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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Savage Love Letters of the Day

posted by on September 24 at 10:56 AM

Three responses to this week’s column.

You told WWM, the woman whose boyfriend wanted sex more often than she did, that she should “commit to being his full-blown sex partner once a week and his life-size, ambulatory masturbatory aide at least three times a week.”

I’m sure you’ll get plenty of angry letters, so I won’t bother going off on you; I’ll just tell you that my first boyfriend basically had that idea, and I was young and trying to feel adventurous, so I went with it. My self-respect was trashed. I fucked around (with his blessing) and ruined a bunch of relationships that should have been just friends; looking back, while I know I can’t blame my behavior on anyone else, I think a big reason was that I was having so much unsatisfying sex with him—emotionally as well as physically. He claimed to love me, then pulled shit like waiting till I fell asleep so he could fuck me in the ass—the one thing we rarely did otherwise, because as hard as I tried to be his sex toy, he did not do a good job at all of easing into it, and it hurt. Even when he wasn’t doing such despicable shit, he acted like he owned my body, and I put up with it, because I accepted that role for myself.

Now, granted, my ex was a deluded creep with no social skills, but I don’t see any difference between the way he treated me and what you’re advising for WWM and her boyfriend. He can masturbate; if his hand isn’t good enough he can hit up the local sex toy shop. If she wants to increase her libido somehow, more power to her, but advising her to have sex that isn’t physically satisfying to her won’t do anyone any good; it’s even worse than the twice-a-week compromise. No one’s satisfied. I am all for being GGG and satisfying your partner and having lots of sex, but it should be good sex. Having crappy sex will just cheapen it, and taking on the role of “masturbatory aide” will just humiliate her. I assume her boyfriend isn’t physically disabled, and knows how to get himself off. There’s no reason she needs to do it for him.

Nobody’s Right Hand

I don’t see the connection between your ex-boyfriend’s behavior and my suggestion that WWM help her boyfriend out now and then when he’s horny. Allowing a partner to nuzzle your breasts or crotch while he has a wank in no way compares to fucking someone in the ass while she’s asleep.

But you’re correct, NRH, when you insist that my suggestion for WWM and her boyfriend would amount to “unsatisfying sex.” Taking ten minutes to rub one out would be unsatisfying sex—if it were sex, which it’s not. It’s masturbation—that’s what I called it, NRH, and that’s what it is. And having a wank in the arms/under the ass/at the knees of an indulgent, upbeat, not-into-it-now-but-generally-into-you boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/whatever is perfectly satisfying masturbation, as masturbation goes.

And helping someone out under those circumstances—he’s horny, you’re not—can be a loving, giving thing to do, not a demeaning, self-negating thing to do.

Look, I’m sorry you had a shitty boyfriend, and I wish you nothing but good, decent, respectful sex partners in the future. But you’re comparing loving, indulgent apples to abusive, obnoxious oranges here, NRH.

Your response to WWM was good, although you might have let her off a little too easy. First off, the best response to a SO asking nicely for more sex is not to cry. She obviously sees this as something important, and yet every time she makes sure that he feels bad about asking. And I would have been more forceful on the patience aspect for both of them. After 10 years of wondering whether marriage meant once-a-month sex, my wife hit 31 and now she’s the one begging me for sex day and night. Finally Fulfilled

Like I said to WWM in my response: “If you’ve been to the doc and ruled out a hormonal imbalance, WWM, and made sure that whatever birth-control method you’re using isn’t decimating your libido, your best bet is to accept that this is the way you work for now—you may surprise yourself when you hit your sexual peak—and find some middle ground.”

I’ve heard from lots of women over the years who had low libidos and no kinks to speak of in their teens and early 20s. Then they hit 30 and all hell breaks loose. (Good hell!) Tragically, many of these same women rejected—ran screaming from—guys they liked, guys they dug, guys they seriously thought about marrying… when they discovered their guy had some boring, run-of-the-mill kink. But instead of staying with and indulging the perfectly nice foot fetishist—or the totally hot cross-dresser or the freakishly considerate bondage freak—who would so totally owe ‘em now, these woman opted instead to find the dullest, most vanilla guys they could and marry them. Tragic.

I have noticed a number of emails (from women mostly) addressing libido issues. They seem to fall into two distinct categories—women in their 20s whose libido is less than that of their male partner and women in their 30s whose libido is greater than that of their male partners. It’s no secret that (generally speaking) men and women peak sexually at different ages.

My experience is no different. As a male, from about ages 10 to 30 I was ready, willing and able to perform sexually at the drop of a hat. The women in my life? Not so much. Now in my mid-30s, I still enjoy sex but it’s clear the shoe is definitely on the other foot. I know there are physiological and psychological reasons for this, but I can’t help thinking (with smug satisfaction) this is a sort of biological revenge for the blue balls men like me were forced to endure during our sexual prime.

Your thoughts?


It’s just God’s way of letting us know that straight women in their early 30s and 40s are supposed to sleep with straight boys in their late teens and early 20s and that straight men in their 30s and 40s are supposed to fuck straight girls in their late teens and early 20s.

It’s either that, Pete, or God just likes gay couples—who always in sexual synch (so long as we’re close in age)—way better than He likes straight couples.

