We normally don't delve into the world of Slate's sex advice column "How to Do It" too often, but this cautionary tale needed to be shared.
One woman—who identified herself as No More Pain—has been lying to her partner for about fourteen years and needs advice on how to finally come clean without hurting him.
She's afraid her lie will condemn her to a lifetime of awful sex.
No More Pain is the perfect example of why you need to communicate openly with your sexual partners. If you don't, you might literally doom yourself to a lifetime of sex so bad it makes you cry with a partner who honestly thinks he is rocking your world.
Imagine his humiliation, anger, sadness and feeling of betrayal when he finds out that the truth is pretty much exactly the opposite.
jake johnson fox GIF by New Girl Giphy
In her recent submission to "How to Do It", No More Pain said she loves him, she just hates sex with him.
This isn't the typical "I'm just not attracted to him" anymore letter, or an "I think I might not like sex at all" letter or even the rare-but-not-unheard-of "I just have better things to be doing with my time and sex just kills my productivity" letter.
The reason she hates sex with him is because it's painful. Her husband seems to have a medical condition that causes a pronounced curvature of the penis.
Now, when we say curvature, you're thinking "Ooh but almost all penises curve a little, and it can be really pleasant!" You are correct, dear reader, but the gentle sloping curves you're thinking of are not, at all, what this woman is talking about.
The condition she believes her husband has—chordee—causes a curve that could more accurately be described as a hook, like the penis turns a sudden corner. When erect, that hook is much more rigid and pronounced and can cause intense pain, bruising and tearing for partners.
Typically, the condition is fixed with surgery during early childhood. Her husband's case was not and she doesn't really make it clear whether or not he is aware that he has it or that it can hurt her.
She's just been pretending she doesn't notice, faking her orgasms and hiding her face so he can't see how much pain she is in. For fourteen years, fam.
She may have been trying to be polite and spare him any embarrassment by not mentioning it, but WOW did that backfire.
She's in so much pain now that she can't keep up the lie anymore. So now she has to work up the courage to admit the lie and help him through his justifiable and unavoidable emotional roller coaster.
That quite possibly could involve marriage counseling to get past the trust issue. It almost certainly will damage their sex life initially, though the honest communication may help it in the long run—if it survives.
Her husband is going to suffer through the heartbreak and mental strain of finding out your partner hates sex with you and knowing your partner lied. As well as knowing that whatever potential relief you may have felt in finding a partner who could accommodate your condition easily was, in fact, a lie.
This has the potential to be a devastating blow for him on so many levels.
Her polite lie mutated into a 14 year old behemoth of an issue.
Her letter to the "How to Do It" was an uncomfortable and honest read.
"I have no idea how to deal with this problem anymore, and I really hope you can help. I've been with my husband for almost 14 years, married for nearly 12. And in all this time, I haven't told him that sex with him is really painful for me."
"It's not sexual intercourse in general; I had a healthy number of partners before him and really enjoyed sex. The problem with my husband is I think he has chordee, a congenital penile curvature. His penis has a very pronounced hook to the side, and nearly every position is really painful. I disguise the pain with moans and keep my face turned away sometimes so he can't see how much pain I'm actually in."
"I don't know what to do. I've been lying to him about enjoying sex and having orgasms for so long that I think he'd feel betrayed if I told him, but how could I tell the man I love that a condition he can't control causes me so much pain? The treatment for chordee is surgery, and how could I ask him to go through that? I continue to withdraw from him sexually even though I want to have pain-free sex so much, and I've thought about asking for an open marriage. I don't know how to talk to him, or what to do. Please help."
We don't know if her marriage is ever going to recover.
We do know she can't go back in time and have an honest conversation and look for solutions 14 years ago when a few conversations were all it would have been.
We're positive she wishes she could.
The Slate sexual advice columnist, STOYA, had some pretty actionable advice, believe it or not.
"Your husband may well feel betrayed to find out that you've been misrepresenting your sexual experience for over a decade. He's going to feel even more betrayed if he finds out you asked for an open relationship because you didn't want to broach this topic. And it's an awful reason to open up your relationship."
"I want you to imagine every response your husband might have when you update him on the reality of your situation. I want you to make a list. Everything from 'shouts and refuses to speak to me for weeks after' through to 'grateful for the bravery it took to bring this up'. Then I want you to think about how you'd like to respond, yourself, in each case. You won't be able to cover every single possible scenario, but you'll still be prepared for a lot."
"Start with the facts. 'I've been hiding something from you for years because I was worried about hurting your feelings'. Apologize—I'm sure you know how to do this—then explain. Keep it brief and practical. 'I experience a lot of pain during sex with you. I think it has to do with the shape of your penis and the shape of my vaginal canal'. Presuming there are positions that don't cause you pain (you say nearly ever position is painful, not all), now's the time to mention them. 'Diagonal doggy toward the left feels great' or whatever the positions are. Then make space for your husband to process and respond."
"He might not have an immediate response. He might need some time to absorb what you've just told him. He might have one emotion at first and another a few days later. This is all OK."
"You may have damaged the trust in your relationship, but it's very possible that you can repair it. Love doesn't mean never hurting our beloved's feelings or never pointing out an issue in our connection. Hopefully it means being forthright with each other and navigating our difficulties together."
"A final thought: If your husband decides that he'd prefer not to have surgery, and that he'd like to see you sexually fulfilled, and is open to opening up the relationship, that's a much better place from which to do so. And remember, oral is still sex and can be tons of fun."
STOYA's response is non-judgmental with usable steps, no sugar coating. Advice people can actually use.
Want our advice? Don't be like No More Pain was, fam.
Talk to your partners. Be honest. Cultivate good sex like hipsters cultivate succulents.
You can see actress and advice columnist STOYA in the science fiction film A.I. Rising here.