Columns May 16, 2012 at 4:00 am

Shady Ladies


Mr V

I didn't mean to lecture you. I completely agree with your original comment. It seems that I have a lack of awareness of my tone. It's not that I rejoice in my situation. My intent is to convey merely that I understand what I most want among my limited choices (Sophie's Choice if you will allow). As you correctly point out, it has been a hard journey for me.

I do think that someone here needs to point out that the general assumption floating about (this is not a critique of you, dear Sir) is that the sex needs to be fixed or the relationship must end. Not everyone will prioritize things that way, nor must they. One may well preserve the relationship by calling it a day on the sex.

The column is "Savage Love," but notice that it is concerned with sex, not love.
Dan and People Message Posters,
Is this a legit, Savage Love, method of Sexual Negotiation?…
@ Mr. J

You're a bigger man than I am.
You forgot to mention that if the first letter writer is black or American Indian, the Seattle police are just as likely to shoot him as arrest him.
Mr J - I think you just want to go back to your original poist in the thread and tweak an early sentence. It's not the death of sex that has been the saving of your marriage but your becoming able to embrace it. Naturally, being a modest person, you didn't want to take credit for it. But your modesty made the post come across as if you were maintaining that Mrs J was Right All Along, and that you had been a whiny, selfish, totally inconsiderate paternalist for having the audacity to have sexual feelings for your partner in wedlock.

Sorry for my flowery mode of speech today, but I've done my weekly column already and I'm still a bit in the flow.

I seriously do advise you in all candour to reread Mrs Woolf. I could point out that you might have accepted the compliment inherent in my phrasing, but you can hardly be expected to know that I have finally managed to reach the point of shedding my expectation that all human beings over the age of ten are well-read.

I agree that names can be most revealing, but somehow Savage Sex just has the wrong oomph. Get too pedantic about such things and you'll sound like Mr Carroll's White Knight - an ineffectual sweetie.

I wish you had supported me some time ago when I pointed out, in the face of Ms Erica's full expansionist glory, that it was just as honourable a choice to divest oneself of a sexual interest that caused one's partner distaste as it was to conquer one's distaste for a sexual practice in which one's partner had expressed an interest. Perhaps you weren't posting muh at the time, but I was entirely alone then. Still, however late, I thank you for supporting my point now.
-- Miss Litella .. Emily ... HEY! "Fifty Shades of Gray" mentions CANING, not CANNING.

-- Oh, that's entirely different. Never mind.
@110, for the record, I agree with you, and I've done both for Mr. P. We started off very kinky, very D&S & S&M, and that tapered off gradually, due to him losing (most) interest. I put up with that loss, through love for him, and because I thought it was normal. When he asked me to conquer my distaste for extramarital sex, the upside for me was that at least I got to fulfill my own kinky needs with other people.

It may always be honorable to satisfy one's partner's needs rather than one's own... But different people have different abilities. Mr. P. has many charms & skills I will never have and I imagine Mrs. J. has charms & skills of her own -- if among their charms & skills, they have certain deficiencies, well, that part I knew when I chose Mr. P., and I guess Mr. J. has come to terms with it in his life.
Mr V
You're welcome.

@108 mydriasis
Bigger? Older perhaps. Some fights are long, tiresome affairs that you lose in the end--lose and yet live with the outcome you once thought unthinkable.
@112 EricaP
Just so. "Price of admission" as Dan says. What a mountain to climb to get from "you have this deficiency that we have to fix" to "this is who you are and I want you anyway."
Mr. Ven, EricaP, and Mr. J,
Sometimes I envision the four of us as a cast in a movie about middle-aged people navigating their way through relationships that change over time. (I don't know how old Mr. Ven is, but the Erica, J, and I are all mid-late 40s, I believe.)

Three of us had marriages in which a spouse wasn't meeting all our sexual desires. (Mr. Ven has been less forthcoming than I can remember about dissatisfaction; the take I have on his long-term romantic relationship is that accommodations were made, possibly by both parties, and that there was a great deal of satisfaction on both parts. But I could be forgetting something.)

I chose sex over love and left the marriage; Mr. J chose love over sex and stays in a sexless, though loving marriage; EricaP chose to fight to keep both her loving marriage and a satisfying sex life, for herself and her husband (and has made that come true); and Mr. Ven seems to have had a loving and sexually satisfying relationship (albeit not without some measure of compromise), which ended with the death of his beloved.

Our respective stories and perspectives revolve around each other like planets circling the sun called "long term marriage" and I find it enlightening to compare our notes and responses.

I just wonder who would play us in the film.
@68 Maybe I wasn't clear, I think having certain things you are set against whether they come from bad experiences in the past, or an unexplainable bad feeling at the thought of doing them (like your example of flicking water in the face), all of that is perfectly acceptable. We all have little things we would never do.
What I think is ridiculous and should 'revoke your GGG card' is putting your foot down and saying "No, I could never do any S&M or inflict pain in any way". The two (or more) individuals that are involved need to work together to find a compromise where both are happy with the decision so the giver doesn't feel like they are hurting the other person but the receiver can still get off.
I agree, being GGG is all about being open and receptive to talking about and trying new things. So saying no to all forms of S&M to me, at least, is not GGG without even trying to find a method that works for both people.
I'm sure 50 Shades is shlock (what porn/soft porn isn't really?) but it's gotten my wife a little hotter than usual lately so what's the harm? I know a lot of the ladies in the hood are reading so I get a little charge knowing they all have something dirty going on between the ears.

