’t want to make him do something he isn’t comfortable with, so how do I put this portion of my sexual desire to bed for good?

—Patio Open

Dear Patio Open,

So often we hear stories about men pressuring their female partners into opening up to anal and the women’s ensuing misgivings. Vis-à-vis the typical narrative, yours is about as ass-backward as literally possible. Nice.

I think if he’s just not budging, you should take matters into your own hands, and your hands into your own butt. Or, you know, purchase a dildo. Or a butt plug. You could actually snag such a toy that you could insert during sex so that you have the anal stimulation you desire along with the warm body that you crave.

I’m not crazy about him calling anal disgusting, not for any personal reasons (I am secure in my wealth of firsthand experience that begs to differ) but because it’s demeaning to you and your desire. He should at least respect your sexuality, regardless of whether he wants to participate in all of its facets. Stay on his ass about that, even if he won’t go near yours.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m in my mid-40s, and I have been somewhat sexually adventurous the past few years. I have a new friend of a few months, Rach, who’s in an open marriage, and she has this stable of five or six guys she calls if she gets a hankering to play. She knew I was hoping to settle down with a nice guy, so she introduced me to someone she knows, Matt. She had told me she and this guy had boned once but made it sound like it was years ago. We texted, went out to dinner that night, and woah, sparks like I’ve never had on a first date. It took all I could muster not to take him home and rip his clothes off that night, but I played it cool. (We did sleep together the second night and it involved hours of passionate kissing, touching, laughing, and just amazing sex). Fast forward three weeks and we are both smitten. He actually blurted out the L-word less than a week after meeting, and I feel the same.

The problem is that I found out a week or so into things that Rach introduced us under the assumption that she and I would be sharing Matt, in an open-relationship sense. (As in I might say, “Hey, Matt, want to come over?” and he might say, “Oh sorry, I’m banging Rach right now.”) Before I knew this, I half-jokingly texted her that he was off the market now, and she got really quiet with me and started going off on him by text, saying I was being unfair and acting greedy. He says he doesn’t want to see her anymore, he just wants to be with me, and I believe him. I told both of them (because he does speak of her rather fondly) that we would table all discussion until June 1, and I could consider the idea of an open relationship at that time. I really don’t want to share him, but I worry that he’ll be bored with just me, since his experience of the past few years has been more “fun” than that. The worst part is that I know she was better at giving him orgasms than I am—he’s had a hard time coming with me.

—Open and Shut

Dear Open and Shut,

Ooooh. Drama. What’s funny to me about this rather unconventional, trés modern dating configuration situation you’ve got going is how many clichés seem custom-made for it. All is fair in love and war. If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed. You’ll lose him how you got him.

Sorry. Let’s explore. Rach has no legitimate moral standing to object to what happens after she introduced two people for the express purpose of intimacy. She has to understand, just based on her life thus far, that sex creates bonds, love is irresistible, and certainly not everyone is built like she is. She sounds overall like a lot of fun (minus the drama), and I sort of get where she’s coming from—it seems like she wanted to enter you into this casual fray she’s got going on—but her apparent belief that others must conduct their lives as she does, by banging willy-nilly without catching feelings, is myopic at best.

On top of her fundamental failure to understand the risk she was taking in introducing you to Matt (regardless of whatever conditions she thought applied), it is she who is being greedy here. She’s getting all worked up over one roaming stud when she has an entire stable. It seems to me that she wants both to conduct a lifestyle of free love and then restrict the loving within it. She can’t have it both ways, because both ways literally can’t exist simultaneously. The ethical thing to do when you introduce people is to respect their chemistry, however it develops.

I’m slightly disturbed that she confided in Matt about your behavior and not to you about his. While there could be any number of explanations for this, one of them is that he’s playing both of you with conflicting pledges of devotion. So be careful there. And you’re wise to be wary of the future and what it means for your current monogamy—many people like to invest in the fairy tale of The One, who is all things to you including your cure for the enjoyment of casual sex, but the truth more often shows itself to be that people are who they are. You met this guy in a freewheeling atmosphere of ethical nonmonogamy, and while it makes sense for him to deviate from that for a time, you may very well find that the circumstances in which you found him are his normal. That is, one day he may want to return to experiencing others sexually. Your tolerance for that may determine whether you keep him or not. So, make sure you are aware of what you’re getting into. If you need a more traditional, monogamous framework, don’t employ a nonmonogamist like Rach to be your personal shopper.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a straight woman in her 30s. About a year ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. It’s a long story, but essentially, we never successfully had penetrative sex—he wouldn’t try, then couldn’t get it up—before he dumped me for another woman whom he apparently has sex with copiously. Obviously, he and I were not a good match, and I’m happy to be out of that situation. But this left me feeling pretty insecure and sensitive about men who don’t want to engage in sex pretty early on.

Well, I recently started seeing a new guy. We get along really well, have awesome conversations, and seem to really enjoy one another’s company. We’ve been on almost 10 dates, and the most sexual contact we’ve had is some light kissing at the end of the date. I asked him whether he was the kind of person who needed to take things slow and told him that I wanted to be more physical. He said he has tended to rush things before, and he’s trying to take things slower now. He also said that sometimes he needs a push in the right direction with women. Taking it slower is fine, but this feels like a snail’s pace to me! I don’t know what kind of push I can give him, because he doesn’t reciprocate any kind of physical touch, and his whole energy just feels closed off to physical advances. All of this is starting to dredge up all the shitty, insecure feelings that my ex-boyfriend left me with. I don’t want to get in too deep with this new dude emotionally if he’s not going to come with me sexually (pun intended). What do I do? How do I push—or should I even?—when his words say yes, but his entire vibe seems to be saying no? Or do I just end it and look for someone who is clearer about his sexual desire?

—Tortoise Seeks Hare

Dear Tortoise Seeks Hare,

There’s a chance that this guy is jerking you around, but there’s also a chance that he’s just submissive and needs you to do the heavy lifting here. Are your arms built for it? Beyond the general difficulty of getting him into bed in the first place, if this indeed leads to a dynamic in which you are always initiating and then steering the ship, that may not ultimately jibe with your preferences anyway. But I think you should give it a serious try before ending things—he’s signaled to you how he wants it to be done, so take him up on the offer. While maintaining his verbal consent every step of the way, see how far he’s willing to go. His energy may indeed indicate a lack of interest despite his words, or he could just be wired in a way that is somewhat inscrutable and requires trust on your part that he’s enjoying himself.

But no matter what, don’t spend much more time on him. If your chemistry fails to satisfy you, get out of there. While this guy sounds … fine, even the nonsexual connection seems to leave something to be desired. (“[We] seem to really enjoy one another’s company” is so tentative and limp that you might as well be describing a relationship with a houseplant.) Plus, this is making you feel bad. If it’s not great this early on, when everything is supposed to be easy and the juices should be flowing, the chances of it improving aren’t great. You deserve better than passion-free love, and you know that.

—Rich