That was not a “moment” of weakness. That was liberation.


It's always hard to know what other people will see as a violation but...

If husband is sexually satisfied by being blown and LW is otherwise happy in the marriage and happy to blow, then surely they could negotiate LW seeing a Dom pretty regularly?

I worry for the LW because I'd assume that everyone needs to feel that their lover cares about their pleasure and satisfaction at least some of the time and I would have trouble keeping nonconsensual sexual selfishness as solely a bedroom problem. But as I said, it's hard to know how others feel about things.

Here's my only contribution to Dan's advice. If the LW just got spanked, I'd say he is under zero obligation to tell his husband about it. He must talk to his husband about the problems in their sex life because it's going to destroy their marriage either way, and really LW don't set aside your own desires for even a day more. You've already done that for over a decade and not in any reasonable compromising way. But you could propose seeing a Dom as a solution without feeling obligated to admit you've already done so. Except that if you really think it's possible he could find out, you better fess up when you have that conversation otherwise it'll blow up.

Finally... maybe some therapy for your husband? Like assuming he's not a selfish dude otherwise (and your description sounds like he's not) then maybe he's got some massive hang ups or performance anxiety? Though likewise, he might feel relief if you get certain needs met elsewhere in a way that's not threatening to your marriage, then he can happily be blown knowing you are happy too? Wishful thiking?


Wow! Dan's last words were a surprise to me. I fully expected the "do what you gotta do" advice, and I agree with EmmaLiz @2 that perhaps it would be merited in this case. The reason being that no STI's are being risked here. In other words, the one time I would have agreed with Dan that cheating is okay, he advises against cheating. Shrug! I agree with EmmaLiz: Don't confess the affair, but ask for a hall pass to get these needs met. Then continue what he's been doing guilt free.


Also, having clicked on the link to see what I might have written previously (answer: nothing), I'd point out to RationalHuman if they're reading that the 2015 column got nearly 300 comments, so going off topic is not a recent phenomenon.


Alternatively, he could just stop blowing his husband until husband starts putting in a little more effort?


Some people need to be spanked, and my belief is that even vanilla people owe it to their partners to spank them from time-to-time to keep them happy. Spanking, like simple bondage, is a low-stakes form of BDSM, and is in my mind a reasonable ask of a partner, even one not inclined to incorporate D/s into a relationship. Unwilling to perform this simple low-stakes act? Then agree to let someone else do this thing to you partner.

I must add that I don't see spanking as sexual per se, and don't consider the women I have spanked as being among my sex partners. I see this more as I would getting a professional massage.


It'd be good to hear how this one turned out. My guess is that Dan was right, LW's life would be better the following year if he told his husband rather than did without, got caught, or kept being a "cheating" POS, even though it's pretty minor league cheating.

The part about his husband not being able to spank him is a bit confusing for me. I've done some spanking, it seemed pretty easy, just spank away while giving some verbal feedback about what a bad boy/girl/senator or whatever the fantasy demands. It simply wasn't that technically demanding, was I missing out on another level here?


BDF @4 I think actually gathering data to refute my impression (300 comments back in 2015!) is a great example of what I love about this comments section, thanks. I'm tempted to go back and read some of them, since this one doesn't strike me as particularly complex - as you noted, STD-free fulfillment of a reasonable need. But I guess cheating, in whatever form, is always a hot topic


Rational @8, the question was part of a column that included some other questions that got more attention. I am enjoying the selections made by Dan or his copy editor of reruns that were not "featured" the first time round.


I'm with @7. I wish we had a follow-up to know how that couple is doing now.

I think Dan is overdue for one of those follow-up shows.



He's seeing a professional Dom for the spanking. He has a husband who - if we are interpreting the letter correctly- does little to nothing more than receive his blow jobs. I'm not sure what you guys are picturing, but a professional Dom very likely does not simply ask the LW to bend over, slap him on the ass a few times, then carry on. I'd bet there is some sort of scene involved, a build up, some tantalizing teasing, body language, perhaps verbal as well, knowing when to pause, when to proceed. But perhaps I'm wrong and he simply goes over, gets his swats, leaves- something that any amateur could do. Nontheless, circle back to the main point. This LW has a partner who, for whatever reason, does not do anything more than receive blow jobs. So it's a moot point to say "hey he could learn to do XYZ thing"- sure he could. He could also learn to suck dick, to fuck, etc, but it appears that (again for whatever reason) he is not going to do that. The LW who knows him better says so.

Since LW says he's a great partner otherwise, my assumption is it's more shame or anxiety or some other hangup like that than selfishness though it could be that instead or also. In any case, the same problem that makes him stick to his "suck me" script is also going to prevent him from doing anything you find minor as well.

As this has been going on for 12 years, I can't imagine that any of this will change without some massive unpacking and relationship work- sexual / relationship hangups don't just go away. And how fun would it be for the LW to get spanked by his husband if he knows his husband is only grudgingly (or shamefully) doing it? In any case, seems the most caring and least selfish thing the LW's partner can do for him is give him a hall pass.


EmmaLiz @11, he said his play buddy is an "experienced" Dom, not a professional one. My guess is they met on Grindr and I had no reason to doubt that he goes over, presumably there is some small talk first, he gets a good spanking and goes home. Could he be lying? Of course, but so could any LW, so I'll take his word that these spanking sessions are just that, and perhaps that Mr Dom wanks after he leaves. (Is that crass? hahaha.) I agree that after 12 years and several attempts to improve things, Mr SPANK is unlikely to change. So it is down to SPANK to say, "I don't want to have the conversation again where I tell you my sexual needs aren't being met and you make no effort. Instead, I'd like to get permission to get those needs met elsewhere. What sort of framework for that might work for you -- DADT, kink only, etc?"


