Ask Debby Herbenick | My wife likes to dresses like a bunny in the bedroom
TOC's sexpert tackles your most penetrating questions.
Q At my job, I am in contact with a female coworker several times a week. We have become very close, and there is clearly a connection there, friendship or otherwise. People tend to refer to us as though we’re together, as we definitely give off that vibe. That being said, neither of us has ever done or said anything to suggest more than friendship…until a week or so ago when, on a rare occasion, we spent time outside of work and had an (amazing) drunken hookup. In the morning there was no awkwardness, in fact we maintained affection in our newfound sobriety. But we haven’t really spoken of it since, and our friendship remains strong as ever. I’m fine with things remaining “just friends,” but it would be incredible if it could be more than that. However, I think that neither of us wants to jeopardize our working relationship. Is there some way to bring it up with her without bringing out awkwardness that currently isn’t there? Or is this just a no-win scenario as long as we work together?
A Unless your work has a specific no sex/dating/relationship policy, there is no reason you can’t at least talk to your coworker about what happened and see if she is interested in pursuing something beyond the cubicle. Or you could just ask her out for a drink or invite her to join you and a group of friends for happy hour, karaoke (hey, it worked in 500 Days of Summer) or a comedy club, thus making it less date-ish and more let’s-hang-out-and-see-what-happens-ish. Even if your work does have a “no contact” policy, you can at least discuss it if you feel you need closure. How would you feel if you said or did nothing and then a month or two down the road she started dating someone else? If you’d feel like a missed-opportunity idiot, then you may need to take action now. If you don’t care either way, and you truly are happy being just friends, then maybe it’s fine to pass on the opportunity—but that doesn’t seem to be what you want. If you invite her once or twice to join you out and she says no, then you can still work together without awkwardness. Just accept her “no” gracefully, move on and treat her with kindness and respect as usual. And if she says yes? Well, you never know how it will turn out until you try.
Q The skin toward the lower region of my vagina is very thin, making intercourse quite painful. Is there anything I can do to strengthen the tissue there?
A Generally speaking, women’s genital skin and tissue tend to be more fragile and vulnerable to tearing than men’s genital skin. In addition, there are some situations in which women’s genital skin becomes even more delicate, such as when they are low on estrogen. Women may have low levels of estrogen when they are breast-feeding, going through menopause (or approaching it) or using low-dose estrogen birth-control pills. Women may also have fragile genital skin as a result of certain vulvar skin disorders such as one called lichen sclerosus that often involves certain areas of a woman’s vulva turning white and/or itching. These are just some possible causes of thin vulvar skin—to find out why yours is tearing, I’d suggest checking in with a health-care provider. To find a doctor with vulvovaginal health expertise in your area, contact the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease at issvd.org. If your skin is thin as a result of a vulvar skin disorder, then treatment (which often involves applying a cream to one’s genitals) may help to make your skin stronger once again. On the other hand, if your skin is thin as a result of low estrogen, then you may be prescribed a topical estrogen cream to help restore your skin’s magical stretchy superpowers. In the meantime, try using a water-based lubricant during sex, reapplying it as needed (especially if you have marathon sex or rough sex) and choosing positions that give you more control over the thrusting, such as woman on top or reverse cowgirl.
Q My wife likes to dress like a rabbit in the bedroom. This is not exciting for me. Can you please help?
A Dressing up like forest animals doesn’t do it for most people, so it’s understandable that your wife’s odds were not good on this one. Does she just have something like a Playboy bunny outfit that she likes and wears because she has it and thinks she looks cute in it? Or it is an all-out rabbit costume (a fur suit), and she likes to pretend that you are both animals or that you are a person and she is a real rabbit? Because these are two totally different things. If it’s just (human) dress-up she likes, why not go on to a site such as 3wishes.com and find another type of costume that you both find sexy? Costume types include the typical (e.g., cheerleader, French maid, firefighter) as well as the less typical (e.g., bee, butterfly, fairy). Choosing a costume together might be enjoyable and give you both a chance to say what you like and what types of fantasies and pleasures you enjoy. Now, if she’s more into the plushie/furry scene (e.g., people who like to dress as animals or have sex with stuffed animals, etc.), that could get trickier. If you are definitely not into plushie play, you two may need to decide what that means for your relationship: How important is it to her? Can she feel gratified by fantasizing about it? Or by dressing as a rabbit during solo masturbation? Or might you come to some agreement where she can play with others who share her fantasies? Some food (carrots?) for thought.
Q I am a 75-year-old male about to marry for the third time. My fiancée is 15 years younger, and believe it or not she’s insisted we leave sex for the wedding night. I went along with that, but I’m in fact a bit worried about not knowing her intimately before D-day. Can you provide me with any advice?
A If you absolutely do not want to marry without having sex, it’s okay to say that. After all, she’s said that she doesn’t want to have sex before marriage. Neither choice is more correct than the other; they are just preferences. You might consider what your concerns are: Are you concerned about if she’ll be as interested in sex as you are? That she’ll be the type of lover you enjoy? If so, are there other ways that you can figure these things out? You can learn a lot about someone’s sensuality by making out with them and engaging in other types of sex play (e.g., genital touching, oral sex, playing with sex toys). Then again, nothing is a guarantee—she could be a marvelous lover before you get married and a terrible one afterward. So you have to take it as it comes anyway. If and when you do have sex, you two might enjoy reading Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty (Seal Press, $15.95)