By Dan Savage
Sex-positive bi woman here. I have recommended your column to many people over the years to help them feel normal and human in their kinks, fantasies, sexuality, etc. But I’m having a more difficult time extending similar acceptance to myself. I was in a three-year relationship with a cis straight man. I recently moved across the country for graduate school and this was the catalyst for me to put my foot down about opening the relationship in order to get my sexual needs met. He agreed and we tried being open but he found it too emotionally challenging, so now we are on a “break.”
When we were together he showed me love in many ways, Dan, but he would not eat my pussy or finger me or use a vibrator or any other sex toys on me. He quit his own therapy for depressive symptoms and anxiety after just three sessions; he won’t do couple’s therapy; he won’t even have a conversation with me about why, exactly, my pussy and sexual pleasure are aversive to him. Even hearing me moan in pleasure or arousal seemed to make him recoil. All he wanted was blow jobs and occasional sessions of intercourse. He had some ED issues that he felt bad about but I told him multiple times that erections are not a big deal for me—what I like about sex is the intimacy, the play, and mutual pleasure. He is not a bastard, but the sex remained phallocentric. Writing this, I know that I made a reasonable decision for myself. Yet I continue to be wracked with guilt over pursuing (pandemic-safe) sex when I know this guy, who I love very much and care about very deeply, still has feelings for me and still wants to us be together, exclusively.
Two questions: Do you have any idea of what gives, based on your experience? I’ve been trying to understand and open the lines of communication for years. And, how do I stop beating myself up for hurting his feelings when my friends keep telling me I gave the relationship my all and I know that my soul couldn’t stand any more one-sided sex?
Feminist Under Compulsive, Kink-Induced Nauseous Guilt
You’re not responsible for the hurt feelings your ex-boyfriend—please make that break permanent—more than earned. You gave him three years and God alone knows how many blowjobs and he either didn’t love you enough to work on himself or he’s so damaged he’s incapable of doing the work. Either way, FUCKING, your ex-boyfriend is not in good working order, sexually or emotionally, and that’s not gonna change. He won’t talk to a shrink about his own shit, he won’t see a couples’ counselor about your shared shit, he won’t touch your pussy and he doesn’t want anyone else to touch your pussy—oh, and if you make even the slightest sound during sex, if a moan or, God forbid, a request for should escape your lips, he recoils. Charitable reading: your ex-boyfriend is a closeted necrophiliac and any sign of life from you turns him off. Slightly less charitable read: your ex-boyfriend was raised to believe that sex is something a woman endures, not something a woman enjoys, and any sign that you might actually enjoy sex turns him off.
I don’t know what his issues are, FUCKING, and neither do you. All we know for sure is that he has issues and, whatever else they might be, they are disqualifying. You asked for the only accommodation that might make it possible for you to stay in this relationship and stay sane—opening it up so you could seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere—and he couldn’t handle it.
My girlfriend of six months got drunk one week into a work-related physical separation, ghosted on me, went to a hotel, and had sex for two days straight with another man. She then called and confessed everything. She’s remorseful and says it was alcohol-related and that she doesn’t remember the details. My take is that if she was too drunk to remember the details, she was too drunk to consent, which equals rape, right? I encouraged her to file a police report and get this rapist off the streets. She says she doesn’t know his name or number and doesn’t want to pursue legal action. She does remember the sex was unprotected and took Plan B today and is getting a full STI screening. She’s exhibiting signs of trauma—I’ve been down this road with an ex—and I’m trying to be supportive but I don’t think I can continue. Would I be the biggest asshole in the world to end this? Other details: she was married to a woman for the past five years and I was the first man she was ever with until this rape happened. I’m 50 years old, she’s 28 years old. What the fuck do I do? She’s fragile and I have been supporting her financially for the last six months, which is weird since her job pays twice what mine does.
Just Seeking Guidance
It’s entirely possible your girlfriend was black-out drunk that whole weekend and incapable of offering meaningful consent and the person she was with knew she was too fucked up to consent to sex—and wasn’t too fucked up to consent to sex himself—and she was raped. It’s also possible your girlfriend was drunk but not so drunk she couldn’t consent, JSG, and is overstating how drunk she was because she doesn’t want to share the details with you—details you aren’t entitled to. It’s also possible she was raped and is reluctant to go to the police because she knows telling her story—which could be entirely true—won’t result in an arrest, much less a prosecution, and so going to the police wouldn’t get this rapist—if the guy is a rapist—off the streets and could cause her further trauma.
Zooming out for a second… you assume a man forced your girlfriend to do something she didn’t want to do (fuck him all weekend) and your response is to force your girlfriend to do something she doesn’t want to do (file a police report). You need to stop that. If you think she’s showing signs of trauma, you should urge her to seek help from a rape counselor or trauma specialist, i.e. someone in a better position to assess the situation than you are, JSG, someone who doesn’t have cause to feel conflicted or resentful or angry about what did or did not happen that weekend.
And if you want to end the relationship, you should, JSG, and you can break up with someone without being an asshole or abandoning them. Offer her your support—offer your emotional support, withdraw your financial support—and give her the names of some local rape crisis centers in your area.
I’m a 59-year-old gay man with a problem I’ve struggled with for all of my active sex life. I rarely orgasm during sex. I’m now involved with a couple that has welcomed me to be part of a loving relationship and they want me to be as satisfied as they are. I enjoy pleasing both of them, but they also want me to be pleased. I appreciate this but I feel pressured to come and I just can’t. Any time I feel pressured to do anything I start to feel defensive and shut down. I enjoy being with these men very much and I want so much to share myself with them. How can I overcome this? I feel like I’m letting them down, and to be honest, I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I can’t orgasm during sex. Any help you can suggest is greatly appreciated.
Can’t Orgasm Mostly Ever
This couple sees orgasm as a sign of sexual satisfaction, COME, and it’s usually a pretty good sign. And while it’s always better to err on the side of satisfying a sex partner—you don’t wanna be like FUCKING’s ex-boyfriend—there are people who can’t come during partnered sex or at all. We should do whatever it takes within reason to get our partners’ off, but if a partner tells us they don’t need to come or can’t come but still enjoy sex? We need to take their word for it. So, COME, explain to your boyfriends that you love sex and you love getting them off but you rarely come during sex yourself and feeling pressured to come makes those rare events rarer still. Promise them that you’ll say something when you feel like coming and be clear about what they can do for you when that time comes.
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