I am a 35-year-old straight guy. I met a nice lady through the normal methods, and we hit it off and have grown closer. I think we are both considering "taking it to the next level." We are on the same intellectual wavelength, enjoy the same social experiences, and have a lot of fun together. So what could be the problem? My friend decided it was the time to inform me that she is transgender, pre-op, and will not be having gender-reassignment surgery. This was quite a shock to me. I'm not homophobic, though I've never had a gay experience. I'm open-minded, yet there is a mental block. I like this person, I like our relationship thus far, and I want to continue this relationship. But I'm in a state of confusion.
Confused Over Complicating Knowledge
Lemme get this out of way first, COCK: The nice lady isn't a man, so sex with her wouldn't be a "gay experience" and homophobia isn't the relevant term.
You're a straight guy, you're attracted to women, and some women—as you now know—have dicks. Are you into dick? Could you develop a taste for dick? Could you see yourself making an exception for her dick? It's fine if "no" is the answer to one or all of these questions, COCK, and not being into dick doesn't make you transphobic. Evan Urquhart, who writes about trans issues for Slate, argues that in addition to being gay, straight, bi, pan, demi, etc., some people are phallophiles and some are vaginophiles—that is, some people (perhaps most) have a strong preference for either partners with dicks or partners with vaginas. And some people—most people—want their dicks on men and their labia on/vaginas in women.
"There's no shame in it, as long as it doesn't come from a place of ignorance or hate," Urquhart writes. "Mature adults should be able to talk plainly about their sexuality, particularly with prospective partners, in a way that doesn't objectify or shame anyone who happens to be packing the non-preferred equipment."
Some straight guys are really into dick (trans women with male partners usually aren't partnered with gay men, and trans women who do sex work typically don't have any gay male clients), some straight guys are willing to make an exception for a particular dick (after falling in love with a woman who has one), but most straight guys aren't into dick (other than their own).
Since you're confused about what to do, COCK, I would encourage you to continue dating this woman, keep an open mind, and keep taking things slow. You've got new information to process, and some things—or one thing—to think about before taking this relationship to the next level. But don't drag it out. If you conclude that the dick is a deal breaker, end this relationship with compassion and alacrity. You don't want to keep seeing her "to be nice" if you know a relationship isn't possible. Because letting someone live in false hope is always a dick move.
A few months ago, I started dating someone. I made it clear early on that I didn't feel comfortable being in a nonmonogamous relationship. They said that's not usually what they're into but they weren't interested in seeing anyone else and they had no problem being monogamous. It's not that I don't trust them, and they've never given any indication that they're unhappy with our arrangement, but I can't shake the fears that, though they won't admit it (maybe even to themselves), they'd prefer it if our relationship were more open and I'm taking something important away from them. Can someone who usually doesn't "do" monogamy feel fulfilled in a "closed" relationship? Can it work out, or will they just slowly grow to resent me for this?
Deliriously Anxious Monogamist Nervously Inquires Today
If you stay together forever—what most people mean by "work out"—your partner will definitely grow to resent you. It could be for this reason, DAMNIT, or for some other reason, but all people in long-term relationships resent their partners for something. If it’s not monogamy, it’ll be something else. And if monogamy is the price of admission this person is willing to pay right now, let them pay it. There are a lot of people out there in closed relationships who would rather be in open ones and vice versa. And remember: What works for you as a couple—and what you want as an individual—can change over time. Resentments too.
My relationship with my husband is bad. We have been together for twelve years, and we were married for eight years before getting divorced last year. We have small kids. We reconciled four months after the divorce, despite the affair I had. I have a history of self-sabotage, but in my relationship with him, it has become near constant. Everyone thinks I'm a smart and kind person that occasionally makes mistakes, but I'm not that person with him. With him, I'm awful. I make promises I don't keep and I don't do the right things to make him feel loved even though I do loving things. We have been in couples therapy a number of times, but I always derail the process. I have been in therapy solo a number of times with similar results. I always get the therapists on my side and no real change happens. I want to change but I haven't. I want to stop hurting him but I keep doing it. He doesn't feel like I have ever really fought for him or the relationship. Why can't I change?
