Sex Therapy

Self Portrait with Skeleton Marina Abramovic 2003

Marina Abramovic, Self Portrait with Skeleton, 2003

HER: What happens when swingers lose the desire to have sex?

HIM: Not much swinging.

HER: Nope. Or much of anything in the bedroom. This has been our reality for the past several months.

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Mind the Gap: Age Differences in the Lifestyle

R. B. Kitaj, No. 22, 2002

R. B. Kitaj, No. 22, 2002

HIM: There is a lot of talk on the internet these days about longevity. If you listen to the Joe Rogan podcast, it seems like every second guest has a strategy for living until you’re 150. Various approaches to diet, fasting, and supplementation are put forward with extravagant claims. Our society is clearly obsessed by the subject of age.  A recent article in The Atlantic magazine featured one of the most depressing clickbait headlines ever. “A massive new study finds that a woman’s desirability peaks 32 years before a man’s does.” That’s 18 years old for the ladies and 50 for the gentlemen, in case you were wondering. As usual, it seems custom-designed to make the maximum number of people feel terrible about themselves.

HER: God! It’s no wonder women have so much anxiety about aging. Articles like this just confirm our fears that men only want college girls with perfectly smooth legs and perky breasts. The whole thing is ridiculous! Most 18 year old girls think even 40 is old, and most men who have seen a half century aren’t actually interested in dating a teenager (at least they shouldn’t be!). So what are they saying: that we’ll never be able to meet at our respective peaks? How sad!

HIM: I’m not too worried about that. I think they have a very narrow definition of what constitutes a ‘peak’.

A higher desirability rank corresponds to more interest among the other gender. (Bruch et al. / Science Advances)

HER: We’re 57 and 42, for the record, and age has always been something we have to think about a little more than the average couple. When we first met, I thought you were an older guy who was an excellent conversationalist and had a surprisingly great ass for your age. (I now know you have a surprisingly great ass for any age, period.) But it never occurred to me to think of you as a potential relationship option. Your nearly 50 years and salt and pepper hair (which has since, let’s be honest, lost much of the pepper) spoke of someone who would be a good mentor, not a good partner for me at 35 with a two-year-old kid in tow.

HIM: I was having similar thoughts, but in reverse (although, I also noticed your great ass, as you know). When I first met you, we were merely acquaintances. I saw you as a citizen of that increasingly vast tribe known as ‘younger than me’. And I scrupulously avoided playing into the stereotype of the older man paying a little bit too much attention to the attractive younger woman. I think I can honestly say that a fifteen year difference was the absolute limit I could explain to my conscience. If you had been even five days younger, this whole thing might never have happened.

HER: Of course, everything is relative. If I was eighteen and you were thirty-three when we got together, it would have been scandalous. Fifteen and thirty, and it would have been illegal! But the age difference was more appropriate at this later point in our lives. And we quickly discovered that the cliché was true: age is only a number. Our connection went far beyond what bands were popular when we were in middle school. We had gotten the same undergraduate degree; we were both obsessed with classical history; we were both into music, working out, and travel. Add to that my long-held daddy fantasies, and you have a recipe for social and sexual success. Suddenly the fifteen year difference wasn’t important. But when our relationship became public, we faced the full gamut of challenges: people assuming you were going through a stereotypical mid-life crisis; thinking I was a gold-digger; asking if I was your daughter and my son your grandson. It was hard to forget the age difference, as we constantly needed to defend and justify our relationship.

HIM: You left out my kids’ reaction to the younger step-mom. That was a significant challenge. And the lifestyle has posed some challenges too. First, since most couples are closer in age than we are, we sometimes end up with either a girl who’s too young for me or a guy who’s too old for you and we have to just move on.

HER: But I like older guys. That’s not a problem.

The younger woman and her silver fox

HIM: Yeah, you like older guys who are in good shape, but that’s not often the case. And heaven forbid if I’m attracted to a woman who’s my age! She might be expecting you to hook up with her geriatric husband.

HER: Right. Like the grandma at Hedo with the older husband.

HIM: I’m sure she was a grandma, but she was a hot grandma as far as I was concerned.

HER: What typically ends up happening is our age gap sets the boundaries for what we look for in the lifestyle. We play with couples somewhere between our ages. I would say people in the 40 to mid-50 age range make up the majority of our friends in the lifestyle.

HIM: Baby, the 40 to 50 age range makes up the majority of human beings in the lifestyle.

HER: True. I do sometimes feel like I’m compromising on this, though. I would be quite happy to focus more on the 30 to 40 something crowd. I’ve worked hard to stay fit and young-looking — a condition that is not going to last indefinitely — so I have options now that I would like to explore while I still can. But I know you’re more comfortable with people closer to your age, so we don’t often entertain the idea of anyone younger than me.

HIM: You’re talking in generalities here. Give me an example.

HER: Ok. At Hedonism a couple of years ago, there was a group of four, probably in their late thirties/early forties, who were exceptionally fit and sexy. They kept trying to draw us in, and I was enthusiastic to join them, but you hung back, feeling like they were too cool (and too young) for us.

