Hello all you sexy munchkins of the intertubes, and welcome to Ask Dr NerdLove, the only dating advice column to help you critical path your way through Valentine's Day.
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This week, it's all about the sexy times, because few things cause us to freak out more than when we get freaky. How do you find the balance when you're looking for more adventure in bed, but your partner is a little more vanilla? What about when your partner's fetish just kind of turns your stomach? Can you break it to them without breaking their heart in the process?
Turn out the lights and break out the chips, dips, chains and whips. Let's do this thing.
Hi Dr NerdLove,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for about two years, and we're really happy together, thinking about marriage, all that. But I'm much more adventurous than he is - I'm the kind of person who'll try anything once, and he's pretty hesitant to try new things, including in our sex life.
I think sometimes about sex stuff I want to try, from a threesome to pegging to anal, and sometimes I'll get into the moment and ask him if we can try it sometime. He is not about any of it. I really want to show him how great butt stuff can be, for both of us, but he doesn't like the idea.
I know I'm wrong to push him about it, because it's a really shitty thing to do. How do I stop? Do I just resign myself to never having any of these experiences ever? Do I keep dropping hints (I'm not very subtle, so maybe not)? Do I just shut up about it and hope he changes his mind? I really love him, and I love our relationship, and I don't want to be an arsehole to him, because he deserves better than that. But I also have a wildly active sexual imagination, and I don't know what to do about that.
All Your Butts Are Belong To Us
Everyone's going to have their interests, AYBABTU. Some people are really adventurous and would love to be swinging from chandeliers, wearing leather and dual-wielding floggers like a rogue spec'd out to make enemies seriously uncomfortable. Other people are more like hobbits - adventure, even in the bedroom, is something that happens to other people.
That doesn't make either of them wrong, more evolved, or even more fun in bed. Kinksters may do things that a lot of people don't, but that doesn't mean that they're the level to which other people should aspire. At the same time, hobbits (or the vanilla or whatever you prefer to call them) aren't boring by definition. They may not be the most experimental of people, but still waters can run deep.
Nor does it mean that the two are mutually incompatible. People who like kink and experimentation can and do enjoy standard sex; just because you love a lot of toppings on your pizza doesn't mean that you can't enjoy an old-fashioned cheese pizza. By the same token, the less adventurous types can be encouraged to try some new things. You just have to be careful with how you go about doing it.
Introducing kink into a relationship - or even just more adventurous play - can be a bit tricky at times. For a lot of people, asking to change things up can lead to an almost knee-jerk "no", something they will blurt out without even thinking about it. This has less to do with an actual lack of desire in trying something new and more to do with the comfort that comes with the status quo. The known is safe. The known is secure. The known doesn't run the risk of introducing complications or awkward feelings or confronting desires that they may not be ready to take ownership of.
But that doesn't mean that they're not interested. It just means that some people will need time to warm up to an idea, instead of being willing to dive right in. If they're given the time to think about things, they may realise that they find the idea intriguing instead of intimidating or scary. But that can really only happen if they're given space to process things on their own.
One of the easiest ways to turn a "no, thanks" or even a "maybe?" into a "HELL no" is to keep pushing at it. Hell, even continually pushing someone over something they want to do can turn them off. They just want to take it at their pace.
And in fairness, being willing to try things you aren't necessarily into, within reason, for your partner's sake is an important part of making a relationship successful in the long run. His being willing to give a little, even if it isn't his flavour of fun, would benefit the both of you. And it's entirely possible that while he may not dig everything, some things may be worth trying if only because the way it excites you might also excite him. But that can't happen if you push him so hard that he just shuts the whole thing down entirely.
If you want your boyfriend to try some of the things that get your motor running, if he ever does, you have to let him come to it on his own. Pushing the idea, especially when he's said "no", is a good way to get him to dig in his heels and may get him to say no to even more stuff - stuff he might enjoy if he gave it a chance.
Now, there are ways that you can gently nudge him, without necessarily pushing at him or dropping a clue-by-four on him. If you two decide to, say, watch porn together and there's some acts that you're interested in, your being turned on by it might get him turned on too. Or he might be intrigued after seeing it at a step removed.
But at the end of the day, you can't make someone like something they just aren't into. It doesn't sound like your desires are so wildly different that your relationship can't work, it's more that there are things that simply aren't on the table. Being in a relationship means compromise. Nobody gets everything they want in a relationship. You just have to decide that what you do get is so awesome that you're willing to accept what you don't get as the price of admission.
You may get those adventures. But depending on your boyfriend and his general proclivities… they may just have to be in your fantasies or on your screen.
Dear Doctor NerdLove,
I write you with mixed feelings. After kissing quite a few proverbial frogs, I've finally found a guy that I could see spending the rest of my life with! We've been dating for quite a while and have started talking long term. We have so many interests in common and I feel like I've fallen in love with my best friend.
During a recent intimate moment he confessed to a secret fetish. I'm no prude, and normally would be excited that he was opening up to me and looking forward to trying something new. However, his fetish hit home and left me feeling odd. He has a secret desire to role play getting me pregnant. Unfortunately, I had a complete hysterectomy due to a medical issue. I thought I had made my peace with the idea that I cannot have a child and this fetish stirred up feelings that I thought were buried. There is no way that I could ever get pregnant and the thought of role playing this is kind of a turn off for me. He also knows what happened and said that he is fine with not having children since he has siblings with kids. Which left me feeling even more confused and wondering if he secretly does want kids.