@3 BiDanFan
"I fully expected the "do what you gotta do" advice"

Ditto. And since I strongly believe one only earns the right to criticise by (when appropriate) praising, I applaud 2015 Dan for it.

It would be great if the hall pass is granted willingly, if not the LW should insist.

Even if the LW /wanted/ to come clean about the past, I'd advise against it (on Dan's venerable 'it's wrong to unburden oneself onto another' principle), unless the LW is 100% convinced that their husband will take it so well that it would be a truly good thing for both and for their relationship to do so.

(Of course my advice is completely different if it went beyond spanking to 'unsafe sex'. It that case the LW has criminally recklessly endangered his husband and is a piece of shit, and I want him to disclose and dump himself for his husband's benefit.)

Should I infer from that the husband "is selfish in bed" that their sex life is exclusively "all about him getting blown". In other words, the husband does absolutely nothing for the LW other than allowing the LW to blow him? I know it would be biased to say that's necessarily bullshit, but in this case since the LW wants more than that privilege, it is bullshit to the degree that I can't buy into considering the husband "a wonderful man."

I wondered if I'd commented on the original (no, but I did start that year) long thread. I enjoyed the comic strip Philophile linked to in the last Comment:
"Someone is WRONG on the Internet."

I'd never seen it but it deserves to be famous.


@13 p.s.
If it's BOTH true that

Unsafe sex was had, and
The husband's role in their sex life is /only/ to accept BJs

Then I'm less strident about my advice for the LW to "dump himself for his husband's benefit".

Certainly option 1 is worse (criminal), but selfish complete disregard of a partner's needs would be bad enough that maybe they would deserve each other and would best remain together to protect the world from both of them.


@12 Ah, sorry about that. I read pro Dom not experienced Dom. Thanks.

I'm not sure about the rest of it- I was not saying he was lying. I was saying that the suggestion that his partner could learn to do this low-bar task of spanking him isn't likely to be helpful. Yes anyone could make themselves spank another person as it does not require any physical skill nor even an erection, I'd imagine that the LW wants more than just the physical act of a spanking- there's probably something to the tone of the encounter, the attitude of the spanker, etc which it's very unlikely that his partner (either due to sexual repression/anxiety or just selfishness) would be able to master. Confidence, timing, knowing when to pause / when to proceed, attitude, body language, etc etc.


Not saying he's lying about there being something more like additional sex acts.

Like I could get a shy man to kiss me. Or I could get a confident experienced man to kiss me. Or I could get someone who owes me something to do it as a chore. It would still just kissing, but the experience would be radically different.


Long ago when you were telling me about the Westernization of Buddhism, you recommended "To a Mountain in Tibet". Last Winter I read it, and I did very much enjoy it. And it did very much back your relevant points.

The author encountered so much that was so sad. Very difficult lives. Chinese oppression.

While the author presented respect, the ludicrousness of Tibetan beliefs was crazy. Not just more than I expected, but if the author is accurate, among lamas too.

It didn't detract from my affinity for the Westernization of it all. And I wonder whether if the author wasn't just a travel writer passing through, but instead was someone on a spiritual path who spend time there, there would have been a lot deeper than the ridiculousness he relates.

Mid-read I thought of giving my copy to a Tibetan monk friend, but I doubt he'd like it very much.


@EmmaLiz: My advice isn't that Mr. Spank should learn to spank SPANK, although I do believe that spanking is an entirely reasonable request, even for vanilla partners. That belief has been challenged in past comment threads. Moreover, I don't consider learning how to give a decent spanking to be a skill to hard to master.

My advice is that a partner's refusal to perform maintenance spankings from time-to-time is grounds to get spanked by other persons, which I don't see as cheating because I do not see that as a sexual betrayal of monogamy.


To those who think that spanking is no big deal and why not just do it....

I could possibly bring myself to spank my partner if it was really important to them. What I couldn't do is bring any sense of play or sexiness to it. I'm a big girl, I could summon up the wherewithal to do it, but I'd have to shut myself down emotionally in order to manage it. And if I had to add "You're a bad bad boy" or the like? I dunno. Certainly couldn't do it with any kind of sexiness or fun, more a question of steeling myself, gritting my teeth to get through it, and then having to leave the house to go for a long drive. For me, sexual violence seems as much "a kink too far" as does, oh, scat play. But I've had public sex, I've had gang bangs - it's not a question of "nothing but missionary position with the lights off".

I fully understand that lots of people think it's fun, and that sex without a little slapping or nipping or hairpulling is just not sexy. I don't think it's wrong, I just think it's Not For Me. To the point where I'd feel incompatible with a partner who I knew needed it as a regular part of sexual fulfillment - I always feel like I was doing sex wrong, for them.

And that's what I think about this letter - they're incompatible, why not just break up?


Sublime, I was one of the ones who challenged your assertion. I did not say it's a difficult thing to ask of a vanilla person- very generally I'd say it's an easy ask of most vanilla people, if they are already somewhat GGG. I said that I personally would never be spanked and that I should not be expected to because it seems vanilla to others. Some people have particular feelings about certain acts and they are not rational (as sexuality is not rational) and you have to take people as they are to a certain extent. I enjoy a nice and surprising slap on the ass but the "spanking" thing- as in bent over a knee or as naughty play or something like that- would make me feel genuinely humiliated and not at all hot as I associate it with punishment of bratty children. No one should expect a partner to do something that genuinely makes them feel horrible feelings just because it seems an easy ask to others.

