Savage Love Sep 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Needs & Deeds

Joe Newton



PHONE, I think Dan is wrong about part of his answer, this isn’t fair to you OR your sister. While I agree that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” in many of these cases, I have to believe that this affects your relationship with your sister in some way, and I doubt very much it’s a good way. I mean, how can you look her in the eye without having uncomfortable (and likely traumatic) flashbacks? So it’s not really a case of doing no harm in the long run. Plus, ick, how dare he. DTMFA!


Yes, PHONE, I think this is indicative of a larger problem, as Dan said. If he was being respectful about wanting this kink, that'd be one thing. I'd be wary of a man demanding all the sex he wants, on demand, as demanded - and doing so with emotional blackmail.

I also can't help but note that you didn't list any reasons you want to stay in this marriage. No "my otherwise wonderful husband," etc. That seems a bit telling.


LW1 "The struggle for me is more ego-driven. I'm no raving beauty, but I am reasonably fit and attractive for my age, and (used to) enjoy feeling desired and valued sexually."
IDK, but I feel like Dan wasn't really reading what this woman was saying, ie: she wants to feel desired and attractive; not she needs to hump alot. She's only masturbating about once a week.
It seems to me that if what this woman truly wants is attention and validation. And its worth having a conversation with the BF about what she truly needs (see: attention and validation) before she throws him over. Especially if they enjoy each other's company.
PS: So many straight guys I know watch trans porn, and while the objectification kind of gives me the creeps, it doesn't make them gay. Plus maybe it gives you the opportunity to peg him... win-win.


Yes, I'm with Rookieadvice @3 -- this couple has worked through some real issues (her snooping, his undisclosed interests), and it didn't explode their relationship. I would try to bring some fun and creativity back into their sex life before turning to other people. What if you take PIV off the table for a month or two, and have weekly dates to make out and explore other sexual activities, like pegging, mutual masturbation, oral, spanking, dirty talk, etc. No harm in trying to rebuild your sexual connection.


The 2nd letter gave me the willies. And I'm pretty stoic about the weird shit people are into.


Ms. 62
You’ve already ended your marriage on your own and come across as an open minded, kink tolerant person. What stops you from stating the kind of relationship YOU want as well as attempting to find it? And if it doesn’t work in this particular relationship, why not try elsewhere?
Being the initiator isn’t always easy. You may end up making awkward moves, left with rejections, and in your particular situation- who knows- maybe even some late blooming slut shaming of some sort. I still think you stand a good chance of finding “it.”

Rookie @ 3
Wondering since when pegging became the ultimate win-win in het relationship (which apparently also got an honorable mentioning from the honorable EP.)
Not necessarily objecting, yet wondering.


@5 the SECOND letter gave you the willies? Run of the mill old fashioned cuckholding? Not the third letter about the non consensually demanding husband?


No LW1, if this man doesn’t desire you, and you want to feel that, then move on from him sexually.
How you do that, there are lots of options. Keep living with him as housemates if the friendship is good, etc. Didn’t yrs staying in a dead relationship not teach you, don’t waste time. This man likes loopy women, so unless you want to turn yourself into one, move on.
So it’s only with calls to your sister LW2, and then he threatens you with divorce if you won’t play. Not sure how you can do a blow job while on the phone, but I’ll let that pass.
This man have the hots for your sister maybe?
Or he’s jealous of the relationship you two have?
Why are you still with a sexual abuser, using threats to get what he wants.


PHONES your husband’s behavior is manipulative, so you are right to resist. I think couples counseling is in order because years into your marriage how he approaches his relationship with you needs to change if you’re going to stay married.

After you start (during) that process, you can consider whether there are other ways to satisfy your husband’s kink. This requires an open, honest discussion about this fantasy. One possibly is finding someone on FetLife whose kink is listening to people have sex. Or could you envision doing this while on the phone with a company’s 1-800 number? Telemarketers?

If there is no way you could be on the phone with anyone, because it makes you psychologically uncomfortable, you can’t focus on your enjoyment of the sex, or something else, then don’t engage in this kink and make clear that staying married to you means no more sex while you’re on the phone.

@1/Graffic: “I mean, how can you look her in the eye without having uncomfortable (and likely traumatic) flashbacks?” Graffic your comment reads as if no one could engage in this kink without feeling uncomfortable or traumatic flashbacks, but of course that is not the case.

@5/sang: What facts made it weird. The writer is trans? She wants to be erotically cheated on by her same sex partner?


@8 was for LW1& 3, obvious I know.
LW2, Dan has covered your question.


This is where women can be their own worst enemies. LW1, SAP, interesting sign off.. some guy waits till they are close in then drops his bombshells. And LW3, seriously wtf. And why should they do counselling SA @9, all he has to do, again, is listen to her. What offensive behaviour towards the LW and her sister. Like that Gauguin painting.. a print of which my father had..
‘ what, are you jealous?’
Both women should have left yesterday. But no.


Sublime, I have plenty of kinks that I feel no guilt about, this is HIS kink, not hers. My point is that to say no harm is being done to the sister is not true because the letter writer is being FORCED into an icky behaviour NOT OF HER CHOICE. So yes, I would bet she feels shame when she’s around her sister.


@13/Graffik: First you conflate the issue of whether PHONE is harmed or her sister.

PHONE writes, “What is your opinion about using unwitting people on the other end of the phone for sexual satisfaction?”

If her only reluctance is whether it is ethical to engage in kink where someone is wholly unawares, and she is reassured that she can do this, it seems her qualms go away.

While you may have many kinks, you obviously find this one “icky,” but it is not entirely clear that PHONE does.


Well, no harm may be done to the sister if she doesn't find out about it, but the same could be said about LW filming her sister in the shower and sending it to her husband. She is involving her sister in her husband's sex life without her sister's consent, and that's icky. Also, your husband sounds like a creep that doesn't want you to have any close friends, and that's why he gets off on trying to insert himself in the middle of your conversations with her. Just food for thought: does he try and sabotage your other relationships (platonic or professional) as well?


