I Just Discovered What My Wife Secretly Thinks of Our Sex Life

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S1: You’re listening to this week’s free episode, our second episode each week is exclusively for Slate Plus members. You can sign up for Slate Plus for just $1 for your first month. You’ll get every How to do it podcast without ads. Plus, you’ll be able to read every single advice column on Slate with no monthly limits. Joined now at Slate.com Slash HDI Plus that’s Slate.com slash HDD.

S2: IPL U.S. This podcast contains graphic, explicit and even sometimes a little bit vulgar discussions of sexuality. Hi, I’m Stoya. I’m a writer and pornographer,

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S1: and I’m Rich Juzwiak, I’m a writer.

S2: We’re the authors of How to Do It Slate’s sex advice column. This is our new podcast, where we answer brand new letters about all your sex and relationship issues twice a week. You can ask us anything about sex or trying to have sex or not wanting to have sex. We are here to help. So I feel like a running theme so far. Something I keep saying. It’s becoming like a catchphrase is like, Well, I’m a weirdo, really. I have a pretty unique viewpoint on this. Then I hear you agreeing with my stance, Oh, that

S1: you’re a weirdo? No, I

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S2: agree with my thing that I’m like, This is uber weird, right? And you’re like, No, it’s not weird. Or like, if it is, I’m weird to you.

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S1: Yes, that’s it’s probably the latter. I think everybody is weird. I mean, I feel like you’re either weird or you’re boring. And I don’t believe that most people are boring. I just believe that some people are less willing to share their weirdness. So to me, weird is like down. Weird is like, I can relate to you. You know what I mean? That’s immediately disarming to me. Give me your weird.

S2: But one of the things that I see in our writers is some of them are exquisitely sensitive. Yes. And private? Yes. And like, delicate.

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S1: But what do you think about that? I mean, like, I feel like I have like two minds about sensitivity, which is that obviously it exists. But I don’t think that, like a functioning society has time for everybody’s individual sensitivity. I think when you care about somebody, when you love somebody, you need to cater to that sensitivity. I think you really need to honor it and respect it. I think a lot of relationship and sex issues deferring to the most sensitive person in the room is the right thing to do. I think if it’s something like somebody on Twitter is complaining that I didn’t think about their particular sensitivity when I was writing about something that’s kind of like, OK, now we need to grow up. Sorry, I didn’t speak directly to your experience. There are seven billion of them on the Earth, and I had a few paragraphs to get through. So, yeah, so it’s kind of a sliding scale for me on how much we actually want to honor that sensitivity while it being an undeniable force in human interaction.

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S2: Speaking of honoring sensitivity, yes, let’s dig in to our first question. Let’s do it.

S3: Dear, how to do it. My wife and I made friends with another couple in our neighborhood last summer. We’re fairly young, childless and live in a conservative state. These people are a little older and way more open about sex than anyone we’ve ever known. I found this off. Putting it first. I heard way too many details, but I loosened up because of my wife’s seeming reaction to all the talk. It led to a big uptick in our sex life. We’ve gone from once every week or two to nearly every day and some stretches, and she’s been pushing us to try new positions and even toys. This was awesome to me, and I thought everything was great until a few days ago. I had beers alone with my male neighbor who asked me how my sex issues were going. I asked him what he meant. He said he knew from his wife that our sex life has been strained and that she was trying to make it better and was frustrated. He even said he knows having a smaller penis is tough. Needless to say, I was devastated to hear this, especially the comment about my size, which I always thought was satisfying to my wife. I nodded and said, We’re working on it now. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t brought this up. I have avoided sex with my wife. I think she’s noticing. I feel betrayed and like she’s been lying to me for our whole marriage. I honestly want to leave. What should I do? Signed not up to snuff.

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S1: I mean, this is a shitty way to hear about what your wife thinks about your dick size.

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S2: Yeah, this is awful. I feel so bad for our writer.

