Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at email@example.com.)
Q. Boring Sex: In my college years, I was sexually adventurous, to say the least. In my later 20s, I found my way back to my church, and decided to start fresh, and wait until marriage. I met my now husband in my church singles' group, and we have been married for just over a year now. He knows nothing of my sexual past, I didn't feel it was necessarily his business, and he never asked. However, he was a virgin when we married, and there is the problem. He is really lousy in bed. I've tried to suggest ideas to spice things up, but he looks confused when I do. Also, when I've made certain suggestions as to say, positions, he asks how I'd even think of something like that, so I told him I'd read about it online, and he got worried I'd seen porn! I don't want to tell him about my past, but I don't really want to spend the rest of my life in missionary, when there are so many other options. If I reveal too much knowledge about sexual acts we haven't done, I'm pretty sure he'll decide I was "used goods" and he shouldn't have married me—are there other ways I could drop a hint, without revealing too much about my own past?
A: I'll never understand people who don't go for a test drive before purchasing the vehicle. When you say he knows nothing of your past, I don't know if you mean he doesn't know the details or he thought like himself, you had no sexual past. If the latter then you married under false pretenses. This problem goes beyond him being inexperienced; he's not interested in becoming experienced. So you two may have a fundamental mismatch. You need some honesty in this marriage. Without going into numbers or details (and don't be bullied into revealing them) you tell him you know about sex because you've had it. You say your experience could make your marriage much more exciting and you want to explore sexually with him. If he thinks you are damaged goods, then what a favor he'll be doing you by ending it now.
Q. I Think I Like Being Sexually Harassed?: I work as a dispatcher for a TV provider. I am in constant contact with the field managers. Flirting and flattery is not uncommon in my office between the female dispatchers and the men in the field. One of the field managers has been taking the flirting too far and had been saying some very explicit things to me. ... He wants to take me to a hotel room, he asks if I'm loud in bed, he tells me I am sexy (our contact is 100 percent over the phone and through email). I can't help it, but I like it! Everyone else would say this is inappropriate and sexual harassment. But I can't help but be turned on by all this. Even worse, we are both married, and he and his wife have a child. I feel like I am cheating on my husband by participating in these raunchy conversations. I honestly don't know what to do. I am addicted to this man's sexual comments, but I am also addicted to my husband. Please help me!
A: You two might get addicted to unemployment if your work emails fall into the wrong hands—and oh, how often that kind of thing has happened. Since you are a willing participant in this, don't think you could hide behind sexual harassment if you both end up getting fired. You each have jobs, and as far as I can ascertain, they're not with a phone sex service. So your X-rated communications are a ticking time bomb for both marriages and paychecks. Stop with the "addicted" garbage. Next time your raunchy co-conspirator calls you say, "We've got to stop this immediately. Starting now." If you need a 12-step program to keep it professional, go find one.
Q. Menopause: I am almost 19 years old and I'm still living with my parents. Both of my parents are in their late 40s and I've had a pretty good relationship with them my entire life. Starting about last year, my mom started going through menopause. I hate what it has made her become. Sometimes she'll ask if someone make her breakfast or grab her a cart at the grocery store and my brother or father and I will fight over who has to go make/do whatever she asks. She'll get fed up and scream at us, calling us names and if we had made plans to go out to eat/shop/whatever, she'll throw those plans away and lock herself in her bedroom. There were a couple of times when she and I went to restaurants (usually fast food) and because of the pressure of time, I told her I didn't want anything. She became very upset and threw insults at me and threatened to take away trips and privileges. Once she left me at a restaurant and said, "You can get your own ride home." I called a friend crying to come get me. I hate what menopause has made her, she whines and victimizes herself and can go from happy to angry at the drop of a hat. How do I deal with her for the next year until I leave for college?
A: Is it hot in here, or is it just me? I think your mother sounds perfectly normal and the rest of you are horrible meanies who don't understand how hard she's working and everything is so awful and no one understands and—excuse me while I get a box of tissues. Oh, your lucky father, a few years ago he had two kids going through puberty, and now this. Believe me, no one is more miserable than your mother and you need to urge your father to gently tell her that things don't have to be so bad and she needs to see her gynecologist for relief. She—and the rest of you—simply don't have to suffer this way. As you know, changes of life involving hormone fluctuations are not easy, but there are good interventions that should help smooth things out for your mother, and the rest of you.
Q. Relationship Advice: I've dated a guy four months and realized recently that he's fallen far more in love with me than I have with him. So much so, in fact, that it's a huge turn-off. Being pressured to tell him I love him, talk about "our future" together ... and he's been telling me for weeks that he's "making" me something for Valentine's Day. I'm closing in on 40, divorced (13 years, but hey) and am in no hurry to settle down. To be kind, I tried to break off the relationship. He's acting like he's got to fight to win me back and doesn't realize that I'm serious. I don't want to be with him. Texts at 9 a.m. that are a mile long, random posts to his Facebook page with "passive - aggressive" messages about how true love is worth fighting for. It's actually starting to scare me. Tips on how to make this as painless for ME as possible? All I can be with him is consistently and frequently honest. Over and over and over. Please help.
A: Ah, Happy Valentine's Day from your stalker. You tell this guy it's over, and unfortunately because of the way things have gone you two will not be able to be in touch and he needs to cease all contact with you immediately. You block him and unfriend him—but you keep copies of everything he's sent. If he won't go away, you go to the police.
Q. Low Sex—Lots of Porn: My husband and I have been together for 11 years and share four gorgeous children. My husband also has a history of "problems," though I am proud to say he is celebrating several years of sobriety. Since getting clean and sober he has a problem keeping strong during the act—he has no issue getting there, as a matter of fact often I catch him there but, once we start (within two minutes) he loses it and it is really starting to affect me on many more levels than I thought. My self-esteem is low, I find myself taking all compliments and wolf whistles to heart, and Prudie I'm so frustrated in the bedroom I can't see straight! The other day I found XXX video links on his smartphone by accident, and that bothered me so I asked him what’s up? He said that I never want to be with him so he has to satisfy himself somehow. This made me angry and I lashed out at him ... not harshly but told him what was on my mind. I told him that his lack of staying power has me frustrated and when it happens and it happens often, I hate seeing him get so upset and mad at himself. He got a little upset understandably, and then I asked is it me? Remember I've had 4 kids ... I don't know what to do, Prudie. I absolutely LOVE and adore my husband but if I don't get some relief soon I'm afraid I'll step out and find the answers on my own.