Dear Dan: I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months. Prior to dating, I was clear with him that I would need to open our relationship at some point. He initially hesitated to respond, but then agreed we could do that when the time came. That time has come much quicker than I anticipated, but I feel like he’ll renege on his end of things because of many comments he’s made recently—comments like not understanding or liking nonmonogamy and how “his woman” sleeping around is a deal breaker. Is this a DTMFA situation?
—Specified Open Relationship Early
Dear SORE: Early on, you let your boyfriend know that openness “at some point” was your price of admission — the price he’d have to pay to be with you — and now he’s letting you know that monogamy is his price of admission. What’s going on here? Well, sometimes Person A tells Person B what Person A knows Person B wants to hear regarding Topic X in the hopes that Person B will feel differently about Topic X after the passage of time or after Person B has made a large emotional investment in Person A. In many cases, Person A has the best intentions — by which I mean, Person A isn’t being consciously manipulative, but rather Person A sincerely hopes Person B will come to feel differently about Topic X or that they, Person A themselves, will. But considering how little time has passed, SORE — it hasn’t even been three months, and he’s saying shitty/judgy things to you about nonmonogamy and sexist/controlling things about “his woman” — it seems clear that your boyfriend wasn’t being sincere, he was being manipulative. DTMFA.
Dear Dan: This is another request for a kinky neologism. How about those of us who like the idea of our significant other having sex with somebody else but who aren’t into full-on cuckold-style humiliation? “Cuckold” implies a level of subordination that just isn’t my thing, and “hotwifing,” besides sounding incredibly sleazy, assumes that it’s a couple that is opposite sex and married, and the guy is only interested in watching. Can you or the hive mind solve this problem?
—Cuck In Name Only
Dear CINO: I don’t think the term “hotwifing” is inherently heterosexist, as there are gay men and straight women out there into “hothusbanding.” (They get off on sharing their hot spouses with others, aren’t necessarily interested in getting with anyone else themselves, and don’t, à la cuckolds, get off on humiliation.) But if that term doesn’t appeal to you, CINO, there’s already an alternative: stags (a man who may or may not be dominant who likes to share his partner and may or may not participate) and vixens (a woman who may or may not be submissive who enjoys having sex with others in front of her partner and may or may not share them with others too).
Dear Dan: I’ve experienced anal itching in the past, and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. It felt so insanely good to satisfy that itching inside. I can find lots of information about relieving anal itching, but I can’t find anything about inducing it for pleasure.
—Into Tormenting Clean Heinie
Dear ITCH: According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your ass too clean or letting it get too dirty can induce anal itching, as can pinworms, diabetes and anal tumors. Seeing as you probably don’t want diabetes or rectal cancer, and since pinworms aren’t for sale at your local bait shop, ITCH, you could try scrubbing your ass with harsh soaps, which is what the Mayo Clinic urges people who don’t want itchy anuses to avoid. (I reversed engineered their advice for you. You’re welcome.) Good luck, and please don’t write back to let us know how you’re progressing, OK?
Dear Dan: I am a 24-year-old pansexual trans woman, and I feel sexually broken. Hormones have made it nearly impossible for me to top a partner. I’m able to do it once in a while, but not as much or as reliably as I would like. Additionally, hormones have messed up my digestive system and made bottoming difficult. I’m also relatively sexually inexperienced, which means I’m enthusiastic about oral but not very good at it. This leaves me feeling like I bring nothing to the table.
—Horny But Sex Is Thorny
Dear HBSIT: Getting good at oral — like getting good at anything — takes a little practice. Let your prospective partners know you’re relatively inexperienced, and you’ll be far likelier to wind up in bed with patient and supportive people who will let you practice on them. As for bottoming, hopefully your guts will settle down in time. As for topping, well, lots of women use strap-on dildos for penetration. Having a strap-on at the ready and actively seeking out partners who don’t regard strap-on sex as a consolation prize (or a fail) will allow you to experiment with penetration without the pressure of having to produce or sustain an erection. You can switch back and forth between your dick and the dildo as needed, and being able to make it happen for your lover — using whatever tools you need — will build your confidence. And you’re not broken, HBSIT. You are, like all of us, a work in progress. Good luck.
Dear Dan: I’m a college prof. Several female students have confided in me they’re having trouble finding guys. (They’re not hitting on me — and even if they were, no way am I dating a student.) These girls are smart, nice, interesting, and usually obese. You and I both know that in this imperfect world, many (most?) people place importance on looks. But how do I tell them that? A straight, single, male professor telling a female student, even gently, that dropping 20 pounds might help her dating prospects is extremely risky.
—Professionally Risky Observation Flummoxes
Dear PROF: Oh my god. Keep your mouth shut. First, because it’s an asshole thing to say — never mind the professional risk — and second, because it’s not true. (Welcome to America, PROF, where most people are overweight or obese and most people are partnered or married.) The likelier culprit here (besides a skewed sample size and confirmation bias) is the scarcity of available male partners. Women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses: “Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women — 58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s — the ratio has now almost exactly reversed,” Jon Marcus wrote in the Atlantic. Graduating will probably do more to improve their romantic prospects than dropping 20 pounds.
Dear Dan: I recently broke up with a girl because she didn’t know what plate tectonics was. We dated for three months. Great sex! Loved cooking together! Enjoyed spending time with her! But she was raised Mormon — and more important than that, she was simply NOT CURIOUS about science and the world. In all honesty, I think she’s a little dumb, although she doesn’t come off that way. Science! Politics! Philosophy! All of these things are important in my life! Am I wrong for breaking up with her?
Dear DT: No! You did her a favor! I knew nothing about classical music before I fell in love with someone who’s passionate about classical music. I know a lot about it now and I actually enjoy it — but I didn’t get there in three months. My husband didn’t follow the news closely until he fell in love with a news junkie. Now he’s a daily reader of the New York Times and the Washington Post — but he didn’t get there in three months. The more time we spent together, the more interest we took in each other’s interests. There’s a lesson in here for you somewhere, DT, but I’m going to let you tease it out — because you’re CURIOUS and SMART, right?
On the Lovecast, Dan interviews sociologist and author Nicholas A. Christakis: savagelovecast.com.