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 wife and I have been together for many years and married only recently. We have a regular, healthy sex life that I would call vanilla with some extra toppings. We also are pretty open about sex and masturbation (hell, I surprised her with a new vibrator when we found her old one was dying out.) My wife is open about when she masturbates and to what—something I don’t mind, but she has asked me about the porn that I like. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and I have been vague and advised that I look for women who are curvy and thicc like her, which is true, but I’ve left out that I really like pregnant women. We are prepping to start our family, which is a plus because I’ll get to live out my fantasy, but how do I go about approaching this topic? I really don’t feel comfortable telling her about my dark secret that when she is 7-to-9 months’ pregnant, all I’ll want to do is bone her; but while pregnancy can increase sex drive it can also decrease it, so I know it might not even happen. I worry that if she doesn’t feel sexy, she won’t want to even try to have sex. Should I tell her about my secret kink and hope she isn’t weirded out by it or tell anyone (she cannot keep a secret for her life)? Or do I keep this kink a secret? And if I do keep it a secret, how do I tell her how attracted to her I am without coming off too … fetish-y?
Dear Pregnancy Cravings,
I’m giving you something that is a rare commodity on the internet: the benefit of the doubt.
I’m assuming you simply switched things around when you described starting a family as “a plus” to the fulfillment of your fantasy. Given the stakes (a human life wholly dependent on you), I’m hoping your priorities are the other way around: That you get a few weeks to live out your fantasy is the bonus to having and raising a child.
Operating from the assumption that you’ve got your priorities straight, the ball is going to be in your wife’s court as to whether you get to enjoy third-trimester sex. As you know, she may be into it or not so much—responses vary. Regarding disclosure leading up to that, though, unless you have reason to believe that your wife has concocted an elaborate trap to get you to divulge your fantasies in order to reject and shame you for them, she sounds like someone who would be open to hearing them and perhaps even indulging you. You can easily avoid being too fetish-y by continuing to treat her like a person, and one who’s also out for pleasure. The sex is for both of you to enjoy.
I do feel for you—it would be great if you got to enjoy this sex you so desire. I would hate for you to experience the pregnant-sex version of the Ray Bradbury story “All in a Summer Day” about a child on Venus who doesn’t get to experience the one hour in seven years that the sun comes out on account of being locked in closet by her peers.
I would wait, though, to talk to her about this once she is pregnant, and even then by just telling her that you find it particularly hot. Doing so before she gets pregnant may make her wary or arouse her suspicions that you care more about her pregnant body than the child it’s producing. She may not be so generous with the benefit of the doubt.
Dear How to Do It,
Where is the line between being a giving partner and being put in the position of doing something you hate? My partner’s biggest turn-on is me doing dirty talk about my (imaginary) escapades with other guys. I note that they’re imaginary because I have never done anything even remotely approaching the “sexual” area with anyone besides my boyfriend and thus have to entirely invent these scenarios, in lurid detail, while spinning an engaging narrative, escalating the plot at just the right point, etc. I absolutely hate these dirty talk sessions with my entire being. The thought of being with another man makes me viscerally upset. The dirty talk tales generally have to involve me hiding my dalliances from my boyfriend so it makes me feel like a liar—and in real life I have zero desire to sleep with anyone else, ever. I also hate having to think up new settings and scenarios to keep it fresh and exciting.
I’ve asked, time and again, for any sort of guidance on how to get better at this: specific porn to watch to give me an idea of the types of narratives he likes; sex acts I should include or avoid; anything, but I don’t get a lot of help. He doesn’t want to have too much control over the stories because that lessens his enjoyment, and the few times he’s suggested I incorporate specific elements it’s been stuff that makes me feel even worse and more not-the-fun-way dirty. I hate it so much, and I’m so bad at hiding it, but when I’ve expressed my feelings about it, he says I just need more practice (how, I’m not sure, since he won’t give me any sort of direction), and that it’s really important to his sexual satisfaction, with the implication that it’s on me to do it for him as his partner. He would do anything I asked for in bed, but I’ve never asked for anything because I don’t especially desire to experiment.
I should note for the record that I don’t have any anxieties about his fantasy desires being indicative of any underlying practical needs—I have asked if he wants me to sleep with other men, and he has always said no, that it’s just a fantasy, and I believe that. It’s truly just the dirty talk of imaginary situations that makes me feel so bad. Is it on me to press for more guidance and build my comfort with his sexual needs, or should he stop asking me to do things that I hate? Or is part of being a good partner hating things and doing them anyway because you love the other person? It’s starting to make me dread intimacy.
—Exclude Me From This Narrative
Dear Exclude Me From This Narrative,
You have every right to draw the line at things that you hate. You are under no obligation to do anything sexually. Practically speaking, I think many of us allow for a gray area where we’re willing to indulge our partner’s kinks that we don’t necessarily share. I’ve been with guys into feet—I am certainly not and in fact am ticklish to the point of distraction, but if someone I dig wants to put my toes in his mouth for a little bit, I’ll allow it. My current boyfriend is into sexy underwear and I am not, but I’ll do him a solid and wear a thong from time to time. I don’t mind it, he likes it, and it’s easy enough to do something that makes him happy.
However, your boyfriend is asking way too much on several fronts. Besides your loathing of this sort of play, he’s milking your creative juices at a time when people tend to be more focused on other kinds of juices. An aptitude for creative writing is not a prerequisite for sex. There’s nothing wrong with his interest in dirty talk, but it’s completely understandable when someone else isn’t interested in providing it given the unrelated skill set that such elaborate storytelling requires. He’s not picking up on your disinterest because he doesn’t want to. He owes you more consideration as a partner and also for the sake of fairness—look at what you’ve been doing for him!
