Dear Captain,

I’m not sure whether my partner is happy in our relationship, and I’m hoping for scripts to help us to talk about this. I only want what’s best for her, only I don’t think that’s me. I know it sounds like a silly thing to say, but I think she’s only going out with me to please her family/friends by going out with a man when she possibly prefers women. I knew she was bisexual before we started dating, but I’m starting to think that she has a strong preference for women (if she finds men attractive at all). I know I may have the wrong idea and she just doesn’t like me, but this is what my thinking is based on:

  • She only watches lesbian porn as she doesn’t like the men in it. (Understandable).
  • She’s scared of penetration so much that I can’t put a finger inside her (could be a number of medical reasons).
  • With our sex life, it’s usually me getting her off with her not reciprocating. She’ll ask me to go down on her but she doesn’t seem interested in my body. (She may just be a selfish lover).
  • She’s so scared of sperm: we’re not having sex, she’s on the pill, I wear a condom and she still insists on being fully clothed when she touches me (just in case).

I’m thinking with all her hangups with getting with a male, she may be better off in a relationship with a woman. Obviously, I may have this all wrong and this isn’t really my decision to make. What’s a good way to get her to assess our relationship, to be honest with herself and to see if it’s what she wants? If this is what she wants and she’s just having a hard time opening up sexually, what’s the best way I can support her?


Wanting to be supportive

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Dear Captain,

I’m (cis-woman) in a graduate program and I’ve got this friend (cis-man), who’s also in school, but an undergrad. We are both a bit older than the rest of our classmates, in our mid-30s. So of course we self-identify as members of the same tribe and become fast friends. We both love thinking hard about the same intellectual pursuits, we share a cynical attitude towards pop culture, millennials.

Lovely, right? But here’s the thing. Mike* doesn’t have a whole lot of emotional support. There’s me and an ex who moved away recently.

So pretty much every time we hang out he does the emotional download. He occasionally suffers from bipolar disorder, so it can get intense.

We also engage in intellectual debate – fun! – but he’s the assertive sort that has to Win. I like to learn. I don’t want to win. In fact, competition stresses me out. Meanwhile, Mike’s a freight train when it comes to verbalizing his inner monologue. To contribute to a conversation, I have to pluck up the energy to actively interrupt him. He lets me do this. And when I do, he listens. Unfortunately, I really want him to ask me what I think. To ask *me* questions for once.

Why this irritates me — I flashback to Depressed Mom who suffered from depression’s peculiar kind of narcissism. I was socialized to be a Good Listener — and I don’t want that job anymore.

Pretty much I was navigating this. I thought I was doing a decent job compartmentalizing the mommy issues. but THEN he wants to introduce sex into the picture. Sex is nice, he’s a good friend, win-win. He sold it pretty well.

Nevertheless, I sent what I thought was a thoughtful email about how I wasn’t interested in FwB. It would just turn into a mess for me. I’m in NYC. I’m *up to here* with “caz.” It would make me hate him. He responded well, and things went back to normal.

Sort of. After percolating for a few days, I got angry. I felt like a free-therapy-blow-up-doll. The idea of hanging out with him became exhausting. But I thought this was my issue, not his. So I soldiered on.

He didn’t bring up sex again for a few months…until this weekend. and I want to block his phone number. I want to punch him in the face.

I think a lot of my anger derives from stereotypes about male privilege, my own less-than-ideal past experiences with exes, and the aforementioned mommy issues. Can you help me untangle some of this???

My peanut gallery/greek chorus says dump him. It sounds like, they say, I just don’t like him. I do like him. I think?


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I am trying to figure out the words for a situation I’m in. I’ve been in a poly relationship for about three months with my husband’s enthusiastic support. Jack, my “boyfriend” for lack of a better word, is married to a lovely woman named Jill and I’ve double dated with her and her lover, so everything is super above-board. I like Jack very much; he’s funny and dear and has enough of a bad boy past to be fun.

Here’s the problem: the relationship is great, but the sex, not so much. Backstory: Jack is depressed and on medication that commonly causes impotence. He and Jill are trying to conceive, and are close to the cap on their fertility benefits, so Jill is understandably very edgy and depressed about the whole thing. Jack has a prescription for little blue pills to help with his medication-induced problems.

Problem 1: Jack does not take his blue pills when he’s going to see me. He says it’s because they are so expensive, but since one pill is the equivalent cost of less than the drinks on a night we go out, this excuse doesn’t ring true to me. It’s starting to make me feel like I’m not worth “wasting” a pill on, which makes me unhappy, as does the lack of sex. In three months we’ve not managed penetrative sex even once. The only reason I can think of that he wouldn’t take the medication is that maybe (and I have no basis for this other than the personalities involved) Jill has told him that he’s to use the pills for procreative sex only?