HIM: Hold on – I don’t think anyone’s too cool for us. I simply disagreed with you that they were trying to ‘draw us in’. I felt they were a pretty insular group. Now, one of the guys had clearly fallen head over heels for you, but I was not getting anything like the same signals from either of the women. But it’s inevitable that we’re going to read situations differently. You very well may have been right.

HER: Yeah. And you may have been discounting the women’s clear signals because you thought they were too young and couldn’t possibly be into you.

HIM: Yes, that can happen, but I’m not against hooking up with people who are much younger. In fact, the female half of one of our favourite couples is 25 years younger than me. Good lord, I’d never actually done the math on that one before! Still, everything about my rapport with her seems easy, natural, and sexually charged.

HER: And she’s not the youngest woman you’ve been with. You’ve hooked up with a 30-year-old.

HIM: In sports, that’s called ‘old man power.’ Tom Brady’s got it and, apparently, so do I. At least, in certain circumstances. The downside is, I always have to ask myself in those situations if the girl is actually just falling on her sword so her man can get with you. That’s a consideration that is not conducive to me feeling relaxed and performing well.

HER: Well, that was definitely not the case with the two women we just mentioned. They got your appeal pretty quickly.

HIM: You’re right, but other women might have to get past their initial impression of me as an ‘older guy’ to discover my charm.

HER: True. And we have our own biases to work through. Those two relationships both started through real life connections. If we had been looking online, we would have filtered out couples that young. We would have missed the opportunity to meet them due to our own preconceptions about what was attainable or appropriate for us.

HIM: That’s an excellent point.

HER: Okay, let’s move on. I have to confess something. One of the slightly morbid things I’ve always valued about our involvement in the lifestyle at this stage in our lives is that it will give me a sexual outlet as you age and have less desire for sex. I’ll be able to continue to have an active sex life even after you’ve passed your prime and don’t want it as much. You can watch while I entertain you. Does it freak you out that I think that way?

HIM: I’m fine with that. When I had my sciatica issues last fall, I actually suggested you call on one of our friends when it seemed like we weren’t going to be able to have sex for a while. A week later in New York, I sent you off to enjoy a threesome and a fivesome two nights in a row at Podcast-A-Palooza. The idea of you getting as much satisfaction as you need, whether it’s from me or someone else, is something I consider to be a given in our relationship. That holds true whether the issue is age, illness, injury or extended absence.

HER: I have to admit, pushing you through the airport in a wheelchair and having to empty your pee bucket last fall was a frightening glimpse into our potential future. But when it’s something like sciatica, we know it’s temporary. You will recover and be as virile as ever. Do you imagine it will feel different for you when there’s no coming back from it, though? When there’s no hope that you’ll be able to perform the way my other, younger lovers might? Won’t that make you feel, well, shitty?

HIM: I don’t think so. Of course, you never really know until you’re there, but one of the 432 things I love about our relationship is that we don’t pretend. If you have real desires and I can’t do anything about them, what are the options? Are you supposed to pretend that our libidos conveniently expired at precisely the same instant, like James Garner and Gena Rowlands in The Notebook? If my self-worth is pinned to things that I can’t control, dependent on some kind of enacted mutual denial, then that’s on me. Go and have as much fun as you can handle.

HER: I’m glad we have this in writing! I might have to remind you at some point.

HIM: No problem, baby. But you know, this isn’t just a one-way drive down the Hypothetical Highway. We’re assuming, because of our age difference, that I would be the first to lose my ability to perform. But what if, for some reason, you were sexually incapacitated while I was still good to go? What allowances would you make for me?

HER: Ugh. It would have to be a pretty catastrophic injury to render me sexually incapacitated. After all, as long as I can open my legs and reach for the lube, we’re good.

HIM: Just so you know, I’d be happy to reach for the lube if, say, both of your arms were broken.

HER: Such a gentleman. Anyway, if for some reason the tunnel of love was closed for extensive repairs, I hope I would put on a brave face and send you off to get your fuck on without me. I definitely wouldn’t want to watch you do the thing I could no longer do. I’d just sit at home alone and drink, or loosen the clamp on my morphine drip. Even then, I don’t know if I could do it. The sexual charge I get now from watching you with another woman only works because I have an active sex drive and healthy sex life. If I couldn’t get turned on, or worse, if I COULD get turned on but couldn’t do anything about it, watching you with someone else would be torture. And I know that’s hypocritical in light of what I just said about me fucking younger men when you’re old.

HIM: Way to take the high road.

HER: Just being real, baby. I guess I always imagine you lying there, all bundled up in your palliative care bed, still capable of getting some mental ‘hot-wife’ enjoyment out of my adventures. But, if the tables were turned, I don’t see myself having any fun at all. Let’s face it: the ‘hot-husband’ thing hasn’t exactly taken off. Maybe there’s a reason for that. And, honestly, when you’re 75 and I’m 60, the line of men wanting to get with me will be significantly shorter than it is now. I’ll be the grandma at Hedo hoping for the generous-minded, hot 55 year old like you who can see past my wrinkles to the sexy minx inside.

