How to Do It

My Bromance Is Finally Becoming a Romance. We Just Can’t Seem to Stop Acting Like Bros.

We keep playing video games when I’d rather be playing with something else.

Two bros high-five each other; an illustrated video game controller floats in-between them with a heart button.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Phoenixns/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 am living in the most frustrating dream scenario possible. About three months ago, I started dating my long-term best friend. We’re a perfect match and stupidly attracted to each other, but our sex life has been floundering recently. Ironically, being friends for so long is the problem.

Every time I try to initiate something, he takes it in a friendly way. The other day, I asked as seductively as I could if he felt like doing anything that night. He said (in a very monotone voice), “Sure. Uno sound good?” Maybe we’re doomed to forever have a bromance instead of a romance, but I don’t want to give up too quick! I know it’s a problem he’s having, too. One time, we were playing a video game when he mentioned wanting to ravage me. I blanked and responded with “player vs. player is off,” and haven’t lived it down yet.

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So, advice? We’ve had sex, but it’s usually on formal dates, which are pre-established to be more than “just friendly.” Asking for it outside that rarely pans out.

— Best Friends Forever

Dear Best Friends Forever,

If asking for sex outside of preplanned dates doesn’t pan out, why don’t you just go on more dates? If there’s something more erotically stimulating about the formality of dates (perhaps they contrast explicitly with your usual hangs enough to make what used to be friend shit feel differently), well, lean into that. But I’ll tell you: It sounds like he’s having second thoughts. People feel out sexual chemistry in real time and a strong friend connection or even a strong aesthetic attraction does not guarantee satisfaction. Could it be that you aren’t a good sexual fit? Could it be that he’s trying to tell you that he just doesn’t want to continue exploring that arena with you? Yes and yes. The unfortunate thing about these situations is that not everyone involved is necessarily aware of the disconnect afoot, especially when there is a party, ahem, who is super enthusiastic about making things work.

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Different people move at different speeds, so take this generalizing with a grain of salt: Three months in is really early to be experiencing bed death. If you are such good friends, you should be able to talk about this. That seems so obvious that I suspect you’re writing in instead of having that conversation because you fear its outcome. However, it is better for you to know now, before you get more romantically invested in something that’s just not going to work out. Your assessment could be spot on—sometimes the better we know people, the less erotically appetizing they are (which is why Esther Perel prescribes distancing and mystifying techniques to keep the sexual fires burning). If this is the case, you could mourn it as an ironic tragedy—too close to be sexually compatible!—or you could be thankful that you tried it out and received back information that you’re just better as friends. A good friend is a good thing, so ending this chapter of your relationship wouldn’t be the end of the world.

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Dear How to Do It,

I have an interesting problem. I’m a 75-year-old “straight” man who over the past few months has realized I really want some dick. I mean, really. But along with my age, I’m mildly disabled and, just as a finale, I can’t drive at night. So do you have any advice for me?

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— Confused but Confident

Dear Confused,

Wow, someone who is horny and straight and interesting? I thought I’d never see the day.

I think you should look in to hiring a sex worker/escort, as long as that’s legal in your area (imagine me turning my head slowly to stare directly into the camera and winking in a pronounced manner). You could try leather bars—they do tend to attract older clientele, though they might not necessarily be entirely accessible (check ahead of time). If that option is attractive, take a rideshare there and back. You also can start looking on apps (Daddyhunt caters to older men interested in men). That may be an involved and lengthy process, but since you’ve waited this long, you may as well do what you need to in order to get what you want. Good luck!

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Dear How to Do It,

This is a pretty low-stakes question, but Im curious. A couple of months ago, my husband started taking an SSRI for anxiety. Both of us were worried going in about any effects it might have on his libido, but … its been awesome. My husband had previously been so sensitive that I couldnt do much on the giving end of things without worrying hed finish early, and he didnt last long once penetration started. Overall none of this was such an issue for us—Im down with letting him pleasure me, he enjoys giving that pleasure, and I have some on-and-off pain issues with penetration that would make a lengthy session less than desirable sometimes anyway. But since the SSRI, his libido seems to be about the same, while his sensitivity has been reduced just enough to allow some really fun stuff that we were never previously able to explore.

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Theres only one minor thing—ever since he started on it, I cant feel when he finishes inside me. Hes not expressive most of the time when he does, so I always went off the pulsing feeling of his dick inside me to know when it happened. Now I have to get verbal confirmation because I cant tell when it happens. The biggest deal? Nah, and worth the trade-off. But out of curiosity, is this common with SSRI use?

