How to Do It

I Read My Husband’s Texts With His Friend. Uh, I Wasn’t Expecting That.

I felt like a fool.

Two men shaking hands with an overlay of text message bubbles behind their hands.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

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Dear How to Do It,

I’m in an otherwise happy three-year, gay open marriage where we informally have evolved to operate under a couples’ version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But I recently met one of my husband’s gay fuck buddies at a public party held by our local community.

My husband invited his fuck buddy along with another friend and introduced both of them to me as regular new friends. In fact, my husband had previously mentioned them both to me in various conversations as friends. After I met the guy in question in person, I picked up on some odd behavior from him toward my husband but didn’t think much of it at the time. However, I have anxiety and was unfortunately driven to check my husband’s cell where I confirmed my suspicions that the friend was also a fuck buddy.

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I feel conflicted on several levels: One aspect of our open marriage that we have discussed is that it’s not polyamory—we wouldn’t allow fuck buddies to emotionally impact our relationship. But I was taken aback by the frequency (many times per day) and emotional intimacy of my husband’s chats. I felt both jealous and hurt that my husband was apparently sharing personal aspects of his daily life that he didn’t share with me. I know it’s foolish to feel like this friend has a better connection than I do, but they share many similar interests that I don’t. It’s not the first time I’ve looked through my husband’s chats to find deeply affectionate chats for another gay guy. We’ve previously fought about it and clarified that just sex is OK. Romantic feelings for someone else are NOT OK.

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I probably have abandonment issues stemming from childhood that I may be unfairly projecting onto my husband. On the other hand, he has a penchant for using deeply affectionate language—what I’d consider dating language… I recognize the huge invasion of my husband’s privacy by creeping on his phone chats. I’m stuck between wanting to confront him and being confused about whether I’m blowing things out of proportion. I felt like a fool when I met this friend, who knew who I was and intimate details about my husband, including some kinks. But like a fool, I greeted him as a great friend for my husband. Maybe my husband feared it would be too awkward for me to know in advance.

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Overall, it would have been much better never to have met him. But I deeply care about my husband’s happiness and I don’t wish to be controlling. He deserves great friends. And I had no problem with the other platonic friend. My husband has always been very clear that he loves and values me, but I can’t help having some deep unease right now and don’t even know where to begin.

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—Dazed and Confused (and Guilty)

Dear Dazed,

This is not a writing workshop and my first piece of advice will only be useful if you have access to a time machine (so, I’m basically telling this to all future LWs), but please for the love of Ann Landers, be specific when you write into advice columns. The “intimacy” that you detect in your husband’s texts with his bud is, as you suggest, subjective, and therefore should have been shared in order for me to properly evaluate what’s going on here. I am stuck squarely in your head, a place that is probably colored by abandonment issues stemming from your past.

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Don’t worry, I’m not really mad at you. I’m also not convinced that the language in the texts was as intimate as you represented it to be, or that your husband intended it as such. And even if it was affectionate, I’m not sure that’s a problem. It’s reasonable to draw the line at your husband taking on a second relationship, but you’re not going to be able to micromanage the connections he does form. You could try, but you will probably fail and frustrate both of you in the process. How much affection is too much affection here? Is kissing on the mouth OK? Is cuddling after sex? Saying nice things to each other? Mutual kindness? Discussions that don’t pertain to sex at all?

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I understand that all of these things may be too much for people in open relationships, which is why some have a no-repeats rule (though, if any of the parties in those kinds of open relationships are particularly horny, they’re basically being asked to take on a cruising hobby, which at minimum probably means a lot of time wasted on apps and unsatisfying sex). The reality is that between nonromantic nonmonogamy and polyamory is a wide spectrum—like virtually anything in life, this is an endeavor that thrives in a gray area.

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“The husband expressing care about other people should be a good sign—the fact that he wants to take care of all the people that he’s intimate with reinforces that he’s a good person,” is what my boyfriend, Brian, said after I read him your question. We went through a very similar situation a few years ago—he read texts I had sent to a guy we were both hooking up with together and got upset at how affectionate they were. I hadn’t felt like that affection was misplaced or even a secret, for that matter—after all, he’d seen it play out in our bed, or so I thought. Still, he was upset and because of that it warranted a discussion. I dialed back on the warmth of my syntax, for my boyfriend’s sake, but remained friends with the guy and even hooked up with him again. He’s a sweet, gorgeous guy and I didn’t feel bad about letting him know that he was special. I still don’t. What all that means is he was worth my time. At any rate, more than five years later, my boyfriend and I are still together.