If soft-core BDSM-lite is going mainstream, that can only be a good thing.
@24: Exactly my reaction. I generally like Dan's advice, but the reply to WHIP struck me as highly presumptuous and unhelpful.
Ah whip...same here. But I'm 32 and 14 years together (surprise baby very early on, before I had time to realise. I was barely an adult and hadn't discovered myself quite yet).
I have no self confidence now...everything (media, other women) says men want sex, men are the ones watching porn, wanting kinky stuff, it's usually the man complaining about lack of. So I must be so ugly if it's the other way round!
Needless to say I masturbate as often as I can! But it's half a life really.
You may not get arrested but it MAY be against your company's policy. You may wanna check your handbook.Getting fired for such a thing may not be a biggie to some,but to others it could be HUGE.You probably don't want that on your work records.Rub one out in the morning before you go to work to forgo the need to do it at noon.I agree one should be able to do what they want in the privacy of a bathroom stall, but your employer probably won't feel the same.
Jesus, reading the Savage Love comments always makes me so grateful to have married someone with simple desires who feels the point of sex is for both of us to be into it at all times, not bartering for shit.

All the negotiating and GGG/entitlement crap sounds like it turns sex into something really fucking complicated, annoying, and practically chore-like.
I was feeling similarly virginia_mason...

I really don't think refusing S&M outright should be a revocation of the GGG card, and if it is... I really don't care. I've said before I'm a "reformed" former sub/masochist and there's just no way I can go there. To me it isn't sex, it's a psychological fuck up that needs treatment. If my partner wants to have *sex* and do *sexual things* involving his genitals and bringing him to orgasm, we can do that, but pain will not be involved because the only reason you can orgasm through pain is through some psychological fuck up and I simply won't contribute to that any more than I will go have a couple beers with a supposedly recovering alcoholic. I don't think "kinky" people are bad people, just not people I want to have sex with. And vice versa! And that's fine!

Also, can I just object to the term "vanilla" being used to imply unsatisfying sex? For my part, having some plain old fashioned vanilla sex stripped of all the trappings of costumes and objects and props and head games (role play) etc and just exploring our actual bodies and learning about our actual bodies has been probably one of the hottest and most intimate experiences of my life. Hiding good hot sex behind lingerie, toys, oils, lubes, "spice" wtfever you want to call it... bah. I'm just so not into it at ALL anymore. I just want plain good sex, orgasm producing, body stimulating sex, that doesn't have to rely on a bunch of extraneous and ultimately not sexual factors to pass. It's like dumping spices all over a piece of shitty chicken. Why not just get some quality chicken to begin with?

That's what's working for me anyway. YMMV.

I can't get behind cheering on the supposedly happy sexless marriages out there. If I wanted a business partner and roommate I could find one. I want an intimate relationship, with someone I love passionatey and fiercely. I have my dad and brothers for sexless love. My partner is expected to act like one. And yes, if he stopped for no reason other than just his personal preference, that would be fine and his choice and all but likewise my choice to replace him, at least on the sexual level, and I'm sure eventually on the love level. Cutting off one's partner is hardly a loving action, in fact it's probably one of the most unloving actions I can think of in a marriage. It's a flat out statement "I don't want you as a partner." And it seems absolutely sadistic to me to on top of it demand the still sexual partner also remain faithful. Like reading those creepy stories about women doms who lock their slave's penises in chastity belts and never allow him to even get hard again. Yuck. Destroying a part of someone else's integral self to fit your own needs... pretty vomitrocious actually.
Hm. Do something I don't really enjoy for 20 years because I might want something else when I'm in my 40s? Pass.
Lorca @55 - you win! Dan should let you take over for a bit - I think he might be burned out. Especially when it's a woman asking for help.
@115 cute idea. I want the Ps to be played by Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley :-)

@123 I think the idea is that the icky stuff gets less icky when you get used to it, and you enjoy seeing the pleasure it gives your partner, as well as getting plenty of your favorite activities yourself. If the icky stuff stays icky, if you don't enjoy making him happy, or if you're not getting plenty of the stuff you love -- then, leave, as soon as you realize that.
@122: I don't know about everyone else's usage, but I haven't heard/seen "vanilla" to mean "unsatisfying sex." I think it still means, plain, basic, unadorned sex--no fetishes, no kinks, no uncommon acts.
Some of the hottest, most satisfying sex I've had was straight-up missionary, with no props. Vanilla, by definition, but then, a good, rich, creamy vanilla (think an excellent creme brulee) is one of life's delights.

Ding ding ding! Yes.

@cute (126)


One person's "vanilla" is another person's "low maintenance".

The analogy I usually use for my preference is this: I don't usually eat red meat, but my understanding is that a really good quality steak really doesn't need much of anything on it. It tastes good on its own and you don't want to mask the flavour. To me, sex is like steak. And kinky people are often just dumping ketchup all over it.

