How to Do It

I Tried to Send My Girlfriend a Nude. I’m Absolutely Dying at Where I Sent It Instead.

A man with his midsection cut out.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Ljupco/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, 

I was trying to message a naked picture to my girlfriend and managed to post it to my “story” without realizing. As soon as I discovered my mistake, I deleted the story, but a couple of hours had passed. I’m mortified at my mistake, ashamed that I basically flashed friends and family, and really anxious about who might have seen it.

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How do I begin to make peace with this? And are there any actions to make this right? I hastily deleted the story so I unfortunately don’t know who saw it to apologize, which also is distressing to me. My whole face is not in the picture but the bottom half is, and those that know me will likely have recognized who it was.

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—Accidental Flasher

Dear AF,

You didn’t flash your online circle on purpose. Aside from committing to double check the “to” field before sending saucy images, I don’t know that there’s anything you need to do. If someone brings it up with you, you might express your embarrassment and say that you’ll be paying closer attention from now on. In the unlikely event you’ve caused some damage—I’m struggling to come up with a possibility but I’m open to the existence of one—deal with the specific situation once you know the details. It sounds like you haven’t heard from anyone about this yet, and it’s possible that you won’t. This could be a subject everyone avoids to prevent collective embarrassment. You still might consider what you’ll say if someone does bring it up.

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Mostly, take some deep breaths. Some of your friends and family may have gotten a reminder that you’re a sexually mature person with a body. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a sexually mature person with a body, or with sending pictures of your body to people who want to see it, which is what you intended to do. Do you have a friend you can talk to? Someone you feel comfortable sharing mortification with, who will listen to you? Is your significant other a person who can provide that for you? Writing, without stopping to edit or ponder, for half an hour can also help. Start thinking or talking through your shame, and your anxiety. See what comes up.

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Dear How to Do It,

I have two partners who I regularly have sex with. Both my partners own vibrators and like to incorporate them in sex, which should be fine, right? My problem is that when the vibrator comes out, sex instantly gets boring for me. I am exclusively a top, and get all my sexual satisfaction from pleasuring my partners and getting them off. It’s not satisfying to sit there holding a toy to my partner’s clit for a long period of time. And after we start with the vibrator, there’s no chance that I can go back later to pleasuring their clit with my hands or mouth because the vibrator either does such a good job that nothing else feels good, or leaves their clit feeling too overstimulated to want anything else. One of my partners doesn’t like anything to go inside their vagina during vibrator time because of overstimulation. The other partner regularly takes my fist, but if I put my fist in them while we’re using the vibrator, it hurts my wrist so much I can’t continue (most likely due to the large wand-style vibrator they like to use). I’ve had some success using a strap on with this partner during vibrator time, but often the proximity of the vibrator to the strap on ends up with me feeling the vibration too, which is a hard no for me.

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Am I doing something wrong here? I care a lot about my partners’ pleasure and want them to feel good, but I also want sex to be satisfying for myself, and I want to feel like I’ve really topped them. Neither partner complains about how I’m stimulating their clit when we don’t use the vibrator, and I pride myself on being a good top who can get them off with my hands or mouth just fine. Am I not as good of a top as I think I am, or is it unreasonable to compare myself to a literal orgasm machine? Is there anything more fun you could recommend for me to do when they want to use the vibrator? And, maybe most pressingly, would it be unreasonable to ask them to incorporate the vibrator less into partnered sex since it just isn’t that fun for me?

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—Not Vibing

Dear Not Vibing,

It is unreasonable to compare yourself to a literal orgasm machine. You are a generalized flesh creature; it is an object engineered for a single use. It’s worth thinking through some questions. Maybe you ponder on a walk, maybe you think in the shower, maybe you speak out loud or even with a friend. Is your ability to bring someone to orgasm part of your identity? Is orgasm something you take pride in? Do you prioritize it over general pleasure and sensuality? And, crucially, why? It also might help to be able to articulate what “really topping someone” means to you.

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It is not unreasonable to ask for more of the kind of sex that satisfies you. It’s possible that your partners will decline, and that’s OK. Set yourself up for success by sharing some of what you learned during your introspection, and asking for less involvement of the vibrator. Work together on ways that you can both get enjoyment out of sex. Maybe that’s longer amounts of time without the vibe and then finishing off with it. Maybe that’s alternating sessions with and without it. Maybe they hold the magic wand while you fist them. Or you hold them while they use the vibrator. Protect your hard nos, like feeling vibration on your own genitals, and be open to compromise on your maybes.

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You also might find a way to enjoy applying the vibrator. You might gain a sense of control by moving it around to different areas, or increasing and decreasing pressure. Good luck.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a 33-year-old woman. After spending all of my sexually active years believing I wasn’t built to squirt, it suddenly happened to me about six months ago with someone I’ve been sleeping with for about three years. I wasn’t even trying! It now happens every time we have sex. I’ve been really enjoying soaking my partner and the feeling of release that comes with these orgasms. I really couldn’t be happier about this development.

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My problem is, it’s changed the way all of my orgasms work. Before I accidentally unlocked this ability, I used to have incredibly intense, long lasting (one-to-two-minute) orgasms with my partner’s penis still inside of me. These orgasms would be an internal clenching and pulsating, whereas now my vagina seems to need to push out during an orgasm, even if I’m not ejaculating any liquid.

