Sex in Front of Strangers - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Sex in Front of Strangers

Sex in Front of Strangers

By Eugene S. Robinson

SourceHenry Horenstein/Getty


Because everything is worth something.

By Eugene S. Robinson


EUGENE, SIR: We are in our late 30s and have for the last five years had a pretty adventurous sex life that’s included swinging and variations thereof. We’re not trying to fit these things in “under the wire.” We’re not having kids, so we’re plotting our path forward. Anyway, we’ve gotten into BDSM. Somewhere our paths diverged, though, and while he still likes binding and corporal punishment and so on, I’ve found myself less interested in that and more in the humiliation aspect. I can sense he likes this less and less. Any other couples negotiate this well that you’ve heard of? — Smartmouth

Dear Sargeant Major: A punch in the face? Just another day in the office. But you tell someone they’re stupid and sound like you mean it? That hurt lasts for days, and maybe longer. In their defense, though, there’s no safe word for word play, right? I mean you insult someone under the guise of an extended session of VA, also known as verbal abuse, by the time they use whatever safe word you all have, the horse has already left the barn and whatever feelings it was supposed to protect are already damaged.

So it seems to me that your problem is primarily a scheduling one. Which is just fine since I’ve come up with a scheduling Ur-theory of life which, in an exhaustive series of cases that I’ve considered success or failure, hinges every time on doing the exact right thing at the right time. General George Custer shows up on June 26, 1876, instead of June 25? Then maybe he doesn’t die the death he deserved.

However, there’s already a sensitivity to your VA now, so you’d have to completely recast it to return it to where it started: playful, playful and stern, stern and now hurtful. A few months of restarting your cycle might get you back around to hurtful. But before you start inflicting real damage, do the verbal equivalent of pulling your punches and stop short of the kill shot. And don’t tell me you don’t know where this is. I know you know exactly where this is.

This is what you do if this is someone you care about. If not, then don’t. Also a third option: Since you’ve indicated that this is a sexual tasting menu, take a taste, and move on.

However, to answer your question: Most couples do not make it back across uncomfortable lines. Not without losing something. And depending on what you lose? Life together either becomes intolerable or tolerable. Good? Well, let’s let them tell it.


EUGENE, SIR: Swinging has opened up again, which I know you know. We’re paying attention to protocols and keeping the group closed to no more than 40 of our usuals. Which makes everyone feel safe but now is also the source of some friction. We all come to share freely, but there’s come to be a perception that one of our group routinely shows up with the least attractive co-participant and proceeds to have sex with not who he brought but much better-looking women. He, himself, is not that great looking but he is good in bed, apparently. As an organizer, how the hell do I make this more equitable? — Ron

Dear Coital Traffic Cop: Jealousy, infidelity, sexual access, sexual excess … it’s all fascinating to a certain degree. Because despite the fact that everyone who goes to your events comes expecting to have sex and everyone who comes does have sex, the complaint is now that the sex system is being gamed by someone who has sex well?

Or is the issue that everyone else is bringing Chateaubriand and he is bringing McDonald’s?

So maybe the wider perception is that he believes he doesn’t have to try as hard to please the collective because he’s over-pleasing another part of the collective?

I suspect part of all three, and people who have made this mistake on how they’ve read the room in past times have found themselves in front of tribunals, brick walls or left on deserted islands. We’re social animals, and serving the greatest number in your social convoy guarantees your continued existence. The fact that most men there want to kill him is reason enough for you to disinvite him. OR tell him, honestly, that there have been complaints about the co-participants he’s been bringing and you’re trying to create a certain type of experience that doesn’t include having sex with someone because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.

He either gets it and ups his game. Or he leaves. Simple.


EUGENE, SIR: I’m getting my breasts enlarged. I’ve done lots of research so this is not about that. It’s about two other things: size and rights to those breasts. I want DDs, but he says that that size will “get in the way.” Also, since he’s loaning me the money for the surgery, he wants to know if we break up would I be willing to pay “in trade.” I wasn’t sure what this means and he told me: “Keep having sex with me rather than pay me for them.” Is this shitty? I can’t decide. — Name withheld by request

Dear DD Troit: I’m not a fan of breast enlargement, but this is not about me so specifically, so first things first: Will they get in the way? I have in all my years doing a sex advice column only heard two complaints from men who were complaining about breasts getting in the way. One even went so far as to say large breasts frightened him. His name was Paul. I tell this just to say that it was rare enough that I actually remembered his name.

The other guy’s name was Lloyd, and he gave no explanation. So if DDs are your preference, I would advise you first to talk to women who have them and get their take.

As for his payment plan? Only you can decide if this is shitty. I mean if you still have the option to pay cash, and you’d prefer to pay cash, do that. If not, then you two have to horse trade for how much each sexual act is worth and this is bound to be a sticky negotiation. I mean you say “$600” and he says “$60 and a 7-11 sandwich”? Well, then, you might have wandered into shitty territory.

In this one rare instance, cash just seems to be a cleaner option. Just my 2 cents.

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