That's not saying I'm not willing to engage in kinky activities now and again, I am! But when I see someone pouring out the whole shaker on their meal, I figure it must be kind of flavourless to start with.

** I use a LOT of food analogies when it comes to sex (I view them in really similar ways) and the funny thing is, I also have a metaphor about icecream! But it doesn't apply here.
#122, I totally agree with you on the vanilla sex. We find it really intimate and awesome, while the role playing/S&M stuff seems, well, kind of Dungeons & Dragons-y.

When it comes to sex, I never want to feel like I have to "get used" to something (sounds like work). Call me selfish, but if sex is not 100% enjoyable for me at all times, I don't see the point. It's the most hedonistic pleasure there is and shouldn't include obligations to anyone.

Sometimes I think the discussions around the GGG shit are just more ways for Seattlites to be super uptight and rule imposing, as they are wont to do. It doesn't sound fun or sexy at all. I read other non-Seattle-based discussion boards and the sex complaints tend to be about a partner's lack of sex drive. On this one they are more like, "My partner won't kick me in the balls, how am I supposed to live like this?!!" And the answers are usually about how to still be able to get kicked in the balls instead of, "Fucking deal with it, you whiny asshole. Go jerk off to a Bruce Lee movie or something," which is the advice I'd give.

I react very, very strongly to periods of celibacy. I can't imagine that I'd feel life was worth living if I couldn't have sex. The end of sex would mean the end of the relationship or the end of me. So maybe when I get older I'll be in your zen place... but I doubt it.
@wendy (122)

Oh man, dying.

I just read your post and saw you made the exact same analogy I've always made. We're clearly kindred spirits or something.

Kudos. ;)
Re the answer to WHIP: Schadenfreude is beautiful. As a man who was rejected in my early 20s for just that reason, reading this made me weep a tiny tear of joy.
@121, 122, 127, 128:
I don't find kinky sex to be like ketchup disguising a sub-par steak, or something that has to be excruciatingly negotiated. If the sexual connection, the chemistry, the sense of being well-matched isn't there to begin with, no amount of bondage or what-have-you is going to salvage it.

It's more like another way to enjoy ice cream.
I already like ice cream, as a rule. Some people only want to serve or eat mint chip, and that isn't going to do it for me. There's no amount of whipped cream or sprinkles or fudge that will eliminate the minty taste, and I'd rather not have to eat it at all. If I know in advance that mint chip is being served, then I'll politely decline the offer. If I thought I was going to get something else and the ice cream turns out to be mint chip, I will be polite, but I won't enjoy it, and I'll stop eating as soon as I can without offending the host.

Sometimes I like plain vanilla--it's what I'm in the mood for.

Sometimes I like vanilla with hot fudge and chopped nuts.

Sometimes, I prefer chocolate. Or better yet, mocha. With hot fudge.

If the ice cream is high quality to begin with, I don't NEED for it to be anything beyond vanilla, but I like variety on occasion.

On the other hand, if someone I know makes utterly fantastic homemade Black Forrest ice cream, I'm grateful for the chance to eat it. And if it is the only kind of ice cream he really likes and all he serves, I'm not going to turn it down.

I think everyone likes a little variety. I guess if I were going to follow your analogy, is that if someone NEEDS sprinkles and whipped cream and all of that, or else the icecream is "boring", then the icecream itself is probably kind of shitty. Or at least, that's my perspective.

Which is different from "sometimes I like my icecream plain because it's delicious, and sometimes I like some toppings on it because what the hell!".

To your final point... I think we all prefer to have sex with like-minded people. My feeling about kinky people is that they're not really about sex, they're about kink. And that's not the same thing to me. I mean, sure, theoretically, someone could be kinky AND good in bed (that's the black forrest guy metaphor, right?) but we wouldn't be on the same wavelength, sexually. Which is fine for casual sex, but not the look, long term. Does that make sense?
#132, I'm sure it's not that way for everyone, but here's how it goes in "50 Shades of Gray" (from Forever Young Adult's review):

"A big deal in this book is that Christian makes Anastasia sign a contract before the sexing can start, and it details all the things they will and will not do. And the list is WEAK SAUCE, y'all. It's like, yes to fisting (vaginal and anal), clamping and hot wax. No to blood play and breath play. I'm sorry, I know everyone has their own personal limits, but seriously it's okay that he shoves his fist UP YOUR ASS but it's NOT okay that he ties a scarf around your neck and squeezes a little bit? Are you fucking kidding me? And! And! There is all this stuff, like, "is swallowing semen acceptable to the Submissive?" and "Is Bondage acceptable to the Submissive?" and the dude is all, "let's discuss these limits!" What the fuck kind of relationship is this? That's the unsexiest thing I've EVER READ. You know what? New sex education plan!! Instead of teaching kids abstinance-only which is stupid and doesn't work, make every 14 year old read and sign a contract spelling out exactly what their sexual limits are. Not only is it a good way to go over various possibilities, but every child will be TOTALLY HORRIFIED and scared to have sex for several more years! "You want to stick WHAT up my ass? No thank you, let's just hold hands!" I mean, damn, this contract business is really unsexy, y'all. Whatever happened to romance? Back in my day, if a boy wanted to put it in your butt, he had two options: get you drunk on champagne and take it slow, or try that whole "oops, it slipped" maneuver. (P.S. Boys? You aren't fooling anyone when you do that.) Kids today!"

