Dear Dan: I’m a 28-year-old queer woman. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a relationship, as it was impossible for me to make a physical or emotional connection with anyone after I was raped four years ago. I finally found a very, very, very nice fella. He’s 36 years old, and pretty basic. He’s a cis white man who isn’t into anal, which is good, not too good at oral, which is bad, with a medium-to-low sex drive and an average-to-good cock. Here’s the problem: I like the warm feelings of love and lust I’m finally experiencing after a long time, but I am nevertheless unsatisfied with him. There are so many things that I feel he is lacking. We don’t share fantasies, he doesn’t take the initiative, there’s no sense of seductiveness, and the cunnilingus is underwhelming. I’ve talked to him about it and he listens, he says he hears me, but he does not implement any of my suggestions. Instead, he tells me to focus on the things that are wonderful about our relationship rather than what’s lacking. Maybe I’m being too critical and should try to focus on the positive. Or should I leave him and go find an idealized sex God who may or may not be out there?
—Idealized Dick Katharsis
P.S. My question requires a thoughtful response, not a savage answer. So, maybe I should talk to my psychologist and not to you?
Dear IDK: First and most importantly, I’m so sorry you were raped. I’m glad you sought professional help, IDK, and I’m happy to hear you feel ready to start making connections again after taking four years off to heal. And I’m gonna go out on a limb here to say you don’t have to choose between talking with me about this and talking to your psychologist. You can talk to both of us.
Zooming out for a second, I’ve always thought of this column (and my podcast) as a conversation I’m having with friends about our love and/or sex lives after we’d had a few drinks. (Or, these days, shared an edible.) Friends are there to listen, to challenge us, and to call us on our bullshit. And friends are there to be heard, to be challenged, and to be called on their bullshit. But friends aren’t pros. When it comes to the kind of trauma experienced, ideally, we would seek help from a pro and—when we were ready for it—advice from our friends.
And as your supportive friend, IDK, as your thoughtful friend, I would advise you to stop thinking forever and instead concentrate on now.
Basically, IDK, you’re looking at this guy and asking yourself, “Is he the right guy forever?” And the answer to that question is obviously no. If you were with this guy forever—if you married a guy who wasn’t that great in bed and refused to listen to feedback and make changes—you would be unhappy in the long run. You’d never get to act on those fantasies, you’d never get seduced the way you want, you’ll never get ate the way you want. But if instead of asking yourself, “Is he the right guy forever?”, you were to ask yourself, “Is he the right guy for now?”, the answer might be different.
You had a traumatic experience four years ago and haven’t dated anyone since. Easing back into sex, dating, and relationships with a nice fella who isn’t great but isn’t awful… yeah, that might be just what you need. Not forever, IDK, for now.
So, don’t move in with this guy, don’t make any promises, and don’t stay in this relationship one minute longer than you want to. When you’re ready to end it—when you’re ready to go searching for an idealized sex God—then you can and should end it. You’re not going to have a successful long-term relationship with this guy, IDK, but you could have a successful short-term relationship with him.
Welcome back to sex and dating, take care of yourself, and feel free to write me anytime.
Dear Dan: I’m a 32-year-old poly woman in Canada. Last spring and summer I worked a contract job a few hours away from where I live, and I was hooking up with one of my co-workers who is a 40-year-old poly man. He’s great and we had great sex. When I started to have more romantic feelings for him, he made it clear that he was polysaturated and didn’t want to be in a relationship with me. Now that winter is ending, I’m about to go back and start working near him again. I talked to him recently, and he is eager to keep hooking up, but he made it clear—again—that he doesn’t want more than that. I feel conflicted because while I really want to keep having sex with this guy, I’m scared of getting hurt. Even if I go in with the intention of having casual sex, there’s. chance I might fall in love with him, and he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be with me. Do you have any suggestions for how I can enjoy this guy and the great sex without getting too attached?
—Constantly Amazing Sex, Unwilling About Love
Dear CASUAL: Nope.
Catching feelings for someone isn’t a conscious choice we make, CASUAL, and typically by the time we start worrying we might be catching feelings for someone… it’s too late. Feelings have already been caught. The only thing we can do if we’re worried that we might catch feelings for someone or have already caught feelings for someone is to stop seeing that person, CASUAL, in the hopes that their absence (or someone else’s presence) will make those feelings go away. But if the sex is great and the risk of heartbreak is worth it, no one would blame you for continuing to fuck this polysaturated guy. (Funny he can find the time to fuck you on the regular, but doesn’t have the bandwidth to date you, not even a little bit.) But go in with your eyes open: if you keep fucking this guy, CASUAL, you’re gonna get more and more attached to him, you’re gonna catch more and more feelings, and then wind up getting hurt in the end.
Dear Dan: I enjoy your column and I think your advice is usually spot-on; however, your advice to TITE last week—the man who wanted to end things with his FWB—was not good. You encouraged TITE to lie to their fuck buddy by saying that their partner wants to close things up. That’s terrible advice. Not the lying, Dan, but the blaming it on the partner. First of all, that lie makes the partner the villain even though they had no part in this, so TITE is lying to one person and lying about another! Second, it’s just setting everyone up to get bitten in the ass—and not in the good way. Suppose TITE is out some time with someone other than his partner and his former fuck buddy happens to see him? I get wanting to spare someone’s feelings, but at some point we have to take responsibility for our relationship, including the ending of them. Using, “Oh, my partner wants to close things up,” is the ENM version of a woman saying, “I have a boyfriend,” to get some guy to stop harassing her (except that in that case it is sometimes necessary for safety). Now, if TITE wants to get their partner’s permission to use them as an excuse, at least then they’re not lying to two people. But really, isn’t a better solution to have clear and honest communication and treat everyone as an adult?
—Communicate Honestly And Tactfully
Dear CHAT: They can’t all be winners. So, to you and everyone else who wrote to tell me my advice for TITE was off the mark, CHAT, I wanna say: you guys were right, I was wrong. Thanks for calling me on my bullshit, friends.
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