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Take it from someone (my boyfriend) who’s gone through the phone of his boyfriend (me) before: “You’re just setting yourself up for torture. You’re just torturing yourself by looking at someone else’s phone. I’ve been there and I learned not to go there. You’ll never be able to control what your husband says to other people and him loving other people isn’t necessarily going to change that he loves you. Real love isn’t exclusive.”

With the evidence provided, I cannot conclusively say that your husband has a stronger connection with this guy than he does with you. I can only detect that it’s a different connection. That is fine! I also have no idea why you regret being kind to a person that your husband likes and has every right, per the rules of your relationship, to engage with on a sexual level. It would have been a terrible look if you were bitchy to him. I guarantee you’d regret that much more. I doubt the bud thinks you’re a chump. He probably thinks you’re cool as hell for being chill when you met him. That only gets you points here, unless you’re being filmed for a reality show and getting commission on the drama you start.

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I understand why you feel that not meeting him would have been better for your mindset, though unless explicitly stated that you are never to come into contact with a man whose hard dick has been around or in your husband, you can’t really hold it against your husband for introducing you two. Yeah, he’s a fuck buddy, but often fuck buddies are actual buddies. By not informing you of the exact nature of their connection, your husband was upholding your “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.

All of this is clearly bothering you and warrants a conversation with your husband. If this becomes too distracting, sure, you might want to discuss a veto here, but I would initially approach the conversation with humility and an open mind. For now, don’t try to control his dynamic with the other dude. Just tell him: “Look, I saw the texts and I feel insecure. I need assurance that you’re still in this with me.” I bet you he’ll be far more likely to give you what you’re looking for with an approach like that instead of one that tries to legislate how he’s running his side game. That’s only going to be a losing battle for you in the end. You might not at heart be the guy who is kind and gracious to his husband’s fuck buddy, but I think you should try to become that guy. You’re already wearing his clothes so it shouldn’t be hard. It’s only going to make you more attractive to everyone involved in this situation.

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Dear How to Do It,

I, a gay man, have got a kink monster inside rearing to go, but I’d describe myself as a late bloomer with a low body count of extremely vanilla encounters and admittedly some fear I’m working on about embracing the unknown. I’m sort of stuck on how to pursue a particular kink that I’m QUITE certain is a big one for me.

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Water sports. Pee really turns me on. The casual way guys will pee like, wherever they have to go. The fraternity of “crossing streams” with straight buddies of yore. The way the burbling toilet water sound suggests… nay, insists that a dick nearby is just going about its business, doing a thing everyone does. Natural, animal, shameless… So, anyway, this is one of the things I’d like to try. But most often, when I see this kink discussed, it’s in the context of humiliation or degradation or something involving a power dynamic. Power play is definitely on my to-try list, but it feels like they’re coming from two different places of desire. Sometimes I DO want to be daddy, and sometimes I want to be daddy’s little boy. But when I think about pee I just sort of want to be hanging with the bros.

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So, with all that background, a few questions: 1) What does/could egalitarian pee-play look like? I know we’re all making it up as we go but I’d love any inspiration you can send my way? Keywords in porn to watch for? 2) Any safety/technique tips? Diet? Pacing? Storage—like a camel’s hump, for later? Anything practical you’d look for in a good water sports partner?

—New Peeginnings

Dear Peeginnings,

Chris Hawke (his NSFW Twitter is here), who throws New York’s long-running GBU play party, told me by phone that the vibe you’re looking for is indeed a thing and cultivating it comes down to one’s approach. Piss play, like a lot of kinks/fetishes, is defined by its participants. Hawke has noticed two paths of piss play—the dom/sub dynamic you mention but also a more intimacy-based approach, which sounds more like what you’re looking for.

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“When I started doing water sports, I was on the intimacy path,” Hawke said. “It’s an intimate moment that you’re witnessing or experiencing when somebody pisses on you.” GBU started as a full-on piss party, and while water sports remain an element of some of the events, the party is more broadly sexual at this point.

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Porn performer James Darling (NSFW Twitter, even more NSFW OnlyFans), who knows a thing or two about piss himself, told me via email that, “I think people often get hung up on the degradation/humiliation element of someone pissing on someone else, ie piss pig etc., but it doesn’t have to be that way!” You should take the space, be it on an app or in person, to set the tone you’re going for. Tell your potential piss partner you want to bro out with your leaking dick out, and see if he’s down. Hawke told me he’s seen that vibe at his parties, as well as the expected dom/sub one.

