Ask Debby Herbenick | Herpes and intense foot fetishes
TOC's sexpert tackles your most penetrating questions.
Q My new regular f-buddy has a thing for feet like I’ve never seen before. It’s not just that he likes to suck my feet—although he likes to do that too, while one of us jerks him off. He also does this thing where he wants me to use my feet to rub his dick. He can even come that way. That’s all just background to my problem, though. Here it is: When he sucks my cock he only wants to do it on his knees so he can see my feet, or if he does it while we are in bed then he has to do it facing my feet. I’m okay with that, I guess, but sometimes I feel like it gets in the way of my experience. I want to be able to look down and see my cock in his mouth and him looking up at me, but instead I look down and see the back of his head. It takes away from it for me sometimes. Anything come to mind that I can do?
A Aside from wear socks or get a new guy? Yes. It seems to me that rather than this being about a foot fetish, it’s about negotiating power between people who are just getting to know each other in sexual ways, and that can take some time, practice and patience. If you’re okay with a little foot-fetish action, you may just need to draw boundaries by letting him know that you’re cool with the foot thing but that you need a little balance. You can try letting him know that you’re down for fulfilling his desires (like rubbing his penis with your feet) as long as he’s willing to please you, too, such as by making eye contact with you when he performs oral sex. That’s par for the course in a give-and-take sexual relationship, whether it’s a one-nighter or a lifetime partnership. You can also offer to lie back and video record (and then delete) the encounter so that he can watch himself suck you off at the same time that your little piggies are in the video frame. The thing is, uncooperative partners suck—and I don’t mean in a good way—and, if your guy is like most people, he probably wants to be pleasing and to be a good, pleasurable, yummy partner. He simply may not realize how selfish he has been. All that said, if you open up to him and he’s not willing to do anything for you (which I think is highly unlikely) then you have a very different problem on your hands, and I don’t think many people would blame you if you withheld your glorious tootsies.
Q I was having sex last night with a guy, and it was great. The only thing is, every time we tried to do it from behind, he kept slipping out. This is not the first time in my sexual history that this has happened. I like trying different positions, but it’s frustrating for both of us if the guy keeps slipping out. Do a lot of people have this problem, with guys slipping out of the vagina from behind? What do they do about it?
A Ah, yes—partner fall-out can be such a nuisance during rear entry, and they never seem to sing about that part in the bajillion rap songs that glamorize doggie style. But it happens! Much of it has to do with the woman’s hips and the angle of the guy’s penis. You basically have to learn to accommodate each other’s body angles in order to stay fitted together. As an example, let’s pretend that Guy A has an upward pointing erection—he needs to tilt forward a little and Girl A probably needs to make her back more flat like a table, or even raise her chest higher than her hips. If he points downward, she might tilt her hips upward (face toward the pillows, butt in the air). If she tilts downward or upward too much, he could slip out. Guys can tip their upward angling penises downward by leaning forward and holding on to her shoulder. It’s part science and part art, so play around with it and have fun.
Q In the mid-’80s I was diagnosed with herpes during a clinical exam. I got cultured multiple times, always with a negative result. I was just told to assume I had it. I got educated about it, changed my diet and went on with my life. More recently, my doctor ran blood work and found I was HSV1 positive and HSV2 negative. I do get what people refer to as cold sores (a.k.a. oral herpes) every few years or so, and I was having genital HSV1 outbreaks brought on by sex. We discussed it and I went on suppressive therapy. Since then, I’ve been sexually active again, I have had symptoms a few times (it occurs after more aggressive sex) and got tested again. It confirmed the same results (positive for HSV1 and negative for HSV2). Chlamydia, gonorrhea, Hep C, and HIV consistently come back negative. First, I seriously don’t know what to tell a potential partner anymore. Second, assuming it is HSV1, is the answer here for a partner of mine to get a blood test? Most probably he is HSV1 positive as well. If he is, is it possible for him to have exposure from me during a subclinical outbreak and then begin showing symptoms when he never did before on either his lips or penis?
A To be clear, it sounds as if you had a clinical exam (which basically means your health-care provider looked at your sores) and decided that you likely had herpes. The culture came back negative. However, as this was 20 years ago, it’s unclear what they tested you for—the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1, which is more commonly found on the mouth) or just HSV2 (more commonly found on the genitals)? And really, it doesn’t matter, because you have since had two tests—during a time in which we have better, more reliable testing than we did in the acid-washed-jeans era—and both have returned the same results: HSV1 positive and HSV2 negative. It also sounds as though you get cold sores on your mouth and that you also occasionally get genital outbreaks, so perhaps you got HSV1 from a previous partner who had it on his or her genitals (and thus, if you had intercourse and performed oral sex on him/her, it could have transferred to both your mouth and your genitals). That’s one theory. Either way, partners can’t get HSV2 from you if you only have HSV1, but they could potentially get HSV1 infection on the mouth (if they kiss you or perform oral sex on you) or on their genitals (if you perform oral sex on them or if you have intercourse). The virus can be transmitted even when you are not in the midst of an outbreak; however, antiviral therapy can help to reduce the risk of both outbreaks and transmission (check in with your health-care provider for info and advice on your personal health options, please). Personally, I think it’s important to talk to potential partners about your history of being diagnosed with HSV1, and having sores on both your mouth and genitals, and I always think it makes sense to ask partners for their history, too. Given that about one in five adults have genital herpes and most adults have oral herpes, you’re not exactly alone in this boat. Plus, you have much good news to share—negative test results for various other STIs! As for whether it is possible for someone who is HSV1-positive (but who didn’t have symptoms before) to suddenly show symptoms, the answer is yes, but it can happen for all sorts of reasons including stress, illness or anything else that compromises a person’s immune system.