Read the letter again SA @13. Sounds to me she’s pretty clear despite whether she finds it icky or not, that she wants him to stop doing it. She ends the calls then he gets mad threatening her with ending the marriage.


SAP's letter confuses me a bit. So she got together with this man, sex was great at first, then -he- withdrew? And says it's because she's not good in bed? During this conversation, did he tell her what she could do that he would find more enjoyable? Is she willing to try these things? Also, is he rebuffing her advances or just not making them, and neither is she? If he just gave up a couple of months in rather than trying to improve their sex life, I might go DTMFA on this guy.

Re PHONES: Ew ew ew. I'd be inclined to advise PHONES to punch her randy goat of a husband in the face when he started molesting her during phone time, but that might be considered assault. Your sister would be just as grossed out as we the commentariat are if she knew. What about calling up a phone sex line and having the person on the other end engage in a fantasy that she's your sister? Which would be a better idea if hubby weren't acting like a spoiled child. I'm with Dan, DTMFA.


Rookie @3: SAP never mentioned suspicions that her boyfriend was gay or wanted to be pegged. Why bring those misconceptions into the conversation?

I suspect Sanguisuga @5 meant that the third letter gave them the willies, not the second.

Lava @8: Great no-nonsense advice again. I agree that Mr PHONES is sexually abusive. I wonder if his "kinks" leave PHONES with bruises, and whether she's okay with that.

LOL Sublime @9 for suggesting they unleash this nonconsensual sex on telemarketers! I don't agree, of course, but it's funny to think about.

Sublime @13: Of course PHONES finds this icky. She said she was "stupid" for having let her husband "pressure" her into it, and that she didn't want to do it. Now he "harasses" her and she puts the phone down (rather than tell him to bug off). These are not words a willing partner would use. Besides, he only does this when she is on the phone with HER SISTER, so there's an incest element there. She seems to be asking whether it's OK from the sister's perspective because she's tried telling hubby it's not OK from HER OWN perspective, and he's ignored her.


@16, Fan. The sex was good for a few months then dropped to once a month. She checked his internet blah blah blah and it turns out he’s really only into crazy/ unstable women, which the LW isn’t. So even though he enjoys women like the LW, it’s the crazy ones ‘who float his boat.’


@15/Lava Girl & @17/BiDanFan: If you’re correct, why is the question she asks about whether this kink can be ethically practiced? It seems like a odd thing to ask Dan, if all you want is for your husband to back off. There are any number of more on point questions she could have asked.


Where does she ask that SA? I read her asking Dan’s opinion .. nothing about how it can be ethically practiced. You might deduce that from her question.. doesn’t mean that’s her intention.
I read she is done with this behaviour around her relationship with her sister. And calling such weird behaviour.. only with the sister.. a kink, doesn’t mean it gets a pass.
And she’s being a ‘good woman’ and trying to look after him and his demands when she should be kicking him to the curb. This is her sister. Such disrespect for an important relationship.


Sublime @19: My guess is that it's because "Don't do this because I don't like it" hasn't worked, so she's going for "Don't do this because it's unethical," with backing from a sex expert. She did ask her husband to back off, remember, and he decided to ignore her. He won't accept her "no" for an answer, and she may have grown to believe she doesn't have the right to say "no" for an answer. Abusers are very manipulative. What "on point question" do you think she should have asked? She clearly doesn't want him doing this, and he clearly doesn't care what she wants.


Lava @18: Yes, I read that, so why did he stay with her if he realised after a couple of months that she wasn't his type? If he can't be happy with someone unless they're causing drama -- and I've known a few people like that -- he should have just moved on. Not too late I suppose.


@20/Lava Girl: PHONE asks, “What is your opinion about using unwitting people on the other end of the phone for sexual satisfaction?”

I think my characterization of this question is accurate.

@21/BiDanFan: If you’re right, your own analysis suggest some:

“Dan, how do I stop my husband from bullying me to participate in his kink.”

“Dan, what do you do when you’ve tried a partner’s kink and you don’t want to do so again?”

We’ve had many people write just such questions to Dan, I recall some women whose partners want them to have sex with other men.

If think your read of this question is a strained bank-shot, and of course would undermine her position if she got the response that having your pussy eaten while on the phone with a telemarketer is ethical.

And in an effort to moot your response, please note, I told PHONE her husband’s behavior was unacceptable and that they needed counseling to resolve his behavior.


“Dan, how do I stop my husband from bullying me to participate in his kink.”
“Dan, what do you do when you’ve tried a partner’s kink and you don’t want to do so again?”

Presumably Dan would say, "Use your words and ask him not to do it." But she did that, and he didn't stop. Or he'd say, "Just put the phone down when he starts pestering you." But she's doing that, and he's getting mad and threatening divorce. Or he'd say, "DTMFA," which for some unfathomable reason she doesn't want to hear. Perhaps he's attempting to gaslight her into thinking this behaviour is perfectly normal, and that's why she's asking whether it is. At any rate, Dan gave the right answer to the wrong question: DTMFA.


SAP said "I was married for 33 years and left five years ago. We hadn't gotten along for years, but he never stopped wanting or valuing me for sex—in spite of treating me like a household appliance and cheating on me regularly". Now that the fires of lust have died, she's now complaining about not being desired and valued sexually like when she was married. Interestingly, the advice she's now getting is for HER to have other partners to satisfy her sexual needs.

Am i the only one who sees the irony of this situation? Her ex-husband obviously had a higher libido and was actually following the advice she's being given now to satisfy his unmet needs as a result of her complaints about being " treated like an appliance".

SAP has found out first hand that the grass is not always greener on the other side. She had the power to stop being treated like an appliance by insisting on being treated with respect. Instead of complaining about his cheating, maybe she should have openly and graciously accepted the help these other women were offering her by taking on a "share of the load" of her husband's voracious sexual appetite. By failng to have an open, honest discussion with her husband, she obvious chose to jump from the frying pan into the fire and now has regrets.


