How to Do It

My Girlfriend’s Post-Sex Ritual Is Freaking Me Out

A man stands with a running shower in the background.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by 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,

I am in a relationship with the most incredible woman I have ever met. She is smart and funny, kind and generous. For the first six months we were just friends, but I started to have sexual feelings for her and began suggesting we move to the next level. She declined at first saying she had not had sex since she was had a medical diagnosis 10 years ago and was concerned impaired mobility would make it difficult for her to have sex or for me to enjoy it. I assured her that at my age—we are not very young anymore—I was ready to forgo the gymnastics, so she finally agreed. It has been wonderful but for one annoying thing: She seems hostile to my semen.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Before we made love for the first time, she spread an incontinence pad (like they have in hospitals) on the bed. When I asked why, she said it makes clean-up easier because she can just throw it in the bin rather than having to launder the sheets. I thought it was odd but not totally irrational. The sex was fantastic, and we cuddled before she excused herself to go to the bathroom. I heard the shower running and went in to find her sitting on the shower seat with the nozzle on full force aimed at her vagina as though she were giving it a power wash. I asked what she was doing but she just yelled at me to get out and scolded me for my lack of boundaries. After that she took to locking the bathroom door (all of the time, not just after sex) which hurts my feelings. But it is the cleaning ritual that really upsets me. There is nothing in the world I love as much as being inside her, not just for the erotic pleasure but the symbolic joining of our bodies. When she rushes to cleanse herself of my semen, I feel that she is throwing me in the waste bin and sending me down the shower drain.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Am I wrong to feel this way? Is her behavior normal? I’ve been afraid to broach the subject with her again—should I?

—Power Wash

Dear Power Wash,

Your lover’s need for privacy hurts your feelings? Your lover’s self-care after sex makes you feel like she’s throwing you in the trash? I think you should think hard about why you’re taking these normal things so personally.

It’s her body. She’s willing to share it with you. And you seem to need your semen worshipped. The two of you may simply not be a match, sexually speaking, if this really is a must for you. That’s OK. It happens. There are legions of lovely people in the world who we don’t match up with in the arena of eroticism. There are plenty of women who love the feeling of semen congealing in their vaginal canal. Take a deep breath, maybe speak with a sex-positive counselor about your feelings, and if you can’t reconcile this, look for one of the many wonderful women who get off on the product of your prostate.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a woman in my 30s. I have been with my husband since my mid-20s. I hardly had any dating experience prior to meeting him. Needless to say, he is the only man I have ever had sex with. He recently mentioned that he would be open for me to date someone else, post-quarantine, as long as it’s mostly for sex but not for a deeper connection. I do find myself wondering if I am missing out by only being with one man for my whole life. My questions are as follows: How do I determine if a poly lifestyle is right for us? I know that there are definitely more follow-up conversations to be had. Any resources you would recommend? If down the road we do decide to open up our marriage, how would I even go about meeting like-minded men to date? How would this even work if we have kids in the future?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—Bob & Carol &

Dear Bob & Carol &,

The Ethical Slut is the gold standard of polyamory books. There are definitely things to critique about it, and I want you to do exactly that. Read through the book, together, with a metaphorical red pen. Stop at every point that feels weird or nonfunctional to you and talk about it together. Use it to get an idea of how other people make polyamory work, and as a thought experiment around what might work for the two of you.

If you do decide to open up your marriage at some point, you can set yourself up for success by attending munches and poly meetups, and using apps like Feeld and OkCupid that tend to attract poly and nonmonogamous people. You also might have luck at bars or other casual meeting spots. You’ll want to be direct and upfront about your boundaries wherever you’re meeting potential paramours. “I’m married. Our relationship is open, as long as the connection is physical. I find you attractive and would love to buy you a drink.” Or similar.

Advertisement
Advertisement

As far as having kids, that’s up to you. Plenty of nonmonogamous folks have kids—happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids. You’ll have to do the same calculus of what’s appropriate to tell them for their age as any other parent, regardless of lifestyle. Realistically, having multiple relationships, even if most of them are purely physical, takes time and energy. You might find that extramarital activity needs to slow or stop entirely during the baby and toddler phases because there simply isn’t enough of you to go around.

Before you go—“mostly for sex but not for a deeper connection” sounds more nonmonogamous than polyamorous to me. So you’ll want to do some research about what each label means to the people who use it so you’re able to clearly communicate what is and isn’t on the table. Make sure to talk about how you’ll handle the possibility of developing feelings toward your other partners, too.

