Self-Pleasure: A Couple's Guide
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because who’s got time for bad sex?
By Eugene S. Robinson
EUGENE, SIR: I found some photos of naked women on my husband’s phone. We’ve been together six years and we’re both in our 30s. He says he doesn’t know these women. I ask him why he has the photos. He says, in the same way that we have porno DVDs. I say, we used to watch those together. He says, masturbation is not always something we do together. So I ask him if he’s looking at these pictures to masturbate to and he asks me why else would he have them. I can tell he doesn’t think this is fucked up, but I think it’s extremely fucked up. I asked him how he’d feel if I spent all of my time masturbating to pictures of other men. He said as long as they weren’t of men we know, he wouldn’t care. I care, but am I crazy for caring? Maybe it’s not that big of a deal? — AB
Dear ABBA: Oooh … this is rough/tough. On the one hand, while the idea of having what you find erotic monitored by your partner rubs me the wrong way — see what I just did there? Hand? Rub? On the other hand, the idea of his head being awash in everyone but you seems troubling. Yes, yes, I understand that men are traditionally held to be more visual than women when it comes to erotic materials. Even if, according to the National Institutes of Health, “there is not a complete understanding of this sex difference,” for me, it comes back to time invested.
Which lets us comfortably divorce it from the explicitly sexual. If your husband were to maintain a secret stash of photos of car parts or badminton rackets or even professional football players, it would also be weird. Documenting anything makes a statement about that which is documented, because it can safely be assumed that we only document things that are significant to us. So while this could just be a masturbatory holdover from his teen years when, you know, any port in a storm, it could also be an erotic focus that distracts insofar as it carries him further and further from where his erotic energies might best be served.
However, the part of your note that kept sticking in my throat was “I found.” I found a dime on the sidewalk. I found out my bank account is close to being overdrawn. I found out I am late for an appointment. All of those finds were accidental, but it seems unlikely to me that you “accidentally” found much of anything on his phone. Which means you went looking, and if you went looking, even if you had a reason to, woe to you and what you found.
So I’m going to give your husband a pass here. If you find photos of your best friend? He loses. If you find random porn? Well, you know, dude’s entitled to a little privacy and you’re not his mother. He now knows it bothers you, so that much is cool. And he can change his ways or password-protect his phone. Don’t think he should be blamed for either one.
The Chatter Directive
EUGENE, SIR: Your answer to the woman who didn’t like her head touched when she was orally pleasuring her boyfriend missed the obvious. Why don’t they just talk about it? It’s easy to miss the simple, but that’s what I think would work best. — Pat
Dear Patty Cakes: How is that supposed to work? “Excuse me? Dear? When you put your hands on my head whilst I am fellating you, it makes me feel like I am fellating you poorly. Which damages my self-esteem. So perhaps if you removed your hands from my head, my self-esteem would return when I have your penis in my mouth. Dear.” Look, I know what you mean, and communicating effectively is always better than shouting loudly, but the reality of it is that if people were comfortable enough discussing the uncomfortable, you wouldn’t be reading this. So I stand by my advice. Whatever the hell it was.
Manly? Yes. But She Likes It Not.
EUGENE, SIR: I told my girlfriend that I experimented in the past with having sex with other men. It could be my imagination, but since then, things have slowed down a bit. She hasn’t said anything, but is there anything you think I should say to try to fix things? — Fexafill
Dear Philly Flyers: Do you imagine that there is anything you could say that would undo the historical accuracy of you freely bedding men of your choosing? What would that sound like? Would you say you did it by “accident”? That you “fell on a bottle”? Or were drunk or high or tricked? Listen, we’d like to think that unconditional love is a thing, and it sort of is. Sometimes. But unconditional lust? That’s not a thing, and if things are slowing down a bit, I’m assuming you mean sexually. So it might be reasonable to assume that she doesn’t find man-on-man sexual contact that exciting. Who knows? Not me, and not you, really, until you ask, but if I were you, I’d not even bother to ask and let her work this math through on her own time since the past is unchangeable. Meaning, things that are past can either be ignored or addressed, but they can’t be changed.
Now, if you believe what’s past is prologue? Well, that might explain her pique, but again, no way of knowing, unless you ask. And asking is sometimes a heavy lift. In any case, you can rest assured that eventually this will resolve itself no matter what you do. So until then? Just relax and enjoy the ride.