My Enraging Self-Sabotaging Yearnings
It's unlikely I'll be able to do for you in print what three couples counselors and all those therapists couldn't do for you in person, i.e., help you change your ways—if, indeed, it's your ways that require changing. Have you ever entertained the thought that maybe there's a reason every counselor or therapist you see winds up taking your side? Is it possible that you're not the problem? Are you truly awful, MESSY, or has your husband convinced you that you're awful in order to have the upper hand in your relationship? (Yeah, yeah, you had an affair. Lots of people do and lots of marriages survive them.)
If you're not being manipulated—if you're not the victim of an expert gaslighter—and you're awful and all your efforts to change have been in vain, MESSY, perhaps you should stop trying. You are who you are, your husband knows who you are, and if he wants to be with you, as awful as you are (or as awful as he's managed to convince you that you are), that's his choice and he needs to take some responsibility for it. By "stop trying" I don't mean you should stop making an effort to be a better person or a more loving partner—we should all constantly strive to be better people and more loving partners—but you can't spend the rest of your life on a therapist's couch. Or the rack.
If you truly make your husband miserable, he should leave you. If your marriage makes you miserable (or if he does), you should leave him. But if neither of you is going anywhere, MESSY, then you'll both just have to make the best of your messy selves and your messy marriage.
On the Lovecast, Dan chats with Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern about left-wing anti-Semitism: savagelovecast.com.
My teenage daughter just came out to us as gay. We told her we love her and support her. As a heterosexual, cisgender mother, how do I make sure she gets good advice about sex? I don't want her learning from other kids or porn. Do you know of any good, sex-positive advice books for lesbian teens?
My Inspiring Daughter Deserves Lesbian Education
"I wish every parent felt this way about their child's sexual development, regardless of the child's gender identity or sexual orientation," said Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. "All young people—girls especially—need open, honest discussions about sexual ethics, including talking about pleasure, respect, decision-making, and reciprocity, or we are leaving them at the mercy of the messages they get from both the mainstream and 'adult' entertainment industries."
Orenstein's book—required reading for parents of girls and boys—drives home the need for comprehensive sex-education programs emphasizing the giving and receiving of pleasure. In the absence of sex-ed programs that empower girls to see themselves not just as instruments of another's pleasure but as autonomous individuals with a right to experience sexual pleasure—with a partner or on their own—girls wind up having a lot of consensual but crappy sex.
That said, MIDDLE, one big takeaway from Orenstein's research should come as a comfort to you: Bi and lesbian girls enjoy an advantage over their heterosexual peers.
"In some ways, MIDDLE can feel more confident about her daughter as a gay girl," said Orenstein. "Lesbian and bisexual girls I spoke to for Girls & Sex would talk about feeling liberated to go 'off the script'—by which they meant the script that leads lockstep to intercourse—and create encounters that truly worked for them. I ended up feeling that hetero girls—and boys, too—could learn a lot from their gay and bisexual female peers. And I don't mean by watching otherwise straight girls make out on the dance floor for the benefit of guys."
Since gay and bisexual girls can't default to PIV intercourse, and since there's not a boy in the room whose needs/dick/ego they've been socialized to prioritize, queer girls have more egalitarian and, not coincidentally, more satisfying sexual encounters.
"Young women are more likely to measure their own satisfaction by the yardstick of their partner's pleasure," said Orenstein. "So heterosexual girls will say things such as, 'If he's sexually satisfied, then I'm sexually satisfied.' Men, by contrast, are more likely to measure satisfaction by their own orgasm. But the investment girls express in their partner's pleasure remains true regardless of that person's gender. So the orgasm gap we see among heterosexuals (75 percent of men report they come regularly in sexual encounters versus 29 percent of women) disappears in same-sex encounters. Young women with same-sex partners climax at the same rate as heterosexual men."
