Hello, Internet! Welcome to Ask Dr. NerdLove, the only dating column to conquer the Tomb of Horrors on the first try. One reader is having flashbacks to being a teenager as his libido has returned with a vengeance, while another reader is wrestling with trying to teach her boyfriend what it takes to make her happy. What's to be done?
Let's do this thing... and remember, don't stick your arm in the statue's mouth in Acererack's tomb.
Dear Dr. NerdLove,
I've been happily in a relationship for 4.5 years, we are engaged and expecting our first baby soon, however lately I've been having a bit of a confusing time.
I've started to feel like a horny teenager again. I've started looking at girls all the time. I don't really know when it started in earnest but I find myself checking women out a lot. It's recently progressed to the stage where I have began considering cheating (in the I want to get laid way, not an affair).
Other information that is relevant is that I've been trimming down and getting healthy again which has positively affected my confidence and I feel like is increasing my sex drive quite a lot. My fiancée and I tend to make love rather than fuck like animals, for various reasons, so sometimes I miss that aspect of sex, but that isn't really news and I'm happy with the sex we have.
This is far and away the longest and most committed relationship I have been in, before this I was always finding my way out of relationships before the one-year mark. So I don't have any context for whether or not our relationship is "normal". We both work hard and are tired during the week and then we have grown-up shit to do at the weekends (cleaning, laundry etc) so there isn't a massive amount of spontaneity or surprise romance in the relationship at present which also doesn't bother me. I don't feel like there is a significant flaw in the relationship that is related to my problem, is what I'm saying.
So I guess my question is this: What the hell do you think is going on? Is this some expression of a flaw in my relationship that I haven't recognised? Is it a reaction to the increasing grown-up nature of my life, some weird reaction to the ennui of being in my late 20s? Could it be as simple as my horny teenager hypothesis and if so how do I fix that!?
Seven Year Itch
SYI, you're a classic case where the problem you're dealing with isn't the problem you think it is.
The problem you're having isn't that you're horny as hell, it's that our culture sells us a line of bullshit about love and monogamy. Society has fed men and women the idea that love and monogamy is easy, effortless and natural and that once you fall in love with someone, you will never want anyone else.
The problem is: this is completely false. Monogamy is not our default state. Our bodies are designed for multiple partners. Now don't get me wrong: I'm not saying monogamy is bad or wrong. I'm saying it's difficult. Monogamy means that you've chosen to not sleep with other people; it doesn't mean that you won't want to.
So no, SYI, you're not dying to fuck other people because there's something wrong with your relationship; you're horny for other people simply because you're human, same as everyone else. The fact that you're lusting after other people's not inherently bad; it's perfectly natural. It's what you do with it that's the issue.
Now as for why this is happening, well, I'd say that the two biggest causes are a) you're working out more and getting healthier and b) your current lifestyle.
In the former case, your body is basically a big meat machine; you put garbage in, you get garbage out. Eating healthily and exercising means you feel better and look better, which in turn, makes you feel sexier. Losing as little as 5kg can make a difference. Exercise gets your blood flowing and your heart pumping which also increases arousal; anything that gets your heart rate up is going to make you feel hornier, too.
In the latter case, you're both busy and exhausted, which is cutting into your opportunities to do anything with this sudden bumper crop of boners you're producing.
(Interestingly, many men report a loss of libido when their wives are pregnant. It turns out pregnancy actually causes hormonal changes in men and spurs greater production of prolactin and vasopressin).
So what do you do about this? To start with, you're going to do something counter-intuitive: schedule sex with your wife. Letting sex just happen is a common mistake couples make; the longer you're together, the more responsibilities you have that take up your time together. This, in turn, cuts down on the occasions where you hit that sweet spot of mutual arousal, energy and time that add up to spontaneous bangin'. And when you're adding in the fact that your wife is pregnant and likely feeling exhausted and unsexy 24/7... well, it's hard to want to bone.
By scheduling sex, you're carving out time specifically for the act. You're choosing to make it a priority, which means you're arranging your day to make sure you've got the energy and knowing that you're going to get laid can increase the anticipation which helps spur the mutual arousal. You may not be able to screw like a couple of animals the way you used to, but you're going to appreciate the orgasms and the emotional connection that the sex will be strengthening.
Of course, the thing to keep in mind is that when your kid is born, there's going to be a prolonged dry-spell; between her hormones, breast-feeding and the time and energy it takes for the two of you to care for the new baby, the likelihood of the two of you having sex for the year following is going to approach zero pretty damn fast. So during those times, invest in a couple of toys. Get a Fleshlight or a Tenga and a YouPorn account; these will help keep you going until you both get used to the new status-quo.
For right now though: shift your schedules around and enjoy your raging libido. Your junk and your wife will both thank you.
I am in my late twenties dating a guy in his early twenties. Before entering the relationship or having sex, I knew (or sort of figured out) he was pretty inexperienced in the sex department, only really hooking up with girls when he was drunk. It wasn't until after I was already smitten that he admitted, after I straight-up asked him, that he was a virgin. Now, I had made it clear before I wasn't interested in being someone's first, (we watched Virgin Territory together) so it made me very upset that he deliberately omitted this information in order to get me to date him. Well, he was very persuasive that everything would be fine. So, fast forward to four months later, and the sex... isn't what it should be, in my opinion, which he blames on me not having sex with him enough to give him enough practice. But my desire is just not there, for several reasons.
