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August 29, 2012

My husband and I enjoy a solid, trusting BDSM relationship, and we're both happy with our life together. There is one issue that concerns me. Roughly twice a month, in the middle of the night, my husband will "attack" me sexually in his sleep. I use the term "attack" lightly because the moment lasts for about 30 seconds, and generally I am able to ignore it and go back to sleep. However, there are times when I become frightened by these incidents and can't seem to "get over it" by morning. Generally, the attacks amount to my husband groping my breast painfully and aggressively, violently digitally penetrating me, attempting to penetrate me with his penis (vaginally or orally), and/or shoving me. He doesn't ejaculate or anything, as it is a very short incident.

He is completely unaware of what he is doing when he does it, and I have been able to wake him up as it is happening. He does masturbate in his sleep every so often (never to ejaculation), and so I'm figuring this is connected somehow. We have an active sex life, and he has assured me that he is not sexually dissatisfied, and I do believe him.

I have spoken to him about these incidents, and even though I try to laugh them off to hide my fear, he feels terrible about what he's done. He is fully asleep when these incidents occur, so it's not as if he can do anything about them. I have stopped telling him when the incidents happen because I don't want him to feel so bad about something he can't control. I have tried seeking advice from other places, but I am usually told to "just ignore it" or "just enjoy it." I don't enjoy it. I can't ignore it. It hurts and it scares me. Is this a common problem? Is there even an answer? Am I being too sensitive?

Scared Of Stiffy

"SOS's husband has semiregular sexsomnia, a subtype of sleepwalking," says Jesse Bering, a psychological scientist and a regular contributor to Scientific American and Slate, "and SOS is not being too sensitive."

Bering devotes a chapter of his terrific new book—Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? And Other Reflections on Being Human—to the phenomenon of sexsomnia.

"Involuntary sexual 'automatisms' occur within two hours of sleep onset, during non-REM sleep," says Bering. "In most cases, these are harmless enough—gyrating against a pillow, vacuous masturbation. But there are also more violent and worrisome automatisms, such as those making SOS so understandably uncomfortable. In fact, there have been several high-profile rape and child-abuse cases involving sexsomnia."

Luckily, there is an answer, SOS, something your husband can do about his problem.

"The good news is that sexsomnia responds well to pharmaceuticals, so SOS's husband should find a knowledgeable doctor who is willing to prescribe a low dose of one of the benzodiazepines (such as clonazepam) to take before bedtime," says Bering.

But your husband is unlikely to get the help he needs if you continue to minimize the problem for fear of making him feel bad. Stop laughing these violent episodes off, SOS, and start telling him about every one. Explain to your husband that all this violent sleepfucking has left you feeling traumatized and that he has to see a doctor as soon as possible. Hearing that might make your husband feel terrible, SOS, but these episodes are making you feel terrible. Why shouldn't he feel terrible about them, too?

I accidentally raped my boyfriend. What happened was I awoke to find my boyfriend rubbing up against me. After a little while, he pulled my hand, motioning for me to get on top of him to have sex, as he has done many times before. I obliged, and all was well, until he apparently woke up and pushed me off of him. I did not have any indication that he was asleep, since he was an active participant the entire time and was NOT lying there like a dead fish. In the morning, he expressed his displeasure about being woken up with sex. He said that he felt really violated. I apologized and explained my understanding of the situation. Now he says he feels really weird about what happened and he can't stomach me touching him. What should I do?

Reeling After Problematic Intimate Sex Transgression

You did not rape your boyfriend.

You didn't ask me to weigh in on whether or not you raped your boyfriend, RAPIST, but I felt obligated to toss that out there. Your boyfriend may or may not be a sexsomniac—this is just one incident—but he initiated routine (for you guys) sexual activity in his sleep, and you reciprocated. Once he woke up and you both realized what was going on, you immediately stopped. Mistakes were made, RAPIST, but no one was raped.

As for what you should do, well, I think you should dump the guilt-tripping, blame-shifting motherfucker. But if you want to keep seeing this guy, RAPIST, you need a simple way to determine whether he's fully awake when he seems to be initiating sex in the middle of the night. Two or three hard slaps across the face might do the trick.

Jesse Bering has a kinder, gentler suggestion.

"In light of this experience, RAPIST may find herself feeling a bit gun-shy about any middle-of-the-night sex initiated by her boyfriend or any future boyfriends," says Bering. "After all, how can she know if he's fully awake and innocently in the mood, or just having another episode? Here's how: She should have an agreement with her boyfriend that, from now on, he will 'flick' his penis a few times for her by clenching his PC (pubococcygeus) muscle on initiating nocturnal sex."

And how will that help?

"Penile flicking is an intentional action," explains Bering, and one that cannot be performed by a sleepfucking sexsomniac at his partner's request. "It's a subtle, conscious signal to assure you that you're not dealing with a lascivious zombie."

For more of Jesse Bering, check out his website, You can follow Bering on Twitter @JesseBering.

You will no doubt get some flak for your response to the snowboarder who needs a finger up his ass in order to come. He stated that he is so ashamed of this practice that when he's fucking a girl and wants to come, he pushes the woman's face in a pillow to hide it. How could you let that little bit of mini-sadism pass without comment? You are normally so thorough in your replies, Dan!

Pillow Fight

You're right, PF, I dropped the ball. BUMMED wrote that he goes "to great lengths to hide" his need for prostate stimulation, adding that he will "push [a girl's] head in a pillow" when he fingers himself. And he was worried that the last girl he slept with must have seen him fingering himself—seen it and concluded he was gay—because she wasn't responding to his texts.

A little addendum for BUMMED: That girl might not be returning your texts because she didn't appreciate having her face smashed into a pillow. You can do what you like with your asshole, bro, without being an asshole.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at

@fakedansavage on Twitter


Comments (186) RSS

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Wow, I have always wanted to be woken up with sex, but I sleep too lightly and my wife doesn't remember things like that. This guy gets it and acts like a victim. The world is weird. Also, he is a jerk.
Posted by Learned Hand on August 28, 2012 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Funny, I totally read RAPIST in a male voice, so I thought that maybe the boyfriend would have a point at feeling creeped-out by it the next day. But if this couple has been together for quite a while, and he truly doesn't trust her explanation, then she needs to DTMFA, or bring up that he either needs to move on from this, or he needs to be the one to leave her.

I remember a long time ago about a woman who was raped by her boyfriend, who tied her down (like they always did), and then proceeding to have anal with her, which she had told him repeatedly not to ever do. She was screaming, he didn't stop until after he came, then he saw all the blood and called an ambulance. Everyone kept telling her to forgive her boyfriend, because he felt so bad about what he did, but there was no excuse for him to keep going (she passed out from blood loss in the middle of it all)

Keeping something like that in mind, a guy being woken up mid-coitus, and then freaking out all the time whenever she touches him, why is he still with her then, if every time he's around her, he's afraid of her? Dan advised the tied-down woman to press charges against him, not to mention to DTMFA; if he feels so violated, why doesn't he do the same thing? We tell women all the time to leave their abusers and bring their rapists to court; why is this man doing nothing for what he clearly feels was a crime?

No matter what, the boyfriend needs to see a psychologist who deals with PTSD; where he's a shitbag or not, if he's still so fucked-up by the situation that he can't be around RAPIST, then he needs therapy, just like any other victim of any other insane, intense, and extraordinary situation. But is he a real victim of sexual assault? He may feel that way, but she did, after all, stop as soon as he told her to stop.

The saddest thing of all is that this relationship is destroyed because of truly unfortunate things. Oh, how we all have to be so wary about anything with sex nowadays. Before we know it, everything will be rape.
Posted by margaretbrokenhearted on August 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
I'm a sexsomniac and often wake up to myself giving my boyfriend a hand job. Luckily, he is always thrilled and gently wakes me to see if I want to continue. I used to have a bit of trouble when sleeping over at friends' houses, though, as sometimes I would wake up groping them. We usually discussed it and either decided that we would sleep in separate beds (always an option), that it didn't matter and they would ignore it, or (my favorite) that they enjoyed it. With open discussion or the help of medications, as you listed, there can always be a solution as long as both parties are open with each other and willing to discuss the options.
Posted by Katori on August 28, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
yookah 4
yo, why not make sure the boyfriend's awake by having him SAY something?? like "i'm awake baby, let's get it on"???
Posted by yookah on August 28, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
Second letter is fake.
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on August 28, 2012 at 8:09 PM · Report this
@yookah- Because people often talk in their sleep as well. I have full conversations with people in my sleep that I don't remember the next morning. Usually they make complete sense, occasionally, however, it is obvious that I'm actually asleep due to me talking about random things.
Posted by Katori on August 28, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
I like #3's suggestion - separate beds, same bedroom. That eliminates being molested in your sleep unless his sexsomnia includes enough sleepwalking to get out of his bed and into yours.
Posted by Gamebird on August 28, 2012 at 9:02 PM · Report this
Good for Dan for pointing out that the person who initiates the specific sex act performed is excluded from being a rape victim due to that act.
Posted by tachycardia on August 28, 2012 at 9:19 PM · Report this
@3 & @7: Separate beds, same bedroom! Problem solved, although I agree with Gamebird about whether or not the sexomniac in question also sleepwalks. Yikes!!
Sex zombies!!! Who knew??
Posted by auntie grizelda on August 28, 2012 at 9:33 PM · Report this
imisslincoln 10
I actually disagree on the advice to RAPIST. While I don't disagree that what happened was not rape in the way I'm comfortable defining rape, what happened was certainly traumatic for the man in question. Do we discount this? Do we ignore his embodied experience of violation? I agree that if he remains completely unwilling to see his partner's side of things, then the relationship should probably end, but perhaps he just needs some time to process what happened and recover. Sometimes shit happens, and even if that shit isn't any one person's "fault," it still sucks are requires some consideration, understanding, and healing. I think it's too soon and we've been given too little data to assume that he's a "guilt-tripping, blame-shifting motherfucker." If we are truly to agree that there exists in long-term relationships an environment of implied consent, then we also need to hold space when that environment nonetheless results in a hurt or upset partner.
Posted by imisslincoln on August 28, 2012 at 10:43 PM · Report this
Ummm.... Julian Assange, anyone? Jesus. If there ever was an elephant in the room.
Posted by Anonymous Commenter on August 28, 2012 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Ummm... Julian Assange, anyone? Hello, elephant in the room.
Posted by Anonymous Commenter on August 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM · Report this
i agree @5: i got a fake vibe off that second letter.
Posted by ellarosa on August 28, 2012 at 11:31 PM · Report this
Benzos often lead to nonproductive sleep. Look forward to memory, mood, and general cognitive defects.
Posted by academiac on August 29, 2012 at 12:25 AM · Report this
OutInBumF 15
Who/what says RAPIST is female? I get the distinct impression this is a gay couple, and that RAPIST was using his penis when the BF woke up, hence his upset. Somehow I doubt that a straight man would be so 'upset' at his GF mounting his hard dick that he 'can't stomach being touched' by her, yet I can see that if he was being fucked while asleep by a BF's dick.
Anyone else confused? Did Dan mis-gender the LW?
Posted by OutInBumF on August 29, 2012 at 1:22 AM · Report this
SOS's husband might benefit from medication to treat his tendencies...or could he already be on medication? Several of the popular prescription sleep aids on the market list performing activities while asleep (sleep driving, sleep eating, etc.), without any memory afterwards, as a side effect. If SOS's husband is taking something to help him sleep, he might need to stop taking it or switch to a different med.

As an aside, I often have orgasms in my sleep. I attributed them to vivid dreams, but being a "sexsomniac" sounds a lot sexier. Thanks for the term! :D
Posted by BeingABear on August 29, 2012 at 1:46 AM · Report this
I didn't know sexsomnia was a condition. I have a friend who called it "Nightman"
Posted by xt on August 29, 2012 at 1:56 AM · Report this
And in breaking news, New Zealand parliament has just voted 80-40 for gay marriage at the first reading in parliament. Two more votes to go before its passed into law, but it's gonna happen!
Posted by kiwibear on August 29, 2012 at 3:06 AM · Report this
Posted by kiwibear on August 29, 2012 at 3:07 AM · Report this
16 is absolutely correct. As a different option for sleep aids, he can try melatonin, which is an over the counter natural sleep aid. It is the natural chemical that tells your body that it is time to sleep. Anti-histamines can also help promote healthy sleep cycles.
Posted by Katori on August 29, 2012 at 3:28 AM · Report this
Hey Kiwibear, I'm a fellow New Zealander, and you just gave me the wonderful news! Thanks for being the bearer (hee!) of good tidings.
Posted by Roseanne on August 29, 2012 at 3:43 AM · Report this
Did anyone consider that maybe letter 2's boyfriend might have been molested as a child and maybe being woken to non consential sex brought back some very bad memories?
Posted by RugFun on August 29, 2012 at 5:17 AM · Report this
I meant non consensual. Stupid misspelling brain and fingers.
Posted by RugFun on August 29, 2012 at 5:24 AM · Report this
I gently suggest "X is fake" never generates an interesting discussion. Is not/is so/is not/is so and so on. I don't expect Dan to hire a private eye to check everything for verity or get all the other sides of the story: I expect him to pick out enlightening or interesting letters and give some decent advice based on what he has to work with.

