Savage Love

Pandemic Pressures

Comments

1

firkt

2

Just in time for this week's new column, I wrote a long response in last week's comment section. Arrgh.

3

MATH, is he open to your feedback on what he should be doing? It's a drag I need to say that, but we can't assume guys have the first clue. If that's an issue, and he's not enthusiastic about learning, kick him in the balls while dumping him.

I think it's worth noting that Dan's advice doesn't directly address that said advice doesn't fill GTFFTF's need to guzzle jism.

That's great, ROPED! I wonder if it getting switched on during the pandemic had anything to do with the analogy between bondage and the restrictions of lockdown.

4

@3 p.s.
In other words, GTFFTF's question was whether receiving partial (1 of 2) vaccination opened the door to him resuming the guzzling of quarts of jizz.

I think the answer is that full vaccination is both shots. And even then:

If one lives with vulnerable others, vaccinated people are still 'surfaces' which could theoretically convey viral loads, and for all we know are still capable of being carriers.

Not to mention that, given how wildly infested with infection many places are, it's worth noting that 95% protection does not equal 100% (even the resistant South African variant aside). If you had a gun with twenty chambers containing just one bullet, would you be comfortable playing Russian Roulette?

6

Hey, MATH: I’m curious about the fact that you are “always enthusiastic about having sex,” even though you don’t get any satisfaction about the act itself. Why do you think that is? Did it used to be good and you keep trying to re-capture that old magic? Are you doing it because you think you’re supposed to? Many people who persistently have unsatisfactory sex would stop initiating, but you seem to have been beating your head against a wall. Don’t have sex that you don’t enjoy.

But I also think you are to be commended. Many people who are distracted or disconnected during sex don’t know why and can’t fix the problem. They often complain about “being inside their head” and not knowing how to connect with their partners. But you have demonstrated awareness of (a potential) cause and asked your boyfriend’s help in addressing it. He’s not interested. Believe me there are plenty of people who would eagerly take the hint and try pretty much anything you want to make sex enjoyable for you. Find one of them.

COMA: Your Aunt did you a favor. Now you know who she is and can with a clear conscience cut her out of your life.

7

Dear COMA:

First, congratulations on your pregnancy and best wishes for a healthy baby and uncomplicated delivery. How exciting!

Second, my condolences on the loss of your beloved father. Whether his heart is still beating or not, he's gone and that sucks and I'm so very sorry for you. May his memory be (for) a blessing.

Third, fuck your aunt. Seriously. What a horribly manipulative thing to do. It accomplishes nothing, but it puts you and your unborn child, at risk for absolutely no purpose. You have every right to be angry and you should't feel guilty for either being angry or for not being strong-armed into making a risky and futile trip. Hospitals are bacteria vectors, and the very last place you should be if your pregnancy is a high-risk one, not to mention the obvious Covid threat.

Don't waste one second that could be put to better use in excited anticipation or grieving on this stupid, selfish woman's stupid attempt at a guilt trip.

8

@4 Vaccinated people as surfaces is a pretty crazy reason. Most research shows the "lives on surfaces" thing is pretty far fetched. Assuming he washes his hands after do the blowing and jerking, he'd be fine.

9

I'll agree with As 1 and 3 and extend A2 by hoping Toxic Aunt 2 burns all the bridges and spares LW2 any further unpleasantness. To the wishes of others I'll throw in a wish for LW2 of the fortitude to withstand any intercessions on TA2's behalf from the ostriches in the family.
xxx
Lucky H5.
xxx
As for LW4, may he wend his way in safety. A4 makes me think of the current podcast's segment with the guest and how Mr Savage tried to toggle between calling men full human beings and subhuman demons. He seems to think sincerely that people are capable of holding both views simultaneously; I cannot agree, at least not about non-straight men. People won't let us wear LW4's mask one moment and the good assimilationist mask the next. I can feel for those stuck with both masks, though I agree with neither.

10

I wonder... is it possible that ROPED’s husband improved as a rigger over the intervening decade?

11

COMA
I think your aunt is the problem here, you know it, you also mentioned her pulling guilt trip shticks in the past.
Sorry to hear your father has already passed away. I was about to suggest a speaker phone call with him while auntie guilt trip is present, and he can calm her down a bit. Maybe there’s a trusted relative who can be equally helpful.
Sorry for your loss, hope all goes well during pregnancy and beyond.

MATH
Dan’s advice is good yet can be amended. You say you often initiate sex, is there a certain way he likes it when you do it? Can you talk about it or maybe your own experience can guide you?
Also, don’t miss on the masturbation opportunity. Would he like to watch you? It may become a mutual turn on as well as an opportunity to show him how you like it.

ROPED
So happy for the two of you.

12

5 wrote, "As a straight. man, it baffles me how many gay men are so into giving head."

Just think of us as the gift that keeps on giving!

13

@1 curious2: WA-HOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Savage Love FIRDT! (or should I say, firkt?) honors! Bask in the glory of leading the comment thread once again and savor the greatly envied riches. :)

Griz has some catch up SL reading to do----I had to recharge my cordless keyboard and mouse tonight. Will post more comments later. :)

14

MATH, if your boyfriend won't give you foreplay, the sexual issues aren't mainly from your side, they're from his. If he doesn't want to make the effort to understand what makes sex enjoyable for a woman, he doesn't deserve to be having sex with a woman. (Not girl. You're a woman, woman up!) He doesn't care about satisfying you and he guilt trips you for satisfying yourself? Sex therapy or, if he's this selfish and inconsiderate elsewhere in your relationship, DTMFA.

GTFFTF, it's been nearly a year, surely you can wait a couple more weeks for your second jab, then go suck all the dicks you want.

Dan, thank you for opening with a pandemic sex problem and ending with a pandemic sex success!

15

COMA: I am so sorry about the sad loss of your father, and that he will never see your child. I agree 100% with Dan the Man: tell your controlling, insensitive aunt to fuck off. If you never see or hear from her again, especially now in your time of grief and pregnancy concerns, it's HER loss.

MATH: Your current BF sucks both at Math and sexual relationships! Don't wait for him to take a remedial course. Foreplay is definitely part of the PIV equation for women.
Agreed and seconded with Dan the Man: DTMFA.

16

ROPED: I am so happy for you and your husband!

17

Nocute @2, your comments are always worth going back for!

Guts @5, you're telling on yourself here. Don't you love to eat pussy?
Maybe not, if it didn't occur to you that blowjobs were included in the sex TFR and his boyfriend are no longer having. "Lately he hasn't been interested in sex at all besides a few assisted masturbation sessions." This seems to imply he's offered other forms of sex, plural, but all he's said yes to are assisted masturbation (which seems different from handjobs). Gay sex is not all anal sex. If you're baffled by people enjoying giving oral, watch out, you may end up in MATH's boyfriend's position -- a soon-to-be-dumped motherfucker.
And while men have to distract themselves to prolong sex, women have to do the opposite. Speaking heteronormatively, which you know I hate to do. (Also, sometimes prolonged sex is not necessarily good sex. We get to a point when we want to be done, and sometimes our partner coming is hot enough to get us there [again]. Just saying.)

Ens @6, my reading was that sex was satisfying for her before: "After four years with my boyfriend (and with the pandemic on top of it), we started to experience sex issues." It sounds like she was able to come from PIV when younger and more carefree, but now has too much on her mind to orgasm. I was going to suggest weed at that point in the letter, but the actual problem isn't too much on her mind, it's a shitty partner who can't adapt to her changing needs. They've been together since she was just 22; I agree she needs to be free and find a guy who enjoys and rewards a sexually enthusiastic woman.

18

@2 & @7 nocutename: I'm with BiDanFan, and second it. Your comments are indeed, always worth reading and going back for. :)
Besides---you and others can still hit the Lucky @69, Big Hunsky @100 and other upcoming numerical honors. :)

19

A few weeks ago I commented about women who keep trying to make relationships work with men who are kicking their teeth in. I had to clarify that I wasn't speaking literally, but there are women who put up with egregious behavior and blame themselves for every horrible thing a man does to them. Putting only minimal effort into something like foreplay isn't violent; it isn't even against the law, but it is sure is grounds for dumping the MF. Here's MATH saying that they're experiencing sex issues and it's mainly from her side. No, it is not from her side. If we don't want to blame the boyfriend altogether, couldn't we at least say that they're not right for each other?

MATH-- When you break up with this asshole who cares so little about your satisfaction that he even objects to your masturbating, put it in terms of how he deserves someone who will be sexually available to him whenever he wants and will never do anything he dislikes. Mess with his head a little.

