April 1, 1999:

Two letters arrived the other day in the same envelope. There was a note attached, instructing me to read this one first:

I am a het woman engaged to be married to a man I love very deeply. He is a feminist, supportive and caring, and loves me very much. We've been seeing each other for about three years, and living together for the last two. The trouble is sex. I am very enthusiastic about sex, and very vocal and demanding. He, depressingly, is simply not sexually attracted to me.

At the beginning of the relationship, it was incredible. He's a fabulous lover when he wants to be. Then the frequency slowly tapered off to the point at which I would periodically make an attempt to start the engine, but he rarely did. He then told me he found my sexual advances to be a turn-off, so I stopped making them.

When we had a discussion that I wasn't happy with the decline in the frequency of our lovemaking, we entered into an agreement for a once-a-week date night, but lately it's really been making me feel rejected, like he's only putting out to live up to the bargain—which is making me feel less desirable than ever. My self-esteem is really suffering because the sexual side of me is so important. There are, of course, different reasons why someone wouldn't find someone else sexually attractive. He grew up with images of women from comic books and movies, both of which he still avidly consumes. Intellectually, he understands from a feminist perspective what such images do to women, but I don't think he's grasped the idea from a psychological perspective.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I don't look like Uma Thurman. I'm constantly battling my weight, while he, through unswerving diligence (and good genes, I'm convinced), has a very cut bod. We've talked about having me take another lover, but I'm really not interested in anyone but him. And the thought of him sleeping with someone else—presumably someone he would find more sexually attractive—really upsets me.

Can a marriage work out when there's a sexual problem like ours going on? It isn't a case of needing counseling or anything—we are able to talk through our feelings very easily—it's just that he doesn't find me desirable. Everything else is great. Think we should call off the wedding?

Wedding Bell Blues

My first thought upon reading WBB's letter was that her fiancé probably has a lower sex drive than she does, and she was misinterpreting this as rejection, and she shouldn't compound her misery by comparing herself to Uma Thurman. He wouldn't be marrying her if he wasn't in some way sexually attracted to her. Right? Then in I read the second letter, which was from WBB's fiancé...

My turn. I'm the het white mail engaged to Wedding Bell Blues. We have a terrific home life. I enjoy her company, and love coming home to her every day. She is a beautiful person whom I love dearly and am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with.

But whereas we are compatible on so many levels, we just can't seem to work out our sexual problems. I may not have a handsome face, but I am on the buff side of fit, while she is cute, cuddly, and as they say, leans toward the Rubenesque. She has a strong sex drive (to put it mildly) and is still wildly attracted to my body, while I am, sadly, attracted to a different, more stereotypically pretty body type.

I realize that this problem of ours stems from my inability to be turned on by women who do not fall into the media's conception of beautiful—I get my kicks from the Uma Thurmans of this world—but I don't know what to do about it. When WBB and I are having sex, I fantasize about curvy movie stars or porn queens to get off.

This has led to feelings of rejection, inadequacy, and low self-esteem in WBB. While I am theoretically in favor of taking discreet lovers on the side, to satisfy her need for frequent sex and my attraction to a different body type, the logistics of working out secondary relationships doesn't seem worth it. Of course, STDs would be another problem.

So as our wedding day approaches, we remain stumped and increasingly uneasy. Should we call the whole thing off simply because only one aspect among many is not working in our relationship, or should we go ahead and continue to get off by infrequent sex (for her) and fantasies and masturbation (for me)?

No Sex Please

Hey, Wedding Bell Blues and No Sex Please:


The importance of sex in marriage can be overstated—the importance of sex can be overstated, period (especially in sex advice columns). It is, as NSP says, only one aspect. But the importance of sexual compatibility within marriage, at least at the starting gate, cannot be stressed enough. "Sexual compatibility" does not mean going at it like howler monkeys at every opportunity; it means having similar sexual expectations—at least being on the same page.