As for spanking someone myself, if my husband were interested I would do so. We have played around with other aspects that you'd likely consider higher bar like restraints and giving orders, but spanking him again would make me see him more as a bratty child- I would not find that hot. If it really mattered to him, I would do it and hide those feelings best I could though the impression might linger? But this is not the same concern as being expected to just shove down feelings of humiliation just becasue they are not rational.

As to the skill required, please imagine for a second the conversations they would have to have- the LW's husband has no natural interest or experience with such things so it WOULD require learning. If LW says I need you to spank me, husband will need to know what that means exactly- then OK tell me how you want me to do it. Share some images/videos with me or describe it. Do you want to bend over the bed? The chair? My knee? Against the wall with your nose in the corner? How many times? With my hands? My belt? A paddle? How hard? Leave a mark? Am I pretending instead to be an authority figure? Do I take charge and tell you what to do (now pull down your pants, now lean over) or does you get in place and call me over and say "now come over and spank me"?

If things don't come naturally to someone, then the person has to learn to play at it, even something minor like spanking requires a person to take a more assertive role, perform a certain attitude. To say that the LW could get his husband who apparently is extremely sexually repressed or sexually selfish to learn to do these things in a way that would be even remotely as satisfying to the LW as an experienced Dom just because it's a minor low bar skill to other people is just absurd. There's just no way in hell, not in the LW's wildest imaginations he says, would his husband do something like this.

But even more generally, I think you are correct that most vanilla people could do this, but it would require some conversation and learning first- and that is the biggest barrier to many people, especially if they are repressed in some way which many people are.


I'm an older gay man and virtually all of the gay couples I know are "open" to varying degrees. He needs to sit husband down, tell him he wants a more varied sex life with him or without him. I mean, I'm not spanking anyone so if my husband came to me wanting to be spanked...


Mr Curious - Good; you've gotten the spirit of CMY.

This one sounds as if LW at least (and quite probably Husband as well) has bought into the notion that with the Top lies all the initiative and agency within the relationship or at least within the bedroom. You can easily guess where either or both of them might have gotten such an idea. While having such a partner myself would tempt me to scour the works of Dame Agatha in search of best means of disposal, I could perhaps win a brief that there's no villain here.


@19,20 - ...I think you both make a good point that applies beyond spanking to the whole concept/definition of GGG. I think there are two parts to being 'Good, Giving, and Game':
1) A willingness to try things that you either know don't do anything for you or that you've never been interested in, solely for the pleasure of pleasuring your partner...
2) ... that are, as Dan is always careful to note, 'within reason'

I think it's the latter part that causes the issue as it's easy for any lover to say that whatever it is you want that they're not interested in is not 'reasonable' for them. We'd (probably) all agree that it's totally fair for a lover who has been violently raped to give a hard no to any rape or violence games, however safe, however simulated. But absent any trauma, is it really reasonable to refuse to even try something as lightweight as spanking? Personally, I'd say no.

Way back in the day Dan used to say that 'oral comes standard', i.e. that any reasonable lover should be willing to go down on their partner routinely. That hasn't come up in a while, but I'm curious as to what the group now thinks sb 'standard'. My nominations would include:
- Oral
- PIV (for het couples; not sure if anal is the equivalent for male SS couples?)
- Any and all positional variations within ones physical capabilities
- Any place where you're unlikely to get arrested
- 'Light' role play. That is to say a willingness to try a scene/use a prop, whether it be bondage, S/M, D/s, teacher/student or whatever, that is essentially vanilla sex + make believe. Not sure I'd be any good at pretending to be a teacher/rapist/whatever, and nobody's ever asked (sad, I know), but I'd certainly be willing to try
- Photos/videos (for LT couples, w/ reasonable security precautions)

I'd love to add threesomes and het anal to this list, as they're both my faves, but my sense is not everyone would agree that they're reasonable expectations.

And some acts, e.g. a deep-throat BJ, are just not within some people's capabilities (I've read that one can train oneself to overcome the gag reflex, but I can't imagine I ever could)


L-dub... demand that your partner spank you. If/when they refuse. Dump them and tell them that it is because they are a shitty lover.

Christ! This used to be the center of GGGdom. Now it is the land of celebrating perpetual victimhood and triggers.

Dan, I reiterate... save yourself!


Rational @23, I'm glad you've decided to join the "club."
There's one word in your second paragraph that factors into GGG: "try." People should have a general willingness to TRY new things. That does not confer an obligation to continue them. Let's say my partner asks me to spank them. I'm not independently turned on by the idea, but I say, sure. I spank them, and I don't love it but I don't hate it. The next day they ask me to spank them again. And the day after that. And the day after that, at which point I say, I don't feel like it. And they say, but you must be GGG! Clearly this is a misuse of the principles of GGG, which is that one should be willing to try new things to please one's partner.

As for your list, I would add toys, as separate from and higher up the essentials list than "role play." I think more people would be comfortable with using a vibrator or butt plug than incorporating make believe into an otherwise vanilla sex life. This makes a lot of people feel silly. The fact that no one has asked you to do this indicates that it falls under GGG rather than standard. I agree that anal and threesomes are varsity level vanilla; nice when both people (all three people I suppose) are into them, but not something I'd expect as standard. I also think that if you view het anal as standard, that should apply no matter who's pitching and who's catching. Whether anal is a reasonable expectation really depends on how much one is packing!