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As far as tips, Hawke recommends keeping the liquids flowing. He avoids caffeine (makes piss too pissy), but says beer/Gatorade/water are good. Avoid asparagus. Darling recommends watermelon, which “can provide a little fiber as well as water to help things along.” For porn recs, Darling says some of the most beautiful piss play he’s ever seen was in TitanMen’s Breathless (yet another NSFW link!) with Francois Sagat. For search terms, he says stuff tagged “voyeur” or “public” may produce the egalitarian results you’re looking for. Also on that tip, Hawke has begun posting a lot of rare piss scenes that he shot in the early 2000s—at the time, scenes featuring piss that weren’t in the dom/sub vein and/or leathery were rare, and he filled a niche with a more collegiate approach to piss stuff. That might scratch your itch. You can watch sample clips on his aforementioned Twitter.

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(Note that as with any exchange of body fluids, piss play comes with the risk of infection.)

A parting thought from Darling: “The most important quality I’d look for in a partner is someone who can communicate with you about both of your desires and come up with something that’s going to be hot and fun for both of you, whether you take turns, incorporate Daddy/boy or just try it out casually while showering together.” Good luck!

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Dear How to Do It,

I don’t get horny. I had a bad sexual experience with a highly aggressive girl when I was 13 (before I had any sexual feelings whatsoever to my memory) where I stayed up all night in a panic thinking the police were coming to arrest me for what occurred. I think it short-circuited my sex drive for a while (I didn’t masturbate, or even feel a need to, until I was 22), and whereas I don’t mind having sex I never feel that driving need for sexual release that I believe horniness is. I think I am missing something emotionally from the sexual side of myself, do you think there is anything I can do to recover what might be missing?

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—Never Horny

Dear Never Horny,

It is possible that you could work through your trauma to effectively unblock yourself. In all likelihood, this would most effectively be performed alongside a counselor. And if this experience is something you’re still thinking about many years later, it’s worth talking it through with a professional.

However, it’s possible that there may be more coloring your relationship to sexuality. It’s true that a traumatic incident can change the trajectory of people’s lives (and, more to the point, sex lives). But you also come to these experiences with a specific physiology. Could it be that you are asexual? Some people are wired that way. It might be useful to spend some time thinking about it via online forums (like r/asexuality) or by reading about the subject (Angela Chen’s Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex remains my go-to recommendation). You feel now that you are missing something, but is that because you actually lost it or because you’re comparing yourself to how you think people should function? Answering that question may point you in the right direction to move forward.

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Did you write this or another letter we answered? Tell us what happened at howtodoit@slate.com.

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Dear How to Do It,

My fiancé and I are pretty eager to try anal sex. We’ve recently added more butt stuff to our sexual repertoire, such as rimming and using fingers, and she has had some apparently mind-blowing orgasms from getting ass licked while she (or I) play with her clit.

However, any time we are about to take the next step, my erection vanishes. I think I’m too worried about hurting her or giving her flashbacks to a previous partner that didn’t care about hurting her. This can be a bit frustrating for both of us. I’ve looked online for anal sex advice but everything I found was more for the receiver (about relaxing and being well-lubed etc.) How can I get out of my own head and into her butt?

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—Eager for Anal

Dear Eager for Anal,

If possible, give yourself another step. Graduating to toys after rimming and fingering could give you tangible proof that anal does not hurt or upset her, and it’s proof that won’t depend on your ability to maintain an erection. As important as it is to ease into anal for the receptive partner’s sake, it’s crucial for the insertive partner as well.

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Anal sex has been stigmatized as a painful, dirty way of spreading disease. It’s a lot to let go of. I had a similar reaction when I started having sex with men—I just couldn’t relax enough to top. I talked to a doctor, he told me that my temporary ED sounded like it was rooted in psychology, and I just focused on getting comfortable.

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Try to do the same. It’s an active process, but relaxation is achievable. If you don’t have a meditation practice, you might want to look into it, as it can help you manage anxious thoughts. Also, an ED med could give you some reinforcement here—knowing that your boner is medically boosted can take some of the will-I-or-won’t-I-get-hard pressure off the table that can prove to be so distracting and self-defeating. Go easy on yourself—you got this.

—Rich

More Advice From Slate

I have been sexually active since I was 17. I am now 29 years old. (I’m a straight, cis female.) A majority of the sex I had between 17 and 21 was only when I was drunk, so I don’t remember most of it, but I know I didn’t climax. I got sober and started a serious relationship and started actually enjoying sex, but I have one big issue: I can only climax if I think about awful/degrading things. And I do mean awful.

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