How to Do It

I Accidentally Discovered My Wife’s Erotic Reading Material, and I’m Horrified

A man looks at a computer screen in the dark with floating question marks.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by 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 recently caught my wife reading stories about father-daughter incest, allegedly by women who had enjoyed this. I had gotten odd vibes regarding my wife and her father, but I figured that I didn’t really understand father-daughter relationships in general. Now I’m not so sure. It may have just been a fantasy for her, but there are young relatives who could be at risk if her father really is that kind of person. If we have children ourselves, that will always be in the back of my mind—there is perhaps even the risk that my wife will be inappropriate with her offspring if she regards such relationships as positive. Frankly, this makes me never want to have children. Is there any good way to ask my wife about this?

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—Just a Fantasy?

Dear J.F.,

Fantasies, by their nature, are not reality. They’re sometimes a way of us getting closer to things that will never or can never be a reality but that are nonetheless exciting and/or stimulating. Incest fantasies are not uncommon—in Justin Lehmiller’s survey of 4,000+ Americans, the results of which were published in his 2019 book Tell Me What You Want, about 20 percent of respondents said they’d fantasized about incest at some point, he told me by phone recently.

I put this in front of you in the hopes of influencing your mindset if and when you broach this subject with your wife. People are capable of all sorts of thoughts they’d never act on or even admit to; your wife’s just happen to have been externalized in her reading material. I don’t mean to second guess your intuition, which could very well be spot on, but from an outsider perspective, “odd vibes” and some leisure reading are hardly evidence of actual incest, so you should approach any discussion on the matter with an open mind. Ask questions, don’t point fingers. Inquire, don’t accuse. Anything bothering you so much to warrant a reevaluation of your life path is worth discussing, but be prepared to receive some anger or scrutiny over how you uncovered your wife’s reading material in the first place. (Were you snooping?) The act of making people answer for things can provoke its own questions.

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Dear How to Do It,

I am in need of some help processing my situation. My girlfriend and I are in love—that much I am sure of. She has two kids who I adore, and everything is great. She works at a massage parlor. I recently received screenshots of conversations between her and a potential client, and it was pretty sexually damning. I didn’t know the sender and number was never available again, so I decided to arrange that a friend make contact and see if he can arrange something similar with her. This was confirmed, but never executed. The excuse when I confronted her was that her personal phone is used as a common go-to point within the rooms, since she is the manager. Which basically means she says someone else was responsible for that dialogue. This places MASSIVE doubt in my mind. Need advice on a way forward to help process this, because my mind has now totally run away from me.

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—Seeking the Truth

Dear S.T.,

I’m with you. This seems like a weak excuse. At least, from my Western perspective it does—people don’t usually share cellphones in these parts, especially not a group of work colleagues. One would expect, in fact, the need for personal cellphones in the kind of establishment that you suspect your girlfriend is working in, as people theoretically develop a client base. She could have meant that her phone is the hub through which clients come in and are assigned, making her effectively the parlor’s madam, but she was not specific enough in your retelling to make that clear. Were you surprised to learn that this parlor offers such services? Did you express that surprise to her and did she explain why she had failed to mention it? If you were aware that such activity does take place where she works but assumed she was an exception, well, clearly you were eager to be fooled.

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As shocking as the potential that you are dating a sex worker is to you, there are much worse things—unfortunately, dating a liar is one of them. The only way you can move forward is if she comes clean and explains herself. If she is content to keep up what seems surely to be a charade, you’ll have evidence that you can’t trust her. And you can’t be in a relationship with someone that you can’t trust, at least not for very long. Maybe understanding the gravity of the situation will prompt her to be more forthcoming. If not, consider moving on.

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Dear How to Do It,

My husband and I are in our mid-40s, we’ve been married for 10 years, and we have two kids. I have a strong libido, and one of the main reasons that I married him was because our sex was amazing. He’s well-endowed, and we would go at it two or three times daily. Within the last two years, his desire has plummeted. He says that he doesn’t feel aroused at all anymore. On the rare occasion that we do have sex, it’s because I’ve been complaining about it, but he can’t get it up. Even if he could, pity sex feels so awful. We end up doing oral (he is flaccid the entire time) but that’s not enough for me. I so very much miss the feeling of being filled up by a well-endowed man. My husband has talked to his doctor, who has prescribed the two main ED pills, but they don’t work. He won’t talk with his doctor about it anymore because he just doesn’t care. We have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for the last four months, I have an arsenal of vibrators and dildos, but they are losing their appeal. I want a man. I’ve literally gained 40 pounds over the last six months, due to emotional eating and lack of physical intimacy, which I believe compounds the problem. He’s attracted to thin women. I absolutely refuse to tear our family apart because I want to go out and get some D, but I’m depressed, feeling unwanted, unfulfilled and embarrassed, and to top it all off, now I’m fat, and ashamed of myself. I know that my husband will not want to see a couples therapist. What should I do?