Very first night I spent at my girlfriend's (eventual wife's) place, we awoke from a phone call from her brother. She went down on me during the whole call, which was the hottest thing ever. But I never asked her to do it again, that would have seemed weird. Just wondering if the LW wife initiated this this first time. But he does need to stop, she clearly doesn't want to do it again.


PHONES, you're married to an asshole, DTMFA.


Juan @25: Excuse me!? The ex-husband "treated her like an appliance" AND cheated on her. There is no evidence in the letter that she said no to her husband, that she denied him sex. Quite the contrary. If she were so frigid, why did she insist that an active sex life be an important component of her next relationship? She went from an asshole who wanted her sexually to (someone she thought was) a nice guy who doesn't. That's not irony, it's overcompensation, or plain old bad luck.
To even suggest that she should be grateful to the women her ex was cheating on her with. Good lord.


@7 - Oops!

Bi @17 is correct, I meant the third letter. The second one was so short and inconsequential that my brain skipped right over it.

As far as 'what the sister doesn't know won't hurt her', that's not entirely true. It will affect the relationship between the sisters, because the wife will know and will start to associate those icky memories with her sibling. She's already abruptly ended what was intended to be a friendly catching-up because of her husband's inappropriate advances. I imagine her sister may be a bit put-off by that and she could have been left wondering if she did something wrong.

And why specifically the sister? Hubby's not pulling his moves when Wife is on the phone to the bank, or with her boss or anything like that. He's deliberately associating these sexual acts with his wife's sister and nobody else, which has got to be its own special flavour of ick for Wife.


The main focus of SAP's letter is that her partner is not very sexually attracted to her, and that is ego-destroying for her. She doesn't actually have a very high sex drive, but enjoys having sex frequently because it means her partner finds her extremely desirable. This was the one positive thing she got from her ex - he was crazy for her body.

She needs to decide if the benefits of staying with her new man - his companionship and their comfortable life together - outweigh the blow to her self-image and self-esteem. In essence, her choices boil down to: 1) work on decreasing her psychological need for validation as "sexy" and "desirable"...because what a mindfuck it is that as women this is one of the primary ways we are taught that we are valuable, 2) accept that her new guy just isn't that into her sexually (which is more about him than about her) and get validation of her desirability elsewhere, which btw doesn't have to be sex per se, but could also be through low-stakes flirting with other people, or 3) find a new primary partner who has the hots for her and therefore gives her that validation. Any of these could be the best choice for her.


SAP ~ “...Not long after the marriage ended, I met a guy online...” turns out, you and this guy just aren’t sexually compatible. Guess what, you met one guy, you could meet more! Why stop when you’re behind? Keep looking, and let this current guy know that you’re going to start looking again, and tell him why. You don’t have to settle for “almost what I wanted”.

PHONES~ Your husband is a spoiled, entitled, manipulative brat who threatens divorce when he doesn’t get his way. I am betting this is not the only situation where he bullies you into doing something you’d rather not do. People resist divorce for a lot of reasons. Take a good hard look and ask yourself truthfully why you haven’t considered this yet. It is not the end of the world, and could be the beginning of a much better one.


LW 1 is "ticking off check boxes" in her partner list. Amazing that she is still single, what with not being a loon and all.


If the hubby was even vaguely reasonable he would be fine with you roleplaying talking to someone on the phone.


I hope CHEATS's wife is not saying that cuckolding (or, it would seem, being cucked) is something that only men can enjoy in sex-play. Of course cuckqueans enjoy it. The letter was confusing, in that the signoff 'CHEATS' suggests the LW is the one who wants to play away and subject her wife to eroticized humiliation. Sure, the urge is common in people of all gender statuses ... but, for it to happen here, it would have to be consensual.


@3. rookieadvice. It’s not clear to me whether he wants to be pegged or his fantasies jacking off are of penetrating 'ladyboys'.

SAP needs to say more. 'An accent on trans'. That could mean any number of things. Is there anything he would like to do in bed that she hasn't done with him? I felt she was mealy-mouthed about sex--intimate 'congress', rather than e.g. 'fucking'. I'd guess she can be open and clear discussing other aspects of her relationship--in expressing her needs. Let her 'use her words', in our argot, in this. If he is really saying he prefers his hand, then of course she should consider looking for a satisfying sexual relationship elsewhere.


@13. Sublime. 'It was not something I wanted to do...'. 'I've asked him to respect me'. Clearly PHONE does not want this form of phone sex.

Traffic is right to wonder whether he tries to sabotage her other family relationships.


@23. Sublime. I think Bi's reading is correct. She's tried 'no' and 'I don't like it' and it hasn't worked. His answer has been 'you're repressed' or something like 'you're kink-shaming me; it's a legitimate kink'.

But whether it's a legitimate kink or not isn't germane. Dan's opinion on the matter is nit needed. Things needn't get beyond his being obliged to respect her 'no' (we agree on this). Either his resistance means she's tired of pressing this point or she lacks confidence and is going for the lower-hanging 'the famous sex correspondent agrees it's disrespectful, unethical' etc.


@30. strange observer. You are not alone in saying 'she doesn't actually want that much sex; she just wants the ego kick of being desired'. It’s not what the letter says. She says that at the start of the relationship, they sometimes had sex twice a day, and she enjoyed it. She clearly wants to have sex more than once every six weeks.

The idea that 'old people like sex less than they did' or 'sex is life- or soul-affirming at that age, not physically pleasurable' can be a form of gerontophobia.


‘Ongoing interest in sexual relations,’ @30 contradicts your assertion that LW1’s main concern is feeling desirable. She wants sex and also wants her partner to feel desire for her, then what lover doesn’t want that?


@36 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
"@3. rookieadvice. It’s not clear to me whether he wants to be pegged or his fantasies jacking off are of penetrating 'ladyboys'."

Neither are clear to me. One needn't want to be pegged OR penetrate trans women to find their porn hot. Though I'll concede that one of those might be likely.

"SAP needs to say more. 'An accent on trans'. That could mean any number of things."