— Really Feeling It but Not Feeling It

Dear Not Feeling It,

I don’t know if it’s common—this is the first I’m hearing of it and data on weakened contractions as a result of SSRIs is scant. I found one mention of it in this study that assessed user data from RxISK.org, “a global adverse event reporting website.” For SSRI users, during orgasm “muscle contractions can also be weaker than normal, and may be noticed in male subjects as reduced ejaculatory force.”

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I ran your question by Dr. Charles Welliver, director of men’s health at Albany Medical College, and he said that he’d never heard of this as symptom and that further, there’s “no real medical reason I can come up with for that.” You have a good handle on this, though, and it indeed seems worth the tradeoff. Also letting someone know you’re about to come, especially when you have a penis and that orgasm may very well end the intercourse section of the sex at hand, is pretty standard etiquette. At least now your husband knows.

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Dear How to Do It,

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My ex and I had broken up a while back. During that time, he decided he was lying to himself and is in fact polyamorous. He moved his ex, who happens to be the mother of his child, in with him. Then he came to me wanting to work things out, but basically said I have to accept him having a relationship with her and me, but I would be the primary. I loved him so much that I tried, but let’s face it, I just don’t understand what he needs her for.

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He claims to be in love with me and that he only has sex with her to get his rocks off. Yet here I am, a woman with an incredibly high sex drive and, if I may say so myself, I am pretty much down to do anything. Threesomes are not his thing, which is fine since I do not find this woman attractive at all.

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We do not live together. He comes to my place to see me since I’m still not sure I can give him what he wants, especially since I have to remain faithful. Talk about being a hypocrite, right? I do not ask for details but can only assume what I’m sure to be true. But last night he was drinking and started to volunteer some things. He told me that after he has sex with me, usually multiple times that day, he goes home and she sucks my vaginal juices off of his penis. This is not sitting right with me and has me feeling completely violated. According to him, I’m overreacting. The question is, am I?

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— Feeling Violated

Dear Feeling Violated,

Feeling is one thing, acting/reacting is another. You feel how you feel, and it’s really not my job to judge the legitimacy of your feelings; but even if it were, I think you have perfectly logical cause to feel the way that you do. At issue, primarily, are his revelations that breached your boundaries (and, consequently, infringed on your comfort)—you don’t ask questions because you don’t want to know, and yet, this guy told you intimate details of his sex with his other partner anyway. These images made more tangible something that you’re coping with by banishing it to the abstract. His demystification is, indeed, a violation of the strategies you have in place to stay in this relationship.

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I don’t really think that her savoring your vagina juices on his penis constitutes an ethical breach, since you surrendered those juices by having sex with him and they were just going to be showered off anyway. One way to look at that behavior is that she’s effectively eroticizing this poly setup in a way that you aren’t. That said, he should have realized that this indirect contact might upset you. If for no other reason than to save himself some trouble, he should have not revealed this.

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If you were my friend, I wouldn’t be able to refrain from asking this, so let’s pretend we’re buds: What in the world are you doing here? This guy that you apparently don’t think highly enough of to give a designation beyond “my ex,” claims you’re his primary while he’s living with another woman. He is unwilling to give you an equitable stake in this, or at least that’s what I get from you lamenting that you “have to” remain faithful. You feel something like coerced into putting up with this other relationship, and furthermore don’t understand why he’s even involved in it. This is not a good fit! Sometimes monogamous people find themselves in fulfilling relationships with actively polyamorous people, but this is not one of those times. You’re going to continue to be who you are, and he’s going to continue to be who he is while maintaining a lopsided dynamic with you. If nothing changes—and I don’t think it will as long as you’re putting up with his shit—expect more hassles, grief, and probably even feelings of violation. My advice: Find yourself a guy who treats you with respect and equality, and who’s into threesomes to boot.

— Rich

More How to Do It

I’m a woman who has been with my boyfriend a year, and the sex has been great. I feel very lucky. My partner has said, however, that he needs to ejaculate every day. Masturbating daily is something he has done since he was a teen, sometimes more. If we don’t have sex, he uses porn. It bothers me. It’s frustrating when we just had sex eight hours ago, and I wake up to him on a do-it-yourself project. Isn’t this unhealthy?

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