Columns Jul 3, 2013 at 4:00 am



Scary how a habit can become an addiction. I've been waiting and refreshing the page for about three hours.. with plenty to do left undone, of course.
I assumed clam digging was a euphemism for cunnilingus.
mmmm cake
I wish BLOCK had told us more about how she knows she has no physical connection with the men she goes out with. It makes a difference if she knows after meeting him once, after having dinner and drinks, after the good-night kiss, or after having slept with him. Does she know after watching a movie with him in which he laughed in all the wrong places? After hearing him tell a story in which he proved himself to be something of a jerk?

Probably my best sexual relationship began as an awkward spot with someone I wasn't attracted to. He was older, heavier, balder, just all wrong. I thought I was attracted to guys who were the opposite. Until that moment, I was. This man kept pursuing me. I kept turning him down, but never with any terrible finality. After months, I did sleep with him. I slept with him again. I decided I liked it. We kept sleeping together for 10 years. I am incredibly glad to have had him in my life. He made everything about those slutty years easy.

I'm not sure that story translates into advice. I'm not advising that BLOCK sleep with me she doesn't find attractive. I'm not suggesting that she lead anyone on. But I would suggest that she leave off looking for that perfect sexual relationship on the first date (if that is indeed what she's doing). Instead, make it your goal to make friends. Meet lots of people. Be open to the possibility of having sex with guys. Be open to the possibility of doing it more than once. If something or someone really makes you scream yech, then don't, of course, fight the yech reaction, but do approach men, all men, with a sense of curiosity and open mindedness.

And do what Dan suggests. Give it some time.
Clam digging in the Northwest is nothing more than it sounds like! Digging for Geoduck clams (or others, but Geoduck clams are the best!) is a great way to "forage" for your dinner. As in, food...

*cue the "eating out" jokes
Clam digging is obviously vaginal fisting.
To PORN: If you get involved with this guy, please, for the love of the gods, get tested regularly for STD's. His profession, as you know, puts him at higher risk for diseases.
I love clam digging! With my kids, with my wife, even with my brother and sisters! Sometimes with all of them at the same time!
@-CLAMS, Here in South Carolina, we've always referred to "clam digging" as going up to Myrtle Beach in order to pick up drunk bikini babes. No necrophilia involved, unless you count the kind of southern girl dumb enough to be impressed by any asshole who buys her a Mai Tai as already dead.
@5 is right, too. Goeduck clams especially make the best sushi.
On one hand I really love Dan's advice to CALI--it seriously irks me that homosexuality is so often equated to a lack of manliness because that is complete bullshit. On the other, I'm not sure her hang up is about that. I'd have a pretty hard time if someone I was dating for a goodly chunk of time suddenly came out with 'surprise! I thought I was bi and I did a gay porno!' The bi exploration I could get over pretty quickly/easily but the porno, for me, is another ball of wax. Nothing against the adult film industry or any type of sex work, but for me, it's a revelation that would take more than a night or two to get over.
Re MLIA, perhaps their approach is wise, if they want to sow wild oats before having children. And maybe they've been together a decade, and so had their own honeymoon period long ago. But it strikes me as odd to be so focused on experimenting with new people & trying out bisexuality for both of them, when they just got married. Not as odd as necrophiliacs with shovels, mind you. And if it works for them...

For CALI, I think she should consider the quality of the sex she has with her "amazing boyfriend." Is it perfect because he rarely initiates, and she just got out of a relationship with someone who was always hounding her for sex? If so, then in a few years she may be frustrated with how little her bf initiates sex. But if they have lots of great, mutually satisfying PIV sex and she feels connected to him during, then that's more promising.

CALI might also ask her boyfriend to talk about what motivated the sudden "confession." My brain can come up with many possibilities, ranging from a desire to get more serious in the relationship, to, say, a male ex-lover threatening blackmail. He may not tell CALI why he wanted to confess, but she may learn something from the way he answers.
@6 -- Yeah, I was thinking either vaginal fisting or simultaneous cunnilingus and fingering.
And while it's great that DOMA was repealed, let's not get complacent -- the overturn of the VRA means some serious disenfranchisement ahead.
BLOCK isn't crazy or broken, she's grieving. I (male) broke up with the man I thought was THE one, after 7 years. It'd been 10 months apart and I'm still pretty messed up. At this point my thinking is I won't ever find such a guy again, and now I'm just going through the motions of my daily routine kind of like a zombie, occasionally having a date and/or meaningless sex, but no chemistry. I hope it changes, but right now I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. All the best to you BLOCK, I know exactly what you're going through.
The online dating "porn star" is probably catfishing.
CALI: If it's any comfort at all, you aren't alone in your confusion. One of the things that has amused me for years about straight women, as a generalized group, is that they complain about how men are obsessed about MFF stuff, but aren't at all interested in MMF stuff that the women say that they'd prefer to try out .... But they throw out of a (metaphorical, thank god) window every single guy who might, maybe, at one time, have touched a dick that wasn't his own. There's a reason that Savage has cuttingly remarked that the perception is "suck one cock and you're gay for life".

For those of us further down the Kinsey Scale it really isn't a problem. But I imagine that it must piss off bi guys something fierce. (And does rather confirm me in my opinion that if there is one piece of indispensible knowledge that every straight guy should learn as early as possible it is this: what women say they want in sex and romance and what women actually want are very, very often very, very different things.)
@14 I've been there too and it really really sucks. It does get better, do your best to socialize with friends and do things that are good for you. It helped me to think of it as finding joy in my life rather than finding another guy. I still haven't found him but I'm no longer in a bleak and lonely place either. Focus on yourself and if you can't bring yourself to function beyond the minimum get screened for depression--therapy helped me to process a lot of feelings I didn't even realize I had. Best to you.
@6: Ditto - fingering/fisting makes the most sense. Picking up women at the beach works, too, and maybe has more need of a euphemistic phrase.
CALI and folks like her should think of it through this analogy: think of being straight as being born an "citizen" of Heteroland. A het woman is free to travel, , hell, even to live in other countries (ahem), hell, many other countries, but she can come back at any time and resume being seen as utterly Het at any time.

