Savage Love: Hard Limits

Q: I’ve read your column for as long as I had access to the internet and was interested in sex, so here it goes: I’m a 27-year-old male with a 42-year-old girlfriend. We met at work; we were both going through divorce. At the beginning, holy moly! My dream girl in the bedroom. We’ve been together for a year, and the sex is still the best I’ve ever had — she says she feels the same — but it’s vanilla. I am assertive and in-control in the bedroom, which works for both of us, as she prefers to be passive and wants me to make moves or switch it up. I want to do other things, but she doesn’t want to do anything anymore other than missionary-position sex. Anal, oral, watching porn together, bondage, voyeurism — she’s not up for any of it. There’s always an excuse: “I’m not young like you,” “I’m not flexible like you,” “I have done that before and don’t like it, no, no, no.” Do I just suck it up and be grateful for what I have or what?
—She Hates Options Totally, Desires One Way Now

A: She wants you to be in control and switch it up but doesn’t want to do any of the things you suggest when you take control and attempt to switch things up. Hmm. Either you’re bad at everything you’ve attempted other than missionary, SHOTDOWN, or she has a very limited sexual repertoire and/or actual physical limitations or health issues she hasn’t divulged to you.

Considering the age difference here, and considering that this is a post-divorce rebound relationship for you both, the odds are stacked against anything long-term. I don’t mean this relationship is doomed to fail. What I mean is this: You’ll probably be together for another year or two before parting ways. While most people would define that as a “failed relationship,” anyone who’s been reading my column for as long as he’s been interested in sex can tell you that I don’t define failure that way. If two people are together for a time, if they enjoy each other’s company (and genitals), if they part amicably and always remember each other fondly and/or remain friends, their relationship can be counted as a success — even if both parties get out of it alive and go on to form new relationships.

In the meantime, SHOTDOWN, enjoy the amazing vanilla sex for as long as it lasts — which could be forever. Anyone who’s been reading my column for as long as he’s been interested in sex knows that I’m not always right.

Q: My girlfriend and I have been together for about 18 months. We’re both 29 and are in the process of creating a future together: We live together, we have a great social life, we adopted a dog. We’re compatible, and I do love her. However, our sex life could be a whole lot better. I like sex to be kinky, and she likes it vanilla. She is adamant about monogamy, while I want to be monogamish. I feel strongly that this is who I am sexually and my sexual desires are not something I can change. My girlfriend thinks I’m searching for something I’ll never find and says I need to work through it. Because we are so compatible in every other aspect of our relationship, should I keep trying to work past the unsatisfying sex?
—Needs Advice, Want Threesomes

A: Divorce courts are filled to bursting with couples who made the same mistake you and your girlfriend are currently making — a mistake that gets harder to unmake with every dog you adopt or lease you sign. You’re not sexually compatible, NAWT — and sexual incompatibility is a perfectly legitimate reason to end an otherwise good relationship. The importance of sexual compatibility in sexually exclusive relationships (the kind your girlfriend wants) cannot be stressed enough. Sexual compatibility is important in open and/or monogamish relationships too, of course, but there are work-arounds in an open relationship.

The gaslight bar is set so low these days that I’m going to go ahead and accuse your girlfriend of gaslighting you: There are people out there who have the kind of relationship you would like to have — it’s a lie that no one has a GGG partner or a successful monogamish relationship — and I have it on good authority that many of these people are straight. You’ll never find everything you want, NAWT, since no one gets everything they want. But you’re too young to settle for the girlfriend you’ve got.

You’ve already made the dog mistake. Get out before you make the child mistake.