How to Do It

I Just Discovered the Secret to Mind-Blowingly Hot Sex

The problem is, it wasn’t with my girlfriend.

A man in the bath, with fireworks exploding over him.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

Dear How to Do It,

I recently found myself in a mind-blowing position I’ve never experienced before, and now I need some help.

It had been a long few days, so I decided to take a nice hot bubble bath. Candles, incense, bathroom sound bar to bump the grooves, laptop setup next to tub, and my new silicone masturbator (I’m a man). I ripped a bong and got that water as hot as possible before getting in. Let the tunes, heat, and cannabis calm me down and then pulled up my favorite porn. This happens to be one of my favorite relaxation events, but this time was different. The sexual energy filled the tub. The stimulation was intense, and I peaked in the most fantastic, minute-long orgasm that transported me to another dimension for 10 minutes. It was incredible.

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I want to tell my long-term partner about this experience, but I’m afraid she will be intimidated by expectation and anxiety will creep into our normal, fantastic sex life. But now that I’ve found this mountaintop, I want to pull her experience to the top with me. Should I bring this up?

—Peaked

Dear Peaked,

Decide what is more important: recapping this experience in words or inviting her to partake in it.

If it’s the latter—and I suspect it is—don’t hype it up too much. By aiming low, you offer disappointment less space to take up. You don’t even have to mention your personal session; you can tell your partner that you’d like to try something with her that you haven’t tried with another person before. This is true and doesn’t quite constitute lying by omission, because inviting her to partake in this experience may alter it completely. Partnered sex and solo sex can be distinct entities, and for many, making such a conscious distinction is useful. It gives a taste of variety, which many people find to be endlessly delicious. In fact, after doing it with her, you may ultimately discover that your hot tub time fun works best as a solo activity.

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If it doesn’t work out, you can always tell her later about your own surprise after having such a good time by your lonesome, submerged. Whatever you tell her, refrain from hierarchical language—you don’t have to and probably shouldn’t compare masturbating to sex with her. Both can be great, and both can give you very different things. Enjoying a panoply of experiences is what life’s all about.

Dear How to Do It,

My wife and I are in the process of opening our marriage. (I’m a man.) It was her idea, and I was skeptical initially. After thinking and talking about it for some time, along with a healthy dose of couple’s counseling, I was fully persuaded that it was the best choice for our relationship, and for each of us individually.

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We’re now on the dating sites. The problem? It’s been nearly a month, and I have yet to generate much attention. Meanwhile, she’s fending off several men a day. Her first date is tonight. I’ve had a few possible dates, but they have fallen through.

I’m starting to get worried. I don’t begrudge my wife her success, and I’m not jealous of her date(s), as I worried I might be. But it’s going to become a problem at some point. I think of myself as intelligent, nurturing, caring, and honest. If I see these traits show up in profiles for single women, many—if not most—are looking for a long-term partner. Understandably, the women in open relationships/marriages seem to mostly be looking for a much more physical connection. They are specific about the types of sex they are interested in, and with whom.

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This situation is triggering a lot of insecurities for me: I’m a little overweight, I haven’t wooed anyone in 15 years, and sex with my wife has been a sore subject. I see a future of my struggling to land dates, while she has more luck, and that leading to more friction—ironic as our relationship is stronger now outside of the bedroom than it ever has been in the past. I worry that there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle: If we were decide to close the relationship again, I would blame myself and feel bad about closing off other avenues for her happiness, which I firmly believe she has every right to.

But if this is where we’re headed, I’m starting to doubt my ability to make a meaningful connection while staying married. I love her very much, and we have a young daughter we’re raising together. Neither of us wants to disrupt our home life by separating. But I also don’t want to live a life of involuntary abstinence. There’s a lot of literature out there about how to maintain and thrive in open relationships, yet I’ve not found this issue addressed anywhere. Any ideas you all have would be great.

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—Odd Man Out

Dear Odd Man Out,

Hopefully I can provide some relief that will alter your outlook, which I think is wrong-headed and could prove self-defeating. Let’s take your personal attributes out of the equation for a second: The numbers are simply stacked against you in many open, poly-adjacent settings.

“It seems like men are more willing and eager to participate, but there’s kind of a shortage of women,” explained Dr. Elisabeth Sheff to me via phone after I reached out about your question. (Sheff is an expert on polyamory who maintains a Psychology Today blog on the subject and whose books include Stories From the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families and When Someone You Love Is Polyamorous: Understanding Poly People and Relationships.) This is particularly noticeable in swingers’ communities, which tend to have regulations in place to limit (or all-out ban) the number of single men, as well as within the world of BDSM, where Sheff says there is a shortage of women doms and a surplus of men who are subs.

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Your situation is a little different, but the difficulty you’re having may not be personal—you’re just another statistic on the wrong side of the fraction bar. Another reason why women seem to have more luck in these settings is that women’s bisexuality tends to be encouraged (thereby increasing their options) and men’s is not. Sheff suggested giving bi a try, while acknowledging that it’s not going to be for everybody. Indeed, I am not sure that’s an option for you. Yes Virginia, there are actual heterosexuals.

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Patience will serve you well—it’s only been a month. So will not putting all your eggs in the baskets of apps. Sheff recommended you get out and pursue your interests and hobbies in social settings. “Don’t focus so much on a romantic relationship,” she said. “At some point while interacting with people, you may run across someone you spark with. At minimum, you’ve got an interest you’re engaging in. You’ve got a fun thing that isn’t just sitting at home and waiting for your partner to come back.”

