Sexual Safaris, Sweatiness, and Friends With Benefits

Why on earth are men so sweaty during sex? I am an athlete, and for a girl I get pretty damn sweaty when working out. But unless it’s over 80 degrees in the bedroom, I rarely break a sweat during sex (and I participate pretty vigorously, I don’t just lay back and think of England).  But pretty much every guy I’ve ever had sex with has become this sweaty mess as soon as we get going. Doesn’t matter if the guy is a weekend tennis player or an Olympic athlete or a marathon runner–my sample size isn’t enormous, but it is heavy on the fit guys. I understand that sex is a physical activity, but even when I am on top doing all the work, I usually don’t start sweating buckets. But it seems that guys do, even when it’s a less vigorous session. I don’t have a problem with the sweatiness per se, because sex tends to be messy and I’m going to shower afterward eventually anyway, but I just want to understand if there is some secret effort that men are making during sex or if it just a response to the excitement, or … what?

The secret truth is this: guys have absolute and total control over their sweat glands. We only perspire on command, and do so mostly in the presence of women, who seem to like us more when we smell like the gym or when we glisten just so. In sex, we like things to be all slippy and slidey, so we open up our pores to lubricate the situation. It’s just a thing we do. We don’t talk about it all that much.

Alright, I made that all up. Obviously. Not sure why this happens, but I bet it’s because guys take a lot of responsibility for maintaining sex positions. When a guy’s on top, for example, he has to hold his upper body up with with arms for a long period of time. It’s a lot like a stress position, one of those workouts where you extend some part of your body and leave it there for a while. One exercise that mimics the on top position, we just call it “forearms.” You get on the ground like you’re about to do a push-up but instead of propping yourself up on your hands you rest on your forearms. Then you hold this position for as long as possible. After a few minutes, even the most yoked among us will start to sweat.

Hitting it from the back is a similar thing. First you get your junk at the right elevation, and then your quads have to maintain that while you go at it. And for most couples, the lengths of each person’s upper leg don’t quite match up, so the guy’s in something of an awkward stance. There’s an exercise that mimics this sensation, too. I know it as “the chair.” You lean back against a wall like you’re sitting in a chair except there is no chair, and your quads are the only muscles making sure you don’t fall down. Again, hold this for a few minutes and you’ll perspire.

Let’s not even get into the more advanced positions, like the one where the guy is sitting upright and the girl is sitting on top of him with her legs wrapped around him. This website calls it “The Jellyfish” (warning: graphic animated graphics), but I’ve never heard that before. Not only is that a stress position, but you’re supporting someone else’s weight too, and –I’m sorry. I’m distracted by that website. What were we talking about?

Right, sweat. Yeah, dudes may not be moving around more than the ladies, but they sometimes do more work holding a position. This makes us sweaty. Also, guys like to flex during sex. That uses energy. It’s another secret truth we don’t talk about all that much.

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years, we love each other a lot, and it’s really the best relationship I’ve been in. Which is great! But there’s one issue I could use an outside perspective on. My boyfriend has certain aspects of his body that he is really sensitive and self-conscious about, and he gets pretty upset if I mention one. If it were just a matter of being positive and supportive rather than making fun of him, I’d be golden. But it will be something I love and appreciate about his body, and then I want to tell him that, but he gets upset and doesn’t want me to mention it, and then gets more angry if I try to get him to talk about why it bothers him.

I have my own experiences with irrational self-consciousness and not ever wanting to think about something embarrassing. But I’ve made it kind of a life goal to be less ashamed of myself, and less likely to make myself unhappy for stupid reasons. And my boyfriend totally supports me in this. So I want to return the favor. But as far as I can tell, these are not issues in his daily life, it’s just that I remind him they exist. He’s a bit of an avoider by nature, and in relationships I am the opposite, and usually we can work it out, but he doesn’t think I have a right to disagree with him here. He says that if he thinks his self-image is fine, it’s none of my business to try and change it. So, am I being an asshole for not accepting his feelings, and trying to persuade him that he should want to change them? Is my current plan of coming at it sideways and offering him unconditional positive regard that includes these “flaws” without drawing extra attention to them manipulative, or being a good girlfriend? Are there other, slightly more pro-active plans that could still avoid upsetting him?