Rational Human, therein lies the problem with trying to create hard and fast rules for infinitely varied sexual experiences which are not quantitative in the first place. What is reasonable will change by person. Do you think it's reasonable that someone should try something that makes them feel degraded or humiliated or in pain? There is no objective standard for what can make someone feel that way and what can't. To me, the best interpretation we can have is that you try things that either you'd think you might enjoy or that- at worst- feel neutral to you, as BDF describes. I have no interest in piss play for example but I likewise have no negative response. I'd do it from time to time to please a partner and make a decent show of it, but if it became a regular feature? No-this would be a basic incompatibility. But some things are off limits, and it's not GGG for a person to request that their partner shove down terrible emotional responses just because some non-existent objective scale of what's extreme or wasn't isn't says it's a low bar ask. People's sexuality doesn't work that way. To me, being restrained is not a big ask. Being placed over a knee and spanked, especially with any naughty girl language? No fucking way. And if I described to you how this makes me feel and you say I need to try it anyway, then I would remove you from my sex life because you don't care about my genuine discomfort.


Assuming we're speaking more generally, agreed with Rational's list and BDF's addition of toys.

I agree extra people is not reasonable in a generalized way as there are still many people who need to feel comfortable with a person before having sex with them (for either emotional or physical reasons). Anal / pegging has physical limitations just like deepthroating so it's not just about just about how people feel about it. Not even all gay men do anal. I'd say for hets anyway, any general expectation of reasonableness should go both ways.

Agreed also about role play and spanking too in a general sense despite spanking being on my own personal NO list. I think BDF is correct that a lot of people feel silly but if that's the only objection (silliness, slight nervousness/embarrassment) then I think that's something that can still be in the reasonable-to-try category. I feel silly as fuck starting role play but if I persist a bit I usually get into it. I think that's the whole point of GGG- if you try a thing that doesn't turn you on right away, you might find you like it.

I'd add watching / swapping porn together too.

Rational mentioned penetrative sex and oral, so they probably assume mutual masturbation. IME with het people though, it's still very common to think sex doesn't happen if the dick doesn't enter a vagina, ass or mouth, so I think we can't assume it's a norm and should add that to our list.

What's the consensus on other props? Basic no-skills-required (mostly illusory) restraints (for example, I have 'handcuffs' that don't really lock - you could open them if you wanted to but it would need to be deliberate). Also blindfolds, lingerie, etc.

Basic fetishes- Feet, nylons, etc. One poster talked about asking women to wear socks in bed for example, that sort of thing seems an extremely easy thing to do for someone.

It would be fun to arrange a taxonomy if no one has done so already.


BDF@25, EL@26/27 - exactly. Can't have universal rules for everybody (I'd say there are even specific examples where oral isn't standard), but I'm interested in a taxonomy that this particular group - varied as to gender/gender expression, age, sexual orientation, nation of origin etc. as we are - could more or less align on, and what most of us think falls into 'vanilla' or 'varsity'. Also agree with additions of toys and 'basic' fetishes - like you, socks, footplay, etc. seem pretty easy to satisfy to me.

FWIW I also agree that reciprocity should be added as a core requirement: you may prefer to be slave or master, pitcher or catcher, but you shouldn't ask your lover to engage in something for you that you're not willing to do for them (even if they're unlikely to ask: e.g. none of the women - I'm het-cis-male - I've ever had anal sex with have asked to peg me, but I've always made it plain that although I have no interest in being penetrated, if they wanted to try it I'd be game to let them)


Dan hasn’t mentioned that oral comes standard for het people, for a while now, RH, after it was pointed out to him that there’s no standard for gay men, so what gives with the double standard.
Also, for some, oral is something they don’t enjoy. Hope you’re not suggesting others have to deny their sexual self to suit your sexual self? That would be oppressive.


Standard, what sort of attitude is that, when someone is sharing themselves with you, freely. Check up front what the person delivers, eh, RH, tick off your list, save wasting time.
Being GGG is not about coercion, it’s freely given. And welcome, @RationalHuman.


@22 venn
"Mr Curious - Good; you've gotten the spirit of CMY."

What is CMY, venn?


Sad letter, twelve years in and all this man gets sexually is the pleasure of sucking his husband’s cock. And he calls him wonderful.
I don’t think cheating is the answer, LW, leaving and getting therapy is the answer. Putting up with being treated like this, you need some help to get some core strength, so you can advocate for your needs.


Mr Curious - Covenant Marriage Yesterday.


Mr Rational - As it seems to have been fairly consistent over time that between a fourth and a third of gays don't anal, that would seem to remove it from the Standard list.

I think DS reciprocity can be vastly different from SS (at least M; I shan't speak for the F side) reciprocity. In your example, you have decent odds that you may never have to surpass being open to an idea. When we are disinclined to reciprocate something we like, it's often, perhaps usually, after having tried it often enough to have established a clear dislike.


