S.C wrote: “Hey Liz, hope you’re doing great. My wife and I have been married for 6 years (although we are relatively young, in our 20’s).
For the first few years, before lovemaking (we didn’t have sex before marriage ) we would “play around” a lot, foreplay, oral, etc, and she seemed to really love it and it helped her orgasm during the deed. But for the last couple of years she really hasn’t been interested, in giving or receiving. When we are in bed together, and I know we are going to be intimate, I will make motions to pleasure her and have even asked point blank if I can go down on her and she will respond with “no, let’s just do it”. I don’t know that it’s a problem, per se, I just kind of miss the intimacy that comes with warming up and enjoying her body beyond the “wham bam”, and I’m curious why she wouldn’t miss it too. Any thoughts?”
Liz says: Yes, my first thought is that you should ask your wife! When it’s a good time to have a serious discussion, be open and honest with her by telling her exactly what you tell me in this letter. Only she has the answers you’re looking for.
Since you were both inexperienced before you got married, there’s a good chance you’re both still learning what you enjoy sexually, even six years later. But it’s not uncommon (in young marriages especially) to have a sex life that ebbs and flows in frequency, activities, etc. Be patient with her and yourself. With honest communication things will change for the better.
K.S. wrote: “I’ve been seeing someone who’s super hot and funny but when we’re not fucking he’s so dumb that I feel ashamed for sleeping with him. I can’t talk to him without rolling my eyes at his ignorant beliefs. He thinks vaccinations are a government conspiracy, for starters, and he’s voting for the opposite politicians I’m going to vote for. But I’m still so attracted to him and I’m so confused at why. And worse, we’ve been together long enough that he complained he hasn’t met my friends but I’m embarrassed of him. I’m afraid he’ll say something crazy to my friends.”
Liz says: Dump him as soon as possible.
Being with him is causing your self-esteem to take a hit, hence the shame you feel. Why settle for someone you want to hide instead of show off? And when physical attraction is something you can’t even fully enjoy without negative feelings encroaching on it, what’s the point?
It’s more common than you might think for people to be in this situation. We hook up with someone based on knowing little about them except that you want to ride their face, and then as you do get to know them you realize they’re not your cup of chai tea.
Sometimes it’s true that “opposites attract”, but that doesn’t mean opposites last long. Studies show the more they have in common, the longer couples last and the happier they are. Of course! It’s exhausting being with someone you struggle to understand or relate to, and the fewer reasons to bicker, the better.
Break it off and distance yourself completely. This could end on a worse note if you continue the relationship. Plus, it’s not fair to him. He should be with someone who won’t want to hide him.
S.S. wrote:“Hey Liz hope you’re doing great. I have a beard (not a full one) and my wife HATES it. She calls it ugly and frequently comments how it’s uncomfortable if I kiss her. I keep it because I have an executive position in a corporate environment where all of my coworkers and most people I interact with are much older then me and it makes me look and feel older, but mostly it’s because I have a chubby face that I’m extremely insecure about (and my body in general but that’s a whole different story) and my beard makes me hate my face less. It does seem to genuinely annoy her. Am I inconsiderate for keeping it?”
Liz says: I can relate to her feelings, full disclosure. Facial hair can be handsome, but kissing a scruffy face *hurts*. My husband has grown facial hair off and on during our entire relationship. When he’s craving a different look he’ll simply grow it out for a bit and then he’s back to clean-shaven within a few months. Perhaps it’s because he isn’t married to the facial hair that I don’t complain about it. If he never shaved it off I would probably speak up.
I think it’s inexcusable that she calls it “ugly” though. There’s no reason to be cruel about it. It’s one thing to lovingly tell you she prefers your bare, handsome face and another thing entirely to be verbally abusive.
That said, do you think that your beard is acting as a barrier between you two? Meaning, are you subconsciously putting up a “wall” that keeps you two from expressing physical affection? Is there a part of you that’s okay with not kissing your wife as much as you would be if you were clean shaven?