I actually thought 2 sounded fake, in terms of being a little too pat on reverse the genders and what would you say. (I think consensus would be that it wasn't rape, she needed to understand he thought she was awake, but he needed to understand that she didn't remember anything leading up to waking up mid-act and couldn't just turn her feelings off.)

In this context the speculation about same sex couple is interesting, in that I think the distinction is less male/female than penetrator/penetratee, in terms of how violated we think it's "okay" to feel when you wake up having accidentally initiated sex when you thought you were dreaming about fleeing velociraptors with (insert fantasy person) while scrambling about a giant ice cream sundae, and your long-time partner and bedroom never came into it, the hell...? I can see most people happily deciding to go with it, and a few being too confused by the dream-to-reality shift to manage to get their emotions on board in the good way.

Past trauma could make it much worse--it's not rape if they're asleep seems to be a common abuser plan--but just not managing to figure out what the hell is going on before your emotions redlined at 'help help' also makes sense.
Posted by IPJ on August 29, 2012 at 6:10 AM · Report this
I gently suggest "X is fake" never generates an interesting discussion. Is not/is so/is not/is so and so on. I don't expect Dan to hire a private eye to check everything for verity or get all the other sides of the story: I expect him to pick out enlightening or interesting letters and give some decent advice based on what he has to work with.

I actually thought 2 sounded fake, in terms of being a little too pat on reverse the genders and what would you say. (I think consensus would be that it wasn't rape, she needed to understand he thought she was awake, but he needed to understand that she didn't remember anything leading up to waking up mid-act and couldn't just turn her feelings off.)

In this context the speculation about same sex couple is interesting, in that I think the distinction is less male/female than penetrator/penetratee, in terms of how violated we think it's "okay" to feel when you wake up having accidentally initiated sex when you thought you were dreaming about fleeing velociraptors with (insert fantasy person) while scrambling about a giant ice cream sundae, and your long-time partner and bedroom never came into it, the hell...? I can see most people happily deciding to go with it, and a few being too confused by the dream-to-reality shift to manage to get their emotions on board in the good way.

Past trauma could make it much worse--it's not rape if they're asleep seems to be a common abuser plan--but just not managing to figure out what the hell is going on before your emotions redlined at 'help help' also makes sense.
Posted by IPJ on August 29, 2012 at 6:10 AM · Report this
I find it amusing that PF thinks Dan is always "so thorough" in his replies. I frequently think Dan leaves out important info and/or perspectives in his replies and in fact occasionally fails to even address the central issues raised in the letters. But I guess that shows how subjective this stuff is.
Posted by wayne on August 29, 2012 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Clonazepam seems to have been very effective in treating my ex's sleep disorder ... though I decided it was time for divorce when he had a dream about trying to kill me (this was right before he went on Clonazepam). What made the sleep disorder so terrible wasn't just the episodes, which were traumatic and left me feeling much like LW1... rattled and unwelcoming of contact, but that the ex was passive about dealing with it. I talked to him about how it was affecting me, cried, begged him to sleep in a different room, anything. He was insistent we should continue to sleep together but would suggest I not move while I was asleep, believing that's what "set off an episode." By the way, for some couples it is an enjoyable aspect of their lives together--but not for all. Sorry LW1--get it out in the open, get him to a doctor, sleep separately, anything. This can be very devastating. Also, don't have children until the sleep disorder is solved because that added a whole horrible dimension of worry and apprehension in my situation (ex believed he "wouldn't do anything to our children because he knew the difference between me and them..."
Posted by DeerLion on August 29, 2012 at 7:10 AM · Report this
I've had orgasms in my sleep before. I don't think it involves any type of mastubation/grinding, since on one occasion I woke up immediately after, on my back, with my hands above my head. And I was sleeping alone!
Posted by Cherry on August 29, 2012 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Like 15 I too thought this was clearly a gay male couple and don't see any indication unless Dan forgot to mention that it is a straight couple at all. I just can't imagine a straight guy being upset to finding his girl riding him in the middle of the night. But anal is a whole lot more complicated so I could see that freaking someone out.

I like being woken up by sex... by a person who is actually awake. I have a super good friend who is a sexsomniac. One time we were both sleeping on a futon during a conference and in his sleep he grabbed me and started putting his hand up the back of my shirt. He is a LOT bigger than I am and much stronger. And he was definitely asleep. And there is NO WAY he would ever do that awake. Just no. He's so not into me and never has been.

There is something very creepy and disconcerting about being on the recceiving end of sexsomia. It's just "not them" and they don't respond to normal cues.
Posted by wendykh on August 29, 2012 at 7:40 AM · Report this
Just an FYI, clonazepam (and all the other benzos) are highly addictive and it's very easy to build tolerance to them. I was prescribed them for sleep and not warned that they are next to impossible to get off of. I went cold turkey after they stopped working and ended up in the ER. You have to taper very slowly, and the withdrawal effects are absolutely miserable. Benzos desensitize the GABA receptors, and so coming off them involves a long period of sadness and fatigue. There are support groups all over the web for people who are dealing with this process. There has got to be an answer to the issue that SOS faces that doesn't involve getting her husband on a highly addictive drug. I'm sure there are safer sleep meds out there that he can try if he talks to a doctor about his options. He might also consider hypnotherapy in conjunction with a sleep medication for his "sleep walking" episodes.
Posted by Cecil23 on August 29, 2012 at 8:23 AM · Report this
Wha?? RAPIST's SO wasn't raped? HE DIDN'T CONSENT! I don't believe "RAPIST" is guilty or should feel guilty at all, but his or her intent has nothing to do with the SO's experience. SO experienced sex without his consent and an explanation that would be a red flag for a lying abuser in most cases (were it not true, and I believe RAPIST). Initiating WITHOUT CONSENT doesn't change anything; victims who are minors or so drunk / drugged they're just short of unconscious can initiate but cannot consent, for example.

Like it or not, we can't just turn our feelings off when it's convenient, just as SOS can't turn off her feelings even though she knows it's not her husband's fault. That doesn't necessarily make him a blaming, guilt-tripping POS.
Posted by KittyWrangler on August 29, 2012 at 8:27 AM · Report this
Re: Dan's response to RAPIST: Are you serious? If the genders were interchanged, that would definitely be rape, and if you claimed otherwise women everywhere would be raising bloody hell about it.

There are certain people out there who think "If the vaginal juices are flowing, she must have wanted it." Dan here opines that "If the penis is turgid, he must have wanted it." I disagree.

It was a legitimately traumatizing experience, and RAPIST should be understanding and work out a way to know whether her bf actually wants sex or not.
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
This happened to me (a girl) with an ex-boyfriend. For me, it seemed like it was definitely a dominance thing on his part, but he was controlling and abusive in other ways, too. If RAPIST's relationship with her BF is not otherwise abusive (on her part or his), it could be past trauma that's driving his reaction.

Posted by Snarky on August 29, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Report this
I agree that #2 wasn't rape, and that the bf has a right to feel violated in spite of that. I'd suggest they go to some counselling together with a therapist who is familiar with sexsomnia so that he can feel comfortable with Rapist again; and so that she can deal with the understandable feelings of guilt at making him feel bad.

I also second the suggestion about some sleep aids causing sleep movement disorders. My husband took ambien, and once got up, made, and ate a cheese sandwich in his sleep. The only part that worried me was his using a sharp knife to slice the cheese; but I couldn't wake him up and wasn't going to wrestle him for it. So I hovered anxiously until he was done. We had a conversation that seemed somewhat rational too, where I asked him to stop using the knife or at least let me slice the cheese and he kept assuring me that he'd do fine. It was just irrational enough at times that I could tell he wasn't awake. He had no memory of anything about the episode in the morning.

Second beds may be a good start, but may not solve the problem; I have heard of sexsomniacs getting up and going into other bedrooms. There may be some risks associated with a dose of sleeping pills, but these attacks are disturbing enough to her to make it worthwhile.
Posted by Spookycats on August 29, 2012 at 8:39 AM · Report this
I am a sexsomniac. It's not a pleasant situation most of the time. I have had to explain it to partners in the past due to some very awkward and uncomfortable situations that occurred. I have felt like a rapist in the past because of this and it is a terrible feeling to know that you have caused trauma to someone that you cared about. It has also contributed to at least two break ups. I hope SOS's husband gets the help that he needs.
Posted by Does it really matter on August 29, 2012 at 8:44 AM · Report this
Agree with 32. Dan blames this guy way, way too readily for an understandable reaction to waking up and finding himself having nonconsensual sex --- as though the guy should have just read Dan's paragraph about "sexsomnia" and let it dictate his reaction. "Blame-shifting"? Bullshit. Dan would never have written that to a woman.
Posted by Alec on August 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
After seeing 'Sleepwalk With Me', might I suggest using a sleeping bag while you sleep if drugs are off the table? You might roll around for a bit, but you'll be unable to escape or end up being too grope-y.
Posted by Sleep Skate on August 29, 2012 at 8:50 AM · Report this
What happened between RAPIST and his/her boyfriend was rape, but it was one-sided rape. The boyfriend experienced sex without his consent, so he experienced rape. But this is an exceptional situation. RAPIST is not a rapist. S/he thought the boyfriend HAD given consent, and from the letter, it doesn't sound like there was any way to know otherwise. So RAPIST shouldn't internalize the blame for what happened, but s/he should be supportive and understanding of the boyfriend's feelings. He definitely needs to get help, for his own sake if not to save the relationship.

@27, what happened to you sounds awful! Your ex actually tried to shift the responsibility for his behavior onto you ("if you'd just control YOUR movements when we're both sound asleep, this wouldn't happen"), AND he implied that although it wouldn't be okay if his attacks were directed onto your children, doing it to YOU was just fine? ("I know the difference between a real victim and someone who should put up with it.") What an asshole. I hope he's addressed the problem by now.
Posted by Skipper Jo on August 29, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
I'd also like to add that I think Dan is placing too much importance on RAPIST's intentions in trying to decide whether a rape occurred. Rape isn't defined by the rapist and their intentions. It's defined by the victim and their right consent.

But again, in this exceptional case, because the letter writer had every reason to believe the sex was consensual, s/he's not at fault.
Posted by Skipper Jo on August 29, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
shurenka 40
@8, no, he didn't say that at all. She misunderstood his cues which seemed to indicate consent, and stopped immediately once she realized her mistake. How is that rape?
Posted by shurenka on August 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM · Report this
I'm so sorry for all the people who think that letter 2 would definitely be rape if the genders were reversed.

Assuming that waking up was because of the sex act and not because of chafing from lack of lubrication, I would find it AWESOME to wake up to sex after pulling my husband onto me in my sleep.

Hell, I've loved it when he's just gotten the idea to do that on his own.

Unless a relationship is abusive such that one partner doesn't feel safe saying "no", in an established sexual relationship it is more typical to operate by "no means no". Whereas a newer relationship needs to operate by "yes means yes".
Posted by EclecticEel on August 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this 42
I could have nearly written that first letter. I'm so glad to see it here. My husband has the same sort of sex somnia (I actually use the term sleepfucker to describe it too), and it's been very detrimental to our sex life. I know that it isn't his fault, but as a rape victim it's hard for me to feel turned on for days after it happens. Sometimes I get out of bed and cry. I don't hold it against him, but it makes me feel awful.
I think I'll show this to him so we can talk about medication the next time this happens. Thank you Dan for this article, it mean the world to me to see someone else struggling with the same issue. It's particularly worrisome for us, because we have a daughter and we can't let her curl up in bed with us like other families do when she has nightmares. We can never co sleep. So far I just go into her room instead of letting her sleep in ours, but we're considering a trundle bed if she has a lot of nightmares and crawls into our room when she gets older and can open the doors (she's only 2).
Posted by on August 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM · Report this
shurenka 43
To everyone else decrying the gender issue (both was the 2 LW's SO raped and the likelihood they are a straight vs gay couple):

Violation is a matter of personal experience... Some people feel incredibly violated from "minor" sexual assault like groping, and others may not be that affected by rape. So, yes the boyfriend's feelings are legitimate and Dan brushes them off too easily. (Especially, if as others suggested, it might have been esp. traumatic if he had been abused in his sleep before, say as a child.)

That being said, in an active sexual relationship there exists a certain presumed consent. That's perhaps not the best term but if my boyfriend woke me up in the middle of the night for sex, I wouldn't immediately wonder if he was out of it and thus couldn't consent like I would if the sexsomniac was just a friend. Likewise, if I got drunk with my boyfriend I wouldn't worry that by sleeping with him I would be taking advantage of him. Because I would know that he would be okay with that when he was sober. In fact I think that many couples with a healthy sex life would not be affected by this vanilla-ish sort of sexsomnia (obviously the first LW's case, in which the sexsomnia is violent, is quite different), which supports my feeling that maybe the boyfriend has been abused before.

