To clarify @102 re EricaP, I disagree that if the relationship seems doomed anyway, "cheat and see if that fixes things" is good advice, even if in a few rare cases the relationship comes back stronger.
At the very least, if you are going to use this strategy, USE CONDOMS 110%.


Ms Ods - My first thought ran to incels of any orientation, who might not care about reducing fertility but would like the side effect. I was also thinking that there would be no reason to have only one version if other versions could be developed to preserve or increase drive.

Ms Fan/M?? Harriet - Now I shall have to stop myself from plotting out a comedy in which both partners are lying to each other about being on the pill. I do recall its being an element of the argument, but there was more. Some women took the line that men freed from fear of causing pregnancy would be excessive in their lack of restraint, and others just thought that male BC constituted too great a loss of female control over reproduction. In a style similar to that of how Mr Savage says he doesn't advocate cheating, but people should do what they must to stay married and stay sane, there's a clip from the Wendy Williams show that made the rounds three or four years ago in which Ms W implied that, while she wasn't advocating lying to one's husband, a woman was entitled to as many children as she wanted.

Re Mr Erica - In bridge terms, I'd say that, without pertinent information suggesting such a course, he dropped a singleton king offside when missing three cards in a suit. The blind odds are 39-11 in favour of finessing when it makes a difference which play one tries. Clearly, the drop sometimes works, though not that often. Occasionally, there are indications it's the best chance on a particular hand when the bidding indicates that the king is almost certain to lie in the offside hand. But it is also one of the great bridge myths that many people think trying to drop the king has a better blind mathematical chance of success than finessing. I often show up that myth while pointing out when the drop can be shown to be advisable.


@97@98 Calli
I'm afraid I poorly communicated; when I wrote @95

"a kind of obsessive-compulsive/addiction interfering with survival needs"

I didn't mean to be talking about actual obsessive-compulsiveness or addiction.

I meant to describe a libido that so absorbed one's life that it merited treating AS THOUGH it were one of those psychological processes. In other words, where I wrote "a kind of" I intended to convey something like "as though it were an". I apologize for my thoughtlessness.

In doing so I'm afraid I've confused the discussion because

"I'm not sure that's really the same thing as decreasing one's libido, though."

I'm not sure what to say about drawing a line between those different things. Sorry to take us off on that tangent.


@92 Registered European
""Would people willingly decrease their own libido?"
I sure would. My libido is an annoyance that is costing me a lot of money and time."

@102 BiDanFan
"there have been many times I've wished my libido would go away and leave me alone"

Very interesting. I guess I don't relate because isn't libido more an option than a requirement, to act upon?

In other words, couldn't one just not act on one's 'costly' "annoyance" while still being entertained by the desire to? Losing the desire feels like it would be losing some of me, would be leaving a hollow space in who I naturally am.


curious, I now wonder if libido is a pleasure only if your chances of satisfying it are above some minimum...or maybe, that the overall ratio of moments "wishing I were having sex" to "likely to have sex" isn't too high. You seem to express a similar feeling to me, that the desire itself is sort of pleasurable (and its satisfaction more so--mostly), but that may be because our ratios are pretty good. I assume that for many people, the ratio is high--but I can imagine that if it were, say, over 1000, then it might start to be truly unpleasant.


@107 ciods
I dunno, but according to
some say men think about sex "every seven seconds...514 times an hour".

At that rate to satisfy the 1000-ratio they'd need to have sex every other waking hour.

Not that I buy the 7-second rule. I mean, sure, sometimes I do, but sometimes I focus on other things and don't.

Question about the proposed ratio of thoughts : sex. In the context of this ratio, does masturbation = sex?


I've heard the seven-second thing before, and I don't buy it. Or else I define "thinking" differently. From my point of view, it doesn't count as "thinking about sex" unless it continues for a bit--active thinking, not just a flitting flash, ya know? And that absolutely can't be happening every seven seconds or there would be nothing else.

I'm totally willing to believe that men (on average) think about sex far more than women (on average). But I'm not willing to believe every seven seconds. What's your guess?


Harriet @101 - if the eager spouse can manage to bring up the topic in a serious and sustained way, that's the best approach.

But for those who find that impossible, I'm providing testimony that a confessed one-night-stand can also work.

BiDanFan @102 - yes, I think it makes sense to propose opening a marriage rather than ending it over a "price of admission"/"dealbreaker." No guarantees, but why not ask?

BiDanFan @103 Yes to using condoms.

But as to this, you're misinterpreting my advice:
"I disagree that if the relationship seems doomed anyway, 'cheat and see if that fixes things' is good advice."

If the relationship seems doomed, I assume at least one spouse is mostly unhappy. That spouse should just leave.

But if a relationship seems mostly solid (aka NOT doomed), but has one substantial issue (such as mismatched libidos or a desire for kink/variety), then it's worth it to try to jump-start the conversation about the changes which are necessary to envision decades more together.

