Why you should care
Because bad sex does happen to good people.
EUGENE, SIR: I’m a looker, and by this I mean that during sex I like looking into my partner’s eyes. It’s like plugging in a light; everything about it turns me on. The problem, though, is that my partner is anti-looking. She’ll do things like turn the lights off or get on her hands and knees so I can’t see her eyes. Am I being paranoid and maybe this is just her avoiding a deeper connection, or do lots of people not like being looked at? — I and I
Dear Eye Eye, Cap’n: Some people say cucumbers taste better pickled, to borrow a setup from Dave Chappelle. The point? Sometimes some stuff might mean something and sometimes it might not. In the case of extended eye contact, what and how mammals deal with it is deep. In a 2013 study out of the University of British Columbia, Frances Chen and her team determined that too much eye contact makes the person being looked at less likely to agree with the one who is looking; other studies suggest that the stare is a tell particular to a certain kind of seasoned liar.
In other words, those watched/looked at feel that in the silent negotiation bouncing back and forth betwixt and between people, you’re involved in a hard sell, and they’re not necessarily going to be sold on a schedule of your choosing. However, on the other end of the spectrum — I use the word “spectrum” intentionally — not looking at someone at all is also found to be creepy. Which seems to imply that there’s a sweet spot for those inclined to look, and that is, according to a bunch of Brit psychologists, the way-too-specific count of 3.3 seconds.
It should be noted, though, that no one was talking about this in connection to coitus, which could change everything. But if you were to compile a book of the nonsexual things that people think about during sex, starting with the alphabet and ending with zoos in Zanzibar, you’d probably have a multivolume set that also covered concerns about being too fat, too skinny, not sexy enough, too sexy and a host of other stray thoughts strung along by an all-too-human penchant for panic and paranoia and other matters that might attend moments of great intimacy.
Which is why I’m going to say, easy with the hypno-gaze, bro. There’s a rhythm to everything, and being sensitive to these rhythms is part of what makes one a good lover. Or put another way: Look but don’t stare, and if you must stare, then don’t glare. Also, any question regarding whether you’re being paranoid is always correctly answered thusly: yes.
The Magic of Whoremongering!
EUGENE, SIR: I lost my virginity when I was 20. I’m 28 now, as is my boyfriend for the past six months. Things are great, except he’s angry because of how I lost my virginity and nothing I say is making it any better. Long story short, a girlfriend and I decided to lose our virginity to a male escort. My boyfriend has told me that I would be angry if he had gone to a prostitute; I said penis is penis and the difference between an escort and a college sophomore was unimportant and he is just insecure. So yeah, he’s upset. But have I done anything wrong? — A.M.
Dear Arctic Monkey: Wrong? In a wider philosophical sense, if you think prostitution is wrong, then yes, you’ve done something wrong. If your boyfriend believes this, he’s unlikely to be mollified no matter what you say. But if he believes that prostitution should not be illegal and that it’s neither immoral nor lacking in logic, then he’s upset to come up short in the adventure-seeking subset and he needs to get over it.
In both cases, however, I’d say that he’s out of line since this is now a historical fact. And one that you shared with him very probably for one of the same reasons you did it: It was a slightly more interesting means to the same end. The trap you’ve fallen into is in trying to hold his hand through what he might have a valid beef with — see aforementioned belief in prostitution’s immorality — instead of letting him figure this out on his own since it’s his problem to own. We all want to help our partners when they need help, but this never means we have to, and in this instance I think your relationship will be better served if he does it himself since anything else implies that you made a mistake, which I don’t believe you did.
He’ll either get over it or he won’t. Either way, “your problem” is solved.
Cutting the Rebop
EUGENE, SIR: My orgasms are much more intense when I’m oxygen deprived, but it’s not easy to get lovers to choke me the right way. There seems to be a lot of confusion between me wanting some light choking and them saying the stupidest shit ever like, “So you like this, bitch?” How do I get one without the other, and who the hell told anyone calling me a bitch in the middle of sex is sexy? — Name withheld by request
Dear Choked Up: You’ve got an almost foolproof bullshit detector and appear to not even know it, so henceforth anyone who busts loose with “So you like this, bitch?” blasts should never, ever, ever be allowed to move to the strangulation stage. They should never even get to the another-night-of-sex stage. Not because “So you like this, bitch?” carries any kind of political weight, but just because it shows a stunning lack of imagination that will inevitably show and tell in every other place all the time. It’s one of nature’s warning signs, right up there with hand-feeding grizzlies or hugging sharks.