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Dan fields three questions from readers grappling with power imbalances in the age of OnlyFans and polyamory
I’m a 40-year-old gay male. I live in a big city in a dense neighbourhood. While I’ve been working from home during COVID, I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table facing a big window. Across the alley is an apartment with a deck. At one point, I noticed a cute, young, muscular guy outside. I ran into this guy a few weeks later at a neighbourhood liquor store. While I was looking at porn one night I was stunned to find his nudes and a link to his OnlyFans. I instantly subscribed, went through everything, including his gay sex vids, and, yeah, I came. I tipped him and put in a few comments about what kind of content he should put up next. He took my suggestions and I tipped him again.
About a week ago he knocked on my door and asked if I had jumper cables. That night, I found a six pack of beer by my door and a note from him thanking me for my help. I got back on his page and came so hard as I drank his beer. I don’t want to have sex with this guy – he’s not really my type and he’s too young. I do get off on knowing that I can pull up his dick pics whenever I want and that he will do anything for a few bucks. But I question if I’m crossing a line. He obviously doesn’t know his neighbour is jerking off to him and probably wants to keep his porn life separate from his private life. Should I feel gross about this?
You know something about your neighbour that your neighbour doesn’t know you know about him, RW, and knowledge is power and having power over someone can be sexy. Power imbalances are such a turn-on that people will manufacture them in their absence.
For some people having less power (or giving up the power they have) is a turn-on; for others having more power (or being granted more power) is a turn-on. So long as everything is consensual and no one is being exploited or exploitative, RW, no one has to feel gross about it. (Please note: making sure no one is being exploited during consensual power play or during consensual sex in the presence of a significant power imbalance requires thoughtful self-scrutiny, solid communication skills and a willingness to negotiate and renegotiate.)
What you’re doing is consensual and no one is being exploited. Your hot neighbour is putting his content out there for gay and bi men to enjoy – and straight and bi women too – and being recognized by someone at the liquor store or on the street was always a risk. Jacking off to your neighbour’s videos and enjoying the very slight power imbalance and helping him pay his bills in the process isn’t gross. It’s the modern porn business working as intended.
But even if your hot neighbour feels no shame about the work he does – and here’s hoping he doesn’t because there’s nothing shameful about it – your hot neighbour may not care to be reminded that his neighbours could be jerking off to him. (Or have it confirmed that at least one is.) If you were to get to know him better – surely you’ll say hello the next time you see him at the liquor store – and you became acquaintances and he brought up what he does for a living, RW, then you should tell him you’re a subscriber. But until that point err on the side of keeping your mouth shut and your wallet open. You’re not endorsing or reinforcing shame about making porn by being discreet; instead you’re making a reasonable assumption about a boundary someone in his position is very likely to have and respecting that assumed boundary.
And finally, RW, I’m not sure I believe you when you say this guy isn’t your type considering the number of loads you’ve blown while watching his porn. And while he may be too young for you – and you can absolutely set a floor – whether men in their 40s are too old for him is his call to make.
My girlfriend gave me an impromptu blowjob on our way to a party. When we arrived she kissed our host – a mutual (and vaccinated) friend – on the lips. This friend gave my girlfriend a strange look. I practise good personal hygiene but we’re pretty sure our host could smell my dick on my girlfriend. Should she have refrained from kissing the host? Excused herself to wash her face first? What’s the protocol here?
Where That Mouth Has Been
Kissing someone after they’ve given a blowjob to someone else – it’s a risk we all take when we kiss people we aren’t dating. Hell, it’s a risk some of us take when we kiss the people we are dating. But as a courtesy to others someone who’s just given a blowjob should go for the cheek instead. Unless they’re kissing the person they just blew, of course, in which case wide open mouth with tongue.
I am a newly polyamorous woman in my late 30s. I am part of a triad, which is so fun and amazing, and I also have a boyfriend. The boyfriend is why I am writing. We have some serious NRE and have been spending a lot of time together. I recently met his girlfriend of 1.5 years and it derailed things for me. He has been sharing every detail of our relationship with her. She knew everything about me, every private joke we shared, and so much about our intimacy that it made me incredibly uncomfortable. And I knew next to nothing about her and it was quite awkward for me.
It turns out this was a boundary that I didn’t know I had. I feel betrayed and like there was a secret voyeur in our relationship. I am really into this guy but I don’t know how to move forward. How can I feel like we are sharing something special when he goes back to his other partner and tells her everything?
He said he could adjust his behaviour but I don’t want to make someone change or have to trust that he’s not reporting everything back to her. Is this something I just have to deal with in polyamorous relationships?
Newly Poly Problems
You don’t want your boyfriend to do anything differently – you don’t want him to change – but you also don’t want him to keep doing what he’s doing. Sorry, NPP, but you’re gonna have to pick one: he’s gonna change for you, i.e. he’s going to “adjust his behaviour” and stop telling his other girlfriend everything, or he’s not gonna change and you’re gonna to get over his other girlfriend knowing everything.
Or if the issue is his other girlfriend knowing everything about you while you knew next to nothing about her, NPP, your boyfriend could “adjust his behaviour,” aka “change,” by telling you everything about her from here on out. Or third option (or is the fourth option? I’ve lost track): you could dump him. If you don’t want him to change and you also don’t want him to keep doing what he’s been doing to you, NPP, then let him do it to someone else.
Is there a way forward if you want to stay together? There could be. It would help to know why he was treating you differently. Have you asked? It could be that his other girlfriend wants to hear the details about the other people he dates – maybe hearing the details turns her on, maybe hearing the details makes her feel more secure, maybe it’s a little bit of both – and he’s too thoughtless or too scared or too inexperienced to ask what you wanted. If he’s apologized to you and explained the differing treatment – and if the apology seemed sincere and the explanation was satisfactory – you could let him adjust his behaviour to make you feel more comfortable and then give him enough time to prove that he has changed… if you’ll allow him to change.
And finally, NPP, this is something you’re gonna have to get used to as you continue to explore polyamory. Most polyamorous couples err on the side of sharing too much rather than too little. Some poly people only want a rough outline about their partner’s other partners, NPP, but some want to hear every last detail. If you don’t want someone you’re dating to share intimate details with their other partner(s), you’ll have to ask them not to share.