Advertisement

Dear How to Do It,

I had my first clitoral orgasm riding a bike when I was young. After that, I learned how to recreate the feeling and thus masturbate by rubbing up against anything with an edge—a chair, piano bench, bike seat, etc. This is the only way I masturbate, and it always gets me off. My issue is I want to teach myself to get off in a more “visually friendly” way. I want to be able to do this with a toy or my hand, a) so I don’t need to grind on furniture every time I want to make myself come and b) so it’s doable in front of another person. I’m guessing what gets me off is the grinding motion and a decent amount of pressure on the side of the vagina and not straight on the clit. Is there any vibrator or manual technique you can think of that could simulate this situation? I know there isn’t a “normal” way to masturbate, but I’d quite like to learn a more aesthetically pleasing one.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

—The Rub

Dear the Rub,

Try keeping a similar upright body position, using your hand to cup your vulva with a significant amount of pressure, and wiggling your hand back and forth slightly. Try laying on your back and doing the same motion with your hand. Try making the Vulcan greeting with your labia and clitoris in between your middle and index fingers and squeezing from the sides. With all of these, keep that grinding hip motion going.

Another thing that seems worth trying is a completely different tactic—other sensations. Yes, vibrators might work! The Hitachi is ever popular for a reason, and there are a number of devices from various manufacturers that cup the clitoris in a very interesting way. The Womanizer (I know, I know, the name) is one example, and Lelo—which, I have to disclose, I do influencer work for—makes a version called the Song Cruise 2 that I’m partial to because the motor gives more power when it’s pushed against the body. You also might try lubing up and gently stroking your genitals in ways that are new for you. If you need ideas, Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra has a wealth of tricks for various genital arrangements.

Advertisement

Dear How to Do It,

I’ve been in a relationship with someone I adore for a couple years, and we have wonderful physical and emotional chemistry. One thing that has come up as a challenge, however, is that we haven’t had sex yet. I’ve had sex before, but she hasn’t. She has felt significant pain and discomfort with penetration of any kind and, until recently, didn’t know why.

Thankfully, she’s seen an OB-GYN who informed her that she has a condition where some tissue didn’t quite separate properly during development. With a procedure, she can be pain free! Hooray!

Advertisement

She’s welcomed this as good news and plans to get the procedure one day. Unfortunately, in the meantime and for some time now, she says things like, “I wish my vagina wasn’t broken” and “I wish I wasn’t defective” after we’ve been intimate together. We talk about those thoughts when they come up, but I can tell that our conversations don’t keep them at bay. She also brings up that I must miss sex. I do sometimes and I tell her so when she asks, but I also say and truly feel that we don’t need to have sex to be sexual and satisfied together.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

I don’t want her to feel like this and I worry that even after the surgery she’ll have lingering thoughts like these and maybe feel like she needs to rush into sex. If it’s purely out of desire, I’m all for it! But I also want to make sure that she’s not feeling like she has to jump into sex because I miss it. Do you have any advice about how I might help with my words or actions?

—Satisfied

Dear Satisfied,

You can be there to help shoulder the burden. You can witness her emotional expression. You can remind her that you see a beautiful, sexual creature when you look at her. You can help her keep track of her surgery goal—maybe a chart of how close she is to being able to accomplish it. You can lavish sexual attention on her in ways that feel good to her. You can do all the other loving little things: ask her how her day was and listen, make shared dinner or tea, leave uplifting notes where she’ll find them. Whatever works for the two of you.

Advertisement
Advertisement

It’s hard to watch someone we love struggle with these kinds of feelings. There’s a natural urge to make the pain go away. Sometimes the hardest thing is to be present with them while they hurt.

Advertisement

As for after surgery, definitely follow the aftercare instructions. Wait until the medical professionals have said it’s OK to attempt penetration. Remember your comfort is important here, too. If you feel things are moving too quickly, you absolutely have the right to slow them down. But also remember that she’s probably genuinely excited to experience another facet of sexual interaction.

Have the big talks. Express your concerns and fears. Good luck to you both.

—Stoya

How to Do It

Recently, I noticed a Twitter notification on my phone that suddenly disappeared. Curious, I checked the email, and I found that it belonged to a man I dated briefly. He must have “liked” one of my posts accidentally. I scrolled through his posts, and was dismayed to see many “subtweets” about me in his feed! They were detailed and referenced my immigration status and continued long after we broke up. It makes me uneasy that he would post these things, and now I have reason to believe he was creeping on my social accounts when we hadn’t talked in more than a year. Am I overreacting, or should I be worried about this fixation?

Advertisement