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,
I love being bitten. I especially love being bitten at the joint between my shoulder and neck during sex. Nothing else turns me on so much. Biting, sucking, scraping teeth—I can’t get enough of it! However, I also bruise incredibly easily, and always have, to the point that during our wedding, my grandfather loudly commented on the finger marks on my shoulder from our (incredible, completely consensual, he-didn’t-even-grab-me-that hard) last night of premarital sex, and I had a long and very awkward conversation with my primary care doctor about how, yes, that bruise really was a very enjoyable acquisition and my husband is not hurting me. To make matters more complicated, I work in an industry where it is completely unacceptable to have any indicators in any way that you have a sex life. Naturally, bruises disappear on my husband in a day or two and take a good week to be off of me, which means that even having sex at the beginning of the weekend doesn’t help with the problem.
My husband is very clever about giving me the stimulation I crave with a minimum of bruising, but it’s not as intense as when we have enough time for my neck to go back to its normal paler-than-paper color. I’ve tried using makeup to cover bruises up, but it just looks incredibly obvious. (This may be just me—I don’t wear makeup usually, so I’m not very good at using it.) Is there anything I can do either to make bruises go away faster or hide them, other than investing in the world’s largest collection of turtlenecks? Also, I’d like to maybe investigate some rougher sex, but my husband is terrified he’ll hurt me, and the bruises do nothing to convince him that no, really, I’m completely fine and would like him to carry on.
Dear Once Bitten,
Extremely pale people tend to have visible veins. No foundation is going to be able to cover a bruise effectively while allowing those blue-tinged lines to show through, which leaves the pasty among us kind of screwed unless we’re going to go get serious special effects makeup training.
Try having your husband bite the nape of your neck in or just on your hairline. The hope is that you’ll get the same delicious sensation in a less visible area.
Ask your doctor about arnica. It’s an herb that can be applied topically, and some circus people, BDSM aficionados, and sex workers swear by it for speeding up the healing of bruises. It can also have interactions with medications, even common over-the-counter pills like ibuprofen. Don’t just go out and start swallowing the oral pellets. Ask your doctor. While you’re in there with a medical professional, ask if your extreme bruising might have some cause, like a vitamin deficiency. If your primary care doctor can’t help you, you might want to consider a specialist for this.
Meanwhile, get specific with your request for rougher sex—do you want to be spanked? Have your hair pulled? Be choked? If it’s choking, your husband is right to be terrified that he’ll hurt you. If it’s spanking, start slow. Ask for one decent slap. Let him see that what he’s doing isn’t hurting you, and is turning you on. Remember, his consent is important too.
Dear How to Do It,
How do I have sex after losing 100 pounds? It was so much easier to have sex when I was fat. Because I knew expectations were exactly what they seemed. Now it’s like this: I know when the clothes come off, my naked body doesn’t look the same as it does in yoga pants. The loose skin isn’t super crazy, but I’m still nervous. It’s super personal for someone to see stretch marks and wobbly arms because it reveals a lot about my past that I don’t say. I want to let go so I can come and enjoy myself. I met a guy whom I really like and I can see potential with, and now I’ve made him wait so long. I want to have sex with him so badly, but I don’t want him to run! I know he likes me for me, but I’m afraid he won’t be physically attracted to me once the clothes come off, and that matters in a relationship. Any advice?
Dear Skinny Secret,
There are absolutely people in the world who are deeply superficial and will reject a potential sexual partner over something the rest of us would consider a minor sign of weight loss. There is a chance that this guy, who has waited an unspecified but significant amount of time, might reject you. I imagine it’d be easier to take that rejection with your clothes on, so bring it up beforehand. You might say: “Hey, I lost 100 pounds and I feel sensitive about my body sometimes. I’m nervous about exploring a sexual connection, even though that’s what I want.”
If your crush responds with something like “What can I do to help you feel more comfortable?” you’re in a great situation. If he dismisses your nerves or veers into body snark, you should probably move on.
We all have angles that are unflattering. Those of us who work in front of cameras just don’t let them be seen very often. Spending some time in front of the mirror working out what positions highlight our assets can be worthwhile for others too. Crunching our bodies can be tempting when we’re feeling low about our size, and slouching favors nobody. Instead, stand up straight. Cock a hip. Figure out what poses make you feel confident and powerful, and use them when you’re revealing your body. You deserve to feel good.
Dear How to Do It,
Is it normal for a woman to have no sexual pleasure with penetration? I can orgasm in an average amount of time during masturbation. I have very hard orgasms when I touch myself during penetration—I just don’t have any pleasure at all from the penetration itself. It’s always been this way. There have only been two times when I’ve had any pleasure—once when I was on top and I think the motion somehow stimulated my clitoris, albeit only slightly, and once when I was fairly giddy and drunk. That was almost 10 years ago, and it hasn’t happened again. I’m wondering if this is normal or even if there’s anything to do to improve my sensitivity.