Is it rape? is not a terribly productive discussion. The boyfriend feels violated and deserves to process his experiences, and name them as he sees fit. But his partner did not do anything wrong. Not because s/he didn't intend to rape him; I genuinely think a lot of people don't know that it is wrong to have sex with someone who is blackout drunk, because they can't consent. S/he thought he was consenting, in sound mind enough to consent, and stopped when he revoked consent. So, s/he did nothing wrong, in my book.
Posted by shurenka on August 29, 2012 at 9:28 AM · Report this
A quick note for those calling "fake" on letter #2...

Please bear in mind that I have to shorten letters—sometimes I have to edit them way down—to make 'em fit in the limited space. Some letters come in at 2K words (almost twice the length of the column itself), and I have to edit them down to 200 words. A lot of what gets edited out are the details that convinced me the letter wasn't fake.

Some fakes will inevitably make the column, and I don't lose sleep over that. Every question that makes the column is just a good hypothetical to every reader save one, right?

But I was convinced that LW #2's letter was real—and it was from a girl.
Posted by Dan Savage on August 29, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
@37 There are also sleep sacks, which were required when I was staying in youth hostels. They're like a stitched-together sheet for a bunk bed. They protect the hostelling youth and the bedding and any smaller hitchhikers from each other.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on August 29, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
I don't see why everyone is crying fake at the second letter, to me it sounds extremely plausible, both that it would happen and that the guy would feel violated, even if he wasn't previously traumatized through abuse of some sort. Guys can and do feel every bit as violated as girls do when they find themselves part of a sexual act that they did not consent to. Just because our society in large part tells them that they shouldn't feel this way, doesn't mean that they don't, just that they learn to hide it. And Why shouldn't he feel violated? I get that his girlfriend thought that he was awake, so she shouldn't be blamed for it going horribly wrong, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a right to feel violated and process the experience in whatever way works for him. I do however recommend he see a professional and talk about it, if he has trouble letting his girlfriend touch him he clearly has issues that need to be worked through, for his own sake.
Posted by Friendstastegood on August 29, 2012 at 9:55 AM · Report this
I agree with letter writers who suggest separate beds. Or separate bedrooms. How can someone sleep peacefully if they are on guard for being attacked?

I also wonder how big their current bed is. A king sized bed and it is so large that it might give her piece of mind. But smaller beds cause more involuntary intimate contact which might be why this is happening.

We have two twin beds pushed together and we are aware when we cross the divide between them. It is the best of both worlds- lots of room for playtime and a private space for sleep.
Posted by tantragal on August 29, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
Aurora Erratic 48
@5, @13 I thought the third letter was fake...
Posted by Aurora Erratic on August 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Report this
geoz 49
I'm a bit relieved to read about sexsomnia. That is something I have experience around and this advice is helpful.
Posted by geoz on August 29, 2012 at 10:17 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 50
I think this whole comment thread is fake! Yup, there it is...I said it. Even what I'm typing at this very moment...fake, fake, fake...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on August 29, 2012 at 10:30 AM · Report this
sissoucat 51
@wendykh "I just can't imagine a straight guy being upset to finding his girl riding him in the middle of the night."

You don't have much imagination then.

Males are humans, too. Like girls, they can and do feel violated by unwanted sexual action, even in an heterosexual setting, even with "their girl". Their brains don't totally shut down eveytime there's an opportunity for sex, you know. They still can experience thoughts !

Stupid expectations like yours shames males into role-playing being dumb sex-machines without feelings - to prove their straightness or their maleness to prejudiced people like you. And who then suffers from this stereotyping ? Both males and females !

Let males be free to feel how they do, and behave as they feel they should, without judging them in termes of gender or orientation !
Posted by sissoucat on August 29, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
@32 & 36: The sleeping person INITIATED. It wasn't a case of the awake person going fishing for what they wanted (oh look, wet/turgid!) and then going after more. The sleeping person was the active person, and the other person -- the 'awake' person, though I suspect that really means the person who got woken up by the sleeping person's advances -- took the sleeping person's actions at face value and went along with it. That is not rape.

It wouldn't be rape with the genders reversed either. Again, the sleeping person INITIATED the sex. If a woman were to start fondling and kissing her boyfriend in her sleep, and actively participated in the process of beginning sex, waking up in the middle of coitus does not change the fact that she was the one who started it.

Add in the fact that this is sex with the guy's girlfriend, presumably something that would delight him at any other time. His girlfriend had every reason to believe he just wanted a little, and she had no reason to think "Uh-oh, he might be sleepfucking, I had better check first." Since when is sleepfucking something that people are expected to be worried about -- especially with their established sexual partner?

Further on the point about it being his girlfriend, whom he would be delighted to fuck any other time of day: that ought to temper his reaction to this. Again, it's not like some stranger took advantage of him while he was passed out drunk. Evidently he likes sex with his girlfriend well enough that he even initiates it while asleep. A little extra sex with her should not be a traumatic event. For him to be that thoroughly squicked out by the idea that his girlfriend might have responded to his advances while asleep -- again, it's not like she was groping him with no provocation -- he has some issues of his own that he needs to work out.

(Frankly, from here it sounds like the two of them had recently had the "any liquor invalidates consent, period" argument, and he was punishing her by turning the tables.)

Dan is right: if he is going to make a huge fucking deal out of requiring her to make sure he isn't unconscious before accepting his advances, then she should do the same thing: make a huge fucking deal about it herself. I'm thinking maybe a glass of ice water and an air horn by the bed for that purpose.
Posted by avast2006 on August 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM · Report this
For those mentioning the possibility of his being molested as a child or some other trauma: yes, I agree, if that is part of the situation then he needs to seek therapy.

He is entitled to his feelings. He is NOT entitled to take his feelings out on his girlfriend. She did nothing wrong.
Posted by avast2006 on August 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
@avast, "For him to be that thoroughly squicked out by the idea that his girlfriend might have responded to his advances while asleep he has some issues of his own that he needs to work out."

I agree. Furthermore, his disproportionate response and victim-roleplaying means the relationship is not worth saving. They shouldn't be together.
Posted by cockyballsup on August 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
So if some drunk girl waves her tits in my face, she has INITIATED, right? At that point I have consent, and should be able to do what comes naturally. She's entitled to her feelings, but not to the protection of the law, because after all, she INITIATED.

If you're thinking that sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. The law is (or should be) that rape is sex without consent. Not forced sex, or uninitiated sex; simply unconsented sex. A sleeping person, much like a child, an animal, or a person too far under the influence of substances, is incapable of giving informed consent.

"Justice" in this case is that RAPIST's boyfriend prosecute. However, if they love each other and agree that this is a mere misunderstanding, then they can learn more about sexsomnia and work past the issue instead. Given that she did stop immediately and is concerned about his feelings, I think this is the best route.

Others have mentioned that I should be thrilled to wake up to my girlfriend bouncing on my dick. I probably would, depending on the circumstances. But that is beside the point here.
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Report this
I had something similar to question 2 happen to me. Awoken by a boyfriend for some sex in the middle of the night, he seemed totally awake, and after it was over he told me he only woke up halfway through and that he felt really disgusting about it. Sex in the middle of the night is something we had discussed and we both had no problem with the other waking us up for sex in any way. I spent the rest of my week vacation being made to feel pretty gross and we had no sex with rest of the time. We broke up a couple weeks later. After much thought, I know that I did not do something wrong to him, I apologized for how it made him feel and promised to make sure it didn't happen again. I am pretty convinced from what I know now that he was having a sex dream with someone else (which is normal in my opinion) and woke up to find the he was having sex with me instead and took it out on me. I think that people have a right to their feelings about something like that but when they force the other person to feel terrible for something they couldn't know was going on thats when things go wrong.
Posted by kd431639 on August 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM · Report this
@avast2006 - but just because she did nothing wrong, doesn't mean he didn't experience rape. Rape isn't about the intent of either party, it's about consent at the time of sex, and unconscious people cannot consent. Period. As I said above, other people who could conceivably initiate but who cannot consent: kids and people who are drugged but not unconscious.
Posted by KittyWrangler on August 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Or, what The Notorious B.E.N. said before I refreshed.
Posted by KittyWrangler on August 29, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
Separate beds for SOS and her husband! People sleep better that way anyways, which has a huge impact on quality of life!
Posted by EmilyTheRed on August 29, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
@20 The problem with melatonin as a sleep aid is the body can develop a dependency on it and will stop producing its own melatonin. Eventually you will wind up HAVING to take it in order to initiate sleep.
Ask any psychiatrist.
It's never wise to fool with brain chemistry if you don't know the implications.
Posted by my take on August 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM · Report this
@20 The problem with melatonin as a sleep aid is the body can develop a dependency on it and will stop producing its own melatonin. Eventually you will wind up HAVING to take it in order to initiate sleep.
Ask any psychiatrist.
It's never wise to fool with brain chemistry if you don't know the implications.
Posted by my take on August 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
For SOS, add my vote for separate beds/bedrooms. I love the closeness of cuddling with my wife, but I have to admit I sleep more soundly by myself, and so does she. Both of us snore on occasion; both of us shift around during the night, which jostles the bed; both of us have to get up to use the bathroom; I sleep "hot" while she sleeps "cold"; blankets get tangled; et cetera.

Make time and space for the best sort of together time while awake. Then retire to separate sleep spaces. You both will probably get better rest, and it reduces the chances of the unconscious assaults to zero. (I assume he doesn't get out of bed while asleep.)
Posted by avast2006 on August 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM · Report this
In the example of "Rapist" I think the boyfriend is choosing to be the victim. But only if we are getting the full story.

Had this been an intentional assault, the reaction would have made perfect sense. But since this was an honest mistake, by someone he presumably trusts and wants to be with, he should dial it back and be able to accept that no harm was intended.

It is hard to see where this rises to the level of trauma without thinking he is searching for a scapegoat to lay a bunch of unprocessed and undeserving grief on his partner.

We live the life we choose. Why choose to be offended when there are other, more plausible options?
Posted by contemplative on August 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 64
@55 - I can't tell if your trolling by demanding justice!! for rapist "victim."

No prosecutor would take that case, because what happened wasn't rape by any legal definition. In order to prove rape, the state has to prove the victim made it clear the sexual touching was unwanted. Re-read the letter: he initiated sex; she had no reason to believe he was asleep.

But you have my curiosity peaked. How long would you sentence him? Prison?

Posted by Tim Horton on August 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM · Report this
@55: ""Justice" in this case is that RAPIST's boyfriend prosecute."

So, you think she actually fits the legal, prosecutable definition of rape by accepting his advances? It would be reasonable and "just" for the law to jail her for failing to realize that he was asleep when he was the one who actively went after her sexually?

"If you're thinking that sounds ridiculous, that's because it is."

I concur. That is ridiculous. Not quite in the way you intended, though.

"Others have mentioned that I should be thrilled to wake up to my girlfriend bouncing on my dick."

The point here, from my position, is not that he simply should be happy about it. It's that he should take responsibility for his part in the interaction, in so far as she did nothing wrong. I've explained exactly how and why she did nothing wrong in detail in comment #52; no point in repeating it here.
Posted by avast2006 on August 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
NotoriousBen asks "So if some drunk girl waves her tits in my face, she has INITIATED, right? At that point I have consent, and should be able to do what comes naturally. She's entitled to her feelings, but not to the protection of the law, because after all, she INITIATED."

Is the drunk girl your girlfriend who regularly initiates sex with you while sober and has regularly, while sober, enthusiastically consented to sex that you've initiated? If yes, fuck. If no, fuck off.
Posted by EclecticEel on August 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
@60- I have a psychiatrist who is the one who prescribed it. Any and every sleep aid and in fact almost every drug can make you need more and develop a "dependency". The key is to switch them up. I don't do well on prescription sleep aids as they tend to have horrible mental health side effects on me. Taking melatonin is perfectly okay. You start off with a dose of 3 mg and take that until you notice that it's not working as well. Then you raise the dosage until you hit the dosage that is most efficient without causing side effects. Usually with melatonin this is from 9-12 mg depending on your general medicine tolerance. Many things affect this tolerance such as weight, age, gender, and metabolism. Once you hit that point, you switch to another medication, such as the anti-histamines that I suggested and follow the same pattern. It's good to have two to three of these. I use melatonin as my primary, Benadryl as my secondary, and on rare occasions where I deem it necessary to "detox" from both, I use Lunesta.
The good thing about the over the counter drugs is that they are not addictive. There is no withdrawal and there are very few, if any, side effects that are much less severe than the prescriptions. You are absolutely right, though. I completely forgot to mention that he should discuss this with his doctor. He should start with his primary care physician, but if the case is deemed to be out of the physician's abilities, the physician will recommend a psychiatrist. If this happens, you might want to talk to the psychiatrist about his or her views. For instance, do they have the same views as you on medicine? I, for instance, tend to only use medications when I have to and I will always go for the most natural way possible that is still effective. For instance, if his sexsomnia is caused by taking prescription sleep aids, he might look into other methods to help him sleep, such as drinking warmed milk *the heat warps the enzymes in the milk and causes them to make you drowsy*, chamomile tea, and meditation. I made a mistake and assumed everyone knew to talk to their doctor first about taking any kind of medication that can alter your body's natural habits, but I've been on sleep aids/psych medications for eleven years.
Sorry for the long post. I felt that all of this information was important.
Posted by Katori on August 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Waving tits in a face is not initiating sex. Now if the drunk girl climbs on your dick and starts screaming "yippe-kai-yay!".... yeah sorry I guess I'm an asshole but I can't call that rape either. Rape is not regret.

