How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to email@example.com.
Dear How to Do It,
I am in my mid-30s and happily married to my husband for five years. We have a toddler and a fantastic sex life—better even than pre-parenthood. I had an intense crush on my husband for a long time before we hooked up, and he still gives me butterflies on a regular basis. We are very open with sharing our desires and fantasies, and we communicate really well about our sex life. This has led to us trying things for the first time that were unspoken desires in past relationships, and just generally having a lot of fun together in bed.
One of the things we’ve discussed semi-seriously is my husband watching while I have sex with another man. He says this would be a huge turn-on, and I am certainly turned on by the prospect. We’ve also talked about our fears and reservations about actually following through with such an arrangement, so for now this fantasy is fulfilled by simply talking about it (what would turn us on, what I would do, what I’d want the guy to do to me, etc.). Where I’m struggling especially with this idea is that as much as I am genuinely turned on by my husband, I still find myself developing crushes/admiring other men. The biggest turn on for me in this whole fantasy is thinking about the rush of sleeping with someone new for the first time—basically the excitement that comes with the whole gamut of experiencing new sensations with someone unfamiliar to you. While my husband views this as perhaps a one-time thing, it has highlighted to me that I am regularly turned on by the thought of sleeping with someone else. My question is—why do I still develop crushes and find myself pretty strongly attracted to other men when my husband already ticks all of the boxes? Is this craving for novelty a sign that things aren’t as perfect as I think they are, or is this normal? If so, how do I remain happy in a monogamous marriage (I’m not open to opening up our marriage) when I crave this novelty?
Dear Wandering Eye,
I don’t know “normal,” never met her, never even sat next to her on the subway. What I do know is that a lot of people crush on others outside their completely healthy relationship. Why wouldn’t they? Strangers can provide one thing your partner cannot: newness. With that comes a thrill. Thrills are fun. People have cited animal studies to argue for the biological imperative of promiscuity (even in females of the species), but I think common sense does plenty of the heavy lifting in explaining the draw of the other, no red flour beetle data needed.
Could you be inherently nonmonogamous? Maybe! There are plenty of people among us who develop not mere crushes but intense love for others outside of their primary relationships. The nice thing about life is also the daunting thing about life: There’s no blueprint. You feel what you feel, and if it’s not affecting your sex life with you partner—which I’m assuming it isn’t, given your report that it’s fantastic—this isn’t anything to worry about or a reflection of a deeper issue. You’re a human, after all.
The fantasizing about having him watch you have sex with another guy seems a bit fraught—you have both anxiety about doing it and also about continuing it. Just make sure you’re taking this slowly and keeping it from getting out of hand. Keep talking about this stuff. If you want to kick it up a notch, go out together and flirt with other people. Nothing serious, no promises, just a little light social frottage to get the juices flowing. You didn’t ask, but it sounds to me like you’re on the path to making your fantasy a reality. Keep up the communication, keep your eyes on your objective, have fun, and when the fun stops, let that be your signal to stop as well.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a cis hetero (with the occasional bi fantasy) woman in my 30s. My sex life has always been active but bland, which is … fine, I guess, but I want better and am newly in a position to explore. I’m excited for an upcoming date with a man I have a lot of chemistry with, but there’ve been a couple steamy phone calls that have me really doubting myself. He has been so specific, sexy, and confident describing all kinds of foreplay that sounds wonderful. He clearly enjoys the build-up and pleasuring each other in many ways, not just the actual sex itself—honestly, I can’t wait.
But I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing! For 15 years, with every partner, I’ve always skipped straight to the main event. A couple minutes of fondling, OK, then stick it in. I figured that’s what they wanted. Now, beyond regular penetration and blow jobs, I’ve got nothing in my repertoire—I’ve literally never even given a hand job. Also, while I have no trouble bringing myself to orgasm alone, I’ve never gotten off with a partner (or even with one in the room). It’s just never been the focus I guess. So … what do men like, beyond and before the sex itself? What kind of foreplay do you recommend? And any suggestions on upping my odds of an orgasm? I’m not a prude, but I feel like an absolute rookie here.
