• Stating the obvious

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    Each week, Dan Savage is here to answer your burning sex questions.

    Q: I’m a gay guy who’s involved with a guy I met a few months before COVID-19 took off. He’s a great guy, smart, funny, hot, healthy and easy to be around. It started as a hookup, but we have chemistry on several levels and, without either of us having to say it, we started seeing each other regularly. We both live alone and decided to be exclusive due to the pandemic. I honestly don’t know what we’re doing here. It’s some combination of friends, fuck buddies, and married couple all at the same time. 

    I wanted to just keep a good thing going but he just  threw me a curve ball that I need help figuring out how to handle. Out of the blue he told me he held back telling me about his foot fetish. He says he’s had very bad experiences with guys who weren’t into it. He’s been keeping it to himself and looking at stuff online. 

    I’m pretty vanilla and not into it, but I know kinks are a thing for a lot of guys and I’m willing to help out a good guy. I’m a longtime reader of yours, Dan, and being GGG is important to me. So I asked him to tell me what that means and what he wants to do. He wants to massage, wash and kiss my feet and suck my toes. Ok, that’s not hot to me, but it’s probably doable once in a while. He thankfully doesn’t need me to do anything with his feet.  

    But there was more. I can’t believe I’m writing this: He asked if I would let him paint my toenails sometimes! WTF? He could barely say it and looked kind of sick after he did. We’re both conventional cis men. Neither of us are into fem stuff. He claimed it’s not about making me femme. He says it’s just a hot thing for him. 

    I know there’s no explanation for why people have kinks, but do you have any ideas what this is about? I didn’t respond at all and we haven’t talked about it since. I’m not proud of that. I’m freaked out by this and not sure what to make of it. I don’t want to ask him directly if this is the price of admission because that seems too big a price to pay and I really don’t want it to be his price.

    – Freaked Out Over Terrific Person’s Erotic Revelation Vibe

    From your panicked response, FOOTPERV, you’d think this poor guy wanted to cut your toes off and masturbate while you bled out. Dude. He just wants to paint your toenails – as prices go, that’s a very small price to pay for smart, funny, and hot.

    Yeah, yeah: you’re both conventionally cis and presumably conventionally masculine. Since we’ll never know what caused him to have this particular kink – kinks really are mysteries – let’s just run with that: He thinks this is hot – or his dick thinks this is hot – because guys like you aren’t supposed to have painted toenails and guys like him aren’t supposed to paint toenails, FOOTPERV, and this small transgression against gender norms makes his dick hard because it does. While it’s not always the case with all kinks, in this instance the most obvious explanation is the likeliest explanation. Moving on… 

    You say he’s a great guy, you say you enjoy being with him, and you say you’re a longtime reader. So you had to know that I was gonna say this: buy some fucking nail polish already and leave it on the nightstand where he can see it and let him paint your fucking toenails.

    And if you really hate it, FOOTPERV, if it freaks you out to have polished toenails – or if your masculinity is really so fragile it shatters under the weight of toenail polish – then you don’t have to do it again. But I also gotta say… as off-the-wall sexual requests go… this is a small ask. If you were claustrophobic and your boyfriend wanted to mummify you, FOOTPERV, or if he wanted to use you as a urinal and you weren’t into piss, I would totally give you a pass. Some sexual requests are big asks and the third “G” in GGG (“good, giving, and game”) has always been qualified: “game for anything – within reason.” Some sexual requests are huge asks, some prices of admission are too steep, and some desires can only be accommodated by people who share them. But this request – what your COVID-19 spouse wants to do to you – is a small ask and a small price, FOOTPERV, in no way comparable to being turned into a mummy or used as a urinal. So smoke a little pot, put your feet on the nice man’s lap, and try to take pleasure in the pleasure you’re giving. 

    “Buy some fucking nail polish already and leave it on the nightstand where he can see it and let him paint your fucking toenails.”

    If I sound a little impatient, FOOTPERV, I apologize. We live in a deeply sex- and kink-negative culture and our first reaction when a partner discloses a kink is often a knee-jerk negative reaction to the idea of kinks at all. In the moment we can fail to distinguish between the big ask/steep price and the small ask/small price. And I hope you can see the compliment this great, smart, funny, hot guy was paying you when he asked. He felt safe enough to share something with you that other guys have judged and shamed him for. Take the compliment, buy the nail polish, pay the price.

    Q: I am a 37-year-old female who, almost three years ago, got out of a six-year toxic, violent relationship with a man I believe I loved. After I left him for good, my life started to improve in so many ways. 

    However, it seems that my once very healthy sexual desires have died. Ever since we broke up, I haven’t felt any sexual needs or attraction toward anybody. I honestly think there’s something wrong with me. I can’t even picture myself having intimacy again. A year ago, I went out on a couple of dates with a man younger than me, he was cute and very interested in me, but I just didn’t feel the connection. I really don’t know what to make of this situation. Any advice is profoundly appreciated. 

    – Just Another Gal

    Could it be a coincidence? Besides ridding yourself of a toxic and abusive ex – and that’s harder than people who haven’t been in an abusive relationship often realize and I’m so glad you got away from him – did something else happen three years ago that could’ve tanked your libido, JAG? Did you go on meds at the time for depression or anxiety? Could an undiagnosed medical condition that came on at roughly the same time create a libido-tanking hormonal imbalance? Did you go on a new form of birth control in anticipation of the sex you’d soon be having with other, better, nicer, hotter, kinder men?

    “If the thought of being intimate with others causes you stress and makes you anxious, JAG, you can still explore solo sex.” 

    If nothing else is going on – if you aren’t on meds for depression or anxiety, if you’ve had your hormone levels checked and they’re normal, if a new form of birth control isn’t cratering your libido – then the most obvious and likeliest answer is probably the correct one: three years after getting out of an abusive relationship, JAG, you’re still reeling from the trauma. And the best advice is also the obvious advice: find a sex-positive therapist or counselor who can help you work through your trauma and reclaim your sexuality. Even if you were to get your hormone levels checked or adjust your psych meds or switch to a new birth control method, I would still recommend seeing a counselor or therapist. 

    And even if the thought of being intimate with others causes you stress and makes you anxious, JAG, you can still explore solo sex. You don’t have to wait for the right hot young man to come along to reconnect with your sexuality. You can read or write some erotica, you can splurge on an expensive sex toy (have you seen the new clit-sucking vibrators?), you can watch or create porn. Really enjoying yourself may be the first step toward enjoying others again.

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