How to Do It

I Had a Threesome With My Buddy and His Girlfriend. The Consequences Were … Unexpected.

Now he’s all in his head about it.

A man looks over at three neon people figures.
Photo by gabriel calicchio paz/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,

An unexpected threesome with my good friend and his girlfriend turned into an amazing experience had by all. Nothing has changed between us in the time after, and we’ve also had a few threesomes since. During the unorchestrated moving and jockeying the first time, they ended up in a 69 with me behind her. He fellated me in this position, and later they both did, which was simply extraordinary.

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The problem is that Ive started to let him fellate me occasionally when we hang out alone. (We both identify as straight, but Ive never been that rigid about it.) It starts spontaneously and has increased in frequency. He feels guilty after, and he made a comment that his girlfriend is not altogether at ease about the oral that happens when she IS there. She has no knowledge of the “favors” I’m receiving and I, to be honest with you, have had no problem receiving them. His guilt, however, in the aftermath every single time has begun to affect me as well. Were he not feeling guilty, I would not want it to stop. He’s my friend, so I’m concerned, but at the same time it’s great, fantastic even, until it’s over.

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I’ve never once initiated. We have talked about his guilt, and I’ve assured him that it’s not expected, but he is giddily all about it every time. What is my move? Stop hanging out? Resist him? Im not sure what to do.

— Blown Away

Dear Blown Away,

Imagine if I told you that you could have great head without the baggage of this situation by choosing virtually anyone else to clean your pipes. It’s true! As depressing as some queer men may find it, there remains a premium on a straight-identified guy entering a gay space looking for “no-recip” head (whether it’s via app, orgy, or glory hole). I think this is your move; I don’t think continuing things with your good friend is. You are aware that these dalliances are causing stress and, like it or not, you owe a little more to your friend’s girlfriend than, uh, cheating with her boyfriend. You’re regular sex partners with her, so attending to her humanity falls directly in bounds of your personal responsibility. If you know she’s not keen on brojobs during your threesomes, if you know that she’s unaware of the one-on-ones you’re having with her boyfriend (a fact intentionally held from her as a result of her discomfort), you know you’re doing the wrong thing. I don’t think you need to destroy the friendship (with the guy) as a result of this, just go back to a platonic arrangement (at least when it’s just the two of you). A lot of sexual relationships between men settle into platonic friendships, even when cheating isn’t involved and identifying is decidedly queer. If this is as good of a friend as you indicate, he’ll understand, “Let’s keep hanging out without my dick in your mouth.” If he simply cannot see you without burying his face in your crotch, you’ll have to take a break from hanging with him (hopefully he can use that time to learn how to control himself). You can only make your own choices, though. Choose not cheating.

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Dear How to Do It,

A few months ago, I met a guy I really liked. Weve gone out a couple of times but wanted to wait to have sex until I am fully vaccinated (next week!). Vaccination has been slow in our country, but he was able to get his last month. We also wanted to be safe about STDs, so we got tested together. My tests came back negative, but his was positive for HSV-2. He was pretty shocked and upset. Ive been comforting him and assuring him its not the end of his sex life and that plenty of people with HSV-2 have fulfilling sex lives.

Heres the thing: I dont really want to have sex with him anymore. Even with condoms and antivirals, the risk of getting the virus is not zero. I have some health issues and having a dormant virus living in my body could probably aggravate them. I also just really, really dont want the virus. Hes a great guy, and I know hed be really understanding, but I feel terrible. How do I break this to him?

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— Stigma

Dear Stigma,

You have to accept the fact that you may come off as unkind and stigmatizing in your rejection of him. Oh, and also hypocritical, since you’ve been consoling him about his continued ability to have a sex life while having discontinued all plans for yours together. You have every right to sexual agency, which includes refraining from having sex with anyone at any time, regardless of the reason. It’s just that given your situation, the immediate assurance that you won’t be contracting herpes with this particular person comes at the cost of guilt. It’s just that simple. Feeling bad is the price you must pay for your decision. I would be as straightforward as possible and rip the Band-Aid off—if you’re certain that having a dormant virus living in your body could aggravate your health issues, go ahead and tell him that, but it seems pretty nebulous to me, and if you aren’t sure, don’t risk spreading misinformation.

