How to Do It

My Boyfriend and I Want to Enjoy the Sex Parties at Burning Man. Something Is Holding Us Back.

Would it be terribly unethical?

People partying on a beach with a bonfire.
Photo illustration/animation by Slate. Photos by 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,

My partner and I are finally returning to Burning Man later this month after the event was canceled for two years due to COVID. However, we’re now concerned about monkeypox. We’ve enjoyed sampling the sex parties available on playa in past years and would like to do so again. But as a heterosexual couple in occupations other than health care and sex work, we don’t meet our local health department’s criteria for vaccination. In your opinion, would it be terribly unethical to lie for the vaccine?

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—Dusty, Sexy & Straight

Dear Dusty,

Yes, that would be unethical and just plain terrible. Do not. Do not do things that are even marginally unethical, for that matter, especially toward a marginalized population. The very least you can do to help make the world a better place is to refrain from taking something that you have no actual claim to.

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Taking the vaxx out of the hands (or in this case, fatty tissue) of men who have sex with men is placing your anxiety as a straight person ahead of the actual threat the disease poses to the group the disease is predominantly affecting. Look at the data. On August 19, the WHO reported that 98.5 percent of reported cases are in men, and that about 97 percent of cases with known data on sexual orientation were of men who have sex with men. Less than 1 percent of that subset of men who have sex with men identifies as bisexual. At the moment, your threat is minuscule. I know you have a heart because you’re asking the question in the first place, so I’m telling you, don’t do some imperialist hetero bullshit and put yourself before people who actually need the jab. If the supply were exceeding demand, I’d have no problem with this. At the moment it is not. You’ll just have to be an adult and manage.

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Instead of taking someone else’s shot, why not follow other CDC guidance and limit your number of sexual partners? You know, since you want to do what the gays are doing so badly? I know, believe me I know, that slowing down casual sex is not fun. It’s boring. We all have stuff to do and holes to stuff. I get it, I do. I know not everyone will follow that guidance, and I don’t think they should be shamed for not doing so. But I also think that putting a little bit of effort in now may make a big difference down the line. It may make rejoining life’s great daisy chain come that much faster. Think of pumping the brakes at the moment as a small investment in the future. I know that many gay guys also feel this way, so join us and keep your hands off our doses.

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Dear How to Do It,

Do you have any tips for helping a one-time partner navigate condom-related erectile issues? I’m a gay trans man, and I enjoy meeting men for casual sex several times a week, in addition to my other relationships. I am on PrEP, have an IUD, and test frequently, but I always insist on condoms when I am being fucked vaginally or anally, simply because I have so many sexual partners.

Recently, I noticed a significant uptick in the number of cis men who have difficulties getting or staying hard once they have a condom on, no matter what we do. A few guys have gotten upset and blamed me for insisting on using a condom, or blamed the feeling of my vagina or ass. But those jerks aside, most people have just been shy, embarrassed, or disappointed. We often decide to switch to oral or other kinds of sex, which although still mutually satisfying, doesn’t solve the condom issue. And then we usually never see each other again.

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In the moment when it happens, I try to minimize awkwardness and keep things sexy. If extra stimulation or a change in activity doesn’t help, I suggest an alternative route so the sex can continue. But I’d like to know if there’s more I can do in the moment to keep things hot and heavy (and hard). Most of the tips I’ve found online are for people in relationships, not hookups or one time flings. What should I be doing differently?

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—Preferred Penis Practices in PNW

Dear Preferred Penis,

I recommend keeping a cockring or two on hand, in case your partners want to partake—they can help keep wood stiff. Also, if you aren’t already giving your partners a heads-up ahead of time that you want to use condoms, do that. They then may make pop an ED pill that they might not have otherwise, if they have access to them.

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Neither cockrings nor PDE5 inhibitors, though, may prove effective if anxiety is high, as it tends to be when the dick goes low. Minimizing awkwardness, keeping things sexy, and suggesting alternate paths to pleasure are extremely effective strategies for helping your partner stay in the moment. That’s about all you can do. Which is to say: You know what you’re doing and it sounds like you’re good at it. Maybe so good that you expect all encounters to live up to the standards you set. They won’t! This is especially true if you’re hooking up with strangers—nothing, certainly not exchanged app messages, can predict the actual chemistry until you’re both in the room together. What I think you should be doing differently is not blaming yourself for your partner’s performance. You’re doing great, and their inability to hang is not your fault.

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Dear How to Do It,

The problem is I have a penis curving about 40 degrees downward. The curvature is not acting on a specific spot of the penis, it’s rather distributed along the length, like a banana. I have never had sex for religious reasons so I have no idea if it would work or if it would be painful to me or the girl. There’s surgery to correct the curvature but it’s not easy. I consider it as a last resort. I have tested for fertility and the results came back good. The problem is the curve. I am too embarrassed to ask anyone I know if they think sex is possible or not.

