How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Dear How to Do It,
Recently, I went on a few dates with a man who repeatedly shared with me that he finds me gorgeous and is very impressed with my career, and I thought he was a great guy himself. I gave him head and he came in my mouth, which afterward he said hasn’t happened to him in five years. It was “maybe the best head of his life.” Dude never texts me after that night. I didn’t text him either because I had initiated our last date. I’m being sexually rejected all the time and I am a very, very attractive woman. I have an hourglass body, exercise all the time, and have a career in mechanical engineering. When I look at who swiped on me on dating apps, the feed is practically infinite. When I walk down the street, I turn heads.
Thus, I can confirm I am cute as a button to the majority of people in the metropolis I live in, and yet I have a really hard time being pursued. I will meet a guy, and things fizzle quickly. Dudes who know I’m single and horny have my number and don’t initiate plans with me, or cancel if I initiate. I am OK with casually dating and friends with benefits because I’m busy. I worry that since I am being ghosted often and have been flat out sexually rejected, too (I won’t tell that sad story), I am becoming desperate. Can they smell the desperation? What do you think: Is 2020 the year I masturbate myself into oblivion and take a break? Or am I just an arrogant asshole because I’m hot? If it’s the latter, help. Because it’s hard to separate being a hot chick from dating.
Dear C. Hendricks,
Your situation features so many variables that it would be impossible to single out the one cause. It could be something on your end, and it could be the guys you’re seeing. It’s likely some combination of elements from both categories. You also can’t discount the role of luck: Maybe you just aren’t meeting the right people.
In terms of what you may or may not be bringing to this, it bears reminding that while conventional physical beauty is a powerful force, there’s more to being hot. I can’t smell you. I can’t hear your voice. I can’t watch you throwing a fit at the barista who put foam on your triple-venti-soy-no-foam-latte order. So I don’t know for sure what it is about you. You wonder if you’re an arrogant asshole; if so, maybe that’s, in fact, making you not hot to some people? For the record, I thought your letter was funny, I love your confidence, and I hope that if and when you write your memoir, you begin the chapter about this time in your life with, “It’s hard to separate being a hot chick from dating.” Great line. You seem fun.
But it could very well be nothing specifically on your end. It could be the men or the dating culture in which they participate. In New York (and I’m sure other cities), there’s a thing people say about dating: “Everyone’s looking for the next best thing.” With so many options, who can blame them? For some single city-dwellers, wanderlust is rendered existential. One can get so wrapped up in the sport of hunting that he forgets to feed himself (or at least claim a trophy). I’m wondering, too, how much time you’re letting pass before fretting over perceived disinterest. I bet you a lot of these dudes would gladly hook up with you again in a few months because they’re taking the long lap. A lot of people are specifically going for quantity to the point of feeling like they need to keep you at arm’s length so your connection doesn’t become one of quality.
That can really suck. My advice to you is to be intentional. Casual sex time is fun, but your best bet is to designate it as such without any designs for emotional attachment; if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, acknowledge that you’re in a period where you’ve taken on sex as a hobby and realize that many people are busy and flaky and they think way more about themselves than they do virtual strangers (even those whose head game is on point). It’s actually a good thing when your time (or worse: your life) doesn’t go to someone who will take it for granted. I’m not going to advise you to curb your wanton boning, but sometimes connecting on other levels first—say, emotional or intellectual—helps foster a more lasting bond. It’s dumb, but some people remain invested in antiquated why-buy-the-cow ideas. You could at least try waiting a few dates before sex, or signaling how horny you are, to see if that makes any difference.
But otherwise, yeah, take a break. Even though you seem to lack nothing in the self-esteem department, it’d probably useful to focus on yourself as a source of validation as opposed to relying on others.
Dear How to Do It,
How can a couple convey they are monogamous so that potentially interested parties don’t start the threesome (or foursome) mating dance? My long-term boyfriend and I (female) are regularly “signaled” at parties in the liberal area we live in by other couples or interested singles. These are not sex-themed parties—it has happened at festivals, house parties, etc. It makes things awkward, and we usually just end up finding an excuse to move away. We’d like to figure out how to cut it off at the pass, but it’s all non-direct. We have nothing against polyamory, but we don’t understand why we are considered prospects. We are friendly but not flirtatious. Neither of us puts off a sexy vibe, and we dress casually. We like to have fun and crack jokes, but at the same time, we are just good party citizens—we’re trying to be chill people and hang out at a party!
But sexytime signaling (bedroom eyes, suggestive comments, rubbing up on) happens often enough that we sometimes dissect our behavior, and check in with each other about whether the other still wants to be monogamous (it’s always a definitive yes—we are both just wired that way). And it definitely feels like more than flirting. Is there a way to signal monogamy or another way to politely indicate we are not interested without coming up with an excuse to walk away? Indifference and body language never seem to get the point across: We like party-hanging-out with these people! We just don’t want get in an x-some with them and do want to “signal” that we aren’t good prospects and keep it friendly.
