The ins and outs of sex


Dear Dr. Jenni,

Last week you talked about a couple experimenting in the outdoors. I have a similar issue. My boyfriend only gets excited when we have sex in public places. It’s to the point that he refuses to have sex inside. I get really nervous, because this is illegal, but it’s the only thing that gets him aroused. What should I do?

—Public Panic

Dear Public,

It’s understandable to have different fantasies and objects of stimulation, but it becomes very difficult on a relationship if the fetish object is the sole manner of getting aroused. This can be particularly dangerous if there is an illegal component involved.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but you should recognize that habitually having sex in public will highly increase the odds of getting caught, which could mean jail time. If he insists on sex in public, you may want to reevaluate your relationship and encourage him to get counseling.

I suggest having a conversation with him about what about the outdoors arouses him. There may be the possibility of recreating similar scenarios in a more private (and legal) area. Additionally, you might be able to strike a compromise with your boyfriend between public and private where you seduce each other outside, then transition inside to have sex. Eventually, you can make the time outside less and less, and the inside more and more. This may help recondition his ability to have sex inside as well as out.

In the time being, check out the laws in your area. You may be able to get creative in your backyard, and even find places in the outdoors that are out of sight—way out of sight, as in no sex on the trailhead in the middle of the afternoon!

Dear Dr. Jenni,

My girlfriend refuses to have sex while on her period. With my last girlfriend, we didn’t mind at all. I’m not sure why this girlfriend is so hung up on this. Do you think I should push the issue?

—Getting Frisky That Time of the Month

Dear Getting Frisky,

How we juggle sex and menstruation differs from person to person, couple to couple. You have to respect the wishes and boundaries of your girlfriend, even if they are stricter than yours.

Perhaps consider this an opportunity to create yearning and desire in the relationship. For instance, Orthodox Jews refrain from sexual activity, and even touching each other, for the whole menstrual week and the week after. The restrictions on sexual activity help create an atmosphere where they can eagerly yearn to reconnect with one another.

On the other hand, many couples enjoy taking advantage of this window of time, as women can be hormonally more aroused during their period. If you don’t mind a little mess, you can throw down a towel, have a little fun, and wipe up after if needed. Some people mix and match and refrain from sexual activity only during heavy flow days, while others fully refrain during the entire period.

Again, how you negotiated this with your last girlfriend may be different with this girlfriend, as different people have different boundaries. I don’t suggest being pushy, but certainly open the conversation to explore the pros and cons of each scenario and why certain boundaries, or lack thereof, are important to each of you. This can be a good exercise to deconstruct your beliefs and help each other understand your value systems.

At the end of the day, you may not agree. However, you may have a higher level of appreciation and empathy, which is an essential relationship skill no matter what the topic.

Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder,