We invited another man to our bed. Then he said something that stunned my husband.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Jessica and Rich here, It’s anonymous!

Dear how to do it,

My husband (40 years old) and I (45 years old) are fond of inviting a third person into bed. Recently, we were enjoying the company of a young gentleman.

He would call us “daddy” over and over again. I’m an old theater kid and it sounded fun, so I lost myself in the fantasy for this boy, and said, “Your daddy is proud of you/you’re our favorite boy,” etc. My partner, on the other hand, looked at me with a very curious look while all of this was happening. When we sent him home, my partner made some rather funny comments about my “new sexuality” that I was “hiding” from him. I was surprised at his comments; I enjoyed it and I wouldn’t mind playing that role again for someone who liked it. But he’s still cracking jokes like, “Well, I don’t need a daddy, so don’t try that with me.” We’ve been together for 20 years and we love each other, but how can I reaffirm my love for him while still exploring this new aspect of the game?

—Daddy but not your daddy

Dear Not Your Dad,

It sounds like there’s something about the daddy roleplay that your husband really enjoys. I’d start the conversation there: “I love you very much, and it seems like the daddy thing is bothering you in some way. I’d like to understand why.” After 20 years, I think you have some understanding of how to best phrase things and how to ask questions to clarify what’s going on on his side. Once you have more information about why he’s reacting this way, Then You will be in a better position to understand whether it is possible to continue exploring this kind of sport and, if so, how to best approach it.

These conversations can feel difficult because often Are Conversations are difficult. But, on the other side, relationships are even stronger. You can do this.

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Dear how to do it,

My (32 female) boyfriend (35 male) has been my best friend for almost five years, and I am crazy about him. He is a very calm person, and I am an ADHD ping-pong ball, so we balance each other out well. Unfortunately, my boyfriend has struggled with depression for decades, and because of his job, he cannot seek treatment. If his employer found out he ever sought therapy for talking, he would lose his job and probably never get a job in his field again, so antidepressants are out of the question. (He is not a danger to anyone or himself; it is the industry that refuses to move with the times in terms of mental health care).

As you can imagine, his untreated symptoms have affected our relationship, especially our sex life. I agreed to let him go to couples counseling (paid in cash), and there has definitely been improvement. The counselor encouraged my boyfriend to get his testosterone level checked, and it turned out it was too low, so he started taking a prescription to raise it. We were so excited because we had this idea that the testosterone would act like steroids and we would be back on the same page sexually in no time, but several months have passed and that hasn’t happened. What has happened is that my boyfriend’s overall mood has improved, and he says he’s happier than ever. I’m so happy that he’s feeling better and that our relationship is deepening because of it, but I’m still frustrated by his libido remaining low. When we talk about it, he says he wants his libido back, and he’s frustrated that it hasn’t returned yet. He feels like he’s letting me down and that he’s not good enough for me. In response, I feel guilty and ashamed that I need this and that I’m making him feel like he can’t give it to me.

So I have two questions. First: Her doctor just keeps saying, “It takes a while” without saying exactly how long that is. Do you have any information about this? And second: How do I deal with the possibility that our wishes may always be mismatched?

—Needy, not greedy

Dear needy, not greedy,

I contacted Associate Professor of Urology (and friend of the column) Robert Welliver for some insight into your boyfriend’s situation. In short, hormones in men are actually just as poorly understood as hormones in women. Welliver said, “Testosterone is considered a panacea for anything that might be even slightly related to having a Y chromosome.” I am both surprised and dismayed by this fact.

The situation gets even murkier, Welliver adds, “The male brain (and sexual response) is much more complex than just testosterone, and low libido could be related to a variety of factors that aren’t just about low T. It could simply be that he has a lower sex drive than he should or that some other non-testosterone factor is affecting his libido.” So the extra testosterone might not make a difference in his libido.

Welliver said that an ideal solution would be for your boyfriend to see a counselor or sex therapist, but I understand that for most people therapy isn’t an option at this point. Since you’re able to access couples counseling, you can ask that provider for their information here.

As far as dealing with mismatched desires goes, masturbation is a great tool, both in terms of spending time alone and in terms of asking your partner to engage you physically – for example, hugging you – while you handle matters on your own. You can develop a richer sexual relationship with yourself to take some of the pressure off your relationship with your partner. It may also help you to know that many relationships have some degree of libido mismatch.

Help us continue to deliver the advice you want each week. Slate Plus subscribers get a weekly How To column. Sign up for Slate Plus now,

Dear how to do it,

How can one do away with their favorite sex toy? I’m going to be traveling for a few months soon, and I won’t be bringing my vibrator with me. In any case, I want to get back to being able to reliably orgasm with just my hands, which has become difficult due to my impatience and preference for the pink toy. I still want to use it sometimes, but not as regularly as now. So, how can one do it? It may not feel the same as when I first started masturbating, but fingers still have their place.

—The Pink Wonder

Dear Pink Wonder,

It sounds like you’ve become addicted to this particular pink toy. This is something that can happen to anyone – and it’s not just with toys. Sometimes people become addicted to a certain strength of stimulation or even a certain position. The standard advice – which is the strategy that works best for most people – is essentially what you’re going to do anyway; stop doing the routine you’re accustomed to until you’re so restless and aroused that any kind of movement will work. Leave the toy behind, be patient with your body, and take the opportunity to rediscover the types of pleasure you get from your fingers. Breathe into your body, feel your edges, and play with different kinds of sensations.

And, you know, if it doesn’t work, you’ll have to wait to be reunited with your favorite vibrator.

Dear how to do it,

I’ve always had trouble mentally preparing for sex in my committed relationships – especially with my husband. Then we had a baby, and I had to really put a lot of mental effort into projecting sex once a week. I recently stopped breastfeeding and my libido is back! Hooray! But now we have a baby, which means sex has to be planned and timing is of the essence.

I have a lot of tricks for getting my brain into sex mode: cannabis, porn, the usual stuff. But apparently, things that get you excited just by thinking about them are especially useful. The problem is that the only mental trick that reliably gets me in the mood is thinking about pissing off the person I used to have an unhealthy relationship with. I don’t even like this person particularly! He’s moody and annoying! He did something mean to me, after which I left him! I agree with “using” it to get in the mood, but it feels problematic and I wish I had another option. What’s going on?!?

—Confused by my sex mind

Dear Confused by my sex brain,

It’s worth spending some time considering what’s so problematic about this particular memory-based fantasy. If you have a trusted friend you can talk to, this type of conversation can be really fruitful. If not, consider journaling, thinking in the shower or during a walk, or whatever helps you sort out your thoughts and feelings. At the end of the day, though, my stance (and the semi-official stance of this column) is that our thoughts are not crimes or offenses, only our actions are.

If you still want to get away from this fantasy, or simply want to diversify your entertainment repertoire, you can consume some adult – that is, pornographic or erotic – media. Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Erotic Fiction Anthology Cleis Press showcases a wide range of fantasy scenarios in each volume, so this would be my top choice. The goal to keep in mind when reading (or watching, or listening) is to find new scenarios that you can use when you want to get yourself in the mood – so you can get the widest range of options you’re looking for.

-Jessica

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