As I was reading, there was a moment when I was thinking a solution could be found in more directed foreplay. Instead of relying on his imagination to think of what would turn you on, tell him exactly what to do to turn you on, and give him encouragement in the form of some moaning reaction when he gets it right. As I kept reading, I decided that wouldn't work. Proceed directly to break-up.

Still feeling conflicted about dumping him? Look at it this way: when it's right, it's not work. The guy who is into you (this guy is not into you) will adore foreplay. He'll be thrilled to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to please you. DTMFA.

20

I kind of understand the being miffed at masturbating thing. I had a girlfriend who HATED me masturbating. She's cry and cry about how she wasn't enough for me, she wasn't enough me, etc. I didn't have the heart to tell her she was right - not that I didn't enjoy sex with her, but there were things I could do for myself that she just couldn't do. My hand is like a vibrator that's always at the exact right speed and grip. Sex is a fucking workout and I don't always want to be dripping with sweat when I come. Sometimes I just want ten minutes alone in the shower. Sometimes I don't want to spend 20 minutes cuddling after because I got shit I want to do with my day. Many reasons.

I also recall a time she was upset with me, I think because I didn't want to go to brunch? (it was many years ago) and she stormed off to the bedroom and started loudly masturbating with the door open. I didn't line it because I perceived it as just another way to throw a tantrum, I felt like she was trying to make me feel like she didn't need me?

Anyways, yeah, people use masturbation against each other all the time. Context is everything, it's not just a physical act devoid of meaning within a relationship

21

COMA-- You could tell your aunt off. You could get someone else to tell her off. You could also shrug off her comments without feeling selfish or guilty. Whatever would make you feel better. (That's with the full acknowledgment that nothing is going to make you feel exactly good. Your father is dying, and you can't be by his side. Nothing about this is good.)

If you were in therapy and I was advising you, I'd ask you why you were ceding so much power to this aunt? Who gave her permission to interpret your actions as selfish? If a comic strip character told you to feel guilty, would you listen to it? So why listen to your aunt?

There's this very human tendency to blame people, not circumstances. Your aunt is grieving. Her brother is dying. The situation is awful enough, but she's decided to blame a person (you) instead of the stroke. She's decided to take it out on you since she can't exactly yell at this whole horrible pandemic that's hurting so many of us in so many ways.

I hope that above paragraph is one you needed to hear and that it can offer you some solace. Now consider this. You're doing a little of the same thing. If your aunt were terrific right now. If she was saying soothing things, you'd still be experiencing some of the worst feelings that most of us experience in our lives. Your father has died without warning, and you weren't there to say goodbye. (Sometimes people die slowly in nursing homes when there's plenty of time to say goodbye. Trust me, it's not much better.) This sucks, and I wish there were something I could say to make the pain go away. Thing is, blaming your aunt for being an asshole (and she is being an asshole) isn't helping. It's the situation that sucks, not her.

22

Fichu @19, yes, more communication was my first instinct too (after weed to get the brain to stop working overtime so she can focus on sex), but when he shamed her for masturbating, that was the DTMFA point for me too.

Ork @20, Mr MATH and your ex were both in the wrong for being upset about a partner's masturbating, and for using masturbation as a relationship weapon generally. (And it seems she was only using masturbation as revenge for your expressing preference for your hand?) Presumably she is your ex for a reason. "I have experienced a thing" should not be interchangeable with "I kind of understand a thing." I understand that people who do that thing have a lot of growing up to do.

23

@17, I couldn’t agree more. And on a personal note, I just went back to the week I commented and found @Dadddy’s bullying of you really gross and weird. I didn’t even like to type his username because he doesn’t seem Daddyish at all to me.

Has anyone here looked at what’s on the front pages of porn sites lately? It’s deteriorated in recent years in my view. And one never ever sees men eating pussy unless you were to search for it. Young men in particular are becoming increasingly pornsick and mysoginist and it’s easy to see why. Before anyone disagrees with me, check the first page of pornhub/xvideos and report back.

Regardless of my personal cultural analysis, Dan’s advice is spot on: DTMFA. There are people that LOVE eating pussy.

These are also likelier to be lovers who fuck you adoringly, worshipping, in awe, in wonder, in twisted perverted escalating ways. If you haven’t had that yet, you’re missing out. If you have, here is a reminder that it’s worth it.

I entirely agree with @17 about this guy telling on himself too.

Thanks to all for not piling on the other week, although I may have been spared by the previous discussion re: newcomers.

24

@8 larry
That responds to half of that one sentence of mine. There is no "research" that shows that vaccinated people are not Covid carriers.

/Break/
Generally, this forum is not the best place for people to get Covid info.

25

Kiss @23, weirder than your bullying of Fichu? ;) Yes, you did get off easy, because we regulars had been scolded for being unaccepting of newbies. You're not a newbie anymore and LVG isn't here to protect you. Thank you for your support, but Fichu's is the butt you'll need to kiss to make up for introducing yourself by way of attack. (I've used Fubar's slogblocker to hide Dadddy-Issues's comments, and I see that was the right decision.)

26

I think someone in TFR's position has to care for their partner and defer any question of whether he's getting it. Whether they're getting it on. Because, if the relationship is worthwhile at all, strong at all, it can deal with occasional hiatusus of sexual gratification. It would be the wrong thing to go through the motions of caring for a partner, with the caring as bait and sex as the concealed hook. '[subtext: I want sex]. Look, I've gotten you a lovely bunch of flowers. Uh-huh? [tapping fingers] ... [I want sex] Say, how about I make you your favorite pecan pie? Uh-huh? [Fingers]. Or something with ... caramel sauce?'. This just makes a depressed or out-of-action (sexually) partner feel unloved--as if their lover is only with them for the fucking. TFR just needs to want to be with his partner through tough times and help him through them.

And, reading his letter, I think he does: it's thoughtful and kind. Opening up the relationship may be something they do after a mass vaccination program--one or both of them.

With COMA, I wondered whether the risk of COVID was perhaps less than the regret would be of not seeing her dying father. The risk (of death to her and her unborn child) is probably around 300 times smaller, taking every precaution, than her dying in childbirth. But then ... her father is already gone; she can have no communication with him, so the only issue is whether she wants now, to see him before he is buried (or will want later to have so seen him). Then there are issues of cost and convenience and what her partner expects. And the likelihood of unpleasant interactions with her aunt. But she should not hold off on going because her aunt has framed the issue in a coercive, shitty way. What does she want? Where does the balance of risk/inconvenience/unpleasantness and desire for closure lie for her?

27

Harriet @26, when it was a woman whose sex drive had vanished due to pandemic stress, you said you would dump someone who was too stressed for sex. You seem to have a lot more compassion when it's a male couple?
https://www.thestranger.com/savage-love/2021/02/02/55086569/savage-love/comments/28

28

@6 Ensign and @19 Fichu are right: he is acting appallingly in not making the effort to please her, not going an extra millimeter, let alone an extra mile, and she should just look for someone else who would be thrilled to be with such a thoughtful, unselfish lover.

29

@27. Bi. Eh? I didn't tell her partner to dump her. If I had a point, it was that there were rational or well-founded reasons to be anxious or depleted (e.g. that someone, like the earlier lw, had been suffering burnout pulling out all the stops in a caring profession) and less well-founded reasons (e.g. that COVID, a small risk to most healthy people of working age, was a terrifying bugaboo coming to get you). Anyway, I am responding to the tone of TFR's letter and the impression of the 'solid' relationship he has with his bf it gives. He apologises for his question, knowing it could look a bit selfish or ignoble; he says 'TFR' (what editor could have thought up that? An editor would have gone with 'horny' something); he tops and tails his letter with an appreciation of his partner, but he's climbing up the walls sexually and isn't able to retract what is a genuine question.

Dan's answer is the right answer, viz. don't suppose that the different sexual configurations of gay life, including an openness to ... openness, will be the abracadabra for curing your sexual dysfunction, his anomie, or your emergent sexual incompatibility as a couple. It could work out that way ... or it might not--but rather than pinning your hopes on colorful clubbing or grouping sex sessions to a Gaga soundtrack--or whatever it is these days, i.e. a gay-specific solution--think of something serviceable to everyone i.e. therapy. Right--and there's nothing about either men living together or hets living together supposed in my answer.

30

Harriet, your words are right there for you to read. WAH's relationship sounded solid, too, and she too sounded apologetic for the lapse in her sex drive. You did state, as did Dan with both LWs, that they should stick out the pandemic in hopes that the sex would return, and if not, deal with that situation. But with WAH, you then embarked on a lecture about how "To turn it round entirely, though, and speaking personally, I would not stay with anyone whose ability to fuck is tuned out by purely ambient stresses." Imagine how WAH would have felt to read that? No such lecture for TFR. If that wasn't based on the genders involved, I can't see any other difference between the two LWs.