Listen, Ms. WBB: Your expectations can not be reconciled with NSP's attitudes. You're in love with him, you're physically attracted to him, and he—BY HIS OWN ADMISSION—finds you physically repulsive. If your sexual side is so important to you, why would you even consider marrying this man?! Some sexual problems can be worked out, but a complete lack of physical attraction on one person's part (to say nothing of a complete lack of consideration or empathy) is one that date nights and cut-rate feminist blather cannot fix. If you do marry him, your feelings of rejection, inadequacy, and low self-esteem are only going to grow, and will—if you have a spine in that Rubenesque bod of yours—turn to feelings of despair, anger, and rage. DO NOT MARRY THIS MAN.

Now, Mr. NSP, just what kind of sensitive New Age sadist are you? Is destroying this woman's self-esteem giving you some sort of thrill? I can't think of any other reason why you would be in a romantic relationship with a woman you are not in the least bit physically attracted to, other than the sheer pleasure of making her miserable. You both describe your relationship as open and communicative, but there is such a thing as too open and too communicative: sometimes "honesty" is thinly disguised cruelty.

When you realized that WBB did not in the least bit attract you, you should have quickly and respectfully ended this relationship, without going out of your way to tell her that it was because, oh, her fat ass makes your dick go limp. By drawing this out, you have turned what could have been a short-lived, fondly remembered affair into a self-esteem-destroying virus that could eat away at this woman for the rest of her life. If this is how you treat a woman you love, I'd hate to see what you'd do to a woman you dislike.

WBB, you need to get out. NSP, you need to get help. But whatever you two do, DO NOT GET MARRIED.

January 5, 2007:

I'm a 29-year-old married man. My wife and I are both active people (rock climbing, cycling, and kayaking) and our sex life is good. However, since high school I've been turned on by thick, big-butt, big-tit, ugly, trashy girls. In my 20s, I would secretly go to bars in the suburbs to pick up these thick, ugly girls. But I've only ever been in relationships with fit, attractive, intellectual girls. I'm married to one and I'm madly in love with her. I've been able to repress my desires for the past three years, hoping that I'd become sexually attracted to my wife. Unfortunately, it's now clear that fat, ugly, hick girls are what turn my crank—but I could never be in a relationship with one of these girls. Quite frankly, these girls are of no interest to me outside of my sexual desires. What should I do?

Big And Trashy Lover

Sometimes I don't even know where to begin.

But, fuck, might as well start with the truth: Do you know why you dismiss the girls you find attractive—girls who are not, by your dick's definition, unattractive in the least—as "ugly, trashy girls," "thick, ugly girls," "fat, ugly, hick girls," etc.? For the same reason, BATL, that you've ruled out the possibility of ever having a relationship with a fat girl: You're a cowardly, hateful piece of shit.

That's unkind, of course, just like describing all fat girls as "ugly" or suggesting that women can be intelligent or heavy but never both. So here's a kindler, gentler take: A long, long time ago you internalized our culture's anti-fat prejudice. We all do, of course, to greater or lesser extents. But when you hit puberty, BATL, your sexual tastes brought you into conflict with those anti-fat prejudices. At that moment, BATL, you had an obligation to yourself and to your future sex partners to overcome your prejudices. Instead, disgusted by your desires, you projected your disgust and anger onto the women you want to fuck. Terrified of the shame and judgment that would come your way if you had a relationship with a big woman, you convinced yourself that all big women are thick, stupid trash. A big woman might be worth fucking, you concluded, but she could never be worthy of love.

So what do you do now, BATL? Well, you either stay with the skinny woman you married—a woman who will never satisfy you sexually—or you divorce her and find yourself a big girl, a woman who's active and intelligent, a woman you could love madly and wanna fuck, er, badly. But you know what? That woman deserves better than you. [About this column, this.]

March 5, 2009:

I have lived with my boyfriend for almost two years. He says he loves me and does a lot of loving things for me. We are both in our early 60s, but we have the sexual energy of 20-year-olds. Here's the problem: I am overweight (size 18). I was overweight when he met me. I now know that he hates fat women. You should hear his disgust when he sees them on TV or on the street. He has begun to tease me and make jokes about my weight. This hurts my feelings, and I have told him so. He says I'm too sensitive. What is your advice to me?

