Stoya On Wet Kisses & Dating Divorcees

We love chatting with Stoya — writer, thinker, on-screen-sex haver — about all manner of sexual, sensual, and feminist topics. In fact, we had so much fun talking with her that we asked her to write a monthly sex and relationship advice column. Have a burning question? Send any and all queries to stoya@refinery29.com.
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I don’t enjoy kissing my husband. We’ve been married for 17 years and have two wonderful children. We have regular sex (at least once a week). However, kissing him is always a turnoff, whether it’s a morning off-to-work kiss or a steamy under-the-covers smooch. He’s always been kind of a wet kisser, and I suppose I’ve never really liked kissing fish lips, so I’ve endured it. I’ve kissed others and enjoyed making out immensely (kissing is not a deal-breaker in our relationship). I’ve even told him I don’t like kissing him, but I feel horrible about it because I love him and I know it hurts him. What can I do?
-R
The fact that you’re still having regular sex and have been willing to endure kisses you don’t particularly enjoy for so long is heartwarming, in a way. It sounds to me like there’s a lot of love and chemistry between the two of you. In a follow-up email, you mentioned that you do still mix it up with regards to sex. So, here’s my suggestion: Ask him if he’d be willing to mix it up with regards to kissing.
You’re going to know your relationship and your partner as an individual better than I could after any amount of emails, but generally feedback gets taken better when presented as “Let’s try this” or “I’d like if you did that” as opposed to “I don’t like this thing you do.” And, it is very understandable that you’d want to avoid hurting your husband when possible.
So, maybe try taking the angle of a playful game and set it up as a return to exploration. You might use your current age and the hormonal changes that tend to happen around that age as a reason for this.
Frame this game as pretending to be young and inexperienced again: a sexual toolkit reset. Get super-silly with it and try every way of touching mouths together that you can imagine. Rub noses, put each other’s chins in your mouths, drool all over each other (yes, I did hear the part where you’re not into wet kisses or fish lips, but I promise I’m going somewhere with this). Then, wipe your mouths off and try kissing with dry lips.
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Hopefully, all of this will be fun, and afterwards you’ll have an opportunity to give him positive reinforcement on which kinds of kissing you liked most. Hopefully, he cares about your enjoyment of the physical interactions you two engage in as much as you care about his feelings. Hopefully, you two can reach a compromise where sometimes he kisses you the way he prefers kissing and sometimes he kisses you the way you prefer kissing.
There’s also a tiny, little chance that in all that drool you’ll find a new appreciation for wet kisses.
How will I know if my boyfriend's personal-space boundaries are an excuse for not wanting a deeper relationship? He has been divorced for two years after a 22-year marriage to an alcoholic. He paid for her detox and rehab three times, and I realize its failure was a deep disappointment for him and their two (now young-adult) children. I care for this man, whom I've been seeing for three months, but I'm not sure that I should invest more time and emotion into this relationship if it will never grow.
-T
You say you’ve been seeing this person for three months. I don’t know what your definition of “seeing” is, but it sounds pretty casual and noncommittal to me. If you did need any excuse to stop seeing someone, you could easily go with the part where you’re emailing an advice columnist three months into the relationship asking if the situation you’ve described is one where you should stop investing.
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But, I don’t think you actually need an excuse. I think you need to answer this question: Where is your personal agency and responsibility for your own actions and choices in all of this? Because you do have personal agency and responsibility.
So, what do you want out of a relationship? What does a healthy, long-term relationship look like to you — the big stuff, like time management and how intertwined your lives should be, not the little, superficial things like “brings me flowers”? Do you require a partner who comes without emotional baggage or previously made commitments? How much room in your life do you have for a partner, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to make room for one who feels right? How much of a time (and emotional) commitment do you need from a partner? How quickly do you think a relationship should progress?
Seriously, sit down and answer all of these questions on paper or in a word-processing document. Or, talk it out with a good friend who isn’t too close to your boyfriend. If more questions occur to you as you’re answering, add them to the bottom of the list. Then, go back over your answers and ask yourself why you want or need each of those things.
Hopefully, by this point, you’ll have reminded yourself of what you want out of your dating/family life, what your needs are within a committed romantic relationship, and which of your wants you prioritize over the others.
Then, you can evaluate your current situation by comparing it to your wants and needs. Because, this isn’t the kind of decision you should be making based on what your boyfriend, a committee of your friends, and/or a stranger who shows up naked in front of cameras in exchange for money deem acceptable. You should be making it based on what you want and how much you are willing to compromise.
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