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Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Can I Get My Wife Interested in Strap-On Play?

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My wife and I have been married for five years and we have been together for ten. Ever since marriage, our sex life dropped to an unhealthy level of about one time per month on average. A couple of weeks ago, I brought it up and we almost decided to get divorced. After talking, I brought up that I want sex to be more exciting again, and she decided that she does too. I am very open-minded sexually, and she tends to be more closed-minded, mostly due to her not knowing about a lot of different ways to express sexuality.

I am very interested in getting into light bondage and strap-on play. I told her about the strap-on fantasy, and she told me that she thought I might be gay. After showing her that most of the reviews for strap-ons are from [heterosexual] couples, she is warmer to the idea. Perhaps you could give us some advice about the pleasure of strap-on play for married couples to help ease her mind?

Kudos to the two of you for being open with each other about your sexual fantasies, desires and boundaries. Most of us are taught when growing up that sex is a taboo subject that must never be discussed, and that belief can make it really hard to talk about issues that are common in long-term relationships, such as differing levels of desire or feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. It’s great that you’re having a respectful conversation about this, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to further that conversation.

Strap-on play, or “pegging” as it’s sometimes called, has become more popular among male-female couples lately—or at least it seems so from the number of customers asking about it in our store. The myth that a man who wants to be penetrated must be gay is just that—a myth. There’s a lot wrapped up in that myth. Anal sex is often thought of as an activity that only gay men participate in, even though that’s not true. The act of being penetrated is seen in our society as submissive, and submission is associated with femininity, and thus if a man enjoys being penetrated, he is somehow feminine/not a “real” man/gay.

Guess what? All of that is cultural baggage that our society places on a particular sexual activity, and the activity itself isn’t inherently associated with any of it. You can be a heterosexual man and enjoy being penetrated, you can be masculine and enjoy being penetrated, and you can be dominant and enjoy being penetrated. It’s important to talk through the associations that we have with particular activities and make sure that we understand where they’re coming from, but we shouldn’t let them stop us from exploring things we enjoy.

I refer to the anus as an “equal-opportunity orifice.” Everyone has one, and the anus is a sensitive area of the body, with lots of nerve endings and muscles that contract during orgasm. Some men may simply enjoy the physical sensation of being penetrated. For others, the cultural baggage may be part of their enjoyment—they may get off on the fact that they are breaking taboos or assuming a submissive role when they would ordinarily be expected to be dominant. These feelings can be powerfully erotic.

For couples who would like to explore strap-on play, there are great books and DVDs available, such as Violet Blue’s Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Strap-On Sex or Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Pegging. Tantus, a U.S. manufacturer of quality sex toys, makes a “Bend Over Beginner Harness Kit” that includes a harness and two silicone dildos of different sizes—one small and one medium, both smooth and simple. We generally recommend that people start with a slender dildo on the smaller side, especially if they are new to anal penetration, and that they stick with 100% silicone dildos that are non-toxic and can easily be sterilized.

Purchasing items for strap-on play can be a financial investment—I haven’t found a truly sturdy harness for less than $40, and 100% silicone dildos usually start around $30. It’s worth buying quality products, because a harness that slips around or a dildo that smells or causes irritation can put you right off an activity that might otherwise be a lot of fun. Your sex life is not a time to cut corners.

Finally, don’t forget lubricant, which is essential for comfortable anal play. Thick, water-based gel lubricants are a popular choice for strap-on sex. I usually recommend choosing one that’s paraben-free (since these preservative chemicals can cause a burning sensation in some people) and glycerin-free (since glycerin can suck moisture out of your body’s cells, causing irritation). You want your lube to soothe, not irritate, your butt! Sliquid Ride water-based lubricant is a safe choice for most.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

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