How to Do It

My Partner Is Very Clear About What They Want During Sex—and My Attempts to Do It Are Literally Comical

Someone holds their partner's wrist, with fireworks in the background.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by RyanKing999/iStock/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!

Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.

Dear How to Do It,

My partner is a pretty serious sub. I am happy to take the lead in sex but being “dominating” doesn’t come that naturally to me. They want me to be rougher in bed and even have some pretty good suggestions for what to do and say. The thing is, when I’m having sex, all I’m really thinking about is how much I love them, so I end up saying things like “you’re amazing,” realizing that I was supposed to be trying to call them demeaning names, and following it up with “…an amazing whore!” I feel laughable. What do I do?

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—Top-pling

Stoya: Practice, practice, practice. Their partner is already feeding them lines. All they need to do is rehearse.

Rich: I admire the writer’s partner here for coming prepared with a script. A lot of partners who request a more verbal performance do not do this, and so their request is vague. And then it’s like, “You’re asking them not only to step outside of their comfort zone, but also write for you?” It’s too much. I think you can overburden a partner by forcing them to be creative. So: props!

Stoya: I’m wondering if approaching this like an actor might help. After all, we call BDSM interactions “scenes” and refer to dominance as a “role.” Build a character. Build one who says, “You filthy fornicating filly” when they mean “I love you.”

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Rich: I also wonder if there’s a way for the writer to be dominant without being verbal at all, as a sort of compromise. If this is a semantics issue, maybe the semantics need to be cut out.

Stoya: Oooh. Sort of like withholding pain from a masochist. The sub is beneath verbal labor. The occasional demeaning banter is reserved as a treat.

Rich: Getting psychological with it in that way might, in fact, be the perfect compromise. I also wonder if there’s a way to alternate between sessions in which the partner gets the domination they want during play, and then the next time the writer gets to express themselves emotionally.  I guess that would work as long as the partner doesn’t find the emotional expression to be a turn off entirely.

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Stoya: Great point—the writer’s desires are important, too. One of BDSM’s slogans is “The sub is always in charge.” But we need to remember that tops also have limits, boundaries, needs, and softer sides.

Rich: It’s promising that the writer is so open to their partner’s desires, and that they’re having these conversations in the first place. Keep it going.

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Stoya: Our writer might find comfort in Sinclair Sexsmith’s writings about the psychology of topping. They’re far from the only dom to feel awkward, silly, out of place, or—yes—laughable.

More How to Do It

My wife and I live in the same small, conservative rural town we both raised in. After having been married for about 12 years, my wife and I began the “hot wife” lifestyle and have been hot-wifing about five years now. I find it an incredible turn-on, and honestly, she has enjoyed it more than she ever imagined. There have been different men over those years, some of them longer term and some not. “Jay” entered our life about two and a half years ago. It’s hard to describe him, but he’s pretty much the perfect “bull.” He is handsome, well-traveled, speaks a half dozen languages, teaches at a college (with a Ph.D.), does fitness modeling, is well hung, kinky, and the man can literally have athletic sex all night. It is a joy to watch him with my wife, on video or occasionally in person.

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What’s more, I really enjoy him as a person. My wife and I have two kids, and they absolutely adore him, and constantly ask to go visit him, and on the chance meetings with friends and family, he puts them completely at ease. Of course, no one imagines he is our bull, although they do wonder how such a fellow found his way into our working-class, small-town lives. So, because of COVID, Jay is now teaching online. My wife has suggested that we let Jay move in with us until next summer so that he can take care of our kids as he works from our home. I’m not sure what to do—my interest in hot-wifing is strictly sexual, but I think my wife and Jay are basically in a polyamorous relationship. I don’t feel as if our marriage is threatened, and I don’t think Jay or my wife have any intentions to break up our home or his. However, I do believe their relationship is much more than sexual now. Is there anything wrong given I don’t believe it will change the status of our relationship?

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