If unconsented sex is rape based on the fact someone is sleeping, then the sexsomniac is being raped even as they do the raping. Ridiculous. Amnesia does not = lack of consent.

I have an exGF who is VERY sexual in her sleep, very responsive, and cuddly, and easily aroused for sex. She'll start the hand movements and gentle groping, and then when she wakes up to the kissing and very aroused partner will be all "oh my you're always waking me up for sex, what is that?" She totally refused to believe she is being sexual in her sleep at all... So I filmed her :-O She was very surprised how touchy feely she is while sleeping.

And sorry but NO waking up to sex in a bed where you went to sleep naked with your significant other and then when you asked them to stop and they did IS NOT RAPE. Seriously. There's something seriously fucked up about feeling raped under those conditions. Only a privileged fucking male could call that rape.
Posted by wendykh on August 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
@68: Aw, doing so well, right up until the very last sentence. Then right off the rails.
Posted by avast2006 on August 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
It seems to me that the men in these letters need to take more responsibility for the situation. (As well as @27, @42, @56...) They have a serious condition which will affect their relationships for as long as it lasts. They should be seeing doctors, exploring medical and non-medical solutions (sleep-sacks, separate rooms, etc.)

Instead the women are writing in. I would advise these women to sleep in a different room until their partners address the situation in all seriousness. Part of the solution will probably be an end to wake-up sex with these men. People with sexsomnia are not good candidates for middle-of-the-night wake-up sex.
Posted by EricaP on August 29, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
@68, good tip on filming. I would get permission from the person when awake, and then record their behavior when asleep. If they don't remember what happened, it's hard to avoid misunderstanding each other.
Posted by EricaP on August 29, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
@55: Your analogy makes no sense. If your long-time girlfriend, with whom you had had consensual sex a hundred times, waved her tits in your face, started rubbing your dick, then pulled you on top of her, that would be the analogy. If she woke up and was all "Whoa not George Clooney huh? Wha?" she might feel violated, but for her to assume you could figure out that she didn't mean any of it is unfair. That isn't rape.

I feel similarly about people who do not perform comparative blood alcohol tests on themselves and the person ripping their clothes off screaming "Take me now!" It's a bit much to ask them to figure, "Well wait, this is only consensual if I'm drunker than my partner. Should I take another shot?"

If the drunken sex initiator had been drugged against their will, and the recipient of the drunken advances had no knowledge of the drugging and assumed their fabulous personality was behind this very welcome development, then it's similar: Nonconsensual on the part of one person, but the second party, by any rational standard, couldn't know the other was in no state to consent.

Are we seriously going to start giving everyone math tests mid-coitus to make sure they're fully functioning mentally, like those no-drunk-dialing apps?
Posted by IPJ on August 29, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Report this
And, seriously, let's drop the discussion of rape. If I start having a seizure during consensual sex, it's not really relevant to discuss whether I was still consenting to sex after the seizure started. It's a medical issue, not a legal issue.
Posted by EricaP on August 29, 2012 at 1:31 PM · Report this
I've found this week's column and the responses to be really interesting.

I had an ex who suffered from this, but I absolutely loved it. He was relieved I wasn't bothered by it (due to interrupted sleep - it never crossed our minds to equate it to rape), and it was just sort of an amusing thing that happened between us on occasion.

It never even occurred to me that it would bother some so much that it would be a life/relationship altering (or ending!) hardship.

Unless the sleep 'attacks' were really and truly dangerous I can't even imagine asking someone to go on such a drug...
Posted by Iffer on August 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
The boyfriend in #2 wasn't raped. He might be a little weirded out, sure, but the fact of the matter is that once he woke up she stopped immediately. They weren't strangers; they live together and fuck on a regular basis, and he initiated sex in a manner consistent with what he had done many times in the past. Defining rape as something that exists outside of anyone's intent or awareness of the situation is just a little too broad, and it actually diminishes the meaning of the word "rape." Douchebags like Todd Akin and the rest of the Republican party love it when people call shit like this "rape," it makes it soooo much easier for them to claim that rape victims in general are just way too sensitive.
Posted by chicago girl on August 29, 2012 at 1:44 PM · Report this
@74 Thanks for giving a happy perspective. I'll rephrase my comment @70 thus: "People with sexsomnia are not good candidates for middle-of-the-night wake-up sex if it ends up upsetting them or their partners."
Posted by EricaP on August 29, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
@74, it sounds like LW1's husband's sleep attacks really are pretty unpleasant. Being painfully, violently penetrated and groped on a semi-regular basis counts as a real problem. I'm inclined to agree with the suggestion that they get separate beds, but if they don't want to do that, he really should try medication.
Posted by chicago girl on August 29, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@38 Thanks, SkipperJoe. It was awful but I think it's also relevant to these letters: the partner with the sleep disorder can't decide what they do while asleep, obviously, but they can decide whether to let it keep happening. They can decide how to go forward to *prevent* future episodes.

It seems reasonable that Rapist's partner is upset by what happened. It's really weirder / more surreal than you might think to experience this when it's not welcome. However, that's not Rapist's fault. And more importantly they simply need to agree on some realistic means of prevention. In my case my partner was so resistant that his sleep behavior did start to feel like rape, but only because he refused to take responsibility, precautions and then blame-shifted and sulked about it. Ugh.

By the way, the clonazepam helped my ex. Separate beds in the same room did not.

Posted by DeerLion on August 29, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
@77, I understand that she saw the sleep attacks as unpleasant and I can respect that - I was just offering an observation about how different it can be for different people. My partner wasn't gentle in his episodes...I still enjoyed it.

I personally know how much of a negative effect those drugs can have on a person as it is something I've helped a friend through. Someone else shared their personal experience in the really can be extremely awful. I would think changing sleeping arrangements is more agreeable than altering someone's brain chemistry negatively and the resulting fallout.
Posted by Iffer on August 29, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
@67. I don't disagree with anything you've said, but I sit in on sessions with a family member who is bipolar I and we've gone 'round this merry-go round. Switching up is important, but the fact remains that chronic, long term use of melatonin will eventually disable the body's own ability to produce it for itself. PERIOD.
If you want to use the melatonin burst as a way to ensure a good sleep hygene, then look into medications like Rosarum that prolong its activity without interfering with the production of the hormone naturally.
For many people this is not an issue, but when mental illness is in play, and insomnia WILL induce a manic psychosis, it's better to listen to a professional, and ours has said the risks can outweigh the benefits in this case. I differ to the expert.
FWIW, we have also found benadryl very effective, but only for brief periods before the body builds up a tolerance.
Posted by my take on August 29, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
To the first LW:
I also am a female who enjoys an extremely vibrant BDSM relationship with my boyfriend and he is also a sexomniac. He will regularly wake me up with his hands on my breasts, or between my legs, whispering really kinky stuff in my ear that he wants to do to me. He almost never remembers these incidents but I absolutely love them and count them as a really special and sexy part of our intimate life.

THAT BEING SAID I have also dated someone previously who claimed to be a sexomniac who was sexually and emotionally manipulative in our waking life which led to a lot of mistrust in our sex life and the possibility of unwarranted, spontaneous sex really freaked me out.

Not that you have to be abused in order for this to upset you, but have you looked into other areas of your relationship where you feel like power is (non-consentually) being taken away from you?
Posted by pwnd on August 29, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Report this
@79, I think that your perspective on the issue is a useful one, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I just thought that when you said "unless the sleep 'attacks' were really and truly dangerous I can't even imagine asking someone to go on such a drug," it sounded slightly dismissive of the LW's position. Some people do react badly to benzos, which is why so many people in the comments have suggested that they get separate beds. It's worth noting, though, that very few people have nightmarish reactions to benzos; the large majority of people can try something like klonopin, like or dislike it and move on from there. All drugs alter your brain chemistry, but sometimes people need them. In the LW's case, it sounds like the situation is unsustainable, even if it's not 'truly dangerous.' Either they change their sleeping arrangement or he tries medication, but the status quo is making her miserable.
Posted by chicago girl on August 29, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
@10 said everything I wanted to say when I read Dan's response. Why so much hate? I wonder if the woman had been the "initiator," no matter RAPIST's sex, if Dan's response might not have been much gentler.
Posted by falconswan on August 29, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
I am a heavy sleeper and I am an ob/gyn. When I was a resident, and therefore tired into zombieness most of the time, I would wake up naked and with obvious signs of sexual activity the previous night, some of which I sometimes remembered. My husband says I was always willing and loving, and I have no reason not to believe him. I never felt raped, in any case, I regreted not remembering it. And I DID wake up once to discover that the one sexily spooning me was not my gorgeous chief resident but my husband. I just closed my eyes again.
Posted by ferfer on August 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
The most important thing to come out of this thread is that every one in a relationship needs to sit down right now and talk about their feelings on sleep-sex. Especially if it's never ever okay or if only particular types of activity are okay while sleeping.

And, in general, figure out whether you guys are on terms of "yes means yes" or "no means no."
Posted by EclecticEel on August 29, 2012 at 3:52 PM · Report this
In a relationship, no no means yes.

Posted by Hunter78 on August 29, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Wow, I couldn't paint a more stereotypical picture of victim-blaming if I tried. But it's ok, because the victim is a man...

Avast, I'm sorry, I can't figure out how to quote you, but yes, I think this fits the legal definition of rape, at least in the US. I'm sure in court there would be heated debate about what constitutes "consent". I'm not saying it's an open-and-shut case. But men have been found guilty for misinterpreting signals. To me, the fact is that the man was asleep, and therefore incapable of giving consent. But ultimately a jury would have to decide.

I did say it would be "just" to put it to trial. But if you continued reading the next few sentences thereafter, I explained that I don't think this is the best resolution of this particular incident. What is "just" (a matter of the law) and what is "right" are not always the same. In this case, I think they should talk about it, and many other comments have offered various ideas for dealing with sexsomnia.

I find it amusing that you think the perpetrator has the right to decide whether she has done something wrong. When they two sit down to talk, it should begin with her heartfelt apology. And then hopefully onto a productive discussion on what to do about it in the future.
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 29, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Report this
@87 I think that trying to skew this along gender lines is sort of a non-starter. If the genders had been reversed, I sincerely doubt that Dan's answer would have been different, and I'm sure that many of the commenters would still have the same opinion--I know I would.

Didn't the LW already apologize? Isn't there a limit to how much apologizing she should have to do, particularly when you consider that she did absolutely nothing wrong? Seriously, based on the info in the letter, I don't know how she can possibly be portrayed as a villain. She responded to familiar sexual cues and engaged in sex in a way that they had done many times before, and when he woke up and wanted to stop, she stopped. No one is actually to blame for what happened. Instead of thinking about how you would feel if you woke up to find your girlfriend bouncing on your dick, how would you feel if you responded to your girlfriend's advances and were engaged in sex that she was to all appearances actively participating in and enjoying, but then it turned out she was asleep? Would you be branding yourself as a rapist who needed to atone? Or might you feel that you had made an honest mistake?
Posted by chicago girl on August 29, 2012 at 7:19 PM · Report this
mydriasis 89
Wow, I haven't gone through ALL the comments yet but...

1. Re: seperate beds.

Cute! Very I Love Lucy. I feel like it'd be kind of a bummer to not fall asleep cuddling but I guess one could adjust.

2. Re: the second LW

Yeah y'all can add me to the pile of people saying that it's totally valid for the bf to feel violated (even if he intellectually knows it wasn't intentional/malicious). I'd hesistate to call it rape (and would say the same if the genders were reversed) but I don't think it's fair to just expect him to be okay with it right away.
Posted by mydriasis on August 29, 2012 at 7:29 PM · Report this
I agree with the second letter fake vibe. When I read this morning, I really thought it was fake but maybe not.
Posted by Cali-Guy on August 29, 2012 at 8:05 PM · Report this

"Did nothing she was aware was wrong at the time" and "Did nothing wrong" are two different things. I do take note she has apologized, and has even gone so far as to write Dan Savage asking for help in dealing with the situation.

You would support every word of Dan's advice, including blaming the victim and dumping him on his ass?
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 29, 2012 at 8:09 PM · Report this
I agree that the second letter sounds a little fake but who knows maybe that's a real one.
Posted by Cali-Guy on August 29, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
omg the boyfriend needs to GET OVER IT. when my boyfriend wakes me up to sex i like to call it my "happy alarm clock".
Posted by lwade09 on August 29, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
@91 I'll bite. I blame no one for the unfortunate, unforeseeable incident. Shit happens.

