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 a well-educated, straight millennial guy. I try to behave ethically, but have gotten into a weird situation. I need to know the right thing to do next. I share a large house with four people, one of whom is a gay male. Late last year when COVID restrictions were easing in our area, my gay housemate and I drove to a party for a mutual friend. A few days later, we each received a call and were informed that someone at our table had become ill and that we needed to quarantine for 10 days. To make things easier on the other housemates, we decided to both share his very large room, which was actually a suite with its own large bath, refrigerator, microwave, and kitchenware, as well as a small patio. There were two beds and lots of space. We discussed all details, including the fact that total privacy would be difficult. We both masturbate daily. Bluntly, each bedtime, we each separately masturbated in our own beds watching our own laptop, usually just before going to sleep. I think this was a little exciting to me, and eventually one night, he ended up performing oral sex on me. (I did try to shut it down, but he was persistent and persuasive, so I let it happen.) It happened daily after that, and it became a welcome habit by the time our quarantine period ended. I returned to my room, but the next night at bedtime, we continued our old pattern. For my part, I am totally OK with it, but I wonder if this is misleading for him. I can never offer him more than this, but I keep wondering if I am being fair to him or taking advantage of the situation. Can you help?
—Do the Right Thing
Dear Right Thing,
If sucking dick made gay guys fall in love, it’d be practically impossible to rent a U-Haul in gay-dense areas. Luckily this is not the case. I doubt that your sperm is some kind of divine nectar, an organic love potion wooing him a little bit more with every throat-coating. More likely, he is a devoted cocksucker, and this is a mutually beneficial relationship, not unlike symbiosis observed in the sucker fish that eat parasites off sharks. Both creatures are in that arrangement for different reasons, and both profit. If this guy is showing signs of attachment, you should probably back up (far enough that his mouth can’t get near your dick). Otherwise, you’re fine. Enjoy the head. Surely, he is.
Introducing How to Do It: the Podcast
Stoya and Rich are joining forces to answer your most jaw-dropping questions yet in a new podcast arriving in your headphones twice a week. Subscribe now!
In the first episode, a man falls in love for a very embarrassing reason—and finds his partners really, really hate him when they find out the truth:
Dear How to Do It,
My girlfriend says I’m coercive in wanting to have sex with her when she wants to have sex with me. She says she doesn’t want to have an orgasm, it takes too much of her energy, but she wants to pleasure me only. I find this hard because in the passion of the moment, I want to be able to touch her too. She says I’m “acting like a man” in wanting reciprocity in the bedroom. I stopped asking for sex and let her take the lead in frequency, hoping that if she initiated sex, I would have more freedom in being able to touch her sexually. That didn’t seem to help. I have explained I know I have a higher sex drive, and I’m willing (and do) take care of my own needs outside of her needs, and I’d prefer that to feeling unable to touch her when all she wants is to touch me. She says my desire to touch her is inappropriate and coercive and I’m making her do things she doesn’t want, but she should be able to pleasure me when she wants. Is it wrong to get pleasure from touching my partner sexually? Am I wrong in how I feel? Am I being abusive? Please explain.
Without being privy to these conversations, it’s hard to make a precise call … not that that’s ever stopped me before! I think what this comes down to is that it’s totally OK for your partner to have a hard boundary, and your working on her to cross it could constitute coercion. That said, because mutual touch is extremely common and a routine part of the sex script of Western society (and beyond), she owes you more of an explanation. This is especially so if she once was willing to accept your touch and has since changed her tune. Keeping your partner in the loop is, at minimum, a way to avoid conflict and misunderstanding. It helps to facilitate harmony. I would think she would want to give you an explanation for the purpose of getting you off her back, but maybe this is too delicate a subject for her (which could very well be the case if her disinterest in being touched is a result of trauma). I disagree with her that you’re “acting like a man” for wanting reciprocity—the prevailing stereotype is that of a selfish man who only wants to take and has no real interest in satisfying or even touching his lover.
But ultimately, how much and where she is touched is her call to make. It is her right to be unbending here, just as it is your right to assess a doomed situation and run in the other direction. That might be best for you.