S1: I mean, because last summer these are new friends. This marriage has been how long. We don’t know and say longer than they’ve known these people. Yes. So you would expect any kind of like major issue here would have been somehow broached.

S2: Yeah, especially because has been as has been the same size the whole time.

S1: You know, this is an issue, but it’s not quite in deal-breaker territory. I understand it might be a hard thing to talk about. I don’t think the answer is talking about it with somebody else that you just met.

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S2: See, I can see the value of talking to someone that you’ve just met. And then talking to your partner

S1: kind of collect your thoughts. Organize. Yeah. How are you going to do that? Because you’re basically rehearsing it with that person?

S2: Yeah. Because thinking about it from the wife’s perspective, like, OK, this other couple in our neighborhood, they’re super open. I don’t know many people. I live in a conservative state. I don’t know. Many people are open about sex. All I can talk to them about this. So I don’t think she necessarily did like a horrible thing by talking with them. But they should have advised she speak with her partner and she should have spoken with her partner

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S1: unless it wasn’t presented as like, I’ve never told him about this because the neighbor is seems to have mentioned it very casually as though this is an open conversation. And, you know, if somebody’s partner came to me and started talking about that, I would just make sure not to repeat that just in case. But I could see how

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S2: I would be like, Is this a secret?

S1: Yeah. If we’re just like keeping things in the realm of assumption because I didn’t ask that question. I would assume that it’s been discussed. If you’re coming to me with it, who am I? You know what I mean? So I could see how like that lack of communication would have been detrimental here.

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S2: Silly people bring me all. Yeah, I’m sure kind of. And they don’t want anyone to. And I’m like, Are you sure you’re comfortable? Like typing this to me over Instagram? And so they look like a guy like me usually opened up, and I would assume that it is a secret, but also to ask. Yeah, because I want them to think about, Is this private? Is this something I’m comfortable sharing, totally sharing it with?

S1: Because fundamentally, this is a trust issue. The trust of this person has been violated and I think fairly so. There are things in my relationship that I would expect never to be repeated to another person. And if I found it coming in from another source, whether I’m aware of my boyfriend’s issue with it or not, that feels like an attack. It’s like, what? Why didn’t you tell them that this is our thing? Yeah. To me, this is the kind of thing that I would get over. Mm hmm. I’ve been humiliated by having my trust breached before things I’ve said have been repeated, and that always stings. Very rarely has it been an occasion to end a relationship. I mean, humans gossip, and they do it sometimes indiscriminately. Irrespective of how close you are of how confidential that information is, it gets out. Hmm. So I would advise taking a more moderate path, healing a little bit, seeing things in perspective, understanding that this was a hard conversation clearly for this guy’s wife to have with him. But at the same time, I think he’s like 100 percent valid in his feelings.

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S2: I’m considering rethinking my position on how much the wife made a mistake by talking about it with the couple. I might shift a little more towards

S1: you, but what you say makes sense. I don’t mean to not to be like, polite, like, Oh no, no, you’re right, you’re right. But like, I think what you say makes total sense. We’re just like, you know, knocking around scenarios here and trying to understand the way of thinking. And I think that’s like part of like just good faith reading of this stuff, right?

S2: Yes. Yeah. But I think he does have to have a very messy conversation with his wife. I think he owes it to her as her husband to address this. There’s no way to like softly tiptoe in. You have to be like, Hey, I found out from our new friends that you’re unhappy because my dick is smaller than you want, right? This is awful. It has to be done kind of as a whole like that.

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S1: I think I totally agree with that. But I feel like there’s like one scenario that we haven’t really considered that much. And again, this is like complete conjecture and maybe attention or whatever. But I just get the feeling that this is possibly like a couple of swingers that they met. Oh yeah, dick size. Was spoken about at all may somehow have something to do with the friend talking about his dick size or the fact that he has a big dick and she wants that. In what context did this information come out? And something tells me that it could have been some kind of sexual coordination or like fantasizing, that kind of thing? Yeah. And so that may make it hurt even more.

