What is the worth of open, honest communication between couples in committed relationships? Not much, said Tender Buttons in last week’s edition of “Tender Buttons Ruins Lives.” A tender reader expressed concern after “stumbling upon” some choice pornographic material on her boyfriend’s computer. “That’s not the stuff we normally do!” she said upon viewing. Correct!
More often than not, it’s not the stuff anyone does. Do you have a makeup and camera crew videotaping your sex and a paid fluffer hiding off-frame to ensure your boyfriend’s woodiness? I thought not. Porn is fantasy—a private fantasy on top of that—and the reasons for consuming certain types of pornography are as arbitrary as they are nonsensical. I question the value of demanding an explanation for one’s pornographic preferences, though I concede that one’s partner has a right to express distaste for those preferences.
Tender Buttons encourages an open dialogue surrounding sexual desires and wants between partners, but porn should not dictate the terms in which that dialogue is played out. Find a better way to broach the topic.
Dear Tender Buttons,
I am quite experienced in one-night stands, but I have always wondered about the proper etiquette of how long to stay after the dirty deed is done. I’m quite lazy, so I could sleep there until noon but I know that would be wearing out my welcome. How do you know when to leave the next morning in various types of relationships? Also, what do you do when someone wants to sleep over afterwards and you want the bed to yourself?
—Lazy and Selfish
Dear Lazy and Selfish,
General rule of thumb for consensual, anonymous one-night stands: You owe your “partner in crime” nothing save basic respect. You want the bed? Have the bed, Lazy and Selfish! Aren’t one-night stands selfish? Is this not the unspoken contractual arrangement that conditions the brief union of two ships passing in the night? The two ships get what they want—all limits properly respected, of course. Be open with your sex buddy and discuss your needs plainly. There is little reason to lie, and excuses like “I have to wake up early to go to that thing” sound awful in that “I’m going through a midlife crisis, the cheating-on-my-spouse kind of crisis.” Thank your partner for a fun evening and (politely) show said partner to the door.
What happens when you do end up spending the night? I am not going to be a prescriptivist and lay down precise timetables for waking, morning-sexing, and awkward-goodbye-kissing, for the obvious reason that people have different sleep schedules. Here’s a thought: Before passing out, ask for a wake-up time. If asking is too uncomfortable given the circumstances, err on the early side of things (10:00 is a solid still-have-time-to-get-ready-for-brunch time), or better yet, don’t sleep over at all. Sleeping adds a dynamic to the hookup that would suggest continuity. That is to say, a sleepover on a college campus means more because there is virtually no reason to sleep together. On a residential campus, is there ever any justification for not immediately returning to your own quarters after a one-nighter? Your room is two minutes away! C’mon, Lazy and Selfish, spare yourself the awkwardness and just leave. Morning sex may very well be fun—but if you sleep until past noon, that’s not morning sex, and this isn’t France. Don’t you have work to do?