Dear How to Do It,
A sex partner (we’re not in a relationship) recently admitted to me that he has a breeding/impregnation fetish. I’m … not sure how I feel about this. One the one hand, I’ll try anything once, and it does, weirdly, sound kind of hot. On the other hand, I have zero desire to actually get pregnant (I have a major pregnancy-phobia—I don’t even like looking at sonograms), and I’m concerned about the ethics of this. He said on top of role playing and porn, he also likes to browse sperm donor websites. He claims he’s never actually donated sperm, but I’m not sure if I believe him. I grew up without a father (as did he), and I would never wish that on a child. I don’t know much about this fetish, and it was hard to find non-porn info online. Is he some kind of crazy narcissist who wants thousands of kids to share his genes? Is this just our natural biological imperative? I’m so confused, and I’m wondering if I should agree to try it or just cut things off.
—Born and Bred
Dear Born and Bred,
My take on consensual role play is that it is generally ethical. Impregnating as many people as possible for one’s own enjoyment is almost certainly not. Even if money is no object, a person has only so much time to share with his ballooning stable of spawn, and within that only so much attention can be paid to each individual child. Some people certainly feel a biological imperative to reproduce, but like anything, they all sit on a spectrum. It’s like anything, really. Some people want a hot dog now and then; others train to be a champion of Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. It’s hard to say what this guy is truly going for without more information or, more perilously, exploring his kink with him.
My friend connected with a similarly inclined guy on a sex app and, indeed, he was on an ego trip. Their conversation took a fairly disturbing turn when he sent her pictures of children that he had supposedly sired (whose lives he was not particularly involved in), and said he’d love to have a barbecue in which he’d invite his children without telling them that they were related. This all seemed gallingly unethical, though perhaps it was all part of his role play fantasy. She didn’t stick around long enough to find out. I’m not saying that you should, either.
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Dear How to Do It,
I’m a married 35-year-old woman. My husband of six years and I have a 3-year-old daughter. Our marriage, though not perfect, is comfortable and we do love each other. Our sex life has been nonexistent since our daughter was conceived. I was turned off postpartum and communicated this to my partner, which was why we took a break. A few months after, I wanted to get back on the horse and told my husband as much in words as well as in some gentle early morning handsy sessions. He agreed, but rebuffed me many times citing various reasons. One of which was, he doesn’t want another child right now. So I asked him to buy condoms on his next grocery run. It’s been about 10 grocery runs so far and still nothing. I, for one, always wanted another child, but am now on the fence about it. We’ve talked about this, and he is OK with either one or two kids. My take is, let’s focus on having some fun now, and if a second child happens, then so be it. It took us a while to conceive our first one, so I’m not concerned about that happening right away now. We’re in a good place financially. We’ve discussed all points mentioned above. I can’t understand why he’s not into it. The only thing that comes to mind is my mother-in-law’s unsolicited announcements about why it’s a bad idea to have two kids less than five years of age difference. Am I reading too much into this situation? How can I help?
Dear Randy Lady,
I have to wonder what other reasons he gave for not wanting to have sex. While it is hardly a monolithic experience, some studies have indicated that new fathers’ interest in sex flags following childbirth. I’ve also seen some anecdotal evidence that some men find their desire waning after watching their wives give birth (which seems super shitty, given all that she had to go through for their child, but at the same time, if desire were a switch one could easily flip back on, the sex therapy and advice industries would probably be less active). Could these be factoring into his ostensible apathy? Maybe they are, and he doesn’t understand why, resulting in him feeling bad and not being able to verbalize it. Because performance pressure is baked into our culture’s expectations of manhood, when one’s libido falters, it sometimes feels natural to blame oneself. Men, you may have noticed, can be delicate, and their inability to express this makes them delicate about their delicateness. I think before you get to planning baby No. 2, you need to sort out what’s going on in your family as it stands right now. If he can’t quite put words to what he’s feeling, well, at least the links above will provide you with possible discussion points, should you be interested in presenting them.
More How to Do It
What are the ethics of fantasizing about dead celebrities when masturbating? I recently rewatched a film from the early 2000s starring someone who has sadly since passed away, and they played a character I found very charming the first time I watched the film and all the more so the second time around. The character later popped up in my thoughts during a self-love session, but I felt a little weird about it, since the person who portrayed them is dead! I have a lot of anxiety surrounding the concept of death and have PTSD from a loss I suffered in an especially traumatic way, so it may just be that I’m overthinking this. But is it OK to fantasize about characters played by actors who have since left us? What about the actors themselves?