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S2: Yeah. Well, it might make it a little less and then a lot more. It’s right. Like, Oh, it’s not. My dick is unsatisfied. It’s just that the neighbors is bigger. Yeah, cool. But also, oh my god, there’s this whole swingers plan happening under my nose, right? But I haven’t been party to would be really upsetting

S1: because he’s not being included in the coordination.

S2: Yeah. And I don’t get the sense that this would be like a happy surprise.

S1: Yeah, it doesn’t seem like it.

S2: No, I you don’t want to surprise someone with a foursome.

S1: No, that’s a recipe for disaster and crying during sex, which is just the worst.

S2: Yeah. So, you know, our writers should have the big, difficult task and state up front that they are really upset because their experiences they heard from a neighbor that they’re inadequate. That’s the message that they understood.

S1: Absolutely. All right. Let’s move on to our next question,

S3: dear, how to do it. I am 18 years old, gay and newly a man. I’m going to be going to college in a few weeks. I’m very excited for this new chapter in my life, not least of all, because I hope it leads to my first sexual encounter so far in life. I haven’t dated anyone and hooking up doesn’t really work when you live with your parents. In fact, I’ve never even kissed another guy. But despite my lack of experience, I am really eager to have sex. I don’t have much of an interest in a relationship or anything more than a one time hookup. But is it weird for my first time having sex and kissing someone to be with a total stranger who I won’t see again? I thought this was what I wanted, but my friends said that it sounded like a really bad idea. Would it be a bad idea to have my first time having sex be with a total stranger? And is it necessary that I tell them that this would be my first time signed new to this?

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S1: So I think at the root of this question is the concept of virginity. And this construct that we have socially right? Yes. OK. So there’s something that I heard recently that I loved. There’s this one woman show called Get on your knees by this comedian Jacqueline Novak. Although to call her a comedian, it seems reductive because she, during the course of the show, reveals that she was a poetry major, which makes sense because her metaphors are just, I mean, they’re wonderful. They’re are inspiring and elegant and perfect hits nail on the head every time, and it’s just like living prose to hear or talk for an hour in the Chau that’s basically about giving blowjobs. You know, she’s incredible. I highly recommend it. And she talks about her relationship to her virginity, and I’m sure this changes night, tonight in some way. But when I saw her and I think it was June, she says, I never valued my virginity. I got it for just showing up on Earth, right? And so then she compares it to like a voucher that you’d have in like a gift basket in a hotel room. People make a big deal about this. I mean, I don’t really give a shit about it, but for a goof, we should really use this before we leave the resort. And that idea had been germinating in my head like virginity. Why is it a thing? You can see why it’s a thing in the attitudes towards its value in perceived males and perceived females. Yes, it makes a perceived female more valuable per hour patriarchal society, and it makes a male less valuable.

S2: So when I was a young person, the vulva? Yes, I noticed in the neighborhood people starting to have sex. Mm hmm. It was young women losing their virginity. Right. And it was young men taking it. Yes. So I was like, Wow, like, no. I went to the mall and I found a relatively clean looking, attractive enough young man who had nothing to do with my social group. We did not go to the same schools and we had sex, OK? And I actually don’t remember if I told him that I had not had sex before because there was a little bit of blood. I imagine he figured it out, right? I remember I was wearing a red velvet thong.

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S1: OK, somehow appropriate? Yeah. Was it a good experience?

S2: It happened. Yeah. Like, I was like, Oh, that’s that. Yeah. I had read extensively about sex. So I was well aware that it was a privilege that it hadn’t hurt. And most people’s first few sexual encounters are particularly awesome. It takes a while to get an idea of what you’re doing, especially when your other partner is inexperienced as well. So it was like. But also, I was really happy that I was no longer a virgin. So the next time I had sex, it wouldn’t have that like, ridiculous wait.