As for good, sex-positive resources for teens of all identities and orientations, Orenstein had some great recommendations.
"I'm a big fan of Heather Corinna's S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties," said Orenstein. "She also produces the Scarleteen.com website, which is fabulous. Other inclusive, sex-positive, medically accurate websites include Sexetc.org and Goaskalice.columbia.edu. And MIDDLE could think about giving her daughter a subscription to OMGYes.com, an explicit (but not tawdry) site that educates about the science of female pleasure. And finally, I think everyone who is a woman—or has had sex with a woman or ever hopes to—should read Emily Nagoski's book Come As You Are. Even if you think you know it all, Nagoski's book will transform your sex life."
Follow Orenstein on Twitter @peggyorenstein.
My husband and I are currently separated on a trial basis. He took all our condoms when he moved out, and I want to ask him if he plans on having sex with other women. I don't have any intention of sleeping with other people while separated, but I think he may be interested in doing so, in part since we have been sexually active only with each other and he is trying to "find himself." If either of us were to have extramarital sex without the consent of the other, I would consider that cheating. We've also been having sex with each other throughout our separation. But my husband refuses to discuss this aspect of our separation. He will discuss only co-parenting or financial issues. I would be okay with him having casual sex but not a romantic sexual relationship.
Wondering If Fidelity Enforceable
Taking the condoms + refusing to discuss the sexual terms of your separation = your husband is almost certainly fucking other women. He probably figures it'll be easier to get your forgiveness after the fact than to get your permission in advance—and if you don't get back together, WIFE, he won't even have to ask for forgiveness.
If your husband refuses to have a dialogue about the sexual aspect of your separation, then you'll have to make him listen to a monologue. Tell him you assume he's having sex with other people and, if that's not the case, he'll have to use his words to persuade you otherwise. If he sits there in silence, or his words are unpersuasive, tell him you now feel free to have sex with other people, too. And while you can ask him not to enter into a romantic sexual relationship with anyone else, WIFE, you ultimately can't control how he feels about who he's fucking while he's out there finding himself. If you aren't comfortable fucking your husband while he's fucking other women—and he almost certainly is fucking other women—let him know that and cut him off.
I'm a 32-year-old straight male. Back in April, I met this girl. She seemed interested, but before we went out, she told me that she is a demisexual. (I had to google it.) After a few dates, she had me over to her place, we watched a movie and started making out. But when I started to put my hand between her legs, she calmly said, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves." No problem, I told her, I wasn't trying to rush her. Fast-forward a couple months. We're still going on dates, we hug and kiss, we hold hands, we cuddle on the couch and watch movies—but still no sex. Is demisexuality real? Should I keep pursuing her?
Is She Interested Totally Or Not?
Demisexuals are real people who "do not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional bond," according to the definition at Asexuality.org. We used to call people who needed to feel a strong emotional bond before wanting to fuck someone people who, you know, needed to feel a strong emotional bond before wanting to fuck someone. But a seven-syllable, clinical-sounding term that prospective partners need to google—demisexuality—is obviously far superior to a short, explanatory sentence that doesn't require internet access to understand.
You've shown respect for this woman's sexual orientation, ISITON, now it's her turn to show some respect for yours. I don't mean by putting out if she's not ready or not interested, but by offering you some clarity about when or whether she'll ever be interested. You're seeking a romantic relationship that includes sex—which is not unreasonable—and you've demonstrated a willingness to make an emotional investment before a relationship becomes sexual. You don't (or shouldn't) want her to consent to sex under duress—you don't (or shouldn't) want her to have sex just to keep you coming over for cuddles—but if she doesn't see you as a prospective romantic and sexual partner, ISITON, she should tell you that. If this relationship isn't on track to become sexual, tell her you're open to being friends—truly intimate friends—but you'll have to direct your romantic attentions (and more of your time) elsewhere.
On the Lovecast, comedian Amy Miller. Listen up at savagelovecast.com.