—Rookie of the Year
Dear Rookie of the Year,
What do men like? I’ve noticed that most that I’ve come across want a dick in their butt. That’s not very helpful for you! And I hope it shows why I cannot tell you what you or your partner will be into. You have to explore that for yourself. Luckily, you’ve got the perfect forum for that. Make this burgeoning sexual relationship your playpen. Learn through trial and error. If you can, just let yourself go and do what feels right. You’ve never given a hand job, so give one! Make out, play with his nipples, eat his ass, have him eat yours. The sky is the limit here. If this sounds too intimidating, just defer to him. Follow his lead. You could even exploit your novice status into some roleplay in which he’s the instructor. You know, if that sounds like something you’d be into. You said he’s been quite specific on the phone—have him put his money where his mouth is.
It also sounds like you don’t have much experience kissing, which for a lot of people is what foreplay is all about. So explore that.
In terms of upping your odds for an orgasm, I’d feel it out. Give this guy a chance, and see if he can honk your horn. If you sense no real movement there, attempt to integrate what is working for you solo, whether you’re using a toy or just your hands or whatever you do. Don’t feel embarrassed about it—so many people do this to climax during sex and, remember, this is for you. You get to help make the rules here. Your best bet is to relax and not put so much pressure on yourself to come. Now is the time to let the fun come to you.
Dear How to Do It,
My boyfriend has death grip syndrome. His dick is basically dead from jerking off too hard, too often. We have sex all the time—endless, pounding sex. While some might think this sounds great, for me it gets boring and later painful, as he pounds and pounds and never finishes. I don’t even think he can feel it, although I am fairly tight and also use Kegel pressure. I love giving head and do it all the time, but he can’t come and never wants me to stop, so I go until my jaw aches. I jerk him off until my arm hurts. He just never wants it to stop and never finishes. I love him, I get off with him all the time, and I find him endlessly sexy. He is hard and ready to go all the time. I suggested he ease up on jerking off so intensely and give his dick a chance to feel something other than his hand, but he said he just really likes jerking off.
My vagina hurts so much I have been using lube 24/7, even at work, just to keep it from bursting into flames. I don’t want to start dreading sex with him, but sometimes I feel aggravated. I always call a halt when it gets too painful, and he gets frustrated, which in turn makes me resentful (as I go ice down my undercarriage). Help?
Reading this made my vagina hurt, and I don’t even have one. Ouch.
There’s some controversy regarding the actual existence of death-grip syndrome (I don’t know of any major medical bodies that recognize it as an actual condition), and the Mayo Clinic does not list masturbation as one of the potential causes of delayed ejaculation. But I think messing with masturbation technique is always worth a try—good to shake things up in attempt to dishabituate. I’m with you in that I suspect his habits could very well be affecting your sex life and, perhaps even more urgently, your physical comfort. Something’s gotta change. He should maybe even talk to a therapist about this. Orgasms aren’t everything, but his insistence on eternal pounding with no climax sounds potentially compulsive.
Your body may be telling you that you aren’t compatible with his sexual tastes. I can’t diagnose you as incompatible, but it seems that’s what you two very well could be. I think you should approach him again and more firmly about a trial moratorium on masturbation for you to see what happens. If he won’t or, even more detrimentally, can’t, that tells you a lot about him and could help inform whether you want to stay in this relationship. Right now, you’re paying too high a price for this sex life with him. Have a serious conversation, intensify it with an ultimatum, if necessary, and in the meantime, have yourself a good sitz bath or 12.
Advice From Dear Prudence
My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years. Around 10 months ago we moved in together. Things have been pretty normal except one thing. Let me tell you first that I grew up in a house where we did not speak of bathroom behavior. As a result of that, I am quite uncomfortable talking about going number two. I am as secretive as I can be when I have to do my duty. Now that “Ron” and I are living together, I have to divulge certain information on a need-to-know basis. More specifically, if I have diarrhea. These times I have had to explain, “You may not want to go in there for a while.” The weird thing is, 15 minutes or so after telling him such, Ron initiates sex. I find it gross and confusing. He knows how uncomfortable I feel as it is. This has happened four times so far. He denies a pattern or that it’s unusual. Am I the one being weird about this?