On several levels, your boyfriend is asking you to be someone that you are not. You’re neither a dirty talker nor someone who can even relate to the scenarios he wants to hear about. Sex and its accoutrements are ideally mutually satisfying, and it bugs me that he doesn’t seem to see things this way. I think you can put your foot down and refuse to partake in this kind of play. If he still insists, it’s time to seriously consider if you are in fact sexually compatible. If not, it may also be time to reconsider the relationship, altogether.
Dear How to Do It,
I am a 25-year-old gay man with a perhaps slightly unusual issue. I find that I can only orgasm from my hand. It has happened in the past from sex, blow jobs, etc., but they are very far and few between. It makes me feel horrible. Whoever I’m with ends up questioning if they did something wrong or if I’m not attracted to them. (It doesn’t help that my current partner is extremely sensitive, but that’s an entirely separate issue.) I always tell whoever I’m with that that’s not the case. Furthermore, I’ve never really been a huge fan of sex anyway, which is apparently a crime, since I’m a gay man in what is supposed to be my sexual prime. Even when I’m super horny, I just feel like the most effective way to get the job done is to just sit down, have a little tickle pickle, and move on with my day. I know you’re thinking I might be asexual, and, if I’m being honest, I’ve thought about it a few times too, but I’m not. I love dick. Or, rather, I love sucking dick. But more often than not, sex—like actual penetrative sex—feels like a chore. Often, I feel like I’m doing it just to check something off my to-do list. What’s your opinion on the matter? Am I bad gay? Is there anything I can say to future sexual partners to avoid the whole “are you not attracted to me” situation?
—In Good Hands
Dear In Good Hands,
You’re not a bad gay, and there’s nothing wrong with you. Certainly, your situation is not unusual—so called death grip syndrome is discussed often enough to suggest that there are a lot of guys out there who become so used to their own hand, it’s their primary (if not sole) facilitator for release. (Note: Many doctors question the actual existence of such a syndrome.) Jerking to climax is something I’ve witnessed a lot of guys doing in my travels. It’s depicted in the sexually explicit 2013 film Stranger by the Lake, not to mention innumerable porn scenes. It’s just what some guys need to do. Experience should make anyone wise to this. I’m assuming the guys you hook up with are young like you, as their reaction bespeaks a lack of awareness of how things actually are and the kind of egocentrism that tends to come with youth. Give them a few years, and they’ll hopefully realize that everything isn’t about them.
From your description, it sounds to me like you are not asexual but perhaps a dyed-in-the-wool cocksucker. There are guys who primarily (sometimes only) love to give head. It’s their thing, and they select their partners according to how into getting head they are. The dick that’s the most fun to suck is the one that’s just dying for that kind of relief. I suggest finding some guys whose favorite activity is receiving oral sex and chow down. See if that doesn’t sort you out.
Dear How to Do It,
A few months ago, I was hooking up with a guy (I’m a woman), and he stuck it up my ass without asking first. He did stop immediately when I was like, “uh, kinda uncomfortable!” and otherwise it was very good sex overall, but after the fact I feel kind of weird about how unbothered I feel about what is technically a “violation.” If one of my friends came to me and said this happened to them, I would be horrified, but somehow, I’m not even mad at this guy, and I really didn’t mind at all—in fact I was game to hook up again, but he wasn’t. But by the standards of affirmative consent and (I think) typical hookup norms, his actions were not OK and could even be considered rape.
My question is, is this serious enough to text this guy months after the fact to tell him not to attempt the same move with any other partner because I really don’t want to see him facing a rape accusation? But on the other hand, we both go to a very progressive college and thus received the same education on affirmative consent, so he really has no excuse for not knowing better anyway.
—Bad to Be Unbothered?
Dear Bad to Be Unbothered,
Your experience is yours to process. You feel what you feel and that’s that. Try to go easy on yourself—it’s OK that you weren’t traumatized by a situation that might provoke that reaction in others. It’s a good thing that you came out of this unscathed—it’s bad enough that this guy put it in your butt without asking. Thank God his behavior didn’t saddle you with trauma on top of your experience.
I agree that his behavior was not OK and could be considered rape, if you were inclined to do so. He should be thanking his lucky stars that he’s faced no punitive action as a result. A text to him about this is wholly justified, though I’d go one further and call him so that there’s no misinterpretation of tone. I do worry though that a simple conversation will not be enough to protect his future partners. He could just be thick, but as you point out, given your education and school’s awareness initiatives, he should already know better. And yet.
I assume that you aren’t thinking about pressing charges. It would require a lot of you in terms of time and perhaps emotional labor (not to mention the burdening dissonance in seeking legal action for something that you’re willing to just let go for its lack of ill effects on your body and psyche). Maybe you’d rather not sic the carceral state, with all of its flaws and bigotry, on him. Perhaps a happy-medium action to help ensure that he never tries something like that again while circumventing the legal system would be to look into starting a restorative justice process with him. (That would look something like a mediation with an impartial third party—for more info on the process, check out this Vox article.) It’s worth considering, at least.
More How to Do It
It recently got out that someone at work did porn when he was younger. This porn does not line up with his apparent orientation (he’s married to a woman). We’re a relatively small workplace, so this got around quickly. Our boss probably knows at this point. I worry about how this is going to affect him at work. At one point, I caught a couple co-workers sharing an image from one of the videos and joking about it, and I told them to stop. The thing is I don’t think he has any idea that people know. Should I tell him?