Have a question? Email erin@nerve.com. Letters may be edited for length, content and clarity.

Dear Miss Information,

I met this great guy a few months ago. He's amazing with people, especially kids, and when I'm with him, he gives me a sense of calm that lasts through the next day. The only place he's not great is in the bedroom. He practices what he calls "Tantric sex." I don't know what book he got it from, but his version consists of not ejaculating, under any circumstances. He'll withdraw during a blow job to cool his dick off under cold water. Or he'll dump me on the couch during the intercourse, while he scrunches up on the floor in a weird fetal position. Not coming takes so much of his energy that he basically ignores me while we're having sex. I don't know much about Tantric sex, but I am damn sure that's not what it's supposed to be. Any ideas on what I should do? — Not Into It



Dear Not Into It,
I wouldn't be into it, either. Who wants to lie in bed, waiting for someone to give their genitals an ice bath? "Honey, can you take out the chicken breasts and rinse off the spinach while you're at it?" Grody. I'll admit, I've never tried Tantric sex, or anything even approaching it. The closest I ever got was French kissing a yoga instructor. Even that weirded me out. I kept picturing him wearing a unitard and serving me hemp-seed waffles the next morning.
Luckily, my friend Barbara Carrellas is much more experienced. She's a sex coach and the author of Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century as well as Luxurious Loving: Tantric Inspirations or Passion and Pleasure, both of which you can pick up at www.barbaracarrellas.com. Here's what she had to say about your boyfriend's mid-coital interruptions:
"This is not Tantric sex in any universe I've ever played in. Tantra is not about forcing yourself toward any goal. Men who learn to control (i.e. relax) the smooth muscles of the urethral tract can orgasm without ejaculating. It takes a while and a lot of practice to master this skill — time and practice I always recommend men do on their own, to avoid exactly the unsettling and self-indulgent behavior you're describing."
Come without coming? Damn, that's gangsta. But like Barbara says — if he's going to shoot for the high-level ninja tricks, he should be doing that on his dime, not yours. Though Carrellas also adds, "It's entirely appropriate for men, once they have begun to practice on their own, to enlist the help of willing partners in the process. A man can tell his partner when he is approaching the point of no return; the partner can slow down or stop activity while things cool down."
My take: You need speak openly and honestly with him. You can start small, or discuss over the course of several sex sessions. If you're scared, give yourself a reward for brave behavior. If you, say, initiate a discussion with him Thursday night, you get to skip book club and watch all of Season 2 of The Wire. But be ruthless: no talk, no Baltimore cops and criminals.
You could also buy him instructional DVDs or sign up for a Tantra workshop. You have a perfect excuse with Valentine's Day approaching. You can spin it as a sexy gift rather than something remedial — which it is, but he doesn't have to know that.
Finally, if you're doing it correctly and you decide Tantric sex just isn't your thing, go ahead and say so. If he's insistent, my guess is he's either consciously or subconsciously attached to this method because it's a good way for him to save face while keeping from blowing his load. (Which would you rather say: "I'm a premature ejaculator" or "I'm into cool, artsy sexual practices"?) If that's the case, he needs to realize it's a common problem and there are many other ways to address it. Ones that will work not just for him, but for the both of you.

Dear Miss Information,

Ignoring for a moment the ramifications, what's the best course of action for bedding an ex with whom you have a friendly but slightly awkward relationship? Is it kosher to say over coffee, "Hey, do you want to have sex or what?" or is that considered déclassé? And what's the best way to respond if their answer is "Uh, no"? — Making Winter Break Count

