DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #56: Ménage à Trois


Hello sweet peas! I decided to whip out a few shortish answers this week instead of the usual longer, single column. There are three of them, all on the subject of sex. Consider it an epistolary ménage à trois.


Dear Sugar,

I’m a woman in my mid-twenties who has had four sexual partners. Two of them were relationships (one with my present boyfriend) and two were short-term flings. I’ve been in my current relationship for about eight months. No man has ever made me orgasm. I don’t blame my current boyfriend for that. He tries. I just never come.

It seems that I can only have an orgasm when I masturbate, Sugar. My boyfriend turns me on very much. I love fucking him, but I’m not even close to orgasm with him, in spite of his efforts. (My previous boyfriend didn’t try. He just rolled over and fell asleep when he was finished.)

I’ve never even come close to having a vaginal orgasm. My boyfriend stimulates my G-spot while he fucks me and he tries doing it all different ways—at different speeds and in different positions—but no luck. So then he just goes ahead and usually he comes really fast, which is okay, but depressing for both of us.

What’s wrong with me, Sugar? Other women have orgasms, don’t they? I’m beginning to feel guilty that my boyfriend even tries with me. Do you have any ideas about how to make me come?

Bad in the Sack


Dear Bad in the Sack,

Yes, darling, other women have orgasms. You do too. You have them when you have sex with yourself, so let’s start there. You talk about the G-spot and vaginal orgasms and fucking fast and slow while explaining your boyfriend’s efforts to make you come, but how is it that you make yourself come, honey bun? Do you hammer away at the vag? I’d put money on it that the answer is no.

As I wrote about in a previous column, The Orgasm-Friendly Zone, the clitoris is the female sex organ. Since I’m always having people write shit on little pieces of paper you might as well go ahead and do that too. Write: the clitoris is the female sex organ and put it on your bathroom mirror. Are we clear on that now? The female sex organ is not the vagina. Not the G-spot (which, by the way, is both scientifically controversial and something many women cannot even detect). It’s the clitoris. Yes. That sweet little nubbin that’s so indisputably sensitive to touch. This is where we go when we go to the place where the whole world became one big glorious OOOOO.

So go there. Forget about “vaginal orgasms,” darling—another scientifically controversial thing that some women experience, but most don’t. Forget, for a while, even about fucking. I love to fuck. I do. But that fucking has been placed front and center as the main recreational sex act is a conspiracy against women. It’s not your fault that you seem to be unaware of the clitoris’s sexual primacy. I have oodles of letters from young women like you—all who say they can’t come, while describing sex acts that don’t generally make women come. Intercourse is not the way most women get off, unless the clitoris is simultaneously being stimulated.

So direct your boyfriend to the place where you know you’ve got the goods. Don’t be shy. He’s going to be out of his head happy that he finally knows what to do.

Perhaps you should begin by masturbating in his company. Let him see what you do when you make yourself come. Put a blindfold on if you feel self-conscious. Next time, put a blindfold on him and use his hard cock as your masturbatory tool. No fucking. Just him against your clit, however you like. Fast, hard, slow, soft. On top of him, beneath him, beside him. When you’re ready for him to make an attempt, take it slow. Laugh. Talk dirty to each other if that turns you on. Tell him what you want. Exactly. There are so many things he can use. His fingers, his lips, his tongue, his cock, a vibrator. Use them. Every last one until you come.

You say you’re afraid you’re not able to let go but letting go is the only way. It has to do with listening to your body rather than the voice in your head. The one that’s constantly saying: I’ve never had an orgasm with a man! This isn’t going to work! I’m taking too long! Where the fuck is my G-spot!

Your body knows what it’s hungry for. Feed it.



Dear Sugar,

I’m a thirty-one year old man involved in a monogamous relationship with a man who is eight years older than me. Or at least I thought we were monogamous. We’ve been together for about four months—not long, I know, but it’s the longest I’ve been monogamous with anyone and he is very special to me.

So la, la, la we were having this fun time. I am really in love with him and he’s in love with me and I’ve reached an age where I thought this might be the man I’d “settle down” with for several years (or gasp “forever”). But guess what? He sits me down the other day and says that he wants us to participate in a sex party (it’s some house party an old friend of his has every year that he has attended in the past). An orgy, I guess you’d call it.

I’m mixed up about this, Sugar. That’s the reason I’m writing to you. (My boyfriend and I both read your column religiously. We think you are a rock star goddess, so what you say will matter A LOT.) I told my boyfriend that I probably didn’t want to do it, but I needed to think about it and he was supportive of that. To his credit, he wants me to be a part of this and he’s respectful of my feelings.

What are my feelings? That’s the problem, Sugar. I am a little turned on by the idea, I must admit, and I don’t really know if I want/can sustain a monogamy over years and years, but mostly it makes me heartsick. I feel jealous when I think of my boyfriend with someone else and I also feel depressed about doing anything with others, even if it’s only for one night. Especially because we’ll be doing it in front of each other.

What does this mean? Am I being  prude by saying no? If I say yes will it destroy my relationship? What would you advise, sweet woman?

