Most people who write to advice columnists about their mediocre sex lives just want to know how to get their partner to spice things up. But every now and again, an advice-seeker has tried to spice things up and it has worked — only a little too well. Such is the case with the latest Dear Prudence, where a woman laments introducing dirty talk into her relationship with her husband, because now he likes it so much that he won’t stop sleazing up the conversation, in and out of the bedroom.
The advice-seeker writes:
Q. (Don’t) talk dirty to me: My husband is a smart, nice, funny guy. We have the same taste in movies, books, and music and have similar political views. We’re less compatible in the bedroom, though our sex life was generally adequate. One issue was that he was raised as a bit of a prude and was always dead silent during the act. In an effort to spice things up, I asked him to talk dirty to me. After a lot of cajoling and encouragement, he finally agreed to try it and was much pleased with the results. Unfortunately, this apparently opened a floodgate because now … He. Won’t. Shut. Up. We cannot have a single conversation, not one, in which he doesn’t add some sexual comment in the crudest possible terms. Yes, I like dirty talk, but not when we’re discussing who’s going to drive his elderly mother to the doctor to get a mole removed. Worse, he’s starting to do it in public. For example, we were at dinner the other evening with his mother and my parents and sister. He leaned over to me and whispered loudly, “If you were wearing a skirt, I’d diddle you under the table” (followed by a graphic description of said diddling). Then he sat there leering at me, oblivious to the stunned, embarrassed silence from everyone at the table. I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve nicely asked him to confine it to the bedroom. I’ve asked him not so nicely. I’ve hinted. I’ve been blunt. It’s gotten worse. Now I can’t even say “good morning” without getting a long, rambling, B-porn-movie description of highly specific sex acts. I’m annoyed to the point that our sex life has all but come to a standstill. He hasn’t even noticed, and keeps talking. What can I do to get him to rein it in?
Whew. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for — you just might get verbally diddled with it. This problem is like the sex version of someone who has learned a really good joke and can’t stop repeating it, even though the laughs died down long ago.
But it’s worth noting here that this is probably the biggest hesitation people have about trying new sex things, at least after you rule out just general insecurity or embarrassment or fear you won’t be good at the new sex thing. It’s that you do the new sex thing, and now the other person wants the new sex thing all day long, and because you tried the new sex thing ONE TIME, now you have to do this sex thing FOREVER.
Now that anal’s on the menu, it will become the attempted finale of every sex sesh. You want a ball gag? Guess who’s wearing a ball gag to brunch?
Look, I love biscuits to a nearly orgasmic degree, but I will not be having them every meal, for good reason.
This is probably Dan Savage’s fault. Ever since he introduced the idea that lovers should be GGG (good, giving and game)—i.e., that any decent lover will try new sex things outside their normal sex repertoire to meet their partner’s needs—people have felt insane pressure to become a hot potato in the sack when really you’re more like a bowl of oatmeal.
To be clear, it’s overwhelmingly good advice — people should try the new sex things! It is an unassailable mission statement for how to think about sex less selfishly. People should not just ditch on great relationships with not-so-great sex without trying in lusty earnest to improve that sex! New sex things are the cornerstone of good sex! (Unless old sex things are what you like and you’re both happy with it.)
It’s just there’s another part to this: After you try the new sex thing, check back in and see if you both liked it or could try it another way, or whether that new sex thing number should be retired. And go from there.
Trying new sex things should be thought of as a trial run, not a permanent menu change. It’s also noteworthy that it’s usually assumed that men press women to try new sex things, but it can be anyone in the relationship angling for it. The 1999 indie film The Sex Monster involves a man who wants a threesome with his wife, and she gives it to him, but they soon discovers she likes the arrangement more than he does.
As for the Dear Prudence advice — Prudie basically tells dirty talked-out that if she’s told her husband to slow his roll and he won’t, she needs to try this convo one more time, or just start leaving the room when he dials up the blue language. She advises:
Ask him: “I’ve told you more than once that I don’t like it when you try to talk dirty out of the bedroom or when we’re in front of other people, and you haven’t stopped. It’s tedious, distressing, and it’s constant. It’s become such a turnoff that we’ve stopped having sex altogether, and you’re still not stopping. Can you explain to me why that is?” If you have that conversation and he still doesn’t knock it off, then I think it’s time to start leaving the room when he reverts into Sexy Narration mode.
Maybe that will do the trick. Until then: Earplugs? A (sex) muzzle? If it were me I would just start outdoing him on the dirty talk until he realized how absurd and over the top it is. Eventually you’re going to have a laugh about it, which, hey, if you’re already not fucking, is about as good as it gets.