Whether or not I get to read the Cheesecake Factory Menu in public (or Dr Seuss's tonguetwisting Fox in Socks) I will be doing a few more readings and talks this year. Tickets are going fast:
Each of these should be links to the event -- all of them are solo me just reading and talking and answering your questions, except for the Hartford one, where I'll be interviewed by the NYPL's very own Paul Holdengraber.
I have two female sex partners who want to be breath-play dominated. I know the practice is dangerous, and I employ the rules of consent and communication a pro-Dom escort friend taught me. But is there a legal release document we could sign that protects consenting adults in the event of an accident or death?
Ruminating About Consensual Kinks
Restricting someone's air intake is always dangerous, RACK, and while we all too often hear about people dying during solo breath play, aka "auto-erotic asphyxiation" (an activity no one should engage in ever), we rarely hear about someone dying during partnered breath play. (I recently discussed partnered breath play with Amp from Watts the Safeword, a kink-friendly sex-ed YouTube channel. Look up Episode 533 at savagelovecast.com.)
That said, RACK, someone can't consent to being strangled to death by accident.
"The lawyers in my office discussed this, and we agree that there is no way to 'waive' or 'consent to' criminal negligence resulting in substantial bodily harm or death," said Brad Meryhew, a criminal-defense attorney who practices in Seattle. "I don't think you'll find any lawyer who would draft such an agreement. Even if an agreement were executed, it is not going to constitute a complete defense if something goes wrong. There are principles of criminal liability for the consequences of our decisions, as well as public-policy concerns about people engaging in extremely dangerous behaviors, that make it impossible to just walk away if something goes wrong." Another concern: Signing such a document could make breath play more dangerous, not less. "A person who had such a waiver might be tempted to push the boundaries even further," said Meryhew.
And now the pro-Dom perspective...
"As consenting adults, we assume the risks involved in this type of kink," said Mistress Elena, a professional Dominant. "But if you harm your partner or they become scared, shamed, shocked, or, even worse, gravely injured, it's the Dom's problem. At any time, the submissive can change their mind. Some cases have been classified as 'rape' or 'torture' afterward, even though consent was initially given. It's our job as Dominants/Tops/Leads to make sure everyone is safe, consenting, and capable."
I'm a 32-year-old guy, my gal is 34, and we've been together for two years. Every time we get it on or she goes down on me (though not when I eat her out), my mind wanders to fantasies involving porno chicks, exes, or local baristas. A certain amount of this is normal, but I'm concerned that this now happens every time. When I'm about to come, I shift my mind back to my partner and we have a hot climax, but I feel guilty. Advice?
Guilty Over Nebulous Ecstasy
I've been asked what biases advice columnists have. Do we favor questions from women? (No, women are just likelier to ask for advice.) Are we more sympathetic to women? (Most advice columnists are women, so...) Are we likelier to respond to a question that opens with a compliment? (Of course.) But the solvable problem is our biggest bias. Some people write in with problems that they'll need an exorcist, a special prosecutor, a time machine, or some combo of all three to solve. I could fill the column week after week with unsolvable problems, and my answers would all be variations on ¯\_()_/¯.
Your letter, GONE, is a good example of the solvable problem—a letter likelier to make it into the column—and, as is often the case, the solution to your problem is right there in your letter. You're able to "shift [your] mind" back to your partner when you're about to come, and when you eat her out, your mind doesn't wander at all. My advice: Make the shift earlier/often and engage in more activities that force you to focus (like eating her out). Problem solved.
P.S. A lot of people allow their mind to wander a bit during sex—supplementing the present sensations with memories, fantasies, local baristas, etc. If it keeps you hard/wet/game and isn't perceptible (if you don't start mumbling coffee orders), your partner benefits from your wanderings.
My college girlfriend and I were together for four years. The relationship ended 10 years ago when she cheated on me. She did eventually marry the guy, so, hey, good for them. She recently gave birth to a boy. She gave her son my name as his middle name. Nobody in either family has this name and it isn't an especially common name. I've asked dozens of people with kids, and nobody can think of a reason why a person would give their child a name anywhere close to an ex's name. Thoughts?
Nobody's Answers Make Offing Sense
Maybe your college girlfriend remembers you a little too fondly. Maybe a family friend had the same name. Maybe she met someone else with your name in the last 10 years, and she and her husband had a few threesomes with that guy, and she remembers those fondly. Maybe you'll run into her someday and she'll tell you the real reason. Now here are a few definitelys to balance out all those maybes, NAMES: This is definitely none of your business and you definitely can't do anything about it—people can definitely give their children whatever names they want—and there's definitely no use in stressing out about it.