31

@30, Bi. If WAH's stresses were not 'purely ambient', she could have tuned my comments out or not got beyond 'purely ambient'. What you said to me was that the stresses were not ambient (she had been ill and was in a frontline profession), and you wondered whether I had gotten the impression they were. Someone can make a general comment, a comment not tied down to the facts of a case, without its being a lecture aimed at the people involved in any situation.

There is all the difference in the world between the letters. One is from the horny, frustrated person; the other from the person unable to put out. The first (chronologically the second) wonders whether opening up the relationship, to preserve it, is the answer. WAH was thinking whether the relationship was a goer at all (there was not the option of opening it). She was not able easily to take her partner's 'yes'--yes, I can wait for now; let's hope to have sex after the pandemic has subsided--for an answer--and both Dan's response and mine used some formulation of 'take yes as an answer'. If you were excerpting my response less selectively, you would show that I said both 'be kind to yourself' and try to 'take his yes as an answer'.

You're the one with residual essential ideas of sexual difference, attributed to or projected onto me, not me.

32

COMA's situation reminds me of my own; my mother suffered a stroke that she never recovered from and my sister, who had already demonstrated numerous times what a despicable control freak she was (and still is) by throwing loud guilt trips at me, found it to be a field day to scream at me some more for not stepping up to the situation as much as she wanted me to. Years later when I told her I was about to have surgery for cancer she just ignored it, so she's out of my life. Fun fact: her name is Karen, so lately I've been delighted at the numerous Karen-oriented news stories I've been reading!

33

I had to go back and re-read MATH. Upon first reading, it leapt out at me that she is initiating sex, then she's "doing math problems" in her head during the act (seconded/thirded trying some weed if that helps her brain relax and stay engaged [thanks, legalization!]). I'm going to play devil's advocate a bit here (don't worry, I'm still working toward the obvious DTMFA). If she is eagerly initiating sex, then mentally checking out during the act, then that has got to be confusing/frustrating/hurtful for the BF over time. If this became a consistent pattern in their relationship, and it sounds like it has, then I can't hold it against the BF for starting to turn down her advances. Is the sex satisfying for him? Having sex with a partner whose head isn't in the game feels gross on a lot of levels, and it would be extra mind-fucking for that checked-out person to constantly be initiating sex that they can't stay present for.

Further devil's advocacy: MATH mentioned that the unsatisfying sex has especially been an issue during pandemic times, and plenty of sympathy and grace have been extended to LWs and their partners for losing their mojo during this absolute batshit past year. Does MATH's BF have a super-stressful job? Are they both working from home and not able to get a healthy amount of space between them? Is the existential dread making it hard for him to engage in prolonged foreplay or sex in general? MATH doesn't give us any insight into the details of their day-to-day lives, their relationship, what their sex life used to be like compared to what it is now.

So.... then she masturbated one time and her BF got all butthurt. And the only question MATH actually asks is if she somehow did something "wrong." And this is where we arrive at the DTMFA. Assuming that she took care of her sexual needs discreetly (ie, not storming off in a huff, not attempting to weaponize the situation, etc), then yeah, that's a great big DTMFA. And of course you're allowed to masturbate and didn't do anything wrong by masturbating (again, assuming there wasn't passive-aggression at play). You're only 26, which I know probably feels so old and wizened to you, but you are plenty young and have plenty of time to find an enthusiastic partner.

34

@22 yeah I mean the relationship wasn't built to last, but my main point was that it shouldn't be a totally foreign idea to anyone, no matter how sex-positive you are. Masturbation is one of mmmmmaaaannnyyyy things people can use against each in a relationship. I'm of the belief that we should all try to find things we identify with in people who do things we disagree with. We're not all that different.

Specifically, I didn't ever consider my masturbation "weaponized" against my ex, but she interpreted it that way. Just as I interpreted her masturbation as weaponized against me. I can't help but recognize the parallels and the only for-sure difference was my access to my own inner thoughts.

35

@23 I watch a fair amount of porn, and guys going down on women is absolutely everywhere. I would say it's massively more represented in porn than it was a decade ago. Try browsing in a new browser (netscape if you use chrome, chome if you're on safari, etc) so that the site doesn't have access to your cookies and show you the porn it thinks you want to see.

In fact, going over to redtube (a porn site i literally have never used before) there are 48 videos on the front page. I see 4 featuring women giving men oral sex, 3 featuring women giving another woman oral sex, and 2 featuring men giving women oral sex. Notably, NONE of them feature "step-sisters", which is a plus!

36

Harriet @26: I don’t always agree with you, but I do find you generally to be a well-informed, intelligent, observant person. Which is why I just can’t fathom why you are once again trying to minimize people’s COVID precautions, as I believe you are doing with COMA. I mean, let’s say you’re right, and that in their desperate efforts to contain the pandemic some people may be misinterpreting the level of threat. I still think that pales in comparison with the vast millions of deniers, anti-maskers, and herd-immunity enthusiasts that are distorting the public discourse. I’m not claiming you’re in alliance with these wackos. But balanced against that poison, it seems that a little bit of overreaction (if that is what COMA is doing) is just not worth focusing on. I’m just puzzled why you would continue to bring this up, when by far the bigger problem we face is not overreacting to the threat, but under-reacting.

38

@37: Very true, Dadddy. Well said, succinct, and not judgmental.

39

Harriet @31: "You're the one with residual essential ideas of sexual difference" -- uh, no, I am not, and I would have thought such a cheap shot beneath you. You responded to identical situations very differently. Perhaps you're just in a better mood this week. Or perhaps it simply didn't occur to you that WAH would inevitably read your "side" philosophical expounding as to what you would do about a partner who was too stressed to have sex as a condemnation of her -- and you still can't see that. I'll leave it though; the point I hoped to make has been missed, and counterattacks aren't helpful to anyone.

Wayne @32, sorry you have a toxic sister, but glad you're having the last laugh over her name!

Mrs Fox @33, you're presuming that Mr MATH can tell MATH's mind is wandering during sex, which I would not take as a given. I read it as she initiates the sex she wants to have, he skips the foreplay and sticks it right in, and her brain says "oh, this again" and checks out until he's finished. If she is in fact nonverbally signalling her boredom to him, then it does make sense that he'd be less enthusiastic about having sex. From the perspective of someone who is too tone deaf to see the better solution: just stop skipping the foreplay already, like she asked.
In light of Ork's story, I am now wondering how Mr MATH knew she'd gone off and masturbated after he'd turned her down. Did she tell him or make it obvious, like Ork's ex, or did he just overhear or walk in on her? If she did weaponise her masturbation, that shows a level of maturity appropriate for someone who calls herself a girl. A revenge wank was justified perhaps due to his sexual neglect, but it's more fitting that he called it "unpleasant behaviour."

Ork @34, sure, "I can see why someone would do that" is not the same thing as an endorsement. We do have to understand why people -- especially why we ourselves -- behave in less than ideal ways so that we can learn and improve. As far as weaponising masturbation, again I would ask (generally, not you specifically, just a talking point) how did she know you were masturbating. I've had two live-in partners and presume they must have masturbated sometimes, as did I, but we never made each other aware of it. If one's partner is aware of one's masturbation to the extent that it hurts their feelings, perhaps a bit more discretion is the answer to that problem.

40

Do we know semen isn't infectious? You can still be a carrier if you are fully vaccinated, and testicles are a Covid hot spot. 1 in 6 dead Covid male patients had it present in their testicles.

Obviously this guy is going to go out and do this anyway, but it would be a lot better if he waited until 2 weeks after the second shot as he was instructed when he got the shot. Least likely to transmit to others, and if he gets covid he'll be 100% protected against severe disease and death, at least so far. Really honestly pisses me off that he'd get the shot and fuck up the protection of it just because he can't wait a few weeks. I guess we want to prioritize vaccinating those with poor impulse control but anyone you can find to blow in this pandemic isn't a careful person.

Surfaces are estimated to be 10% of transmission. That may be higher or lower dependent on variant. Most variants, especially in the US, have not been identified. Anyone who spends a minute or two to think about it understands why we don't have a definitive number.

41

Re: Covid testicles - yes that means you have scar tissue in your testicles, yes that impacts fertility but more importantly testosterone production, so if you do go out and get Covid before your shot kicks in there's a decent chance you will never have any issues with an out of control sex drive again because you won't have one any longer.

42

MATH you deserve so much more. Sad so many d-bag guys still exist.