When I read 'An accent on trans' I inferred that SAP had a negative attitude or reaction of some kind over that. So I agree, she either needed to say more or not even mention that hubby liked trans porn.


@17 BiDanFan, LW1 specifically mentioned there being "an accent on trans" in the porn her BF was watching, and then asked him if the stuff he was watching was, "an indicator of his interest or the reason he had turned away from me."
I guess I could be accused of reading too much into this, but I thought some reassurance, that this is a common thing for het men to watch, was appropriate.
@6 CMDwannabe I don't know that pegging is the ultimate win-win in het relationships. I think I was trying to make a joke/insert a longtime personal fantasy into my response and it didn't translate.
See also, this clip from Broad City:

@30 Strange Observer wins the LW1 response in my opinion.


Dan, I've been reading your column for over a decade and this is the first time I've ever been moved to respond in any way. IMHO, your response to PHONES is one of those times when your philosophy about consent doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Like the foot fetishist who works in a shoe store (your oft-used example) or the LW who once wrote in about her desire to flaunt her nude body in the window of her apartment (you responded that potential viewers hadn't consented to seeing her in the nude, so therefore don't do it), to PHONES' husband the sister's presence on the phone is clearly a sexual turn-on. The sister hasn't consented to being a part of a sexual experience. Worse than that, she has no idea it's even happening. Taking a call from her sister is NOT implicit consent.

Many years ago in my 20's, I was having frequent phone sex with a guy I met online. Came to find out that his girlfriend was listening in on our conversations every single time, because they both found it hot. I had no idea he had a girlfriend or that I was being used in this way. I completely agree that the husband is an emotionally manipulative d-bag, but in answer to the question that PHONES actually asked, I think her use of the words "using unwitting people on the other end of the phone for sexual satisfaction" should have guided the answer. PHONES sister has a right to consent or not consent to her presence being used to get someone off.


The man in LW1 lied to this woman from the start. He’s taken care of himself mainly because he’s been single, and she’s not really his type anyway. The sort of porn he watches is not relevant, except he didn’t mention he sorts most of his pleasuring by himself. And anyway. She’s not his type.
If this woman wants a full and honest sexual intimacy, she’ll need to find that elsewhere.


@41. curious. Yes, the tone of 'an accent on trans' is disapproving. There's the sense, at least, of 'he couldn't be that into me' on SAP's part, because she's not trans or evidently in her mind doesn't have the sort of kink gratified in his porn choice.

There's the view that the kinkiness, the taboo-busting threshold, of the porn one watches goes up and up i.e. as people age or use porn more, because something increasingly transgressive is required to get you off. This can't be the whole story for me. That is, her partner must be watching trans-themed porn because he's attracted to some of the body-types and behaviors sexually.

Has she never thought she was, or could do, any of this? She doesn't have to, of course. If she wants emotionally connected vanilla sex twice a week, I would feel there are better bets out there.


Strange @30: Sorry, but I disagree that SAP's only interest is in validation, that she doesn't enjoy sex for its own sake. As Lava @40 says, high on her checklist was regular sex. She found someone who provided this, then pulled the sex, and now she finds out it's because he doesn't desire her. There are plenty of older men who will both regularly shag AND validate a woman like her, so I see no reason for her to stay with this one.

Rookie @42: Mentioning the possibility that he is gay or wants to be pegged, when these may not even have occurred to her, is reassuring!? How about, "Plenty of straight men watch trans porn because it's taboo, that doesn't mean they necessarily prefer trans women." And why this tangent anyway, it has nothing to do with her concern, which is that her boyfriend isn't attracted to her. I don't think it's at all helpful to bring up these misconceptions just to give her more to worry about.


@38/Harriet: “Either his resistance means she's tired of pressing this point or she lacks confidence and is going for the lower-hanging 'the famous sex correspondent agrees it's disrespectful, unethical'”

PHONES didn’t ask about respect for her position, she asked only about the ethics of the situation via-a-vis someone on the other end of the phone. I think it is very unlikely that anyone unwilling to heed their spouse’s wishes concerning a kink, is going to be swayed by an advice columnist’s opinion concerning the ethics of the situation. And as it turns out, Dan finds this activity entirely ethical. Of course as he points out it’s his lack of caring about her feelings that’s the problem.


Re: SAP Does anyone else recall that not too many years ago Dan said he was not going to keep printing letters from long-term het couples with mismatched sex drives? I think that is what is going on here.
It sounds to me like SAP's new guy burned through his pent-up desire for monogamy after living alone for a long time. Being with one real woman 24-7 is not the thing he seems to desire.
Being close to their ages I feel for both of these folks;..they have numerous areas where they are compatible but I think that our LW is looking at deep frustration in her intimacy needs if she stays with "mr Trans porn", and surely feels like the "clock is ticking" (thank you Marisa Tomei) if she wants an enjoyable sex life in the last decades of life. Ms. Price seems to be prescribing that SAP try for a "monogamish" relationship before giving up, and returning to her tinder app.


Then Dan is wrong. It is unethical to be having sex while on the phone to someone who hasn’t given consent to be used in such a way. And whether one calls this man’s behaviour a kink or jealous acting out, her wish for it to cease is all that matters.


Disagree sb53, doesn’t matter the age. A relationship started off with lies is going nowhere.


@50 I do not think that Mr Transporn was lying to SAP, My take on this letter is that he discovered after they moved in together that a normal non-crazy 62 yr old woman with a healthy sex drive is not what floats his boat. Or are you saying that Mr Transporn lied about his on-line porn habit? I am not sure what this guy was lying about


PHONES - Your husband is an absolute a-hole. Seriously, he is. He has no regard for your feelings, and tries to emotionally blackmail you into a type of sex you're not comfortable with. I can't see that there's any fixing this. Divorce is hard and messy, but in this case, it looks like it's the necessary thing to do for your own happiness.