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Say that doesn’t do anything to further your cause and the disparity you’re experiencing at the onset of opening your relationship turns out to be your normal. Don’t despair. It happens. This is where your wife comes in. “Relationships are going to be happier if the person who has effectively one partner feels like their needs are being met,” Sheff said. “If they feel like their partner gives them enough attention, then it’s going to be easier for them to go off and do something else when their partner spends time with their other partner.” It’s up to your wife to overcompensate for the affection and attention you aren’t receiving elsewhere, if she cares about the long-term prospects of your particular relationship and maintaining the consensual nonmonogamy within it.

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An interesting footnote that Sheff mentioned (and she writes about this in detail in her excellent book The Polyamorists Next Door) is that in her study of polyamorous people, she’s found that the triads that lasted the longest have been those containing two men and one woman. “That says to me the one-penis policy doesn’t work,” she said. Maybe that gives you hope? Even in a scenario in which your wife takes on another partner seriously, you may find your relationship flourishes nonetheless.

On another note, if you say something is “going to become a problem at some point,” you’re helping to make it so. Revising your attitude (again, it’s been a month!), having patience, and understanding that even good can come from a situation that feels like anything but, will serve you well.

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Dear How to Do It, 

I’m a 20-year-old guy. I first started having sex with a girl I was dating when I was 17, and my sex life since has been fairly vanilla. I’m very kinky, or at least I think I am, but I haven’t really experienced what I want, other than just being a dom and being somewhat rough. I’m obsessed with deep throat—like I wish I knew a girl who could just take a face-fucking, but I also have a big dick, so that’s been so hard to find. It seems impossible. I also fantasize about hunting down women and forcing them against their will and pushing their limits, that type of stuff. I just feel like women who share my fantasies don’t exist, even though I know they do. I honestly believe my life all and all would be better and feel much more fulfilled if I could experience my fantasies. I feel like I have so much bottled in sexually. I guess I’m basically asking, should the sex that I fantasize about matter so much that it’s kinda a need in my life? I honestly feel like I couldn’t be in a happy relationship that will last without it.

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—Pent Up

Dear Pent Up,

As I age, I often find myself increasingly in the thrall of a pedestrian tendency: envying youth. And then I read a letter like yours and I feel a lot better, no offense. You have so much to learn and experience. In your travels, you will find that you can’t have everything you want (like a woman who will consent to being forced against her will, because that’s impossible, though role play and BDSM scenes may allow you to experience a version of this). You will find people who can throat your giant dick—this often comes from experience, and if you’re having sex with people your age, they may not have had adequate practice to take you. You will learn sometimes that you can have your fantasies fulfilled, and in other experiences, you will learn to be careful what you wish for—sometimes having your fantasy fulfilled leaves you feeling empty when you realize that it was much more exciting in your head.

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Mainly, I urge you to teach yourself as much as you can about respect and consent right now. Before you have sex with another person, read this primer on consent. All of it. And then reread it. Knowledge like this will make you a better lover and teach you how to explore what you want ethically. If you approach people too aggressively, it may turn them off and lessen your chances of repeat sex, or sex in the first place. (I’m taking you at your word here that these are just fantasies that you want to fulfill in a relationship, but if that’s not the case and these thoughts are very intrusive or threaten to escalate, you should talk to a counselor right away.)

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Try to reorient your thinking as you go forward. There can be something extremely hot about a guy who has been so pent up that he’s practically dying for relief once in bed. I know you’re 20 and may be able to come as many times a day for each year that you’ve been alive, but storing some energy so that it comes out in a torrent can also be very exciting for everyone. Harness your frustration. Lean into it for the sake of the long game. The sooner you learn patience, the happier you and everyone around you will be. You have the choice of being a big dick with legs, or a human being who just happens to have a big dick. Choose the latter.

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Dear How to Do It,

I am a 50-something gay male coming out of a 20+ year relationship with a man, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would, for once in my life, top a willing and talented bottom sans condom. I am aware of some of the risks, but my information is 20+ years old. Anything new I need to know? Do tops need to take PreP? Is there anything else I can do to minimize the risks? I have already come to the conclusion I’m going to do this, but am willing to play the odds smartly.

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—Raw

Dear Raw,

You’ve come to the wrong place if you want to hear anything other than, “You should take PrEP,” because you should take PrEP. The chances of contracting HIV via topping are much lower than from bottoming, but the risk isn’t zero. … unless you take PrEP, which will make the risk virtually zero. Granted, there can be barriers to treatment, like ignorant doctors and cost (though earlier this year, the U.S. federal government mandated almost all insurance companies cover PrEP and the necessary clinic visits and lab work that go with it 100 percent, so that PrEP is entirely free for patients), but these are worth putting effort in overcoming. The drugs produce few side effects, and having one less thing to worry about (including a thing of HIV’s magnitude) is really nice. Take the damn pill.

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What else is new? Virtually all STIs have been rising steadily this millennium, so keep that in mind. Hep-C rates are concerning, but certain pockets of the world offer hope for the ability to control that disease. One way of minimizing risk would be to find steady partners who keep a tight bubble of partners themselves, though this is tricky to find and verify. I kind of assume that everyone is having sex with everyone, and if I’m seeing someone in a casual context, I can’t expect them to not be doing the same with other people. That would be naive and unfair. It can be hard to make those stronger connections as it is. Apps have commodified sex to the extent that people treat partners like streaming media: in and out, onto the next, shuffle shuffle shuffle. This is how the game goes for a lot of people, and it works for a lot of those people. Decide if you want that and proceed accordingly—the world can be your bathhouse, or you can forge potentially lasting connections, depending on your approach (the latter are best found in person, especially in more intimate social settings like small parties). Try not to get upset if you encounter a string of one-and-dones—the lifestyle is so much bigger than you and, accordingly, has nothing to do with you at all, actually.

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