How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to email@example.com. Nothing’s too small (or big).
After 26 years my wife kicked me out. She gave me many reasons, sex being one of them. Her biggest complaint: My penis is much too long and thick. It takes me over two hours to reach climax, and I usually want it again right after. She used to tell me I should be a porn star, but she doesn’t seem to like my size and stamina anymore. Here’s my problem: I’ve been madly in love with her for over 26 years. When I fantasize, it’s about her. If I have a sexual dream, it’s always about her. I’m only sexually attracted to her. It wasn’t that way before I fell in love with her, but has been for over 26 years. She says she still loves me but has to be alone for now. I’m in my 50s, but women have always flirted with me, and that hasn’t changed. I have no interest in them. I don’t want to have relations with other women; I made lifelong vows. But it seems stupid to keep only fantasizing about a woman who doesn’t want me around. I try to incorporate other women into my fantasies, but my mind switches the images into my wife. She’s not even my wife anymore; I can’t quit calling her that. What should I do?
Dear Dirk Diggler,
Well, think of it this way: You could be dumped and not have a huge dick, Superman stamina, and the reload time of a semi-automatic. At least you’re well equipped to get out there and have lots of fun, if and when you are inclined. But even not knowing how long you’ve been single now, I’m nonetheless advising you to wait it out. I’m sorry to say that this period will be very difficult, maybe torturous, but the good news is you will repair—we humans have an amazing capacity to do that. It just takes time. It’s beautiful how much you love your ex-wife. In fact, your devotion is so immense that it’s slightly disconcerting to imagine what could have led her to kick you out, since I have to assume it’s not just your endowment. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I think you just have to face reality. A good start would be to immediately cease referring to your ex as your wife; she’s not anymore, and you have to get that through your head. Breakups can be disorienting; they mess with your sense of self. The kind of love you profess for this woman makes me believe that she became part of your identity: You have whatever color eyes you have, you do whatever you do for work, you loved this woman. When someone breaks up with you, it can feel like they’re tearing out a part of you. What’s worse, maybe, is they’re allowed to do this and there’s nothing you can do about it. It seems so unfair because the purer your love, the more vulnerable you are when you lose it.
Part of you has been amputated; it makes sense that you have resulting trauma. I think you should talk to a therapist. You’re facing a huge life change, and the only way you will be able to handle it constructively is by accepting it, hopefully with peace and grace. A fling or two could really help take your mind off things, but since that doesn’t sound plausible at the moment, do whatever you can to keep from fixating on the life that is no longer yours. Take up a hobby or sport, meditate, go see every well-reviewed movie out now so that you are an expert come awards season. (Spoiler: Most of them suck.) You just have to ride this out so that you can begin living again. The alternative is to spend the rest of your life lonely and heartbroken, and as much as you want your ex back right now, you don’t want that. I’m sure of it.
Dear How to Do It,
I want to go down on my guy more often and for longer. What’s holding me back is that he’s thick, and I get awful jaw cramp after barely a minute. It’s not specifically caused by dick—I get TMJ pain occasionally, and my jaw clicks when I open my mouth. I also get the same jaw cramp if I’m eating something especially chewy or that requires me to open my mouth wider than usual. It’s usually fine if I’m drunk, but I really don’t want to have to buy beer every time I want to suck dick. Is there anything I can do to loosen up my muscles enough? I use my hands every time I have to stop, and he has a great time anyway, but I still want to be able to give a good long blow job.
Dear Big Mouth,
You have a lot of options when it comes to sucking dick—you need not approach it like Ms. Pac-Man to a pellet to give satisfying head. You can lick it up and down, you can focus on the head flicking your tongue on the frenulum. You can do a suck and stroke combo … but you know that. It sounds like you want to be able to suck dick with TMJ as if you don’t have TMJ, but that just might not be in the cards for you. I want to run a mile in seven minutes flat, without the benefit of a treadmill hurtling me along. I want to be able to multiply all double-digit numbers in my head and without using a calculator. But guess what? Not gonna happen. It seems like you’ve already made the necessary adjustments, and your dude is loving it. You’re doing everything right, except for conforming to this fantasy conception of what a perfect head-giver is. You have the lesson right in front of you—no one’s perfect, and that’s OK.
