How to Do It

My Friends Want to Have a Big Orgy Weekend Together

Sounds fun! There’s just one problem: I have secret feelings for a member of the group.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Erstudiostok/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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,

My friends and I are close and very candid about our sexual experiences. I generally don’t have sex with my friends, but they don’t believe in those restrictions. We were talking recently about planning a weekend where a group of us would go away and possibly have an orgy amongst us. I’m really excited about the idea, except for the fact that I have a never-before-admitted crush on one of my best friends, Q. I liked him before we became close friends, and once we became tight, I suppressed it for the sake of our friendship. He’s had girlfriends and hookups over the years that bothered me a bit (including a hookup with one of our friends), but I never said anything because no one knew that I had feelings for him. Now the group is planning this trip, and I feel like my only two options are to back out of the trip without saying why, or fully participate in the group sex with the possibility that it’ll complicate my friendship and feelings for him down the road. I never planned on saying anything to him because I believed in the boundaries of our friendship, and I worry that being honest about how I feel will blow up our friendship because he’s very dear to me. Am I really stuck here? Is there another option I’m not seeing?

—Orgy Issues

Dear Orgy Issues,

Let’s talk about Q first. There’s a big difference between approaching a friend and gently expressing that you have romantic feelings toward them in addition to the feelings of camaraderie and friendship that they already know about, and, say, throwing your mouth at their mouth sans warning with the vigor of a small puppy.

Spend some time thinking about your feelings for Q. What would you want with him if he’s interested? Occasional hookups in addition to your friendship? A long-term relationship with major commitments headed toward marriage and mutual child rearing? What are you content with if he isn’t interested in anything romantic or sexual with you? Are you happy to put your desires aside for as long as the friendship lasts? Are you comfortable never speaking of it again, or would you want to check in again in a few years? Get it all sorted in your head to the best of your ability, and then consider doing the big scary thing before this weekend arrives.

It’s possible Q already knows you have feelings for him. We’re rarely as good at hiding these things as we’d like to think. It’s also possible that he’s been crushing on you while staying completely in the dark about your feelings. I mean, he’s planning to attend an orgy that includes you. Yes, it is also possible that he’ll panic and throw years of close friendship away. I think that’s a minuscule chance, though. And I think that clearing the air and expressing yourself—and the potential rewards from doing so—are worth that small risk. Think about how you’ll respond to various reactions Q might have, and if there’s even a hint of “No,” be prepared to hear, receive, and respect that.

Now let’s talk about the orgy. You don’t have to fully participate. Or, rather, full participation can mean anything from playing the role of Condom and Paper Towel Distributor to being the star of a sex pile involving everyone in the room. You, and every other participant, have the right—responsibility, even—to act according to your desires and comfort zones. You have so many options. You can be a voyeur, contributing by providing a gaze for the exhibitionists to perform for. You can focus totally on kissing. You can hook up with some people and not others. You can have penetrative sex with every single attendee who is interested. It might be a good exercise to try to make an exhaustive list of all the ways you could participate in an orgy and take note of the ones that feel appealing.

Best of luck, and remember to brush up on your safer sex practices in the coming weeks.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a cis, bisexual woman in her early 40s. I’m very blessed with a fantastic sex life, but there’s one issue that’s driving me crazy. I almost always fart when I’m close to or having an orgasm. It’s beyond embarrassing. What gives? How do I stop the flatulence?

—Wrong Release

Dear Wrong Release,

So, this is a thing. A real thing. You’ve got all these muscles in your abdomen and pelvic floor. When we get close to orgasm, our muscles start tensing up. Some people online report farting during that tension, and others report farting during the release of that tension. Mostly, I want you to know that you are not alone.

I do want to double-check that this is an anal fart, not a vaginal fart—otherwise known as a “queef.” If it’s a front-fanny funny, avoid the position generally described as doggy, or any other position that seems to lead to this outcome, and you’ll have your issue solved. Back-end blasters, on the other hand, are a little more complicated.

If you’re experiencing unwanted gas, it makes sense to deal with it at the source, which is your gut. This swiftly moves out of my domain of expertise. I’m hoping there’s a nutrition or gastroenterology advice column somewhere that can help you with that. Meanwhile, you might work out your rectal muscles in a way similar to Kegel exercises, or try actively clenching your sphincter when you’re close to orgasm. If you’ve got the spare cash, a pelvic floor specialist might be worth a visit.

Before you go, I’d like to remind you that you have a body. Bodies do things that embarrass us sometimes. Bodies do things we might consider gross. In my sexually active life to date, I’ve encountered—and been the source of—tears, snot, vomit, blood, menstrual fluid, liquid that is almost certainly female ejaculate, liquid that is almost certainly urine, and feces. It happens. We laugh if we can, clean up, and move on.

Dear How to Do It,

My wife and I (cis man) have been together 10 years, have a kid together, and are really happy. Earlier this year we opened our relationship to dating separately, for the right reasons. The decision did not arise from a fight or something lacking in our relationship. We feel genuine compersion when each of us finds happiness with another partner. We have one major ground rule that is not open for discussion: We ALWAYS use condoms with other partners and are only fluid-bonded with each other.