@39Harriet, @40Lavagirl, @46BiDanFan, my interpretation is guided mainly by the end of her email, with emphasis on the middle two sentences of this excerpt:
"We have intercourse every four to six weeks, and maybe once in between he will pleasure me. I enjoy both, and also take care of myself once a week. The struggle for me is more ego-driven. I'm no raving beauty, but I am reasonably fit and attractive for my age, and (used to) enjoy feeling desired and valued sexually. Can I get to the place of letting go of that and enjoy the rare occasions of physical congress?"

I'm not saying she doesn't like sex for any other reason than as an "ego kick"...Motivations for wanting sex can be complicated, and for many women, feeling desired and desirable as we age is an important part of our self-image and self-esteem. Having a partner who is hot for your body is gratifying. Having a partner who isn't super turned on by you - even though they love you and are compatible in other ways - is not gratifying, especially if your self-worth is in some ways pegged to your sexiness. (Yes, pun intended, and @Harriet, I didn't mention age anywhere. I don't think this is a phenomenon that is limited to people who are aging / older. I've seen it in plenty of young women).

She's not getting herself off twice a day, so it's not that she simply has an incredibly high sex drive. Maybe I'm reading her wrong, but I don't think so. I think her struggle is real, relatable, and focused on how she connects being viewed as sexy with her value as a partner / person.


^ for @Harriet, that should be "I didn't mention age anywhere in my first comment".


BiDan@46 ~ “...There are plenty of older men who will both regularly shag AND validate a woman like her..” placing a stamp on her ass like validating a parking ticket? I might have to get into this “validation” business.


@47. Sublime. As I reconstruct the situation, she is asking Dan to confirm her strong sense that her husband is wrong to make a kink out of sex during her phone calls. This would be a sense in which his actions are wrong over-and-above his not heeding her 'no' and obscurely threatening her when she pulls away. It could well be, to my mind, that she supposes it will be the clinching argument in getting him to desist. 'He didn't listen to my saying that I didn't like it, perhaps he will listen when it's impressed on him that it's disrespectful to my sister'.

The actual question PHONE asked was as you quoted, and Dan perhaps made the mistake of answering it directly. The letter to me wouldn't be too different if it had, 'and shouldn't he just respect my 'no'?' at the end. That it doesn't, I guess, comes about because she would have a further case if the phone sex is found independently wrong.

I cannot see that it is right to make a sex prop out of her sister on the other end of the line. She would surely be hurt if she found out; relations between the sisters would be fractured. It's unlikely any conversation between them could be as inconsequential or ethically footling as a call by a telemarketer. And how could the person in the LW's position talk seriously and open-heartedly to her sister without some arriere-pensee of their interrupted chats before? Anyone having this secret sex in that context is running down the sisters' relationship. It's not hard to imagine that he is threatened by her closeness to sis or that he wants to undermine her bonds with others. In fact, she should confront him with this: 'abusers isolate their victims by travestying or mocking their connections to those close to them. Is that what you're doing? Are you an abuser?'. If this came up in divorce proceedings, I know how it would play.

I don't know whether or not you think that making a caller an unwitting accessory to sex is venial or worse.


@53. strange observer. I agree with you that it's important for the LW to feel sexually desired.

I also think she sets out her stall for her wanting an ongoing sex life in the relationship--a better, more frequent sex life than the one she has. Women are socialized into underplaying their sexual desire--for instance, saying they want sex 'to feel validated', 'to feel affirmed' in a relationship, when actually, as well as that, they want sex tout court. There are signs of that, this social embarrassment about desire, for me in this letter--in all the euphemisms, for instance. Is this someone who can say, 'I'd expect you to make a good-faith attempt to give me an orgasm about twice a week in ordinary circumstances'? I don't think it is. It's easier for many people that age to say e.g. 'and you have to like opera', 'I will be out with the girls once a week', 'I want us to dine out in swanky restaurants' etc. But I would encourage older and any women to be as equally ready with the on-the-table sexual expectation.


IMO a strong relationship has 3 key ingredients that have to be mutual - respect, understanding, and attraction - or things fall apart. 1 and 3 are severely lacking in these departments. Another perspective on LW1, some women really value the intimacy more than just getting your rocks off w/sex. Bonding and connecting with someone on a primal level is what it's all about.


LW1/SAP writes "the women he had been with who floated his boat sexually had been bad (crazy/unstable) in the partner department, and the good partners (me) had been less than satisfying for him in bed."

I still think it's worth trying to rekindle some sexual energy in this relationship. I bet she's pretty stuck in her ways, after 33 years with one guy. And she probably gives off some judgmental vibes when he tries to tell her about his preferences. If she likes the life she has with him, she could try harder to be open-minded and enthusiastic sexually and show him that she can be (as the Fetlife category says) "A Princess By Day, Slut By Night." In other words, that women aren't all either uptight prudes or crazy whores.


She needs to dump the asshole husband for sure. That is emotional abuse for sure. He's a manipulative jerk. With that said, in general, I think a hand job or being groped while on the phone isn't a problem as long as the gropee/hand job giver is down. If the husband wasn't such a prick she might be able to even fake a conversation with the sister or get a burner and call the burner and leave a VM for herself pretending to talk with the sister. But he doesn't deserve these options; he just needs to be shown the door.


@53, strange observer, as an Australian band sang way back “ Ego is not a Dirty Word.” She wrote clearly in her profile, she wants sex. Which implies ongoing sexual attraction and desire for each other.
And look there right at the end of your quote.. asking can she let go of a fundamental aspect of a good sexual relationship, mutual desire, and twist herself in knots. You may not have mentioned age, you did seem to be talking to an older person.
And it’s true options are limited the older one gets and at sixty plus, one should put up with whatever is available, right? No. Not at any age should one compromise on something so intrinsic. Unless sex has stopped because neither wants it anymore, and the relationship is a comfortable we’re just getting old together love.
And it’s all moot as he is a man who lied to get whatever it is he wanted to get. A close woman friend to be an adjunct to his hand and porn watching.


That could be true as well Erica@59, she sure didn’t give herself long to process her marriage before looking for someone new. Maybe now once she moves on from being this man’s ‘lover’ she could have some time alone and reflect on her marriage and her part in it.