1. He's a bad kisser. I have tried and tried to teach him how I like to kiss, and he's improved, but there's something missing. Other guys I've dated, I felt butterflies and weak in the knees for the first kiss. Not him.
2. He's much skinnier than me. I'm not overweight, but I have an arse and big thighs. He's 5'10 and 59kg. I find his skinniness attractive but getting naked I just feel like I could crush him. I'm very short, so I'm used to being picked up and tossed around by guys I'm dating. There's no way he could lift me. To be fair he is nothing but complimentary about my body.
3. I'm more of a submissive person when it comes to sex. He knows this, but since he has no experience I have to be the dominant one all the time and tell him what to do. I even had to explain that during making out you can kiss necks and collarbones and ears, etc. He claims he loves the feedback, but hardly ever puts anything into action unless I remind him.
4. He doesn't listen. I'll be watching The Strain and he'll start groping me and try to get on top of me. I just turn away and say, oh, I'm watching TV right now, but he doesn't listen, until I have to physically push him off, and then he'll keep asking why I don't want to mess around. My response, I don't feel like it, isn't good enough and he keeps asking until finally I tell him that if any other guy pulled shit like this, I'd be done, the only reason I'm give him any slack is that this is his first relationship. He's improved slightly on this.
So, I basically have two questions. Do you think the sex can be improved, and if so, how? And to digress a little, I'm returning to America (he's Australian) for the US summer and really would like to bone an old friend for some relaxing sex, and am more than happy to give him the freedom to do whatever he wants as well, but any discussion of me telling him he can "cheat" on me he shoots down immediately, saying he doesn't want anyone but me, basically making me feel like shit for wanting to fuck other people, which, to be honest, I wouldn't want to if I had the lust for him that I have had in other relationships.
I'd appreciate any light shed on this, Doc.
-Desert Down Under
You have two problems here, DDU. First and foremost is the fact that you're not sexually compatible. You like a specific kind of sex -- being tossed around like a rag-doll, being the more submissive partner, etc -- and he isn't providing it. The cold and hard truth is that if you and your honey aren't on the same page sexually, the relationship is going to fall apart sooner rather than later. No matter how emotionally compatible the two of you may be, if the sexual compatibility isn't there, then one or both of you are going to be spending your time feeling frustrated and annoyed.
Now it'd be easy to say that this is due to his inexperience and he'll grow and learn as a lover and be better able to give you the kind of sex you want... except for problem number two: he's being a selfish little bastard about this.
One of the things that people tend to forget is that great sex isn't all about endurance, experience or knowing tricks and techniques, it's about communication. Even a virgin can be a great lay if they have got a can-do attitude and a willingness to listen and take direction. This, you may notice, is what your boyfriend is not doing.
There are a lot of people who will focus on the fact that he's a virgin and doesn't have any experience and that -- as the more experienced partner -- you may have to communicate more about what you want and how to get there. But the problem isn't that he was a virgin, the problem is that he's an arsehole. He's less concerned with you and more about what it takes to get what he wants. Hell, it started with his lying about being a virgin in order to get the relationship he was after, despite your stated preferences. Honestly: this was one of the first signs that your boyfriend wasn't gonna be a great prize, and this pattern has continued from there.
You've said it yourself: you provide him with feedback and information and he continues to not listen and just does what works for him. The fact that he insists that it's your fault that he's a lousy lover, despite the fact that you've been providing instruction and feedback, is another. And then there's the fact that he keeps pushing for you to fuck him when you repeatedly tell him that you don't want to. The fact that this his first relationship is not an excuse; the fact that he hasn't dated anyone before doesn't magically make him unable to hear you when you're turning him down. He knows damn good and well what he's doing and is relying on you to forgive him because of his inexperience.
So yes, the sex could get better… but it's not gonna with this guy. The only way it's going to get better is if he starts listening to your feedback and using it, which he's thus far refused to do and isn't showing any signs of changing any time soon.
Now just between you, me and the letter column, let's be honest: you know what you want to do right now; you're just looking for permission to do so. Between the lack of sexual compatibility and the aforementioned dickishness, I think you'd be happier just breaking up with him before you go home for the break and banging the ever-loving shit out of your buddy instead. So permission granted. Dump your boyfriend and enjoy some relaxing no-strings-attached quality fuck time with your buddy over the summer, then come back refreshed and ready to date someone who isn't being a self-serving dick.
Do you have a story about learning to be a better lover? Have tips about how to make passion survive children and adult responsibilities? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments and we'll be back in two weeks with more of your dating questions.
Ask Dr. Nerdlove is Kotaku's bi-weekly dating column, hosted by the one and only Harris O'Malley, AKA Dr. NerdLove.
Harris O'Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove and the Dr. NerdLove podcast. His new book Simplified Dating is available exclusively through Amazon. He is also a regular guest at One Of Us. He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook and on Twitter at @DrNerdLove.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.