Got the Fever - wait 2 weeks after your 2nd jab, then go play. You should be fine unless a new variant mutates. So go play now while you still can. Pretty much fully effective against serious cases for now.

But mask up in public to protect others, after play, we don't know if vaccine prevents you get from infecting others if you get a mild case.

According to LAcounty.gov city of angels is still Phase 1A (healthcare, nursing facilities staff) in Los Angeles, and 1B over 65s, you said you're 53. If you're healthcare worker, shouldn't you know this stuff? If you're working at a nursing home, aren't you masking up anyway at work? If you are high risk other like organ transplant recipient - shouldn't you discuss details with your doc who understands your unique risk factors?

43

@4 curious2 95% for any case, closer to 100% prevention of serious / fatal case (current variants, mRNA vaccines). Even if 99.9% it still isn't 1 in 1000 chance of dying. It's 1 in 1000 chance of a serious case, and odds of dying from a serious case range from from 1 in 650 to 1 in 3 depending on age and other risk factors. And yes, at some point, as long as you're masking up in public (protecting others) some personal risk is fine for sexual pleasure. Indeed, every time I blow a guy, there's a 1 in a million chance of HIV (which can still be fatal or certainly many medical complications of treatment)... probably a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting gay bashed or robbed, some chance of experiencing sexual violence.

I try to screen out for risks / go with out gay guys who don't seem abusive so my odds of being bashed/robbed probably lower, much higher if I lived elsewhere in the world or in the 1950s.

Anyone who has sex has some risk, or who drives, or who snowboards, etc.

44

MATH revisited
The reason MATH’s problem resonates with so many is because sadly this is a common issue, but it’s still worth looking into the letter again whether dumping or not.
They’ve been together for four years and only now LW recognizes a problem with the sex aspect of their relationship.

Granted, the way things are presented to us there may have been issues all along, yet how they met, the established dynamic, his and her age and past experiences may all be factors leading to the current situation.
Was he always the one initiating sex and assumed all along that she is ok with it? Did she only now start initiating and he is baffled/insecure about it? How are pandemic-related issues- lockdown, death in the family, lost employment, and so on- influence their relationship, etc.

Surprisingly LW’s only question was “Should I feel guilty about masturbating when he turns me down?” The answer is obviously “no” and my sense is that masturbation was not new to their relationship. The “unpleasant behavior” could be what her partner may be viewing as a selfish behavior, since for him sex with someone busy solving math problems may not be that enjoyable either, and whether right or wrong he feel like he is being rejected. Not necessarily my view yet suggesting different angles to the issue at hand. Not intended.

I think MATH’s real question should have been, “Is the relationship worth the time and effort needed to resolve the current issue, and if so how?”

45

To their credit, f_m_f @ 33 raised some of the issues I mentioned in my current post. No intended nor subconscious plagiarism, I only read said post after posting mine.

46

Who's hungry for this week's Lucky @69 Award honors? Tick...tick...tick...

47

CMD @44, indeed, it seemed the wrong question was being asked in light of the full picture. Should she feel guilty about masturbating when he turns her down? No. Should she do it the way the ex-Ms Ork did, by leaving a door open and loudly moaning to rub his face in it, as it were? No. But you're right that there are other questions here. Is it reasonable to expect that one's sexual needs may change at various points in one's life? Yes. Her needs have changed, and her partner refuses to adapt. Is it justifiable to break up with someone because they refuse to adapt to your changing needs? Yes, it is. Is it justifiable to masturbate when one's needs aren't being met by one's partner? Yes, and it's even justifiable to masturbate when they are being met. So long as you are not saying no to sex and then immediately masturbating instead, which feels like cruelty and would be a DTMFA for me. Can these two solve their problems? Doesn't look hopeful.

Also, I'd like to point out that she said she COULD BE solving math problems in her head during sex, not that she IS solving math problems in her head -- these are two different things; "could be" implies to me, "for all the enjoyment I'm getting out of this, I may as well be doing math problems," while many commenters read it as her being checked out. She said she's always enthusiastic about having sex, so the idea that she initiates sex then tunes out in a way that's obvious to her partner doesn't seem supported by the letter, to me. From the letter, it seems more likely he's turning her down because she wants foreplay first and he can't be bothered. Both readings, though, are possible.

48

25-- BiDan-- Thanks for standing up for me! But also, Kissmy didn't upset me. I don't need an apology. I didn't see the comment as bullying.

(If anyone is curious what we're talking about, it's the Boyfriend Experience column of January 26, comments 42 and 58.)

The bullying dynamic depends on a power disparity. If a clique gangs up on the new kid, that's bullying because there's a power disparity between many against one. Same for someone older against someone younger, someone in authority against a subordinate, someone with lots of friends against the outcast. But if 2 equals disagree and argue, that's not bullying. If one person hurls an insult, and the other shrugs and goes about her business, it's not really bullying. For that reason, the bully generally casts a wide net hoping that one or some of the comments land and hurt-- while knowing that most of them won't.

That's what I saw happening when Kissmy responded to my comment. Kissmy made a bunch of assertions about me, my emotions and my motives. I checked my original comment to see if there was anything that might have been unclear, but there was nothing there. In the end I figured Kissmy's comment was more of a non sequitur than anything else, a bunch of unfounded claims about me, easily ignored. If I was going to respond, it was going to be "but that's not what I said!" in an exasperated and whiny tone. It was easy to decide not to bother.

I could decide not to bother because, if there's a difference in power here, I'm the one in control. I usually make only a few comments on each column. My comments are usually directed to the letter writers, not the other regulars. I don't interact a lot. Yet I feel like one of the crowd, like my comments are read and respected. I like that. Kissmy is easy to skip over-- unless he contributes something worthwhile. In that case I'll pay more attention.

49

Fichu @48, fair enough, then bullying was not the right word either for Kissmybutt's insults toward you nor Dadddy's insults toward me. Roll and scroll seem the appropriate response in both cases.

50

@43 delta
" 95% for any case, closer to 100% prevention of serious / fatal case"

I previously thought it was reasonable to equate hospitalizations with serious cases (by serious, I mean people with damage to various vital organ systems).

But I read recently that even mild cases can lead to 'long Covid'. So perhaps when we say that vaccination protects from hospitalization, it can still result in a serious case.

51

@44 CMD, I'm glad someone else's mind went where mine did with MATH. Agreed that the LW doesn't give us sufficient information to make a really good judgement call re: the salvagability of their relationship (indeed, she didn't even ask if their relationship should end). We are somewhat lead to believe that their sex life used to be better, but that isn't very clear, either. She briefly mentions that their sex life has been especially unsatisfying "with the pandemic on top of it ["it" being a super vague "after four years with my boyfriend"], but doesn't give any details about how pandemic stress is impacting them as individuals or as a couple.

I know writing doesn't come naturally for all, but it seems that LWs belie a lot about themselves with their writing tone, language choices, and information they choose to share (or not). Let's juxtapose TFR and MATH. They are both roughly the same age, within three years of each other, tops. TFR tells us about his relationship with his BF, what he loves about his BF, their good sex life, and the other areas that clearly make this a Good, Solid Relationship. He gives us context about his BF's job during the pandemic and the effect it has had on BF's mental health and libido. TFR expresses sympathy and concern for his BF at every turn in the letter. TFR acknowledges his hurt feelings about the current state of their sex life, tempered with sympathy for what BF is going through.

On the other hand, MATH tells us nothing other than she and her BF have been together for four years, makes a brief reference to the pandemic and vague suggestions that their sex life used to be better (or not - it's very unclear and could be read different ways), says the sex is unsatisfying and there's not enough of it, BF won't give her foreplay and is beginning to rebuff her, and he made her feel guilty for masturbating after being rebuffed one time, and should she feel guilty for masturbating that one time?

The more I marinate on it, the more MATH's letter rubs me the wrong way and comes across as immature and a bit selfish. It's also such an almost comic trope of "bad boyfriend, won't do foreplay, what a patently irredeemable partner, DTMFA" void of any other information about their relationship, and it isn't even a "do I DTMFA?" question that she asks. If this is a new turn of events for their sex life, does she have any concern for her BF's mental state or health? Is BF having ED or some other kind of performance issue? MATH certainly doesn't seem worried about what may be going on with her BF if this is a new problem. If this isn't a new issue and it's just taken her four years and a pandemic to realize she's unsatisfied with the sex she and her BF are having, then end the relationship. I guess what I'm saying is I'm left wondering what MATH's question/problem * actually * is, and what actual advice (if any) she's looking to get from Dan. Or if the letter itself is being weaponized against the BF to make him look bad? (I realize I'm straying into the weeds a bit, but the more I wonder if the masturbation situation was used to rub in the BF's face, the more I wonder if that kind of behavior may be typical of MATH and the way she interacts with her BF [who comes across as so obviously terrible in letter, esp since the LW says absolutely nothing positive about her relationship or BF at any point]).

