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’m a fortysomething woman and have been with my partner for about eight years. Though I love him tremendously, our sex life has some struggles. The biggest issue we have is that depending on the time of the month, my vaginal lubrication level can be excessive. So excessive that we have to stop and dry off in order to continue. Sometimes he’ll lose his erection all together because he can’t get traction. To make matters worse, he refuses to perform oral sex because he says he’ll “drown.” I resent this especially because I not only enjoy giving him oral, but have made several concessions to make sex more enjoyable for him including learning to tolerate and eventually enjoy anal sex, which he loves. My partner’s penis is an average size when it’s fully erect, and I very rarely have an issue with climaxing. He, on the other hand only seems to be able to climax in one position, doggy style. No matter how we start, typically with me on top or missionary, we end with me on my knees. I’m open to the idea of double penetration with toys but am not sure where to start or how to bring it up. To be clear, this has never really been an issue in past relationships. I have had men say I’m very wet, but it hasn’t had the same impact on my sex life until now. I’m afraid that if this continues, my resentment regarding oral will get worse, and I fear that I will get bored with always having sex in the same positions. I’ve asked my doctors about the excessive lubrication, but I always get blown off because it is the opposite problem most women my age face, and worse yet, they tell me I should consider myself lucky! Any suggestions?
You’ve been with the guy for eight years, you say you love him, and you’re looking for solutions. I’m going to respect that and assume that it’s worth it for you. Long term, you might consider pushing your doctors harder on the issue. In the interim, keeping a small towel on hand to wipe down with seems like a useful temporary measure. Another thing that might help is dental dams, a sheet of nonporous material used in oral sex as a barrier between mouths and orifices. This might sound silly, but sticking a paper towel behind the dam feels like it’s worth a shot if there’s that much volume.
I really don’t like that drown is in quotes here, as that implies that it’s a direct quote, which seems unnecessarily dramatic.
Can you have a discussion in detail about what doggy does for him? If he’s being squeezed nicely, you can cross your upper thighs and squeeze in other positions, or you can do some serious pelvic floor work. If it’s a friction thing, maybe you can figure out why it’s happening better in that position and figure out ways to improve in others. The more data you can get, the better you can troubleshoot.
I’m not sure where double penetration enters the picture, but that’s awesome! Go slow. Really, really take your time. Be prepared to feel like you—yes, even you—need lube. You might have some on hand just in case. Better to not need it and have it.
You can also think outside the penis-in-vagina standard with oral for him and a few rounds of digital for you. Be sure to try plenty of variation during penetration in position and location before the formula finish.
Dear How to Do It,
When my boyfriend does anything sexual—talk, touch, a certain look, a certain noise, just me thinking of him—it makes my uterus convulse, and then my whole body stretch. It is a fantastic but potentially embarrassing issue to have, as location doesn’t play a factor. He suggests that I’m having small involuntary orgasms. Could this be true? I think that’s strange, as I have a very difficult time, during the actual sexual act, reaching orgasm. I’m mostly curious!
Do you feel like you’re having an orgasm? A single uterine convulsion and then a full body stretch doesn’t sound like an orgasm to me, and it sounds like you’ve had definite orgasms to compare to. I suspect in this case your boyfriend’s ego likes the sound of “I can make my girlfriend orgasm involuntarily by looking at her.”
Moving forward, if you know you have this sexual feeling in response to your boyfriend making sexual overtures, regardless of whether the two of you are in public, he should rein in anything randy until the two of you are alone.
Dear How to Do It,
The only way I can enjoy sex and reach orgasm, while masturbating or with a partner, is to shut out the outside world and concentrate on a fantasy, usually one involving domination and/or sexual assault. I get that rape fantasies are common, so I’m more concerned with needing to shut out my partner and focus on something else entirely while we’re having sex. My orgasms range from very mild releases of tension (most frequent) to a brief rush with little aftershocks that last for a minute or so. Obviously, I prefer the second kind, but that is rare and requires me to cover my eyes with my arm and completely block out the rest of the world while concentrating very hard on my inner fantasies. Having the radio or TV on in the background guarantees I won’t orgasm at all. If I lose my concentration at any point during sex, there’s little chance of getting it back enough for me to reach orgasm. I know orgasms aren’t necessary, but I need to do this to enjoy the sensations of sex at all.
