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 have a wonderful relationship with my husband, and the sex is great. We have been married for a little over three years, and somewhere during the two-year mark, we started exploring a little bit with some sexy stories/dirty talk. He was really good at it, and it made whatever hot sex we were having even hotter. Then somehow the stories crossed a sexy line and took a comedic turn: I am not sure how that happened, but now all I can do when he tries to kiss me is giggle like I am a little schoolgirl! Help me please! It happened the other day as I was giving him a hand job, and he was close and for some weird reason I felt that was the right time to start giggling. He was so disheartened by it and thought I was laughing at him, which of course I was not. Even when we kiss otherwise it’s almost playful.
I know sex is meant to be fun and all, but really is it OK if I laugh when we are in the middle of it? It’s almost like a reflex now. I don’t how to turn it off. I feel like he will start to avoid me the more I laugh. Is this a tick that I have developed? I am going crazy. It’s not like I have flashes of him saying stories for comic relief or anything, I do get in the mood and everything, but it just seems really weird.
It’s OK to laugh! You can’t help it. The giggles might be an expression of joy, comfort, or relaxation. They also might be a nervous reaction because you’re worried about laughing. Depending on the timing, it could be an expression of overstimulation, too.
Go to your husband—he’s your husband, and you say you have a great relationship; you can talk about this with him—and tell him what’s going on. Explain that you have no idea why you’re laughing, and that it definitely isn’t at him. If he’s willing, see if you can have sex through the laughter. What happens if you start giggling and you two keep getting it on? Does the laughter dissipate? Do you adjust to the soundtrack and tune it out?
Try it, please. And if you find anything interesting, feel free to report back.
Dear How to Do It,
My partner and I have been together seven years. We have a great sex life, and we both love to explore just about anything we can. He is less open about things verbally, not as much as me, but overall he talks about trying new things and we do it together. I’ll ask him if he has anything else he wants to try, some deeper desires, but he thinks about it and says, “No, I think we pretty much try everything I want.”
Recently I discovered he had photos of some items he bought for sex. This includes things like whips—who are these for, if not for us? I saw pictures of him in women’s underwear, a fake silicone pair of breasts, him in a sauna in a woman’s swimsuit (one piece). That swimsuit would not even be so strange to me, but when I asked him if he would like to put one on, he said, “Not really my thing.” I haven’t broached the rest.
I don’t want him to know I went to his phone, but either he is cheating (I hope not), sexting with someone, or something else is going on. How can I find out about the women’s lingerie (bras, panties, thongs) he has? Should I buy something, bring it home, and make him wear it? I tried to find it in the house but couldn’t.
I don’t mind his fetish at all; I just want to understand why he didn’t tell me about it.
—Curious and Confused
Dear Curious and Confused,
I imagine this feels like a shock after seven years of what seemed to be open communication around sex.
Were these pictures selfies? This could be a private kink that your partner prefers to engage in alone. (Of course, if the photos were taken by someone else, that’s clearly not the case.) It could also be a way for him to explore his gender identity.
Regardless, you know you shouldn’t have looked in his phone. You also shouldn’t surprise your partner with lingerie, and you definitely shouldn’t coerce him into wearing it in front of you. Your partner might be hiding this because he feels shame about it, and that kind of force could cause some incredible hurt.
At this point you’ve got two options—ignore the situation or come clean. I think it’s best to come clean. Start by apologizing. “I did something I regret, and I’m sorry.” Explain what you’ve done. “I looked in your phone, which was a significant invasion of privacy.” Listen to his reaction—be prepared for justified anger—and apologize again. Take a moment to decide whether it’s a good time to proceed, and then broach the subject directly. “I saw pictures of you in lingerie, fake breasts, and a couple of other things. I’m curious about this aspect of you.” Then, let him lead the conversation.
Good luck. I think you’ve got this.
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Dear How to Do It,
I am a 30-year-old straight guy in a friends-with-benefits relationship with a mid-30s straight woman. We hooked up a couple of times over the past year. This week we got together for some fun, since we are both single. While having sex, sober and during the day, I noticed that she keeps her eyes closed the entire time during penetration, only opening them when we change positions. I am no Ryan Reynolds, but I am not ugly and in good lighting can flex some abs. My guess is that she has some crush or a fantasy running in her mind’s eye. This shouldn’t bother me, but my dick is losing some motivation, since I can’t stop noticing her shut eyes since then. I could just ask her to look at me but don’t want to ruin it for her. She is a sweet woman and a bit self-conscious, so I thought I’d get a second opinion before bringing it up. Is it common for women to keep their eyes shut the whole time during sex? What is a good way to talk about this?
Dear Sight Unseen,
“I noticed you close your eyes during sex. I’m curious about why.”
This is a direct way of opening the conversation, and a line that I have been on the receiving end of. I close my eyes because I’m sensitive to light, because I want to remove a sense to heighten the others, and because I want to avoid distraction.
There are so many reasons a person might close their eyes during sex. The two of us can make guesses, but we can’t know for sure. Ask. Gently and directly.
Dear How to Do It,
Hey, guys. I’m in love with my partner. We found each other five years ago after our respective, pretty bruising divorces. He’s 61 now, a dad to four young adults. I’m a 54-year-old mom of two teen boys. It’s been this unexpectedly joyful relationship for me after some tough divorce and post-divorce years when I had zero interest in men. He’s a caring, kind, decent man. There’s one thing that has been bugging me, though, and I’m looking for some help formulating the words to talk to him about this. The sex is good, sweet, and passionate. My only complaint is he avoids touching my belly. That is seriously my only complaint about this man! But it bothers me. I’ve birthed two kids, and my stomach is the squishy product of children and life. I’m not ashamed of it in any way but it’s not the perfect body. I have no abs. Even when we spoon, if he seems to accidentally brush my stomach with his arm, he’ll immediately move it up to clasp me tightly just below my breasts as if he wants to avoid that huge mess. To me it’s not a mess! It’s just me. And it bothers me he won’t embrace that (literally and figuratively). I haven’t told him how I feel about this. Any advice on what words to use?
— Love All of Me
Dear Love All of Me,
Your partner could be avoiding your belly because he doesn’t want to squish you with his arm weight. He could have a former partner who really hated having their stomach touched and carried that avoidance into this relationship. He could also be figuratively and literally refusing to embrace your humanity, but I think it’s worth having a discussion before we assume that that’s the case, so I’m glad that you seem open to that.
You might try something like “I like the way you touch me. I enjoy feeling your hands on my skin, and your arms wrapped around me. I’d like you to touch my stomach sometimes.” Depending on his response, a follow-up question might be useful, like “Are you comfortable providing this kind of touch for me?” If he isn’t, I think it’s OK to gently ask why. A real answer is far preferable to whatever worst case your imagination can create.
More How to Do It
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