How to Do It

I’m Afraid My Pricey Sexual Habit Is Going to Ruin Me

I love doing it, but at what cost?

Worried male college student in front of laptop next to a neon dollar sign with wings.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by omgimages/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!

Dear How to Do It,

I am 23 years old and a graduate student. I am somewhat concerned about my financial habit surrounding porn. I do not think I am going overboard when it comes to paying for the content I like and enjoy, but it still makes me wonder whether I am wasting more in the long run instead of using the money for other more necessary things. My current porn consumption is about $100 a month, allocated between two OnlyFans and Patreon subscriptions. I know I could be saving this money for essential groceries and such, which for me as one person can cost usually $100-to-$150 a month. I am currently employed through my school in a part-time job, and make a fair wage along with scholarships, grants, and loans applied to my savings. I don’t burn through my money (although I do tend to spend a bit more on nonessentials when I am unemployed) but I still feel guilty for allocating this much money to support the porn creator and receive their content that I enjoy.

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Does it sound like I am being irresponsible with my money? I want to keep supporting this person, but I dread the day if or when it becomes financially unfit for me to be purchasing this nonessential good, and I don’t know if I am already there or not. One way I have looked at it is that if I spend roughly $100 a month on this person’s content, I spend $1,200 a year, and I have been subscribed on this price tier for about a year and a half. Part of the problem is that, while I thoroughly enjoy this person’s content, I often find myself spending more time with other porn outlets that I am not paying for (all consensual and 18+ videos of course). And, while I spend most of my money on this content creator that I do very much enjoy, I often defer my allocated porn time away from their content for a later date. I tend to think of it like I am paying for my porn and supporting the content creator that I like, but consuming more of the industry through “free” outlets like Pornhub. Am I going about this in the wrong way? Am I simply making excuses for my porn consumption? How do I know if/when this becomes an unhealthy habit financially?

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—Frankly, Financially Flustered

Dear F.F.F.,

If you don’t know whether your financial situation has become untenable as a result of your porn use, how could I? Also, how could you not know? You’re either eating or not, letting bills lapse or paying them on time, seeing the figure you owe to your credit card company rise, fall, or stay static. This is a sex advice column, not a financial one, and as much as I envy and might even want to be Suze Orman in all of her collared, soft-butch glory, I am not her. She does say, “People first, then money, then things,” and the performer(s) you’re patronizing are people, so perhaps you’re doing right by our Suze?

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I have a feeling that you wouldn’t be asking this question if you didn’t know the answer—if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, etc. But I’m not going to spank you for living beyond your means, which is so common it’s practically inherent to the human (capitalist) condition. When you next feel like having a porn session, delay it and use the time to figure out your budget instead. There are websites and apps that will take you through this process, step by step. Then you’ll know for sure how much money you have to jerk off with, as it were. It’s nice to support sex workers whose content you admire, but not at your own financial peril. That something as frivolous as porn you don’t really look at much is causing you anxiety is a very good indication that you should probably start making cuts.

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Dear How to Do It,

I am a 50-year-old man who has been separated for 18 months after 21 years of marriage. I miss my wife and would go back to her in a second if given the chance, but I have resigned myself to the fact that it will never happen. We had sex a few times after I moved out and it was incredible—made me regret what I had but didn’t appreciate. Anyway, I decided to venture out and I want to have sex with as many women as possible—and I have. I DON’T want a relationship and have managed to have many on again/off again FWB arrangements and I have had mind-blowing sex. I have a high sex drive as it is, and meeting women who are sexually free and adventurous is a huge turn-on. They have all complimented me on my performance and my “tool” and all have had multiple orgasms during these encounters. I am having pornlike sex!

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The problem is that I’m not that into having intercourse anymore, to the point that I lose my erection sometimes when it is time to “close the deal.” I stay VERY erect during foreplay and can easily ejaculate that way. I masturbate often and can achieve an erection “on demand.” But, for example, I can be receiving an incredible blow job and as soon as we transition to intercourse, I either lose my erection or have to fondle myself some before I’m ready. Once I am “in,” I am generally good and can last longer than I ever did with my wife, and my partners are always left satisfied. In fact, I think I’m a better lover than I was when I was still with my wife. For some background, I still miss my wife and my masturbation is often centered on memorable sexual encounters with her. I never had this problem with her, and she would joke that I was always hard in our bed, even when sleeping. I loved our sex even though it wasn’t “pornlike.” I am also consumed about the thought of her having sex with another man … I can’t stand that visual. Not sure if any of that is relevant, but thought I’d share.

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—Can’t Close the Deal

Dear C.C.D.,

I don’t know how this would go for a straight dude of your age, but gay dudes of many ages are extremely upfront about their specific interests. There are guys who love to suck dick and guys who love to get sucked, and they can find each other easily via their app profiles and other online postings. I think because many queer men never really had a shot in conforming closely to heteronormative ideals, we’re liberated to deviate as much as we see fit. I’m going to encourage you to do the same. Tell your prospective hookups that you’re primarily looking to have oral sex. This may impede your path to becoming America’s Next Top Casanova, but it may also place you in the company of partners who are good matches for you. If you nonetheless feel obligated to engage in intercourse, I recommend changing it up frequently—see if your partner is down to keep returning to oral after a few minutes of vaginal.