S1: Right? So you kind of unburdened yourself. Yeah. In a way, I lost my virginity depending on how you want to define virginity, but to women girls, I guess. And then the first time I hooked up with a guy, it was coordinated through Gatcombe, actually, which is, you know, pre apps, internet chat, things. And after the first time, and it wasn’t like fully anal sex that took a really long time to get to, I would say. But just like oral whatever. I was like, Maybe I’m not gay. Like, it was like, really confusing to me because I had all of this had build up to it. It was such an underwhelming experience that I was like, Why? Hmm. And then I had sex with another guy that was also underwhelming. I was like, Oh my God, now what? Then the third time I really like the guy and I was like, OK, yes, I’m definitely gay confirmed. That’s what it’s supposed to be like. It was confusing. I guess I would just hope that this person, whoever they selected, they could have like something of a connection with them. Because when you are that close to somebody and I mean, I’m talking like sheer proximity, you’re vulnerable. You can be hurt in any number of ways. And to have somebody who has sex positive and compassionate and even, you know, you don’t fall in love, you never see them again, whatever it can really make or break like how you view that situation, how you approach this going forward. So I would caution against total randomness, although that very well may work out.

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S2: And like, if they’re like in COVID times, but let’s pretend yes, if they’re at like a nightclub and they see the guy and they’re like, Oh, that’s the guy I want to kiss, they should walk up and say, Hey, can I kiss you? And like, go for it? Yes. But. Failing running into someone in the wild like Jews, I didn’t go to the mall and wait for the first person with a penis and say, Hey, I chose yes.

S1: There’s also another layer here, which is the transness. And so that’s going to require some degree of negotiation. I think that’s going to require some kind of discussion. Or at least, I mean, I don’t know, it’s a very hard thing. And I think that trans people have to make the decision in the moment or make the decision for the moment as to how much to disclose when. But just keep in mind that there are some gay men who are more amenable to having sex with people with vaginas than others and men being men. They often have a sense of entitlement and they have a certain strength. So you don’t want to put yourself in a situation that’s going to make yourself vulnerable or worse. Yeah. You know, at risk, I don’t mean to prescribe to kind of adhere to like whatever transphobic norms guide our society. But a queer space is going to probably be easier to navigate than a strictly cis gay space.

S2: I totally understand where your protectiveness is coming from. Yeah, because I’ve been in gay male spaces and it is we. Right? And like, it can get deeply misogynist very quickly knowing that some gay men are very anti-trans. Yeah, I would feel like I needed to be careful. And so we want to impart to this young person like a the world can be dangerous.

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S1: Yeah, and it sucks that he has this burden, but it’s there nonetheless. Yeah. So yes, I clearly don’t think there’s anything wrong with casual sex, and I think that virginity is highly overrated. Construct that really people get all bent out of shape about. So in spirit, I’m totally with this guy, but, you know, with moderation rules. Moderation for everything. So just try to do in a way that puts yourself at ease in every way and have fun.

S2: And, you know, make sure someone knows where you are. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. Great to.

S2: All right, that’s all for now. But we’re not done this week on this week’s second episode exclusively for Slate Plus members. A man writes from an e r waiting room after an incident with a new hookup.

S1: You know, as long as a dick doesn’t come off or require major surgery, it’s that’s a comedy bit

S2: to find out what sent him there. Sign up for Slate Plus for just $1 at Slate.com Slash HDD Plus that’s Slate.com slash HDD i the U.S.

S1: If you’re in need of sex advice from Stoya and me. You can write to how to do it at Slate.com, slash how to do it. Or you can leave us a voicemail at three four seven six four zero four zero two five and we may use it on the show. That’s three four seven six four zero four zero two five and Slate.com slash each 0W t0 D0 eity. Remember, this is anonymous and nothing is too small or embarrassing.

S2: Our show is produced by chowed to how to do its editors. Jeffrey Bloom in our letter, readers are Joshua Leonard and Benjamin Frisch. Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you next time.