By way of contrast: a straight man exists on a revocable citizenship. Hell, if he crosses the border just once to see what it is like on the other side he has his citizenship revoked, or his passport marked "possible traitor". He's no longer accepted or believed to be Straight, ever. Oh, he can still live and settle down in Hetland, but as -- at best -- a dual citizen, and one of perceived dubious loyalty at that.

I ran that by some women at a party about four years back and they vigorously disagreed. I asked them this: "As I talked about how unfair I thought that was, did you think that I might be gay or bi, that I might be angry because I wasn't allowed to experiment with other men without losing my straight identity?" "Yes."
"So, essentially, I said `wouldn't it be nice if men could travel outside "their country" too' and already you didn't see me as a citizen of Straightland any more, even though I've never been anywhere and don't want to go. Thanks for proving my point."
BLOCK should read The Orgasmic Diet if she wants something actually useful to her.

I'm gonna lurk her until Dan takes me seriously, goddamnit! Just because I lost funding for my study doesn't mean fish oil, etc., doesn't work. It works.
Am I the only one who saw what was really going on in PORN's letter? He met a man on a gay hookup site who seems just perfect, and he recognizes from his picture that he's a *gasp* porn star! He hasn't met him yet.

Uh, dude, the guy is a fake. He's not a porn star. He's using a porn star's picture. Don't be surprised if you go for meet-up and he doesn't look quite like his picture.
I wonder how Cali would feel if some gay guy she once dated before he came out found he could never get laid again because he once slept with her?

The woman is clearly swimming in the great homophobe sea.

Lots of gay guys have sex with women. Even guys like me who aren't too keen on the idea of dating bi guys generally give the early exploration of sex with women a pass and don't freak out just because some guy once slept with a woman while confused about their sexuality.

She has a guy who had the opportunity, took it, and came back more assured that he is straight. He is also a guy with the integrity, self confidence and character to be honest about it.

His past and the way he handles it today indicates that this guy is a catch, and if she dumps him because the fact that he had sex with another guy once makes her think he isn't really a man anymore then she deserves to be alone.
@11 - I had the same feeling about MLIA. They could either be embarking on a long-term sex-positive marriage or subtly freaking out about being married. It's hard to tell from the letter. At the minimum, they should make sure to talk through all the boundaries and where they see all of this experimentation leading (or not leading) before just jumping in.
I would love to be with a guy who has already slept with a guy. That aside, it is also a sign he trusts her enough to share this information. He obviously seems to want this relationship to be clear and long-term.
PORN should think about what is more likely:
1. The guy is the porn star he recognizes
2. The guy is using the pictures he found online of a porn-star.

I think possibility #2 is much more likely.
re Ashley Amber, comment #7. yes, he should get tested, but for the opposite reason! Folks in the industry are tested much more frequently than most of us and are usually much more educated and diligent about safer sex practices. Get tested (for all STIs!) so he can be sure of your status.
re Ashley Amber, comment #7. yes, he should get tested, but for the opposite reason! Folks in the industry are tested much more frequently than most of us and are usually much more educated and diligent about safer sex practices. Get tested (for all STIs!) so he can be sure of your status.
This iteration of Snappy Dan seemed less witty and astute (and more likely to make assumptions that I question) than in a typical quickies column.
I've felt that about a lot of the blog entries. I think that he's spreading himself too thin, frankly.
BLOCK: Your slutty years are not a contractual obligation. Be slutty when you feel like being slutty.
MLIA: This is either the beginning of something awesome or a sign of newlywed anxiety disorder. Either way there seems to be some awesome sex to had, so good on you.
CALI: If your partner has done something in the past that you consider freaky/transgressive (or just gay, as Dan was right to call you on) and you're freaking out, adjust your perspective. They have tasted life and they have chosen you- take the fucking compliment.
PORN: 95% sure you're being Catfished. If not, get up on it already and follow his lead on bringing up his career.
CTY: I would say exactly what Nancy Pelosi said about Michelle Bachmann's opinion: Who cares?
Isn't Clam Digging when a dildo or vibrator slip up in the vagina and you have to go to the ER to get it out?
Is CALI's problem really a prejudice regarding gay sex being emasculating?
I'd disagree with the "emasculating" notion, and deal with a rather more grunty one: most straight women, whether they admit it or not, want their man to be dominant. Not necessarily over them, mind, but they want their man to be the one on top (ahem, as it were) in social, business or other relationships: they want him to be The Man. They wanna be proud of him. And our culture retains a large measure of its previous view of gays of being lesser kinds of men, weak as opposed to strong, sensitive rather than dominant. Social coding goes pretty deep, and for a lot of women that code says, "any man who has been down on his knees for another man is, in my gut instinct, less of a man".
I bought the Dan Bergen book a few weeks ago but haven't cracked it yet. Now I really want to...
@32 - from oxford dict.:
1 (usually as adjective emasculated) deprive (a man) of his male role or identity
2 make (someone or something) weaker or less effective
@4: In other words: Isn't the whole point of being slutty, "lowering your standards" and actually saying yes more often?
@34 re @32 - So noted and corrected at a precision level.

My comments, though, went to the colloquial use of the term, (i.e. emasculate used to mean "no longer a man") and addressing how many women perceive how men fit into hierarchies.
@32: who the hell says that gay sex implies that someone - hell, even the receptive partner in anal sex - is emasculating?

Homophobes, that's who. And usually they're misogynists too, who think that any man who "takes the woman's role" is no longer a man.

Any man who can tell someone that he knows is likely to kick the shit out of him for being gay, that they're gay, is a Real Man if you ask me.

Nevermind the fact that you can take it in the ass "like a man". Or bottom and fuck "like a man". Or otherwise be completely dominant while having sex *any way you like it*. Because capital-D Doms do that.
Comedian Steve Hughes on looking down on gay men for not being "manly":…

My kinda column... Sexy, balanced, sexy, insightful, sexy, funny. Oh, and sexy...

Go Dan! Have a safe and sane 4th!
I've given it some careful thought, and I've decided that I'm ready to have a slutty phase. Where do I sign up?