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—Desperate for the D

Dear D.D.,

E.D. medication doesn’t really work on libido; rather, it allows the dick to synchronize with said libido. I wonder if your husband had his testosterone checked, as low T can erode one’s sex drive. I understand that he won’t talk to his doctor anymore because he doesn’t care, but he should care because you care and his job as your partner is to care about the things that you care about. Not all the things, mind you, but if something is important to you, it at least indirectly affects him and should prompt his concern. In this case, it directly does, as the continuation of an active sex life is a reasonable thing to expect in a relationship. It doesn’t always pan out, but sexual connection generally warrants a conversation, if not strategizing.

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If he won’t work with you, you have a few options. Since you state that you don’t want to tear your family apart, let’s table divorce for now and consider an open marriage. This would allow you to stay together and chase big dick elsewhere. Why not propose it and see what he says? Even if he’s against the idea, at least you’ll get more data on the consideration he has for you and his willingness to negotiate. You should also consider therapy yourself, as this situation is affecting your self-esteem. Your embarrassment suggests that you’re blaming yourself for your husband’s lack of sexual interest. You’re hardly the only person to gain weight during lockdown, so don’t blame yourself for that either. Also, I know it’s of little consolation but it sounds like your husband’s lack of desire is unrelated to your appearance. From what you wrote, I don’t think that you can tone yourself back into a sex life with him—it’s going to be a lot more complicated than that and require transparency and effort on his part. If he can’t provide those things, you have to wonder how good of a partner he actually is.

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Dear How to Do It,

There’s a boy I’ve been close friends with for three years. I hooked up with him in our freshman year of college (we’re now juniors) at his birthday party. The sex was average, and it only happened once, and our relationship’s been platonic ever since. A few weeks ago, I went over to his place to hang out with him and his roommates (one of whom is my best friend). I got extremely drunk, and only remember the night in disjointed snapshots. I remember talking with the whole group in their living room, and then him telling me to take my shirt off in his bedroom so he could suck on my breasts. The next thing I remember is him fingering me and performing oral sex on me while choking me (he knows it’s a kink of mine but we hadn’t done it before and he caught me by surprise). I woke up on the futon in their living room the next morning, still so drunk I had difficulty calling myself an Uber home. I learned the next day that he’d been completely sober the entire time, and I don’t know how to talk to him about it, but I don’t feel great about it. I don’t know if he knows just how drunk I was, and also don’t know if we did anything else aside from what I remember. I don’t want him to think that he can accept the consent of a girl as drunk as I was that night in the future, especially if he’s sober on top of everything, but I don’t know how to bring this up without making him think I’m accusing him of rape and damaging our friendship. Do you have any advice on how to approach this?

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—Unsure

Dear Unsure,

Speaking to be heard is crucial but this guy isn’t entitled to your patience, so if you aren’t feeling patient, you’re not obligated to pantomime it for his sake. The fact is that he should already know that he can’t accept consent from someone who is incapacitated to the point of blacking out, and it’s infuriating that he should have to be taught. In fact, it’s my sneaking suspicion that he is well-aware of this, and that he was well-aware of how inebriated you were, and yet he did what he did regardless. I don’t love that your best friend declined to intervene, but since you don’t seem perturbed about this (perhaps that person was drunk as well?), I’m not going to dictate your emotions. (Though it’s worth noting that those emotions and your understanding of what happened here and what you want to do about it could change over time, and that is OK too!) You feel what you feel right now, and if you leave this situation not feeling great but not particularly traumatized, well, that could be a good thing. Not carrying around trauma is preferable to being burdened by it.

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In my view, you’re not the one who has to worry about damaging the relationship with this dude—he already did that. But since you want to be neutral, be neutral. Tell him you’re having a hard time remembering the night, and you can’t figure out how you ended up on his futon. Have him recap. If he leaves out anything that you remember, you know what you’re dealing with. Then jog his memory and ask him whether he considers what happened rape. Assuming the confrontation continues to feel safe for you, make him defend his thesis. I have a feeling he’s going to fail. Try not to go easy on your grading.

—Rich

More How to Do It

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Late 30s woman here, and my boyfriend is in his late 30s as well. We have a great relationship and I love him dearly, but our sex life isn’t as great as it could be, because he can’t last more than a few minutes—often it’s less than a minute of sex before he ejaculates. He pleases me in other ways and we use toys, but I’d really like to have sex with him for a longer duration. He seems pretty healthy and has discussed the issue with his doctor, who gave him some Viagra to try, but it didn’t really do anything. (Getting an erection isn’t the problem anyway.) He isn’t circumcised—could that be a factor? He’s also mentioned some shame he experienced in a past relationship that have affected his attitudes toward sex. We’re considering a delay cream/spray, and I’ve also suggested he masturbate more and delay release, but he hasn’t been actively doing that yet. I love him and see myself spending my life with him, but I don’t think I can be satisfied if things keep going this way. Do you have any advice for us?

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