A while ago we had a discussion, re "oral is standard," on the difference between standard and mandatory. One commenter thought "oral is standard" means "everyone is required to give oral, whether they like it or not," which is not what standard means. It means it can be reasonably expected. I can reasonably expect a partner to be willing to go down on me. They are entitled to refuse. Seeing oral as standard means that if they do refuse, they're the one who is outside of the norm, not me, and I'd be seen as justified in dumping them. That's what standard means. Rational @28, standard similarly does not mean universal. There will always be outliers who reject what most people would find standard. These outliers should not be forced to participate but should accept that their outlying means they will be sexually incompatible with the majority of people and will need to adjust their expectations of finding a partner accordingly. (Just like people who are very kinky and incapable of enjoying vanilla sex, at the other extreme.)

My understanding of "standard" is that a sex life that incorporates nothing but these things would be seen by most as a fully realised sex life. This would keep the list of "standards" fairly short. But there is also a list of things which are perhaps not standard, in that I would not expect every relationship to incorporate them, but which I might call easy asks. Several of the items on EmmaLiz's list would fall under that category, such as watching porn together (not standard but nobody should off-the-bat say no to this), foot fetishes (any fetish is by definition not standard, even though it may be vanilla), light restraints, spanking, anal. I'd include on the standards list lingerie and hand/finger jobs, which Rational did not mention specifically. And I would include as standard an expectation of sufficient foreplay to ensure female orgasm prior to PIV.

I love threesomes as well but I would not list these as standard for straight people, because why would any person want to have sex with someone they're not attracted to, and a same-sex person in a threesome would be included here. If threesomes are your varsity-vanilla kink, date bisexuals and be prepared to reciprocate some heteroflexibility yourself. As regards reciprocity, I'm less certain than I used to be that it's a GGG requirement in all cases. As you say, some people are just naturally tops and some bottoms. If I'm dating a switch, their willingness to both top and bottom for me should not translate to an expectation that I will do both for them. Otherwise we get into situations like, "Well, you spanked me (which we both enjoyed), so you should be willing to let me spank you (which you definitely will not enjoy)." Personally, I solve any such conundrums by being non-monogamous. Anything I can't or won't do, they're welcome to do with someone else.

Venn @34, do you mean they dislike receiving anal or engaging in anal at all? Using those figures I calculate that between one-sixth and one-eighth of gay couples include two people who don't like anal, the rest including at least one top or bottom or vers. That's a large enough value of "most" that I'm willing to presume anal standard in MM relationships, though I'm open to being proven wrong by the MMs of the board.


The minute anyone writes into a an advice column and starts a letter with "I'm married to a wonderful person", you know immediately the person's spouse is a total arsehole. I issue a DTMFA if the opening sentence contains that phrase. Sure enough, guy sounds like a totally selfish dick. Dumpy, dumpy, dumpy.


It’s up to the people having the sex to negotiate what each would like to happen, not what each expects to happen. I think you’re splitting hairs, Fan @35, and yes, one doesn’t have to see the person again, that’s a given. Imposing some ‘standard’ is oppressive and it allows some to react negatively if the ‘standard’ isn’t delivered.
Sex is freely given, no body owes another past what they offer. Not to one’s liking, be respectful and move on.


I think the notions of "standard" and "easy ask" are useful ones. But I'm not sure that the lists being made here are actually anything of the sort, for most people.

I'd define standard as acts that, if you've been having sex with someone for a couple of weeks, you'd be a little surprised if they haven't come up yet. Things that would be negotiated with very little discussion, or with only non-verbal consent needed - oral certainly fits this, in my experience. Any positions that would be reasonably comfortable for moderately limber people and that need no more props than a pillow or two, that kind of thing. Non-painful toys - vibrators, butt plugs. Having sex other places in the house than just the bedroom, maybe outside if there's privacy.

I have to push back, again, though, that asking people to overcome their inhibitions about striking other people is some lightweight standard thing, that it would be unusual to object to. I know, for me, the rule "you don't hit people" was learned right around the same time as the rule "you don't wet your pants". Wanting to hit someone, or to be hit, is not wrong, but it is on the far side of what is for most of us a well established boundary. You're asking people to violate a restraint that they have had on themselves since early childhood and to me seems to be in the same class as something like piss play. Not an extreme kink, sure, but not nothing, either.


Yes, agony, over time these issues can be sorted. If incompatible, then move on.
I don’t like the idea of some deciding what is ‘standard’ or expected for other people’s sexual lives. Not sure why Dan ever presumed to tell others, especially heterosexual others, what comes standard. It’s always stuck in my throat. Then for gay men to be bottoms or tops or switches or whatever is their choice, made it all the more unpalatable. No standard set for them. @RationalHuman opened a sore, for me.


Agony @38, yes, you've expressed well what I think of as "standard" in sex. The activities you just assume almost everyone's going to do, by default. The things you have to negotiate not doing rather than negotiate doing. That's why I said my list would be very short. Standard and vanilla are not the same thing. Sucking someone's toes may be vanilla but most people would expect to ask first. Sucking someone's cock, most people would not expect to have to ask. It would be up to the person who doesn't want their cock sucked to opt out. And it would be reasonable for someone who hadn't had their cock sucked in the first handful of shags to ask, hey, what gives? That's what I think standard means.


@36 Roseanne
""I'm married to a wonderful person"...DTMFA if the opening sentence contains that phrase"

Dan could automate that. A program could look for variation on that phrase preceeding the first period, format all such letters in the web design software into a column auto-published on a regular schedule (Saturdays?). We could each produce a generic Comment to them to be auto-inserted into the Comments sections.

"Dear Letter Writers: This may come to a shock to you, but you need to dump your partner because our automated system has determined that your partner is an asshole. The only exception to this is if you are also an asshole, in which case you can never break up to protect the public from both of you."

