Dear Prudence

Help! My Boyfriend Has Truly Absurd Expectations for Sex.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Q. Sexual dysfunction : Recently, I started my first and very demanding job as a doctor. I’m a 27-year-old woman from Denmark. Currently, I’m a resident in emergency medicine and work 60-80 hours a week. My boyfriend is working abroad at the moment, although we normally live together. He only returns home roughly once a month. Since the beginning of our relationship, he’s had a medical condition, which means that his ejaculation is seriously delayed and sometimes doesn’t come at all. In order to ejaculate, we need to be at it for hours. After a busy working day, I just can’t wrap my head around having sex for hours and hours. I wish we could just have a quickie, but at this time I’ve genuinely come to dread having sex. We haven’t had sex in months and I’m afraid it’s going to be the end of our relationship.

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He still wants to have sex, but also understands my difficulty. I keep encouraging him to seek medical treatment, but he keeps postponing and making excuses. I think it’s because conservative treatment options have dried up at this stage, and he genuinely fears surgery. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s a very small procedure and not a full vasectomy. He seems to understand, but does nothing about it. I don’t want to compel him to make decisions about something as personal as his own body, but I’m afraid that this could mean the end of our relationship long-term. What do I do?

It’s understandable that you don’t want to put undue pressure on your boyfriend to seek medical treatment, but nothing you’ve described here sounds anything like undue pressure, and it’s completely reasonable to say, “I’m just not up for sex that lasts for hours,” given your work schedule. If you’re worried you two will end up breaking up over this (which you’re allowed to do!), take advantage of the physical distance between you at present to have a conversation about what things will look like on his next visit home. Is he up for the possibility of having sex that lasts however long you think you’re up for it, rather than “however long it takes to get him off”? Are you? Do you have a sense of how you might draw things to a close when you’re ready to stop, or does the idea of moving on before he comes feel too daunting a prospect? Have you two discussed other options, like mutual masturbation, such that you don’t feel overwhelmed by hours long marathons but might still maintain a sexual connection? “I can’t keep having sex for hours on end and we need to find another compromise or else talk about breaking up” is not putting undue pressure on your boyfriend to see a doctor or schedule surgery he’s ready for, but a perfectly reasonable limit with a number of possible solutions.

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