Dear Making Winter Break Count,
Déclassé is French for "prissy folk who have no sex." You can't get any if you never put yourself out there. He may look like an alcoholic fifth grader, but David Spade's getting more tail than all of us combined. I'm sure he was shaking in his wee little boots the first time he approached a six-foot-tall Icelandic supermodel. But he played through, Making Winter Break Count. You can as well.
But you're going to need something stronger than coffee. May I recommend a tasteful blend of multiple alcoholic beverages? Get enough booze in the two of you and chances are you won't even need to vocalize: "I don't know how it happened. We were talking about our old professor and then somehow we wound up in my bed, naked and eating tacos."
This doesn't work on everyone, including exes with excess baggage, recovering alcoholics and teetotalers. For these individuals, set up a situation where it's obvious that sex is going to happen, but not so obvious that they can't rationalize, rationalize, rationalize to their friends the next morning: "So I took off my pants to give her a neck rub, and after that it just sort of spiraled . . ."
For indirect propositions, you can't go wrong with the old come-over-and-watch-a-movie bit. If you really want to hedge your bets, you'll have both a movie and short-form programming available. Not everyone's going to commit to two hours of Vincent Gallo, but they'll stay for fifteen minutes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
If he rejects you, tell him that you appreciate his honesty and that it's good to know what's up, even if you're a bit embarrassed. Then give him adequate space to voice his reaction. Sometimes a "no" can be turned into a "yes" if the right words are said, but many of us ruin that chance in our quest to appear uber-casual. We say, "That's okay!" a million times, all chipper and cheerful, but don't actually hear the words coming at us. Be quiet. Let him fill the silence for you.
Hooking up with an ex is ninety-nine percent timing. Maybe it's not a good idea for him right now. But if you're friendly and chill, you can bet he'll come texting when the circumstances are conducive.
Readers, do you have your own equivalent of the Video Ruse? If so, what is it? Have you ever had it go particularly well or shamefully wrong?

Previous Miss Info  

©2009 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com

Commentarium (14 Comments)

Jan 20 09 - 9:43pm

'i play you something on my guitar' is mine

Jan 21 09 - 12:16am

I once ended up in bed with an ex after "Friends only from now on" dinner - and we both were attached to new people already. All I did was to mention that the other guy also really likes my ass and even calls it "gorgeous".. and the conversation started flow in a very certain direction. When the ex dropped me off at my house, he refused to leave and I had one of the hottest moments of my life propped by the front door.

Jan 21 09 - 8:35am

"I'm really enjoying your company. If you like, we could stay up all night talking -- or *not* talking."

Jan 21 09 - 9:43am

As regards the Video Ruse: My sad, sad story... I'm a big art-movie buff. Maybe, maybe even a film nerd. When I first moved to NYC, I was hugely excited about all the chances to see crazy foreign films that I would never get to catch in my little hometown.

While working in a theater in the East Village, I met a girl, who invited me back to her place to watch a movie. In her little studio apartment, there was only a TV, which sat at the foot of the bed. So to watch the movie, we climbed into bed, where we might more comfortable view. Very convenient, no?

The movie was "A Man Like Eva", a strange story of gender-switching power games between the cast and director of a movie, based on the sex'n'drugs antics of Fassbinder. It had all kinds of weird-yet-hot power games between the various characters, many of whom were played by men or women in drag. In short, the perfect pick-up movie for us arty types.

I thought it was a really good movie. So good, that I leaned forward, watching it intently. Watched it all, as she lay there, doubtless wondering when I was going to, like, do what was supposed to be done. But no, I watched the movie, totally interested, as she dozed off. I thought she made an excellent call picking this really near movie. And then I went back home, wondering if she, like, maybe liked-me-liked-me, and how I could possibly find out.


Jan 22 09 - 2:37pm

Dear Miss Information,

Is there any place in today

Jan 22 09 - 6:28pm

i can't seem to stop sleeping with my ex's.

depending on how much you really want from them there is always inviting them on an out-of-the-way date that ends so late that it's safer that you both bundle at the closest apt until the morning. you just have to make sure you are not annoying enough on the "date" to remind them why you broke up in the first place.

Jan 22 09 - 6:38pm

I just did similar, and pulled it off. (No pun intended)

I'm male, mid-30s. I started an anti-anxiety medicine last year, and a side effect was difficulty reaching orgasm (and occasionally keeping an erection). It ruined my self-confidence, and I stopped dating because of it, when more than anything, I needed to get out of my place and go have fun.

I decided to contact someone I had dated briefly; we had some good sex, but we were a bad match. We met up one night over drinks, and I basically told her my sob story, and that I needed to learn how to have sex again. We left the bar, made out in the subway, and went separate ways. She took a couple days to think about it, and invited herself over one night to give me her answer. It was on like Donkey Kong.

