How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to firstname.lastname@example.org. Nothing’s too small (or big).
Every Thursday night, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.
Dear How to Do It,
I have a dilemma. I’m a married woman, and my husband and I have a great relationship. I’m the one who pretty much takes care of everything outside the bedroom, so I prefer my husband to be more dominant and take charge in the bedroom. However, he tends to be a considerate lover, which means he asks a lot of questions like, “Are you OK?”; “Does this feel good or right?”; “Am I hurting you? Other than the occasional “you’re on my hair!” moment, which I am vocal about, the other questions are totally unnecessary. I’ve reassured him before, during, and after that he’s doing great, and I have brought up several times that I find the questions distracting, especially when I’m in the middle of an orgasm and they take from the moment. How do I start nudging him to be a little more dominant and to stop asking questions?
—Just Do It
Stoya: Like many a sex problem, the fix is talking about it.
Stoya: So bring it up, and be blunter this time. Say, “These questions are interrupting my orgasms/sucking the joy out of them/whatever is going on. How can we make them stop?”
Rich: Yeah, no more Mrs. Nice Ruined Orgasm. It’s time to be less gentle with this. I also suspect this guy may have submissive tendencies.
Stoya: Which isn’t necessarily a disaster. She might be able to enjoy topping from the bottom, and he might be able to submissively cater to her dominant man desires—if at the end of the day, he’s doing what she wants, then he’s servicing.
Rich: Yes, 100 percent. I get why the mad question-asking is annoying.
Stoya: Oh for sure. I’m not much of a talker. Instruction-giver when need be, sure, but talking not so much.
Rich: While I understand that he’s trying to be a good communicator, ideally you’d have a partner who’s a bit more intuitive, since the primary communication medium at hand isn’t verbal but sexual.
Stoya: So many possibilities: submissive, poor memory, just bad with listening.
Rich: Some people just have the damnedest time learning, too.
Stoya: Some people need something repeated a few times.
Rich: No matter how often I tell my boyfriend that the toilet paper goes OVER the roll and not under, he still does it under. This is my cross to bear.
Stoya: And I had one boyfriend who had to be told repeatedly that slow means slow. Exasperating levels of repetition. He wanted to get it. He got it, eventually.
Rich: Is it possible to turn the question-thwarting into a game? Every time he asks, he gets spanked or some kind of erotic punishment, if he’s in fact into that? Though that might make him want to do it more.
Stoya: Spankings don’t work as punishment.
Rich: I’m starting to understand that.
Stoya: Is it possible for him to use commands instead of questions? “Tell me how good that feels”?
Rich: That’s clever.
Stoya: If he could habituate that, it could basically cure the problem. Then he can get the positive reinforcement/check-in that he needs, and she’s being dominated.
Rich: I flagged this: “I’m the one who pretty much takes care of everything outside the bedroom, so I prefer my husband to be more dominant and take charge in the bedroom.” Could it be that he’s just following her lead? That kind of power reversal is not necessarily intuitive for all who enter the bedroom, though I certainly understand where our letter-writer is coming from.
Stoya: He’s possibly unsure how to take charge.
Stoya: Since she does it outside the bedroom, it’s implied that he doesn’t. There are books and classes on domination. A lot of things can be learned, and there are plenty of places for him to get ideas from. She could select erotica and porn to show him what she likes and fantasizes about.
Underline passages in how-to books that feel appealing to her.
Rich: And also, it’s probably worth discussing why he feels the need to hover the way he does.
Stoya: Great catch.
Rich: I mean, he’s asking her if she feels good in the middle of her orgasm?
Stoya: Does she have really quiet orgasms?
Rich: Could be. Maybe he just needs more of a heads-up. Maybe she isn’t quite communicative enough for him, and there’s a meeting halfway that could take place.
Stoya: Yes. As long as she’s OK with volunteering that she’s about to orgasm, this is a neat solution. And who knows, maybe with enough familiarity he’ll recognize them himself.
More How to Do It
I am a woman seeing a new man, and we waited a few dates to sleep together, mostly because he didn’t try. When we did have sex, he was sheepish to take off his underwear, and it turns out he has a small penis. I do prefer some size, but he’s eager and good at other things, so I am not too worried about it. (I’m sure he’s below average, if you’re wondering what I mean by “small”; I’d say 4 inches or fewer.) He eventually confirmed the reason he waited to initiate sex is that he wanted to get to know me a little bit so I wouldn’t reject him outright. However, he also told me that his past experiences with women, especially as a teenager, have given him a fetish to be ridiculed for his small penis. I guess it happened enough that it turns him on. Basically, he was embarrassed to tell me he likes to be embarrassed because of his junk. This just feels wrong to me. I don’t think it’s right for me to further pathologize a normal dick variation, even if he wants me to. I feel he should get therapy for this. What do you think?