Dan could then create a webpage for them to submit letters on which they would need to agree in advance that such automated advice would be legally binding.


LG, the reality is, though, that we do have 'standard', just because that's how humans work. I'm pretty sure you've said you're a het woman, and not that young? I bet that once consent had been obtained for sex, there were not separate negotiations for things like kissing, stroking of the breasts. sucking nipples, when figuring out what "sex between us" looked like, in your life. They're just an expected part of het sex, unless someone indicates they don't like them.

It's like the way a burger comes with lettuce and tomato - you can certainly ask for no lettuce, without any kind of shaming, and you can also ask for extra lettuce, but you're not going to shocked and surprised to find L&T on your burger. That's what standard means. And when you're making your own burgers at home, you just leave off the lettuce and put on avocado once you've figured out that that is how this household likes them.


Re: selfish-in-bed partners, I don't think it automatically follows that they are assholes nor that the LWs are deluding themselves in saying they are loving partners in happy marriages otherwise. No comment on the likelihood with this specific letter as it's so old and a moot point, but more generally I do not think that is a foregone conclusion. Someone who is selfish in bed may be a loving caring partner in all other aspects of the relationship, just as someone who is good in bed might be a lazy selfish asshole in other aspects. If an LW says their marriage is otherwise happy and healthy, I don't see the jump to saying they are deluding themselves.

There are non-asshole reasons someone might be so selfish in bed including, as I said before, massive performance anxiety or inhibitions or shame- think of the stereotype of the person who is so inhibited they must only have sex in bed with the lights off, must lay back and think of England, etc. Not all these people are assholes. And of course, we all understand that companionate marriages can be heathy, affectionate and fulfilling absense sex between the two partners.

Anyway, the tell is how such a people responds to the distress and denial they are causing the other partner. IN this particular case, again not really sure. The LW mentions that they've talked about it, but that doesn't mean there's any possibility of a solution with regards to the husband suddenly changing- most people don't change deep-seated psychologies as much as people here sometimes sound like they think they do if they just try harder or get therapy. And people fall into slumps which become routines. We can only take the LW at his word that other aspects are good. From the letter, I dont' see an indication that the LW has asked about hall passes before. If so, and he's been denied but is also expected just to suck and get nothing in return, then the husband moves into the realm of an asshole. But if they have not even discussed this possibility, I think it's unfair to move straight away to the DTMFA. Also I don't see that the fact that the revelation that the LW has been "cheating" and lying could blow up their marriage naturally leads to the assumption that he'd oppose a hall pass- the lying itself could do it, not the content of the lie. It does seem odd to me that something so common as opening up a gay marriage couldn't have already occurred to them- the fact that the LW doesn't mention it at all is surprising. One possibility is that the LW himself (also?) preferred monogamy. Anyway, as I said no reason to focus on specifics of this letter since it's so old.


Re: "standard"- I understand it to mean simply what is the default expectation in a particular group. It's not a list of things that we proscribe but rather something that already exists out in the world which we are describing. As such, of course it will differ by demographic and sexuality, etc. In my experience, among het people in North America and Western Europe, the default expectation in a sexual relationship is vaginal penetration, giving/receiving oral, and hands+genitalia play. I don't know if this is entirely accurate, but I think it's a pretty good uncontroversial description of what comes "standard" in het sex.

The other things we mentioned are on a scale of easy asks to bigger asks- of course these experiences are much more subjective so we can only speculate as to what why think people will find easy or difficult.

As to the fact that of course no one can/should be compelled to do anything, yes. But we are not forming a sex police force but rather just chatting about it. I do think there are some harmful tendencies in normalizing what we expect of certain groups via porn/media, but they are nothing if not also endlessly interesting to talk about. And these things change constantly anyway.


long time reader, first time poster.
It appears that LW is a sub (re: seeing a dom to get spanked real hard) - so maybe the service blow-jobs were working for him too for a while? I also assume that a conversation about their sex life would have been tabled - I mean, 12 years of NO conversations seems unrealistic. So if he says his husband isn't capable of raising his hand (or a paddle etc.) to provide a few whacks, I assume it's because he has asked the husband for new things before and gotten push-back, refusals, or evasions. Which is why it ended up being easier to seek it else-where.
For sure the husband must be mentally locked in to his habit, insecure about expanding the repertoire, and is for sure an asshole for being so selfish. But if LW has never said anything (in 12 f*cking years?!) then the husband's probably just riding the deluded assumption that getting blowjobs is all either of them could ever desire.
Ultimately, this is unsustainable. LW should continue to go get whacked and tell his husband's what's up - and move on if the husband won't/can't issue a hall pass. It's time for LW to be more selfish!


Yes, EmmaLiz, standard is about casual consensus In a group. How do we define groups, are we talking young people/ older people, westerners only ? It comes across to me as everybody, and if you don’t abide this standard, as articulated by others, then something is wrong with you.
My concerns re Dan saying what’s standard for heterosexuals, no group specified, is that boys/ men use that as leverage to coerce rather than negotiate certain sex acts.
@ RationalHuman, looking to have anal join the ‘standard’ list, to find ways to bypass asking a straight question, and graciously accepting the answer if it’s no.


Coercion in sex , starts for girls/women, very young. The whole blue balls story. Personally, I find oral very intimate and do not offer it on a first meeting, or wish to receive it.
Once an emotional connection occurs, things change.
What I pick up is that the casual sex followers want it all, first up, after all it’s ‘standard.’