I've been reading your column forever—like "Hey Faggot!" forever—and your response to CLIF (the guy whose wife could no longer orgasm from PIV sex after having a child) is first time I've felt the need to gripe about your advice. My wife was also the "Look, ma, no hands!" type, and it was amazing to be able to look into her eyes as we came together. But after a uterine cyst followed by a hysterectomy, something changed and that came to an end. It was a pretty hard hit for us sexually and emotionally. Toys, oral, etc. had always been on the table, but more as part of being GGG than as the main source of her coming. For a long time, it put her off sex as a source of her own pleasure. Things have gotten much better, but I'd be lying if I said we didn't occasionally talk wistfully about that time in our relationship. I can empathize with what CLIF is going through. When we went through this, we did research and spoke with doctors wondering the same thing: Is there some way to reclaim that PIV-and-her-orgasms connection. We even thought of writing you, the wise guru of all things sex, but am I glad we didn't. In response to CLIF asking for some fairly simple advice, you bluntly said that it's not a problem that she can't come from PIV sex. You ignored the fact that up until fairly recently, she could. Then you suggest that, because he hasn't mastered the subtle art of acronyms, he might be a shitty lover whose wife has been faking orgasms for years and is just tired of it. Dick move, Dan.
A Callous Response Only Negates Your Motivation
You're right, ACRONYM, my response to CLIF was too harsh. But as you discovered, there wasn't a way for you and your wife to reclaim that PIV-and-her-orgasms connection. So CLIF would do well to take Dr. Gunter's advice and embrace how his wife's body works now and not waste too much time grieving over how her body/PIV orgasms used to work then.
On the Lovecast, Nathaniel Frank on the marriage-equality movement: savagelovecast.com.
duckswearhats asked: Hi, I read that you've dealt with with impostor syndrome in the past, and I'm really struggling with that right now. I'm in a good place and my friends are going through a lot, and I'm struggling to justify my success to myself when such amazing people are unhappy. I was wondering if you have any tips to feel less like this and maybe be kinder to myself, but without hurting anyone around me. It's a big ask, I know, but any help would make my life a lot less stressful
The best help I can offer is to point you to Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence. She talks about Imposter Syndrome (and interviews me in it) and offers helpful insight.
The second best help might be in the form of an anecdote. Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.
(There’s a wonderful photograph of the Three Neils even if one of us was a Neal at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2012/08/
*(I remember being amused and flattered that he knew who I was, not because he'd read anything by me, but because the Google algorithm of the time had me down as Neil #1. If you just typed Neil, it would take you to neilgaiman.com. Many people, including me, felt that if there was a Neil #1, it was most definitely him.)
I'm a happily married straight man. My wife, who is 33 years old, cannot orgasm through intercourse since we had our last child. Her explanation is that she has this constant sensation to pee. Now we find other means to please her through toys, oral, etc. Are there exercises or other means to get her to climax through intercourse? Is this common from childbirth?
Climaxing Liberally Is Fun
"Failure to orgasm with penile penetration is not a medical condition," said Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an ob-gyn, writer (drjengunter.wordpress.com), and kick-ass tweeter who practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. "If a woman can orgasm with other methods—oral sex or masturbation or toys—then that means everything is working just fine. Remember, it's not how she gets to the party that matters, it's that she got to attend the party."
As all straight men need to be aware, CLIF, only a small number of women—less than a quarter—can get off from vaginal intercourse alone, aka PIV.
"Most women require clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm, and often the mechanics of penile penetration just don't produce the right kind of friction," said Dr. Gunter. "It's possible that the subtle anatomical changes post-childbirth have altered the friction mechanics of your coupling. Introducing a vibrator during sex might help."
And while we're on the subject of clits, CLIF...
We abbreviate sign-offs around here, as everyone knows, and like PIV for your wife, CLIF, your sign-off didn't quite get you there. You could've gone with "Climaxing Liberally Is Terrific" or "Tremendous" or "Totally Spectacular," but you didn't. Perhaps it was an innocent brain fart—perhaps I'm reading too much into this—but if you didn't spot the near-CLIT staring you in the face in your sign-off, CLIF, it seems possible that you may have overlooked your wife's clit, too. Also possible: Your wife wasn't actually having orgasms "through intercourse" before she gave birth to your last child. You're clearly invested in climaxing together—just like in the movies and porn and other fictions—and your wife, like many women, may have been faking orgasms to please a male partner. Tired of faking orgasms, your wife seized on the birth of your last child to explain why she "suddenly" couldn't come from PIV alone anymore.