Hee, sorry, I know, not real life, but I don't know how this can be inspiring women to want to have that sort of sex.

@59 - AFinch, this is ABW from last week's column. Are
you in Seattle?

I'm just sad even writing, I am in our nation's capitol. I do wish you and your SO happy hunting. Dammit. See? Seriously: good luck to you all in finding a good fit. You made my day/night by pinging me back.
A friend and I were talking about Cold Stone Creamery, and he said, "I hate that place. Ice cream is like sex: if you have a really excellent vanilla you don't need all those tacky mix-ins", and I agree. There's nothing wrong with a fruit flavor or some chocolate shavings once in a while, but it you can't enjoy your ice cream without gummi bears and snickers and maraschino cherries, then maybe you're not really in the mood for ice cream.
The cane was in use in High Schools in NZ / Aotearoa til the early 90s. I was caned when I was in Fourth Form (14 years old) - six of the best across the backside. Didn't really hurt as it was winter and I was wearing my winter uniform.
Sorry, WHIP sounds like a cry baby. I really really want to sympathize with her, even reread the letter like six times, and came up with every excuse I could think of why it was okay to bitch and moan about your f-ing married nineteen yrs, apparently no major complaints/problems, husband cause he's just a "dud", you know; the same "dud" that kept you satisfied and happy for nineteen yrs before you read a crappy NYT bestseller. God, what's wrong with middle aged Americans? Is it so horrible to be reasonably happy that you have to fixate on stuff like this? Try waking up with no one but a Chihuahua next to you for five yrs then see how much you have to complain about your marriage.

And yes, I know I sound like a cranky bitch, but it's stuff like this that makes me want to beat my head against the nearest hard surface.
30- Myd-- Sorry. My typing got the better of me.

----As women are reported to get better as lovers. I know I wasn't making much sense. I was trying to sum up a position I don't understand. My question is: What's the bit about sexual peak? How does that work? Is it based on ability to come, desire, being the object of desire, being experienced enough to be good in bed, and if so, by whose definition? Is a peak knowing your kinks, being comfortable with them, being comfortable with others' kinks? What does it?
dan, did you change your mind about the president's stand on marriage equality?

We are?

I've heard women have a higher sex drive in their 30's, but nothing about the quality of the sex improving. I think that kind of thing is so subjective it's hard to say?

Personally? I think the only people who say older men are better lovers are well... older men who want to land younger women but don't have the money to work the sugar daddy angle. Well not the only people, but the majority of them...
79. I had to do a lot of skimming to get as far through the series as I did (1 book + 1 chapter). And I was expecting poorly written YA crap (not knocking YA stuff, there's just a certain way YA tends to turn to crap).

I just put up a sort of shunt system to let bullshit to flow off into a holding tank before my reading mind could spot it. The bit I paraphrased is the point where that tank overflowed and I had to stop myself from throwing the book.
Mydriasis, I know you love being young and have some issue with older people daring to think that they have anything but money to offer anyone.
But from my middle-aged perspective, most of us get more skillful at many things as we have practice.

This also applies to sex.

I'm sure your scenario applies to some men, but plenty of men get much better at sex as they get older, and--surprise!--they're not trying to impress young women, but prefer to use their honed skills on women their own age.

And for what it's worth, I've met plenty of 20-something men who prefer to be with middle-aged women, because they're (as a rule) much less inhibited, and know what they want and to some, that's a turn on.

Now you may well be uninhibited and chock full of sexual agency and hot and young, to boot, but then you're not represntative.
Top notch vanilla is all you need ... if you have ice cream only once in a blue moon.

All hail ice cream asceticism!! Who needs variety, the wonders of edgy sensations, and powerful flows of trust and love expressed in unexpected ways ... Just a lick of a teaspoonful of the best vanilla - nay, just a wetting of the tip of the tongue - will sate the refined soul for years. Actually getting messy with ice cream is best left to the unevolved and the unredeemed masochistic sickfucks.
Thanks, #145.

I think practice contributes, but not always, and I think natural skill contributes as well. Personally I've noticed promiscuity makes a difference (more practice), moreso than age.

As for men who go for women their own age? I. Love. That. Seriously, there is nothing more endearing or classy than a man who dates age-appropriate women.

I feel that middle aged men have little to offer me, personally because they're usually going to lack the biological ability to keep up the way a guy my age can. That's just nature. In the context of a long term relationship twenty years from now when I've mellowed out a little, I might be able to deal with the slowing down, but why would I put up with it now? It certainly has not been my experience that there is any significant correlation between age and skill at all. So I stick to my own age group.

As for the whole cougar thing... the vast majority of men my age (who I've talked to) have sort of a... novelty interest in older women. But when I've seen it it's been more of a curiousity, a sort of "I need to add "older woman" to the list of things I've done" thing. I don't know anyone who has an actual preference for older women.

I pointed out above that for me, the age where I was most uninhibited and tried the most kink was before I was 18. So yeah, I certainly don't fit the cliche.

