I have two partners: my husband and my FWB. I am very attracted to both, I climax much more quickly and with much less stimuli with my FWB. There’s nothing they do differently; I just react more. My concern is when talking about my experiences with my FWB with my husband, that he will become aware of the difference and feel discouraged/unattractive/like a bad lover. Might this difference just be New Relationship energy at work? Should I downplay this ease of orgasm when talking with my husband?

It might just be NRE at work. It could be that he has some little technique that he does differently that you don’t notice. It could be that the size, shape, angle, and/or texture of his fingers or other fun bits matches up with yours in just the right way. If you honestly can’t figure out what causes the difference, it’s fine to just chalk it up to the mysteries of the universe or the rich tapestry of life. (If you can figure out the difference, it’s okay to gently request or suggest to your husband that he try some things differently!)

Now, I don’t want to be someone who recommends that you lie by omission - but I’m not sure you need to tell your husband about this specific difference. I think there is a difference between deliberately misrepresenting something because you don’t want to deal with someone’s emotional response to it, and just not saying something that’s unnecessary and won’t make anyone feel good. There’s dishonesty, and there’s tact, is what I am saying.

If one of my partners took me out to an Italian place, and the next week another partner took me to another, less amazing Italian place, I probably wouldn’t say “you know, the place Quandon picked was a lot tastier than this,” because not everything that is true needs to be said. Next time the subject of picking a restaurant came up, I might recommend the other one, but without needing to say “it’s the one Branston took me to, and it’s way better.” That my partner took me out on a date and picked a place that serves my favorite type of food is a situation that doesn’t need to be critiqued, even if it’s imperfect.

If there was something seriously wrong with the food, or if we got there and I really hated the place he’d picked, of course I’d say something. A major project in most people’s lives is finding that sweet spot between “doormat” and “jerk.” But if the sex with your husband is fun, and he makes you come, even if he doesn’t do it with the laser precision of an android specifically and individually designed to pleasure you, it might not merit comment. 

So unless you two have an agreement that requires a blow-by-blow of every sexual encounter, it’s probably not relevant. And even if you do talk about sex, unless you give specific timestamps of everyone’s actions and orgasms, this difference is probably not going to be super clear. It’s fun to talk about sex, sure, but you can mention something fun or interesting without going “oh, and also, he totally brings me to orgasm way easier than you!” If he asks, don’t lie, but there’s no real need to make that detail a part of the conversation. 

I’ve always been sexually awkward, like I don’t know how to initiate anything and sometimes I think my partners are waiting for me to start something, what should i do? In the past, she has always been the one to initiate with me, and he joins in - he’s usually playing his computer games - i want to be more sexually active with them, but I’m not sure how to start anything..if that makes sense.

Communicate! Say “hey, I am working on becoming more sexually assertive and confident - can you work with me on that?” Ask them if there are things you’ve done in the past that they found sexy, and do those more! Ask them what kinds of times and situations they would really enjoy for you to initiate! Ask your partners what they find sexy, then do or wear that!

(Also, ask if this is something they want! Maybe they are okay with the fact that you don’t often initiate, either because they don’t like being come onto when they’re not in the mood; or because it fits a power dynamic in your sex life.)

Some concrete ideas:

With permission and in a secure channel, send them some erotica that you like, or if you’re feeling brave, a sexy story you wrote yourself

With permission and in a secure channel, send them some erotic pictures you like, or if you’re feeling brave, some photos of yourself

Schedule a nice evening in and do some tidying, light some candles, and basically set a ‘sexy’ stage for them to enter - you don’t always have to just find them in the house and start nibbling on their neck. You can plan ahead and say “let’s have a night in, just us, on Tuesday…I’ll get everything ready!” 

Wear something sexy (or nothing!) My partners know that certain things guys wear are huge turn-ons for me, so when they show up wearing that, it’s usually because they’re trying to get my attention ~*~in that way~*~

Suggest that you two buy a sex toy together and try it later - you can go in person or shop for it online

Hop in the shower with one of them and help them soap up

Just…go for it! Go up and kiss them, add some tongue, slide your hand somewhere fun - you are in control of your body and what you do with it, so you can take it from snuggly to sexy by putting your mouth, hands, etc. wherever you want them!

Note that it is always okay for people to turn down sex - if you initiate and they go “not right now, I’m sorry!” that is okay! It doesn’t mean you are unattractive or did something wrong - it’s a risk that comes with being the initiator. Be smart and sensible (do not go grabbing someone’s fun bits while they’re trying to chop veggies with a sharp knife or climb on top of someone when they’re late to work), and just let things unfold!

Is it bad for me to feel grossed out or uneasy at the thought of my partner having had recent intercourse with another partner prior to us having intercourse? And I mean within the same day. It makes me feel dirty and like I’m getting sloppy seconds.

I don’t think any feeling is ever “bad,” so to speak. It is okay to feel grossed out or uneasy. If you use those feelings as an excuse to act in a way that hurts yourself or others, that’s a problem - but that’s about behavior, not feelings. I’ve found that it’s best to try to understand feelings and recognize where they are coming from and how I can work on or with them rather than deciding I “shouldn’t” feel them and try to turn them off.