What about your wife's constant sensation to pee during intercourse?
"That's something to be looked at," Dr. Gunter said. "After childbirth (and sometimes just with age), women can develop an overactive bladder or pelvic-muscle issues, and these could be exacerbated during penetration, making a woman feel as if she needs to empty her bladder. Worrying about peeing during sex might be holding her back. It might be worth a visit to a pelvic floor physical therapist and/or a urogynecologist if this sensation to pee during sex is bothering her. But if neither the lack of orgasm with penile penetration nor the urgency to pee is bothering her, and she is having orgasms other ways and is happy with that, I would be happy with it, too. After all, it's her orgasm, and stress or pressure to orgasm a particular way might negatively affect her party."
Follow Dr. Gunter on Twitter @DrJenGunter. Do it: She's amazing and hilarious, and she kicks right-wing, anti-choice, sex-negative ass up and down Twitter on a daily basis.
I'm a 29-year-old man who desires a monogamous relationship. I'm currently in an LTR with a 29-year-old woman. Despite my feelings about monogamy, I've sought attention from women and men on dating apps. I've gotten caught doing this more than once. I have never met up with anyone in real life, and my girlfriend has yet to find out about the use of gay dating apps. After some soul-searching, I realized that my bisexuality is a huge issue in our relationship. I've never discussed it with her, and while I don't think she would react negatively, I'm scared of how it would affect our relationship. I'm not sure whether to go to therapy, bring it up with my girlfriend, or do some combination of the two. I'd love some advice about having this discussion in a way that won't end my relationship. I'm not really interested in an open relationship, and I would like to stay with my girlfriend, but I'm confused because I don't know if a monogamous relationship will still be what I want once I open up about my sexuality. It seems like a no-win situation—stay in the closet and no one knows but I keep wanting outside attention, or tell her the real reason I've used dating apps and probably lose the relationship.
Bisexual Reeling About Closeted Ethical Dilemma
The use of gay dating apps isn't the issue—it's your use of them. And while I'm nitpicking: It's not "outside attention" you want, BRACED, it's cock.
Backing way the hell up: Lots of partnered people—even contentedly monogamous people—dink around on dating apps for the attention, for the ego boost, for the spank bank. Fakes and flakes annoy the people who are looking for actual dates on those apps, of course, but apps are the new pick-up bars, and partnered people were strolling into pick-up bars to harmlessly flirt with strangers before heading home to their mates, all charged up, long before apps came along. The dangers and temptations of app-facilitated flirtations are greater, of course, because unlike the person you briefly flirted with in a bar, the person you flirted with on an app can find you again—hell, they come home with you, in your pocket, and you can easily reconnect with them later.
But the real issue here isn't apps or flirting along the harmless/dangerous spectrum, BRACED, it's closets—specifically, the one you're in. The closet is a miserable place to be, as you know, and the only relevant question is whether you can spend the rest of your life in there. If the answer is no—and it sure sounds like it's no (you sound miserable)—then you'll have to come out to your girlfriend. If you don't think monogamy will be right for you once you're out, then monogamy may not be right for you period. Find yourself a queer-positive therapist, come out to your GF with their help, and allow her to make an informed choice about whether she wants to be with you. Worry less about the right words, BRACED, and more about the truthful ones.
A woman recently wrote to you that her husband could not maintain an erection for "more than a few thrusts." She said that Viagra is of no use to them (the drug gave him headaches) and she was contemplating the pursuit of sexual affairs with other men who could better serve her needs (with her husband's permission). No need for me to rehash what you told her. I want to call your attention to a better solution to their quandary: Any competent urologist can write a prescription for a preparation known as Trimix (phentolamine, papaverine, and prostaglandin, in various strengths), which must be supplied by a compounding pharmacy. Or failing that prescription, then alternatively one for a brand-name drug called Caverject. Both of these preparations are injected directly into the penis—into the corpora cavernosa, to be specific—and both effectively enable an erection of prodigious size and stiffness that will endure for as much as six hours.
Potential Alternate Solution Sidesteps Infidelities' Obvious Negatives
Thanks for sharing, PASSION. And to guys out there with erectile dysfunction: Ask your doctor if Caverject is right for you?
On the Lovecast, a comprehensive rundown on anal lubes: savagelovecast.com.