Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I found his secret sex toy stash

Dear ESB,

My fiance and I have been together about five years, engaged for five months. We just bought a house together about a month ago and plan to get married next year. Earlier in our relationship, it became apparent that his sex drive is much stronger than mine. I do enjoy sex and have had the best sex of my life with this man, I just don't initiate as much as he'd like. I always get into it once we get going, but it's rarely ever my idea.

We've talked about this a few times, though it's hard for me to discuss without getting emotional because I end up feeling like a failure as a woman and a sexual being. I think it stems from some old insecurities of mine. He really can't stand it when I get very emotional, so sometimes he avoids topics he knows will set me off. At one point I thought we weren't compatible enough in terms of sex drive and he'd never propose and we'd eventually break up. But he did, and he also stopped commenting on my lack of initiation.

So recently we've settled into a routine of doing it first thing most mornings, aka not my body's favorite time to be intimate to begin with. I roll with it as enthusiastically as possible. He always seems to enjoy it and is very complimentary, especially when I give him a blow job (often).

Anyway, I was packing for a trip recently and found his secret sex toy/lube stash under a couch. Specifically, it was a butt plug. I'm not that weirded out, because I know even straight men like stimulation there, but I'm hurt that he was keeping a secret in our house, and I'm back at the feeling of failure because I'm obviously not fulfilling all his needs and he doesn't feel like he can share this with me. I have been really busy lately with work and other stuff, but we do it about four or five times a week. I know he masturbates and watches porn sometimes when he's alone, which doesn't bother me, but for some reason this strikes me as a more serious need. Am I overreacting? I am not sure how long he's had this, but it would have been harder to hide it in our apartment, which was smaller.

Should I confront him about it? Ignore it and keep with the status quo, which meets my own needs? Put my finger there next time we're doing it and see how it goes? (I think I would be open to more experimentation along these lines...) All other aspects of our relationship are awesome.



I'd open with "Hey, I found your butt plug!" 

No, really. I bet he wanted you to find it.

Play with the butt plug or don't play with the butt plug. The butt plug is not the problem. The problem is "the status quo," as you put it, which sorta meets your needs but also sorta has you doling out blow jobs every morning when you'd really rather be asleep.

You love this man so much you're willing to go above and beyond in the sack (4 or 5 times a week is a LOT for most couples, trust) and he loves you so much he's willing to squelch his desire for you to initiate, but resentment will build up eventually. On both sides.

What are these "old insecurities" of yours? Have you tried talking to a therapist?

Maybe this is something you can work through, or maybe (surprise!) you two are just not sexually compatible.

But please don't commit to Mr. Libido -- for life -- while you're "feeling like a failure as a woman." Please. A ring will not make everything all better.

Amours Boudin II by Fabian Souche


  1. "He really can't stand it when I get very emotional"
    wait, what? you aren't allowed to cry around him?

    mostly I'm concerned that you are doing all of the giving and to meet his needs and he's not being considerate of yours.

    1. I saw ESBs tweet and rushed over to defend sex toys, but now I see it's a far larger issue. Obligation morning blow jobs (puke) can only continue for so long before that guilt transforms into full-on resentment.

      Above all, I'm agreeing with Anon and cannot possibly repeat this enough, "I'm concerned that you are doing all of the giving and to meet his needs and he's not being considerate of yours."

    2. That's the line that stood out to me as well. Maybe it just wasn't phrased quite right, but if you're providing sex (that you aren't super interested in) daily and you aren't allowed to share your emotions, doesn't that make it sound like you're being treated more as a real life blow up doll than as a person?

      I get that some people aren't comfortable with emotional displays, but there's therapy to help with that. You are going above and beyond, he should be able to handle a few emotional discussions like an adult so you guys can get to a stronger point together.

    3. This reminds of me an episode of The Office when Pam tells Jim that she doesn't want to bother Roy about something work-related and Jim says, "Like with your thoughts and feelings?" and Pam just nods and says yea. Unless you are a drama queen and overreact to things in general, this is a big ol' red flag.

    4. Yeah, what does that line mean? Definitely the most salient detail in the entire letter.

    5. Totally agree here...This method of giving into needs and sustaining can only go on so long before the giving party ends up bitter and with none of their own needs met.

  2. Agree, but just want to add -

    Why are you having sex most mornings, if that's not when you like to have sex? Shouldn't some (or most, since you're the one who has a harder time getting in the mood) of it be the time of day that you prefer?

    Compromise is good and all, but this doesn't sound like compromise - it sounds like you're going along with chore-like daily blowjobs and getting little in return. Obviously it's not satisfying for you, and it's not going to be satisfying for him long-term either...it's not that fun to have sex with someone who's not into it. Something here clearly needs to change, and I think a lot of it has to do with you finding out what kind of sex life *you* enjoy.

    1. For reals. My husband has a health condition that makes physical arousal difficult sometimes, and mornings are the easiest for him but I abhor morning sex. I really, really hate it. Despite his health problem, after I told him I didn't like morning sex he hasn't once pushed the issue. We make it work, we still get it on. I'm not sure if he's being an enormous dick or if you aren't speaking up about your sexual preferences, but either way its bad.