Problem 2: Jack is somewhat lazy in bed. I don’t have an orgasm from intercourse, and I don’t have one every time from oral, but I do have them reasonably frequently if some effort is put forth. Jill, I’ve been told, can have an orgasm every time there’s a stiff breeze. Although I’ve explained to Jack that I do not have orgasms super easily, and I’ve told him how they can be achieved, he still seems to make a token effort and then quit on me. His idea of making this work was that I should bring my vibrator to help myself out when we see each other. I’m really frustrated by this, and feel dismissed. (If it matters, I tend to be a pretty oral person and, while it’s difficult due to the medication, I have given him orgasms.)

I don’t want to break up with this guy, but honestly, this is a secondary relationship and sex is a primary consideration. I really like him, but it’s driving me nuts to go out with him and come home unfulfilled every time. I want to give this a last-ditch effort before I back off from this relationship or break up with him. What words can I use to help him understand that I’m not happy with our sex life without making him feel terrible? I tend to be fairly blunt about advocating for myself, but I know this is a touchy subject. Blue pill or not, I don’t want to make him anxious in bed, since that’s not a recipe for good sex, either. Are there scripts for this? Thanks!

–But What About Me?

Dear What About Me?

You can’t control whether Jack will feel anxious in bed after you talk to him. You can gently – and specifically –  ask for what you want and then see what happens.

Hey, Jack, I love it when you go down on me – can you keep going with that until I come?

“Could we try something where you get me off first, and then I get you off?”

Do things change after conversations like that? Or does he put in a perfunctory effort and then tell you how much easier it is with Jill? (And, like, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy do you know that about her?)

Howabout “Jack, you mentioned that the pills are expensive – would we be able to skip drinks next time we hang out/let me contribute some $ to take the pressure off?” Awkward follow-up question, if he demurs or things don’t change: “Is there another reason you haven’t told me about that penetrative sex has been off the table so far?” If he’d just prefer to not do that right now, for whatever reason (“I’m really trying to do everything I can to help Jill get pregnant, and I don’t have more than that in me just now”), wouldn’t it be better to know?

You’re only three months into this thing, so the question I gotta ask is, how much work do you want to do on this?

Hello my Captain!

I’ve spent some time scrolling through the “sex” tag and I can’t really find something that fits the issue I’m currently having.

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about 6 months. The sex has been great, for the most part, but lately I’ve been feeling neglected in bed and I’m not sure how to bring it up or address it. He never seems to care if I get off or not, and sexytimes always end when he does, unless I specifically ask him to get me off. Last night things really came to a head (heh). He asked me for oral sex, finished, and then…went to sleep. I cried myself to sleep. I don’t know how to bring it up with him, or even if I should. He seems completely unaware that anything out of the ordinary happened. I feel so hurt and used. How can I bring this up with him after the fact?

Blown Off

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Edited to add additional follow-up from the Letter Writer below the jump.

Dear Captain Awkward,

First off, I want to let it be known that we are a family of Christians; I believe there is only one true God and that to be saved it must be through Jesus Christ. I have raised both my children “Paul” – 19 years old – and “Mary” – 24 years old – to be strong in faith and put their trust in God.

However, I fear for my daughter’s life. She recently confessed to me (this past summer) that she is seeing someone, let’s call him “Jim.” Jim is not who I want for my daughter and I worry that their incompatibilities and differences will lead to her being hurt.

One, his family is Catholic. We are a Baptist Christian family. I don’t believe in the teachings of Catholicism. Even worse, Jim is an atheist and does not believe in God and I feel that he will drag Mary down spiritually. This is the biggest thing that I am scared of, and while I have tried to tell Mary that she should break up with Jim for her own wellbeing, she will ignore me or pretend I didn’t say anything. It hurts me deeply that she would choose to ignore her own mother like this. She should know that God’s love is not to be taken lightly.

Secondly, We are a Chinese family and Jim is from an American family. I worry that the cultural compatibility will be an issue.

Three, Mary has a masters degree whereas Jim has only his bachelor’s. I feel that he will come to resent my daughter for having a higher education since he is the man in the relationship (and I have seen many relationships end because of this).

Four, I am scared that he will be a bad influence on Mary. He does not smoke or do drugs but according to Mary he does drink on occasion. Mary tells me she does not drink (she claims she does not see the point) but for how long until she gives into the temptation of drinking? What about peer pressure from hanging out with his family and his friends?

Five, I feel like Mary is settling in life and Jim is a result of that. Another example: She is in a marketing job and they are not paying her very well (only 40K and she has a masters degree). She says she loves it but I don’t think she does, I think she’s just trying to rebel against me. She doesn’t even listen to my suggestions that she move back home to Virginia (she lives in New York) to save on rent or so that I can help her grow.

Six, I am scared that Jim will pressure Mary to do sexual things. I have already warned her that her purity is an important gift from God, but I am so scared that she will ignore my pleas. And because Jim is a man, I am worried that he may rape her even if she says no.

Mary has always been very independent, but she is still young and not mature. I need help in making her realize that Jim is not a good person for her and that she will suffer in the long run as a result from being with him. If she does not break up with God, how can I help lead them back to God so that they can have a Christ-like relationship?

Thank you,
Concerned Mother

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