But look, what I was trying to get at, is that for every young girl who is too uptight to explore her sexuality there's a girl like me. And for every Erica P out there, there's a middle aged woman who's shown less and less interest in sex with each passing year. I think people are too diverse to fit into that trajectory (getting better with age).
Re: Sexual peaks.

One way to attack the question is horizontally. You compare a lot of different women (or men) at age 18 and discover that there's a lot of variation between them. Some are very sexual creatures; some are less so. Same goes for a comparison of women at 30.

But I'm curious about the question vertically. Follow one woman (or man) and ask about her sexuality over the course of her life. Is there a peak? I'm in my 50s now. I might have had my best sex when I was in my late 20s-early 30s. But then I have to tease out the factors. I was over my (considerable) beginner's jitters and anxieties. I'd found a man I had great chemistry with, but I wasn't tied down to him thus adding relationship baggage (which isn't to say that he wasn't a good guy and a good friend).

Re: Defining vanilla sex. If the sex is athletic, frequent, great, satisfying and in varying positions, but it involves only oral, and PIV in private, with no bondage, pain, or role playing, etc. is that still vanilla? That's not what WHIP was describing anyway. Her husband isn't even willing to experiment with a different position.

But peaking at a certain (relatively young, in the context of a full life) is not the same as "getting better with age", is it? Plus, it may have been your best sex, but does that translate to the best sex for your partners? I'd like to think it does! But maybe not. Maybe you just had your best partner at that point. Maybe when you're in your sixties, you will be the best lay out of your whole life, or maybe that happened secretly in your teen years, but you weren't aware of it.

That's why trying to figure it out vertically is so tricky (unless two people are together their whole sex lives, but then they're probably not learning as much as the average person does).

Way too complicated.
I've never been anxious about sex, or had any jitters, so I don't think I've really changed all THAT much. I'm most comfortable in my own skin when I'm naked with someone. It's always been that way for me. Probably I'm "better" than I was in the past, just from practice, but I'm also a little more 'inhibited' as in I'm more likely to say 'no' to people/acts because I have a bit more self-worth than I did as a teenager. So maybe that means I've gotten better with age, or worse with age, depending on who you ask.
What a childish, entitled attitude you have! It's all you all the time, is it? 100% your pleasure with no accommodating the person you supposedly love and commit to spending eternity with? The rest of us are working hard at making our relationships succeed. That includes some soul-searching/hand wringing about boundaries, rules, and compromises.

"...I don't know how this can be inspiring women to want to have that sort of sex."
Yet clearly they are being inspired. Are you saying that since you don't get it, then they must be wrong or have something wrong with them? Why is it such a big deal that there are people who are different from you?

@129 mydriasis
Being crazy helps too.

@143 EclecticEel
I completely understand how hard it might be for many people to see past the awful writing. There are some great things in Twilight nevertheless. It's similar to the unrelenting awfulness of Charles Dickens who apparently never met a live woman, but merely once had one described to him by an elk. People overlook that though.
One thing though!

Since when is loving lingerie a kink??
In my books, sexy undergarments are just a natural extension of looking nice, which is a pretty vanilla pursuit. Putting effort into prepping and looking pretty is just good sex-manners.
meh... disappointing answers Dan. I expect more... either funnier, clearer or better advice. Sorry, this isn't it.
@134 I can tell you exactly why.

Because this sort of kink is just tremendously dangerous. It is amazing as a fantasy because you author every single moment. So nothing terrible can happen. Every thing that happens is something you would want to happen.

In reality, you know there are things you would not want at all and you certainly don't want a guy to just tie you up and do whatever HE wants. So you keep it private.

But, when you realize that you can actually do these things for really real and have pretty much authored every moment and know that he won't do anything unless he knows it is something that turns you on, that is incredibly exciting.

Being absolutely clear and upfront about your desires and your limits is the way to go in every aspect of your relationships, btw.

You should be discussing limits and laying out ground rules in your relationships even if your sex is missionary only. Romance and sexiness are great but they are also kind of delusional.

Now, delusion is great. It is awesome. I love it. But there needs to be a line between delusion and reality. You need to know where that line is. And you need to spend time in the reality section.

If you are repressing thoughts and declining to have some discussions of brutal honesty in order to never leave the delusion section, you are making some exceptionally poor choices.
#151, I haven't had to work hard because I didn't marry a guy with any complicated sexual desires. If he had other desires, I'd definitely go for them as long as they sounded hot to me, too, and vice versa.

But if the fact that your wife won't kick you in the balls or let you choke her means you feel your sex life is shit, and you view this stuff as a NEED rather than a want, I think it is you who has entitlement issues. And if you can't find things you both really love during sex and let these other wants be fulfilled through masturbation and porn, then you shouldn't be together.

My husband shares that attitude and wouldn't ask me to do something I didn't want to do because it would ruin his enjoyment to know I was just doing it for him, and I feel the same way.

And after ten years, we're still doing it several times a week and I have none of the issues you seem to have, and we both orgasm every single time, so our sex life is really fucking awesome. I'm sorry if you feel yours is work.
@133: "I guess if I were going to follow your analogy, is that if someone NEEDS sprinkles and whipped cream and all of that, or else the icecream is "boring", then the icecream itself is probably kind of shitty."

