How to Do It

I Think My New Dildo Is Haunted

The thing seriously creeps me out.

Woman peeking one eye out while covering her face with her hands, and a ghost emoji.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by DoubleAnti/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, 

Recently, my long-term boyfriend got me a new dildo. It’s pale green, fairly large, and has stylized eyes painted onto it. I thought it looked freaky, but he thought it was funny and it went to live on the rack with most of our other sex toys near the bed. It’s never actually been used for any sexual activity, but I thought I’d try it under the right circumstances.

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Or I did, until last night. We were settling into bed, and I swear the thing just got up and hopped over to the bedside table and came to a stop near one of the corners. Nobody touched it or moved it or anything.

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My boyfriend says I just had a bad dream and imagined the whole thing, but he doesn’t have an explanation as to how it got off the rack and rolled up to the bedside when none of the other sex toys moved an inch. The thing seriously creeps me out, but my boyfriend insists it’s just a harmless dildo and that it’s wasteful to discard it.

— Haunted Dildo

Dear Haunted Dildo,

If you were awake when you saw the dildo in the corner, and your dude confirmed the marital aid migration when he was also awake, this wasn’t a bad dream. It’s possible that gravity came to bear in some way (perhaps the paint that makes up the eyes is particularly heavy and sent the dong tip-wards off the shelf?) or maybe some small earthquake that only disturbed the one dildo. Does your building shake when a neighbor slams their door? Do you have pets who might have been exploring and knocked it loose? I feel like I’m grasping at straws to come up with an explanation, and this is so far out of my wheelhouse I’m not even sure who to consult. So let’s move on.

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You’re creeped out by your boyfriend’s gift, and I get the sense that you don’t want it inside of you. That’s valid, full stop. If waste is happening here, it’s him spending money on what I suspect was meant as a mild trolling operation—harmless, sure, but why? Take the opportunity to reminisce about his behavior over the course of your relationship. Are you frequently the butt of jokes? Is he kind of a troll? Are you OK with this dynamic for the foreseeable future? If not, one option is to separate due to “humor differences.” If you are OK with it, great—that’s your choice to make, and it’s time to start accepting the day glo dildo in your toy collection.

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And maybe, just maybe, your dude thought it would be cute to move this muppet of a muff plug around as a way of enticing you. If that’s the case, and he’s playing it off as a bad dream, you’ve got a much bigger problem to solve.

Dear How to Do It,

My husband and I have been together for 12 years. About a year ago, he talked to me about threesomes and a swinging lifestyle, and stated that he really wanted to have a threesome and include another man so they could both fully satisfy me. My husband enjoyed the thought of watching another man pleasure me.

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I told him that I wouldn’t be too fond of the idea because I would not be OK with him penetrating another woman, and I didn’t think it would be fair for me to have “fun” while he didn’t. He assured me that he didn’t really care about having sex with another woman (“it would be too much work to please two women”) and he just wanted to include another man to help him fully satisfy me, and he would enjoy watching it happen.

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We did have our threesome with another guy and he really enjoyed it and wants it to continue. We’ve started going to swinger adult clubs and hotels, which is great. Our sex life without anyone else is also phenomenal. Recently, however, he has been wanting to include couples (which is OK, I am bisexual and have thought parallel play and even soft-swapping are intriguing). And now he has brought up the idea of full-swapping, as he wants us to have fun, enjoy life as we are young, you only live once, and it is just casual sex (no feelings involved) and I have nothing to worry about.

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Did I get misled into this? Am I being a prude? I really do not like the idea of watching him penetrate another woman and I expressed that before venturing into this lifestyle. Am I being unreasonable? Do you think it’s me being jealous, or possessive? How do I understand where he is coming from?

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— Feeling Duped

Dear Duped,

You’re coming at this from a starting position of monogamy, and it seems like threesomes and soft-swapping are the furthest you’re willing to venture. That’s OK. That’s you, and you’ve reached the limit of how far outside of that dyad framework you’re willing to go. I’m getting a bit of a “frog in the boiling water” scenario, and whether your husband is doing that on purpose or unconsciously, I think you would do well to put your foot down hard.

“Remember when this all started and you said this was about two men pleasuring me? That isn’t the situation anymore, and I’m not OK with going any further.” Don’t let your husband—or anyone else—weaponize rhetoric about the destructiveness of a perfectly typical human emotion like jealousy. You can’t control your feelings, only your actions. And, hey, you both signed up for monogamy, which can be defined as two people possessing each other and prioritizing each other. Of course you’re a little possessive. Of course you want something about the relationship that is solely yours. That’s the deal you both made.