Monogamous Man


Dear Monogamous Man,

I think group sex is dicey. It basically only works if:

a) you don’t have an exclusive sexual/emotional attachment to anyone present or

b) if you are attached, you and your lover are in clear and perfect agreement about your willingness and desire to have sex with others and

c) the two of you have discussed the issue and its many complexities honestly and you’re prepared to deal with the emotions that may (and likely will) arise.

It doesn’t sound to me like you’re there, honey bun. It sounds to me that you’re in la la land with your new man and you don’t want to see him touching anyone else.

In my answer to the previous letter—the one above, from the woman who hasn’t had an orgasm with her boyfriend—I encouraged her to listen to her body and I encourage you to do the same thing. Everything in your letter tells me that in spite of some mild (and unsurprising) titillation over the idea of taking part in an orgy, you know in your gut and in your heart that you don’t wish to do this. The sort of love you are currently feeling for your lover is too sweet and new to include anyone else. Even for a night.

That’s okay. Tell your lover what you so apparently want to tell him: no. Trust yourself.



Dear Sugar,

I’m so glad to have found your column. I’m in my early thirties, and have been with my husband for ten years. Our sex life has been mostly great. The occasional bad times have to do with general life stress from time to time, and a pelvic pain condition I have called vulvodynia. I’m prone to muscle weakness in my pelvis, so I have to be really proactive with exercise, internal stretching, and toning. It is chronic, though very mild, and most of the time doesn’t bother me. I would say over the course of our marriage (most of my adult life) that it’s made me a bit more emotionally sensitive to what happens in my privates. Some positions overstretch or strain. The only other relevant bad time was very early in our relationship, when my husband got really into porn, to the point that he was neglecting me (staying up late every night on the computer instead of spending time with me, etc.) But that’s not really a concern now.

So, for the last year my husband has been VERY interested in anal sex. I was hesitant at first, but eventually we tried it. I didn’t like it. But it wasn’t horrible to the point that I’d rule it out forever, knowing he really enjoyed it. (Though he did say it was a lot of work.) I told him it was something we could do very occasionally (like, a few times a year), but we’d have to talk about it in advance. Sugar, since then, virtually EVERY time we’ve had sex, he tries to sneak in the back door in some way. Often it is just as I’m climaxing from manual or vibrator play, which completely ruins my moment. I can count on one hand the number of times in the last year that he has not attempted some kind of anal penetration.

I did my best to initiate other new things, but he doesn’t seem to care about anything other than anal. I’ve talked to him over and over and over again—nicely, clearly, not right in the moment or in times of other distraction. He always agrees to respect my boundaries. But when the time comes, he never does. If I physically shift away or ask him to stop touching me there, he slumps and sulks from being “scolded” and the moment’s done. He thinks he can “surprise” me into enjoying it, or maybe hopes that I won’t notice. Um, there’s no way I won’t notice. And sometimes he says he just forgets that I don’t want it, or just gets carried away in the moment, and I’m not sure I buy that.

I am so, so angry over this. It’s true I don’t like the physical sensation. But the more painful thing is that he is deliberately disregarding me. Or he’s just paying me lip service (and not the good kind) to shut me up and ignoring my feelings. It’s so hard to relax and be open and allow myself to reach an orgasm when EVERY time it’s ruined by his violation. I try to talk to him, and he just sulks and shuts down. He doesn’t want to put effort into enjoying other sexual things. He doesn’t understand how I don’t trust him now.

It’s been a year. At various times when we’ve talked, he’s said that anal is completely off the table. But that never lasts. He says it won’t be any good unless I enjoy it too—I think that explains his attempts to penetrate when I’m climaxing. But I just don’t like it. This is affecting my feelings for him. I don’t know what else to do.



Dear Angry,

Of course you’re angry, sweet pea. Your husband is violating your trust as well as your body. It’s a big deal. And a strange one too. How has this “mostly great” lover of yours gone so profoundly off the rails? The cornerstone of any consensual sexual relationship is that one’s partner does not do what one has told him or her not to do. If you don’t have that, everything else crumbles.

There is no excuse or explanation for your husband’s behavior. Because you report that your relationship is generally positive and loving, I can only imagine that your husband’s year-long inability to absorb your very clear instruction that you do not want to be spontaneously fucked up the arse means that he doesn’t believe you’re serious.

Make him believe it.

It seems a third party would help. I urge you to see a counselor together. Of course this issue will be at the forefront of your concerns, but it’s obviously brought up other, deeper issues in your marriage. Your husband desires a sex act that you loathe—that’s one thing. Your husband refuses to respect your wishes—that’s another. You are angry and you no longer trust him with your body—more still. Wade into this all the way or your relationship is bound to fail.

I think it would be a good idea to be celibate for a time while you reestablish trust and respect between you. As you’ve noted, the sex for you is terrible anyway, since you can’t have an orgasm without worrying that your heinie’s about to be harpooned. The celibacy is not a punishment for your husband’s bad behavior—though he has behaved terribly—but rather something that will ultimately protect and preserve the sexual bond you share. Or used to share.

Remember that one? I hope you can find it again, sweet pea.