Either that or the person is. (okay, not shitty. But just because someone HAS to have kink does not mean the vanilla offering is shitty.)

@145: I happen to like vanilla ice cream a lot. Really GOOD vanilla is a joy. Your inability to appreciate it on a regular basis does not make it mundane. On the other hand, I like pretty much every other flavor of ice cream I've ever been exposed to. Haagen Dasz makes their ice cream identically every single day. If I like it one day and don't feel like it the next that doesn't mean the ice cream is lousy. The ice cream didn't change, I did. Just heartily sick of "vanilla" == "boring"

I also find it hard to believe that constant vanilla sex will inevitably become boring and mundane but that constant kinky sex (of a given type) is forever new and exciting. If you can do a particular thing over and over and over again and love it every single time, that says something about you, not about the activity. Objectively, there is nothing innate about whips and chains that make them intrinsically better than a good, hard straight-up shag. Subjectively, yes (in that what lights one person's fire is by definition subjective); objectively, no. Kinksters would go far in increasing their credibility if they acknowledged that the reality is not that their vanilla partner is essentially boring, but that the two of them want different things. The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, having gone from kinksters being sick fucks to vanilla people being unimaginative and simpleminded seuually. The one is just as much bullshit as the other.

I totally agree.

The other metaphor I'd put out there is music. I'd rather see a singer like Amy Winehouse (yes, she's dead, but humour me) who doesn't need sparks shooting out of her tits and a stage that moves and a giant snake wrapped around her neck, and is just talented. Some people are into the theatrics of broads like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, and it's not to say that it doesn't take talent to lipsync while doing choreo - it DOES. And it's not to say there's anything wrong with people who like those kinds of shows. But it's just not my bag - and it would be EXTRA tired if that was every night for me. People who think vanilla =/= boring are the kind of people who would watch my favourite band and go "ugh... they're not like... dancing or doing costume changes. why isn't there any pyrotechnics or lasers or tigers? how boring" while missing the point that the music is what I came for.

Pun intended.
@156 (avast2006): Thank you for articulating what I've been feeling so much better than I was able to.

There are some people who crave constant variety in ice cream, and some who are are thrilled by that one flavor every time they eat it. That flavor can be vanilla or Rocky Road. The nature of the flavor is less the point than the eater's desire to mix things up or go with the tried-and-true favorite that never fails to satisfy.
@152: good point. Likewise about toys, oils, and lubes. Those are, at their most basic, simply ways to enhance the mechanics and sensations.

Or has wendykh @122 never experienced the difference between a dry massage and one with oil? Both are nice, but the oil massage is distinctly different in a very nice way all its own -- but can hardly be described as "kinky." Certified massage therapists worldwide are...well, not rolling over in their graves. Maybe rolling over on their tables.

Likewise lube. Very handy at times, even for the most standard sort of missionary, particularly if one's partner is perimenopausal. (Commonly happens starting around 45, btw, not 80.) Hardly a kink item all by itself.
@156 "The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction": Has it really? The comments on this column and several recent ones show otherwise. Kinksters continue to defend themselves against ignorance, assumptions, disinformation, and the ick factor. (See also SSLOTD from Thursday about Grey.) It's frustrating, tiring, and boring, and if kinksters have to defend themselves on Savage Love OF ALL PLACES, then something is seriously fucked.

BTW, the costumes-props-and fluff characterization of kink is just lazy, and raises doubt on how much some have really experienced before they cast aversions.

1. I agree that oils and lubes could also be considered vanilla, it was just that the lingerie part especially caught me off guard (due to my deep, abiding love of sexy underthings). I would say that "toys" might qualify as kinky - depending on what you mean by "toy"

2. Things I will never live down: my lack of an in-depth knowledge about vaginal aging. :p

I think he meant it has swung too far in certain circles (such as here). The point is, in defending yourself against the things that you mentioned, a lot of kinksters use putting down "vanilla" people as a defense. I think this has been the dialogue...

1. "Kinky people are perverts, freaks, and we should stay the hell away from them. Ew!"
2. "Oh yeah? Well vanilla people are just uptight, puritanical and boring."
3. "Maybe neither of us have to be insulted, and we're just into different things?"

I agree with you that conservative areas (probably where you live) are still stuck in phase one. Most progressive places, including these boards have #2 as a pretty accepted implicit viewpoint. Those us posting today saying "vanilla does NOT equal boring" are trying to bring the conversation to step three.

That's all.
@154, re: 134: I can tell I've been reading Dan Savage too long, because whenever I read some online porn, my reaction to some supposedly super-hot, transgressive thing one of the characters did is, "Wait, you just did WHAT? And no safeword? BZZZT!"

@156 avast: P.S. Allow me to clarify. Of course I agree with you, and nocutename et al that kink is neither superior or inferior, nor is variety vs narrow focus. My reaction stems from too many recent sightings of comments proclaiming kink (whether in its inherent nature or as practised) to be objectively sick, trivial and distracting to "real" sex, or asocial. This, on SL, disturbs me.
Late to the party this week, but I intend to work "fuckadoodledoo" into my everyday conversation, joining "fuckity fuck fuck" in my normal lexicon.