Recently my wife came home traumatized by a Tinder date. After having sex once, they relaxed for a while before starting foreplay again. The second time, he penetrated her suddenly and intentionally without putting on a condom. The condom was expressly required prior to the first session, so we both agree that this act was intentional and she was sexually assaulted. She shut him down immediately and got the hell out of there.

However, while she was telling me about what happened, she also revealed that about five days prior, she had sex with a different new partner and didn’t ask him to use a condom. Apparently, she decided that he seemed pretty clean, so it wasn’t necessary. I’m dumbfounded. She’s not stupid, she understands the risk this presents, and our rule was VERY clear and mutually agreed upon. We had sex several times after that encounter, before the assault.

I’m really torn: On one hand, I want to support my wife as much as possible during this traumatic time. On the other hand, I feel like I am going through the same thing—I was potentially exposed to HIV and other STIs without my consent because she broke our most important rule. Since she did not tell me until almost a week after the encounter, I missed the window to take PEP. Furthermore, my trust in her is shattered. I’m so tremendously sad.

Please help. My brain is simultaneously telling me to be magnanimous, to get divorced, and every possible scenario between them. What’s the right play here?

—Trauma for Everyone

Dear Trauma for Everyone,

Couples counseling, as soon as possible. You’ll be best off with an expert in the room to help the two of you work through this major betrayal of trust. The Kink Aware Professionals Network might be a good place to start looking for providers. You might need to go through your health insurance’s recommendations instead. Either way, you’ll want someone who acknowledges the validity of nonmonogamous relationship structures. Ask about this on the phone before making an appointment.

Once you have that appointment, make another one with your primary care doctor. Explain the timeline to them, ask about the window period—the stage where a person could have an STI but not test positive yet—for various tests, and ask them to help you figure out when the appropriate time for you and your wife to each get screened is.

I’m sorry this happened to your wife, and I’m sorry this happened to you. It is completely reasonable to feel torn between wanting distance to take care of your own hurts and wanting to soothe and support your wife. Are there people in your community you can reach out to? Maybe peers in the nonmonogamous lifestyle? Are there people she can turn to for help to take some of the pressure off you?

Take care of yourself and take your time. You’ll need space to process what’s happened and to sort through your own feelings. Those feelings might shift and change. You, like our group sex gallivanter above, have so many options. You can ask for a separation. You can request that your wife attend therapy. You can hug her and snuggle her and hold her while she cries on your shoulder but then take sex off the table. You can also get divorced.

Dear How to Do It,

I’ve been slow to look into relationships. I’m kind of an introvert by nature. I’m a hetero guy who went to an all-guys high school, so I didn’t know a ton of girls when I was younger. There were clear self-confidence issues at the time, so I figured I’d wait till “I’m ready.” That lasted waaaaaaaaay longer than I realized it would. I’m out dating now, I’m enjoying that, and I’ve found a person I really like. At some point we’re going to fool around, but I’m the literal 40-year-old virgin. I’ve got no idea what to do other than ask “What do you enjoy?” of my partner. I enjoy some fairly kinky shit when I masturbate, but I’d rather walk before I run, you know? Can you recommend some good basic instruction on how to do it?

—Ready to Learn

Dear Ready to Learn,

There are three books I’d recommend. Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex, Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra, and Allison Moon’s Girl Sex 101. Hartley’s book covers the basics of sex. She got her degree in nursing, went into porn as a performer in the ’80s, started making instructional videos in the ’90s, and published this guide in 2006. If you prefer video media, you might watch some of the videos instead. Carrellas’ book focuses on energy and connection. You don’t need to do everything Urban Tantra talks about, but it gives a lot of instruction on how to perform erotic touching, which is part of foreplay. Moon’s book gives some more detailed explanations of female anatomy and includes a section on sexual flirting. It’s written for women, but I think it works for anyone who has sex with women—or intends to.

At the end of the day, though, asking “What do you enjoy?” is the way to go. Your instinct here is correct. I imagine you might feel like this question comes from ignorance. It sort of does. We all, no matter how sexually experienced we are, have to start from square one with each new partner. Every person has their own complex sexual response and set of desires. We have to learn what they like, and how they like it.

It’s OK to kiss tentatively. It’s OK to ask your partner what they like before sexual interaction and during sexual interaction. It’s OK to check in and ask how they’re feeling, whether they’d like something faster or slower, or whether they’d prefer something else. Expressing your impulses and asking if your partner would like you to follow through on them is great—e.g., “I’d like to kiss your neck” or “I want to touch your pussy—is that all right with you?” Go slow and maintain communication. It’s OK to say no to something, express discomfort, or ask for a pause or full stop to the sexual activity.

I do think you should inform this potential sexual partner about your ingénue status before you get sexual with them. Especially since you want to ease into sex at your own pace, which I support. Try to keep your explanation neutral and brief like you did in your letter, and be prepared for questions.

Good luck.

—Stoya

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