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It’s important to keep in mind that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your desires—some people are just more inclined to enjoying oral sex/foreplay. It’s also important to keep in mind that this is part of the reason why glory holes exist. Just saying.

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Dear How to Do It,

I have a married friend that is very, very hot. He’s also one of the nicest, truly kind people I’ve ever met. I’ve met his spouse a few times, and they seemed pretty nice, though a bit older than my friend. Last summer we were chatting about something, and he let it slip that they haven’t had sex in years! I was shocked and sad for him. He clearly misses being touched (they don’t even sleep in the same bed). But, he’s a good guy, and wants to honor their marriage vows. At what point is it OK to point out that his needs are just as relevant and should be honored? I’ve suggested that he try to have that discussion, and perhaps seek “permission” to find an ethical third party to provide the physical attention. He is afraid of rocking the boat and causing an issue. But he’s indicating more and more distress. I’m frustrated for his situation, but if he won’t ask permission, and is too ethical to cheat, what other options can I suggest for him? He’s only in his mid-50s. That’s a long time ahead to be celibate.

—Frustrated for Him

Dear Frustrated,

I think you’re frustrated for him because you’re frustrated for yourself. Would you be so concerned if this guy weren’t “very, very hot?” You do realize what you’re telegraphing when that’s what you’re leading with, right? Meddling is nothing but helping with a side of self-interest. You’ve done all that you can here, while keeping things above the belt. Check in, have conversations with him, recommend Mating in Captivity. Don’t push him or offer yourself as an unethical release valve. He’s already expressed discomfort with any sort of ethical fix, and so I imagine that a lapse into the forbidden realm could create a legitimate crisis. Besides, solving someone else’s marital problem is like brushing their teeth for them. It’s not your place and it’s awkward as hell, at any rate.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m a 40-year-old transgender woman who has a wonderful fiancée that I’m madly in love with. When I met her, I’d been on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for about a year. HRT can cause sexual dysfunction and so it did. I came up with the idea of getting off of my HRT so I could have my sex life back and I could please my girl. But on the flip side of this coin, HRT means a lot to me, and besides sex issues, I want everything else the hormones have to offer. I’ll stop taking them for a couple weeks before I see her just to get myself “back in order” sexually but I still have a lotta trouble reaching orgasm. So much so, in fact, that she’s never seen it happen, and we’ve been together since middle October 2020. So now I’m worried that even without HRT something is wrong downstairs or perhaps upstairs psychologically.

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—Transgender and Neurotic

Dear T.N.,

The idea of abruptly going on and off of medical treatment makes me nervous, so I reached out to an expert to clarify. “We generally fully support patients in doing whatever they (autonomously) feel is best for their goals and well-being when it comes to hormones,”  Christina Milano, M.D., the medical director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Transgender Program, told me in an email. (Milano is also a family medicine provider who offers hormone therapy to transgender patients.) “That said, we generally don’t advise folx to abruptly stop and start, for a myriad of downstream effects on their body from that approach,” she continued.

There are other reasons why just winging it here isn’t advisable—your medical provider could help devise a regimen that allows for your hormone therapy and desired sexual functioning. After reviewing your question, Milano told me in another email:

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It is true that many folx on gender-affirming hormones may experience changes in their sexual health and function. Whether those changes are a welcome or desired outcome is very different for each individual, and I am cautious to not assign value to how those changes may be experienced. Some common things I counsel patients to expect are changes in libido, frequency of erectile responses and capacity for orgasm, as your reader alluded to. Fortunately, we can engage lots of different approaches and therapies to support patients in maintaining BOTH their gender-related goals and their sexual health. Sometimes we may discover that we have over-suppressed a transfeminine patient’s natural production of testosterone, and we can make adjustments in the hormone regimen (or supplement with exogenous hormones) to allow for a greater balance. We also often will engage with our mental health colleagues to work with patients on the psychological dimensions of their evolving sexual experience, as this may be as much at play as any contributing factor from hormones. As your readers well know, our sexuality remains a complex, mysterious realm, with so much more to discover than what we currently understand, but we certainly can do right by patients to validate the changes they may experience as they embark on their gender journey with hormones.

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This idea that you “came up with” might be better executed as a collaboration with medical and mental health experts. Consider consulting them.

— Rich

More How to Do It

I’m a woman in my late 20s dating from apps after a relationship. I’m currently seeing two men that I met at roughly the same time and hit it off with. We’ve had no formal talks about being exclusive on either side. I have an IUD, and after our first couple times, I’ve fallen into a habit of not using condoms with either guy. My question is what level of obligation I have to bring up to these guys that they’re not the only person I’m banging without protection? I think it’s assumed—I assume they’re seeing other people, too—but I do wonder if they might not be aware of what I’m doing. What am I required to disclose, if anything?

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