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 a 57-year-old guy, a widower for the past four years. I am successful and still considered good looking for my age. I have had no problem finding attractive women to date and bed. I have no intention of getting remarried at present, mostly because I adore my three kids and do not want to change our lives with a stepmother just as they are setting up to fledge their wings and take off. My time with my kids is very precious to me. This has led to the occasional acrimonious breakup with the women I date, but I have always been upfront with them about my intention to keep it casual at present.
A few months after my beloved wife died, I discovered online porn, and that was my only sexual outlet for about two years till my kids felt comfortable at the thought of me dating again. The problem is that I got addicted to porn during that period, and my tastes gradually evolved in a very specific direction—namely gay porn between older masculine hairy guys and younger smooth men (twinks). I honestly don’t know who I identify with more, the daddy or the twink, when I look at these videos, and in my more analytical moments I think it is linked to my teenage years in an all-male boarding school when I was quite sexually active with other similarly aged boys. I never felt any same-sex desire once I left school and had access to women. These days, however, it’s about all I fantasize about, though I have managed to kick the porn habit.
I don’t know what to do about this. I find myself attracted to young, skinny, smooth (college-age) guys, and this bothers me quite a lot. My son often brings home his college buddies, and I am afraid to hang out with them in case I develop fantasies about any of them. It doesn’t help that at least a couple of his gay friends have given me every indication that they are attracted to me. At my darkest, I am deathly afraid that my tastes might evolve even further and suddenly I might find myself attracted to teenage guys and I might turn into one of those perverts. And as you can imagine, this makes it even harder to form committed relationships with the women I date. I have considered marriage just to help deal with this, but I am honest enough to know it won’t solve the problem since it does not arise from a lack of sex. Sex with women remains satisfactory but less compelling. A therapist should probably be my next option, but I want to have a sense of what to aim for before I see one.
Dear Daddy Issues,
The most worrying aspect of your letter is your fear that your taste might lead you to molesting children. There is no “probably” here: A therapist should absolutely be your next option. I don’t know if you’re just being paranoid about a hypothetical slippery slope, or if in fact you do have a sexual interest in underage boys that you’re this close to being ready to admit, but either way, sort that out immediately. This is not a risk you want hanging over you or potential victims. If you are sincerely worried that you’re a pedophile (or hebephile or ephebophile), you should look into speaking with a clinician like James Cantor, one of the world’s leading experts on pedophilia, who works through the Toronto Sexuality Centre.
If that is not your situation, I’d talk to my therapist about the porn addiction you say you had and kicked. “Porn addiction” isn’t an actual American Psychiatric Association DSM diagnosis—a problematic relationship with porn that takes on features of addiction (keeping you from obligations, for example) is grouped in the realm of hypersexual disorders, which is to say that not using porn doesn’t necessarily mean you are “cured” of an underlying issue. You have a lot of anxiety about your interest in younger guys, with good reason, beyond your suspicions that this could all lead to child abuse. I don’t think a guy in his 50s hooking up with a guy in his 20s is inherently abusive or evil—it is indeed a large subculture, as you’ve discovered—but I think you should stay away from your son’s friends for hopefully obvious reasons. Generally speaking, within May-December pairings, there is a disparity in power and emotional development, so hooking up with any guy in his 20s could be playing with fire, especially given your own internal conflicts. Forging any relationship beyond a sexual one would in all likelihood present further challenges. You say you don’t know if you identify more with the twinks or the daddies in the porn you consume(d)—why not give daddies a go? It could make this entire situation so much less fraught, and I’m sure you’d be able to find a horny guy around your own age to help relieve your tension. It seems like you’re in need of some man-on-man bonding; I urge you to pursue it ethically.