@60 dear surfrat nice to see you. And no, it’s not ok if both people on the phone haven’t agreed to it. Consent, this is an important word when talking about any sexual activity.


@LavaGirl good to see you as well. That's exactly why I had noted that she could fake the call with the sister or leave a VM on a burner. But after I posted I also thought that if she shared the same kink that there would people she could call who could listen, who get off on listening. It's clear she doesn't share that kink so that last option would be moot in this relationship.


Yes surfrat, lots of consensual options for those into this kink generally, this guy’s behaviour is specific so not sure it qualifies as kink. It’s only with phone calls with the LW’s sister that he wants this. Just a jealous little boy as I see it who is trying to sabotage his partner’s intimacy with her sister.
@61 cont, compromise rather than ending is needed if in a loving couple who have been together decades and want to stay tog. and have built lives and had kids and one loses interest in sex/ desire, the whole shebang, then the one who still wants sex in their life would need to negotiate terms for finding that. The situation in the first letter is a new one, no shared history no kids. She’s better off enjoying herself sexually with the men in her head who desire her than see her sexual energy dampened by someone who doesn’t desire her.


Surfrat, why all this talk about getting a “burner” and leaving a voice mail. Just talk into a dead phone for Pete’s sake. Actors have been doing it for as long as there have been phones.


@56/Harriet: Lots is emphasis discussing the sister-sister relationship, but there are other potential caller options. And the problem with the sister isn’t consent as the effect on their relationship.

And again, if PHONES was hoping for a clinching argument, Dan upended her plans. I think he believes as he does because widening consent to this activity generally, would make a lot of sex play non-consensual.


I had a controlling/abusive ex who pulled the same shit on me as PHONES is getting.

It wasn't about him getting a sexual thrill from it. At the time I thought it was just because he wanted to see me get flustered. That may have been part of it, but now I can see that it was another strategy he'd use to try to isolate me from my family and friends. So it was ultimately about power, sort of in the way that rape is less about sexual satisfaction than it is about control and dominance.

He was a motherfucker, and I eventually dealt with him accordingly.


sb53 @51: He lied about being interested in regular sex. Or he thought he was telling the truth, then discovered he wasn't attracted to her, and lied by not telling her that at the time. After those hot two months, he owed it to her to say "I'm just not that into you," and give her the opportunity to find someone else who is.

Donny @55: Ha!
Part of my rejection of Strange Observer's "she only wants validation" theory is that if that were true, she could get it by simply placing an ad online, perhaps lying about her age and posting some old photos, and waiting for the come-ons from men, which she wouldn't be compelled to respond to. Not looking for one man and specifying that regular sex was important. Perhaps she just doesn't realise there's a middle ground between constant objectification and rare and grudging sex.

Harriet @56: "It's not hard to imagine that he is threatened by her closeness to sis or that he wants to undermine her bonds with others." Bingo. Putting a wedge between one's victim/partner and their family is a classic abuser tactic. Leaving the sex aside, he is distracting her attention from her sister, sending the message, "I am important, your other relationships are meaningless." Many folks would be upset to learn that the spouse had been listening to a personal phone conversation, let alone distracting the person with demands for sex. This is shitty behaviour on so many levels.

Lava @65: I agree, it's not a kink, it's a means of controlling her. If it were a kink they'd have figured out long before now that she could call a phone sex line or a burner or roleplay half a conversation. Or he'd have done it when she was on the phone with the mortgage company or telemarketers. No, he's trying to undermine her relationship with her sister.

As to the somewhat irrelevant question of whether it's ethical, presuming two willing partners, "it depends" would be my answer. In a one-off situation like Texans @26 describes, which sounded to me like she wanted revenge on the brother for waking her up in the middle of the night, let it pass. If it's a regular thing where you're pretending to give someone you care about your undivided attention, but instead [having sex / playing video games / tweeting] without their knowledge, that's rude.


Fred @68: Nailed it, thank you.


@67. Sublime. I think we agree about the individual case, because it's an easy case. We probably also agree on whether it's OK for willing partners to make hay while one is on the phone to e.g. a boring, repetitive boss. But I hesitate to talk about that case as it's a distraction. The matter in hand is just that her husband should stop pestering her.


Hoots and whistles Fan@69. Use it wisely.
Agree re Fred Casely @68. Perfect. Though what does he mean, he dealt with him accordingly. How do gay men who see the manipulations deal with break ups. It could get hairy.


Oh, Hunter. Had your morning rape culture example today? Refusing to accept "no" for an answer isn't an "imperfection", it's sexual assault. If that's sufficient to throw someone in jail, it's sufficient to throw someone out of a marriage.

I can imagine how the conversation you propose would go:
"Sally, just to let you know, if I seem a bit distracted when we're on the phone, it's because Henry is sexually assaulting me. He does that. I've asked him to stop repeatedly, but he won't. Just continue with your updates on your kids while I do my best to ignore his penis."
"Sure, Marie. Hahaha! That Henry sure sounds like a card. I guess boys will be boys."

If you can even imagine that someone might respond to this revelation in that way, that's proof positive of this rape culture you continue to deny. Fortunately, I think most sisters would be rightly shocked and outraged and urge their sibling to DTMFA.


I knew someone who sometimes used to call her mother right before climaxing, then mumble stuff like, “Yes, yes, feeling great, aha, oh yes, just a minute mom, sure, aha, same here…”
It happened during land line and also pre speaker phone, so holding the receiver required some maneuvering.
Mom was never aware of what was going on and I didn’t see the need to notify her. Relationship didn’t last long anyway.

Rookie @ 42
Wishing your (safe, fully consented) fantasies will all come true. Same for myself and all others here and beyond.

Lava @ 72
“How do gay men who see the manipulations deal with break ups. It could get hairy.”
Unless it was a reference to body hair I don’t see much difference here.

Doctor Zhivago @73 (apparently removed by the time I wrote this)
You should do your market research before posting your services here. Most of us don’t want our exes back!

Hunter @74- one of the reasons I didn't answer your question last week is because I had this totally unsubstantiated feeling that you’re not going to get it anyway.