BLOCK gets bonus points for following the radical agenda and de-genderizing all her partners in her letter. The solution is to take it another step or two and de-genderize them all when she dates them; therein lies the true radical utopia.

MLIA should absolutely not have her threesome with this particular male friend, unless she has fallen into the classic biphobic trap of calling a man gay when he's really bi. Assuming she is correct in her labeling, he will disappoint her, try to break up her marriage to get at her husband (we'll give her a partial pass on labeling her husband, though the chance of success for the encounter would be so much better if all the participants were bi, as we all know that bisexual sex trumps monosexual sex every time). A good general rule for such a case is that, if a gay male cannot have the courtesy at least to pretend he has enough skill and enthusiasm to be able to pass for bi, he's not up to the job. The same goes for a straight man.

As for CALI - really, Ms Erica, blackmail? Good Gravy Lorraine. Anyone who could be blackmailed (as in, would react to the menace by bargaining, pleading or paying instead of treating the "threat" with the contempt it deserved) probably OUGHT to be blackmailed.

However, Ms Erica reminds me of Virginia Revel. She responded to a caller who offered to sell her letters signed with her name (which she hadn't written) and hinted that, should she decline to buy, he'd deal with her husband (who'd been dead for some time) by giving him forty pounds, largely because she'd never been blackmailed and wondered how it would feel (buying the experience much as she bought a party frock), but also thinking that she was buying time for some other poor woman who had written the letters with which she was being blackmailed by mistake.

I'm not entirely sure that CALI's problem isn't biphobia rather than homophobia. So many monosexuals are always out to convert each other, but quake in the face of a more complete orientation.
Mr. Ven @41:

"Assuming she is correct in her labeling, he will disappoint her, try to break up her marriage to get at her husband (we'll give her a partial pass on labeling her husband, though the chance of success for the encounter would be so much better if all the participants were bi, as we all know that bisexual sex trumps monosexual sex every time)."

It's odd that you would assume the gay male friend will be a disappointing interloper. I know plenty of gay men who are more than willing to make out with women WITHOUT the added incentive of getting to make out with her husband as well. I'd think that with this already rare proposal, the gay man would be even further incentivized to respect the couple's boundaries. And I'd say placing monosexuality over bisexuality is a subjective judgment, to say the least- Bi-Centric July or not.

P.S. Is this BJ thing a kind of performance art or subcultural ventriloquism? How seriously am I supposed to take this?
"Grind the gears off your sex gaskets"? I believe that's what high school automobile mechanics teachers call a "mixed metaphor".
@33 wxPDX

I finished the book last week. I thought it was interesting in that it wasn't Ev Psych.

But at the end of the book when the doctor from the Netherlands was trying to explain female desire relative to dopamine and serotonine, in relation to testosterone, I was a bit lost.

Can someone explain it to me?

Here's to the death of DOMA!! Yaay!!

How does everyone feel about the death of the Voters' Rights Act of 1965, as killed by the Supreme court, though? *sigh*
@45: Yeah, I was reminded of 2008 when Obama was first elected and Prop 8 passed in California. As a gay black liberal living in Berkeley (and I'm sure for many others), it was a rollercoaster in both the worst and best senses.
A good rule of thumb; it doesn't matter what your partner identifies as sexually as long as they fuck you.

On the flip side of the men exploring sexuality is the female gender identity drama. If you don't conform to certain standards than you're either defective, homosexual, bi-sexual or trans. The message was so prevalent that I just assumed that I was growing up only to find out...I'm painfully the most average uninteresting heterosexual EVER. To this day most of my co-workers think I'm gay simply because of my physical strength, not letting men do the heavy lifting for me (why am I being paid again?) and my belief in toning down things like hair, makeup, and jewelry while on the clock. No number of days I show up off the clock in heels and a dress have been able to correct this. And no, I'm not willing to fuck anyone just for het cred. All the best one's have GFs anyways and I don't poach.
41-Ven-- How could I have missed the avoidance of pronouns? In my rush to identify with BLOCK, I am guilty of massive assumption. Thanks for catching that.
For CALI: In Plato's Symposium (in addition to Socrates making lovey-dovey with cute teenage boy), Aristophanes tells a story about why people want love, and he argues that men who love men are in fact the manliest men, because their "other half" is also a man, whereas the men that love women are half-feminine themselves.

So yeah, it's all there in ancient Greece.
Re the advice to read Daniel Bergner's book. OK, I admit I have not read the book. But I was so unimpressed with him when he was a guest on the podcast a while ago that I can't believe there's anything wonderful in that book. Mostly Dan's experts really do know a lot about their subject, and it shows. This guy, though, almost came off as a man-on-the-street, someone with no expertise whatsoever on the subject. Anything he had to say was about on the level I'd expect from a high school sex ed class, rather than from a groundbreaking expert in the field.
ven @41:
I'm not entirely sure that CALI's problem isn't biphobia rather than homophobia.
I can't speak for CALI, but I can speculate based on experience. A lot of women who are too invested in the notion of a traditional man are also too invested in the notion of Gatekeeping The Pussy [cit: A. Marcotte], i.e. the notion that sex isn't for her own pleasure but is a part of a control/reward structure for the relationship. I think a lot of women like that instinctively know (or at least believe) that if she pisses off a straight boy enough he will still find it comparatively difficult (especially among people who know he's attached) to get sex elsewhere, but knows (or believes) that a bi guy will have zero trouble finding a guy to come with if she turns off the tap just a little too tightly. In other words, she may not hate gays per se, she may hate that gays represent a more viable and present danger to her sexual monopoly.

The "block" is just a... nothing. You can see that someone's attractive or attracted to you on an intellectual level, but you get no response from your body. Imagine if you were a computer and someone removed the driver. All you get is a big yellow question mark. That's what it's like. You know there's supposed to be something there but there's just no reaction. You react to people you SHOULD be interested in the same way you'd react to interesting architecture or perhaps expensive furniture.

So you're "out there" on the dating scene but you're simply not interested in anyone. You wonder if you've been gay the whole time (which frankly would solve pretty much every problem I have). You wonder what's broken, if you need medication or supervision. (Clarification: I'm referring to the block, not being gay.)