And I don't believe that MATH is literally solving mathematical equations in her head. And I can see how it could be read that the sex is so unsatisfying and awful that it's leading her to check out. Or, it could be read that her inability to keep her mind in the present moment during sex is making the sex less satisfying. The latter could also be creating a negative feedback loop between MATH and her BF, where her wandering mind makes her less engaged and BF is picking up on it and feeling hurt or slighted. It's potentially a very "chicken or egg" scenario. If MATH indeed has a hard time keeping her mind present during sex (and that can be a legit issue in and of itself regardless of BF's skills or prowess), then she really owes it to herself to practice mindfulness. That's a skill she needs to develop for herself.

Sorry for the novel, all.

53

COMA... the fact of the matter is that regardless of what you do in life, there is always someone who would say that you suck because of the choice you made. here you are in an impossible situation. and someone is telling you that you suck because of how you are handling it. if you were handling it differently, there would be someone else to tell you that you suck. it's an impossible situation.

tune them all out. make your own choices. recognize that it will be a bad choice, because you are in an impossible situation, but that you can and will live with it and the additional grief and sadness that comes with your choice, whatever that may be.

then, when someone wants to judge you for your choices, just apply your non-confrontational blow-off of choice (blank stare... quizzical look... 'i'm sorry you are hurting'... whatever), and do not engage. you already know that the choice you made carried negative consequences. you struggled with it. made your choice and accepted the reality of it. you don't need to entertain their judgements. you've already done your own evaluation.

55

@52 Dadddy: Despite what differences I had with my parents, and no matter how severely my mother and I clashed (especially during my grade school and teen years!), I'm so grateful to have been able to see both my father and mother before they passed away. Especially important was my ability to thank them and tell them how much I love them, that there were no unresolved issues, and we were at peace. My Mom has been gone for over twelve years; Dad joined her two years, two months, and two weeks later, shortly after telling us, his and Mom's four grown children:
"Kids--I love you. But I miss your mother. Take care of yourselves."

56

Dadddy @52: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

Earlier, I read your post and found inspiration in your sticker question. Still do. I’ve been letting some weird fears hold me back in key areas of my life and need to work on overcoming those fears more urgently. So I ask based on my own thoughts about fear in my life and not out of any sort of disagreement about your experience. With your marriage for example, did you stop being held back by fear or did you just realize you were afraid of something else more?

57

I made the decision to fly out of state to visit my dying father during Covid, and then flew back again when he died to comfort my mother. I wasn't experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, and my father wasn't brain dead and in a coma.

Coma needs to do what's right for her.

I also believe that everyone gets to decide for themself how much of a risk they want to take regarding Covid--beyond things like mask-wearing, which everyone should be doing. And people who want to take more intense precautions shouldn't be shamed for that. We never know the health status of anyone, and someone who looks just fine may be dealing with a compromised immune system or may be in contact with someone who is at higher risk than the general population.

58

I know I'm veering off topic here, but...has anyone heard from LavaGirl lately? Usually she's very keen on landing on the Lucky @69 Award---and especially scoring the big Hunsky @100 honors.

59

@58, Griz - I noticed she's been conspicuously absent on this forum since things got really heated in the "Boyfriend Experience" thread a few weeks ago.

60

@36. Ensign. The deniers, anti-vaxxers and herd immunity enthusiasts are endangering vulnerable people. The risk of dying if catching COVID is about 8% for the over-85s; it is not significantly above 1% for any cohort of women above 70. For a woman of child-bearing age, it is not above 0.08%. Suppose she has a 1 in 10 chance of catching COVID while traveling (this would be a high estimate; the R rate is below 1 in most states and seropositivity is not at 10%). Her chance of dying this year of COVID, at around 10 in 100,000 on these estimates if she travels, is nearly exactly the same as being killed in a car accident if she is a driver. It's half that of dying of stroke.

It is right to take every precaution to prevent vulnerable people from coming into contact with the virus. It may not be possible to shield people--seniors may need care of different forms--and it's inhumane to tell older people to fend for themselves. So I am no advocate of 'exercising your freedom' irresponsibly. The people doing this, on the basis of their politics generally as well, strike me as selfish and heedless people.

I'm not telling her either to go or not to go. If she goes, it will be for her; it doesn't seem she can help her terminally ill father, nor is she morally obliged to anyone such as her aunt. But does she actually know the true risks? Should she not base her judgment on the true risks? I would be an advocate of this in life (say, if a younger person wanted to go motorbiking on a libertarian urge without a helmet). Will she regret going if she comes to understand what the risk was later? If there is an error in my back-of-the-envelope calculations, please someone tell me (I'm getting my age-specific mortality and infection fatality rates from here--https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2918-0/figures/2).

The problem of under-reaction is that America's finest 20% of people, our favorites once more, don't seem to believe in COVID. This is a terrible problem--forever, it would seem. It's hard to have a country with safety and security if 20% of people don't accept democracy, the authority of national institutions and the rule of law.

61

@39. Bi. Another possibility is that I've learned from you ;) --and was more careful in noting and giving due weight to why fears about COVID had been so sapping to the lw's boyfriend. If he's in a frontline profession, his fears for himself are more grounded, as his viral load will be higher, and he may have seen people he has worked with for a while die (say in a care home), which is enough to rob anyone of their mojo. Importunate sexual badgering is not the posture for the lw to strike!

I don't understand weaponising wanking--and on the whole I'm glad I don't understand.

@44. CMD. My read would be that MATH accepted male-centered sex for four years in the first flush of romantic love. It's no longer enough--and the guy urgently needs to up his game to hold onto her (or he should have to up her game; she has other options).

@51. Fantastic. I just thought that TFR was of the social class, educational background and degree of personal sophistication that knows how to conduct a relationship essentially respectfully and negotiate good sex, and MATH (though more to the point, her boyfriend) wasn't. Sure she does arithmetic in her head....

62

h_b_t_b @ 61
Yes, this is what I alluded to. MATH’s partner may have been more experienced when they first met, called the shots and she followed.
I don’t “blame” neither one for this dynamic. This is what they knew at the time, and adjustments on either side can be tricky yet possible.

Another thing to consider is that “foreplay” is a fairly broad definition which may mean different things to different people: going down on your partner prior to PIV to some while also cuddling on the couch while watching Twin Peaks reruns or telling them how great they look when they wear that velour purple turtleneck to others.

My guess is that with this ongoing pandemic and who knows what else is going on in their lives her partner may view her additional requests as “needy.” Neither one is at fault, yet good communication is the key. And if that means breaking up and build new relationships with others based on what you’ve just learned then so be it.

63

@59 Fantastic Mrs. Fox: LavaGirl has been absent for the last two weeks since "The Boyfriend Experience"? That was three weeks ago. I remember that a lot of weird things happened in that thread. Comments for a while went missing, we didn't add Page 3 until comment @211, people were blocking and / or getting blocked, and, after going back for a re-read, conversations did indeed get unusually heated. Some commenters, myself included, were wondering if ousted trolling regulars like Sportlandia, Hunter, and Eudamonic came back from the Dead and hacked a bunch of accounts.

64

"What would I do if I weren't afraid"

If everyone were appropriately afraid, or even just appropriately aware of risk, this pandemic would have been over globally by week 4.

65

Mrs Fox @51, no need to apologise! You raise some very good points. I'm guilty of taking letters at face value if they seem plausible, which this one does, because as you say the stereotype of the lazy straight man who refuses foreplay is so prevalent and that type itself so common. But there are certain things about the letter that suggest she may be using that stereotype to manipulate Dan and us readers into accepting that he's unequivocally at fault. Her asking whether she should feel guilty for masturbating instead of whether she should end the relationship does suggest she just wants to go back to her boyfriend and say, "See, Dan says I wasn't being unreasonable at all!" One also wonders exactly what she means by foreplay, and whether Mr MATH may not be unreasonable as seeing what she wants as excessive. Chicken or egg indeed, it seems the fault is on both their ends.

Griz @58, I assume she was either banned for her abusive behaviour towards me, or left the comments section in a huff due to the unbearable idea that we can now block people whose posts we don't want to read.