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Unless you plan to get tested with every single potential partner (which seems like a lot of work, but if you think you can be diligent there, do you), the risk of the virus will never be zero. In fact, even if you do do that, the risk isn’t zero: False positives for HSV-2 tests may be as common as 1 in 2, at least according to an oft-cited 2017 report. Fifty percent! This is why symptoms are important—they can corroborate a positive test, and their absence calls it to question. This guy’s shock suggests he doesn’t have symptoms. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have herpes (plenty of people who have it are asymptomatic, and they could, of course, test positive), but it also doesn’t mean he does. I’d at least get a second test if I were him.

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Dear How to Do It,

I discovered my asexuality shortly after me (25F) and my husband (27M) lost our virginities to each other on our wedding night. Due to nature or nurture (purity culture), I ended up with the unenviable combination of asexuality, vaginismus, a low libido, and an allosexual husband whos attracted to me and wants to have PIV sex all the time. Hes compromised—we stopped penetrative sex altogether less than a year into our marriage. And Ive compromised—I have sex with him once or twice a week, even if its just a handjob. Hes religious enough that hes guilty at masturbating, and outright refuses it as an outlet for his own libido. What this means in practice is that Im the only way he gets off. I feel responsible for his erections. Im a strong, independent woman who knows that Yes means Yes, but I cant keep saying no when he asks. He does respect my no! I just … if I say no too many times, it feels selfish and I find myself weighing things like, Well, do I really mean it this time? Would I feel better or worse about sex if he asked tomorrow, and should I just suck it up tonight in case?”

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Its gotten to the point that hell roll over and fondle my breasts in his sleep, and I freeze up until he lets go, and start to mentally prepare myself to give him a handjob in the morning. I like the skinship, and its great when he just lays down on top of me, but Ive never had an orgasm, and giving him his feels like a chore that I have to perform on his schedule. During conversations about sex in the past, hes asked if I could initiate sex more, and I had to look at him disbelievingly before getting out my phone to start scheduling it in on the calendar. Ask husband if he wants sex” for Friday night at 8. So sexy. (Honestly, I like planning it out beforehand, it gives me time to prepare, but I dont get how thats sexier than him asking me.) His current suggestion is for me to get the dilators out so we can get back to” PIV sex, which honestly makes me feel a bit nauseous. I remember how much it hurt, and I know the dilators should help with that, but I cant help but feel that he wants me to ignore the pain so he can have better sex. Is there something we/I should be doing differently? Do you have any advice? I just cant see myself going on like this for another fifty years.

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— Confused Ace

Dear Confused Ace,

The extent to which you’ve discussed your asexuality with your husband is unclear; your husband’s lack of understanding, however, is painfully apparent. He really needs to face the idea that his present may be his future: He’s married to someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy sex, and further, finds it painful. While I believe that many people’s sexuality evolves throughout their lives, there’s no guarantee that yours will. This may be it, and he should understand that and evaluate accordingly, which means refraining from pressuring you to engage in sex. If you haven’t made your asexuality clear to him, please do so—if you need help conveying what this means, you can give him some reading material like Angela Chen’s Ace. He should know exactly what is feasible (laying down on top of you) and what isn’t (almost everything else). Contrary to your concerns, saying no all the time may be useful—it may drive this point home. It may cause him to seek alternate routes to pleasure, like masturbating. (He shouldn’t do anything that makes him uncomfortable either, but given the lingering shadow of purity culture, overcoming some of that shame seems like a healthy goal.)

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Sex therapy for both of you may be worth pursuing, as long as you can find a provider who understands asexuality and doesn’t think that the goal is to get you back on the horse (or dick, as it were). You should at least entertain the idea that you’ve found yourself in a mismatch: Your husband wants a sexual outlet that you are simply not inclined to be. You shouldn’t have to bend to him, but given the fact that his own desires aren’t likely to just blow away, he shouldn’t have to live a sex-less existence, either. The answer may be as simple as divorcing and starting anew.

