Savage Love: Traps and Triggers

Share on Nextdoor

Dear Dan,

My husband is nearly 20 years older than me, which was never an issue early in our relationship. However, for approximately the last eight years, we have not been able to have fulfilling sex because my husband can't keep an erection for more than a few thrusts. I love my husband and I am committed to our family, but I miss full PIV sex. I'm still fairly young and I enjoy sex, but I feel like I am mourning the death of my sex life. I miss the intimate connection and powerful feeling of sex with a man. My husband tries to please me, but oral sex is just okay and toys don't have the same effect. We have tried Viagra a few times, but it gave him a terrible headache. I try to brush it off because I don't want to embarrass him. I am curious about casual relationships, but I fear they wouldn't stay casual. Also, I would feel guilty being with another man even though my husband said I could do it one time. On one hand, I feel like I should be able to have a fulfilling sex life. But on the other hand, I don't want to be a cheater.

— Now On To Having Awkwardly Realistic Discussions

It's not cheating if you have your husband's permission, NOTHARD, but fucking another man could still blow up your marriage — even if you manage to keep it casual.

Story time: I knew this straight couple. They were good together, they loved each other, and they had a strong sexual connection. (Spoiler alert: My use of the past tense.) The woman was all about monogamy, but her boyfriend had always wanted to have a threesome. She didn't want to be the reason he never got to do something he'd been fantasizing about since age 13, so she told her boyfriend that if the opportunity ever presented itself, he could go for it. So long as the sex was safe and he was honest with her, he could have a threesome one time.

The opportunity presented itself, the sex was safe, he was honest — and my friend spent a week ricocheting between devastated and furious before finally dumping her devastated and flummoxed boyfriend. During a drunken postmortem, my friend told me she wanted her boyfriend to be able to do it but didn't want him to actually do it. She didn't want to be the reason he couldn't; she wanted to be the reason he didn't. So her permission to have a threesome "one time" was a test (one he didn't know he was taking) and a trap (one he couldn't escape from). I urged my friend to take her boyfriend back — if he would have her — but he'd touched another woman with the tip of his penis (two women, actually), which meant he didn't love her the way she thought he did, the way she deserved to be loved, etc., and consequently he couldn't be allowed to touch her with the tip of his penis ever again.

Back to you, NOTHARD: My first reaction to your letter was "You've got your husband's okay to fuck some other dude — go for it." Then I reread your letter and thought, "Wait, this could be a test and a trap." You say you've brushed off the issue to spare your husband's feelings, but he may sense it's an issue and, consciously or subconsciously, this is his way of finding out. If you take him up on his offer "one time," and you make the mistake of being honest with him about it, he may be just as devastated as my friend was.

So don't take your husband up on his offer — not yet. Have a few more conversations about your sex life instead and address nonmonogamy/openness generally, not nonmonogamy/openness as a work-around for his dick. There may be some solo adventures he'd like to have, there may be invigorating new sexual adventures you could enjoy as a couple (maybe he'd love to go down on two women at once?), or he may rescind or restate his offer to let you fuck some other dude one time. Get clarity — crystal clarity — before proceeding.

Finally, NOTHARD, there are other erectile dysfunction drugs out there, drugs that may not have the same side effects for your husband. And low to very low doses of Viagra — doses less likely to induce a headache — are effective for some men. Good luck.

Scroll to read more Savage Love articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.