Readers ask Pepper Schwartz about a surprising change in bedroom habits and other vexing sex questions
Q: My partner has always been normal in bed, but now he likes to wear my nightgown and role-play when we have sex. At first I was upset, but now I've gotten used to it (as long as it doesn't happen too often). Still, I'm worried. Is this kind of thing progressive? Might he turn out to be transgender or gay? I need your help interpreting his behavior.
A: Your letter reminds me of my favorite quote, by Lillian Hellman: "People change and forget to tell us." People do change, which sometimes includes permitting a long-hidden desire to emerge.
Your husband may simply have found wearing a nightgown to be kinky fun — that's the most straightforward scenario. Or he may (or may not) be in transition on his gender identity — a considerably deeper kettle of fish, obviously!
The only way for you to determine whether the behavior you describe is a taste, an obsession or an awakening is to have a heart-to-heart talk with your husband about what, precisely, is going on inside his mind. As your life partner, he owes you that.
Q: What toys will help me get to orgasm quicker? I used to be very quick, but now it takes a lot of work.
A: For quick, intense orgasms, a vibrator is a woman's best friend — and hey, some men like to use one, too.
The absolute best way to use any sex toy, however, is entirely up to you. Some women prefer a really strong motor, whereas others are supersensitive and want to use it internally at a slow hum, or near the clitoris but not on it.
Women generally climax sooner and stronger when an internal vibrator or dildo (or penis) is combined with sensation applied to the outside tip of the clitoris. Why? Because the clitoral nerves drape the first third of the vaginal barrel. So — dare I say it? — using both an internal and external vibrator should give you a double-barreled experience!
Q: It's embarrassing when my adult son and his wife sleep over, because I can hear them making love in the next room. Worse, they share the room with their 5-year-old, and I find their behavior totally inappropriate. How would you handle this?
A: A woman's home is her castle — especially when it's a small castle with no soundproofing — and that gives you the right to ask any houseguests, even those related to you, to keep their lovemaking to a dull roar.
Ah, but how do you plan to have that particular talk diplomatically? And speaking of embarrassing, what makes you think it won't cause extreme mortification at the very least, or an irreparable family rupture at the worst? So, to answer the first part of your question, I urge you to take a two-pronged approach: earplugs and heaping doses of discretion.
Trickier is the issue of "Not in front of the children, dear!" Certain tribal cultures lack the privacy norms — and mechanisms — that we observe, yet their children don't grow up to be psychopaths. Still, a guest room is a long way from the Brazilian rain forest, so I'd say the potential "spectator factor" you describe is beyond the pale for most American families. (And just in case I wasn't clear there, I don't like it, and I think the parents should stop it.) You owe it to everyone involved to make two guest rooms available for their next visit — "I thought you'd appreciate some more privacy" — even if that means a night on a cot for you.
Got a question for Dr. Pepper Schwartz about dating, love, relationships or sex? Send it to TheNakedTruth@aarp.org.
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