How to Do It

A Drunken Threesome Has Left My Wife and Me With an Unexpected Problem

Really didn’t think we’d be coming home with this!

Three sets of feet protrude from a duvet; a neon baby carriage floats above.
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,

My wife and I are both in our late 30s and have been together as a couple since we were juniors in high school. We were both like-minded, career-wise, and we each went into the tech field upon graduation from college. We started a business together and have been very successful at what we do. Since we were both so driven to get our company off the ground, it left little time for creating a family outside of just the two of us.

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About two years ago, we found ourselves with enough financial stability to where we could pull back somewhat from work and begin planning on having children. My wife stopped taking the pill, and we began in earnest trying to conceive. Unfortunately, during this time, my wife slept with another man during a night of heavy drinking—at my behest. At that time, I was the only man my wife had ever been with sexually (I actually lost my virginity in middle school and was active all throughout my high school years), and we had been having discussions about her fooling around with someone else. To me, sex is just a physical activity, and the thought of her trying another dick not only didn’t bother me, but it actually excited me. So one night after we had a watch party, I encouraged one of my good friends to hang around afterward for some “additional partying.” The alcohol clouded our judgment, and we didn’t even consider using condoms.

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Of course, a few weeks later my wife turned up pregnant, and doing the math, we immediately knew that my buddy could easily be the father.  Nine months later, my wife gave birth to a baby boy that obviously was not mine. (My friend is of a different ethnicity.)

Now having told you all of this, I don’t want you to think my problem is the obvious. I’ve accepted the consequences of my actions, and I love “our” son more than anything. We co-parent with my buddy (yes, we are still good friends), and I don’t care what friends and family have to say about my wife giving birth to another man’s child. Here’s the rub: We had always planned on just having one child. Now that she’s done so, my wife is not interested in having more children. Even though I love our son, I still really want a biological child of my own. Am I wrong for feeling cheated?  Should I continue to press the issue and try to convince her to give me a child as well. I don’t want to end up resenting either my wife, my friend, or my son, but I fear that could be a distinct possibility in the future if I am left childless. What do you advise?

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—One and … None?

Dear One and None,

I don’t see this as you being cheated. You played yourself. You knew the one-child plan going into this, you ignored the very obvious risk of pregnancy (alcohol may have clouded your judgment and made consequences easier to ignore, but it did not delete how babies are made from your brain), abortion doesn’t seem to have been considered despite the awareness that your buddy’s seed could very well have been that which was planted, and here you are. I don’t believe you’ve actually accepted the consequences of your actions in context because you’re balls deep in them, and yet you’re asking for our blessing to change the terms of your agreement. You put “our” son in quotes, and you fret about being “left childless.” That makes me worry about your “parenting.” You could work on your wife—as much as you are in a situation of your own making, I don’t think a conversation is out of order, as people do change their minds about things, though don’t even think about coercion—but it might be more useful to work on yourself. Through your choices and allowances you made a baby in an unconventional way. The way I see it, the kid is your son. Raise him without scare quotes.

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A side note on my bias: I understand that people feel compelled to spawn, as the continuation of our species depends on it. I know many people who have had babies in recent years, some of those babies I’m even fond of. Hopefully the world will be better with these new little people in it. But if you’re asking me well in advance if you should reproduce, given the state of the planet’s ecology, I’m never going to give you an enthusiastic thumbs-up to bring someone into the world who may very well die an early death of thirst. That sounds dramatic and I hope it doesn’t happen, but that’s just where my mind goes, and you took me there.

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Dear How to Do It,

I have recently begun to be plagued by relentless guilt about past sexual exploits and don’t know how to move past it. I have had an interest in light bondage content since I was a teenager, and am now in my mid-30s. (I should say I have reason to believe I have undiagnosed issues on the autism spectrum.) I have been married for more than 10 years, and my wife does not share my interest in bondage sex or agree with my looking at bondage content, so I have enjoyed that part in secret, operating on the belief that it’s an open secret that neither of us acknowledge. There was a time years ago where my wife would burst in on me in the shower almost trying to catch me in the act, so I became extra secretive. I am feeling horrible for keeping my habit a secret. I recently became a father, and the guilt has washed over me as to what kind of person I am. Most troubling to me, I have brought this habit to work; I have read that 40 percent of people masturbate on the job or at the office, but my office is a middle school, and while my sexual acts were done in private, it just makes me feel like a pervert. I have prayed for forgiveness and have cut back on my bondage content at home and deleted my online storage account. How do I ever forgive myself, because I can’t share this with my wife—it would break her—and I could lose my job, my wife, and my child?

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Guilty

Dear Guilty,

Firstly, stop masturbating at the middle school where you are employed. You’re putting yourself in legal and employment jeopardy. You’re better off finding a single-stall public restroom with a locking door and doing your thing there. If you refrain for enough time, it’ll be much easier to look back on what you were (someone who jerks off in a middle school bathroom) and forgive that person in light of what you’ve become (someone who no longer jerks off in a middle school bathroom).