You dread the idea of sex. It seems weird and awkward. It seems like a waste of time and effort and not worth the risk. You don't want to connect that way with another person because you can't do it. You body is no longer wired to be attracted to other people. Your friends just tell you "get out there" and "find someone". I've got POF open in another window and I just... you know I just don't see the point in writing to any of those people, not even the totally hot one that's got tons of the same interests that I have.

That's what that "block" is, and although I have no idea who you are, I'm glad you don't know what in the world we're talking about.

The "block" is just a... nothing. You can see that someone's attractive or attracted to you on an intellectual level, but you get no response from your body. Imagine if you were a computer and someone removed the driver. All you get is a big yellow question mark. That's what it's like. You know there's supposed to be something there but there's just no reaction. You react to people you SHOULD be interested in the same way you'd react to interesting architecture or perhaps expensive furniture.

So you're "out there" on the dating scene but you're simply not interested in anyone. You wonder if you've been gay the whole time (which frankly would solve pretty much every problem I have). You wonder what's broken, if you need medication or supervision. (Clarification: I'm referring to the block, not being gay.)

You dread the idea of sex. It seems weird and awkward. It seems like a waste of time and effort and not worth the risk. You don't want to connect that way with another person because you can't do it. You body is no longer wired to be attracted to other people. Your friends just tell you "get out there" and "find someone". I've got POF open in another window and I just... you know I just don't see the point in writing to any of those people, not even the totally hot one that's got tons of the same interests that I have.

That's what that "block" is, and although I have no idea who you are, I'm glad you don't know what in the world we're talking about.
I'm surprised that there's been no mention that BLOCK could be suffering from depression. Generally, when one is depressed, interest in sexuality tends to diminish as well.

The other interesting thing is that BLOCK was miserable during the final years of the relationship and it's unclear as to who ended it (the argument could go either way).

If BLOCK's body and mind are not receiving horny signals from the people she could be dating (or fucking in her goal of slutdom), then she's just not ready. And BOO to the mom who thinks her daughter is just being too picky. I guess mom thinks that ANY body is better than none?

Though non-stop crying gets old after a while (and is really bad for the complexion), I can see how BLOCK feels so down, especially as she went from a teenager into her mid twenties with the same partner, most likely thinking that marriage (or any semblance of permanence) was the logical next step. If BLOCK simply can't stop crying, etc., then she should think of a couple sessions with a therapist.
@52, 53: Actually, that's called depression. If there are other activities in your life that seem similarly pointless, you might want to consider taking action rather than assuming things will pass.
@51 While I can see were you're coming from and I'm sure there's women like that out there, I'm hoping and praying to whatever deity that exists that they're in the minority. Partly because the idea of a sexual monopoly is laughable at best regardless of sexuality or gender (ex. hookers, glory-holes, the internet, and etc.). But mostly because it sounds extremely inhumane to both parties. Though it would explain a lot of the rather odd/wrong/horrible things my grandmother's said about men and sex over the years. If I hadn't had the very nice sexual relationships in high school that I did I'd probably still be scared of men as sexual partners.
And does rather confirm me in my opinion that if there is one piece of indispensible knowledge that every straight guy should learn as early as possible it is this: what women say they want in sex and romance and what women actually want are very, very often very, very different things.

OH, HELL NO. That's way, way too smug. And way too gendered. How about "People don't always know how, or may be too afraid, to communicate what they really want"? Because that for damn sure has applied to every man I know, as much as every woman, and in many other situations besides sexual ones. Moreover, one of the BIGGEST barriers to such communication is feeling that the other person is not going to believe that you really know what you want, or that you will really tell the truth.
Mr Rhone - Bicentric July is an experiment in its first outing. Posts with [BJ] at the beginning are written with the intent to look at things through as many inverted assumptions, presumptions and expectations as I can recall or invent. Read them with the assumption that they are written from the perspective that everyone is, is trying to be, wants to be, or ought to be bi.

Now, I was thinking of a full threesome rather than just a make-out romp, if that makes any difference. I took the LW as wanting double full MF interaction with only the light MM seasoning that her husband deemed acceptable. You go perhaps a little farther than I do - I fully support leeway as long as it doesn't give rise to reasonable expectation amounting to redefinition - but that did not fit the theme of the month.

I'll admit, on reflection, that, in the context of the post, I'd have done better to set the bar at bicurious.

As far as boundaries in couple-single threesomes go, I'd start out thinking that the consideration ought to be proportional to the challenges imposed by the encounter. You may have missed that the LW makes no mention that DDGGF has the slightest interest in her. She exhibits no concern for DDGGF at all, and appears to presume that of course he'd do her if he got to do her husband. [NOTE OF SIGNIFICANCE: As multiple letters of late have changed tone in the editing, I append a caveat that the original letter indicate the same sort of thinking as what was published.]

Now, if the question before the house is whether an LG-presenting person should have the leeway to indulge in a mixed threesome or even an opposite-sex romp without revocation of the LG card (though it might mean no gold star), all the better. But if the question before the house is whether it is reasonable to assume that (as the LW appears to do in the information we are provided) no gay man will turn down a threesome with another M involved to whom he is attracted - not on your Aunt Fanny.

So, in the end, I conjured the idea that it is polite at least to pretend that one is not making a big orientational leap. (This also ties in to past discussions about indulging a partner, particularly in unusual fancies, but that's a double dip.) There was also a hint of BJ-specific disapproval of rounding in labeling, which I might use more as the month progresses.

The idea is to write things as quickly as possible and see what comes out. Sometimes it's just silliness, and sometimes something goes in an interesting direction. As BJ is on its first outing and not as established as HA next month, there may be more of the former. It's also a little unlucky that there are so many letters right at the start of the month dealing with actual bisexuality. Homocentric August has been most in its glory when dealing with letters from straight people who rely on presumptive heterosexuality rather than present fully. I am hoping for many letters containing presumed monosexuality as the month progresses.
Mr Seeker - I was invoking the stereotype of the woman who looks on gay men as a challenge, enjoys converting them (by her own way of thinking), and thus finds bi men to be insufficient sport.
vennominon@41, I wasn't imagining blackmail for money, but rather for continued sexual access to CALI's bf.

