How to Do It

My Boyfriend’s Idea of Sex Talk Is About Monogamy and Growing Old Together

It’s kind of a buzzkill.

A woman stares listlessly into the distance while a man leans over her with glowing neon hearts in his eyes.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to howtodoit@slate.comNothing’s too small (or big).

Dear How to Do It,

I’m am a 35-year-old woman with a 35-year-old man. We have been dating for half a year now, he is absolutely perfect, and I’ve never loved a person as much as I love him. I don’t want to say our sex is a problem—it’s really not. It’s extremely satisfying and I’ve never orgasmed better in my life. The thing is what turns him on is talk of love, monogamy, growing old together—stuff I love to hear. Our sex is very loving, and we have a great emotional connection every time. But sometimes I just want to be screwed, if you know what I mean. How do I convey this to him without seeming like I have a problem with how things are? Usually we communicate well, but for some reason, I’m hesitant to bring this up. I’m really worried it will mess up the best relationship I have ever had.

—Talk Dirty to Me

Dear Talk Dirty to Me,

Gag him. Do it in the middle of sex with a literal gag, by placing your hand over his mouth, or by talking over him, even if you’re just repeating what you want him to do to you (even if it’s what he’s already doing to you). Drown him out. His sex style suggests that he could be easy to dominate, so take control and see if you can steer things in a more carnal direction without any awkward preceding conversation.

I do think that conversation is worth having, though, because you’re completely justified in your desires. To want wilder, more intensely libidinous sex is not to reject the loving kind; think of them as different flavors. Eat the same thing all the time, and it’s only natural that you’ll start to feel a little bored. We humans like variety. If you do discuss this with him, try framing it that way: You’re not asking for less, but more. It’s not an insult but a compliment. See if he’ll go exploring with you.

Dear How to Do It,

I am a man in my late 40s. I have been married for 10 years to a woman who I can honestly say is the love of my life. Since meeting her, I can’t imagine ever being intimate with anyone else. I grew up in a very homophobic environment, and throughout my 20s even suggesting that I was anything but 100 percent heterosexual would have been fighting words. Since I left that environment and actually met queer people and developed friendships, I’ve become a passionate ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community, as is my wife (that’s how we met). Along the way, I’ve realized that I am queer as well, and had I accepted this about myself when I was younger instead of having a string of cis female partners, I could have been with anyone, of any variety.

My question is: Should I come out at this stage in my life? On the one hand, I currently feel like I’m saying “I love you queer people, but I’m not one of you!” On the other hand, I feel like coming out would be like, “Hey, you’re queer? Well, I’m staying a cis-het man married to a cis-het woman for the rest of my life, but I’m queer, too!” On the … third hand, I feel stupid that this is even a dilemma for me.

—Still in the Closet

Dear Still in the Closet,

You don’t sound stupid to me, just considerate. There’s nothing wrong with being a nonpracticing queer, nor is there anything wrong with talking about it. You shouldn’t have to suppress your narrative for not measuring up to other people’s queer experiences or expectations. Inherent in the very concept of queerness is that normal is a myth. Your story is interesting, and your situation is one that I hear about so rarely I would say it qualifies as uncommon. You’re a queer queer. There are a lot of those out there. You’re in good company in our club.

Generally, large or ceremonial coming-out gestures signal some sort of major life change.
They’re useful not just for the person who can now live their truth, but for the recipients of said information, who now understand what pronouns to use or what demographics the newly out person is interested in romantically and/or sexually. You plan to keep living as you have been, and your queerness is a lot more internalized. And so, while I’m not interested in limiting your expression, I’m a big believer in choosing the right medium for your message.
As I see it, the most appropriate approach to presenting this information to others would be one of modesty and moderation.

Instead of hiring a bunch of floats for a one-man parade or commissioning a pyrotechnics display (“I’M … NOT QUITE STRAIGHT!” bursting into the air), it’s probably best to discuss your queerness when it’s pertinent to the conversation (as opposed to centering conversations on it)—and to be matter-of-fact about it. This will make it easier for you to be heard and keep people from suspecting that you’re just some straight dude jumping on a bandwagon, if you are in fact concerned with appealing to a judgmental cohort. But whatever: You’re fine. Disseminate this information as you see fit. You’re here, and you’re queer, so get people used to it.

(See how Stoya answered this question.)

Dear How to Do It,

My boyfriend and I (both in our 20s) love phone sex. Our relationship has always been long-distance, so our “oral skills” are so good that mutual masturbation over a phone call is much more satisfying than masturbating alone. We both view this time as essential for maintaining intimacy in our relationship and managing our sex drives. However, I am staying with his family until January. I had met his family before, but they live 10,000 miles away, so we weren’t close. They also live in a country that has extremely conservative views around ideas of sex, dating, and marriage. While his family likes me as a person and treats me very well, they’ve also told me they do not want to think of me as their son/brother’s girlfriend because they do not approve of his choices.