You’re dealing with unresolved shame that I think has been unfairly foisted on you.
Ideally, your wife would accept your kink as part of you, and understand why you masturbate to bondage material. She has effectively sentenced you to at-home conversion therapy without even so much as a pseudo-scientific rubric, and look at how miserably said therapy has failed. Assuming that the porn you’re watching was made ethically and with consent, there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching it or having a general interest in bondage. If having a partner who enjoys that sort of thing was a hard no for your wife, ideally you would have discussed breaking up when that line in the sand was drawn. Given what you have to work with, I think therapy is the best course of action for you. It can take people years to get over shame, and in the meantime, it can cause utter chaos. Helping you through processing your shame is beyond the means of an advice column, and since you suspect you may be on the autism spectrum, that’s even more reason to talk to a therapist who can start working with you through this. With the right help, you will achieve clarity that is, at this moment, eluding you.

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Dear How to Do It,

I am a woman in my late 20s. I was single for most of the pandemic, by choice—I had a breakup in December 2019 and didn’t feel a need to force things when it wasn’t safe. Now I’ve been dating a new man since May (even while I realize delta has made things tricky again). We have pretty hot sex. He likes to keep his head between my legs for a good long while, and his dick is a “goldilocks,” if I have that term right.

The problem is that this guy is very sweet and placid, like to a fault. It’s so nice in some aspects of our relationship, but when it comes to sex, I tend to like it raunchy—dirty talk, sweat, bodily fluids sprayed on me, and so forth. Most guys just do this. I feel like I give off the vibe, for better or worse. I have never really had to ask for it. And I find myself so embarrassed to actually ask now, because this guy is so squeaky clean and innocent. I’ve tried doing a little dirty talk myself, but he just smiles sweetly. He’ll eat me out for half an hour, but he’s so deliberate and controlled he will look like he just got out of the shower after. It’s bizarre. I know I should “just talk to him” directly, but when it comes time to do that, I absolutely cannot. I cannot! Is there some advanced strategy for communicating when you really feel unable to?

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—Parched

Dear Parched,

The strategy is to envision how the situation would look if it were to continue as it is with no intervention. Is this “pretty hot sex” with someone who is “very sweet and placid” tenable for you? If not, do you think you’d regret it if you walked away from the relationship without ever saying anything? Basically, project what your future looks like based on its current trajectory, determine where your influence could sweeten the outcome, and derive your courage from there.

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Or don’t! It sounds to me like you are fairly submissive and have partnered with a less-than-dom. It’s not necessarily true that “most guys” provide the kind of intensity and aggression that you prefer (your anecdotal experience should not be confused for sociological data), it’s just that perceived males are socialized to do so. Sometimes it takes, sometimes it doesn’t. You can continue to try to push things in a raunchier direction, you can not say anything and try to just will this guy into being what you want him to be, or you can accept that you’ve met a great guy who’s a mismatch in bed and move on. This is why having sex before marriage is so important.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m an asexual woman in my mid-20s, with a long-term partner, who is a man. I am not sex repulsed, in fact I really enjoy sex, but my sex drive seems to be incredibly low. As a teen and young college student, my masturbation drive was very high, but either my antidepressants or the stresses of adult life (my job is long hours and very demanding) have killed my desire for either that or partnered sex. I think this probably distresses me more than my partner, who says he would like to have sex if I wanted to, but would rather go without than see me stress about it. I’ve done as much as I can to lighten the load of my job, and I’m already on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals for various things, so I want to avoid changing or adding anything there until I have no choice. Before I tell my doctor to poke the Jenga tower of pills, is there anything you can suggest to help me with getting “in the mood” more?

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—Want to Want It

Dear Want to Want It,

You’ve already accepted your asexuality, so I think you should go easy on yourself here. It’s not unheard of for aces to have high libidos, but plenty do not. You want to want more, but why? On principle? Are you afraid of alienating your partner? Are you an overachiever who’s short on self-acceptance? If it’s any of these reasons, you might want to rethink what you’re actually going for and why. You may be conjuring your own stress by pushing yourself too hard; embracing who you are might be the best medicine here.

That said, I have discussed this issue previously with an OB-GYN named Tami Rowen.
She suggested exercise (which she said is highly correlated to desire) as well as some psychoactive drugs that work on neurotransmitters specifically prescribed for low sex drive in women, namely flibanserin and bremelanotide. More pills (and in the case of bremelanotide, an injection) are not what you want, but this is an option you should be aware of. You could also read Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are, which discusses the dual-control model of sexual desire (essentially, what turns us on is our “accelerator” and what turns us off is our “brake” and if your brake is engaged, you aren’t going anywhere). It could at least help you understand what’s at the root of your low libido from a situational perspective. On the other hand, Angela Chen’s Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex might help you achieve the self-acceptance I mentioned above. Good luck!

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—Rich

More How to Do It

I have found myself recently in a position where a man who I know has a girlfriend (I am also female) has propositioned me for sex. I am very attracted to him, and I feel like I wouldn’t have much guilt if I slept with him. At this point I am looking just for sex, not a relationship, and this one-time tryst would be just sex. Obviously, I know that cheating happens, and I know that sleeping with him would not be a wise decision morally for either of us. But I can’t get him out of my head. Is there something wrong with me because I don’t think I would feel that much guilt? Shouldn’t I feel worse about this? How responsible am I for someone else’s relationship? I am certainly responsible for my own actions, and I know am morally in the wrong here. But as it exists right now, purely hypothetically, I don’t feel bad about it.

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