My experience is that people with well-kept secrets don't reveal them unless hiding the secret has become too much trouble. So I began pondering, why did he tell her now?

Did he worry she might stumble on his old porn while surfing for porn herself? Well, maybe, if she really likes gay porn. So that's an option. Or maybe he has reason to think that a clip from his past is going to show up in her email soon. Or maybe this is a first baby step toward talking about him exploring with guys again.

I appreciate the advice (@30, 47) not to obsess about a lover's past. If you stumble across an unexpected kind of porn on your partner's computer, maybe you bring it up to see if that's an interest you can enjoy together, but you drop it if they don't want to talk about it. But I think it's normal to try to understand what is motivating a "confession" (CALI's word) that comes out of the blue.
I dunno, Dan. Wouldn't Occam's razor dictate that PORN's potential date is just using a porn star's picture?
Ms Erica - Even so, whether the payment is in cash or in trade, I'll stand by the maxim that anyone who capitulates now that Reading Gaol is no longer in question more or less deserves it.

Come to think of it, one might well advise a person facing attempted blackmail to take Mr Wilde's response as a sort of model.

But I do think you have conjured the air of a more elegant age. Not that one would wish to go back, but this is no longer a time when murders are solved because Miss Marple realizes the importance of everyone commenting about the central heating's being lit.
Thank you @34.

@41 "[The gay man] will disappoint her, try to break up her marriage to get at her husband (...the chance of success for the encounter would be so much better if all the participants were bi, as we all know that bisexual sex trumps monosexual sex every time)...if a gay male cannot have the courtesy at least to pretend [to be] bi, he's not up to the job. The same goes for a straight man."

Wow. Is that your interpretation of the Bi POV? Seriously, Ven.

Thank you @42, lolo dear.

Thank you @43.

"You lost; love won. You can get over it and come to the wedding and have some cake or you can fuck the fuck off. Your choice."

I want that on a T-shirt.
Mr. Ven @58: My assumption was that the LW had already vetted the third man and was assured of his willingness. Of course, there are just as many gay men who wouldn't even consider a MMF encounter. Regardless, the idea that a gay man would be any more likely to transgress the couple's boundaries than other types of people seems problematic to say the least (or was that point part of BJ's quasi-silliness?).


A single sexual encounter is not enough information to make an assumption about a person's total sexuality- maybe there's a big leap in orientation happening, maybe not.
In my experience—ahem—picky people are likelier to enjoy their slutty phases and likelier to survive them.

Amen. So true that I'll ignore the evo-psych.

@35: There's good slutty and bad slutty. Good slutty is casual sex that fulfills desire, fantasy, lowers inhibition, and is done with people you like and who hopefully can teach you something you didn't already know about your body and overall sexual palate. Bad slutty involves the kind of careless (often anonymous) sex that makes you question your mental and physical health, not to mention your faith in humanity. I've experienced both and, as for the latter, it's a good thing that not only did I snap out of it quickly but that I am also a condom Nazi. I'll let Chris Rock speak on the anxiety of it all:…
@57 I like to think of finding what you want emotionally and physically as a never ending process. Needs, tastes, and people change or go through phases, upheavals, and modification. If we had to pick a partner who was perfect every couple of weeks than we'd probably go through at least a couple dozen in our lifetimes. Instead we use relationship skills; communication, patience, the ability to trust another person, curiosity, forgiveness and etc. Developing these skills is another problem entirely (I'm so amateur still it's ridiculous).

Add to that the fact sometime's a person doesn't really want to dance WITH you, but want to convince you to act as a prop for their own choreographed performance and it's downright depressing.

Whenever I despair of accomplishing a healthy, happy imperfect relationship I try to remember a sentence from a book I read as a tween; "perhaps we don't get what we deserve, but what we ask for" (very roughly paraphrased).

Now if they just offered relationship 101 workshops somewhere I could actually make some real progress.
Getting high doesn't seem to me like it's the best advice for BLOCK.. or for anyone in this case. Do you want to actually fix the problem? Or just mask it for a few hours

Nope, everything else is awesome. I still love my work, my hobbies, and I'm happy to be alive. I frankly feel better now than I have felt in years.

I'm just not interested in dating. It's like I'm going through the motions but it's just pointless.

Thanks for wondering though, and yes, I have gone to several counseling sessions.
52, 70- Great-- If everything is awesome, why would there be a need to date? Why must there be sex or sexuality or attraction?

In so many ways, we live in a world where the norm for some people (must find a mate, must be sexually interested) has to be the norm for everyone. If there's one thing we learn in this column, it's that that's not the case. If you're happy, if you have work, hobbies, friends (the right amount of human interaction for you), health and happiness, skip dating and sex. Don't fix what's not broken. Don't look for pills that cure what's not a disease.

This state of being will either last or it won't. If someday you wake up and think that you'd like to enjoy sex with someone, terrific, think about strategies to make that a good experience. If that never happens, concentrate on that awesome happy to be alive feeling.
Mr Ophian - No; it's my take on a bisupremacist point of view. Homocentric August has always been built on the conerstone of Assumption #1 being that LG is Best. BJ post are deliberately taking and exaggerating a bisupremacist point of view.
@72, why?
Mr Rhone - I'm curious as to why you assume the encounter has already been vetted. There's absolutely no evidence [caveat again: I suspect injudicious editing] in the letter that this has gone beyond discussion by the couple. I dislike the LW in large part because I think she's been titillating herself by imagining the encounter and discussing it with her husband while debating whether to pop the question to DDDGF, and that we are treading near problematic waters.

Given your starting point, your take makes sense.

Remembering, my saying that the least he could do would be to pretend to be bi (amended to bicurious) was in a [BJ] post, so that the bit about his not respecting their boundaries grew out of that.

I'm also curious about your saying "just as many" gay men would not consider an MMF. If you were to make a guess, what would be your blind shot at a percentage? My own guess would have been that a substantial majority would decline. Now I suspect that part of our difference is that we may know many of the same men, only the ones you know call themselves gay while the ones I know call themselves bi. But, as you cannot have less experience with women than I (think of the March Hare telling Alice to have some more wine), I am willing to bow to your superiour expertise should it so prove.