Ideally, that jump-start would come in the form of serious and sustained conversation.

But for many people, the jump-start comes in the form of a short affair -- especially one where the cheater confesses before they get caught.

Since you keep skipping over the "and confess" bit, I will go into more detail. If someone catches their spouse cheating, they are likely to feel that they will always catch their spouse cheating. But a confession says two things: (1) I could have gotten away with it, and (2) I chose not to, because I value our relationship and believe we can rebuild.

Here's the other advantage of a confessed affair:

The cheated-on spouse suddenly realizes the cheater has options. It has a way of focusing the mind, when you realize that other people desire your spouse and there's nothing stopping your spouse from leaving you and going off with one or more of those other people.

As for non-monogamy itself, I think it can help revive a low-sex marriage. When both people are making the effort to present themselves as sexually attractive to new people, that often has a rebound effect on their marriage. Both people are feeling more sexual, so they have sex more often together. No guarantees, of course. Maybe one spouse really is no longer attracted in any way; non-monogamy won't fix that.

But non-monogamy can address issues of sexual boredom in the marriage and, as I said, it focuses the mind quite effectively on seeing your partner as a fully sexual person rather than just someone to nag about chores.


EricaP, did you have an inclination, even in retrospect that you would have not only forgiven an affair but embraced non-monogamy? And Mr. P never mentioned that potential before cheating?

Mrs. Horton has totally balked at the idea, and has made clear that if I cheat she doesn't want to know. So your option is not mine, but I am interested in your mindset pre-affair, if you can share.


@109 ciods
No I don't buy the "the seven-second thing", because it's impossible for me to think of something every seven seconds when I think of it for more than seven seconds each time I think of it.

I was really just playing with numbers since I have no idea if there's some ratio of thoughts to sex (or to orgasms) over which I'd find it unpleasant to be wanting to that much more than I did. But I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was no; after all from my perspective as a guy, thinking about sex is (as the phrase goes) 'what we do'. Who would I be if all the sex-thinking suddenly became countless periods in my day unoccupied by sex-thinking? I sure wouldn't want to think about the stuff I already think about any more. I guess I could just be present in the moment all those times, and that would be nice, but it wouldn't still be me. I know guys are weird, but when one is one, embraces it as natural. (Even if it is a form of testosterone poisoning.)


Tim @111 - that's a good point.

When we were newly dating, we played around non-monogamously, mostly together at parties but on one occasion he did something without me (having checked with me first that I wasn't going to freak out). So I think, consciously or subconsciously, he was laying the groundwork for a future that might include some form of non-monogamy. Also, we have always had a D/s connection, which helps too.

On the other hand, after we got married, we had children and stopped going to sex parties, ending up de facto monogamous without discussing it. So, like the fiancee in yesterday's SLLOTD, I got the feeling those wild days were behind us.

When our kids were young, I did wonder what would happen if it turned out he was cheating on me. But we didn't discuss it (except in the form of the joke -- "look all you want, but don't touch!"). I tended to just remind myself that I had promised not to leave him, and trust that everything would work out in the end. As, in fact, it has.

I guess Mrs. Horton's approach is valid for her. Do you have enough control over your time & money that you could go to hotels discreetly with FWBs or sex workers, if you were so minded?

Have you ever reassured Mrs. Horton that if she cheated on you, and you found out, that you wouldn't end the marriage over it? And does her phrasing ("if you cheat I don't want to know") suggest that she wouldn't divorce you if you did your best to be discreet but got caught anyway?


@102. Bi. Yes--I did misread you. In truth I didn't know it was you I garbled. In going on the pill, a woman can know there and then that she isn't going to get pregnant, and her relationship with a man is placed on a more equal footing from the outset. This is what you were saying--not that the pill is the only practicable or failsafe contraceptive (this, just to clarify what I misunderstood). Needless to say, the pill by itself is no protection against STDs. I also agree about the asymmetrical stakes of trusting your partner to take her, or his (as yet theoretical), pill.

@104. venn. I think both sexes, in the het context, especially, should accept their object-choices courting them, dating them, having sex with them, just on the basis that these people want to do these things. Men might have fears, to the effect, that 'without the security, the salary, the respectability I bring', she would leave 'me'. Or without the social cachet of coupledom, she would find more attractive guys. Women might fear that without the risk of being left on the hook of paternity, with obligations and a reputation to maintain, men would become more promiscuous. But I feel that the right thing here is to want to be wanted just as far as you are wanted.


@109. ciods. That would be twice in your first paragraph--at least. It's incredible. Thinking about sex that much would be too damaging a distraction--it would seriously stunt anyone's comprehension skills, their application, their ability to process basic tasks. And, like you say, there's thinking and thinking--and the claim means that men cognise sex in a desiring way, with appetite, and a certain amount of pleasure and sense of capability in entertaining their appetite. Yes, I can believe that being randy and feeling you can satisfy this is a source of frequent pleasure to men, a more frequent pleasure and one less prone to self-doubt than to women; but not that men think about sex in this horndog way this much.