Sometimes upon further reflection we realize there are deeper reasons for behavior that may seem superficial at first glance.
A lot of people alter their appearance to seem older and more experienced in the workplace. I don’t blame you; sometimes I wonder if appearing to be in my 20s is a reason why I have a harder time being taken seriously as a relationship and sex advice blogger (I’m actually 43). And if you feel like it thins out your face a bit too, that’s understandable. One reason I’ve never had short hair is because it makes my face appear rounder. However, keeping the beard comes at a significant cost. If you shave it, you won’t be fired from your job, but if you keep the beard it could push your wife away and physical affection between you two could further languish.
Really, it boils down to this: do you want to enjoy kissing your wife more often or not?
Consider the fact that it’s a good sign she complains. If she didn’t want to kiss you, she’d use your beard as an excuse but she’d compliment it so you keep it.
One of the biggest contributors to divorce, according to divorced couples, is when one spouse stops taking care of themselves, let’s themselves “go”, and gets “too comfortable”. This often happens because the spouse is taking their partner for granted, assuming their wedding vows were written in stone and that their partner will find them sexually appealing no matter what they look like or how they behave. Wearing clothes and hairstyles that the spouse finds unflattering falls under this. This may or may not be what’s happening with you, but please think about it because if this applies to you it’s not too late to turn things around.
Brock wrote: “Hi Liz, hope you’re doing great. I am an extremely horny person and I feel the need to masturbate all the time, yet I cannot ejaculate more than once in, I say a day, but probably at least 8-12 hours. The reason this has become an issue is because I’ll typically masturbate at the first opportunity, when I get home and hop into the restroom/shower. Once in a while, my wife would approach me for sex and not being able to perform I would make some excuse to brush her off. The only time we would have sex is on weekends, and not every week. This has led to my wife feeling seriously dejected to the point of being reduced to tears at times and extreme frustration. This, combined with factors like my long work hours and a lack of quality time together, put a serious strain on our relationship. This has motivated me to stop masturbating (well it’s been about two months) and during each of the four times we had sex I “finished ” very quickly (maybe 10 minutes was the longest) and I only last as long as I do by thinking about very unsexy thoughts and with extreme effort. So far I only gave her an orgasm once, I try to keep going, or use my fingers, but she tells me it isn’t necessary, and she never lets me “finish” her beforehand with oral sex even though she loves it. She hasn’t complained, but she deserves to orgasm. Do you have any tips?”
Liz says: Your wife wants to feel loved, sexy, and desirable, just like most people, but when you would rather masturbate most of the time than be intimate with her you send her the message that she’s not sexy and desirable. Hence the tears of frustration.
There’s nothing wrong with masturbating while in a relationship. Many people in committed relationships still occasionally pleasure themselves. But when it happens often enough that true intimacy with your partner suffers, there’s something deeper going on that is worth looking into.
Have you two tried couples counseling? I recommend you both find a sex-positive therapist who can help you two get to the bottom of your intimacy issues. For example, it’s possible you were substituting masturbation for being with your wife because putting up that wall between you two is a result of a deep fear of intimacy; you’re not just being physically distant but also emotionally distant. Plus, a good therapist could help with your tendency to prematurely ejaculate and her tendency to not orgasm.
You two need to begin an open, honest dialogue that includes your specific desires and needs. Listen to her very carefully as she tells you what to do with her body that will give her an orgasm, experiment with each other, learn what you both really find arousing, because even though you’re married I get the vibe from your letter you two are still getting to know each other sexually.
Stan wrote: “I’m a 24 year old guy who’s been with my girlfriend for 3 years. We are happy and I love her, but I have to fantasize about being with other people when we have sex. I’m attracted to her, so is it weird I can’t orgasm unless I’m imagining being with anyone other than her? I’m totally straight, I’ve never been attracted to a man ever, but one of my fantasies is that a guy is forcing me to give him a BJ. I don’t understand how that could be a turn-on when IRL I wouldn’t be turned on by that.”