      Also, definitely put your finger in his ass next time you guys have sex.

  3. Ok, you've deemed yourself a failure, but here's a list of what you do, sexually:

    a) Enthusiastically have sex 4-5 times a week, even after 5 years together (I would venture to say that is 4-5x the average).
    b) Not get weirded out or offended at the knowledge that he watches porn and has a butt plug
    c) Are open to experimenting to meet his needs

    In no way does the above list seem like that of a 'failure'. You major problems seem to lie within your assessment of yourself, so I think your relationship would most benefit from therapy. For yourself.

    I wouldn't take it personally that he has needs that you possibly can't fill, and that he has a little sexual secret that he felt scared to share with you. No one is going to completely meet all of his needs as a partner(sexually, emotionally, intellectually, etc), nor is anyone going to completely meet all of yours. Start having frequent, non-judgment conversations about both of your needs, to let him know that he can come to you with his desires and that you expect him to come to you and be open. Have a few of these conversations...and if it turns out he is into a bunch of stuff you just can't handle, then leave, but as long as he's willing to be open with you and is aware of your limits and is willing to work with them, then I think you're okay.

  4. I think you both might benefit from a little therapy. You should talk to someone about any insecurities and he needs to meet with someone about his sex addiction. Because if he still masturbates and watches porn on top of getting good sex 4-5 times a week, I would think that's an addiction. And I don't mean this in a judgmental way, I just think it needs to be addressed since he seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on sex.

    1. Have to disagree here. Wanting to have sex/masturbate once a day is not sex addiction. It's no more "abnormal" than wanting to have sex a couple of times a month.
      Which is to say, most people fall somewhere in between those two extremes, but neither of them is pathological - they're just different sex drives.

  5. About couples counseling, have you ever had it? It can be pretty great. My husband and I did pre-marital counseling before we got married. Our priest required it, my husband went into it thinking it was going to be TOTALLY stupid, and it turned out to be great for both of us. The idea is to help you as a couple learn communication strategies to help address issues before they turn into full-blown marriage crises. Sounds like you and your fiance have a great relationship but problems communicating both of your needs in this area. You might want to consider a counseling session or two.

  6. Coming at this from another perspective: I'm married to a guy who is pretty happy with once a week sex, and, honestly, I'd prefer 4-5 times/week. I also have emotional Issues where I do kind of need him to initiate at least sometimes, or I don't really feel wanted, so I do kinda get where the partner is coming from in terms of ideal life and what he'd like.

    That said, in real-life terms, this means that we have sex 1-3 times/week, that I initiate more often (and at times when he's usually more in the mood - bedtime and mornings but not so much afternoons), and that we actually talk about our needs and how happy we are with things and what we'd like to do (kinks yay!), and he's totally ok with me watching porn and masturbating and occasionally he joins in and that's fun too but mostly he doesn't and that's ok/expected! Basically, we have different needs, so we talk about things until we're ok with what we're both doing/getting/feeling/wanting.

    Note: if your partner isn't super in the mood but is open to the idea of being in the mood (feeling "enh, maybe" instead of feeling "no", in our words), touching/kissing/foreplay/cuddles/etc can get them there, but expecting them to be there and initiate and provide morning blowjobs while they're not in the mood is ... well, not fair, and not realistic. And, quite frankly, I'd rather masturbate than guilt my partner into sex he's not really into, y'know? 'cause that's a crappy thing to do.

    1. I've been with my guy the same amount of time as the person writing in, but similar situation to this anon - we have sex 1-2 times a week.. which is probably about right for us, but I did feel self conscious (for no real reason) that maybe it wasn't enough, should we be doing it more?! but you know what, we talked about it, and we often talk about our needs and what we may be insecure about, and what we want more of, and it makes our relationship so much stronger and our sex much more intimate.

      talking it out and keeping that honest flow of communication is key!

  7. The one thing I know to be true, I can't get interested in sex if there are unspoken emotions, or sometimes even stupid domestic niggles, or particularly if he has hurt my feelings and we haven't resolved it (or vice versa).

    I find sharing feelings a big turn on, because it creates intimacy, as soon as my brain feels intimate, my body gets turned on.

    I agree with the above commenters that the biggest problem for me would be this:

    "He really can't stand it when I get very emotional, so sometimes he avoids topics he knows will set me off"

    This to me would be The Problem, not the sex.

  8. So, my husband is basically your boyfriend, except that the butt plug is something he bought for ME to use even though I was like srsly, no, I'm good. Anyway, he's amazing and he thinks I'm amazing but the fact is we'll never be sexually compatible in the way he wants. He complains I don't initiate, I complain that if we have sex 5x a week, I don't have time to get horny enough to initiate. We went to a sex therapist once, and she basically said that his need was off the charts and he needed to take care of it on his own sometimes, and I in turn needed to be a little more enthusiastic sometimes. Totally fair, but 8 years into our relationship (4 yrs married) it's still an issue and always will be.