But I blame the sexsomniac for not taking his newly discovered medical condition more seriously. Maybe his "really weird" feeling about what happened will lead him to act, but according to the letter, his only response so far has been to withdraw from sex, rather than to talk to a therapist or doctor or even an online sex columnist.
Posted by EricaP on August 29, 2012 at 8:59 PM · Report this
nocutename 95
@91 (The Notorious B.E.N.): You are correct that the statements "'Did nothing she was aware was wrong at the time' and 'Did nothing wrong' are two different things," and in this case, I think the lw falls firmly in the camp of "did nothing wrong."
Regardless of how the boyfriend feels, the fact is that there is a certain amount of implied consent in long-term romantic relationships; he initiated the sexual contact, she had every reason to logically conclude he was consenting to her behavior as he "was an active participant," and in the morning when he conveyed his "displeasure" (the sex didn't seem to stop midway, btw, for those who are claiming that), she took the "rapist" identity needlessly upon herself, and she has apologized and is seeking advice from a sex advice therapist, while her boyfriend "can't stomach [her] touching him."

What did she do that was wrong? Respond to her seemingly-awake boyfriend's sexual overtures and full participation. How does that fall into the category of "didn't think it was wrong at the time?"
I understand all about consent and consent given in an impaired state, but the events as she describes them don't suggest she could ever, in a zillion years, think he wasn't consenting.

Now, this isn't to say that he doesn't have a right to feel violated; of course he does. But to continue to be freaked out by her touch when he's awake, to blame her, to treat her as if she was a rapist, and he her victim when he is responsible for the mishap smacks of fucked-uppery and passive aggressive hostility.

No, he is not a victim (and the same conclusion would be reached if the sexes were reversed). If he wasn't looking for reasons and excuses to make her feel guilty and shame-ridden about something, so he could berate her, he would chalk the whole thing up to a bizarre and unsettling experience, and help to come up with a way of both of them understanding that each one is fully consenting to all future sex.

Posted by nocutename on August 29, 2012 at 9:20 PM · Report this
No! Holy crap, benzodiazapines are some of the worst meds on the planet! (Includes valium, klonapin, xanax, ativan, and many more!)

Even if they solve the problem in the short term, the new problem is going to be that the body always gets used to the dose and that dose is always going to have to go up to keep being effective.

The problem with upping the dose is that not only does *taking* benzodiazapines cause a lot of serious side effects, but *not* taking benzodiazapines causes serious side effects once your body is dependent- and it does not take long to become physically dependent (and yes, I mean while taking as instructed, and not abusing them).

Benzos are known for having the worst and longest withdrawal of anything out there. Try imagining everything you ever heard about heroin withdrawal, and it can go on for 1-3 years if you are really unlucky.

For more info, read up on wikipedia:…
Posted by sweet g on August 29, 2012 at 9:20 PM · Report this
Neptune 97
The one detail of the second letter that makes me scratch my head is the "in the morning" bit. I have a hard time imagining that they just went back to sleep after an incident like that without discussing it right away. I would've been up on my feet like, "Whoa, what the fuck, I thought you initiated?!"

And if I were him, I'd feel violated, too. I don't think he's being selfish at all. The thought of waking up to someone already fucking me makes me extremely uncomfortable. I can't even imagine how I would feel with that image stuck in my head. There is no way I would just "get over it" after the other person was like "sorry." And my advice to them would be to take "nocturnal sex" off the table. No sex after one or both of them has already fallen asleep at night. If the other wakes up horny, they can wait until morning. With that rule in place, any attempts to initiate will be easy to identify as unconscious/unintentional.

Also? I think "flick his penis" should win an award for being the weirdest piece of fucking advice to ever appear in SL. Sounds like it came from one of those shitty magazines. "Flick your penis at her, right after dipping it in Nutella."
Posted by Neptune on August 29, 2012 at 9:53 PM · Report this
@28 I orgasm in my sleep regularly (once a month?) and it always wakes me up and I"m never touching myself but I was having a vivid sexual dream. I think it's different from what these letters describe.
Posted by witchywoman on August 30, 2012 at 3:42 AM · Report this
mydriasis 99
Oh right, and re: benzos

They are a tricky med, in fact most psychiatric meds are difficult, have side effect problems and withdrawal problems. But they aren't habit-forming in everyone and some people are in fact able to use them safely and effectively for their intended purpose. It's typically meant to be an interim acter before longer-term solutions take effect. In that capacity they can be very useful and make a big difference for people who are suffering.

Oh and by the way. Literally every complaint people have about benzos? Applies to alcohol too because they have near-identical mechanisms. Like literally... god... microns apart? Seriously. So while y'all continue to go on the horrors of benzodiazapines, I hope you also mention that no one should ever have a drink again.
Posted by mydriasis on August 30, 2012 at 4:13 AM · Report this
The only wrongdoing I can see in LW2's scenario is the emotional abuse the boyfriend is perpetrating on her. She should get out of the relationship because he is abusive, not she.
Posted by cockyballsup on August 30, 2012 at 4:29 AM · Report this
I want to weigh in here on the benzo issue - these drugs should NOT be taken every day for any length of time. They lead to tolerance and dependence, meaning you will need higher and higher doses for the same effect, and you will suffer withdrawal if you don't take them. They can also cause depression, and the sleep they induce is usually not restful sleep.

Ambien would be a more appropriate drug, but it is also habit-forming. As one poster mentioned, one solution would be to mix them up. A medically better solution would be to only take any drug a few nights a week, leading to a lower rate of incidents, but any incidents at all may not be acceptable to these people.

In one year I will be licensed to prescribe psych drugs such as benzos and I would never prescribe even a low dose to be taken on an ongoing basis.

I feel as if someone needs to explore with the LW what will reduce her unhappiness with the situation. If it were me, it would be the sense of powerlessness. Something that could wake her husband up more quickly might make her feel more in control - for example, a loud alarm she can hit, or, if her husband is hairy, he can go to bed with a piece of tape that she can rip off to wake him up quickly and painfully, but not damagingly. The aversive conditioning might lead to cessation of the problem, as well. Just something I would try before subjecting someone to the potential for life-damaging addiction.
Posted by SAH on August 30, 2012 at 6:13 AM · Report this
AND - the idea that a jury might convict RAPIST is ridiculous, unless it were composed entirely of traumatized abuse victims unable to respond rationally. The defense would simply have to ask the jury when RAPIST (hate the acronym) should have behaved differently. When she responded to explicit actions that her boyfriend has used consciously in the past to initiate consensual, sought-for sex? Or when her boyfriend indicated the sex was unwanted and she immediately stopped? Juries don't tend to convict people of things they have done themselves routinely in the past.

I wonder, about you people who spout black-and-white thinking like "having sex with your boyfriend who turns out to be asleep is just the same thing as having sex with children" - do you actually have relationships with real, non-damaged people who put up with that bullshit? Because if someone tried that on me he would have 24 hours to find a good therapist before I dumped his ass. Let him find someone who wants to have a long, penis-flicking conversation with the lights on before having sex.
Posted by SAH on August 30, 2012 at 6:22 AM · Report this
nocutename 103
@95: I wrote something that I meant to edit out up in #95. Yes, he pushed her off him when he awakened, and she didn't continue. They both seemed calm enough to resume sleeping.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Posted by nocutename on August 30, 2012 at 6:31 AM · Report this
Am I the only person who is perceiving that Dan's column is becoming a vehicle for thinly shrouded advertorials?

Between the convenient timing of the question about Tegan and Sara just ahead of their new album and tour, and the questions about sleep sex that dovetails with the publication of Jesse Bering's "terrific new book", along with links to his website and Twitter account, I am having a very hard time there is not some form of uh, "consideration" going in here.

Let me ask, Dan- did people really send these questions in, or did you write them yourself so you could showcase the book and album?


Posted by OneGallant on August 30, 2012 at 7:32 AM · Report this
Am I the only person who is perceiving that Dan's column is becoming a vehicle for thinly shrouded advertorials?

Between the convenient timing of the question about Tegan and Sara just ahead of their new album and tour, and the questions about sleep sex that dovetails with the publication of Jesse Bering's "terrific new book", along with links to his website and Twitter account, I am having a very hard time there is not some form of uh, "consideration" going in here.

Let me ask, Dan- did people really send these questions in, or did you write them yourself so you could showcase the book and album?


Posted by OneGallant on August 30, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
@99, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Yes, alcohol and benzos are chemically similar, but the long term consequences of trying to get off of benzos for roughly 50%* of the population (quite a few when you consider the millions rx'ed in this country alone) is an ugly, ugly thing.

Comparing to alcohol also doesn't work as well because of the way both are frequently consumed. Most benzos are rx'ed for daily use, whereas most people who partake of alcohol don't do it daily.

The only times alcohol withdrawal comes remotely close to touching full fledged benzo withdrawal is for those really hardcore cases who drink enough to kill or poison a normal person on a daily basis for years or decades of their lives and then stop- and even then as horrific as the DT's are the process is still generally concluded in far less time!

They may be chemically similar, but oh what a difference those molecules make!

* -…
Posted by sweet g on August 30, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
Tim Horton 107
@102, your last paragraph is gold.

RAPIST should screen all future boyfriends by finding out if they would feel violated by her riding their cock while they are sleeping. I don't think she will eliminate more than .01% of the male population.
Posted by Tim Horton on August 30, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this

I haven't spouted anything black-and-white, and certainly not that this case is identical to child molestation.

What I have said is "My personal opinion is X, but it would be up to a jury to decide (if it was brought to trial, which by the way I don't think is the best course of action anyway)."

Supposing it were brought to trial, 12 people would have to agree on the facts. And perhaps you're right, that it is unlikely 12 people would agree with my position. That's fine.

To those of you harping on the fact that she stopped immediately when he woke up and freaked out: This I would call a mitigating circumstance, and a strong one at that. See, even justice is not black-and-white.
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Ok, I have lurked on the comments before, but now I feel like I need to say something. Consensual/nonconsensual, just/unjust, right/wrong, guilty/innocent, truly making a mountain out of a molehill. Communication is the key here. LW2 needs to explain to the bf why she was doing what she was doing. The bf needs to open his eyes to the fact he has a little issue that can be resolved without the use of meds.

I have sexsomnia, and it waxes and wanes in activity. I am a gay male that has been in a relationship for over 13 years. In every instance of my sleep sex, my partner lets me know what I did the next day. He has tried to wake me up during the instances, but it fails. He knows that I feel bad afterwards because I wake him up and it's unwelcome. But he always comforts me and states that he knows that it's just because he's so irresistible...humor and communication.

Stress and alcohol intake increase the occurrences. Releasing sexual tension before bedtime reduces the chances of an instance. Sometimes that just won't happen, but I do have several sleepsacks. If I don't get the chance to satisfy myself and don't want to be restrained while sleeping, and I feel like there is an increased chance, I will sleep on the couch.

BTW, if my partner ever accepted the advances and took it further, it would probably freak me out a little at first upon waking, but I would definitely be game!
Posted by ndsumus on August 30, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
@91: What she failed to do was double-check that her boyfriend was not asleep despite him exhibiting active participation in customary sexual advances. This is not -- and never has been -- a reasonable requirement for any couple that has not already established that one partner is prone to sleep disturbances.

So, no, she literally "did nothing wrong."

The only part of Dan's advice that I don't support is "two or three hard slaps across the face" because I don't believe in violence. I do, however, believe that if he is going to make a huge deal out of the fact that she didn't double-check that he was awake despite the fact that he was the one who initiated, she should make a point of being equally over-the-top about making sure going forward. Again, for a thoroughly effective method of making absolutely sure he is awake when he starts fondling her, I suggest an air horn.
Posted by avast2006 on August 30, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this

I completely agree, some communication is in order. Although I feel no one has noticed I have said that, multiple times.
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
A former lover was a sexsomniac, and would initiate missionary sex in his sleep semi-regularly. As long as his sleeping self remembered a condom, or I woke enough to put one on him, I actually quite enjoyed it most of the time (exceptions for being too tired, or him waking up and deciding he was too tired to finish what he started). Waking up halfway to orgasm was not a terrible way to be awoken for either of us.
Posted by Rach on August 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
> As long as his sleeping self remembered a condom

Does that happen?
Posted by EricaP on August 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
"I haven't spouted anything black-and-white, and certainly not that this case is identical to child molestation." -- The Notorious B.E.N, comment #108

"The law is (or should be) that rape is sex without consent. Not forced sex, or uninitiated sex; simply unconsented sex. A sleeping person, much like a child, an animal, or a person too far under the influence of substances, is incapable of giving informed consent." -- The Notorious B.E.N, comment #55

Just reprinted those to embarrass you.