I must confess that I also have this feeling sometimes! Even though I’m deeply secure in my poly identity, and I also have a really high sex drive and don’t feel shameful or gross about having lots of sex with lots of partners, I still feel kinda squicky sometimes about having sex with multiple different people in a short time frame. That doesn’t make me sex negative, or bad at poly. It’s just a feeling I have. It may be somewhat irrational, and it may be informed by internalized shame, but find me a person who never has irrational feelings and is entirely immune to our culture’s messages about sex and bodies, and I will eat a shoe.

If this isn’t creating issues between you and your partner, it’s not really an issue. If there are circumstances that make you feel not-so-into-sex, then do other things with your partner until your personal time window closes on “recent.” If this is causing issues - if you feel repulsed or disgusted in a way that is impacting your sex life with them, or if they have been frustrated or hurt by your reluctance to have sex with them in that time window, that’s something to work on.

I personally think that “I totally don’t mind if you have sex with other people, but give it a sleep and a shower before having sex with me” is a very reasonable boundary, but your partner may feel different, and that’s okay. It’s okay to try and talk about this with them - try not to use shaming language like “dirty,” but just make it about your preferences. “I’d prefer that, if you’ve recently had sex with someone else, you take a shower before we have sex,” replacing “take a shower” with “give it a day” or “use a condom” or “let’s don’t do [certain type of sex] within [time window]“ - whatever helps your mind set a barrier. The good thing about feelings that can seem irrational or arbitrary is that sometimes they can be soothed with equally arbitrary things! Finding a way to soothe and gently put aside these feelings is something you have a right to do, and if your partner isn’t willing to make a compromise for your comfort, that’s a bigger conversation to have.

Do you think it’s appropriate for a partner to get turned on by one of their other partners and then ask a different partner for sex? Especially when they know that their partner was turned on by someone else?

This is the kind of thing that really differs between people and relationships - there is no all-encompassing statement anyone can make about whether it’s “appropriate” in general. If it works for your relationship, it works. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

If it makes either person uncomfortable, then it’s probably not healthy or appropriate. If everyone involved is okay with it, then it’s not a problem.

Sometimes, you just can’t control these things. Say you’re in a long distance relationship with someone, and have another partner you live close to. If you’re sexting with your long distance partner, and then you’re really turned on and take that sexual energy to bed with your other partner, that seems fine to me. If you go on a date with Bawb, and he can’t take you home at the end of the night because he has an early morning meeting, but you were really gearing up toward a sexy evening, so you meet up with another partner for sex, that seems fine to me. 

Of course, if your other partner is uncomfortable with that, drop the issue. Don’t be insensitive and say things like “Matchew got me really turned on, and now I want to have sex with him, but he’s in another state so you’ll have to do.” Don’t be obvious or obnoxious about it.

Don’t use someone to get you revved up for someone else’s benefit. If Garthus puts all the effort into a romantic date, but you package that well-stroked libido up at the end and deliver it to someone else, that’s not cool.

Ultimately, this is something to work out with your partners. What are they comfortable with? How do they feel? That is way more important than whether an internet advice blogger thinks something is or isn’t okay.

Ok so there are these two men that are friends and share me in bed and i am in a “relationship” with both of them. It is clear that it is mostly sexual and they only want to sleep with me. Is it a poly relationship still?

Lucky for you, I have a whole FAQ page on whether a certain situation “counts” as polyamory!

Is it okay for my partner to be thinking about other people when play and stuff? I get really upset when I know he’s thinking about another partner or even just thinking about someone else he knows/has a crush on because I feel that’s disrespectful to me? I have never and would never think of someone else while we were playing because I feel it’s so rude and disrespectful to the other person? Is this silly of me or what should I do? Do I need to be more accepting?

What I’m confused about here is how and why you know your partner is thinking of other people while you’re playing???

On the one hand, no one can fully control their thoughts. Sometimes I think about other people during sex, or other completely unrelated things. But the last thing I would do is tell my partner about it! There are some thoughts that are just tactless and unnecessary to share. 

I don’t know the context for how you know this. Maybe your partner thinks it’s hot to talk about other people while playing - fantasizing about threesomes or cuckolding or something like that. In that case, you need to let him know that you don’t like that kind of talk, and he needs to explore that fantasy with someone else. Maybe he has a severe level of oblivious tactlessness that makes him think it’s a good idea to say “this is how Gremily likes it” or “Clodeline taught me this move.” Let him know that bothers you and ask him to stop. If he’s doing it out of cruelty or manipulation - if you suspect he’s just bringing it up to make you insecure, or just saying rude things he knows make you uncomfortable - stop playing with this person and dump him immediately. 

If he’s not actually saying anything, and you just have a sense that he’s thinking about someone else, that’s a different issue. Sometimes people include their internal fantasy life in their sex life, and that’s just a reality of sex. If he’s not making it your business, you may need to drop the issue. Do you ask him if he’s thinking about someone else? Are you interpreting some of his behavior to mean he’s thinking about someone else? That may be a manifestation of insecurity on your part rather than something he’s doing. Remember that unless you’re psychic, you don’t actually “know” what’s going on inside his head. If you consistently find yourself feeling disrespected by what you’re convinced other people are thinking, you may want to think about seeing a therapist to help with those kinds of thoughts. 

When asked a similar question from the other perspective, the advice columnist at Dear Prudence replied:

Ever see your wife close her eyes during lovemaking? If so, don’t ask, “Am I Channing Tatum now?” Thank goodness there’s a hard, impenetrable case around the soft substance that produces our thoughts and our sexual fantasies. There’s a reason evolution did not result in subtitles being projected across our foreheads so everyone can know what’s really going on in our heads.