That said, I’m guessing that the beer is relaxing you. I’m not prescribing you any other substances, especially illicit ones, but like the truth, they’re out there. You can also experiment with TMJ-targeting facial massages, before and after you blow. I trust you’re using a night guard, but if not, look into that. Please don’t stress out about this—it’ll just make your head worse, in a few senses.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a cis woman in my late 20s with a very high libido. Frequently, I want sex a lot more than my partners do, which has never really bothered me because as eager as I am, I can manage without it for a day or so. I’ve recently started dating someone with a high libido as well, though we’ve gotten far enough past the new dating honeymoon that the randy three to four times a day romps have fizzled. We still have sex frequently, but not as much as we used to. Here’s the thing: My partner still masturbates. A lot. Even when I’m home and he hasn’t tried to initiate sex with me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with self-service while in a relationship; I even do it myself when we spend time apart or he’s at work. But I would never do it over the option of having sex. While he was home, especially! I think this is a hang-up of mine; it makes me feel self-conscious or unwanted, and I know that isn’t fair, so I need some straight talk. This is OK, right? People gotta do what they gotta do. Whether or not I’m just on the other side of the door while he masturbates in the shower doesn’t mean anything bad about relationship or our sex life.
Yes, it’s OK. People like variety, and many with partners find masturbation to be an ethical way to access the variety they crave without compromising their relationship. To help explain the widespread desire for sexual variety, Justin J. Lehmiller invokes the self-expansion theory in his book about the science of sexual desire, Tell Me What You Want. Said theory is, in Lehmiller’s words, “the idea that humans have a need to continually grow and expand the self in order to be satisfied with their lives.” He’s writing about nonmonogamy in that section, but I think it’s relevant in your situation as well. Your boyfriend is having sex with you, and he’s having sex with himself (and whomever else is in his head). It’s rare that a relationship sustains honeymoon-phase frequency for any length of time, so the drop-off you’re observing is to be expected, as you note. Given the evidence you’ve presented, there’s no reason to fear, but certainly keep an eye on this. You don’t want it to get to the point where he’s only masturbating, or even if he’s masturbating way more than you’re having sex when you’ve made it known that you’re available. Then you might have a problem on your hands, but you’re not there yet—not nearly.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a straight male in my mid-20s, and I’ve been casually dating a woman that I quite like for almost four months now. However, for the past month or so I’ve been having trouble getting and maintaining an erection when we’re in bed together. We still have an active sex life, but I feel like this is going to become a bigger issue between us if it continues.
The problem is that I’m not sure whether this is a physical issue or an emotional one. We weren’t intimate for a few weeks, and the first time we slept together after that was when it started. I first thought that we were just out of practice, but the same thing has happened the next few times (I’m definitely still attracted to her, and I always look forward to our time together). At the same time, we’ve never had a discussion about our relationship and whether we should take it to the next level or not. I’ve been laying the groundwork for that conversation, but the fact that I don’t have much of an idea where we stand has been really bothering me. I’m genuinely not sure which of these has been causing my inability to get hard. Is stress a common cause of erectile dysfunction? Or is there some physical issue that I should work on trying to fix?
Relax, you might just be stressed. Stress is absolutely a known cause of erectile dysfunction, but so are many other things: a lack of sleep, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and the list goes on. In one way (and only one way), E.D. is a good thing for bringing to attention potential underlying issues that may have flown under the radar. It’s a real canary in a coal mine, but the only problem is that we don’t speak canary, so in many cases it merely indicates a short list of what could be going on, and it’s up to you and your doctor to figure it out from there. Talking to your doctor about this is not a bad idea. At the very least, he could prescribe you some E.D. meds. You may not need them physiologically speaking, but just knowing that you took such a pill can help alleviate stress, which is what may be causing your E.D. in the first place. Sometimes all it takes is one instance of an uncooperative boner to mess it up for those that follow, and proving to yourself that you can indeed perform is all you need to snap out of it.
What you describe does seem to be wrapped up in psychology, especially since you’re so young. Have the conversation about commitment that you’ve been wanting to have and don’t beat yourself up. You’ll only make things worse, and then they’ll get even worse from there, and you’ll spiral so hard your dick will fall off. Just kidding; it will only feel like that’s what’s happening. You will be fine.
More How to Do It
My wife is bisexual. I’ve always been cool with her playing with other women, and sometimes other guys. Recently we had a couple over socially and things got a little heated. My wife and the woman had fooled around before, but never with her boyfriend. I sort of figured we’d just watch, but then the guy put his hand on my thigh. I wasn’t really sure how to respond—I’ve never been with a guy and don’t think I’m interested. My wife was a little upset. I sort of suspect she and the other couple intended things to go in this direction, and I’m the only one who didn’t know. What should I do, in this instance and in potential future ones?