The fact that you would even consider bringing this before a jury AT ALL, that you would consider labelling her a rapist AT ALL, means that you are indulging in black-and-white thinking. Your insistence on universal, bright-line, no-exceptions rules probably feels like strong ideology to you, but it is really just weak thinking. You honestly can't see how the situation under discussion is a horrible misapplication of the principle? You can't see how "You were the one initiating, moving and kissing me and pulling me onto you, just like we have done countless times before, but it's all my fault because I didn't stop to think that this one time, out of all those times, you might be asleep while actively doing all of the above" is Alice-in-Wonderland logic? You sound like someone who has just taken their freshman Gender Studies 101 class and is so busy regurgitating first principles that you haven't bothered to think about their application in the real world.

I agree with you that communication is going to be necessary in working this through. I disagree that she has anything to apologize for. If anybody should be doing the apologizing, it is him, for treating her badly in response to a situation in which she did nothing wrong.
Posted by avast2006 on August 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
The guy isn't a "victim," he's a "drama queen."

First of all, the idea that you can't consent while unconscious is ridiculous. People consent to stuff while unconscious all the time - otherwise doctors couldn't operate on people under general anesthetic, nor could organ donor cards have any point. It seems pretty silly to me that I can give prior consent to major surgery or having my organs removed or not being given life-saving medical treatment in certain circumstances, but I can't give prior consent to my long-time lover kissing me while I'm asleep.

Secondly, just as a note, *in Canada* it *is* illegal to chastely kiss your long-time spouse if they're asleep, and they can't give prior consent. In practice, the police will probably never charge anyone with that, but our Supreme Court has advised our Parliament that the way the law is written, if the police did charge someone with kissing their long-time partner while asleep, the Court would have to convict the kisser of sexual assault, so maybe Parliament might want to revisit the wording of that law?
Posted by Old Crow on August 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
mydriasis 116

"Most benzos are rx'ed for daily use, whereas most people who partake of alcohol don't do it daily. "

Um, citation please.

It's pretty rare for anyone to prescribe benzos for long term continuous use - in this century, anyway. Typically (to my knowledge) they're prescribed for (as I said) short term fast-acting solutions. Say for example somone is going on a medication that will take several weeks to kick in, or say they are working on issues in therapy but need something to treat their severe panic attacks in the meantime.

And I gotta tell you, I trust my pharmacodynamics text more than a wikipedia page.

Finally, alcohol and benzos are not "chemically similar" - they have a similar mechanism. They work on the same populations of receptors mainly and they produce extremely similar effects on neurons.
Posted by mydriasis on August 30, 2012 at 1:03 PM · Report this
What happened with RAPIST has actually happened to me, and it only happened once. Since that experience, if he starts touching me in the middle of the night, I lay perfectly still and don't respond, until he is either wide awake (as in speaking, eyes open, aware, responding to anything I might ask, fretting about kids being around, locking the door, etc.), or until he stops, rolls back over, etc.

I have never had a situation where he was asleep and hurting me. If he did, I would probably get up and go sleep in the other room. Living with someone who does things in their sleep that they have no memory of requires a LOT of understanding and tolerance, and protective action in order to avoid harm, to each other and to the relationship. It also involves the partner being acutely aware of them being asleep!

And I do tell him in the morning, so he will know. After 25 years together, it no longer hurts his feelings, more like a mild chagrin - we have an inside joke, "oh, the other guy was here!". the other guy, of course, being the asleep partner's subconcious (or whatever the term is).

Hope things work out - please tell yourself that you were NOT to blame!

Posted by CA Mom on August 30, 2012 at 1:11 PM · Report this
#32: "...Are you serious? If the genders were interchanged, that would definitely be rape..."
How so? If a woman INITIATED sex with a man in her sleep and the man oblidged her, not realizing she was asleep, it would no more be rape than THIS was.

And the INTENT of the "rapist" absolutely DOES matter! Someone who believes they are engaging in consenual sex with someone of legal age and sound mind CANNOT commit anything other than statutory rape(say if the partner turns out to be underage).

Dan was right on, imo, in pointing out that the BF's actions AFTER the event were blame-shifting and guilt-tripping. It's A-OK for BF to FEEL violated and icky, but it's NOT OK for him to blame and punish his GF for an honest mistake. HE INITIATED THE CONTACT, consciously or not. He's being a dick.
Posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen on August 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
@87: If you want to format a section of your comment, it is done by surrounding the text in question with HTML formatting tags, like this:

<i> and </i> for italic text
<b> and </b> for bold text
<u> and </u> for underline text

There are other HTML formatting tags, but these seem to be the only ones that work in the comment box.

You can nest tags to form things like bold-italic

Be sure to include all the closing tags, though! Otherwise the entire rest of the column will be in whatever formatting that you opened but didn't close.

(There. I'm not 100% feisty.... :) )
Posted by avast2006 on August 30, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
@mydriasis, maybe so in Canada, but here in the U.S. many people are kept on benzos for extended periods. In the case under discussion here, the treatment proposed by the guest columnist would most likely have to be long term (and possibly at gradually increasing doses) for continued effectiveness, given the fact that the problem is a chronic one, that the treatment is not a cure, and that tolerance develops rapidly.
Posted by cockyballsup on August 30, 2012 at 4:23 PM · Report this
Thanks, Avast, I didn't know whether the box accepted plain HTML or not.

Anyway, yes, I did make one absolute statement, it goes like this:

1. A and B had sex.
2. B was asleep at the time.
3. Sex without consent is defined as "rape".
4. A sleeping person is defined as incapacitated; i.e. incapable of giving consent.

Ergo, A has raped B. Given the facts above, this is the only logical conclusion.

One may dispute the facts as presented. I don't think (1) is under any dispute. Neither do I think (2) is under dispute (although before modern advances in medical science, it may well have been). (3) and (4) are matters of legal definition, which may vary by jurisdiction.

A jury's function is actually to decide the facts, not to decide innocence or guilt. The law defines what to do with the facts once decided. It may well be that the law is more nuanced in its definitions of "rape" and "consent" than what I've given; in that case, a jury would have more decisions to make, as to whether "consent" was given, etc.

Anyway, given all this information, we then have to choose how to act. SHOULD B take A to court? I think it would be somewhat farcical. I have merely argued that B could conceivably win. But I agree with the comments saying this would be a vast overreaction. A and B are in a loving relationship, what occurred was a simple mistake, and they should work it out.

I think it is perfectly understandable that B might sulk for a bit, but not excessively. I don't think it is fair to call this "blame-shifting", because that would imply that B is the one to blame. B is not the one to blame. If A is also not to blame, then I can understand "guilt-tripping", but "blame-shifting" it is not. I also agree that now that B is aware of his sleep disorder, he needs to take charge of it. In the meantime, I think B deserves A's emotional support.

What I object to is Dan's advice that A, the perpetrator, should throw B out on his ass (which is also a vast overreaction to this incident).
Posted by The Notorious B.E.N. on August 30, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
@121: Thank you, TNB.E.N., we understand each other perfectly. That is precisely the chain of logic that I would have cited as being your argument. In my estimation, however, one must also include Item 5:

5. B was exhibiting the exact same behaviors that in all other instances of their established and customary nighttime sexual activity were representative of Person B being awake and not merely a willing participant, but the initiator. Person A had no reasonable way of detecting that Person B was, despite all physical evidence to the contrary, asleep, nor of anticipating that this might be a scenario to be guarded against.

In my estimation Item 5 must exonerate, despite Items 1-4. One might conclude that a rape technically had occurred, but because A did nothing wrong, A cannot be called a "perpetrator" or be held criminally culpable.

I cannot imagine the process even getting as far as charges being filed, let alone going before a jury. Be that as it may, if Person B were to even suggest prosecution, that would be grounds for immediate dumping and publicly broadcasting the particulars of the situation to his entire social group, so that there is no possibility of it happening again.

I also think it is inappropriate for B to regard A with suspicion and loathing. Again, a) had B been awake he would have been only too happy to participate, so it's kind of unreasonable to claim she did something bad to him; and b) A had no good way of telling that he was not in fact awake when it occurred, so she was under the impression she was doing something good to him. Given the actual circumstances, for B to treat A like a sexual predator is emotional abuse. The emotional abuse is what makes it a dumpable offense.

I give Person B about a day, max, to get over it. For him to continue with the "I'm squicked by you touching me" routine beyond the following evening, it would be perfectly reasonable for Person A to respond that B's side of the relationship is clearly poisoned beyond repair, and to sever ties. To treat one's loving partner with loathing at their touch is effectively the same as breaking up with them, without the actual physical separation. If B is going to act like that, it's perfectly logical for A to simply make it official.
Posted by avast2006 on August 30, 2012 at 5:52 PM · Report this
HTML... Pharmacodynamics... Jesus f'n Christ on a sleep bone...
Posted by Xam on August 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM · Report this

Your bf sounds strange to me. 99% of straight guys would be happy to be woken up by their gfs fucking them. Most guys want to defend their gfs, not attack them. They want to make them happy, not miserable.

Some posters want blame a molestation for this bad behavior. A possibility.

But there are others. He could be what we used to call a latent homosexual. For him you are his ticket into the world of straight normality. No wonder he was horrified to wake up being fucked by a woman. But the why doesn't matter.

he can't stomach me touching him.

Loves you? Sorry, I don't think he even likes you. Dump him. Get away.
Posted by Hunter78 on August 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM · Report this
mydriasis 125
@ cocky

Good point - the suggestion that benzos should be used as a stand-alone treatment for this problem sounds worrisome to me. But I'm not a doctor. The thing is - the suggestion isn't coming from an MD, it's coming from a "psychological scientist" (what?). So I would take that with a grain of salt.

I know people who have benefitted greatly from being able to use benzos in a controlled and appropriate manner. People like to get down on pharmaceuticals because it's oh-so-trendy but when people are posting as if benzodiazapines (or SSRIs, as earlier) are unmitigated disaster pills, I have to add my two cents.

That's all!
Posted by mydriasis on August 30, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
@ avast and B.E.N. This has gone so off discussion. Why don't you go to Judge Joe Brown to figure it out? All in all, there are cases in which sexsomniacs have gotten a reduced or no sentence because of their disorder. Therefor, it is not a standard case of rape. If you want to argue over the validity of rape, go to wikipedia and keep changing the definition to better suit your needs.

This is/was a simple case of mistaken advances.

This is all about miscommunications which has been stated by both avast and B.E.N. So why argue the hypothetical, besides trolling?
Posted by ndsumus on August 30, 2012 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Oh, look, the Comment Police have arrived.

In case you haven't noticed, I've been arguing the particulars of the Letter Writer's situation. So has B.E.N., though he seems to have left out at least one critical one. Can't get much more on topic than that.

If you want to discuss the letter, great, but if you keep talking about me, I'll start ignoring you right now.
Posted by avast2006 on August 30, 2012 at 9:59 PM · Report this
nocutename 128
I can't weigh in on the benzos solution, but having some familiarity with parasomnia and sonambulism, I would say that separate beds, or depending on the severity of the parasomnia, and the sleeper's urges, even separate bedrooms, may not help the first letter writer. People have been known to make snacks, hold what seem to be conversations, and even leave the house, get into the car, and drive, while asleep. Moving into a bed 3 feet away would not necessarily guarantee a peaceful night's sleep. It's all about the parasomniac's dream and his/her unconscious, physical response. The sleep-molester needs to go into a sleep without dreaming or to immobilize his body so he can't act on his dreams physically. Anyone who could and does painfully molest someone while asleep can easily move through the house.
Posted by nocutename on August 30, 2012 at 10:02 PM · Report this
I work in sleep disorders medicine and am appalled at the advice to shout or hit someone who is in a sleepwalking state. NEVER do that!!! These people are NOT themselves, they are on a very primal level of consciousness - they can be quite likely to fight back and you could get seriously hurt.

If your sleepwalking problem hurts someone, as in LW1 especially, please don't listen to all of this drivel and DO get MEDICAL help. Clonazepam is not prescribed in the same manner for parasomnias as it is for insomnia.

Clonazepam, like other benzo's, prevents arousals from sleep and also curbs some of deep sleep. Parasomnias such as "sexomnias" or other forms of sleep walking, manifest as an abnormal arousal from deep sleep - these folks are unable to maintain a deep sleep for long, and keep trying to have it across the night in many cases - so they can afford to lose a bit of it in order to gain continuous, more restorative sleep. The low dosage used in this context has been studied and shown to be effective for long periods of time without development of tolerance issues. Different kettle of fish.

Regardless of what you feel about drugs, do get a referral to a qualified sleep specialist. Check the NIH website's sleep disorders section for decent advice. The U.S. is home to leading experts in this very area. Good luck! :)
Posted by sleeptech on August 31, 2012 at 12:36 AM · Report this

Good point. In all this talk about LW2, we're forgetting that LW1's partner is truly assaulting her nightly (how far into the sex act is necessary for rape? And has he reached that point?)

