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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.
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?
©2009 Erin Bradley and Nerve.com