—Just the Two of Us
Dear Just the Two of Us,
Everybody’s horny for everything nowadays, huh? These ’20s, they’re already roaring. If I had to guess based on what you describe, your casual, laid-back vibe is exactly what’s attracting people. Chill is a turn-on. It’s not like the only people who get laid dress like they just came out of a lingerie shop on Hollywood Boulevard and dance like Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. Some people are just irresistible. I’d try to engage a little less than you already are. The second you get an inclination that someone is trying to be the meat in your sandwich, decline eye contact and look only at each other. If this seems too rude, make eye contact with the hopeful third and shake your head no politely. Or say, “No thanks.” Barring the spontaneous development of psychic powers or face tattoos that say “HAPPILY TAKEN,” you clearly aren’t going to be able to convey that you’re not down to swing with silence and inaction. You’re just cursed with being hot, and I’m sure everyone reading is very sad for you. You can either ignore annoying people or let them know they’re being annoying. Up to you.
Dear How to Do It,
My husband travels a ton for work (like six months out of the year). He has a more active libido than I do. I think once or twice a month is sufficient (with three small children, sometimes the last thing I want to do is be touched more!), while he would be happy with every other day if not daily, when he’s home. When he’s not home, he’d like photos and dirty talk. I am horrible at taking photos and trying to talk dirty. How can I be in the mood more? And how can I up my long-distance game?
—Going the Distance
Dear Going the Distance,
Look at this as an opportunity. Ask yourself if there something (like a kink or fetish) that would make sex more enticing or exciting for you, but for whatever reason, you haven’t felt comfortable sharing with your husband or asking him for. It’s time to explore what you may be repressing. If you’re more inclined to the vanilla or otherwise feel like all bases are covered and it’s the sport itself you’re indifferent to, there are a few things you could try to increase arousal. In The Vagina Bible, Jennifer Gunter writes that some women purposely contract their pelvic floor muscles to increase arousal. So start doing kegel exercises. There are also devices (like the FDA-approved Eros) that provide direct suction on the clitoris to aid in arousal. You may also find it useful to think differently about sexual response—via her influential model of female desire, Rosemary Basson suggests arousal need not be spontaneous. It can also be responsive, resulting from emotional intimacy. Do you have sufficient emotional intimacy (feelings of security, for example) with your husband?
In terms of selfies, I suggest asking what your husband likes and just doing that. You have an audience of one to serve, so you can perform your consumer research directly. For more ideas, you can check out Instagram thirst traps or Google tips to take sexy selfies (believe me, there are tons of suggestions). The nice thing about camera phones is they give you essentially infinite opportunities to snap away until you get things right, costing you only time and battery life.
Of course, you are also obligated to do none of this. Some people aren’t that into sex and are not inclined to get thotty by themselves in front of mirrors. You have three young kids and your husband is gone six months of the year—it is not negligent to keep sex a lower priority. You’re a conscientious partner for even wanting to adapt to your husband’s tastes, and I’m sure that manifests in other areas of your shared life. Whether you develop into an insatiable, selfie-taking sex kitten or stay just as you are, he’s lucky to have someone who cares as much as you do.
Dear How to Do It,
I am an attractive 42-year-old gay guy who has had a very unsatisfactory sex life, due to three things: I have a small penis; I have a serious case of ED (Viagra helps, but not much); and when I do have anal sex (as a top), I come within seconds after penetration … and then it’s over. I’ve been wondering about topping guys with a strap-on dildo. But not a single man has been interested—in fact, they recoil at the idea. For me, sex as a top is even more of a psychological sensation than a physical one, and I would be perfectly OK if only my partner were to orgasm.
How common is it for gay men to have sex this way? It seems like I’m the only one. And how can I address this issue with potential partners so that they’re comfortable having sex this way? By the way, I’ve already been seen by an endocrinologist and am being treated for low T, but the doctor hasn’t been able to figure out why I’m having this issue at such a young age.
Dear Triple Whammy,
Anecdotally, man-on-man strap-on sex isn’t very common, at least among cis dudes. I’ve never had anyone suggest or request it in my years of bedroom travels, and I have rarely seen it pop up in amateur videos on sites like Xtube. I think strap-on wearing is most strongly associated with people with vaginas, which is probably why gay men don’t engage with or recoil from the idea of incorporating them into sex. So maybe you could reframe this and get some results. What some gay guys are openly into is toys in general, which is to say: taking dildos and vibrators up their butts. So if you’re cruising on apps, I suggest advertising as someone who wants to play with toys (or is looking for guys who would like to) and then during play, suggest a strap-on as an option for fun. See if guys would be interested in trying it in the moment. (It’s a pretty safe assumption that trans guys, as a group, have more experience with strap-on sex, so you could also consider trans dudes as potential partners if you aren’t already.)
There are also penis-extenders on the market like this one, which would sort of approximate the strap-on experience by sheathing your dick in essentially a wearable dildo. And don’t forget bottoming, which, if you haven’t gotten into it yet, might be worth a try because it can be great fun.
More How to Do It
A few weeks ago, I discovered my wife cheated on me. The weird thing is, now that I know, I’m not sure how to bring it up, or if I should. I know through the same means I discovered the affair that it’s over, and she feels guilty about it. I noticed an uptick in our sex life around the time I now know her affair ended, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I keep waiting to snap and tell her, but even when we got drunk together one night, I didn’t. I told my best friend, and he said he’d have totally lost it, but I’ve “always been weird about this kind of stuff.” I’d honestly rather just forget it, let my wife work through her guilt on her own, and hopefully learn her lesson. Is that possible if I say nothing?