Recently, there have been a few incidents where our phone calls have been interrupted by his family. While their intentions are good, such as asking if I want a snack, it throws us out of the mood to be constantly interrupted. So far, I’ve made sure these calls happen at a good time when I won’t be needed (such as toward the end of the night), I’ve locked the door, I’ve been quiet, and I’ve communicated that I do not want to be disturbed when I am on the phone. But even when I ask for them to wait until I am done, they come back and interrupt us again! When my boyfriend tried talking to his family, they got defensive. When I tried talking to his family, they said they have the right to come into my room if he and I are just on the phone. But this is annoying for everyone! Is there a solution where I can protect and respect them while also keeping the fun in my relationship?

—Phone Boner

Dear Phone Boner,

I’m sorry, are you filming 90 Day Fiancé at the moment? I can’t imagine a reason why you’d be putting yourself through this intercontinental drama other than to make good TV. As an avid 90 Day watcher and reader between the lines, I don’t think that his family’s intentions are good. I think they’re purposely interrupting you because they don’t approve of your relationship. Why they’re hosting you for months when they regard you as their son’s/brother’s not-girlfriend is completely beyond me (unless a production company is paying them handsomely).

You should tread lightly. Who knows what consequences the tiniest baby step out of line could bring? Assuming that the very obvious solution of finding another living arrangement (including just going home!) is out of the question, your best bet is to ride this out till January causing minimal disruption, which may mean temporarily forgoing the phone sex that his family intuits so well. After that, never put yourself in this situation again. It’s not even worth the ratings.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m finding myself in a situation that I’m sure is not unusual, and I’m not sure where to start. I am a 41-year-old cis gay man. I’m smart, creative, attractive (so I’m told), and generally a good guy. I’m domesticated, housebroken, and I cook a mean minestrone. Here’s the problem: I haven’t had a date in almost a decade, and I haven’t had sex in almost five years.

There’s a reason for this. I have a ridiculous amount of trauma going back to early childhood. I have an amazing team at my back—therapist, psychologist, doctors—and I do the work and am totally compliant. I take really good care of myself. I want a date. I want to meet someone who’s a good guy who’s kind, sweet, attractive, and fun. But the ability to trust people has been literally beaten out of me, and I have a track record of dating pretty heinous people who have done serious harm in the past. I don’t care for bars. Dating apps/dating sites are super triggering, and I have some serious social anxiety, so meeting people feels like an uphill battle.

When I’m eventually seeing someone, I have the resources to be a good partner. However, my team doesn’t really have good info on dating, meeting, etc. So my question is this. How does a decent guy with some major but manageable baggage, who tends toward solitude and kind of doing my own thing, meet someone? Where in the hell do I start?

—Not Into Apps

Dear Not Into Apps,

Congrats on working through your trauma and for having a good sense of your boundaries, as well as what you want. That’s all very impressive after what sounds like a particularly difficult history.

Given your rather strict social boundaries, though, I’m sorry to say I don’t anticipate that finding a partner will be a walk in the park. Unless, of course, it is during a literal walk in the park in which you happen to bump into someone you fancy. Can you open yourself up to that possibility? If you will not meet people in the ways people generally meet in 2019—apps and bars—I think you may have to start looking in more quotidian forums. That means being relatively “on” much of the time and perhaps striking up conversations (at least some unsolicited) with strangers. Do you think you have the stomach for that? I think a lot of people don’t, which is exactly why apps and gay bars exist.

You can’t really remain in solitude and expect love to just show up one day like a random gift someone sent you from your Amazon Wish List. You’re going to have to venture out, and that will almost certainly mean leaving your comfort zone. To narrow your scope, though, try group activities: There are a lot of gay-specific clubs and sports leagues that your local LGBTQ+ center may be able to help you find. I’ve been meaning to check out a gay meditation group in New York that I heard about because I’m just so curious. I feel like guys in that group must get together in some romantic/sexual capacity, just probably in a rather chill or performatively grounded way. You could take a class of some sort. Guys sometimes meet at the gym, though that seems like perhaps the most daunting option. Do you have friends or family that can set you up? Straight people love to introduce their one gay friend to their other gay friend. You could also try a matchmaker, who will do the work of an app for you and charge you exorbitantly for it, but at least you won’t have to swipe anything.

—Rich

More How to Do It

My partner and I are a year into a three-year stint of long distance. We’re able to see each other every other month, and when we do, the sex is fantastic. The problem is, in between these visits, we have nothing. He’s ruled out sending nude photos because of privacy concerns (we both have moderately high-profile jobs), and when I’ve tried sending a moderately sexy message, he hasn’t replied with anything racier than some PG-13 euphemisms. I’m not going to force him into something he’s not comfortable with, but I am desperate for more. The lack of sexual connection is making me feel lonelier and further apart than anything else in the distance relationship. Is there anything I can do?