Liz says: You’re pretty normal, a lot of people fantasize about things they wouldn’t actually participate in, and a lot of people fantasize about someone other than their partner.
I’m guessing you are aroused by feeling dominated. It’s actually a common fantasy for heterosexual men with submissive sexual tendencies to be turned on by imagining a man dominating them. Is your girlfriend more submissive, sexually speaking? Perhaps that’s also why you need to fantasize about others in order to orgasm.
Taboos are popular sexual fantasies. Many of us imagine taboo scenarios during sex that can be arousing in fantasy but in real life would not be arousing. Since you’re heterosexual, being involved in a homosexual act is probably very taboo to you (as being forced to perform the act would be, too). A lot of people fantasize about what they’re *not* getting in real life. And this is all because what’s actually turning you on in the fantasy is symbolic. As with your fantasy: it isn’t really the man in the scenario that turns you on, it’s the power dynamic.
Don’t worry about labeling yourself or what it all might mean, it seems like you have a healthy relationship and none of this is negatively affecting your life. You be you!
Cody wrote: “I’m really into this girl I’ve been seeing for a few weeks but I’ve got this one problem with her and I don’t know if I’m being selfish or not. She has 2 cats that she allows to sleep on her bed and I’m allergic to cats. When I first spent the night with her I woke up barely able to breathe so I asked her the next time I was over if she could keep the cats off the bed and she said they are her babies. She told me to take Benadryl. A friend said someone’s pets are a package deal so get used to it. Am I rude to ask her to keep her bed fur-free for me?”
Liz says: I don’t think it was rude for you to ask her to accommodate your allergy issue. On the contrary, I think she’s rude for expecting you to suffer. I think she’s sending a very clear message that you are not important to her.
Your request was a very simple answer to this problem. Not only is she refusing to be inconvenienced in any way for your health (and really, is it much of an inconvenience to keep a bedroom door shut?) but she expects you to take medicine (and deal with its side effects) because it’s your problem, right? This is not the behavior of a considerate person who sees a future with you.
I’m guessing that spending the night at your place and avoiding her place isn’t an option, otherwise that would be another simple solution. But even if you could do that, it doesn’t behoove you to ignore a Red Flag that she’s a selfish person who won’t consider your needs more important than Fluffy’s need to nap on her bed. I’m a cat lover, so I understand why she lets her cats nap on her bed, but I also understand that if she was into you she would prioritize your needs in this situation.
Waking up “barely able to breathe” is serious enough that if I were you, I would find someone who doesn’t have any cats.
S.S. wrote: “What’s your take on fur fetish? I personally don’t like real fur per se, but the idea I suppose of the femininity of it. Any ideas?”
Liz says: I’m happy to hear you don’t like real fur, because the methods used to steal the fur are ghastly and barbaric and should be illegal. But I don’t understand the association with femininity. What’s feminine about animal fur? In most cultures, thick body hair is considered masculine and smooth shaved skin is considered feminine. And fur coats on women often makes them appear larger and more masculine.
Anyway, I suspect that part of the appeal is tactile; the sensation of the hair tickling the skin. People have been using feather ticklers forever, I imagine fur does the same thing.
I’ve only heard of this as more of a kink than an actual paraphilia, although I won’t claim that doesn’t exist.
For me, real fur is associated with ugliness because I think it’s disgusting that people will torture and kill animals for money. But culturally fur is associated with wealth and success, so perhaps that plays a role in having a sexually arousing response to it. We tend to associate wealth with power, so a person in fur appears powerful and that can be very arousing for many people.