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Be prepared for your husband to push back, or even say that he’s no longer happy with the relationship structure he agreed to. People do change, and 12 years is a long time. If that’s the case, you‘ll have to decide whether the relationship he wants is worth further compromise. If you’re willing to keep stretching, The Ethical Slut has a useful section on jealousy that I can vouch for, and I hear good things about Jessica Fern’s Polysecure. Rich Juzwiak, my How to Do It colleague, encourages people in open relationships to defer to the more sensitive partner. I’m more inclined to suggest people separate when they’re no longer on the same sexual page. The choices are yours.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m a lesbian in my late 20s, dating the same. She’s great about making me feel safe and exploring. I love her, and love having sex together. She’s someone I trust deeply.

Recently, my pre-existing issues with anxiety have been spiraling due to family stressors, and I’ve been having problems with sex; I still have desire, and I enjoy touching her, but I am too in my head to relax and be touched. She’s great about this, and we’ve been cuddling, masturbating together, or having one-way touch for months. I’m working with a therapist and I have a prescription for the panic attacks. I spoke to my therapist and doctor, and both told me I should try using the medication during sex (if my partner was trustworthy, which she is), and see if that helps.

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How do I have this conversation with her? She worries a lot about impaired consent (i.e., we rarely have sex when we’re drinking or smoking) and I want to make sure she knows this is an active, intentional choice that feels safe to me. I don’t know how to discuss it. I feel guilty because I know we’ve tried a lot of things to accommodate my recent issues, and this is another in a string of them. And I want her to feel safe too. How do I address this?

— Giving Consent

Dear Consent,

Are you “high” when you take this prescription? Does it make you loopy, not yourself, or less able to speak up for your own boundaries? If that’s the case, you probably shouldn’t be having sex, or at least not experimental or adventurous sex, when you’ve taken it. If the prescription helps you be more yourself—more present and more in tune with your needs and desires—that’s a reason to incorporate your medication into your pre-sex preparation.

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Presuming the latter, try: “Hey girlfriend, my doctors suggested I use the medication that helps me stay grounded during sex to see if that helps. I know how you feel about sex while on substances. To me this is different because [insert why here] and I’m hoping we can have a conversation about this.” Maybe you make a commitment not to have sex the first time you take it around her, so she can see for herself what state you’re in and make a decision about whether she feels comfortable sharing physical intimacy in that context. She might have suggestions or asks of her own. I think you’ve got this.

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Dear How to Do It,

Despite being sexually active for a while and experimenting with positions, oral, and butt play with my husband, I’ve never been able to really figure out basic cowgirl, and I’d like to. I’ve struggled with my own physical lubrication (it can take a lot to get my body going) as well as just simple stamina and finding a good rhythm of movement for both of us. Often my husband will take over as he starts to move his hips in a way that feels good for him, but it seems to move against what I think I’m supposed to be doing on top. I would love to improve in this position, and I could use some really basic tips if you have any!

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— On Top

Dear On Top,

Incorporating lube is one way you can set yourself up for success. If you and your husband use condoms, you’ll want to take care that the lubricant is safe for use with latex, meaning that it won’t degrade the condom. If not, the world is your slippery oyster. If you’ve got a sex shop nearby, it’s worth going in and trying some testers—smell it, rub it on the back of your hand, maybe even lick it—and seeing what you like. You can also take a look at Epiphora’s review site and order a couple of options.

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You can also have a conversation with your husband about letting you take control during cowgirl. Alternatively, you can ask him to take the lead by using his hands to guide your hips, and let him set the rhythm. Regardless of who takes charge, you want to be clear on who is driving the action.

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As for the physical mechanics, stamina exercises and practicing squats will help. And you can use your arms to brace yourself on the headboard, on your partner’s chest, and on the bed on either side of his neck or shoulders to take some of the load off of your legs. I gave a more thorough description of this in a recent column.

— Stoya

More How to Do It

My 13-year-old trans son recently told me that a friend’s mom gave him, the friend (also trans), a vibrator. Then he went on, “Well, I guess it’s not illegal or anything. I guess it wouldn’t be hard to get one, even for a kid. They could probably figure it out … ” I wasn’t sure where all this was going, so I said again, “It seems like a weird thing for a mom to give a kid out of nowhere. I guess if a kid asked me for one, I’d get it for them.” At which point my kid made that pleading I-want-a-puppy face, and I said, “You want a vibrator?”

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