A: Nobody likes to be told that he can’t have what he wants, but your husband is acting like a self-centered baby and you are being blackmailed. If the idea of woman-on-woman sex turns him on, then there are many videos and magazines that will satisfy that visual. If you're willing, then you two can go to swing clubs and party houses so he can see such action in the flesh. If it's specifically you and another women, then you will just have to learn to set your limits and stay with them. Consider suggesting a tradeoff for your husband with another man. Even if that's not a fantasy of yours, seeing how willing he might be for that may help him identify with your refusal. If, as you seem to suggest, his fascination is another way to have other women within the bounds of monogamy, then perhaps you can negotiate something else that will allow him some sort of variety and leave you feeling neither coerced nor cheated upon.
Q: Since you have admitted in this column that you have herpes, I thought you might be able to give me some advice. I am a 32-year-old male who also suffers from herpes, but, unlike you, I am ashamed of and embarrassed about it and do not like discussing it with anyone. Given an ethical and medical obligation to disclose this condition to any potential sexual partner, how does one go about doing so? How and when does one approach and discuss the subject? What does one say to a would-be lover regarding a sexually transmitted disease so as not to create embarrassment and rejection for oneself? That two past partners have been understanding somehow does not encourage me and I find myself hoping that my current possible romantic relationship goes nowhere so we never have to have "the dreaded talk." How have you handled the issue for yourself? What kind of responses have you received?
A: There is no way one can absolutely avoid rejection; that's up to the other person. The embarrassment, however, is entirely up to you. What do you imagine having herpes says about you? Only that you've probably had sex before ... and maybe not even that. "Cold sores" appear on people who have never been sexually active and can be spread on one's own body from mouth to genitals. Since no would-be lover I encounter imagines that I am a virgin, I feel no embarrassment in sharing the fact that I have occasional herpes outbreaks along with other important things I'd want a prospective lover to know, such as that I am an extremely restless sleeper, that I enjoy sex in the morning and that I like attention paid to my neck. Yes, there have been one or two prospects over the years who were dismayed by my revelation of herpes. I give them the facts about its transmission, suggest they call a herpes hotline with any questions and always play safe. I have received far more displeasure at the news that I can’t abide sleeping with arms or legs confining me. It's all in how one looks at it. Avoiding sex so as to escape "the talk" is a perfect example of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
Q: Can I catch something (like genital herpes) by getting a hand job at a massage parlor?
A: Only hell from your sweetie, and maybe not even that if your arrangement does not exclude this. As far as safe sex goes, the only thing safer would be oral sex ... as in just talking about it. Isadora Alman is a board-certified sexologist and a California-licensed marriage-and-family therapist. Contact her via this paper or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Sexuality Forum is at
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