My point about consideration is fairly orientation-specific, now that this is not a [BJ] post. The actual threeway proposed is one in which the LW clearly is due less consideration than her husband, who clearly has every right to set firm limits on exactly how far he's willing to take his GGG part in the encounter for her edification. And clearly the couple has whatever boundaries they might have. But DDGGF has boundaries of his own. If he is as selfish as many DDG people stereotypically are, he could prove perhaps not above using his boundaries aggressively to get away with doing as little as possible to achieve his "real" goal. Example: You are aware of Mr Savage's dictum that Oral Comes Standard. Now, one of the potential exceptions (besides Husband saying Mo Oral) would be tailor-made for this encounter. I can easily see DDGGF's playing the Gay Card to Get Out of Oral Free, and there's not much the couple would be able to try to do to counter that without looking disrespectful of boundaries. But, if DDGGF were at least pretending to be bi, they would be able to quote Mr Savage at him without appearing at all disrespectful or gay-trampling (a word to indicate not quite homophobic with the specific connotation of fear but more than anti-gay).
Mr Ophian - Recall the thread a few weeks ago in which someone was nasty to Ms Hopkins. I was reluctant to expand HA into BJ because it felt like White Knighting - like that short film by that straight woman who is oh so pleased with herself for making a film about a world in which straight people are on the receiving end of prejudice designed to mirror the anti-nonstraight prejudice that actually exists. Ideally you should be doing this, or someone else of your persuasion, but after the way poor Ms Hopkins was so rudely treated, it had to be done, and if it had to be done by an outsider then so be it.

HA (and BJ if I manage to do it the same way) is an inversion of all the prejudices I've ever seen and as many more as I can invent. You really ought to join me. Have you never wanted to flip an anti-bi prejudice back on its user? Indulge yourself; you'll do it better than I can. I am riddled by fear of inadequacy here.
Mr. Ven @74: I suppose what I meant by "vetted" was that the LW had taken into consideration whether or not the gay friend would be 1) down for a MMF experience in the first place and is 2) right for her and her husband (i.e. trustworthy rather than just hot). As for your Oral Comes Standard scenario, wouldn't any iteration of that be covered under the boundaries discussion they'd all be idiots not to have beforehand?


In my experience, there are gay men who take a hard line (try not to chuckle) and never (or never again) sleep with women and gay men who have a more fluid policy without relinquishing their orientation. I found the latter to be especially true if there was the opportunity for a varsity-level sexual experience involved, such as threesomes and orgies (of various gender configurations). Percentage-wise, I'd say it's about 60/40 hardline/fluid. Granted, I lived in Berkeley for ten years (four at school, six working near campus), so the sample may be skewed by a number of factors, the college town thing being chief among them. And as for my own experience, I have made out with many women (and enjoyed it) but as of yet have not slept with one. While I don't rule anything out experience-wise, I am entirely certain of (and comfortable with) my stated orientation.
Back to BLOCK'S original letter and my original response to it (4). It makes a difference if the lack of sexual interest is a result of the break-up (my initial assumption), a contributing factor the break-up, or extraneous to the break-up.

If it's a result, the answer is time and a lively interest in people as people, not as potential sexual partners.

If it's a contributing factor, then part of the post break-up slog has to be figuring out what it was about the dynamic with the ex that led to such sexual dissatisfaction.

If it's a general state of affairs, then the question of women's low libido is a huge subject with all sorts of possibilities ranging from depression to low estrogen to low testosterone to unexplored possibilities in orientation or kinks.

Let me reiterate what Jeffybum said in 69 in case that post was skipped: Getting high is something you might try for a weekend. It's not a long term solution to anything, and speaking personally, I don't even care for it for the short term.

The same goes for porn. I suppose you could try it just to keep you thinking about sex, but in my experience, and in the experience of the straight women I know I've talked about this with, it doesn't do much for us. It might get me interested on an off night when I otherwise wasn't in the mood, but I can't imagine watching porn alone to see if it sparked anything in me.

I haven't read the book so I can't comment on whether that's a good recommendation or not.
vennominon@74 re "Oral Comes Standard," people are still allowed to have oral as a deal-breaker; they just need to be explicit up front and understand that it makes them less appealing as a partner. Monogamy come standard in our society, but poly exists as an option if the people in the relationship are open to it. Similarly, if someone hates oral (on whatever end), they just need to look for someone who can accept that situation.

Crinoline@77, I love reading porn, and so do my female friends. Stories put me in the mood for sex when I've been feeling stressed out over work or whatnot. And sales of 50SofG suggest that lots of women enjoy reading (badly written) erotica.
re: a MMF (MLIA's letter) I'd like to voice what has worked well for me in my long life (67). If you can't deal with the worst-case scenario, don't do it. Some things are better left as fantasies.
Ive been in many threesomes, including a few with my husband, but the only two times I tried a MMF (no hubby) one of the men freaked out early on and the event was over before it really started. I'm not saying that will happen to you but you ARE opening Pandora's Box and to me the up side (satisfying your curiosity and living your fantasy) does not carry more weight than the many ways this can go wrong and damage your new marriage.
Marriages need to be nourished more than they are tested. That's why 50% fail. Even mine (40 glorious years now) has almost ended a few times. Make your own choice but personally I wouldn't do this.
@44 are you talking about Bergner's book or mine? My book says that for a woman to have sexual desire, she has to have a good level of non-bound testosterone (i.e. free testosterone) and the right balance of dopamine and serotonin. If either is lacking, her desire will vanish.

Dan rightly points out that getting high will help with the dopamine/serotonin balance by cranking the dopamine up high temporarily. However, I don't believe that getting high every time you want to have sex is very sustainable, especially since new studies have come out showing that chronic cannabis smokers end up with lower dopamine levels--in other words the hit diminishes over time.

A more sustainable way to get the right dopamine/serotonin balance is through diet. Avoid substances that spike up serotonin like starchy meals, caffeine and of course antidepressants and increase dopamine by taking lots of fish oil. (more on specific techniques in my book, The Orgasmic Diet).