They need to figure out ASAP what will let LW1 sleep through the night without fearing for her safety. Who knows, maybe a carefully placed trap between separate beds would eventually train his subconscious to lead him to masturbate instead.
Posted by EclecticEel on August 31, 2012 at 12:43 AM · Report this
If you don't normally read unregistered comments, read #129.
Posted by EclecticEel on August 31, 2012 at 12:47 AM · Report this
mydriasis 132

Thanks for the info! :)
Posted by mydriasis on August 31, 2012 at 3:59 AM · Report this
@116 - millions of people are prescribed benzos for daily use. This, despite all "textbook" warnings saying that benzos - including clonazepam, god knows - are appropriate only for short-term use, i.e. up to 2 (or 4) weeks. It's a massive public health problem. It only takes a couple of weeks to become dependent on them, and then the patient can face months of withdrawal. I know there are people who insist that benzos are great, and who claim to get great benefit from them, but I have read so many accounts of people whose lives have been terribly damaged by these drugs that doctors offhandedly prescribed for them - check out, for one example. There's the famous Ashton Manual, too.
Posted by Servilia on August 31, 2012 at 6:39 AM · Report this
@116 - doctors do indeed prescribe daily doses of benzos, often for years - my own mother has taken Clonazepam for 17 years. They do this DESPITE all warnings and guidelines that say benzos are appropriate only for short-term treatment, as in 2 weeks or so. It's ugly, ugly stuff. Even two weeks is enough to cause withdrawal when the medication is discontinued. Getting off can be very difficult, and staying on the stuff? Talk about unpleasant personality changes. Check out to hear from a few thousand folks trying to wean off their benzos - many of them who were given Klonopin years ago and had no idea how dangerous the stuff could be.
Posted by Servilia on August 31, 2012 at 6:45 AM · Report this
B.E.N., you seem to have a weak understanding of American criminal law. Specifically, the part where the intentions of the accused--known in the law as mens rea--are extremely important in the majority of criminal law, including rape. Here's something that should help: The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Handily, the latest bit, Part 17A, has a lengthy section on rape.
Posted by survivor on August 31, 2012 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Damn it, no HTML for the unregistered? Fine, here's the address on the Guide:
Posted by survivor on August 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM · Report this
Damn it, no HTML for the unregistered? Fine, here's the address on the Guide:
Posted by survivor on August 31, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
@128: Separate bedroom with door lock, maybe?
Posted by avast2006 on August 31, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
nocutename 139
@138: Many people don't have extra bedrooms lying around (or, for that matter, a bedroom big enough to hold two even twin-sized beds)--I do not.

Moreover, the suggestion still doesn't take into account that people with somnambulism (sleep walking) or any other parasomnia often do things that can hurt themselves or others while asleep. Depending on the severity of the parasomnia, and the acts the person is driven to (one of my students was once found in the kitchen, holding a large chef's knife, insisting she was making a sandwich; another time she was discovered on the ROOF)medication is usually required to do two things: keep the parasomniac from sleeping too deeply or too deeply for too long a time, and immobilize them. Most of us produce dopamine in higher amounts when sleeping. This immobilizes us, so we don't do in real life what we dream we're doing. Somnambulists need an artificial dopamine delivery. If the lw's husband is dreaming about having rough or sadistic sex and he acts he dreams out, he could quite easily hurt her for real. But what if his dream changes? It's true he probably can't pick a locked door asleep or awake, but a far better solution is to treat the somnambulism or parasomnia.
Posted by nocutename on August 31, 2012 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Mike Birbiglia or someone talked about this once on This American Life. He jumped through a window while he was asleep. I think he said that he sleeps in some kind mummy sack now. I'm not sure how he gets out in the morning (maybe he has a wife). It sounds like a pain in the ass, but certainly better than raping your wife while you sleep.
Posted by DrVanNostrand on August 31, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
funnylittlemunki 141
Where can I get medication that will make my guy sleep-fuck me?
Posted by funnylittlemunki on August 31, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
nocutename 142
Bribiglia did that first in a story for The Moth, which was picked up for This American Life. He then wrote a one-man show/book called "Sleepwalk with Me," which he has just turned into a movie. Bribiglia has said that he sleeps in a mummy sack-type sleeping bag (which his wife zips him into and out of) and he also takes some kind of medicine (possibly a benzo) to help with the movement, and he even used to sleep with gloves on to make it harder to unzip the sleeping bag. Sleepwalking can be very dangerous.

@141: Try ambien for that--the extended release kind; that's the one that causes some people to drive while sleeping.
Posted by nocutename on August 31, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
I gave an ex a place to crash one night and slept next to him but on top of the covers (he was under them), fully prepared to stop any advances he may make. I woke up mid-intercourse and decided to just ride it out, so to speak, as I knew from experience that it wouldn't last long anyway. Thirty seconds later he was done and I went back to sleep. 9 months later I had a daughter. I've had people tell me I was raped, since I never gave consent, but I never denied consent either so I don't buy it. Either way, waking up to sex is not as awesome as some people think it should be. You skip all the foreplay, all the fun stuff!
Posted by charlie on August 31, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
nocutename 144
@143: You may not have been raped, but I certainly hope that your ex took responsibility as a father, both financially and in terms of interactions with his daughter.
Posted by nocutename on August 31, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
I'm a pretty active sleep talker and sometimes walker.
Years ago, my ex tried to tape my conversations with a voice-activated tape recorder. I knew about it and was curious myself.
As I started to talk that night and my GF tried to draw out a conversation, I apparently said 'shhh, we're being taped' and turned off the recorder. I then proceeded with the conversation while being fully asleep.
Conscious actions CAN be taken while being asleep!
Posted by Scruffer on August 31, 2012 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Another possibility is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. My husband once took my hand in his sleep, brought it to his mouth, and bit my finger. We have separate bedrooms now and he takes Clonazepam. RSBD is often an early symptom of Parkinson's or Lewy Body Dementia. When the brain is losing its ability to make dopamine, a lot of bad things happen.
Posted by Pamsc on August 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
mydriasis 147
@ serv

Legit citations please.
Maybe (as someone pointed out) this is an American/Canadian (and probably Euro) difference because I know several people who were prescribed benzos and none of them who are prescribed for long term continuous use. I'm not saying it NEVER happens, but it's far and away not the norm from what I've seen.
Posted by mydriasis on August 31, 2012 at 9:24 PM · Report this
Jesus Christ Charlie... You know where babies come from right ? + @147 can you provide some "legit citations" for your assertions ? And the "norms"vary greatly on our society depending on where you are on the totem pole. Serv is speaking from personal experience, and provided a solid link as well. Who could believe that doctors treat the drug companies like the oils co's treat the car co's ?
Posted by Sani on September 1, 2012 at 6:31 AM · Report this
Oooooooh ! Charlie is obv a fake ! So slow...
Posted by Xam on September 1, 2012 at 6:34 AM · Report this
mydriasis 150

"In general, benzodiazepines should be prescribed
for short periods only (e.g., 2-4 weeks). Continuous long-term use of lorazepam is not

That took me probably about one and a half minutes to find. Oh and by the way, I'm also speaking from personal experience (I have had doctors as profs, I work with doctors, etc).

You think 'benzobuddies' is a solid link? Dude, I'm not wading through a bunch of personal stories to find evidence for "It's a massive public health problem" or any evidence that a reasonable proportion of people who are prescrbed benzodiazepines are prescribed them for daily, long term use.

Finally, as for the tired conspiracy theories, I already addressed above the possibility that it's different in America, but I kind of doubt it. I also think it's cute that you think doctors WANT to prescribe as much benzos as possible. If it worked that way drug seeking patients would be much MUCH happier campers. It also kind of cracks me up because benzos are ancient, ancient drugs, I'm pretty sure the majority of them are off patent. There is no reason for drug companies to incentivize doctors to prescibe drugs that are off-patent.
Posted by mydriasis on September 1, 2012 at 7:06 AM · Report this
@141: "Where can I get medication that will make my guy sleep-fuck me?"

It's a little white pill, comes in an Altoids tin or a TicTac case, and is called "Letspretendex"
Posted by avast2006 on September 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM · Report this
@147 Go to and take a look at the 8,272 registered and posting members- 99% of whom are there as the result of long term benzo rx's and who took them as rx'ed without abusing them. It's just the tip of the iceburg, but it's a place to start.

You might also be interested to notice that the membership jumps in leaps and bounds, and that at any given point in time there are usually 200-400 unregistered members just sifting through the message boards and reading up. (These numbers are available at the bottom of the page I gave you the link for.)

Further, you can do a google search and find a number of other support forums for people coming off of these meds. But honestly, I don't know why you'd even have to. What, doctors irresponsibly rx'ing drugs?? What, drug companies pushing meds for non-FDA approved usage?? You must not read the news much.

Posted by sweet g on September 1, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
mydriasis 153
@ sweet g

I said legit citations. I also said I don't feel like wading through a bunch of personal stories since that's not really useful and doesn't prove anything relevent.

I'm not interested to know that the membership jumps in leaps and bounds. It's not relevent, and it doesn't prove anything.

And again, you clearly have a poor understanding of how the medical profession works and also how the pharma industry works (also facts, seeing as how credulous you are to anecdotes). Please reread my post above if you'd like to understand better.
Posted by mydriasis on September 1, 2012 at 9:53 PM · Report this
You believe in the whole world of professional medicine. There's more to healing than that.

Posted by Hunter78 on September 2, 2012 at 7:12 AM · Report this
OK, I call bullcrap on the second letter. We are to believe a guy is pissed and feels violated about being woken up for sex (during sex, whatever). Sleepy crabby perhaps but react like Tom Cruise when surrounded by the pink slime? I don't think so- unless he is gay or the scientologists told him to do it.

On the first letter, the long suffering rape-ee needs to find an easy way to wake up her husband and also defend herself. Stop being a victim! A wet willie (spit on finger, finger in ear) might do it less violently than a slap. Fingers up his nose, in the mouth and pinching the lips, or pressed into the jaw muscle is also something to consider. Once she learns how to do it:
---One hand around the back of the kneck, fingers on the occipital muscle,
---the other hand gripping the front of the head- fingers in nose, mouth or grabbing the jaw) she will find it easy to move him around- control the head and the body follows. I am a black belt in karate and these are incredibly easy, basic moves. Harder to do against a larger stronger opponent trying to defend himself- but childs play if he is asleep. You could learn how to do it and defend yourself in 10 minutes.
Posted by Professor on September 2, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
Let me settle the arugment legally speaking: This was NOT rape. Yes ladies, despite your desperate attempts to ONLY define rape on YOUR terms, a tiny vestige of reasonableness manages to peak through. Rape is a volitional act on the part of the perpetrator. I know, we thought women only get to decide when, how, if rape occurse since it totally depends on her perception...right? Wrong! If the "rapist" was unconscious, asleep, etc then this cannot- ipso facto- be a case of "legitimate" rape. Had to say it, sorry.
Posted by Professor on September 2, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
As a sleepwalker (not a sleepfucker, though, so far as I know), can I just say the super-low-dose of benzos I take have in no way fucked me up and have, in fact, saved my marriage? I guess it's possible I'm addicted to them, though I haven't had to increase my dosage and have had no side effects. Since I expect to be on them the rest of my life, it doesn't really matter what horrible effects there might be if I tried to get off them, does it?

Also, Prof, you're an idiot if you think sleepwalkers can't fight back. I'm fully capable of doing anything that I could normally do while awake--difference is, I don't seem to care about getting hurt, and I definitely don't care about not hurting *you*.
Posted by sleepwalker on September 2, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
Dear Prof @ 156:
The discussion was not if the sleep-fucker in letter 2 was a rapist, just the opposite: that the girlfriend raped him since his advances weren't conscious.
Please don't smoke & comment.
Posted by migrationist on September 2, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
mydriasis 159
@ sleepwalker (157)

Thanks for sharing :) - I'm glad things worked out for you.
Posted by mydriasis on September 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM · Report this
@mydriasis: You won't find it in the official product insert because this use is off-label.

From Medscape:…

"The drugs most commonly used to treat parasomnias are benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants. [...] Currently, no medications are available that are specifically indicated for these disorders; all medications used for these disorders are used off label."

"Treatment for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder is initiated with clonazepam 0.5-1.5 mg taken at bedtime. This medication has been shown to be beneficial in the long term."…

"Long-term, nightly benzodiazepine treatment of injurious parasomnias and other disorders of disrupted nocturnal sleep resulted in sustained efficacy in most cases, with low risk of dosage tolerance, adverse effects, or abuse. "
Posted by cockyballsup on September 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
i jumped a bunch of comments after going through about 100, but nobody has brought up the point that this guy initiated sex with somebody while THEY were asleep. So isnt that an instance of sexual abuse? I mean chicken and egg I suppose but if one person is being portrayed as a rapist for having sex with somebody while they were asleep, the person initiating sex with a person who is asleep (even if they are asleep as well) is wrong and caries its own ethical issues. Where was the consent before he rubbed is dick in her back?
Posted by corey trevor on September 2, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
mydriasis 162

I didn't say it never happened, I said it was very uncommon. I'm not sure what the stats on parasomnia are but I'd bet that the number of cases of sleepwalking bad enough to warrant treatment is dwarfed by the number of anxiety disorders and other disorders typically treated by benzos.

