How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Every Thursday night, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.
Dear How to Do It,
As COVID-19 social distancing becomes the norm, my boyfriend wants us to talk more about our sexual fantasies and move into the phone sex and text sex zone, which I think is a great idea. The thing is, when I’m masturbating, I’m usually not thinking about him—I’m thinking about my boss. My boss is both really hot in a way that is pretty different than my usual type of guy and extremely decent and lovely, and I do not think would ever make a creepy move on me IRL. But he’s hot, and there’s the power dynamic thing, and when I fantasize sexually or watch or read porn, it’s usually him I’m thinking about.
I’m wondering how to best explain this to my boyfriend. I think he could be into some power dynamic roleplay, but the initial thing of like, “the nature of our current (wonderful, equitable, loving) relationship makes you kind of incompatible with my fantasies, and also beyond an abstract sense there is someone very particular that I’m into” worries me. I’m pansexual and will sometimes tell him about hot people I see in passing, but I feel like this is a beast of a different nature. I guess basically my question is: How do I talk about my office crush with my partner without making them feel insecure? I know that sometimes talking about open relationships or polyamory is the solution, but for this crush that’s not really an option, and also, social distancing!
—Who’s the Boss
Stoya: There are so many threads to unpick here.
Rich: Yep. Coronavirus is like rain on an already dysfunctional picnic.
Stoya: Dude. Seriously. So, the big thing not to do is tell your boyfriend that he’s incompatible with your fantasies. That’s going to be really hard to hear—a. And probably jeopardize the whole relationship during a time that most people are already running twitchier than usual.
Rich: Right. It is unlikely that can be done without offending him. Maybe in a poly situation, where everyone is extremely on board with being whatever their partner needs, it might be a feasible conversation. But in a monogamous sort of setting, it’s practically impossible without upsetting the dynamic. My question is: Is she attracted to her boyfriend? Is she enjoying sex with him?
Stoya: Is she sure she wants to be in this relationship at all?
Rich: Right. I mean, it is possible to be in a nonsexual relationship with your primary partner and seek outside sex for satisfaction, but that’s its own discussion, and I don’t know that a during pandemic is the best time to forge such an arrangement.
Stoya: Absolutely not. This is a unique circumstance. Only a handful of people currently alive have lived through a global pandemic. Priorities must need to be re-sorted. And, as our writer notes, social distancing is not the time to strike up a new physical relationship.
Rich: Look, I’m an advocate of radical honesty and I think you are too. But I also think there’s a possible happy medium: Share fantasies about the boss without framing him as the only possible player in fantasies. You know, that’s if the boyfriend is even going to be into hearing about them, which as the writer notes, is an open question.
Stoya: I think she should start slow: “I’d love to share my fantasies with you. They usually involve power dynamics. I’m not sure if I ever want to play them out, but it might be fun to discuss them.”
Rich: Yeah! It could be particularly useful that she has a general concept she’s interested in that she can attach an authority figure to, as opposed to just putting it all out there: “I’m just into my boss and that’s that, he’s hot.” Framing this in terms of an interest in power dynamics is a really smart suggestion. The way I see it, there are many paths to deal with our existing relationships within societal isolation. One is to hold tight and don’t do anything that will upset the balance while we (hopefully) ride this out. The other is to blow up everything— as civilization may implode anyway!. I’m trying to be optimistic and would suggest the former, but the latter is an option.
Stoya: There’s a middle road I’ve been making use of: Continue to express one’s boundaries and needs in the most gentlegentlest way possible.
Rich: That is wise.
Stoya: Our writer seems to want power exchange in her life in some capacity, even if it’s confined to the fantasy space.
Rich: I feel like being good to everyone is a worthy cause at the moment.
Stoya: Kindness is a great thing to strive for. We have to remember to take it easy on ourselves, though. We’re all stressed as hell for some reason or another. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to be less than kind. We’re going to forget to be thoughtful. If she does some soul searching and finds that she needs power exchange to be sexually fulfilled, she ought to express that to her boyfriend.
Listen to Slate’s Thirst Aid Kit in the player below.
More How to Do It
I recently started dating again and have just recently been confronted by a situation that’s left me scratching my head. I have met two men who would like to date me, and they both are great! However, they both sound completely … gay. Like, out-of-the-closet, effeminate-speech gay. This is kind of a libido killer for me, and it makes my brain spin. I am not proud of my response, but is it homophobic? I guess I want someone to tell me that it’s possible that I’m a nincompoop here and that straight men can “sound gay.”
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus