We invited another man into our bed. Then he said something that stunned my husband.

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Dear How do you do that,

My husband (40 M) and I (45 M) like to invite a third person to join us in bed. Recently we enjoyed the company of a younger gentleman.

He repeatedly called us “daddy.” I’m an old theater kid and it seemed like fun, so I leaned into the fantasy for this guy, saying, “Your daddies are proud of you/you’re our favorite boy,” etc. My partner, on the other hand, watched me with a very curious look on his face as this happened. After we sent him home, my partner made more than a handful of half-mocking comments about my “new kink” that I had been “hiding” from him. I was surprised by his comments; I was having fun and I wouldn’t mind playing that role again for someone who would enjoy it. But he still makes jokes like, “Well, I don’t need a daddy, so don’t try that with me.” We’ve been together for 20 years and we love each other, but how can I affirm my love for him while still potentially exploring this new facet of playtime?

—Daddy, but not your daddy

Dear Not Your Father,

It sounds like something about the daddy roleplay really struck a chord with your husband. I would start the conversation there: “I love you so much, and it seems like this daddy thing has gotten under your skin somehow. I’d like to understand why.” After 20 years, I suspect you have some insight into how to best phrase things and ask clarifying questions to figure out what’s going on on his end. Once you have more information about why he’s acting this way, Than You will then be better able to determine whether it is feasible to continue exploring this type of play and, if so, how best to approach it.

These conversations can feel difficult because they often Are difficult conversations to have. But on the other hand, relationships come out stronger. You can do this.

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Dear How do you do that,

My (32F) boyfriend (35M) of almost five years is truly my best friend, and I adore him. He’s a real “still waters run deep” type of person, and I’m an ADHD ping-pong ball, so we balance each other out nicely. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has struggled with depression for decades, and his job prevents him from seeking treatment. If his employer found out he ever even sought talk therapy, he would lose his job and likely never find work in his field again, so antidepressants are out of the question. (He’s not a danger to anyone or himself; it’s the industry that refuses to keep up with the times when it comes to mental health.)

As you can imagine, his untreated symptoms have spilled over into our relationship, especially our sex life. I got him to go to couples counseling (paid for in cash), and there has definitely been improvement. The counselor encouraged my boyfriend to get his testosterone checked, and it turned out to be extremely low, so he started taking a prescription to increase it. We were so excited because we thought the testosterone would work like steroids and we would be back on the same sexual level in no time, but it’s been months and that hasn’t happened. What has happened is that my boyfriend’s overall mood has improved and he says he is happier than he can remember. I am so happy that he is feeling better and our relationship is growing deeper because of it, but I am still disappointed that his libido remains low. When we talk about it, he says he wants his libido back and is frustrated that it hasn’t returned yet. He feels like he is letting me down and not enough for me and I feel so guilty and ashamed that I need this and I make him feel bad because he can’t give it to me.

So I have two questions. First, his doctor keeps saying, “It’s going to take a while,” with no indication of how long that actually is. Do you have any insight into this? And second, how do I deal with the possibility that we’re always going to have a mismatch in desire?

—Needless, not greedy

Dear needy, non-greedy,

I reached out to associate professor of urology (and friend of the column) Robert Welliver for some insight into your friend’s situation. The short version is that hormones in men are actually about as poorly understood as hormones in women. “Testosterone is considered a panacea for anything remotely related to having a Y chromosome,” Welliver said. I’m both surprised and disappointed by this fact.

As Welliver continued, the situation became more unclear: “The male brain (and sexual response) is more complicated than just testosterone, and low libido could be related to a variety of factors beyond just low T. It could simply be that he has a lower sex drive than she does or that there is some other non-testosterone factor influencing his libido.” So the added testosterone might not make any difference in his libido at all.

Welliver noted that an ideal course of action would be for your friend to see a counselor or sex therapist, but I understand that most therapies are not an option at this time. Since you have access to relationship therapy, you can ask that provider for their insight here.

When it comes to dealing with inappropriate desires, masturbation is a great tool, both in the context of solo time and in the context of asking your partner to be physical with you—like cuddling—while you handle things yourself. You can develop a rich sexual relationship with yourself to take some of the pressure off your interactions with him. It can also help to know that many relationships have some degree of libido discrepancy.

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Dear How do you do that,

How do you “wean” yourself off your favorite sex toy? I’m going on a trip for a few months soon and I’m not taking my vibrator with me. Anyway, I wanted to be able to reliably orgasm using just my hands again, which has become difficult due to my impatience and preference for the pink toy. I still want to use it occasionally, but not as regularly as I do now. So, how do you go about it? It may not feel like it did when I first started masturbating, but fingers still have their place.

—The Pink Wonder

Dear Pink Wonder,

It sounds like you’re used to this particular pink toy. It can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t just happen with toys. Sometimes people get used to a certain level of stimulation or even a certain position. The standard advice, which is the tactic that seems to work best for most people, is basically what you’re going to do anyway: stop doing the one routine you’re used to until you’re so squirmy and turned on that any kind of prank will do. Leave the toy behind, be patient with your body, and take the opportunity to re-explore the types of pleasure your fingers can give you. Breathe into your body, feel your edges, and play with different sensations.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always look forward to reuniting with your favorite vibrator.

Dear How do you do that,

I have always struggled mentally getting into sex in my long term relationships, especially with my husband. Then we had a baby and it took a lot of mental effort to do it once a week. I recently stopped weaning and got my libido back! Hooray! But we have a child now which means sex has to be planned and time is of the essence.

I have a bunch of tricks to get my brain into sex mode: weed, porn, typical stuff. But things that turn you on just thinking about them are obviously extra helpful. The problem is that the only mental trick that actually gets me in the mood is thinking about teasing that one person I used to have an unhealthy relationship with. I don’t even like that person that much! He’s moody and annoying! I dumped him after he did something stupid to me! I’m okay with “using” this to get in the mood, but it feels problematic and I wish I had other options. What is going on?!?

—Confused by my sexual brain

Dear Confused by my sexual brain,

It’s worth spending some time considering what feels so problematic about this particular memory-based fantasy. If you have a trusted friend you can talk to, these kinds of conversations can be very fruitful. If not, consider keeping a journal, reflecting in the shower or on a walk, or whatever helps you sort out your thoughts and emotions. Ultimately, though, my position (and the semi-official position of this column) is that our thoughts are not a crime or a transgression, only our actions.

If you still want to step away from this fantasy, or just want to diversify your repertoire, you can consume some adult media, which means pornographic or erotic media. Rachel Kramer Bussel’s erotic fiction anthologies for Cleis Press tend to feature a wide variety of fantasy scenarios in each volume, so that would be my top pick. The goal to keep in mind as you read (or watch, or listen) is to find new scenarios to draw on whenever you want to get in the mood, to give you the wider range of options you’re looking for.


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