Fat And Teased

Before I answer your question, FAT, I'm going to take a little stroll down Suppressed Memory Lane: I once had a "bisexual" boyfriend. (I place bisexual in quotes, Angry Bisexual Community, only because this guy wasn't bisexual. That doesn't mean other guys aren't bisexual.) My "bisexual" boyfriend liked to claim that he really wasn't that into men until I came along—I was the magical exception, the one guy who did it for him—but even then, he told people loudly at parties, he was mostly turned on by how into him I was, he wasn't that into me or my junk. (He could barely stand to look at my cock—which is why he stuffed it in his mouth or ass whenever we got naked.)

And you know what, FAT? He made disparaging comments constantly about gay men he saw on the street or on TV—gay men like the one he was with—and put me down constantly for having a much more serious case of the gay than he did. He was going to marry a woman one day, a woman with lady parts, and have a family; I was going to remain hopelessly gay all my life. He was, of course, gayer than a college wrestling team and eventually came out as gay—much to the consternation of all his friends who believed him when he said that he wasn't really that into men. (By which I mean to say, much to the consternation of absolutely no one.)

Anyway, your current boyfriend (early 60s, straight, asshole) reminded me of my old boyfriend (20, gay, asshole). A man who claims to have fallen in love with someone who he's not attracted to, or someone who disgusts him, expressly so he can belittle that person and make that person feel awful, well, that man is a complete asshole, FAT, and my first impulse is to advise you DTMFA just like I did my asshole boyfriend. But...

You say he's good to you otherwise, does loads for you, and fucks you regularly—so before you dump this motherfucker, FAT, let's consider reforming him. Say he's totally into you and into big women, just like my ex was totally into cock. But, like my ex, he's uncomfortable with his sexuality and worries about what other people think—including you, FAT, as paradoxical as that may sound. So he makes asshole comments in an effort to hide his true feelings—possibility fetishistic feelings—for big women. The asshole comments allow him to pretend that he's not into your body, just hopelessly in love with you, the person you are on the inside—which makes him one of the "good guys," i.e., a guy who isn't so shallow as to let a little thing like your weight come between you.

While I had to dump my "bisexual" boyfriend, FAT, a little shock-and-awe therapy might convince your "fatphobic" boyfriend to knock it off. You shouldn't have to put up with his comments, FAT, whether they're motivated by shame for his attraction to big fat asses or, if my theory is incorrect, by a genuine hatred for fat people. Either way, FAT, you've got to tell him—in no uncertain terms—to knock it the fuck off already. Don't be measured, don't wrap it up in "I" statements, no mewling about your feelings. Give him both barrels: "If you don't knock it the fuck off—the asshole comments, the stupid jokes—I'm going to kick your ass out, got it?" A strategic blowup or two should occur—scream, yell, smash a few things you're not all that attached to—when he slips up. Repeat until his attitude changes or his address does.

January 27, 2010:

I am a 19-year-old straight male who is only attracted to chubby girls, though I myself am rather skinny. It took a while, but I've learned to embrace this (though at first it seemed almost as scary as if I were to come out as gay). However, the problem I seem to have now is that the girls whom I find attractive—big girls—don't think of themselves as attractive, and that is a turnoff for me. Despite what seems like constant effort on my part to raise my exes' confidence in themselves, they never got any better and the relationships always ended. I'm not exactly bursting with confidence myself, either, but I tried my best to be a loving and supportive boyfriend. Yet time and time again, their images of themselves somehow seemed to actually turn worse, not better. I attribute a lot of their initial insecurity to the media, but I can't help but believe I somehow screw up and exacerbate it.

Troubled Horndog In Need

You're young and you've accepted your attraction to bigger girls, THIN, and that's great. But the girls you've dated—presumably close to your age—are doubtless still struggling with all the shit that's been thrown at them about their bodies. To grow confident about something that caused you a lot of pain—to say nothing of being with someone who's attracted to you in large part because of that something—can take time.

That said, THIN, if all the bigger girls you've dated emerged from your relationship feeling worse about themselves and their bodies... you might be doing something wrong. Were you treating your girlfriends like human beings and talking about their bodies in a way that made them feel attractive? Or did you treat them like fetish objects?