Rationally, I know that it's just role play and I even tried going along with the idea. It felt forced and completely awkward for me. He's a really sweet guy and I didn't want to hurt him after he opened up to me. He was really embarrassed and kept checking with me to see that I didn't think he was a freak. So, I told him we could RP his fetish, but just not every time. Since then, he's been bugging me and hinting at doing it again.
I realise that some of this is my own baggage, but how can I explain my feelings to him without making him feel weird for opening up to me? I just can't seem to wrap my head around what to say to him for some reason. You help would be amazeballs!
Speechless and Confused
First of all, SaC, it's great that you were willing to indulge your boyfriend's fetish, even if it isn't really your thing. Like I said to AYBABTU, one of the things that helps make a relationship work in the long-term is feeling as though your sexual desires and interests are acknowledged and accepted.
But it's also understandable that his fetish isn't something you grok, and it can feel a little confusing. How can he get that turned on by the idea of impregnating you when he a) says he doesn't want kids and b) knows it's impossible with you anyway?
Here's what's most likely going on: It has nothing to do with pregnancy. In fact, a lot of people who have impregnation fetishes aren't interested in actual pregnancy.
What it is about is his spunk. For some guys, things such as testosterone and semen are critical parts of their masculinity. To them, it's a sign of their potency and power. If you check in on certain subreddits and MRA sites, you'll find guys obsessed with things such as their testosterone levels, their sperm count, and the volume of their ejaculate. Throwing "ropes", as it were, is an outward sign of just how manly and virile they are, and so they look to increase just how much they're able to project. (To answer the obvious question: Yeah, for once, you can pretty safely blame porn for this.)
The more ejaculate they can produce, the more manly they are. The more manly they are, the greater the power of their sperm and their spunk. The idea of being so incredibly potent that they could get someone pregnant by staring at them becomes exciting. And so, in a very real way, they fetishise their semen.
There's also a certain power-exchange aspect to the fantasy; it's a way of establishing power over someone. In many ways, it isn't dissimilar from other domination-themed fetishes and paraphilias such as tickling. By impregnating someone, he's dominating her and compelling her into allowing the conception to happen.
That, I suspect, is what's up with your boyfriend. He doesn't want to actually get you pregnant. It's the idea that he's just that virile, that powerful, that gets him off.
Now, as I said to AYBABTU, one of the surest ways to turn off even an indulgent partner is to keep pushing at them. If your boyfriend ever wants a chance to role-play this again, then he needs to slow his roll. You know he wants to do it again, he doesn't need to keep asking.
Now here's the other side of things: How do you talk about this with him, without kink-shaming him and making him feel as though he's being punished for trusting you enough to open up to you? After all, that's a level of trust and acceptance that you should both aspire to.
Here's what I suggest: You set a time and get ready to have an awkward conversation. Start with explaining you want to get this all out, so could he please just listen until you're finished. You want to explain why you're feeling a little awkward bringing it up: You're worried that you're going to make him feel bad about opening up to you, and you don't want that at all.
Next, explain what the issue is. In this case, the idea of being impregnated is kind of a buzzkill for you because hey, you have complicated feelings around having had a hystorectomy. He doesn't intend to, but this particular fetish just rubs on a nerve you didn't realise was still raw.
Here's the tough part: Ask him about why this is such a turn on for him. Are there other ways that you two could get the same groove without necessarily pouring lemon juice on that particular wound? Is there another way of expressing the same erotic excitement? Would it be as simple as not using the word "impregnate" and just talking about the feeling of him as he ejaculates?
And then you give him space to respond. And just as he was good enough to listen to you, you should listen to him, until it's time to ask questions. With luck, the two of you can find some compromise that works for you both. And if not… well, maybe there's a way that you can make suitable noises that let him fill in the gaps in his own mind while you two are banging.
I'm in a serious pickle. I'm a middle-aged man and I've been dating my current girlfriend for about six months now. I can say that this is probably one of the best relationships I've ever been in ever. But, as usual, not everything is perfect in our sex life.
We have sex a lot. Pretty much every day. The sex is always good, albeit exhausting. She likes things very dirty. We both always orgasm, although it usually takes a little while. Maybe 30+ minutes. Needless to say, by the time we're done, I'm exhausted!
The problem is, that when "we're" done, really, only I'm done. She almost always asks me to get out some toys we keep in our bedside table. One is a pretty standard G-Spot type vibrator. The other is pretty massive. She always winds up using both and will typically climax two more times. The issue I have, is that I'm always completely spent at this point. And she always tells me to just lay there while she takes care of herself, which never winds up happening. I always wind up needing to get involved as it usually takes her another 20-30 minutes to start climaxing again. On occasion I don't mind this, but so many times I really just want to take time to cuddle with her and bask in afterglow.
Any suggestions on how I can get a handle on this without feeling like I'm denying her needs?
Here's a thought, FI: Bust out the toys earlier, before you're exhausted. There's no reason why they can't be used before you go from foreplay to penetration. Let her teach you how to use them on her. Then after she's gotten her rocks off, it's back to the ol' P-i-V and fun, sweaty dirty times that gets you off. This way, you'll both be able to enjoy the afterglow without a 20 minute delay for her to catch up.
Do you have a fetish or a kink that your partner doesn't share? Does your partner's arousal patterns make sex a chore? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. We'll be back with more of your questions in two weeks.
Ask Dr Nerdlove is Kotaku's fortnightly advice column for matters of the heart, 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. 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. Dr Nerdlove is not really a doctor.