Harriet @60, anyone who risks Covid is not just risking their own health. They are risking the health of every person they come within breathing distance of, whether they have symptoms or not, within the next 10-14 days. That is why those of us with no underlying health conditions are staying home. Because we don't want to catch the virus and pass it on to someone who IS at risk of dying from it. Besides, Covid isn't binary -- either you die or you're fine. I've had a mild case of Covid and it was far worse than flu, the symptoms didn't clear up for five weeks. Many otherwise healthy young people have long Covid; their lives will never be the same, they may have to give up activities and face recurring symptoms for the rest of their lives. Focusing ONLY on the chances one would die of Covid is short-sighted in the extreme.

Harriet @61, ah, indeed -- I never considered that my challenging those insensitive comments you made re WAH's letter may have been effective! :)
And now I'm going to challenge your classism re TRF vs MATH, wow.

CMD @62, yes, this. They're young and they've been together for four years, it's likely they've just grown bored of each other and should move on.

66

no @64: Math is hard (no pun intended, re. LW3's predicament), and too many people don't understand exponential spread. And with fear and even awareness having been politicized, well, here we are: a year later, and even people who've taken the thing seriously have reached the breaking point.

Great advice from Dan this week, and great comments, with readers even professing to have learned from one another. What a difference a few weeks make. Now maybe Dan will come back!

67

@64 no
@66 fubar

+1

Had the failure in leadership been a movie, it would have been too implausible. (As I've been saying for a year) It was imperative to take immediate strong action. For many reasons including that people can't bear to live locked down forever. I know I'm not OK, and I don't think anyone is.

I wish I lived somewhere sanely led like New Zealand. Somewhere I heard it said that that was down to their being an island, but I think that's wrong. People coming across the US land border have not been what brought us Covid; in fact, via all travel methods, the US is the world's greatest Covid-Typhoid Mary.

With this, and with that 500K under-reports our Covid deaths, I think that Trump's monstrous void of leadership has killed more people than the 1M Iraqis that died because Dubbya occupied Iraq.

68

@67 p.s.
"people can't bear to live locked down forever"

And the amount of time they can bear it is strongly related to the point of it. The point in the US has never been to achieve a sane New Zealand-like situation. The point seems more to keep the tragedy rate low enough to support the economy: people are not willing and capable to live forever in an unbearable situation for a poorly crafted goal.

69

Re: masturbation as a weaponized activity: I once had a friend who was not attracted to her husband any more and had mostly stopped having sex with him. He literally did all the things the magazines tell husbands to do: upped his housework game, brought home flowers, the works. Their sex life remained pretty close to non-existent.

Then one day, she told, me, angrily, that she had awakened in the middle of the night to feel the bed shaking, and to realize that her husband, his back to her, and being as quiet as possible, was masturbating. She was furious.

I couldn't understand her reaction. I said, "but just because YOU don't want to have sex with him, did you think that meant HIS libido just went away?" I asked, "If you don't want to have sex with him, why does it bother you that he's masturbating? It's not as if he's depriving you of something you want."

She had no response that made sense. She was angry that he had the temerity to "do that" in their marital bed, with her right next to him. But I pointed out that they lived in a small house with two kids, and that was the only room he had even a modicum of privacy in: there was no office, and except the bedrooms and bathroom, all the other spaces were open. I assume he sometimes, maybe frequently, had a wank in the bathroom, but I speculated that he had had a sex dream, woke up horny, and OUT OF DEFERENCE TO HER STATED NON-INTEREST AND THE FACT THAT SHE WAS SLEEPING, thought he'd quietly rub one out and get back to sleep.

I noted that he was being pretty discreet and considerate. She was unmoved.

This was about 20 years ago. I stopped being friends with her several years later for unrelated reasons, and they're still married--I actually referenced this couple recently in mulling over what "drama" in a relationship looked like to me--but I have no idea how they conduct their sex life/lives now.

70

@69: I realize that I started the comment as if I were going to talk about weaponization of masturbation (a great band name, by the way), and I talked about something different, yet related to the letter, wherein the partner within the couple who doesn't want to have sex gets pissed at the other for masturbating. That might be weaponizing, but if so, the person not doing the wanking is using the weapon.

It's different than the example that Endless_Ork gave @20. I have no idea whether MATH is behaving as brattily as his ex. I tend to side with the lw, unless by their writing, they reveal themself to be a gigantic asshole. I don't get that impression from MATH.

What I do get, and it saddens me in much the same response that Fichu has been having to some of the letters here (and also to some phone calls to the Lovecast), is the sense that these women feel GUILTY about wanting some satisfaction in their lives.
MATH asks, "Should I feel guilty about masturbating when he turns me down?," which strikes me as incredibly sad, and also which is something I can't imagine too many men writing. Which is also incredibly sad.

71

@69: I forgot to include that I told my friend, "It's not as if he were cheating on you" (which also didn't absolve him in her view).

Since reading/hearing how many women consider their male partner's looking at porn to be a form of cheating (sigh), if I were still friends with her, I might have added, "and he wasn't looking at porn, at women with different bodies than yours. For all you know, he was fantasizing about having sex with you." But even if I had, I doubt she would have been mollified.

72

@67 The failure in leadership was 100% predictable, it's what happened last pandemic in pretty much the exact same way and for pretty much the exact same reasons. My critique was not of the failure in leadership - it was the failure of individuals to behave responsibly because their personal desires, like taking a vacation as defended by others above, superceded the elimination of the pandemic to such a degree that we are all still in this mess a year out and probably will be for a year more. To those saying they must visit distant family in case their family dies, as someone who has family who did die because of people who made that same visiting decision you did, perhaps save your justifications until after the end of the pandemic, after we finally all get to bury our dead. Including, by then, almost certainly all the recreational vacationers/visitors/etc who apparently have luckily skipped the consequences of their actions and the actions of others like them so far.

73

Nocute @69, congrats on the magic number! I'm with your friend, but for entirely different reasons. My partner has done this a few times. Waking me up by shaking the bed is unacceptable! I can't sleep through it, I wake up going "what the heck is going on!?" and once my half-awake brain figures it out, I can't ignore it, my only options are to join in or ask him to stop. He also "thought he was being discreet." So. Don't wake your partner up by masturbating. Other than that, have at it.

74

@73: But BDF, for all she knew, he did this frequently, and she usually slept through it.

Once, during my marriage, when the sex had dropped off significantly (yes, because I didn't want to have it), I woke to find my then-husband, his back turned to me, quietly masturbating. Yes, the bed shook a little. It wasn't long (at 3:00 a.m., trying to not wake me, he probably wasn't settling in for a long, sensual session), and I found myself feeling relieved that he was still getting off, because I could feel less guilty about not wanting to have sex (I realize and realized then, too, that masturbation is not the same as partnered sex, but at least it provides a release).

I pretended to still be asleep; I don't know whether he realized I was awake. We never spoke of it.

75

@65. Bi. You (together with other commenters) are someone who slams the southern and Appalachian Trumpists, who regularly says they are terrible people. I think, I would guess, they're probably a mix; and that their views, their politics, their religion, their group identity, are such as one would expect given their education, opportunities and culture. You think this is classism--and I think you're just kicking down. Without knowing how environmentally determinist I'm being, I think this measure at least of environmental determinism is correct. But it draws brickbats from you for someone to note that the emotional illiteracy and lack of manners or savoir-faire (e.g. in writing to a coastal advice maven) is just who these people are, while it seems legitimate to you to ask, 'but why aren't they writing like James Baldwin? Why aren't they reading Proust?'

With COVID, you make a good point that the risks of the disease are not well-captured by getting it/not getting it and dying of it/not dying of it binaries. I happen to be somewhere where your bubble is not necessarily confined to your household. This time round I'm not with my long-term partner; and it's been a different, interesting experience. I am advising people against taking unnecessary risks e.g. in the supermarket, wash your hands at the entrance, and do not pick stuff off the shelves if you think you won't need it. I guess the people ordering deliveries, rather than going to the supermarket, are commendable; but they live somewhere where it is practicable; they can afford the deliveries, and personally I'm also supporting local small business as well as the supermarkets.

Is the lw's possible trip to see her dying father necessary or unnecessary? Only she can answer that.

@62. CMD. I think by foreplay she means the build-up to (pretty one-dimensional) PIV.

76

@BiDanFan: With regard to masturbating while lying next to your supposedly-sleeping partner, I suppose that several factors combine to determine whether or not that is rude, including, but not limited to:

How heavy a sleeper the partner is.
How frequently this happens.
How easy the partner finds it generally to fall back asleep after waking in the night (granted, thinking there's an earthquake wakes one pretty thoroughly up!!).
Whether the partner has been sleep deprived more so than usual lately or has a particularly long/busy/early-starting day the next day.
Whether there is another place for the wanker to go .
And lastly, what the state of the sexual relationship the two are having is at the time of the midnight wank. This is kind of paradoxical, however. I can imagine that if the couple has a generally active and satisfying sex life, the sleepy one might think: "why are they doing this--and waking me up--when we are already having a lot of sex?" I can also imagine that someone in a mutually sexually satisfying relationship, who makes sex a priority, might be less upset at the fact that the partner was masturbating, and more upset at simply being awakened.