Yes. It is completely normal for a woman to require clitoral stimulation to experience pleasure and orgasm. In fact, most women require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, even if penetration itself is pleasurable.
Will you do something for me? Go to Google or Bing, search “clitoris,” and click on the Images tab. See all those things that look like upside-down butterflies? Or tiny pink winged Brontosauruses? That’s the clitoris. It’s so much more than the fun little nubbin we rub—or the glans clitoris if we want to be all scientific about it. Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the parts.
So, when I have an erect penis thrusting inside my vaginal canal, and nothing is touching my glans clitoris, and I’m having an orgasm, is it from penetration? Or from stimulation of my bulbs of vestibule? I’m not sure, and the scientific community has differing opinions.
Start drawing your awareness into all these other sections of the clitoris. If you meditate, do that first. If you don’t, take a few deep breaths and try to clear your mind. Focus your attention on your genitals and pelvic floor. Do a Kegel squeeze. Try to feel and name each part of your sexual organs—feel your left outer labia, your cervix, your urethral sponge. Then start touching each of these regions with varying degrees of pressure. Find what feels nice.
You may never orgasm or feel pleasure from penetration alone, but you can absolutely become more in tune with your body.
Dear How to Do It,
I am approaching my wedding anniversary, and five years together overall, with my wonderful husband. From the outset, sex has been an important—and hot!—part of our relationship. The love and trust we’ve built both in and out of the bedroom has made me more confident in my sexuality and desires, and we enjoy exploring new things together.
Here’s where the “but” comes in: My husband claims that he can’t feel anything happening when it comes to my vagina during sex. I’ll orgasm, and my husband doesn’t bat an eye. And these are not run-of-the-mill, weeknight orgasms I’m talking about. I’ve had releases that leave my whole body shaking, but if I ask him afterward what it physically felt like to him, he’ll say he didn’t notice or couldn’t feel it. I know that everyone’s sensitivity is different and some guys have a harder time getting off through penetrative sex than others. But can it be true that he really doesn’t feel anything at all?
That nagging question has driven me to do my own experiments over the years. I’ve changed up our positions, tried out new angles, exaggerated my hip movements, and clenched my inner muscles at different intervals to try and get a response from him. For my effort, I can sometimes get a moan out of him if I grip him literally as hard as I can manage, and if he is thrusting slowly enough. When I can’t stop myself from overthinking about what might be going on, I masturbate just to be sure that my body’s response is really doing what I think it is doing. (It is.)
Now, I should say that 75 percent of the time, I am happy to reap the benefits of my husband’s extra endurance, and we find ways to make sure we are mutually satisfied. (I give a lot of post-coitus hand jobs.) But I enjoy sex for the chance to get lost in the sensation and feeling of it all, and there are times I feel as though my husband isn’t really present in the moment the way I want him to be. He doesn’t see what more he can say aside from not being able to feel anything. Plus, he doesn’t have a problem with it the way I do. He’s a cerebral guy, always in his head and pretty oblivious to his physical surroundings under most circumstances, so I guess that makes sense for him. But he’s my husband, dammit, and I want to drive him wild when we do it! I’d be lying if I said my ego doesn’t get bruised from time to time when my attempts fail to elicit a reaction. Should I just accept that my husband and I may never be on the exact same page when it comes to how we experience sex? If you were me, what would you do?
—Can You Feel Me Now?
I’ve had sex with plenty of dudes who couldn’t tell when I’d had an orgasm. I’ve wondered, after they’ve fallen asleep, if my pelvic floor was losing tone, or if perhaps I merely thought I’d had one. It is 100 percent possible that your husband can’t feel those contractions. Some guys just don’t. See the letter above yours; everyone experiences sensitivity and pleasure differently.
If your husband wants to try to increase the sensitivity in his genitals, he can start with meditation and the two of you can explore tantric techniques. He can get a Fleshlight, lube up, and try to concentrate on the textures he’s feeling. (Disclosure: I’ve licensed my own orifices to Fleshlight and receive royalties on products molded after my parts.) He can edge—a process where a person is brought to the brink of orgasm without actually orgasming and back to plateau multiple times in a single session of stimulation—alone or with you. There are options.
But that depends on your husband’s interest, and what you’ve written indicates that he doesn’t see any reason to change. You can press the issue—by telling him that growing your sexual connection is important to you, or telling him you need him to be more present—but you can’t force it.
More How to Do It
I love my husband. We’ve been together for 14 years. The issue is before we were together, I had an avid sex life. We haven’t had any in five years—he has a bad back and no sex drive. I’ve tried talking to him; we’ve tried therapy. No changes. Last year, I started sleeping with someone else. It’s amazing. Husband has no clue. My issue is that I don’t feel guilty. I don’t want to leave my husband, but I refuse to live without sex. Am I a bad person? I sleep with this guy about once a week, and to be honest, I’m much happier now and a better wife because I no longer am resentful.