I'm not saying that women should decrease their serotonin so much that they become depressed. There is a middle ground. If someone is seriously depressed they should be on antidepressants. But they shouldn't expect that their libido will be there.

People with mild depression who are planning on staying on antidepressants for the rest of their lives might want to reconsider, after discussing with their doctor. Alternately, Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that alters both serotonin and dopamine and might be an option.

Dan is easy/breezy about low libido suggestions, because as a man he is blessed with abundant testosterone and dopamine. But smoke pot isn't always the answer.
The belief that gay sex is somehow emasculating, and that guys who've had gay sex are less manly, is pure homophobia.

Perhaps, but I wonder if it's more complicated than that. Maybe it's just that the rules of masculinity are different for straight and gay men, particularly in how they interact with other men, and maybe deep down at the "cave woman" level, some ladies want the former rather than the latter.

I'm reminded of a hilarious scene from a Chelsea Handler book in which a guy she was totally hot for (and who she assumed was straight) invited her for a cruise on his boat, during which she walked in on him being ass-fucked by another man. Her first confused impulse was to rush in and break it up in order to "protect his honor".

The guy was in all respects a masculine man. Yet bottoming for another man was (perhaps at a some base level) inconsistent with the kind of masculinity that she likes to fuck. While some women might be totally turned on by that kind of violation of straight masculinity, others maybe not so much, and I'd say that's their prerogative.
vennominon, @75 "Have you never wanted to flip an anti-bi prejudice back on its user?"

No, I don't think so.

If someone steps on my toes, maybe they didn't mean to, and I have an opportunity to point out how they could better watch out for other peoples toes in the future. Of course some people just love stompin' on toes. While they don't necessarily need to be dealt with delicately, if I tried to stomp their toes in return, nobody is better off and I'm a toe-stompin' jackass just like they are.

I would love to live in a world that fully accepts and allows and understands my orientation or gender-expression and everybody elses. A world in which only people like me were considered to be okay would be less acceptable than the one we currently have.
Also reminded of a scene from "Louie" (Louis CK's tv show), where he's on a date with a woman that's going wonderfully until they encounter a bunch of teens in a donut shop, one of whom completely and utterly humiliates Louis with the threat of violence. Afterwards, the woman apologetically explains that despite their obvious compatibility, she can't possibly date him any more after witnessing that scene.

Makes me wonder if her reaction would be the same if she was a man and they were both gay. Or would a gay man simply have been happy that his date did what he had to do to escape the situation without ending up in an ambulance? In studies of het female attraction, women often cite ability to protect as one of the things they are attracted to in a man. Do gay men have that same attraction/expectation of the men they date?

I suspect that here, too, there may be different definitions of masculinity at work between straight women and gay men.
seandr @81, I don't think those reactions are necessarily coming from "cavewoman" places. I think that an ingrained cultural dichotomy between male/female roles is at play.

In our culture, normative men and women see masculine and feminine as mutually exclusive, and masculine is better. Therefore if a guy has sex with another man, he loses his masculinity, and that is bad.

It doesn't seem to matter whether the guy in question tops or bottoms. It only matters that he has slept with a man and that is a female thing to do, ergo he is less of a man.

If this were a matter of women being turned on by active and dominant [turned off by passive, submissive], then your cavewomen would be flocking to the Tops. What the fuck is more dominant [in that brute evo-psychy way] than the man who dominates the dominant sex?

Now excuse me, I have to go build a house and then pick out the drapes.

@83, "Do gay men have that same attraction/expectation of the men they date?"

Only the one that's the wife does.
Ophian @84, 85:

You are on quite a roll, my dear bi genderqueer anti-supremacist. Even my culturally ingrained caveman within is laughing his ass off.
@84 I'd like all the women commenting here to raise their hand if they think Dan is hot. Not my cuppa because I'm a dom myself.

Being attracted to and sensibly realizing that a gay man isn't going to be interested are two different things.
@Ophian: Only the one that's the wife does.

Really? Most of the gay men I hang out with these days are femmes who are into masculine men. From what I can tell, they are attracted to muscles for the same reason straight guys are attracted to boobs - because they are fun to look at and play with in bed, not because of their potential utility in other scenarios. But this isn't something I've ever directly asked them, which is why I'm posting the question here.

BTW - in your two posts, you speak on behalf of straight women and gay men. Assuming you aren't a member of both categories (or either), at least one of your answers was, uh, speculative. Would be helpful to know which one.
lolo @86, mmmmooah!

seandr @88, I am neither a straight woman [as you can see from my picture], nor a gay man [perhaps less evident].

I thought that you, @81, had speculated that, for women turned off by MSM, there was something deeper than enculturation going on. I speculated the opposite.

That our culture largely classifies pitchers and catchers both as sissies strikes me as more about the taboo of homosexuality as emasculation in this culture, than about the actual act or any real physiology. Certainly, this culture draws its lines differently than the Greeks and Romans did.

I can see a woman's attraction to tall, strong, and able-to-open-pickle-jar as having an ultimately biological motivation [mediated by culture, &c.]. By the same reasoning, I can understand that for some--perhaps most--women a man in a submissive role would be not-hot. But why a big strong man who can bend another big strong man over and fuck his ass good and hard would be un-masculine to the female of the species is beyond me.

The heroine in the book you mentioned might have had a similarly averse reaction if she had caught the fellow strutting around in high-heels, which were originally a men's fashion.

With all of that said, however, my post @85 should simply be taken as Ultimately Authoritative.
Dr Sean @88 - Gee, why does that not surprise me?

Mr Ophian - Fair enough; I find it makes an interesting exercise for one month a year, and, since I only do it on line, nobody's toes get stomped. I think it probably does take a variety of approaches to get to the Free to Be You and Me (though Ms Thomas, from what one has heard, probably isn't the ideal face for that vision) place you seem to have in mind. Our forces are so small that the only way to make progress against a defensive enemy is for one of us to advance a step on the right and then the other on the left.