We’re not talking about major parts of his general appearance here, just the kinds of little imperfections and variations most people have. But those are the best parts! The parts that make him unique, that only I get to see. I want to be able to share my appreciation of them.

What, you’re not going to tell us what these “certain aspects of his body” are? I’m imagining all kinds of heinous moles and twisted appendages. I met a girl at a party once who had two different color eyes, like a husky. Is that his thing? Ugh. Please write back. Attach a jpeg.

Seriously, though, just leave him alone about it. Everyone has their weird thing, and people deal with this in different ways. Some people own their flaws, others prefer not to talk about them. Some people want them changed, others don’t. Let’s say his flaw is a scar on his arm. (Is it a scar on his arm? Damnit.) There’s a big difference between a scar he got saving kittens from a fire than a scar he got from a suicide attempt. One of those he’s probably less likely to discuss, and one of them he’s more likely to have removed by a surgeon.

Oh, and by repeatedly trying to get your boyfriend to discuss or accept this “certain aspect,” you might be making him feel worse, because basically you’re saying his unwillingness to confront the flaw is yet another thing that’s wrong with him. You don’t want to do that. Let him deal with it in his own way.

Wait, is it a club foot? Come on.

So I have a date next week! Do I have to tell him about my friend with benefits?

OK, so all things considered, this is an excellent problem for me to have. I have recently (like, six months ago) separated from my husband. We got together when I was 18, I hadn’t had a lot of relationships before him so being single is all scary and weird. (I’m 26! It sucks to be me, I’m separated and I’m 26.) My friend with benefits has been great, except that he’s also my friend. So, all my other friends know about him. Within the group, this is all cool and stuff, but how do I spring it on someone new?

I mean, on our first date (which is BY THE WAY, my first date since the separation), am I all like: “So, I’m currently sleeping with some guy. But it’s fine! We’re not emotionally involved.” Or just drop it into conversation: “Oh, my friend Joseph said something so funny last week! …Who’s Joseph? He’s my friend with benefits. You’re auditioning to replace him, except I’m not emotionally involved with Joe, so you can expect less sex and more crying.”

Or should I wait until things get more serious? Or just quietly stop sleeping with “Joe” and never mention him to my Date ever? I’m leaning towards this last option, but if Date morphs into Boyfriend he’ll probably find out from my friends at some point and then never trust me ever again.

Ugh.

Because my friend with benefits is part of the group, I can’t never see him ever again, although I don’t think I’ll feel the need to keep hanging out with him one on one (platonically! I mean platonically!). There’s a reason I’m not dating Mr. FWB. I’m also not willing to stop sleeping with this guy just because I have the whiff of a possibility of a date because, wow, no sex because I don’t have a boyfriend? That seems a bit harsh to me. Although, obvs, I would wind things down with Mr. FWB before sleeping with Date/Boyfriend. Which I probably won’t! I don’t think Date is right for me and why buy a cow when a friend is willing to bring bottles of milk over to your house at 11 p.m. on a Monday night, amirite?

So, thoughts? Do I need to have a big reveal, and if so, how?

Congratulations on your newfound freedom! You are in for some adventures. I’m so excited for you that I wrote you a screenplay. Think of it as an after school special, but for grownups. I hope you like it! There’s a lesson in there, oh yes.

INT. GIRL’S APARTMENT, NIGHT.

Doorbell rings. It’s DATE, he’s come to take GIRL to the dinner party.

GIRL
(kisses DATE)
Hi there!

DATE
Helloooo.

GIRL
Thank you for coming to pick
me up.

DATE
Of course!

GIRL
Come in, let’s have a drink first.

DATE comes in, GIRL pours him a glass of wine. They sit.

GIRL
So, are you nervous?

