I've got a secret

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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

My newish husband and I are madly in love. We're extremely experimental and both love porn. We share a healthy sex life (five-plus times a week) and talk about everything — except the fact that he secretly jerks off after I leave for work or when I'm in the bath, whether we have sex or not. (The signs are all there, so I know I'm not mistaken.) It's not so much that I'm upset about it (I'd love to watch!) but that it decreases his volume and ability to achieve orgasm with me. Though he does come every time, he seems to struggle. But on the weekends, sex is amazing because he hasn't released beforehand. So should I tell him I know? Am I wrong to want to talk to him about it?

Love,

Hands Off!

Dear Hands:

Wrong? No. But before broaching such a discomfiting subject, it's a good idea to ask yourself exactly what you want by bringing it up — and if your chosen route is the best way to get there.

So what is it you need? Your sex life is already about 200 times better than that of the average married couple, so don't tell me you want to do it more. (When would you catch up with all the shows on your TiVo?) You did mention volume, but how much fluid comes out is a nonissue. Your partner's struggle to orgasm may be a problem, but you should ask yourself why it matters to you before you go bugging him about his private pursuits. (He is coming, after all, so it's not like there's some big dysfunction that needs fixing.) And keep in mind that if he's OK with the struggle (I'm sure he knows what's causing it and has chosen to carry on regardless), he'll be unmotivated to change.

Also consider that at a certain level this isn't even really your business. He's doing it for himself (in both senses of the phrase). There's a limit to how much you can reasonably expect a partner to change long-standing habits and preferences to suit you. Sometimes you just have to accept who you chose, and try to remember how great that person is — even if that person doesn't do everything the way you'd like, when you'd like, and just for you.

If you do broach the subject, be mindful. Saying "I know you masturbate as soon as I leave the room" may not inspire your husband to do anything but feel his privacy's been violated. (Nobody wants to hear that their spouse is tracking them around the Internet or riffling through their used Kleenex, no matter how loving, trusting, and shame-free the relationship is.) The best gambit I can see, in fact, isn't even aimed at getting him to stop. But it might address your grievance about having to wait for the weekend to see Old Faithful go off: you say you'd really love to watch him sometime? Don't tell me. Tell him.

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea:

My boyfriend is a flirt. We have a good relationship, but the flirting bothers me — and has for the whole course of our relationship. Recently, when I was on his computer, he'd left his inbox open, and I found a slightly juicy e-mail from a girl. His response was that he has a girlfriend and was sorry if she thought otherwise. But now I'm addicted to reading his e-mail; and though I've been reading a lot, I've found nothing. I don't even know what I'm looking for or what I'd do if I found it. I want to stop this nasty habit. I feel untrustworthy and sneaky. Be as harsh as you want. I deserve it.

Love,

Snoopy

Dear Snoop:

Way to take the fun out of harshing on you, dudette.

Look. You know this is wrong and stupid. And it's not like I can prescribe you some kind of magic no-sneak pills. It would be tricky to explain wanting to start using passwords on your home computers — not unlike saying all of a sudden "You know what would be fun? Using condoms!" and expecting your honey not to think you've been cheating.

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