@110. Erica. Sure--and your testimony is interesting.


Venn @104: "Some women took the line that men freed from fear of causing pregnancy would be excessive in their lack of restraint." Yes, exactly. Enough men try to weasel out of using condoms by asking their partners if they're on the pill; I can easily imagine them saying "we don't need a condom, I'm on the pill." This is why the promoters of male birth control pills state that its target market is couples in committed relationships. It would be a shame if those folks were deprived of an effective option because single men often behave like douchebags.

"there's a clip from the Wendy Williams show that made the rounds three or four years ago in which Ms W implied that, while she wasn't advocating lying to one's husband, a woman was entitled to as many children as she wanted"
I don't know who she is but she sounds absolutely batshit and a very strong argument in favour of men taking the pill as a backup to condoms!

Curious @106, of course one makes the decision about whether to act on one's libido, but I for one have made a NUMBER of terrible decisions under the influence of my libido. It's either fuck someone inappropriate or suffer this unpleasant feeling of frustration, which masturbation doesn't really satisfy -- and this must be the case for many if not most of us, otherwise we'd all be avoiding the drama and the human race would have died out. I would love to have a way to reduce my libido when single, so it wouldn't be always there bothering me, and then perhaps stop taking that pill (or switch to another one) when and if I met someone who'd objectively make a good partner. And it would also come in handy in relationships with partners with lower drives. How many letters to Dan, how many relationships end due to libido mismatches? I can only imagine how much I'd accomplish if I weren't hormonally compelled to find sex partners.

Harriet @114: Indeed, the pill does not protect against STDs, and while dating should be considered only a backup to condoms. We are talking about relationships, and my argument is that without the pill OS relationships would not have the (more) equal footing they have today, because the woman was at risk of getting pregnant, and once pregnant was to a greater or lesser degree dependent on the man who'd caused that. The pill put the power into her hands.


@116. Bi. Fucking someone who would be completely unsuitable other than as a one-off (or very occasional) sex partner isn't fucking someone unsuitable, though. That is, just fucking them isn't. The problem is with the slew of internalised obligations and quasi-obligatory social scripts that come with having sex. These bite more keenly and are much more costly, socially and psychologically, for women than for men, especially gay men with their own community norms.


Harriet @117, you don't know my stories so please do not presume to tell me my mistakes were not mistakes.


Ms Fan - Ms Williams, W is a WOC of Valkyrian appearance whom I'd only known as the host of a one-season "game" show called Love Triangle, in which someone "torn between two lovers" committed to one of them and "said goodbye forever" to the other. The "winner" accompanied the chooser on a luxury holiday. I may have heard that Ms Williams also hosted a talk show, but I can't recall ever seeing it. The context of her statement was that an audience member complained that she and her husband had agreed to have three children so many years apart, but he'd changed his mind after the second and was considering a vasectomy.

My "in a vacuum" theory is that anyone who wants to reduce one's fertility ought to be encouraged and assisted to do so. The only thing that stops me from advocating free pills on demand for all who want them is that such policy would effectively amount to a massive LG Tax.

[Correction to #104 - the odds are 37-13, which I originally typed and then went over in a mental blip.]

M?? Harriet - The idea was a sort of twist on The Gift of the Magi, only there were four possible ways to plot it. You seem to be drifting into being mean again, by the way.


Venn @119, I'm glad that in the UK there are free birth control pills on demand to anyone who wants them (subject to medical suitability) and no LG people complain about this. Speaking of being mean.


@119 vennominon
"free pills....would effectively amount to a massive LG Tax"

I wish free healthcare were available to everyone in the US when the AIDS epidemic struck in 1981. But prejudiced logic like Venn's would not (and Ronald Reagan's did not) provide it.

Venn, your economic conservatism isn't your most attractive quality. Which would be a bigger tax? The "LG tax" of the cost of birthcontrol pills (given the purchasing power of a nation), or the cost of responding (which Reagan didn't lift a finger to do) to the AIDS epidemic which Reagan (in his cruelty, ignorance, and hatred) analogously saw as a tax on straight people?

Yes (as I hope is clear from how I worded the above), all sexual orientations get AIDS. I'm just pointing out that excluding things from the provision of free healthcare (which the religious right loves to do in the US) cuts both ways, and in the last 40 years there was far more than enough opportunity for it to benefit LG more than it's lack hurt LG. So don't be so quick to jerk that knee to protect your constituency. If "healthcare is a human right" doesn't inspire your agreement, perhaps embrace it just to benefit your constituency?


@118. Bi. I wasn't--telling you your mistakes weren't mistakes. I was speaking in generalities.

@119. venn. Eh? In what way was I almost mean?

I feel sometimes that when discussion of the letter, or case in hand, peters out, people are left to pick at stray issues, often of interest to them, and can sometimes find fault on no basis other than their own projections.

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