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What to Do When the Sex with Your Partner Is Bad

"Hang on to the love you have, but understand that no romance has ever survived bed death."
October 30, 2016, 3:58pm
Photo by Simone Becchetti via Stocksy

Lydia Faithfull is a full-time sex worker at the Love Ranch brothel in Nevada. She specializes in domination, humiliation, and good conversation. She refuses to kiss for money.

Dear Lydia,

How to I clearly friendzone my male friends? I have a group of male friends who I am absolutely not interested in sexually. We have common interests, and we see each other everyday at work. I'm single, so I definitely have the free time to hang with them, but I just don't want to sleep with them. When they flirt, I can't tell if they're kidding or are honestly pursuing me. I feel like I have to constantly navigate their feelings, and I end up avoiding them because it's just easier that way. I can't imagine a nice way to bluntly tell them I have no interest in them romantically. Please help.



Dear Claudia,

Platonic, heterosexual male friends have been a rare occurrence in my life. When they do appear, there's often the sense that they're assessing whether I'm dateable or not. Or if one of us happens to be in a relationship, it feels as if they've bookmarked me for later. Any woman that's mentioned a breakup on social media understands what I'm referring to. Like when the estranged male coworker from five years ago reaches out with consolation, then immediately steers the conversation toward sex. Always charming.

The men that I'm closest to are former romantic partners, and that's not something that happens overnight. It requires the closing of wounds, a few years of distance, and making amends.

If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow, I guarantee you that the people surrounding my sick bed would be women. Former lovers aside, I cannot think of a single male friend who would come to my aid. This is only my experience, and I know many women with enviable friendships with straight men. It's just proven easier for me to accept this pattern and surround myself with loving gay men.

Be firm with these dudes. If you feel sexualized, explain to them why their behavior was unacceptable. Consistency is crucial in this scenario. Should they persist, lose your ever-loving shit and make an example out of someone. Bad behavior does not change without consequences. I'm not proposing that you involve your employer, but you absolutely should if you're feeling harassed in the workplace. I hope it hasn't escalated to that point and can be handled with civility off the clock.


Read more: A Sex Worker Explains How to Be More Confident in Bed

Dear Lydia,

Is a good relationship worth leaving if you and your partner are sexually incompatible? I've been with my partner for four years and I've been aware of this problem the entire time. It's something that didn't bother me too much at first but has gradually built up. Our relationship in every other way is beautiful. But when it comes to sex we couldn't be more different. He's very vanilla compared to me and has a much lower drive than I do. We've talked countless times about it and have both tried to bend, but it seems neither of us are going to change. At the end of the day, he's content and I'm not. I love him more than anything, but I still can't shake the feeling of being unsatisfied. What's worse? Spending a lifetime feeling like this or spending one without a man I love?



Dear Confused,

This hits close to home. My longtime monogamous partner and I endured a similar struggle and were ultimately unable to survive it. He was my dearest friend, and will forever be the exemplary man that I compare all others to. It took serious courage for him to leave me. He knew that I would have suffered in silence forever. I've never fallen out of love with anyone and must be extracted carefully like a malignant tumor.

Your sex life is not fair to either of you and I'm not buying his supposed contentment. He must carry some guilt with the understanding that he cannot satisfy you sexually. I would also bet that on the rare occasion you two are intimate, it feels more obligatory than passionate. We're only as loved as we feel.


Read more: A Sex Worker Explains How She Separates Her Work from Her Sex Life

That said, you clearly adore this man and there must be something extraordinary holding this partnership together. Isn't that sacred enough? Few people are blessed with a partner who is also their best friend. Don't you believe your love could exist in another form, if you were not a couple? I'm closer to my exes than anyone else; they know the parts of me that I'm reluctant to share with others.

Our sexual relationships are a reflection of the way we feel about our partner and ourselves. The person with the least investment holds all the cards. Oscar Wilde said, "Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power." I'm not suggesting your partner is consciously depriving you to maintain the upper hand, but can we acknowledge that he does, in fact, have it? Resentment is inevitable. Hang on to the love you have, but understand that no romance has ever survived bed death.

Dear Lydia,

Over summer I broke up with my boyfriend of two years solely because things felt like they were getting too serious too fast. I'm only 22 and haven't really had the opportunity to date around because I met him during my first month of college. It's been a few months and I've been on a few dates, but none with anyone I found remotely interesting or worth my time. The disappointing dates really have me wanting to call my ex and see if he's willing to give us another go. Is getting serious too young a bad thing? Do I really need time to "find myself" as a single woman? Or should I hold onto a good guy who I was lucky to find so early on?




Dear Brooke,

Please don't second guess your decision. Hitting the brakes indicates an impressive amount of maturity and foresight. Your shitty dance card comes as no surprise. Men your age are operating at peak selfishness, making this the perfect occasion to explore your sexuality. You may not know what you want or need, and sometimes the best way to learn is through process of elimination.

the energy I would have poured into a relationship is solely focused on professional ambition, which has reignited my career.

Loneliness is nothing to fear. Who were you before that relationship began, and who do you aspire to be? Use this as an opportunity for personal reinvention. One breakup led me to roller derby—something I'd always wanted to pursue, but could never justify spending 10 to 15 hours a week away from my partner. Being single also allowed me to explore my sexual dominance and work in a legal BDSM dungeon. I also travel spontaneously. I can be a patron to artists I believe in and collect their work without the guilt of spending selfishly. Most importantly, being consciously single has afforded me a life of little distraction; the energy I would have poured into a relationship is solely focused on professional ambition, which has reignited my career.

At 22, I wouldn't have accepted a word of this—probably would have made a jerk off motion with my hand while reading it. Single or not, my hope is that you never become the type of woman who cannot exist without male attention. Be the woman who does not require validation and refuses to settle for less than she deserves.