Just let me put this out there before I head out.

Do I find kink to be objectively sick? No!

Trivial and distracting to "real" sex? Yes - for me. But it doesn't matter to me if others are into it, and I will engage with it, from time to time.

Asocial? Not at all.
Am I the only one who thought SPANK should just deny it if it ever comes up. "I don't know what you are talking about." If the guy were to persist, or SPANK wants to be more agressive, he could make a complaint to someone about this weird guy staring at him through a bathroom stall, then telling people he was jacking off, characterizing him as a freak. I am sure the police would never do anything about a report from a civilian about some other guy doing something in a bathroom. they tend to be lazy anyway, and with no proof, there is no point to pursue it.
@156 avast: Thank you. Perfectly said.

And what My said at 163. Trying to bring things to the point beyond "If you don't like to have sex/eat ice cream/use emoticons the way I do those things, you are Doing It Wrong."
151. Mr. J. the writing was tolerable because I read fast, it takes horrifically egregious errors to register with me when I read fiction. It was the contents that I had to let slide. (e.g. they're 100 years old, but they "have" to go to high school, but no one cares if they actually attend??)
Mr J - You are seriously causing me more severe worry than anything about your sex life has ever done.

If you MUST have vampires and werewolves, go to a Dark Shadows convention and see how well David Selby has aged.

But please, please, please, if you will only do one thing I ever ask of you, for the sake of both your heart and your brain, put down the Twilight (and, being in a more zen mood than usual I shall not even disparage it) and


I forestall any attempt at a defence on your part by admitting that it could be worse. Somebody I was almost in danger of starting to respect not long ago became a highly dedicated Brony.
@167: cool, thanks for clarifying.
@165: I suppose pendulum is the wrong metaphor, as it suggests a single viewpoint that oscillates from one extreme to the other, and in this case the overdone rhetoric continues to come from both sides at the same time.

Also interesting what pings the radar for different people. I happened to pick up on the stuff along the lines of "my husband is a dud," but that's just my radar, being pretty vanilla myself.

Around here, in my estimation things tend to lean pretty heavily towards kink-positive: find your kinks, express your kinks, accommodate your partner's kinks, to the extent that anybody tending more towards the vanilla side is seen as not GGG or repressed or boring or generally unsatisfying. (In that the person writing in about their vanilla partner is usually dissatisfied. Happily vanilla couples don't write in to an advice column near as often as unsatisfied ones do.)

That, and calling kink "sick" isn't exactly orthodoxy around here, so when those came up my tendency was to discount them as trolling or benighted prudery. But again, that's just my reaction to it.

@93 Some sex shops rate their vibes for sound. I live in Toronto, so the one I know of that does that is Come As You Are. I don't know whether they ship outside of Canada.
@93 @100: Apparently coil electric vibes are the quietest type. They don't have a motor.

But, you mean, us women shouldn't just be guided by what men want? I mean, obviously we don't know ourselves well enough, and so should just trust that a man will be able to predict what our kinks will be in a decade or two, even if we're not ready for them yet.
So here's what you do: Get in a time machine and go tell your twentysomething self not to dump someone because he's kinky, WHIP, because one day you're going to come into your own kinks.

Why would WHIP-24 listen to WHIP-43? Presuming that WHIP-24 is one of those younger women who is repulsed by kinkiness in men, would she really become interested in a kinky guy just because her older self told her that, nineteen years later, she would read a novel and it would finally make her interested in exploring kinkiness?
Mr V

I am happy to comply. Which piece did you have in mind? To The Lighthouse?

If it helps my case even slightly, please understand that the only point I'm trying to make about Twilight is that there is some value in there just as there is in compost. It would be dishonest of me to claim otherwise.
From my experience, I urge you to stand up for what you want. I had a sexual awakening in my late 40s, and my husband was uninterested. It was partly my fault--he had been gracious about not pressuring me for sex during a long healing process. But I expected him to be so happy when I was enthusiastic again. Some of what I wanted to do he would not try (anything to do with pain). He would try different positions, and then tell me that they didn't do anything for him. He stopped me when I tried oral sex on him; he didn't like it. I think a lot of the problem was that he was conditioned to his hand, but he claimed to like PIV sex in the one position and rhythm that worked for him (and in the afternoon--sex at bedtime interfered with his evening routine).

I didn't have enough confidence that I had the right to my wants, and we still had kids at home. My awakening gradually faded away in the face of his disinterest. When we reached empty nest I pushed hard for us to work on our relationship. I had changed a lot in my healing process and he had no interest in change or growth. Then six months later he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and the beginnings of dementia (at age 63). Now it is too late I wish I had pushed for what I wanted earlier. And/or left him while I could.
For the 1st poster - use the handicapped stall from now on to rub one out. The toilet is usually around the corner from the door crack, no direct sight line.

