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Savage Love: Counseled Culture

Counseled Culture
Counseled Culture (Artwork by Joe Newton)

Hello! I am a heterosexual man! My wife came out as a lesbian after thirty years of marriage. We have children together and we love each other. Therefore, we’ve decided not to divorce. We visited some therapists and they all coerced us to divorce, even though we really do not want that. We believe that an open relationship would satisfy both of us. I’ve always wanted a threesome anyway! We read some books about opening up a relationship and we feel like we could make an open marriage work. And we know there are others out there, so we know it’s possible! Divorce is not in our plan.

My questions are…
1. Is it normal for therapists to force a couple to divorce when the couple does not want that?
2. Can open relationships be awesome relationships?
– Shrinks Hereabouts Revel In Not Knowing Shit

Hello! I am a gay man! My answers are…

1. Calm down. Only your wife can force you to get a divorce, SHRINKS, and you’re still married. Which means you haven’t been coerced into doing anything. And while I wouldn’t describe what you encountered as normal, SHRINKS, there are a lot of therapists and counselors out there who regard preserving and protecting monogamy—its practice by individual couples, its position as a sacrosanct norm—as their chief responsibility.

Now I don’t know whereabouts you live, SHRINKS, but a married couple that sees more than one therapist or counselor in a big city like mine is gonna encounter at least one open to helping married couples negotiate the transition to non-monogamy. But there’s a really simple way for couples like you to make sure you’re not wasting your time on anti-open and/or sex-negative counselors, SHRINK, and that’s to ask the therapist or counselor what their positions are on open relationships before making your first appointment.

Zooming way out for a second: It’s flabbergasting that so many couples counselors think a marriage that isn’t monogamous—or one that has to become non-monogamous for both parties to remain happy in it—isn’t worth saving. The bias against non-monogamous relationships is so insidious that even people whose job it is to help couples that wanna stay together figure out how they can do that will urge couples to divorce, instead of exploring non-monogamy. Never mind suggesting non-monogamy to a couple that is clearly being failed by—not failing at—monogamy.

Okay, now let’s talk about those threesomes…

Your wife came out as a lesbian, SHRINKS, she didn’t come out as bisexual, so it doesn’t follow that you’re in line to have a bunch of threesomes. Even if your wife had come out as bisexual, SHRINKS, that doesn’t mean you hit the pussy lottery and you’re going to be having a lot of threesomes now. Or any threesomes. Maybe you and the wife discussed this, and she wants to have sex with you despite being a lesbian—maybe she’s willing and/or able to grandfather in your dick (grandmother in your dick?) and is looking forward to having threesomes with you and a girlfriend to be named later—but if you haven’t heard that from your wife’s mouth, SHRINKS, you might wanna tamp down those expectations.

And if you haven’t heard that from your wife and you’ve been excitedly telling every couples counselor you see about all the threesomes you’re looking forward to having now that your wife is a dyke, SHRINKS, it’s possible that all those couples counselors urged you to get divorced because your wife was sitting next to you on the couch blinking out distress signals.

2. Open relationships can be awesome! They can also suck! If you’re happy and the wife’s happy and her future girlfriends and/or your thirds are happy, that’s awesome. But if you and/or the wife are unhappy after opening the marriage up, SHRINKS, then you’ll either have to close it again or you’ll end up having to take the advice of all those shrinks and end it.

I’m a 36-year-old woman from the UK who currently resides in the Middle East. I’ve been seeing a man my same age who is also from Western Europe. The relationship is rather new and we are still getting to know each other, but we have grown very close. However, he has only managed to come inside me once. He is a fit and healthy man who exercises regularly and does not have any underlying health conditions. So why does he lose his erection every other time and have to finish himself off when he doesn’t? He said he doesn’t know why this keeps happening, but he thinks it might be because he is “too in his own head” to come when he’s inside me and often loses his erection because of it.

I brought up the fact that we reside in the Middle East because, as an unmarried couple, it is impossible for us to seek professional help here. I have tried reassuring him and prolonging foreplay and we have an open dialogue over what we like sexually, all to no avail. Should I give it more time? Are there any toys we could use that would help? Should I advise him to seek professional help when he travels home for his holiday? I feel helpless when he gets more frustrated with every unsuccessful attempt.
– Having A Realistic Discussion On Needs

This is going to sound weird, HARDON, but you need to watch some gay porn with your boyfriend. (If you can safely view it where you happen to be living right now.) In gay porn you’ll also see a lot of tops “finishing themselves off.” The top fucks the bottom for a while—sometimes for a long while—and then the top pulls out and strokes himself until he comes. Sometimes you’ll see tops pull out, give their dicks a few pumps, and shove back in. Right now, your boyfriend has it in his head that he’s disappointing you when he does what most guys in gay porn seem to enjoy doing—stroking themselves a little during sex, sometimes finishing themselves off at the end—and he’s got that in his head because you put it there, HARDON, or it was already there and you’ve been reinforcing it.

Here’s how you can help: stop pathologizing the way his dick works. Tell him it’s fine: tell him the sex is still a success if he wants to stroke himself now and then during sex; tell him the sex is still a success if he wants to “finish himself off” at the end like all the gay porn stars and many women do; and tell him it’s fine if he wants to bail on vaginal intercourse for whatever reason—including going soft—and eat your pussy instead. Take the pressure off his dick and his dick is likelier to come through.

After a decade of celibacy, I started a strictly sexual tryst with a much younger man. He is lovely. We both agreed on terms: no strings. This is the first time I’ve ever had sex with a relative stranger for such an extended period. It has been two months. This is also the first time I’ve been honest about what I wanted sexually. So, it’s a good thing. There is no possessive neediness, I have more freedom, etc. But because I have more time on my hands and a proclivity for fantasizing, I have started to resent the fact that we always follow his schedule. It’s understandable, as he works hard and shares custody with an ex, and is younger than I am. Intellectually, I know and accept that. I just need help reconciling myself to these limitations. I like the sex a lot. It’s what I want.
– Somehow This Resentment Is Not Good

I think you need to ask yourself why you’re sabotaging a good thing here. There are limitations you’ve placed on this relationship (no strings, the sex you want) for what I assume are emotional reasons, STRING, and there are limitations he’s placed on this relationship (not when he’s parenting, not what he’s working) for purely logistical reasons. If your decade of celibacy and your aversion to possessive neediness were reactions to negative experiences you had with past sexual partners—with men who were controlling or abusive—then you might be reacting to the limitations your fuck buddy needs to set as if he were attempting to control you, like past sex partners may have. In reality, of course, it’s not him who’s controlling you here, but circumstances beyond his control.

When you feel resentful of him, STRING, go look in a mirror and say, “My reaction, while understandable given my history and potentially helpful, isn’t entirely rational in this instance, it isn’t fair to him, and I’m not going to let it cheat me out of sex I enjoy with someone I like.” Repeat as necessary.

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