Ms Erica - But I was thinking of YOU when I came up with that line! You are the firmest one holding the line that each participant in Activity X be doing it absolutely for him/her own self. There are assorted attitudes with which someone can enter a cross-orientational multiparty encounter. One can tell the others it's one's first time and please forgive any incompleteness or sudden volte-face; one can enter pre-negotiation determined to give as little and get as much as possible; or one can enter into it in what I thought of as the True Erician Spirit and say one's always been curious about/wanted to try X instead of merely admitting to being willing to indulge another participant in X.

Mr Rhone - I am going to guess that you don't run bridge games. It is quite entertaining to see how often one player explains a partner's bid or play as Standard, only for the opponent to have a completely different understanding of what Standard means. I can actually envision the LW and DDGGF negotiating and agreeing to Standard stuff only to realize they'd been insufficiently thorough when they reached the critical moment.

Your experience is very informative. We certainly have known vastly different people. I have known people who have pinned a big red B on Mr Savage Himself and been quite aggressive about it; I hope they don't move to your area and spoil it.
Mr Ophian - I'll take #85 as about as authoritative as if uttered by Mrs Elton.
[BJ] I think the LW would be greatly eased (though I remain unconvinced that she deserves to be, a point for a non-BJ post to explain) if she were to rehearse the three-way in question, and I think we can all agree that there would be no better practice partners for her than Messrs Rhone and Ophian. We can auction off the role of photographer to the rehearsal, and proceeds can go to the IGBP.
@Ophian: LOL. As you can see from my picture, I'm a rainbow bunny pirate who just ate a whole bunch of ecstasy, which obviously comes with a truckload of cultural assumptions and biases.

Mr. Ven @90: Hey, people do dumb shit. However, the LW was thoughtful enough to ask a nationally syndicated sex columnist whether the proposed threesome was prudent so early in her marriage. It's not such a stretch that the LW would have sense enough to have a pre-romp discussion about boundaries with all parties involved, especially since Dan himself has repeatedly recommended just that. But point taken.

As for my experience, I'm sure you could find the same aggressive hardliners you mentioned in my area. I just steer clear of them; I've always thought "purists" were boring at best and dangerous at worst.
@91: I'm missing the reference, but you know @85 was just an excellent joke, right?
@92: Me and Mr. Ophian are internet-married. How dare you, sir! But, yeah, sure, I'm down.
vennominon @92, while indefinitely on hiatus from hanky-panky, I could make a guest appearance with lolo if it's for a good cause like IGBP.

seandr @93, I just want you to know that--while I don't agree entirely with the rainbow bunny pirate lifestyle--I have always had rainbow bunny pirates as the help, and have found them to be a generally happy and musical people.
lolo @95, @91 is an Emma reference, and I thought @92 was a sweet compliment, dear, so we better go suit-up....
Ophian @97: Thank you, it's been many years since I tackled that particular one from Austen. And consider my fake outrage foreplay in this context, so I'm way ahead of you...


I have it on good authority that the rainbow bunny pirates will rise up any day now. Those happy songs were written in code and saying nothing nice.
You're not broken; you're fine. Attraction is often more elusive than pop culture or a lucky streak would lead us to believe. You have been meeting people that just don't do it for you recently, but that doesn't mean you won't. Are you "picky?" Well, maybe. But another word for it is that you're discerning. And why not be picky? Shouldn't you want who you want? Should you really be open to sleeping with just ANYbody so you don't earn the "picky" label?

Being a slut, as someone upthread pointed out, can mean either that you have sex with any and everyone, without using any discretion, without caring who that person is and/or whether you are attracted to him or her, or it can mean that you don't feel you need to be in love or a committed relationship to enjoy sex as a sort of carnal extracurricular activity right up there with hiking or skiing or dancing. Being that kind of slut is predicated on your being attracted to the people you casually have sex with, and that brings you back to the first point. You have to be genuinely attracted. And you will be, to plenty of people over your lifetime. Sometimes you have to wait for more than 3 months and endure dozens of first non-starter dates to find one of them. But you will.

Now, Daniel Bergner's new book, "What Do Women Want," like his earlier one, "The Other Side of Desire," is excellent, and I highly recommend it in general, but I don't think it is necessarily a magic bullet for getting you out of a dating slump, nor do I think reading it will restore a libido you think is waning.

The diminished libido could be for a number of reasons. If you're using hormonal birth control, or on anti-depressants, especially SSRIs, it could be related. You could have lost your sexual appetite for your last long term partner (this is where Bergner's book might be revelatory for you), which is not at all uncommon. If this is the cause, it will likely return as soon as you meet someone to whom you're genuinely attracted. You could try to kick-start it by masturbating more often (I've noticed that for me, the more I have sex/masturbate, the more I want sex/to masturbate, while when things die down I can fall into an "out-of-sight-out-of-mind" attitude), but that means you will have to actively make yourself a sexual agent. For some women, visual porn does that; for others, written erotica; for still others, something else.

Here's where the marijuana comes in: it may ease some of your anxiety, and it may provide a libido boost. But it only works in the moment. That is to say, you can't get high once a day like you're popping a pill that has a time-release effect, and you may not want (nor be able) to be high all the time. So I don't recommend it as a very practical or long-term solution.

Most importantly, I want to tell you to ride this out and think of this block as temporary. Rather than becoming obsessed by it, keep yourself busy doing things you like to do and with people you enjoy. Take this opportunity to really get to know yourself (both sexually and non-sexually) and learn to be comfortable with and like yourself as a solo entity. You will be a lot happier, and that happiness is attractive to the kind of people you will probably find attractive, too. Good luck!
@21 Porn stars date too, you know... They don't stop having off-camera sex just because they get paid to fuck some people. This is something a porn star friend of mine actually stresses out about sometimes while looking for online hookups, worrying that people will recognize her and think she's a fake.
@4, thanks!

As that older, bald guy (okay, not that specific one but one of them alright) I'm never hit on by anyone who's looking for, among other things, good sex.

So I persist, and have been rewarded by a number of remarkable relationships, short and long term. My favorite was a somewhat proper suburban lady who would reassure herself with "you know, you're all wrong for me" between these ear-spinning orgasms.

I think she preferred golfers.

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