Dear How to Do It,
I’m a bisexual college student who’s yet to date—and I am quite content with this—but it recently occurred to me that when I do find someone someday and eventually get to the point of having sex, I may come across a minor problem of sorts. I have very bad vision, and without my glasses, I can’t see anything. It’s all just increasingly less defined color blobs if it’s more than an inch or so from my face. I’ve worn glasses my whole life, and I like them, and so don’t see myself switching to contacts (they’re weird, and glasses have more personality). This is all to ask a very simple and maybe silly question; What do I do when having sex? Do people wear glasses having sex? How much of a loss would it be for me to not clearly see my partner? Are there things glasses would get in the way of or complicate? Basically, is there anything I should know or be aware of, so when I finally find some hot human, I won’t be completely clueless?
You’re adorable, and it isn’t just the glasses. Though contrary to popular belief, people do make passes at boys and girls who wear them. In terms of your options, the sky is the limit. A performer in gay porn best known as Blake Mitchell made his black, thick-rimmed glasses his trademark, keeping them on while getting it on. He is living proof that you need not lose your sight upon losing your laundry. However, I have found that keeping my glasses on can make kissing and giving oral more awkward, so I tend to go in blind as a mole out a hole. My sight isn’t too bad, though. You may find if you go this route that your erotic response actually elevates—inhibiting one sense can cause another to compensate (this is part of the rationale behind the use of blindfolds during sex). You could also adopt contact lenses for only certain activities like sex. I generally wear my glasses in daily life but change into contacts for extended periods outside (so I can wear sunglasses) and workouts. I haven’t “switched” to either side, per se, nor do I have to. I’m more likely to wear contacts during sex, too, since I’m visual and enjoy eye contact.
This is all stuff to keep in your head, but there’s a strong likelihood that when you finally do find some hot human, as you put it, things will fall into place in such a hormonal blur that none of it will really matter. You’ll either be wearing glasses, or you won’t—either will be fine while you’re otherwise feeling great.
Dear How to Do It,
My husband and I have been together for over 20 years. He’s a good guy, the best friend I have, and I can see us growing old together. We have one child.
Hindsight has also made me realize how incompatible we are sexually, despite enjoying being physically intimate with him. Over the past year or two, my interest in kink and BDSM has vastly increased. I yearn to explore this side of me that, until recently, I’d always thought of as deviant. Had I known back in my 20s how tame my fantasies actually were and that there were plenty of people like me, my life’s trajectory might have been much different. I brought the subject up to my husband before I attended my first munch, both as a way to broach the topic with him and as a matter of safety and disclosure. I followed up with him after I had attended the munch. He knows that I want to explore this side of me, and before I feel too old to be able to. He is not at all interested, and has also expressed that he doesn’t want to share me. I’m not surprised that he’s not interested. The times he’s provided digital foreplay was simply to get me in the mood when I wasn’t, and his oral work is reluctant and half-assed, both of which make it difficult to enjoy. (He thinks oral sex is degrading, both giving and receiving.)
Even if he were on board with exploring BDSM with me, because of the above complaints and how profoundly I feel let down by him, I cannot envision him in the role of a dom, anyway.
I do feel strongly that we should be able to have adult conversations about these things. Broaching the subject of wanting these experiences took a lot for me. I’ve never told my husband how unhappy our sex life has made me, and I don’t intend to. Doing so would hurt him unnecessarily.
The way I see it, I have four possible courses of action. 1) Cheat on him. Not a good option, not a mature option. I’m not comfortable with the idea of being dishonest with him or with risking his health. 2) Open the marriage. He’s already stated that he doesn’t want to share me, but for me, this is the best and preferred path. 3) End the marriage. Even though I’m very unhappy with this area and other aspects of the relationship, I do love our family unit. I don’t want to implode our family. As awful as it is, I think I’d rather cheat and try to take that to my grave. 4) Deny myself. I struggle with depression. If this is the path, I can see Option 3 as becoming inevitable.
I don’t know what to do, but what I have decided is to give myself five years. Five years to work on improving myself, adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle, to attend munches and skill shares (to learn more but within boundaries), to continue to nurture and parent my child as best I can, to continue to build our family bond, and to work on communicating better with my husband. Maybe at some point in those five years, I can get through to him how important it is to me to have this exploration, and we can arrive at a mutual decision to open the marriage. I think that’s optimistic, but setting out this five-year plan has given me some peace and taken some pressure off.