—Guy With a Banana For a Penis

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Dear Banana,

You can’t be sure this is a problem until you actually have sex. If this is painless there is likely nothing to worry about. I’ve seen and experienced penises with downward curves (though my protractor wasn’t within reach at the moment of erection so I can’t say how their angles compared to your 40 degrees), and everything worked just fine. Different holes will accommodate different shapes, but the good news is that you can also try different positions to maximize fit and pleasure. (For example, if missionary doesn’t work with your angle, doggy might.) You didn’t mention your size, but “banana” tends to imply large. If that is true, there are plenty of size queens of all stripes out there who will at least give that banana a try.

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You should try to get over your embarrassment enough, though, to talk to a doctor, whose expertise will alternately assuage your anxiety or determine if there is a greater issue that needs addressing. (Sometimes people with extreme angles on their dicks also have pain during erections, which you’d want to get taken care of.) Your description of the shape does not sound like Peyronie’s or chordee, but without your dick in front of me or a medical degree I cannot say that for sure. Get it checked out by someone who can.

Dear How to Do It,

I have been married to my husband for over a year, together for six. Overall, we have a great relationship—we mutually support each other, prioritize open communication, and always have fun together. Our sex life is solid, if maybe a little vanilla. But up until now, it has not been a problem for either one of us.

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A few months ago, my partner asked if I had any interest in a threesome. I’ve never experimented with group sex or with another woman, but he had a threesome (MFF) before we met and enjoyed the experience. I told him I’d try anything once, as long as it was a decision we were making as a couple. I admit that I assumed he was asking more as a hypothetical (and part of foreplay in and of itself, as we had sex immediately following).

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More recently, he brought up the topic again, and this time more seriously— as in, who would we want as our third, how would be coordinate it, etc. I was a little surprised and asked if he was happy with our current sex life. He was adamant that he is, but also said he believes that it’s important to talk openly about what we want sex-wise, and it never hurts to try something new. I tried to push him on that point—what else we could do to spice things up—but he didn’t name anything specific beyond a threesome.

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I’m not sure how to handle this. I agree with him on the importance of clear communication around sex, and I’m definitely open to trying new things. I’m not even opposed to the idea of a threesome; I see how it could be hot and open up a new part of our own relationship, although I have questions about the logistics and wonder how I will react in the moment to seeing my husband with another woman. But my bigger concern is if this is my husband’s way of expressing his dissatisfaction with our current sex life. I’ve always been aware that I am less experienced than he is, and while he’s never said anything about it, it’s been a point of personal insecurity. I do worry that he will become (or maybe already is) bored by our sex life, and it will negatively affect other parts of our relationship.

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What should I do? Is this threesome idea just something all guys want, or is it a genuine desire he’s expressing that I should respect? And if it’s also something I’m not opposed to—and might even be interested in trying myself—should I pursue it? Finally, is this issue indicative of a larger problem with our sex life, or should I believe him when he says he’s totally happy otherwise?

—Threeway the only way?

Dear Threeway,

At a minimum, you learned something here: When your partner asks if you have an interest in a threesome, he probably is not speaking hypothetically. You can take him at his word that this is something he’s actually interested and he’s not just performing masculinity for you—while possible, and we should never really put it past men to parade their proverbial dicks around, it seems like he’s action-oriented here and worth taking seriously. This is also not something you should take personally. Just because he wants more doesn’t mean he doesn’t like what he has. People crave novelty. His request could very well be a sign of his satisfaction with you as a partner. He is secure enough in your bond to share his fantasies. Certainly, he wants you to be there to experience them. He may figure that this is a way for you to both experience variety and that it will be mutually pleasurable.

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I can’t read his mind, especially not via your words, but there is a good-faith reading to be had here, if you are willing to do so. It is true that he may be thinking selfishly and this could all be a ruse to keep you in his clutches while experiencing sex with others, but if he says he’s satisfied and he is not otherwise prone to exploiting people (or just you), there is definitely a world in which his intentions are good. You say you don’t have a lot of experience, well, here’s one way to accrue some!

I think your interpretation—or at least the scenario that you fear—comes from the widespread cultural belief that our partners should be everything to us and that yearning beyond the constraints of monogamy signals discontent. Neither of those things is necessarily true. In the large sexual fantasy study that provides the basis for social psychologist Justin Lehmiller’s 2018 book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, he found that the single most popular sexual fantasy among Americans is group sex. More than a third called it their favorite fantasy, and it was rare for people to report never having that fantasy (five percent of men surveyed versus thirteen percent of women).

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His desire alone is not an indication that anything is amiss. If you’re curious, I think you should take him up on the offer—try to see it as a fun way of spicing up your sex life and not as some kind of edict on what you aren’t bringing to the table. The one thing you can’t be to him is new, and a threesome would theoretically allow him to experience that newness in a fun and casual way. Definitely hammer out those logistical questions and do a lot of thinking/talking about what it would mean for you to see your husband with another woman. If you decide ultimately that three is a crowd, that’s OK too.

—Rich

More Advice From Slate

My beloved husband of more than 19 years has accused me of being unfaithful, breaking my vows. I’m not. I didn’t. Nothing can convince him he is wrong. He has started making multiple accusations going back for five years. None of them are true, but there is no way I can prove it. (How can you prove what didn’t happen?) I offered to take a polygraph, tried hypnotherapy to remember dates from the past that he references.

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