HIM: Well, it’s all just speculation at this point. I actually don’t think we have much to worry about. I’ve been on the carnivore diet since last summer. A few months ago, I added intermittent fasting to the program. And I don’t know if you saw, but yesterday my combo pack of L-Arginine and Pycnogenol supplements arrived. I expect I’ve already added a decade or two to my ‘healthspan’. That constant whir you hear in the background at our house is my biological clock rewinding.

HER: Yeah, great – and according to The Atlantic I’ve been over-the-hill for a couple of decades.

HIM: Don’t worry, baby. You just keep yourself lubed up, because daddy’s not considering retirement for a long, long time.

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The Showdown: Hedonism II vs Desire Pearl

Picassso LE SAUVETAGE 1932

Pablo Picasso, LE SAUVETAGE, 1932

HER: If you’re a regular consumer of lifestyle podcasts and blogs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Desire is the only swinger-friendly resort out there. When Hedonism does get mentioned, it’s quite often in a dismissive fashion. It’s as if all the cool kids are hanging out in Cancun, Mexico while the wannabe’s are relegated to Negril, Jamaica.

HIM: I have to admit, that attitude makes me feel a little defensive of Hedonism. Of course it has its weaknesses, but we have so much history there. However, after ten trips to Jamaica in four years, even I had to admit it was time for a change. So, instead of spending New Year’s Eve at Hedo this year, as we usually do, we opted to book a week at Desire Riviera Maya Pearl. Continue reading

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Podcast-A-Palooza

AA_George Grosz Drawing

George Grosz, “Ménage-à-trois (Eva, Lotte and George)”, 1927 

HER: Sitting in the Metro Burger Bar at LaGuardia airport, we’re doing what we always do after a lifestyle event: talking incessantly about it. So while the details are fresh in our minds, we thought we’d jot down the highlights of the first ever Podcast-A-Palooza.

Wait, what was Podcast-A-Palooza, you ask?  Well, it was all about meeting and sharing and learning, to be sure, but it ultimately led to podcasters doing dirty things to other podcasters. Continue reading

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Four Crazy Weekends

Lisa Yuskavage Bonfire, 2013–15

Lisa Yuskavage, BONFIRE, 2013-15

HER: As we looked back over our last few articles, we realized there hasn’t been much sexiness. But that doesn’t mean we’ve been behaving ourselves. Quite the contrary, actually. We’ve been very busy. Last month was one for the record books – four lifestyle events, four weekends in a row. So, for our sixtieth article (trumpet flourish), here are the highlights. Continue reading

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Assault and Harassment: Every Woman’s Story

Rape of Lucrecia

Palma Giovani, THE RAPE OF LUCRECIA, 1570

HER: Like many women, I have watched in horror and awe the events of the last year. The wave of protests and #MeToo stories sparked by the Harvey Weinstein case (which broke almost exactly one year ago) seemed to crash over the rocks of the recent Brett Kavenaugh confirmation hearings. Just when we thought things were changing, that our voices were being heard and taken seriously, a three-time accused sexual offender is confirmed as a Supreme Court Judge. Continue reading

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The Hot-Button issue of ‘Hot-Wifing’

Pierre Bonnard, MAN AND WOMAN, 1900

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

HER: You don’t have to spend much time on non-monogamy blogs, chatrooms, or podcasts to come across the idea of wife-sharing. Search #hotwife or #sharedwife, and you’ll get a myriad of videos and erotica, often including words like ‘bull’ and ‘cuckold’. We’re not fans of the shaming that is often inherent in these scenarios, but we have talked about the possibility of sending me off on a date with another man. It’s an idea that I had put off for ‘maybe someday,’ but I recently got an offer I had trouble refusing. That offer forced us to confront my fears about opening us up to new possibilities in the world of wife sharing. Continue reading

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Dick Pics

andy-warhol-penis 1977

Andy Warhol, Penis (Diptych), 1977

HIM: We recently watched the movie ‘Weiner’, a documentary directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg. You probably remember the story of Anthony Weiner, the New York state congressman who fell from grace in 2011 after he tweeted a picture of his bulging underwear to a woman who was not his wife. Two years after that fiasco, he decided to stage a comeback by running for Mayor of New York City, and that’s where the documentary picks up the story. We see him leading in the polls when more women come forward with still more explicit photos, many of them sent by Weiner after he promised voters he had changed his ways. His campaign implodes before our eyes.

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Toronto, North America’s Sex Club Capital

image 01

George Grosz, ‘Far in the South, beautiful Spain’, 1919

HER: If you’re in the market for a sexy vacation, but you haven’t got the budget for a European or Carribean getaway, please allow me to suggest something a little different. I’m talking about a city where you will find the greatest concentration of sex clubs in North America. No, it isn’t Las Vegas or New York City or New Orleans … it’s Toronto.  Continue reading

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Sex Party Etiquette

Cecily Brown Untitled 2013

Cecile Brown, UNTITLED, 2003

HER: Summer is the season for backyard barbecues and pool parties. So, if your friend group includes people who like to get naked together, it also means it’s the season for swinger parties. Thanks to the suggestion of our podcasting friends, Bed Hoppers UK, we’re going to outline some of the rules of etiquette for house parties based on our experience as both party hosts and guests.

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