Am I missing any other possibilities? Does my plan seem sound? Am I being selfish or unreasonable? Writing this out makes me feel like I’m a terrible person, but if a friend were in this situation, I’d tell them to live life for themselves. I neither want to hurt my husband nor my family, but forgoing this aspect of myself is hurting me. What would you suggest I do?
Dear Five-Year Plan,
It bums me out that writing that out made you feel like a terrible person—I would hope at the very least, such a specific articulation of the state of your sex life would provide you with catharsis. From my perspective, you are not a terrible person. You know exactly what you need sexually, and I believe it is your right to pursue it. Imagine taking your Option 4 and looking back on yourself 50 years from now. What do you think you would say? “If only I had…” seems like a strong possibility. Don’t set yourself up for regret.
What I find most vexing about your situation is that you’ve already identified your solution. It’s right there in front of you, and all you need is the permission to grab it. That’s the open-marriage option. Talk to your husband again—I wouldn’t wait five years. Framing this as the dire situation that it is could get through to him. You need not criticize his performance to have a frank conversation about your sex life, which I do encourage. Given that you’ve considered divorce, it’s time to tell him the whole truth, kindly.
Don’t cheat on him, though. You have all the pieces here to solve your problem with compassion and honesty (self-awareness plays a huge role here). Stay true to your sensibilities.
Dear How to Do It,
My girlfriend and I (male, late 20s) have been together for several years. We’ve had our hurdles in our sexual relationship, mostly due to a mismatch in libido (mine high, and hers low). But we have handled them pretty well on our own through open communication, and have had a pretty smooth past year or two, having pretty satisfying sex once most weekends until now.
I try very hard for her to orgasm at least once every time, which historically has mostly been by my fingers on her clitoris (she doesn’t like oral, though I am willing). Most often, she comes once before we get to penetration, which works for me because it’s hard for me to last as long as it takes for her to come. This is the root of our current problem. Ordinarily, I’m able to manage my stamina by slowing down on thrusts while playing with her clitoris, but now she says the inconsistent thrusting is a problem.
In the past couple of weeks, she’s expressed a desire for a more constant and steady thrusting rhythm on my part. The problem is that steady thrusts make me come pretty much instantly. To make matters worse, the positions she likes make me come even faster. The only thing that has ever helped me last longer is removing my penis and pinching the tip, but that defeats the purpose because it’s breaking the rhythm that felt good for her. It’s not every single time—often I’m able to manage much better on the bottom, and usually the longer I manage to last, the easier it is to keep it going. But she shouldn’t be required to be on top every time.
Frankly, I want to last longer too! It would lead to more satisfying sex for me as well. I feel let down when I can’t make myself last, but now I feel worse that I’m letting down the woman I love. How can I work on this?
Dear Quick Draw,
Look into Kegels—pelvic-floor strengthening can help with your endurance. Something you could play around with, if you aren’t averse to medication, is E.D. drugs, which may help you last longer (or perhaps going multiple rounds, which may find you less sensitive after your first orgasm). You can also try edging when you jerk off (that is, masturbating almost to orgasm, backing off before the point of no return, and repeating) to see if you can acclimate your body to lasting longer through hands-on practice. I think you’re on the right track with the positioning option, too. It’s nice that you want to provide her with a range of positions, but some people can only do so much. If she enjoys being on top and it’s allowing for the kind of sex that she wants, that’s not a problem—it’s a solution.
More How to Do It
A few weeks ago, I discovered my wife cheated on me. (I won’t say how I found out, but you’d tell me I shouldn’t have done it.) Now that I know, I’m not sure how to bring it up, or if I should. I know through the same means I discovered the affair that it’s over, and she feels guilty about it. I noticed an uptick in our sex life around the time I now know her affair ended, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I keep waiting to snap and tell her, but even when we got drunk together one night, it just wasn’t front of mind. I told my best friend, and he said he’d have totally lost it, but I’ve “always been weird about this kind of stuff.” I’d honestly rather just forget it, let my wife work through her guilt on her own, and hopefully learn her lesson. Is that possible if I say nothing?