Sadly, I never did get off with her. She got off a ton, and claimed the best O of her life. I switched to a new med, which allows me to keep an erection forever, but orgasms are rare, even when I'm alone. We would have sex three times a night trying, but it never happened. Then she started to get too attached (her words), and ended it, which was OK. I still got the confidence boost I needed.

Bottom line to the OP: honesty isn't bad, if you can have that kind of openness. And if you provide a reason why *you* need it, that will help the other person justify it to themselves, and others if necessary.

Jan 22 09 - 8:22pm

I've been going to tantra workshops of various descriptions for a while. There are really two important components in American tantra, and I've noticed people tend to be really good at one or the other. One is the energetic practices, the breath, circulating the orgasmic energy throughout your body. The other is the heart-opening - learning to be really present with whatever emotions are arising. The energetic practices tend to be very focused on your experience in your own body, while the important thing about the emotional experience is the sharing, the empathy.

Sounds like this guy is (a) trying too hard at what he's doing, but (b) really needs to shift his emphasis to the emotional connection. Tantric love ought to be a union, not a solo practice you happen to be doing with another person.

Jan 22 09 - 11:54pm

"Hey, I know we're not together anymore but would you be interested in having sex again some time" worked for me. I must admit that alcohol helped, the first time. And the second time. Any alcohol involved in subsequent times was just incidental. Loving the post-relationship, relatively-few-strings-attached sex, by the way. Good luck.

Jan 23 09 - 3:59am

Why exactly is it a good idea to sleep with an ex?

Jan 23 09 - 11:44pm

Come without coming? Damn, that's gangsta.

I just told my boyfriend about that because I thought that was a really funny turn of phrase, and he said, "I've done that before by accident." And I was amazed. You learn something new every day.

Jan 24 09 - 2:15pm

actually, I've had my best luck with the "one-shot reunion" by talking about it honestly...start by saying, "look I know that we're not getting back together, ever, like we were...but sometimes I just miss the stuff we used to laugh about..you remember "...
when you break up with somebody, you lose the history as well as the person...the times when both of you looked at each other and one said, "like pistachios, right?" and both started laughing like crazy..and, as you said, a bit (or a lot) of alcohol or smoke only lubes memory's wheels...

Aug 08 10 - 1:57pm
admiral obvious

i've got a master's in religious studies, specializing in religious studies, and I've done some research into Tantra in its various forms. sca's comment on American Tantra is good--generally the whole "energetic practice" model is very useful. But it's important to remember that anything Americans call Tantra is MOSTLY MADE UP. There's no way to get it right. (although ignoring your partner is clearly a way of getting it very very wrong) There are various techniques to train the body, exploit altered states of consciousness and the physiology of desire, but there's no such thing as authentic American Tantra. Getting into authentic Hindu or Buddhist Tantra is something you wouldn't want to do unless you are extraordinarily open-minded, patient, and willing to learn Sanskrit. So it's important to keep in mind that anybody claiming to do Tantra is probably a poseur. I'm not even going to get into the post-colonial theory implications (but it's worth researching that stuff if you want to understand some of these wannabe tantric assholes).

Anyway, the guy is a total asshole who probably got his notion of Tantra from the stupid American Pie movie. He obviously doesn't have a clue about any of the wonderful sex practices that folks in America call Tantra, and wouldn't deserve to experience them if he did. Hopefully the next few girls he tries that crap on have a better BS detector

Aug 08 10 - 2:02pm
admiral obvious

p.s. I've got plenty of experience with all kinds of interesting esoteric practices, sexual meditative or other, but I never believed in the "come without coming" thing until I experienced it once, "by accident," during an epic handjob my wife gave me while on painkillers. IIRC the experience was so intense that I didn't feel the need to release after. in fact I felt a little sick. but it was definitely one of those moments where I realized a bunch of the questionable stuff I had read was indeed more than just talk. I haven't learned how to control any of these alleged muscles and I don't even know if I want to go back there. Altered States of Consciousness can be pretty weird and alarming, however intense and pleasurable the ecstatic trance of tantric sex may be. One shouldn't take LSD if all wants to do is see pretty colors, and one should be careful fucking around with powerful consciousness-changing sexual techniques--without the necessary experience and control skills you can find yourself having a very bad time.