    I also empathize feeling like a failure as a woman and sexual being. It's hard to compare your own (prob normal/average) desire with someone like your boyfriend. If he's hard all the time, I should be wet and moaning all the time, and I'm not, therefore I am a failure. You're not a failure, I'm not a failure. We just found men who make us feel like one. (KIDDING.)

    Anyway, talk to him about the sex toy stash. It could be that he feels like he pressures you enough with the AMOUNT of sex and he didn't want to get into the KIND of sex you were having. And initiate once in a while, even if you've had enough sex. It makes my husband SO HAPPY and he thinks we've had the BEST SEX EVER if I start it up, even if it's the same as sex that he starts up. The thing about never initiating is that it makes him feel that I don't want him or think he's hot, which is NOT the case. Just shifting the enthusiasm a tiny bit from "I'll respond if you initiate" to "I'll initiate when you're not expecting it" makes him feel sexy and connected to me. I've found that initiating also makes me feel less bad about saying no when I want to, and makes him feel less put off by that.

    It's really difficult to be in your position (ha!) and I get it. Therapy is great- give it a shot- but it might always be a discussion point for you guys. Huge hugs to you as you figure it all out. xo

  9. "I just don't initiate as much as he'd like. I always get into it once we get going, but it's rarely ever my idea."

    Do you have any idea how common this is? Like most women everywhere. You are not alone, and you are actually completely normal.

    What more alarming is the lack of communication that you guys seem to have. The fact that you feel like you can't talk to him about these things (especially the bit about not liking morning sex) looks like the bigger issue from the outside.

    1. Its actually really common in both genders, there are plenty of women out there who'd like to do their partner all the time and he's not into it.

      I think you hit it on the head when you said its the fact that the letter writer and her fiance can't talk about the emotional stuff that's the issue, not the mismatch.

      Compatibility is a moving target- you can move towards and away from compatibility in a relationship, on all kinds of things. Maybe when you first meet you are both really messy, but later on, he develops a neat streak and now you are feeling like he thinks you are a slob. There's an endless variety of ways to disagree in a relationship and make the other person feel judged.

      So the real issue between you and him is how you talk to each other about differences. And especially when it's about stuff that is emotional or uncomfortable- I'd say the base measure of if you should marry someone is the question of if you come to them totally upset about something, do they want to try and understand it. Not necessarily, will they agree with you about what it is you are upset about, but will they TRY and listen and understand. Can you trust this other person to know the things you don't love about yourself and love you anyway and not throw it back in your face? I can't tell from this letter if it's you that really tried to talk about it, despite how emotional you are and he shut you down, or if he tried to talk to you about it and you got so upset he backed off and accepted the routine you have right now. Either way either you gotta sit his butt down and make him listen to you- or read a series of flash cards or something, or you need to learn how to actually talk about the things you feel scared of sharing with him.

      Reading/watching assignment: Brene Brown- the power of shame and Jon Gottman: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

  10. I'd like to see Sex Toy Tuesday become a weekly feature on the blog.

  11. Google: site:www.thedirtynormal.com "responsive desire"

    And read the posts that come up. It should help make you feel less like a failure (and more like most other women).

    It might still be worth addressing practical stuff around how to make him feel desired, and also how you feel about him keeping 'secrets' from you, and definitely his issues with you expressing your emotions. But really, your experience of your sexuality is so totally normal.

  12. Did anyone else read this article a few weeks ago? I found it fascinating to hear about the dopamine/serotonin balance with our sex drive.

  13. And ESB becomes Dan Savage...

    I don't anything useful or new to add to this , but I'm loving this post, and that BUTT PLUG is a tag!

  14. Everything ESB said, plus I'll second the comments saying that doling out BJs and sex in the AM when you're not into it is not a sustainable system. Figure out what gets you going and what time of day/night is good for YOU, too! There's got to be something your man can do for you that makes you crazy and leaves you looking forward to next time. He needs to put a little work into figuring out what that is, in return for everything you're doing for him.

  15. In my first read through of this post, the first thing I thought was that maybe he's a sex addict. Maybe you should ask some questions, like how often does he masturbate and/or watch porn? Why does he feel the need to do it secretly?

    If you feel confident that he's not an addict, then the bottom line may be that you just have different sex drives. This could cycle while you age and switch. But it's important that he's honest with you and grateful for the effort you've put in to meet him half way.

    Also, stop being so mean to yourself. Every time you call yourself a failure remind yourself of all the ways you succeed.


      fuck's sake

    2. for serious. stop policing everyone's sexuality!

  16. 1. You cry and get defensive when talking about sex.
    2. You are upset he didn't tell you something about sex.

    You can't have it both ways. I echo everyone else who brought up counseling. Even if he's not into it, you need to go. Until you get comfortable with your own feelings about it, you won't be able to have a real conversation.

  17. Sex = good.
    Resentment = bad.
    Feelings = good.
    Not communicating about feelings, in some way or other = impossible.

    They will surface, one way or another, some decade or other.