DATE
Um, no?

GIRL
Not at all?

DATE
Why would I be nervous?

GIRL
Well, all my friends are going to be there. It’s Julie’s birthday!

DATE
But I’ve met, like, a bunch of your friends already.

GIRL
But I don’t know, this might be . . . different.

DATE
Wait, are you nervous?

GIRL
A little.

DATE
(sets wine glass down on the table)
What’s up?

GIRL
Alright, so. I need to tell you something. What date are we on right now?

DATE
I think this is like our seventh date.

GIRL
Right. Okay. So when we started dating, I was still sort of seeing someone else.

DATE
Okay.

GIRL
And it wasn’t like a boyfriend thing, it was like we were just kind of hooking up?

DATE
Okay.

GIRL
And he’s part of this circle of friends and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be there tonight and I’m terrified it’s going to be really awkward and there I said it.

DATE
Um, probably not that awkward.

GIRL
You’re fine with it?

DATE
Well, can I ask you a few questions?

GIRL
Sure.

DATE
Were you hooking up with him while you were hooking up with me?

GIRL
No.

DATE
Because you remember we slept together on our first date.

GIRL
(blushes)
Yes, I remember. No. After that night I never hooked up with him again.

DATE
And you want to keep being friends with him?

GIRL
Kind of?

DATE
And do you think you might sort of slide back in it with him?

GIRL
No, definitely not.

DATE
Okay then. Yeah, no big deal.

GIRL
Really?

DATE
I mean, tonight might be a little awkward? But probably not like super weird or anything. And honestly, it will probably be more awkward for him, since, you know, you’re with me now.

GIRL
I am with you. That’s a true fact.

DATE
Yup.

GIRL
So you’re not angry I didn’t tell you?

DATE
Well, you did tell me. Just now.

GIRL
But sooner?

DATE
Nah. You didn’t know where we were going. No sense in shutting down a perfectly good booty call before you’re sure about the new guy.

GIRL
Um, yeah. I guess.

DATE
Besides, you remember Carolyn?

GIRL
The girl from your work?

DATE
Yeah.

GIRL
The one who was at the show you took me to on our second date.

DATE
Yeah, the one who gave me her extra tickets.

GIRL
The one I thought was slutty.

DATE
Yeah.

GIRL
Yes.

DATE
Oh man. We were banging like crazy before you came around.

FIN.

I have a dear male friend who recently explained he has romantic feelings for me. I’ve never felt that way about him, but after hearing the sweet and thoughtful way he detailed his feelings, I thought it would be worth giving it a go. We’ve been going on dates for the past couple weeks. And I’m realizing I can actually envision us getting married, years down the road. Right now though, I just want to be 22 in a big city and date around, even though I’m sure it will be with lesser caliber guys. Is there an appropriate way to verbalize that I want to “bookmark” him for the future while I get this dating around out of my system?

Well, you’re very sweet for not wanting to hurt his feelings while you embark on your sex safari through this major metropolitan area. If you tell him you see him as devoted relationship material but you’re just not ready for a devoted relationship, that’s probably the easiest way to break it to him. He might still be upset, then kick himself for being one of the “nice guys,” and end up trying so hard to be a badass that he’ll get a motorcycle. Guys are stupid! But deep down he’ll get it, or at least he should get it, because really he should probably be doing the same thing as you right now. Most people need a healthy amount of dating practice and sexual adventures before they’re married, otherwise the marriage won’t go so well.

Just don’t expect to actually “bookmark” him. The point of all the dating is to learn things about yourself and what you like and dislike in other people, and over time you’re going to change! He’s going to change, too. You might not change in compatible ways! And each of you might meet someone you like better. These are the risks! And the rewards. Nobody waits around, nor should they.

Who knows, maybe you’ll change your mind the first time you see a hot chick on the back of his new motorcycle.

Previously: Online Etiquette, Forced Chemistry, and “What Are You Thiiinking?”

A Dude is one of several rotating dudes who know everything. Do you have any questions for A Dude?

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