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Dear How to Do It,

My wife and I have a sexual routine that we follow virtually every encounter. It gets us both off, but sometimes I’m left wanting more. My wife is extremely passive in bed, never initiates, and doesn’t move hardly at all unless she’s on top. This actually bothers me now more than it did when we were 25. I’m no libertine, but I do have some things I’d like us to try. We’re healthy, young-ish (knocking on 40’s door), and our kids are old enough that they’re both past the “active care” stage. We’re approaching the next stage in our lives/marriage, and I would like to embark together on a sort of Sexual Reacquaintance Campaign, where we try some new stuff, talk about our fantasies … just connect more, emotionally and verbally, while we’re having sex.

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There are two problems with my plan. Firstly, she doesn’t like talking about sex at all—before, in the abstract, or during. In the past when we’ve tried “dirty talk,” I could feel how uncomfortable she was with it. I’m fine with starting out small, baby steps, if she’s willing, but I have a very concrete No. 1 fantasy. I’m extremely turned on by the idea of the double-BJ, with two women. It would be the apotheosis of my sexual life as a human being. That being said, I’m afraid of how my wife would react to me even telling her about it, never mind trying to do it.

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We’ll smoke pot occasionally. My plan was the next time we do (one-on-one at home) to broach the topic of the sexual reacquaintance and get an uninhibited reaction from her about just the idea, and that it’s something that I’m taking pretty seriously. If she’s receptive to the concept of getting more adventurous, do you have any tips for how to build up to my ultimate fantasy of the double BJ? I’m a little afraid to even voice it, to be honest. I worry that it’ll be just a bridge way too far for her, and I should keep it to myself.

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— Campaign Strategist

Dear Campaign Strategist,

You are well aware that you have to tread lightly, so do that. I don’t know where your wife is in terms of her attitude toward sex, and what’s informing it, but if she is a reasonable person she will understand that it would be unfair for her squeamishness to be the final word on your shared sex life. (If her sexual outlook is a result of trauma, though, the forces that you’re dealing with may well be stronger than reason.) There’s a big difference between “dirty talk” and a logistical discussion about the state of your union and what about it is/isn’t working for you. Hew closely to the practical, not the erotic (though I realize in this case you’d be discussing the practice of your eroticism, you don’t have to do that with heavy breathing and kisses between every few words). Lead with your own reason: You aren’t trying to pressure her, and she shouldn’t feel obligated to take you up on anything that you’re introducing…buuuut, life is short, you only live once, and you want to try some stuff before you shuffle off this mortal coil. Emphasize that you’re talking to her well in advance of any of your fantasies being close to reality—this is not a conversation brought on by temptations of cheating (it isn’t right?) or anything external. It’s about what’s going on inside of you.

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I would carefully couch so as not to imply that your sex life is leaving you dissatisfied—introduce these ideas as a means of expansion, not remedy. Be gentle, don’t go on for longer than what’s comfortable, absolutely do not do anything coercive, and have patience for what may need to be an ongoing conversation. Your wife may need to warm up to the idea of a threeway, if she accepts it at all. If after a few healthy conversations, you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere despite your considerable drive, you might want to consider a couples counselor or sex therapist with a background in consensual nonmonogamy. There are few forgone conclusions here, but you can make your continuing relationship one of them with the right care, humility, and honesty. Good luck!

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— Rich

More How to Do It

After three passionate, wonderful years, my girlfriend and I have started seriously talking about bringing another man into our bedroom for the experience and to satisfy a fantasy of ours for the first time. This is more for her, and we are very secure and safe in our relationship and comfortable in pursuing this. Our concern is that she’s very nervous about getting any STDs, and obviously I share that concern. We want to do this safely and anonymously. How can we assure our safety? What steps should we take to make her comfortable? It may be a one-time thing or regular if we’re comfortable with that one guy. Is there a particular sex act that we should avoid altogether? She’s not 100 percent convinced that condoms are the solution, so is there something else we should be using? Thank you in advance for your guidance on this.

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