I didn't write in earlier because I think that a few things are mixed up here, but now Hunter has spotted them and then characteristically twisted them around, OK. I myself prefer flavors of these kinks so I wasn't sure how to respond because I get a little of what the LW's husband might like about this situation. But maybe that's projection and I can't see it clearly.

There are a few problems. One is the fixation with the sister. It's not anyone on the phone, but the sister specifically. So I think the people commenting are correct that there's something going on here that is more than just the thrill of doing something in secret when you could be caught or the thrill of having to control yourself and multitask.

Two, and the larger problem, is that the LW is absolutely NOT ok with it and her husband keeps pressuring her, and that must stop. I agree with BDF's side in the discussion with Sublime. The husband is acting like a jerk, and getting really close to DTMFA territory. And I agree with BDF about her motivations for asking about the ethics of it, but I think since people are complex it could be also that she might be trying to figure out another way to get through this kink that's better for everyone.

So... expanding the conversation to include the possibility that this was a kink that they both did for a while and that there is a possibility that the husband could rock his socks off in this way in a more consensually and healthy way, I have some advice.

There are three things going on here. 1) The shit with the sister. I have no suggestions there, just stop. 2) The thrill that you could maybe get caught. 3) The thrill of having to control yourself while engaged in something sexual.

So first off, distinguish between 2 and 3 and figure out which it is you like and then consider what risks you are willing to take. For myself, if the risk is serious- like police or family or exposing someone to something they did not consent, then it becomes a turn off to me. But my thrill is more about the secret and the multitasking than the risk which is why the phone stuff here resonated. Phone calls are a good way to do this, so maybe find another person or even something mundane- like when you are making a doctor's appointment or calling to deal with some bureaucracy.

Anyway, approach all three variously and see if you can incorporate them into your sex life in a healthy way- a replacement behavior. As for the having to control oneself while something sexual is secretly going down, here's some tame ideas: Secret remote controlled vibrator can be fun- go out to dinner with it. Parks can also be fun - look ahead of time. Sexy clothes (or no clothes) under outside attire when no one's the wiser. Scouting for places you can have quickies ahead of time, and then arranging your night out so that you can hook up in those places before/after/doing a social gathering. Etc.


BTW I'm not suggesting that the LW was ever into this kink- she clearly wasn't and says as much. I'm playing with the idea that she might've been willing to explore other ways to satisfy the same urge if she'd THEN had the ability to stand up for herself which she NOW seems to have.


Hunter @74, BiDanFan @75: I am going to defend Bi here. PHONES said no, and he pushed past her "no" with threats and manipulation. That's not consent. He's sexually abusing her, and it's absolutely DTMFA territory, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Also, ditto to being baffled by your suggestion that this could become a "joke" between sisters. Do you have siblings? If my sibling did this to me I would feel incredibly violated. And if I found out that my sibling participated in this under duress, my reaction would be "If you don't dump that fucker, I will come down there and take care of him myself." As for PHONES' husband attempting to drive a wedge between the sisters, that only sounds like a baseless supposition if you're not familiar with the tactics of abusers (see Fred Casely @68). At the very least, he's an entitled prick who does not respect his partner's autonomy, but I've gotta say that I wouldn't be surprised at all if this was part of a larger pattern of abuse in the relationship.

I figure it's unlikely that PHONES is reading this, but I would advise PHONES to read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. The author is a counsellor who specializes in abusive men. I'll bet PHONES would find her husband in that book.


I just pulled out my copy of Why Does He Do That, and I'm just going to quote from the passage about sexual abuse:

"The sexually abusive man won't necessarily rape his partner in the literal sense of using physical force or threats of harm - though some do. Instead he may insult her when she declines his advances, call her names like "frigid" or "lesbian," or snarl accusingly, "You must be getting it somewhere else, since you never want to make it with me anymore." He may make her feel guilty about his sexual frustration, tell her that he feels like she doesn't love him anymore, or say that a man must have his needs met....

"When people think about forced sex, they picture physical assault. So when an abuser forces sex through pressure or manipulation or sleep deprivation, a woman doesn't know what to call it and may blame herself. Dozens of partners of my clients...have said: 'It's my own fault. I shouldn't give in to him.'...Studies show that women whose partners abuse them sexually can have some of the greatest emotional difficulties, including depression, of any abused women.'....

"The abuser's orientation toward sex is likely to be self-involved. Sex to him is primarily about meeting his needs."


I forgot to add a couple of other things:

1) I've been focusing on emotional coercion, but groping and attempting to remove clothes without consent goes beyond coercion into physical force.

2) PHONES' husband's petulance, emotional withdrawal, and blatant twisting of the facts (he says "no sex, no marriage," when it's not actually a case of no sex at all) are also classic abuser tactics.

Sorry for the massive post, folks.


BDF your last paragraph @75 is spot on, and maybe PHONES could and should confide in her sister - so that she can get some support around dealing with her husband's abusive behaviour. First, a safe word so she can end conversations quickly, and second, helping her prepare to DTMFA.


And 3) Another classic and frequently-cited abuser characteristic is thinking that they're owed, not just sex, but sex exactly when and how they want it.


Having checked google, kink is any thing out side normative sexual behaviour. So yes, given such a wide definition, this tool behaving in such a pathetic way is practising a kink.


@77, yrs EmmaLiz it is a kink they both did for a while, early on in their marriage. Sounds like she didn’t enjoy it then, either. He pressured her than and she obliged till she asked him to stop. Which he has done for some time. Recently, he’s been trying it again. And she’s stronger now at blocking him, then he responds with anger. Hence the letter to Dan.


Oh. You corrected yourself @78 EmmaLiz.


Fubar @82: Yes, Hunter may have unwittingly stumbled onto some good advice. If she and her sister talk frequently on the phone, they must be close. Perhaps it is time to clue her in -- not as a joke but as a plea for help. "Sorry, Henry, you kept bringing my sister into our sex life so I told her everything. She's on her way with a car and three burly men right now so that I can leave your abusive ass."