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My wife and I have lived with this exact issue for almost 15 years now, and unfortunately, her previously low libido almost completely vanished in her 30's after having kids. It's a sucky situation.

However, one thing that did change for the better. In her 20's, she'd guilt me for being horny, claiming that I just wanted her for sex. These days, she has a more mature and pragmatic view about sex. She's flattered by my attraction to her, and is generally willing to give even if she has no interest in receiving.

It's not perfect - I'd rather be fucking an insatiable cougar at this point in my life - but it's held us together so far.

Posted by 1969libertine | September 24, 2008 11:20 AM

Hey Dan, I thought in the wake of PETA's call to use human breast milk in Ben & Jerry's products, we'd get a Savage Love Letter of the Day flashback...wasn't there a letter a couple years ago concerning a breast milk fetish? And has his dream finally hit the main stream in Switzerland?

Posted by Jonah | September 24, 2008 11:27 AM

I think Dan was close to giving the right advice, but maybe needed to frame it differently. Describing her role as “masturbatory aid” isn’t likely to make her feel any better about things. If she’s really not into the “masturbatory aid” sessions she could start to resent them/him and that might not be so great for their relationship either.

If I’m not in the mood, I would much rather give a good blowjob (with the understanding that it wasn’t going to lead to anything else) than have him rub his face in my tits (or whatever it was that Dan said) while he masturbated and I just, uh, laid there. Or, for that matter, for him to give me head, which is about the last thing I’d want to do if I was not feeling it. I think it comes down to, when I’m not in the mood, I’m happy to “give”, but I don’t want to have to do anything that involves “getting” (oral, intercourse, or otherwise). But, I recognize that different women likely feel differently about these things.

I think the general advice of sex once a week and “keeping him happy” a couple of times a week is solid, but she needs to find out what works for her in terms of what those “keeping him happy” session look like. I’m guessing that the specific activities Dan describes (and the use of the term “masturbatory aid”) are likely to rub some women the wrong way.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 24, 2008 11:40 AM

@3: "Rub some women the wrong way." Did you do that on purpose?

Posted by Gloria | September 24, 2008 11:49 AM

@4. No... But I did refrain from making the "no pun intended joke" on purpose.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 24, 2008 11:56 AM

"then pulled shit like waiting till I fell asleep so he could fuck me in the ass"

That's not sleep, that's passed-out.

Posted by gk | September 24, 2008 12:00 PM

@3: you give head when you're not in the mood? do you realize you're the ideal woman?

Posted by max solomon | September 24, 2008 12:02 PM

"’re comparing loving, indulgent apples to abusive, obnoxious oranges here..."

My new quote of the day.

Posted by schnoodle | September 24, 2008 12:11 PM

@7. If I were the ideal woman, I would be in the mood for sex all the time and the not-in-the-mood blowjobs wouldn't be needed, right?

I'm in the same boat as the woman in that letter - once a week is great for me, not so much for my husband, so I try to be reasonable about that fact (I don't always succeed, mind you). I think my husband needs to write Dan a nice thank you note, because I've been reading Savage Love too long to not take that attitude...

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 24, 2008 1:03 PM

Dan, I tried to do what you suggested for years. He would rub his dick in between my ass in the shower to get off or in between my breasts etc. It made me feel like an object. I don't recommend this. I do have to say to this woman that crying is manipulative and wrong. Stop with the waterworks!

Posted by Jules | September 24, 2008 2:00 PM

I think people get a bit hung up on Dan's words. Or maybe it's just the hindsight of having peoples' reactions to then retroactively ascribe different emphasis.

I think the "masturbatory aid" suggestions are just examples, and not a to do list. If something makes you feel like an object, then stay the heck away from that position/activity! I'va had the "I feel like an object" happen with my SO, and I am never doing it again. But there are plenty of things we do where neither of us feel bad, so we do those. Experiment, and stay in touch with your feelings. Also, just because you're helping him get off doesn't mean you can ignore what's going on. You do have to pay a certain amount of attention and give a certain amount of energy in this.

Posted by Lavode | September 24, 2008 4:54 PM

Wouldn't "rapist" be the appropriate term for the letter-writer's "boyfriend" in the first letter?

Posted by Ivan | September 24, 2008 10:32 PM

I don't think Dan's advice is unreasonable. When two people have different sexual desires, you compromise, just like with any other part of a relationship.

So what if you're not in the mood for sex- do something else with your partner. Maybe you'll get in the mood by helping your partner get off. Even if you don't, you presumably care about this person, and people who care about each other make sacrifices for the other person sometimes.

If both participants love and respect each other, then acts that would be degrading in other situations become uplifting and pleasurable. WMM should definitely consider a wide range of activities, even if they may seem objectionable at first.

Posted by J. | September 24, 2008 11:29 PM

I am in a similar position to the original letter-writer (not the one with the horrid creepy ex who assaulted her in her sleep!) I agree with Julie that I'd rather give than get when I'm not in the mood. My husband would like to have sex every day (or more), while I'm more once a week. I'm fine with the masturbatory aid thing. One other thing that worked well for us is making Wednesday "no hump day". This is the one day a week that he doesn't make any kind of approach and I don't need to feel guilty about not "servicing" him.

Posted by nohumpday | September 25, 2008 7:54 AM

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