What His Friends Know About Your Sex LifeForget everything you've seen in a Judd Apatow movie. Married men do not tell all about what happens in your bedroom, says Aaron Traister. But they do spill this...
Once, my wife, Karel, came home from a hair appointment and told me that she'd compared notes with a casual girlfriend on how similar her husband and I were in our sexual habits. Gah. I know that guy—I don't need to be privy to his "habits," or how much they're like mine. She's told me about many sex conversations she's had with girlfriends, and frankly, I'm flabbergasted. You ladies really don't hold back, do you?
Believe it or not, dudes are much more tight-lipped about this stuff. I prefer not to hear what my friends' wives will or won't do in bed. I don't have any hang-ups when it comes to seeing Karel as a sexual being since she's become a mother, but I have major hang-ups about seeing my friends' wives as sexual beings once they become wives and mothers. After a single life of trying to sleep with everyone, I think most married guys develop this mind-set to safeguard our relationships with our friends and their partners. Nobody wants to go to a barbecue or birthday party where there's Ice Storm sexual tension bubbling beneath the surface. All that said, no man takes a total vow of silence. These topics are fair game:
Frequency—or, should I say, infrequency.The cliché is that everyone stops having sex after marriage and kids, so guys play up that idea for laughs. I've heard countless jokes about not getting any, and I've made them myself. But if all those dudes complaining about not having sex really weren't, I don't think they'd be laughing about it with their friends. At least I wouldn't be; I'd be crying in my basement. I actually worry more about the friend who isn't making those jokes and just seems angry all the time.
Talking about your less-than-gangbusters sex life is also a handy way to cancel a plan. The sentence "I'm not hanging out tonight because I'm going to have sex with my wife for the first time in a month" is an internationally recognized, bulletproof excuse for bailing on your friends. Every guy understands and automatically leaves you alone, with an implied "Good night and good luck."
Family planning. I recently had this exchange with the guy who sells me my coffee and bacon-egg-and-cheese:
Me: Karel's pushing to have another baby.
Joe: Well, you at least getting laid because of it?
Me: Last night and this morning. She's on a mission.
Joe: So it's not all bad.
Me: I'd still rather get a new couch.
Joe: Just get a secret vasectomy. She won't figure it out for months.
Me: Thanks for the coffee, Joe.
I think he was joking, but it's hard to tell sometimes. My point is, any conversation about procreation is desexualized, and totally fair game. A guy at the park once told me that his wife was about to be at her "most fertile." I barely knew this dude, but now I knew he was having trouble conceiving a second kid. I've also given pep talks to new dads, telling them that sex does come back eventually, you just have to give it time—especially after a C-section. But these chats don't feel intimate, because the sexual stuff is lumped in with so many other issues. As in, "I could handle the mood swings, the fighting, the sleeplessness, all of it, if we were just having sex. But I don't see that ever happening again."
Birth control also comes up, but those talks are never pretty, or accurate. On a recent night out, my friend, a graduate student in microbiology, confused IUDs with diaphragms. I overheard two other pals, a cop and a lawyer, argue over what the Pill does to the female body. (The term ovarian cyst was bandied about, but they clearly had no idea what it meant.) I've even had a friend try to convince me that Saran Wrap and a rubber band would make do as a condom in a pinch—pinch being the operative word. And I've listened while three otherwise intelligent men wondered, in earnest, if toothpaste is an effective way to kill sperm after the fact. Here's how the exchange ended:
"Why would anyone think toothpaste would work that way?"
"If it can kill cavities, it can probably kill sperm."
"Maybe because it's tingly."
Fantasy sex partners. Guys do talk about other women. Not me, but most guys. Sure, I'll give an appreciative "Whoa" when a yoga class lets out on Main Street, but anything more graphic seems pointless. Some guys go on about "the things they'd do with..." But they're never going to, so why talk about it? I also hate the near-miss stories men tell, which always involve an incredibly hot single woman and end with "I was so close..." Stop! You don't have to prove to me that you're still a virile stud even though you're a married, middle-aged father of three. The absolute worst is when you realize halfway through one of these stories that the woman wasn't coming on to him at all; she was just paying attention to him and being nice, and because he's been married so long, he can't tell the difference anymore.
So maybe, if we're just going to b.s., joke around, and misinform, we should clam up about sex altogether. Maybe we'll never evolve enough to share our insecurities, frustrations, desires, and issues like women do. Of course, I get to spill my guts to you ladies every month, and it feels pretty good. But then again, you're not a bunch of dudes.
love: friendship, dating, sex & marriage
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