Which is kind of the point.
Posted by mydriasis on September 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM · Report this
nocutename 163
Professor, I don't think you have had any experience with sleepwalkers. They don't lie peacefully sleeping (well, they do, at times, but why you would want to attack them then, I don't know). When they are sleepwalking, they behave as if they were awake, except that their minds aren't conscious. So they fight back, but they don't stop and think about doing harm to the other person. They also don't think about bringing harm to themselves, which is usually the biggest problem with somnambulism. More people harm themselves than others while sleepwalking.

The first letter writer's husband performs painful sex acts on her occasionally while he sleeps. He is her husband--presumably she loves him (and he, her). Would you counsel her to attack him in his peaceful, non-combative sleep as a preemptive measure? How often should she do this: every night? Once every two hours? Why-- just to show him who's boss? No message will "sink in" to him for the next time he sleeps because HE'S ASLEEP when he attacks.

If you mean for her to do these things while he's attacking her, you have to remember that HE'S ATTACKING HER when he does them. Probably not going to go over well, with someone bigger, stronger, and lacking consciousness or conscience.
Posted by nocutename on September 2, 2012 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Dr Stanley helped my marriage. The problem was not between my husband and I, but from jealousy brought on by his family. Ever since we met, they have tried to sabotage our relationship. It felt to me as if I wasnt just married to him, but also his family, which was slowly dividing us. We were on the verge of divorcing, I consulted to find out if he could help save our marriage. I'm happy to say that he did and I can't thank him enough. So if you have a marraige problem contact

Posted by spellcaster on September 2, 2012 at 9:14 PM · Report this
My bf has sexsomnia from time to time. I would be cool with it if he didn't stop and become uninterested once he wakes up, after he has aroused me and I'm awake and ready to fuck. It has become less frequent and less aggressive as I have made him aware of it and let him know the problems I have with it.
Thanks for talking about it.
Posted by Eileenorth on September 2, 2012 at 11:18 PM · Report this
In light of rapist's letter, my husband has given me unconditional permission to have sex with him at any time for any reason. He thinks the boyfriend is a) stupid and b) violation was involved, but he was the one doing the violating, even if unintentionally. And he also thinks the boyfriend is one dumb son of a bitch.
Posted by MinnySota on September 3, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
seandr 167
a knowledgeable doctor who is willing to prescribe a low dose of one of the benzodiazepines (such as clonazepam) to take before bedtime

This is crap advice. No doctor will prescribe a daily dose of clonazepam because the patient would become addicted within 3 weeks.

Just sleep in separate beds.
Posted by seandr on September 3, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
seandr 168
@70: You are assuming sexomnia is as big a problem for most couples as it is for these ones.

Apparently, I'm a sexomniac. In my case, I get intensely affectionate, with lots of kissing, caressing, and nuzzling all over. I inevitably wake up before things go any further. I can also vaguely remember what I feel like during the episode - completely consumed with lust and passion for the woman next to me, like it's impossible to get enough of her.

My female partners have all considered it amusing and kind of sweet. Then again, I wasn't hurting them like the LW, and it doesn't happen very often.
Posted by seandr on September 3, 2012 at 7:51 PM · Report this
@167--Not true. I take 1 mg every day, doctor's orders. It stops me from walking around, and that in turn stops me from hurting myself or people who care for me. As I said before, it's possible I'm addicted--but since I'm suffering no side effects and I'm never getting off the meds, what difference does it make?

I can't see how separate beds would help. If hubby can move around enough to stick his dick in his wife's mouth while she's trying to sleep, chances are he can get up and walk to another bed as well. But I could be wrong.
Posted by sleepwalker on September 3, 2012 at 10:50 PM · Report this
nocutename 170
If you haven't been reading the unregistered comments, you should read #s 129, 145, 146, 157, 165, and 169, all written by sleepwalkers or those who sleep with them. They're enlightening.
Posted by nocutename on September 4, 2012 at 4:52 AM · Report this
Legit citations on benzos:

Lader, Malcolm. Benzodiazepines revisited - will we ever learn? Addiction, 2011. ("The practical problems with the benzodiazepines have persisted for 50 years, but have been ignored by many practitioners and almost all official bodies. The risk–benefit ratio of the benzodiazepines remains positive in most patients in the short term (2–4 weeks) but is unestablished beyond that time, due mainly to the difficulty in preventing short-term use from extending indefinitely with the risk of dependence.")

Cook, Joan, et al. Physicians Perspectives on Prescribing Benzodiazepines for Older Adults: A Qualitative Study. JGIM, 2007. ("The potential negative side effect profile and toxicity of benzodiazepines on older adults has been well established. Problems associated with benzodiazepine use by the elderly include sleep disturbance, cognitive difficulty, impairment in activities of daily living, motor vehicle crashes, and gait concerns (e.g., accidental falls and fall-related fractures).
Guidelines defining the appropriate use of benzodiazepines in the elderly recommend prescriptions be intermittent, brief, and for purposes of acute symptom relief. Despite guide- lines, benzodiazepine use in older adults remains high with a mean current prevalence of 12.3% (ranging from 9.5% to 20%) in community-dwelling populations. Continuous use is deemed high and likely reflects unnecessary or suboptimal treatment.")

Ashton, Heather. Benzodiazepines: How they work and how to withdraw. 2002.
Posted by Servilia on September 4, 2012 at 5:47 AM · Report this
I know nothing about sleep disorders, treatment for sleep disorders, benzodiazepines, and addiction so I've stayed out of the discussion so far, but from reading the comments, I think I have something to add. Risk/benefit analyses seem to be missing. It's as though the patient shows up with a troubling and dangerous problem. The doctor prescribes a medicine, but when it's pointed out that the medicine can become a troubling and dangerous problem in itself, the original problem is suddenly supposed to go away. It's as though the patient can sit up and say "wow, I'm glad I avoided that med with its chance of addiction, and now I can sleep without charging through windows."

It doesn't work that way. Without the med, whether it's dangerous or not, the patient still has a problem with sleep. The question is how big a problem is the sleep-fucking versus how big a problem is the drug that might cure it. Risk/benefit. We make these calculations in our daily lives all the time.

In the case of the letters in this week's column, I'm inclined to wonder if sleeping in separate locked rooms might be the thing to try first since the people with the sleep disorders don't seem to be endangering themselves, only their relationships. But that's MY risk/benefit analysis, and I've admitted to knowing nothing about the problem and the cure. This is something where the risk and benefits have to be looked at by the people involved.
Posted by Crinoline on September 4, 2012 at 7:37 AM · Report this
Maybe it's me, but in a way it's pretty flattering that someone is deep asleep and motions towards you, perhaps a tad violently, that they wanna get it on with you. I can see why LW #1 is freaked out each time it happens. Some people are sleepwalkers. We used to be able to have full conversations with one friend who talked in his sleep all of the time.

LW #2, the guy should be counting his blessing his lady wants him that much that she mounts him in his sleep. Hell, I'd be complimented majorly if that were me, maybe...

LW #3, BUMMED revisited: For some people, it's just hard to open up and be vulnerable to sharing with your partner what it is you're really into. Buttplay with a finger is nothing. If the guy wasn't ploughing his girl and was getting a b.j., she may very well do a gentle reach around and tweak his brown star to make his oral sex experience that much more heightened...

That, and the pillow-in-the-face move probably has dashes of twisted humor and dominance fantasies lurking underneath. A finger in your ass, especially if it's your own hand, is no big deal. That's about as a gay as a man masturbating himself, and most, if not all men, masturbate. The BUMMED guy is worrying too much. The bigger issue is the face-pushing and whatnot.

Cheers :-) .
Posted by The Soul Love Boogie ;-) on September 4, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
John Horstman 174
Oh for fuck's sake. Everyone saying RAPIST's boyfriend was raped is an idiot. Evaluate your logic by taking this one step further; if RAPIST had declined sex and hir boyfriend fucked hir anyway, raping hir, would you be claiming RAPIST is the rapist? Consent is not retroactively negotiated, and it can't be retroactively withdrawn; as far as RAPIST knew, it had been squared away at the time, and RAPIST's boyfriend's lack of memory doesn't change that. I don't know enough about how sleep disorders like sleepwalking of sexsomnia function specifically to comment in-depth about issues of ethics and consent while someone is in a sleeping-but-functional state. That said, unless this is a known issue and RAPIST failed to do hir due diligence (knowing hir partner was a sexsomniac; even knowing that sexsomnia exists at all), people calling RAPIST a rapist are disgraceful.

That is not to minimize nor dismiss any sense of violation RAPIST's boyfriend is feeling. He was certainly violated, but there isn't any culpability to assign (sometimes, bad things happen and no one is at "fault"). Obviously the boyfriend is in a bad spot right now, but I agree with Dan that trying to pin this on RAPIST is an asshole move (perhaps an understandable one, but still assholish). This is true irrespective of whether RAPIST is male or female or neither - rape is not specifically traumatic only if one is penetrated, and men have every right to sexual and bodily autonomy. The comments dismissing female-on-male rape are particularly odious.
Posted by John Horstman on September 4, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Thank you for a very sensible post!
Posted by migrationist on September 4, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
nocutename 176
@172 (Crinoline): Bingo!

Although I go back to my point that having an extra room to move to is a luxury not everyone has.
Also, so far the sleepwalkers have only been disturbing those nearest and dearest to them, and sexually. But if they decide to go for a drive or dream about using a big knife, or whatever, the original problem still exists and is not affected by different bedrooms.
Posted by nocutename on September 4, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
Posted by Hunter78 on September 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
@168: Fixed that @76, thanks to @74. Glad to hear your experiences have been positive.
Posted by EricaP on September 4, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this

When I posed my question, I thought this was simply a case of blatant idiocy. Then I thought, he must be serious. Lo and beyond, "hir" is a gender neutral possessive. One of many such poorly known artificial coinages.

But he is always he. Her retreats into hir. Why the diminution of the female, and not the male? Your Post @174 is one of the most crassly sexist writings I've ever seen.

I believe all Indo-European languages have gendered pronouns. Many extend gender into every object, because they find it useful to have a richer variety of pronouns. People vote language with spoken and written words. We'll see how successful your steerage will be.

The Gender Studies fanatics who think we need a genderless pronoun fail to recognize we already have one.

In Horstman's world, only he's survive.

Posted by Hunter78 on September 4, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
@179: If @174 is one of the most crassly sexist writings you've ever seen, you need to read more. Pronoun police are insufferable - whether that's you or Horstman. The difference is, @174's post was thoughtful and fair, and yours was a reactionary piece of shit.
Posted by uncelestial on September 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Report this
@179: Neither you nor anyone else knows if RAPIST is male or female, and it's likely that @174 used "hir" in order to be gender neutral in light of that fact.
Posted by uncelestial on September 5, 2012 at 2:08 PM · Report this
@181: See #44.

That said, can we get back to telling people that they obviously don't know how to think, as evidenced by their poor spelling (or more likely, poor typing)?
Posted by avast2006 on September 5, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
@182: Thx; actually I did miss it, as I'm willing to presume that @174 did. The use of "hir" being "one of the most crassly sexist writings ever" is still absolutely unbelievable to me. @179 should check out sometime and leave @174 alone.
Posted by uncelestial on September 5, 2012 at 4:24 PM · Report this
"The good news is that sexsomnia responds well to pharmaceuticals, so SOS's husband should find a knowledgeable doctor who is willing to prescribe a low dose of one of the benzodiazepines (such as clonazepam) to take before bedtime," says Bering.

That's nuts. I'd say "completely fucking nuts" except that at very low doses it is only a little bit nuts, but low doses won't stay low due to tolerance. There are serious problems using clonazepam long-term. See, e.g.: (read this!)……

I wonder if another, milder sedative might do the trick? Still, it can't hurt to try chamomile tea or something, which is actually related to clonazepam but GRAS (and, incidentally, rather pleasant to administer).
Posted by something on September 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
I found this page because something similar to 2 happened to me tonight. I am female, and my fiancé and I are trying to wait until marriage to really develop our sex life (yes we have had sex, but we are still trying to wait). Last night things got carried away, so tonight I wasn't sure about him sleeping in the same bed as me. I woke up to him on top of me and inside of me, and I don't really remember much else. I think I remember telling him to stop. Either way, I was very uncomfortable and told him to get off of me. He said that I begged for it, and that I had begged him to have sex with me but I don't remember anything like that. I am so confused, I don't know what to do.
Posted by Confused97727288283 on March 17, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this
What if a guy friend who is sleeping next to you takes your hand to fondle himself involuntarily? Is it actually involuntary for someone to take your hand to pleasure himself in his sleep?? Oh,it happened to my bestie and she is still in shock,also,because these two have been great friends since childhood and the guy has behaved very decently with her always. She says she can't trust him anymore, and is very disturbed. I wonder if the guy is actually innocent like he claims to be. Is this a believable situation?? waking up in the middle of the night to find your hand in your childhood friend's underpants??
Posted by Mesmerina on March 27, 2014 at 12:14 AM · Report this

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