The more I hear about 50 Shades of Grey, the less I want to read it (*NO ONE* at the publishers saw the canning/caning typo? Really? Or is this a cutesy-poo we're too embarrassed to call it what it really is deal?). Either way, no thank you. The classics (i.e. The Story of O) will do me just fine.
@183 at least in my book, if you are no longer having sex with your husband, you are not ethically bound to stay faithful. I hope you can seek out happiness for yourself; being a caretaker is a hard job and you are entitled to seek your own happiness in life.
Thanks, EricaP. I don't feel ethically bound to stay faithful, and I have spent some time getting to know people in my local BDSM community. I have come to feel that whatever I want there is someone out there who wants the same thing. But it is hard to find someone over 40 interested in a part time relationship who wants friendship first, not just to act out their own sexual fantasies, and recently it hasn't seemed worth the time and energy.
"...and now I wanna get canned and you're going to can me."

I dunno if anyone else has commented on this. I scrolled gaily down to the bottom to tell you, Dan...

You crack me up!! I burst out laughing and I'm still laughing!

Thanks for keepin' it real!

What does masturbation in the bathroom have to do with self-mutilation? Because I know you are smart enough not to be bringing up your amazing lack of reading comprehension in comments of last week's column.
@186, yes, no argument here. Dating is hard.
@186 redpanda
They may be hard to find, but not impossible. Best of luck to you. At least it will be easier for you as a woman than it would be for a man.
Comment 83:

You want to cut part now, so you can cut more later.

My response, in comment 175 was WTF

Then in comment 180 you write:

Self-mutilation is often a recurrent condition.

Please forgive my confusion, as there is no-one who responds to Diane in this whole thread other than me. SPANK does not respond to Diane. So I assumed that they were directed at me. Explain who else "Diane" was meant to refer to.
As for why I was confused about your bringing up mutilation in response to masturbation, see comment 21. That was the only comment I posted in this week's column before your first comment. As I know you are too smart to bring up last week's conversation, I assumed you were referring my first comment, and had no clue why you were talking about mutilation.

This may be a "don't feed the trolls" sort of situation.

You have just made my week. I was hoping against hope that would be your answer.

Allow me to break this down for you:

You have just lost "human being" privileges. You are now my toy, and as such, I will refer to you as "Hunter-Toy" from now on. You are basically the equivalent of a first-generation furby--the kind with no off switch.

As such, I will ignore you or play with you as I see fit. If I respond to you, it is for my own amusement, and if I grow bored I no longer feel any need to keep up any conversation to me. On occasion I will treat you like a pet or even a human being. Do not mistake this for a new status. It simply amuses me to do so for that particular comment.

The point is, from this day forth, you exist only for my amusement.
@191, actually, generally speaking, it isn't any easier for a woman to find what she wants, than it is for a man to find what he wants. Diane wants friendship with a guy before sex, so, no, Mr. J, that's neither easy to find, nor easier because she's female.

I am 31, and I've been on the internet since I was twelve. I ran two message boards in my mid-twenties. I know trolls when I see them.

While some people think that "Don't feed the trolls" is the appropriate response, I've always felt that this is a waste. Trolls are very entertaining if you do mistake them for actual human beings with feelings.

Now, you have to be careful that you are dealing with an actual troll, and not an idiot. That was why I was going to great lengths to make Hunter-Toy clarify what it said.

I was 99% sure that Hunter-Toy was a troll because of how it's treated you. I hadn't been here long enough to be 100% certain, though. Now I am, and I'm very happy.

Feel free to join in my treatment of Hunter-Toy, or not. I don't claim to own it.

Thanks for the heads-up :)
@197 I mean redpanda@186 of course, not Diane.
Oh yay, we're back to pointless bickering among anonymous strangers who could be entirely fictional beings. Let's light this place up like a trashy AOL chatroom!
Mr J - People do tend to assume To the Lighthouse, don't they? For you, I rather think Between the Acts. (Unfortunately, I just wasted half an hour devising a list of which book to assign to whom, though I did finish with a list that I don't much dislike at the end.)
(making popcorn)
@149 "Re: Sexual peaks.

One way to attack the question is horizontally."

Dan, I think you mean AquaLASS.
Mr V
I'll get right on it. I haven't read that one.

@197 EricaP
I'm surprised. I've always found women to be the gatekeepers of both the initial acquaintanceship and the sex.
69,600 following you on twitter mr.savage. Congrat!
It learns quickly. NO-ONE can out-crazy me.
@207, redpanda said friendship, not acquaintanceship.
I would like to know what is the scientific or statistical data that justifies the statement about women achieving their sexual peak at a later age. When I was 15, I started having sex and tried a lot of things, including orgies, fucking with women, gang bangs, swinging, all of which I continued to do during my 20s. During my 30s I started to loose interest in trying new stuff, and now that I am 42 I completely lost interest in sex (for the last couple of years, maybe even more). Maybe this is just my personal experience, but I'd be interested in knowing more.
@210 EricaP
Right. And if you don't get past meeting someone you won't get to friendship. Whether it's real life or online social networking, men line up to meet women. Women weed through the candidates. In 48 years only 2 women have ever sought me out to get to know me, so you can't argue that my lack of relationships is just about my going after women who are out of my league. It's women who are filtering me out. That's just how the system is set up. How many guys have you turned away in your lifetime?

I didn't say finding friendship is easy. It is easier if you have more prospects though.

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