@72 Lava: What I meant was I D’d TMFA.

Yes, it was hairy. Between 5 and 10 years into the relationship — the early ‘90s, at that point — I became increasingly aware that I ought to get out. Then his health took a rapid turn and he was hospitalized, diagnosed with AIDS and given 12-18 months to live. I went into caregiver mode and remained there even long after that was medically unnecessary.

The first effective meds were introduced right around the time of his diagnosis. He lucked out and just when one would start to lose effectiveness, a new one would come along. His terminal illness evolved into a chronic, manageable one. But since he was on Medicaid and his eligibility for that would have been questioned had I stopped being his state-funded caregiver, I was effectively trapped in the relationship for a long time.


And for the benefit of PHONES and the edification of @Hunter: He did go on to rape me. Inseminated me against my will as soon as he was physically able after his diagnosis. At a time when his viral load was so astronomically high that his doctor would go on to write and present a paper devoted solely to his unusual case.

Keep in mind this was right at the advent of any useful treatment, so in the aftermath I was sure I was going to die. Only after the (then-weeks-long) process of testing did I learn that I, miraculously, didn’t seroconvert.

I mostly stuffed the experience down the memory hole and, to be honest, have only recently fully reckoned with it in the wake of #MeToo.

But I’m happy to say that in the near-decade since I managed to extricate myself, I’ve gone on to a life (and a new, longstanding relationship) so rewarding that it more than compensates for what came before.


@74 Hunter: Where in PHONES’s letter does she say “she does not want out of the relationship”? She doesn’t address that at all, one way or another.



How kind you were Fred Casely to look after him. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Glad you’re now going well.


SAP's boyfriend should ditch her miserable fucking ass. What sort of person tells someone to his face that they're his loving partner and then snoops through his porn checking for things that would get him put in jail as a sex offender?

Oh, and if he's actually interested in romantic relationships with older trans women, he could check out OKCupid. There's not a lot of guys there interested in older trans women where I am, and the ones who are all have 6-figure incomes and wealthier lifestyles than Croesus. A guy who's a mere mortal might find someone who'd appreciate him.


Fred @88-89: How awful. Thank you for sharing your story and I'm sorry you got saddled with an abusive asshole for so long.

Re PHONES's not wanting to leave, I interpreted the fact that she didn't respond to his threats of divorce with "Good, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out" as her not wanting to leave.

Old Crow @92, you're funny. What sort of person tells someone she loves them then snoops through his porn? The sort of person whose partner inexplicably stops having frequent, hot sex with them after a couple of months, that's who. And she wasn't attempting to have him arrested as a sex offender! Though if he is one, why shouldn't he be arrested? I think he will have a tall order finding someone who will "appreciate" his cutting off sex and then telling the person it's their fault for not being crazy instead of just breaking up because he's realised he doesn't fancy her.


Why does she go out of her way to mention it, then? It's so important that it would completely change the situation if it had been found. So there's no need to explicitly mention its absence. If the most significant, remarkable thing she found was trans porn, there obviously weren't any animals or children, one doesn't have to explicitly point that out. So explicitly pointing that out comes across to me as an emphasis: this is what she was looking for.

If I (God forbid) had to snoop through someone's porn and make a report to someone, I'd only mention the absence of any particular genre if I'd had some particular reason to expect that genre to be there or if the person I was reporting to had asked me to look for that genre specifically.

You think I'm overthinking this? I do do that, from time to time.

On the other hand, what could she possibly have hoped for as a constructive outcome of looking through his porn? I'd find mentioning the absence of "porn about [my kink]" understandable, but she doesn't do that. Before she snooped she knew that he'd stopped having frequent sex with her and that he looked at porn often, and after she snooped she knew... absolutely nothing new. He has a kink X (trans), well he was going to have a kink X, and it doesn't really matter what X was (so long as it's legal and not something she's into), it was still going to be something she can be insecure about.


I also read her words "big surprise" as irony, but it occurs to me, rereading, that that's probably sincere. So she does know something new. And she's mentioning animals and children because that's what she's heard about porn. OK.


Old Crow @95: Yes, my reading was that the porn she discovered was far less vanilla than she was expecting and included kinks he'd never mentioned. I think it only reveals that she was naive about typical male porn preferences, not that she was on a witch hunt for illegal material.

Why did she go hunting in the first place? From her perspective, this guy's libido vanished. She was just trying to find out where it went. And like most snoopers, she found out things she wished she hadn't. Bet she won't do that again.


Old Crow, This man lied to her and is wasting her time. He knew she wanted ongoing sex. And here he is watching trans women porn and really gets off on crazy chicks irl. The LW is neither. So tough titties he got his porn history looked at.


"Before she snooped she knew ... that he looked at porn often"

She didn't know that. She suspected it, and snooped to confirm her suspicions. And possibly to get some idea of what he would like in bed, because when she "carefully broached the subject he wasn't forthcoming." Perhaps she thought his porn preferences would give her some hints on how to spice things up. Or perhaps she indeed was looking for ammo in a "you look at porn but you won't look at me!?" confrontation.


Yes, Old Crow, this woman is obviously not perfect, as shown by her less than stella word choice in describing what she found on his porn history and discloses she has some attitude issues.
Doesn’t compare to his misrepresentation of what he was offering to her.


In Auntskie's absenckie I'll claimsky the hunsky

Not much else to feel happy about nowadays.


Congrats on the hunsky, CMD!

Dadddy @101: "taking the initiative to learn what turns your boyfriend on."
Like searching through his porn history for clues? ;)
She already did that. In the ensuing conversation, she learned that crazy women and porn are what turns her boyfriend on. Perhaps she should develop some mental health issues? Or wait, she could just go find someone else. It'll be difficult to find a man who likes sex, but I'm sure they're out there.

Sometimes I wonder if certain commenters are reading the same letters the rest of us are.


Dadddy- it is my impression that quite a few of us here, myself included, are in our 50's and 60's.


Mystery man has turned up late I see. Pity he didn’t read the letter first.

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.