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Dan Savage:When a Soapy Handjob Isn’t Enough

Questions about coercion, cheating, and lying.



I'm a straight man in a live-in relationship with a beautiful woman. There are no sparks in bed, and it's been more than a year since we've had sex. She says, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested." Before my last birthday, she asked me what I wanted as a gift. I replied, "A soapy handjob." But when my birthday rolled around, all I got was a speech about how she loved me but was not in love with me. My question: In the year 2017, how does a straight man make it clear to the woman he's with that sex is important to him without coming across as threatening? If I told her I'd leave her unless our sex life improved, she'd probably "put out" to save our relationship. She has abandonment issues, and I fear she would be devastated if I left her. I only want to have sex with someone who wants to have sex with me, not someone I've coerced. What do I do? I love her, but a sexless relationship isn't what I want or signed up for.

Sexless Over A Perplexing Year

There's being sensitive to coming across as threatening and wanting to avoid even unintentional coercion and being cognizant of the ways women are socialized to defer to men and the ways men are socialized to feel entitled to women's bodies, SOAPY, and then there's being a fucking doormat. She isn't in love with you and she's never gonna fuck you or soap you up to get you off. If you don't want her putting out to keep you, then don't give her the option. That means ending the relationship, not entering into negotiations about the terms for remaining in the relationship.

There's nothing unreasonable about wanting a romantic relationship that's both loving and fully sexual, SOAPY, and a man can put his wants on the table without pounding said table with his dick. You're not obligated to stay in an unsatisfactory relationship indefinitely because your girlfriend will be devastated if you leave.

Also, devastation is a two-way street. If you dump her, her devastation will be immediate. But if you stay, you'll be the one devastated — but your devastation will be gradual, taking years, like the erosion of coastline or the destruction of our democracy. She's a lot likelier to get over the devastation she'll feel if you leave than you are to get over the devastation you'll experience if you stay.

A man impregnated me about a month into our relationship. He is adamantly against having the kid, as it's too soon. I really don't want to have an abortion — I have religious and moral beliefs against it. He states that since one parent doesn't want the kid, I am wrong for even considering keeping it. Am I wrong? Do I have the right to continue with the pregnancy? I feel like we'd be great parents. He's already left me because I wouldn't make a decision within a week. It's tearing us apart.

Opposing Opinions On Pregnancy Situation

I'm going to sidestep the whole no-abortions-for-religious-and-moral-reasons-but-premarital-sex-is-not-a-problem issue. This pregnancy isn't tearing you apart, it tore you apart. He already ended things, which was a shitty thing to do, perhaps, but within his rights. It is absolutely within your rights to continue with the pregnancy. And while he will be on the hook for this kid financially if you decide to have it, no one can force him to do the work that comes with actually fathering this child. I'm sorry you're in this position, and here's hoping you have the love and support you need to raise a kid if you decide to keep the baby.

I am a straight woman who just started fucking a hot, younger male co-worker. The sexual tension between us was out of control until we stayed late one night and screwed on my desk. Since that night, we've hooked up a few more times. We grope each other in the office daily, as the "fear" of getting caught is a real turn-on for me. The problem is that he has a live-in girlfriend. He told me they are in an open relationship, so being with me isn't cheating. As per their arrangement, he won't tell her about me, but if she finds out, he won't lie. How do I know if he's telling me the truth? Can I fuck him guilt free?

Not A Heartbreak Helper

P.S. I've already caught him in some minor lies. For instance, he said one of the rules of the open relationship is no sex in their apartment. Guess where we last fucked?

If the genders were reversed here, I'd have to find you and set you on fire or something. Because even before we get to the is-he-or-isn't-he (in an open relationship) issue, the power imbalance makes this not okay. But I'm going to let those who object to co-workers fucking debate that issue in the comments thread while I address the issue you asked me to address: Can you know for sure whether he's practicing ENM, aka "ethical non-monogamy."

Short answer: No, nope, you can't — and the signs don't look good. Basically, if he's lying to her, he's probably lying to you, too.

So, you can fuck him — but not without guilt. 

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