I want to be engaged with my partner, whom I love, and not block him out. Prior to this relationship, my sexual experiences were a teenage relationship when I was WAY too young to have sex much less enjoy it or orgasm, alcohol-fueled one-night stands with no orgasms (my ability to consent was often questionable, even when I actually remembered the sex happening), and a few app hookups after I got sober that were somewhat fulfilling but with which I had this same problem. I want to be engaged with my partner and enjoy myself, but I can’t seem to do both.
—All in My Head
Dear All in My Head,
It’s a little counterintuitive, but I’m wondering if you should lean into the sensory deprivation thing. If you’re covering your eyes with your arm, I can see how you’d feel disengaged. If your partner is placing a blindfold over your eyes, that might feel more connected. Pro-tip: Get a heavy one that’s made for sex purposes.
Another way you can feel connected with your partner is to tell them about your fantasies. Let them in on what runs through your head as you’re having sex. Ask them if they’d like to be involved. Maybe the two of you can role-play or build shared scenarios.
You also might find that meditation helps your focus issue. In the morning, or at lunch, try some simple breathing exercises. There’s one I use where you breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, and exhale for eight. I do this four times. It takes 76 seconds. Less than a minute and a half. If you like it, there are more complicated practices you can look into. Barbara Carrellas is a great place to start. The hope is that better brain control in general can help you stay in the moment if there’s a noise distraction.
Dear How to Do It,
My partner, “Camille,” and I are both women in our mid-20s. We’ve been together for five years and are still spectacularly in love, and we just signed a lease together. Camille comes from a fairly conservative family, and as such is only about “half-out” to them; her mom knows we’re together but never talks about it, and her dad doesn’t know at all. On a seemingly unrelated note, I really love tattoos and have wanted them my whole sentient life, and last year (with Camille present, enthusiastic, and supportive) I got my first one—it’s very small and easy to hide. I was so thrilled to get my first tattoo and couldn’t wait to get more, but when Camille and I talked about it a couple of weeks afterwards, she was upset and anxious about the prospect, as her parents hate tattoos so much that she could never get a tattoo herself because they would quite literally disown her; if her parents knew I had a tattoo, they would completely despise me, and I would never integrate well into my family-in-law.
But here’s the thing: Lately I can’t stop thinking about getting more tattoos! I fantasize about designs and placements (still small, still easy to hide) and have been looking up local studios. I mentioned some of this to Camille and she seemed to feel positively about it, but maybe only because it is still in the realm of fantasy for me. Would it be disrespectful to my partner and her relationship with her parents to get more tattoos? Would it be disrespectful to my relationship? I know, my body, my choice, but my choices impact her, too. I’m asking so I can go into a sensitive, self-aware discussion with her. It’s not like I NEED more tattoos, and Camille’s happiness means everything to me. Thanks in advance.
—Tit for Tat
Dear Tit for Tat,
It’s your body. You’re Camille’s partner. Your physical decoration choices should not affect her parents’ love for their daughter. But since we live in the real world, that absolutely might end up being the case. You’ll have to weigh how important tattoos are to you against how likely her family is to cause major issues over them against how sturdy Camille is when it comes to her relatives. I think it’s less about respect for your partner and the relationship with her parents and more a question of how much drama you want to be dealing with.
I’d also recommend taking it slow with the tattoos. You’re in your mid-20s! You just got your first one! Remember you’re decorating a whole body, and you want to put some consideration into what the entire canvas is going to look like. You’ve got plenty of time, and this kind of artwork is pretty permanent.
More How to Do It
I’m a man who’s been in a relationship with a man for about two years. We have a healthy sex life on our own, but I have a greater desire for variety, so he’s OK to let me have things on the side when I want. I usually have a few other partners a month. He does not, but we communicate about this. My trouble is that lately, I feel gross when I see other people. Even with regular guys who I’ve had good sex with on and off for years, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, even shameful. I still have the desire, then I feel bad when I act it out. I think it might be because I’m falling more for my guy, which is a good thing. I worry, though, that this is rooted in feeling like monogamy would be the true “seal” of our relationship, or like I’m polluting our connection somehow. I spent enough time feeling guilty about my sexuality and needs and don’t want to start again now. But I’m not sure how to deal with these weird feelings. What do you think is going on?