In considering the examples from our own lives that you and I used @#s 73 and 74, as well as the example I gave @# 69--and thank you for the congrats--I see a few differences:

You say that your partner did this or has done this "a few times," whereas in both my examples, this was a one-off (as far as the sleeping partner was aware) thing. I'd be angrier if I were being regularly awakened in the night, especially if I thought the shaking indicated an earthquake was happening and set my heart to racing, and putting me into a state of high alertness.
I am assuming, knowing how much you prioritize sex in your life and relationships, that you and the midnight wanker still had or continue to have a mutually satisfying sex life. So that sense of relief at the temporary and somewhat inadequate assuaging of guilt that I felt didn't or doesn't apply to you.

77

Nocute @74, and for all you know, he usually masturbated in the bathroom or while she was in another room, and that's the first time he attempted to have a wank without waking her, and failed. If a couple has good communication skills, they could discuss whether one is a sound enough sleeper that a bed-quake isn't going to wake one, or whether one is sufficiently bothered by being awoken to override one's partner's need for release they literally couldn't get in another room. (I have insomnia and hate being woken up.) Also in my case, we were and are having sex regularly, he had just been out and I was already sleeping. I credit him for not waking me up to have sex after coming back horny, but the end result was the same. So unlike yourself, I wasn't relieved to learn that he was getting off somehow, but annoyed at being woken up from sleep I needed. I maintain "don't wake your partner" is good manners.

Harriet @75, when do I slam "Appalachian Trumpists"? My family lives in the Carolinas. Another cheap shot on your part. Where people come from, what education level they have, and whom they vote for are completely different things. People can have a social conscience if they were born in a red state or if they haven't finished high school. And I don't "regularly" get involved in the political discussions here; I usually skim past them. You're the one who kicked down at MATH by insinuating she is innumerate. I'm not liking your "I know you are but what am I" attitude this week.

Re CMD, give them a bit of credit. Of course a regular SL reader knows the -definition- of foreplay. The question is what form does it take for MATH? How much build-up, and exactly what activities are we talking about here, and how long do those take?

78

Dang it! I had separated my different points @76 by numbering them and adding an extra space, and the stupid Stranger's stupid system removed both.

Why? Why does this site's comment section seem to want to make us harder to read and understand? If I were paranoid or assumed that anyone at the Stranger cared (I doubt that our comment section is on any of the staff's mind), I say this was an attempt to make the section less attractive and desirable so we'll stop.

79

Ha, BiDanFan, our comments crossed--and I anticipated most of what your specific objections would be!

80

Nocute @76, comments crossed. "Thinking there's an earthquake wakes one pretty thoroughly up!!" -- exactly. And by a couple of times I literally meant two, years apart. Perhaps it had been long enough after the first time that he figured he'd try his luck again. Agree that there are other factors; in our case, waiting for sex was indeed one option, as were the bathroom and the living room, since no one else lives here. Regardless of any of those factors, though, your friend -- and you -- would have been within your rights to be annoyed.

81

@80: I understand what you're saying BiDanFan, but my former friend's objection was far less, "he woke me up," and rather, "Gross! I can't believe he'd do that disgusting thing next to me."

I think she found masturbation in general and under any circumstances to be something yucky.

Somehow, I doubt this would have been your attitude.

82

78-Nocute-- I find that numbers are removed, but hyphens before sentences are not:

-It makes posts easier to read.

-You can switch the order of your points without having to renumber.

-On the other hand, your comment 76 made good sense anyway.

-I share your dislike of having my careful typing switched around on me by an unfeeling machine.

83

@72 no
"My critique was not of the failure in leadership - it was the failure of individuals..."

Then that was your mistake. Because only collectively, through leadership, could your goal be achieved. It's blindingly apparent that it's impossible for individual actions to achieve what you correctly stated @64 should have always been the goal.

In a situation where public policy from the Oval Office down was to /not/ achieve the goal, people are not stupid so they know that the collective goal is not achievable. Your only blaming individuals for not trying to unilaterally do the impossible is pretty clueless.

They'd have been willing to do the unbearable for a while for the purpose of your goal; achieving that goal would require the collective action which could only have been catalyzed by exemplary leadership instead of monstrous leadership.

Note that individuals failed too in the ways you state. But their failure is secondary not primary, so you are mis-assigning primary blame. (Unless one counts electing the poor leadership; but then one can trace that back generations.)

@78 nocute
Yeah, numbering things gets stripped. So I might write out the numbers like:

One.
Two.

84

Nocute @81, yes, that's why I said I was with your friend but for very different reasons -- not because there's anything wrong with masturbating, but because waking up your partner to do it is rude. Same as it would be rude to bring a video game to bed and play without headphones or to make a phone call while your partner attempted to sleep. What's the most effective way to wake someone up? Shake them. Don't do that. If there's an immediate middle-of-the-night need, go do it in the shower.

I also understood your post completely even without the intended punctuation. :)

85

I honestly don't understand jacking it in bed next to a sleeping partner. I mean just how many steps away is the bathroom? Maybe if you were in a Little House on the Prairie-type situation I can see it being too much effort to go out back, but otherwise . . .

86

@85: Ens.Pulver, I don't know why it doesn't bother me as much as it bothers you and BiDanFan, but it just doesn't. As for why one wouldn't get out of a nice warm bed in the middle of the night to go into a cold bathroom . . . well, I once tried to pay my older brother to go the bathroom for me in the middle of the night, 'cause I didn't want to leave my cozy bed. He took the dollar, too.

87

I believe Col. Henry Blake once said "I'd give 5 dollars for someone to go to the latrine for me."

88

@87: I was too young to be watching M*A*S*H--which wasn't on tv yet. I wonder how often someone utters something similar!

89

Re the masturbating in bed while your partner is sleeping conversations: I don’t think I ever did it as I assumed the outcome (“out come”?) logistics to be too challenging, and instead got up to pursue happy ending in the bathroom.
I thought I heard my ex going at it on her on one night while in bed but didn’t want to make her feel guilty and pretended to keep on sleeping despite being semi turned on.

I initiated a conversation sometime after that incident, didn’t mention what I think I may have heard but told her that sometimes I may wake up horny and asked if it’s ok to wake her up, gently, and continue together. When she agreed I told her she can wake me up too if the need arises but can’t recall if neither one of us actually initiated anything like that.

Also, sometimes the ideas that may pop into our minds while in bed, especially if they wake us up, can differ from the usual and it may be tempting to further explore them alone while assuming we can do so discreetly.

90

Fichu @82: "I find that numbers are removed, but hyphens before sentences are not".

Shhhh... don't give them ideas!

92

@83 Individual actions can indeed prevent uneccessary travel. They can also prevent talking about uneccesary travel. I know I haven't accidentally killed anyone this pandemic on a vacation. Do you?

93

@no (92): Perhaps you meant that comment for me, not curious2. Everything curious2 says shows him to be treating this pandemic with an abundance of caution, and he hasn't mentioned going anywhere for any reason, much less vacationing.

I am the person who flew out of state to visit my dying father. My brothers and I all tested and once we received negative results, we each quarantined for 72 hours apiece. We were all masked and gloved, carried hand sanitizer (my one brother also wore a face shield), and stayed far away from everyone--which was easy to do as the airports were totally deserted.

Neither of my parents had been out of their house for weeks (groceries were being delivered), and the hospice workers who came in were tested regularly. We geared up the same way for the return flights to our respective homes. When I returned home, I tested again (couldn't find a place to get a test in my folks' town), then did a 48-hour quarantine, and retested. I can't speak for either of my siblings, but I feel I can say with confidence that I didn't accidentally kill anyone on what was most decidedly NOT a vacation.

94

What would the goal be in removing numbered lists?

95

@94: God only knows. The last time I made one here (not that long ago), the numbered list worked.

On the other hand, I was able to use asterisks here @88, and a while ago, they weren't showing up. So I guess it's a trade.

96

@92 no
You utterly misread my @83's reference to your (own damn) stated goal @64. So you'll need to re-read my @83 now that you know (because I'm about to tell you) that when I referenced your clearly-stated goal @64, it was for "this pandemic [to be]...over".
[Waiting while you re-read my @83]
See now how you mis-read my @83? I didn't think I needed to do more that mention your own goal from @64, I figured you would know your own Comment, or at least be willing to remind yourself of your comment I cited.