If all are into it, then there’s no problem. Each person is different in their sensitivities around sex, especially new person sex.


@35 BDF re: anal in gay couples, of course Venn is a better person to answer than me, but I wanted to point out that Dan has several times discussed how a not-as-small-as-you'd-think minority of gay men have consistently not engaged in anal at all, preferring instead other nonpenetrative activities. I don't remember the percentage and don't care to search, but Dan has quoted it and even, if I remember correctly, responded to a poster about the current trend (at least as represented in porn and hookup apps) to make it seem that every gay guy must be into anal. If I'm misremembering some of this, all apologies.

@Lava yes I share the concerns. But again, as we are being descriptive, not proscriptive, our shared concerns don't change the reality. FWIW I defined what I meant- het couples in what we'd consider the "western world". I guess I could add an age and say "under 60" as I really don't know what older people consider standard. Also I'm not saying this is necessarily true- the point of the conversation is to determine what is the default. If you think there are subgroups with whom these things are not standard (default expectations when entering a het sexual relationship) then I'm interested to hear of it. I know quite a few straight people who see oral as a more intimate act and vice versa (who see penetration as the more intimate) but I don't know anyone who doesn't see them both as regular features of a het sexual relationship. But of course, I'm not a wide receiver of people's sexual tales!

But yes I agree with your concerns, especially regarding anal for all the reasons we've discussed before (namely het male lack of knowledge of how not to fuck a butt like a pussy, studies showing that most women who do it receive pain from it but do it to please men, more focus on places to put a dick which almost can never be reciprocated, etc). Personally I think if there was some crusade to make anal more common and acceptable, it should be around butt play more generally for both men and women- it is a disappointment that the "standarization" of anal sex (if it is happening in real life and not just in porn) among het people is following the same pattern as all het sex- the default is guy puts in his penis and thrusts rather than mutual exploration of pleasure involving this body part in many varied ways that allow for individual responses. Like even in this conversation we've conflated anal play of both with anal penetration by a dick as if the one must lead to the other to be considered "sex".


Ms Fan - The percentage seems to pop up every few years, and I've heard it from various sources, but it's been consistently between one-fourth and one-third who don't anal either way, going back to the Spada Report (a gay attempt to emulate the Hite Report) and perhaps farther.

You have the maths backwards. This isn't a case of making your contract if either of two finesses succeeds, but needing both to succeed. It's probably reasonable to assume that most MM couples do it at least semi-regularly, but it might be pretty close as to whether an individual semi-regularly or more often gives or receives.


Lava @47, we are talking about what sexual acts are standard in an opposite-sex relationship. No one is talking about casual sex or first dates here. You seem again to be mixing up standard and mandatory. The only reservation of yours I share would be that the idea of oral sex being standard for OS couples could be twisted into a belief that a certain type of blowjob, the type men will have seen in porn, is something they can expect women to provide. Perhaps we can combat that by spreading a message that oral sex does not equal face fucking, that oral sex is something one -gives- and a considerate lover will let the giver set the pace. That oral sex is standard but also a privilege that can be revoked if one abuses it by making it unpleasant for the giver. (Like anything, really.) Does that work for you?

I agree 100% that anal should not be on anyone's standard list. As in, if it's what you like, it shouldn't be something you expect but something you feel lucky if you find someone else who likes it too.

EmmaLiz @49 re your fourth paragraph, I am following RationalHuman's example in discussing whether "het anal" should be considered standard, or let's say an easy ask. He did not suggest inclusion of anal fingering (which I would file under easy ask, a much easier ask than PIA), rimming, or other anal activities. Since we're discussing what acts we think of as standard, my guess is that these acts didn't come up in this discussion because nobody thinks of them that way. I agree that in the larger world, when het people say "anal sex" they mean a man buttfucking a woman with his penis. This is gender stereotyping, but I'd also note that if people mean pegging they can say pegging, if they mean rimming they can say rimming. Perhaps we need to start using the acronym PIA more often.

Venn @50, thanks. In your mind, then, would that leave oral as the only "standard" sex act in the MM sphere?


For the record, blue balls are real. It happened to me once. Omg! The aching! It was highly intense, lasted a couple hours, and was very unpleasant. Sometimes a dude needs to pop off. That's just the deal.


Ms Fan - Don't forget manual.



She didn't say blue balls weren't real. She said the whole blue balls story which is about telling a girl that she is responsible for causing a guy pain if she does not put out. He can go pop off in the loo of course.

@BDF agreed that none of these things are standard in the het world. Agree with Lava that if there is an effort to normalize it as another thing women are supposed to do for men then it's problematic. (I'm not sure if that is happening hence the if). And yes, I think it might be more pleasure all around if "anal play" more broadly because more normalized, especially as it's something het people can mutually explore and would get the dudes more comfortable with all that in the first place.

Also I find it fascinating that there's this idea that the gay male world is so hypersexual and yet we see such clearly defined limits and preferences. At least that's how it appears from outside discussions, maybe internally it seems not so clear. Regardless, there's a particular narrative that the current (by comparison to the not-so-distant-past) sexual liberation and sex positivity among het folks has a lot to do with the LGBT movement's relatively recent mainstream visibility. I think there's some truth to that though I hold that the pill has way more to do with it. In any case, fascinating then that it's standard for ALL women (not just those who might more naturally be bottoms) to receive vaginal penetration AND to suck dick AND now (at least according to some people, I'm not so sure) a press towards normalizing anal penetration too when gay sexual 'standards' allows for more individual variance? If any of this is true irl, not sure- way outside my wheelhouse now.