S.B. wrote:“Hey Liz, hope you’re doing great. Before I got married I used to write in a journal. I’m not great at expressing myself and am often insecure about sharing my thoughts with others so I found it a helpful outlet. Since I’ve been married, 6 years (I’m 26 if that matters) I have neglected this practice. Lately I’ve been very stressed balancing my tough job and family matters and have felt the desire to revisit my journal but I feel bad about it, like, is it okay to express feelings (in writing) that I am not sharing with my wife? Aren’t I too old to be using, lets call it what it is, a diary? As much as I’d like to do it it feels silly.
Unrelatedly, have you seen the movie Her? If not I highly recommend.”
Liz says: Being married doesn’t mean you never get to be alone with your thoughts. Sometimes we don’t feel like turning to our best friends and partners when we are struggling with something, sometimes quiet introspection is what we need. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t become the only coping skill you use. Never turning to friends or your spouse can isolate you, making you feel all alone and can lead to depression. Keeping a journal or diary can be hugely beneficial, though, and has been shown to improve emotional health.
Chad wrote:“Hey Liz, so there is something that I have no idea why but it’s bothering me way too much and it is extremely petty. My girlfriend decided to get a small tattoo of her cousin’s name (he just recently passed away this week). I know she is getting the tattoo for a good reason but I do not want her to get one. I know it sounds petty of me but I am getting mad at myself for not wanting her to get the tattoo. The more I think about her getting it the more upset I get, but then I have to realize it’s her body and her choice and it’s for a good reason and then I get even more upset at myself for not wanting her to get it. My frustration over this has gotten to the point where I am ignoring her calls and texts and now I’m asking for advice.”
Liz says: So let me get this straight: you’re upset with yourself for being petty so you’re punishing your girlfriend by ignoring her?
You mention you have “no idea why” you have a problem with it, but there is a reason. Nobody has an emotional response like this from nothing. Do you hate tattoos in general? Does it make you jealous that another person’s name will be on her body instead of yours? Are you concerned that you’ll be reminded of something tragic every time you look at that part of her body? Whatever the reasons are, you need to acknowledge them in order to move past it.
You said yourself it’s her body, her choice, and it’s “for a good reason” (which doesn’t really matter, nobody has to give you a good reason for adorning their body with whatever art they want), so you have reflected upon your feelings enough to recognize you just need to accept her decision. So do it! You have the power here to simply work through your feelings and accept you can’t control her decision in this.
Stop ignoring her, too. Just tell her how you feel about it, instead of avoiding the conversation. Then you both can work through it and move on. Being honest here is way better than this passive-aggressive nonsense you’re doing. Own how you feel and you’ll both feel better after talking it out.
Megan wrote:“Hi Liz! I’d like to know what you think about public cross-dressing. If the crossdresser derives any sense of erotic excitement from being seen in public, does that throw up any ethical red flags? If the person is not exclusively motivated by sexual excitement but experiences some, does this mean they are involving others unwittingly in a fetish?
Though I’ve generally passed as a heteronormative guy, I’m quite bi-curious and I’ve long desired to feel girly and explore my feminine side.
I enjoy presenting feminine in public and going on girly outings like bra fittings and salon makeup appointments. The totally platonic interaction with women is really exciting in a wholesome way. Knowing they see me as one of the girls and hanging out without any sexual subtext is so refreshing! But I sometimes feel arousal, likely due to breaking taboos and feeling more fluid about my sexuality.
I hate to think that this makes what I’m doing unfair to others and I want a safe and healthy avenue to explore these interests. What do you think?”
Liz says: Does the employee actually fit you for a bra? Or do you ask for the measuring tape and go into a fitting room for privacy? I’m just curious how that works out!
Anyway, I don’t think what you’re enjoying is unfair or unethical. You’re not intentionally misleading anyone for the purpose of breaking their heart or sexually assaulting them. You’re not “unwittingly involving others in a fetish” that’s crossing illegal or unethical boundaries, like the guys who snap up-skirting videos of strangers in public. You’re just hanging out with friends and you happen to have a secret. Who cares? You be you.