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Because of this, I don’t seem to be able to come while my partner is still inside of me, which is something that I really miss, not to mention the length and sensation of my old orgasms. I always end up pushing him out or feeling like the orgasm isn’t quite complete unless I at least attempt to squirt. I really like the closeness and intimacy I feel when I can come while our bodies are still fully attached. When I masturbate I don’t squirt, but I still feel my vagina doing the pushing motion and the sensation that squirting might happen.

My question is—is it possible to get these orgasms back? Did my body just permanently change overnight? I love that I am experiencing these awesome wet orgasms, but I’d like to still be able to experience the other kind. Not to mention that, although I’ve been doing an OK job managing the mess, I feel like I will be screwed when it comes to having sex outside of my own bed where I have my mattress protector, absorbent pads and fresh sheets on hand. I’d like to feel like I can have sex wherever I might want to without worrying about whether I’m going to ruin someones couch or soak my only sleeping bag on a camping trip.

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—Having It Both Ways

Dear Both Ways,

I’m not sure of a way to get your old orgasms back. And since none of us have a total grasp on how squirting works, we’re all kind of feeling around in the wet, squishy bed sheets. I do wonder if you could train your body to return to an inward clenching as opposed to the pushing you’re currently experiencing, and if that would change things, but it’s hard to say what the result would be. If you try it and it works, please let me know.

I asked Madison Young, an adult star, educator, and the producer/director of the series Submission Possible, for her own approach when she’d rather not squirt: ”If I’m masturbating or engaging in some sexual play with my partner and I feel the urge to squirt start to build, but I’d rather not get messy, then I take a breath and switch up whatever type of play or stimulation I was engaging in,” she said. “If either myself or my partner was stimulating my G spot with a toy or fingers, then I would pause on that and move to stimulating another part of my body.  If I was using a vibe on my clitoris, I might turn it off and use my fingers or move the vibe to another area of my vulva.  Generally, this interruption of building urge to squirt allows me to reset but keeps me in a highly aroused state in which I can still build up to orgasm or just simply enjoy erotic stimulation, touch, and pleasure with out climax.”

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Since you’ve already stocked up on waterproofing supplies, I think it’s time to start thinking about packing some along when you travel. I imagine a second sleeping bag isn’t feasible on an overnight hiking trip, but maybe an absorbent pad is? And if you’re after intimacy in a space you can’t risk splashing, put the emphasis on activities that are pleasurable and sensual but unlikely to cause an orgasm. Good luck.

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Dear How to Do It, 

I’m a 42-year-old woman who’s been married for 17 years. My husband and I were together for seven years before our marriage as well, so we’ve literally been a couple our whole adult lives. Our sex life has had peaks and lows like most people’s, but now that our kids are getting older and life has shifted a bit, we’ve committed to putting more time and energy into our connection in the bedroom. It’s been great and we’re now having sex almost every day of the week, sometimes twice, and discovering some new things together.

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The problem is that I think all of this new physical intimacy is triggering old eating disorder patterns for me. I had disorders as a kid and struggled through young adulthood, but have tried hard to be better and to have at least a neutral, cordial relationship with my body. (It’s probably worth noting that no one would ever look at my body and think I was restricting calories or throwing up everything I ate—I’m sure some people would think it was a good thing to get some pounds off my frame.) My husband and I are deeply in love and he tells me all the time he loves my body, but I just hate it. I’ve never felt pretty, and somehow all the wonderful attention he’s paying to me now has made the script in my head go haywire. It’s like now that I’m aware he’s actually looking at me, and he’s getting so up close and personal with all the various parts of me, I am obsessed with the idea that I’m not good enough for him. I’ve started noticing that I’m skipping meals again, taking tiny bites/breaking food apart instead of just eating it, stopping while I’m still hungry, feeling anxiety about eating a full meal, etc. I don’t want to stop having sex or ruin this amazing new connection we have, but I’m also feeling a lot of confusion and shame because what he’s seeing and interacting with in the bedroom is so completely different from what I experience as my body. How do I get to a place where I actually feel sexy and can let go of these destructive patterns? I can’t stop thinking he deserves so much better than this.

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—Too Much of a Good Thing

Dear Too Much,

Given the potential stakes here, I think some one-on-one sessions with a therapist are a good idea. You’re on the right path—reaching out for help—and someone working with you regularly can keep you on track. If you have health insurance and it covers mental health, ask for a list of in-network referrals. Apps that connect consumers to providers for digital sessions are also an option, and I’ve heard of services that allow for unlimited texting in between sessions as well. Lean on your friends. If you have people you feel comfortable discussing this with, ask if they can help you talk it out. Journaling works well for some people, too. You’ve successfully gotten to a place where you have a neutral relationship with your body once. You can get there again, and maybe even come to feel positively about it.

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Let your husband know what’s going on. Tell him how you’re feeling, and ask him to talk through potential solutions with you. For instance, he might be able to redirect his compliments to subjects you’re happier being reminded of. And, as your partner, he should know you’re struggling. Give him the chance to support you. I think you’ve got this.

More How to Do It

Has the definition of “vanilla sex” expanded over time or has it remained constant? Are there things that were not “vanilla” in the early ’90s (when I started having sex) that are deemed “vanilla” now? I can certainly think of a few things.

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