I just mean, I can't imagine a world in which 1/4 to 1/3 of het women are like "nah, not interested in penetrative sex". Or am I too misunderstanding the math?


@55 EmmaLiz
"I can't imagine a world in which 1/4 to 1/3 of het women are like "nah, not interested in penetrative sex""

I bet you're right EL!

69.9% of women find "vaginal intercourse...very appealing"(1) of those "not interested" in it, let alone in penetrative sex in general, must be quite a bit under 1/4.


Of course there's a variety of factors that differ between those numbers for women and venn's MM numbers.


Wow interesting curious. 70% is a much lower number than I imagined. So does that means 30% do not find it appealing or just that there was some numbered scale (like maybe 20% said "somewhat appealing" etc). Or do they mean that 70% ranked it as their #1 most appealing thing? Not clear in the article though it must be in the study.

Yes of course- we've talked before about reasons why, just generally it seems vaginal penetration is easier & requires less prep for more people than anal penetration is (speaking in very general terms) so it's always foolhardy to compare apples with oranges, but still fun. And relevant too when you've got a gay man writing about het standards.

Anyway aside from that diversion, a survey like this (at least as reported, I didn't see the actual study, there were several links which I'm sure are all interestng but I couldn't tell which one was the source of that 70%) is a fun way to get info about what het women themselves might consider "standard" or at least wish too. Hard to generalize with the list provided since somewhat appealing isn't combined in the percentages which would give a better picture. But just a takeaway glance leads me to conclude that "romantic attention" (scene, words, tone, film, touch) isn't something we should dismiss. If we are talking about some forms of light BDSM or porn as "easy asks" then we should probably include varying forms of romance as well- it appears to be pretty important source of pleasure to a lot of women.


You'll have to zoom, but if we take this study's methodology at face value (and I don't care enough to dig into it, for our purposed I'm happy to assume this is an authority!) then someone has done our taxonomy for us already.


BTW according to that survey anyway, mutual masturbation is- as I feared- shockingly less common than you'd think for het people.

Being serious here for just a bit, I wonder how many of these sexless (especially the ones that drop after kids when people get busy) could be saved if mutual masturbation was a het standard norm, considered sex as an act itself?

Relevant to recent conversations, spanking is about as common as mutual masturbation however that doesn't mean it's common at all, lol.

Another little surprise is that men and women read erotic stories at almost exactly the same percentages monthly, yearly and across their lifetimes.


Holy moley, that 2017 survey is a rich treasure-trove of numbers that I think our community would find very valuable! (The zoom-ing in is a little tedious, though

Sexual orientation numbers for men, women, and total. Breakdowns of sexual behavior.

For example,

How many people had ever had Zoomsex: 13% Men, 10.5% Women.

How many people had ever had a threesome: 17.8% Men, 10.3% Women.

91.1% of women had ever had vaginal intercourse.

Oh, and here's the relevant number:

Vaginal intercourse is either "Not appealing" (3.5%) or "Not appealing at all" (7%) for 10.5% of women. (And some women don't even have vaginas.)

"Another little surprise is that men and women"

Wow, I totally believed it when I heard otherwise just last week.

Thanks EL, that was infinitely more relevant than the first google hit I got.

The webpage zooming wasn't fun, but one can avoid that by clicking on the "Download PDF" button which shows you

Or by downloading the tables.

I did both (the 6 tables in both original and large versions) and uploaded a 7MB zip file if anyone would rather trust me than download them themselves:


p.s. The only surveyed a couple thousand people, but at least it's data instead of guessing.


EmmaLiz @55, I think that if gay men had vaginas closer to 100% of them would be interested in having those penetrated as well. An anus and a vagina are not completely analogous in terms of the feasibility of putting a penis into them. The human race would literally die out if penises were not put into vaginas, but anal's only purpose is sensation, and some enjoy the sensation but others do not. This should apply across genders since everyone has a butthole. So I'm not surprised if the percentage of gay men who like receiving anal is closer to the percentage of women who like receiving anal than the percentage of women who like receiving PIV. I'm also not surprised if it is higher, because women who enjoy being penetrated never have to use their anus if they don't want to, but men who enjoy being penetrated do. So logically I would expect the percentages of people who enjoy being anally penetrated to increase inversely proportionately to the feasibility of other options, with lesbians and straight men at the bottom of the scale, then women who sleep with men, then men who sleep with men.

Interesting figures, I too was shocked by the 69.9% figure but can more easily believe the converse, that 10.5% of women do not find PIV appealing. These would seem to include asexuals and lesbians, unless the survey specifically excluded women of these orientations, and yes, I do hope they are defining women so as to include the ones who don't have vaginas. That leaves roughly 20% who find PIV only somewhat appealing and I can believe this number.


BDF Sure there's loads of explanations- as people say, if everything was different, everything would be different! It's the whole problem with apples and oranges comparisons in the first place, and everything you say makes sense. I still think it's interesting to see how SS sexuality manifests (in terms of what's standard, common, etc) as it might give us some insight into how the different genders approach OS sexuality. Though as I said, this might be a flawed premise in the first place.


Mizz Liz - I suppose it's a perk of being outside the recognized paradigm.

Ms Fan - Well spotted on catching a likely weakness in the survey.

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