In other words, as you saw when you re-read, your own (as I keep saying, completely proper) goal cannot be achieved without collective action.

I gotta say, No, it's irritating to talk to someone that isn't thinking. In general all I'm really pointing out is that you're not thinking things through and correctly assigning blame. In a situation like this, people who like you seem not to appreciate how vital excellent leadership is are as big a problem as anything is.

97

I never noticed it scrub /all/ asterisks. But I started using footnotes like "(1)" because it let me use an asterisk inside a paragraph, but then below the paragraph it scrubbed the asterisk it lead to. However in some testing on an old thread just now (because that's how Friday nights roll here), I noticed that (substituting here "Z" for the asterisk so that this will work), if I type

ZText
ZText

The output is

Text
Z Text

(In other words, a space is needed after the asterisk or the asterisk disappears!)

Here's another way I like to use them (again substituting here "Z" for the asterisk); if I type this:

ZZZHeaderZZZ
ZZZ Header ZZZ

I kid you not, those two lines output to:

Header
Z Header Z

(Stuff like this is why I felt like it's not worth it to try to use asterisks.)

98

CMD @89, it may be tempting, sure, but it's also inconsiderate if someone is trying to sleep mere inches from your body. The assumption it can be done discreetly is dickful thinking. As I made clear to partner, stating that next time he would get told off, not a helping hand. (I guess I'm the only person to react, "Well, I'm awake now, I won't be getting any sleep until this shaking stops, so I may as well join in.")

A few years ago I went to a music festival. I was sharing a twin room with a friend, we each had our own keys. The bed squeaked something fierce, with even the tiniest movement. I knew I had no hope of getting in a cheeky wank unless I was certain he wasn't going to return for some time. Delayed gratification is not the end of the world.

Nocute @95, I typed some asterisks @39, which was supposed to read "oh, * this * again," but without the spaces the asterisks vanished. In case they do again, the word "this" has asterisks around it for emphasis. After that reminder, I've remembered to use -hyphens- for emphasis. Not ideal but at least they don't get deleted.

99

Nocute @88, huh, you got asterisks to appear in M*A*S*H. There is no rhyme or reason here.

100

Awesome column this week.

TFR - I'm not sure if it's best to start with the suggestion of therapy and continue to dance around the loss of libido (he's assisting you I guess?), or just telling him how you feel and asking him if he liked your sex life pre-pandemic and wanted it to resume once he's vaccinated? Or couples therapy, if you are having trouble talking about something that you consider to be important?

COMA - I'm sorry for your loss. First, I think it is a very personal decision, whether to travel for the death of a loved one during covid, either choice has great justification. And there is another aspect, are your dad's wishes for his death going to be respected? Will there be a viewing, funeral, interment, which would be safe enough to feel good attending and mourning with family? Is there a will, or should you petition to execute his estate, is your mom or stepmom around to talk this through with, and help with arrangements? Many hospitals don't allow visitors, even spouses, but arrangements for his death will need to be made. He likely had property and accounts to put in order and his children are responsible if he has no spouse. It sounds like you are really strapped if you'd take busses while pregnant during covid rather than renting a car or taking a cab, but it would still be wise to consult a lawyer to understand your responsibilites and to handle debt collectors, if he had no spouse.

MATH - If it's so unpleasant to see you masturbate or have foreplay or learn what turns you on, then why does he say he's into you, why are y'all calling yourselves a couple? Can he calmly explain why he's upset to see you masturbate or does he melt down and seem unable to handle life? Is he a guy who tries to grow from his problems or wallow in them? Maybd dtmfa, depends how long you want to keep explaining what you need and going without sex until he's willing to make it good for you. Next time try "if you don't want me to take care of myself, then are you willing to provide a lot of good foreplay for me?"

GTFFTF - Swallowing strange come seems risky until after complete vaccination, so I'd say spit and ask your guests to wear a mask, otherwise it seems safe. Or just wait for the second dose and just worry about the usual STIs.

101

@39 some women got that strokin ESP? I do recall one time that was especially embarrassing and she said something like, you're hands smell like your penis. Whoops. In retrospect, maybe because she was so obsessed with it and accused me often, it was like broken clock syndrome. I think the pressure also crashed a situation where I masturbated whenever I could fit one in, and she understood when those windows were as well. Not great times!

102

@51 I totally think MATH is doing math. When I lost my virginity - to a girl I didn't like and only because I felt obligated to say yes to her - I thought about doing my taxes (it was February, it was my first job) and not just so I wouldn't cum. I just didn't want to be there. If she's unsatisfied with sex and isn't looking forward to it, it seems totally reasonable to think about any old thing. Heck sometimes I'm somewhere else mentally when I do want the sex I'm having. Seems super normal.

103

The rhyme behind the stripping of asterisks is that the site strips markdown, which allows formatting in a plain text editor. For example, an asterisk followed by a word then another asterisk would be italicized. Double asterisks before and after would be bolded.

I can't speak to the reason, as the site would have to render the markdown into HTML. Not doing so, and showing the markdown, would be harmless.

104

nocute I was angry at Dadddy @52, that's why I quoted him.

There is no safe way to fly.

Many people think they're being safe but aren't. They think the public health guidelines are the actual guidelines for individual safety when individual safety is not the goal of public health. It's easy to see the difference if you read any of the work on Covid or even just pay attention to basics. For example, if you want to really do quarantine right, it needs to be at minimum 24 days long. This is information everyone has access to but people willfully ignore because it's inconvenient. They are presented with general guidelines that are more appealing emotionally or logistically so they go with those. There is a human tendency toward laziness/efficiency that has to be fought under these circumstances. For example, the hand washing guidelines are normally 60 seconds, WHO says 40, US is still going with 20. Soap in that timeframe does not kill Covid, it's mechanical removal, that's why you need to go longer than 20 seconds. It's 20 seconds because they can't get compliance out of the lazy if they ask for 30 seconds in this country. Yes, there are studies on this. Yes, it is regional, gendered, etc. Exposure time for contact tracing is 15 mins some places, 5 mins others, 3 mins others, all reflective of contact tracing logistical convenience not based on actual transmission potential, which is both shorter, cumulative, and highly context dependent, and because of new variants needs to be even shorter than that due to the nature of their increased risk of transmission. PCR has a false negative rate that is well above 20% on average - if you test on the very best day post exposure (difficult or impossible to reliably achieve) it's a 20% false negative rate. Higher false negative and false positive w/ rapid testing. Both tests highly time dependent both on the front and back end in terms of when to test vs exposure vs symptomatic, so you really really have to know what you're doing to do it in a way that you could reasonably have confidence the testing meant anything. Quarantine is the only way to be certain, luckily it's pretty hard to fuck it up, but look at all the people doing so! This is all basic info that's out there in layperson speak. I'm sure you followed what your physician and your family's medical team advised you do, but in future and for those reading it is worth verifying that you are doing the most you can though because GPs may not be up to date on percentage likelihood testing accuracy as a function of time for example. Also they are extremely harried and probably don't have time to run down the percentage odds on everything because the obvious answer no one wants to hear is the only way to be truly safe is to quarantine before and after travel, 2x on both ends. People are engaging in a lot of magical thinking re: safety measures, which I find an odd choice because it's never been easier to access scientific info on a subject. Planes are a significant source of superspreader events for example, we all know that by now. Why take your kids on a recreational trip? I don't know why you would given that we don't know the long term health consequences, particularly to the brain. I have actively dying family I won't see before they die because we've lost too many other family members to Covid and we aren't going to do that to each other or anyone else. People will make different choices about that, what I don't like or agree with is visiting for the sake of visiting and then promoting that online to normalize/justify it. That's what Dadddy was doing. That's what I was objecting to.

I do in fact believe that's an individual achievable goal. I do think you can look around the world and see that happening in other countries. Not here apparently. I don't understand those defending our approach at the individual level by putting blame entirely on authorities when we all know that's not true. It is in large part the fault of individuals. No one gets a free pass.

What happens if you live like you weren't afraid? You kill some poor people of color, that's what happens. Luckily they'll be strangers and you won't ever know or see their faces, so it'll be easier than if you accidentally kill your family.

curious no one is making you talk to me. As I am obviously a complete and total idiot as you say, why waste your time talking to a moron? I am incapable of thought, why argue with me if I cannot learn?

105

I do think the 6' thing, based on a study from the 30's when we didn't have the ability to trace airborne droplets, has been maintained largely based on whether or not we can run grocery stores in cities at that range. It's definitely not anything particularly scientific.