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 in a loveless (largely sexless) relationship for way too long. When I finally got out, my body had changed a lot: I’d had several kids, was older, and fatter. But even more than this, I think I just lived in my head for so long… I feel kind of disconnected from my body. I’ve always struggled with this a bit due to trauma/body dysmorphia (which is probably how I ended up in this unsatisfying relationship in the first place), but it’s way worse. I’ve been in therapy, and mentally and emotionally am doing much better, but I’m in a new relationship and am really struggling with the sex. Not sexuality: I’m interested, turned on, and present. But like literally how to do it. I feel so awkward and clumsy and like I don’t quite know how to move in my body. And my partner is all about letting me dominate, which I like, in theory (it turns me on), but I feel pretty inept. What resources should I seek? Books, videos? Should I see a sex therapist? Take up kickboxing? Help!
—Not Like Riding a Bike
Dear Not Like Riding a Bike,
I think kickboxing is the route to go! Presuming that specific martial art is what works for you. Personally, I’d go for belly dancing for the way it glorifies larger, curvier bodies. Yoga is another route—it sneaks up on you but will very much put you into your physicality and get you out of your head. But really anything that might get at this disconnection from your body. Go on a tour of local physical activities and find the ones you enjoy. Once you’re in your body, you can better feel what you want. Knowing what you want, and demanding that when it overlaps with your partner’s boundaries and desires, is where domination really works.
If the body-first route isn’t working, your current therapist might be able to help more with sexuality than you expect or be able to refer you to a sex therapist.
But let’s circle back to the overlap between your desires and your partner’s. Sometimes feelings of ineptitude in dominant roles come from a lack of clarity about what’s on the table. Ask your partner what activities they enjoy, and what emotions they want to feel. Look for those overlaps and play in those areas where what you both want lines up. Friend of the column Lola Jean works on a project called 7 Days of Domination, mostly geared toward pros, but with loads of useful insight for amateurs. Start there and follow the trail of other resources. You’ve got this.
Dear How to Do It,
My wife is awesome and we have a close, caring relationship. She struggles with anxiety and depression, and after years of ups and downs, she’s finally found some medication that works well for mental health. Except… it’s killed her libido. Obviously, mental health is incredibly important but I am really feeling the change. We cuddle and touch a lot, and when required I take matters into my own hands but that’s not actually what I want. I miss our sex life. I miss my horny wife. I miss sex. I suggested I get a hall pass but she’s not keen; I’ve gently asked if there might be other medication options but these seem to work well in every way except one. I’m so pleased that she’s found something that works for her but I feel bereft.
—Pleased for Her, Sad for Me
Dear Please for Her, Sad for Me,
This medication might be temporary—however, on the timeline of years. It also might not be. Life sucks like this sometimes. We don’t get to have everything we want. She doesn’t get to have her mental health and her libido right now, and you don’t get to have a healthy wife who is also horny.
Talk to your friends. You might find that some of them can commiserate. Talk to a therapist if you’re finding that your friends can’t relate or you need more guidance than they can provide. Develop a really robust masturbation life—buy yourself the porn you like, take baths or otherwise pamper yourself first, fantasize, and invest in toys. Whatever gets you going and makes you feel satisfied that you can do for yourself—you deserve it.
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Dear How to Do It,
Can you recommend websites or ways to find straight porn that focuses on male pleasure? I’m turned off by straight porn seemingly made FOR straight men. The camera is always focused on the woman’s face, body, and moans. I am a straight woman who is very visual, and I want to watch men who I find attractive (good hair, fit body). I love a beautiful man’s face, and I want to see a lovely body and hear him moan. It seems like the videos that fit the bill are all gay sex, and I’m starting to resent that people don’t seem to think straight women want to experience sexy men having straight sex.
Dear Visual Vixen,
The OnlyFans pages of male performers are likely to have what you’re looking for. I’m wary of making specific recommendations there, as it’d be my friends who I have sex with or flirt with, and that seems like a journalistic integrity nightmare. Shine Louise Houston’s Heavenly Spire seems like a fit, though it’s mostly masturbation. And the rest of the Male Sexuality tag on PinkLabel.tv (who I license work to) has oodles of stuff that looks to be worth checking out if watching masturbation works for you. Erika Lust’s productions focus on the pleasure of every person involved—regardless of gender, which includes men—and involves more coupled interactions. Bellessa House also tends to give more screen time to the men than mainstream porn studios do.
Adult production studios have a lot of ideas about what women do and don’t want to see. And the people who are changing what sexually explicit film means and can be are many times at least a little queer (hello!) or pansexual, so they don’t often focus on heterosexual male pleasure. But there’s stuff out there, and the more you patronize sites that create this kind of work, and kindly communicate your desire for more—and for more in the context of heterosexual interactions—the more likely it is that we’ll see further work along those lines.
Dear How to Do It,
My wife (F48) and I (M48) have been married for just over 20 years. We have had our share of challenges but have always been very sexually compatible. While my libido is higher than hers when we do have sex it is always fun and exciting. More recently we have added a few new things (porn, toys, light BDSM) that have helped us both. The one issue that has come up is my ability to sustain an erection even with medicine relies on a lot of direct stimulation and there are certain positions where I just don’t feel a lot anymore while inside her.
I can get off easily from oral but vaginal sex has often become challenging for us and we miss being able to “go at it” for a prolonged period of time. I am on the girthier side and our attempts at penetrative anal have never been successful despite lots of lube. My wife has given me three amazing kids and I would never want to tell her that it doesn’t feel tight and therefore I don’t have enough sensation to stay erect but I also am not sure what I/we can do to try and keep things going strong. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
—Hoping to Keep Up
Dear Hoping to Keep Up,
Frame it not around your wife feeling less tight, but as you needing more intense squeezing instead. Try saying: “Honey, in order to stay hard I need a lot of pressure now. I guess it’s aging. Can we work together on positions that give me more direct stimulation in the form of gripping sensations?” Then get to experimenting. I’d try positions with her legs closed or even crossed.
If your wife expresses a perception of being less tight herself, you might encourage her to write in for some advice regarding what she can do on her end of things.
More Advice From Slate
Mid-40s hetero marriage guy here, with a classic have-kids-wife-not-horny situation. But I’ve resolved that with discussions and compromises, based substantially on advice from this column. Thanks! But now I have a new problem that is very difficult to discuss. After sex or “assisted” masturbation, something strange happens.