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I’m Zachary Zane, a sex writer and ethical manwhore (a fancy way of saying I sleep with a lot of people, and I’m very, very open about it). Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sexual experiences, dating and sleeping with hundreds of people of all genders and orientations. In doing so, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating issues in the bedroom (and a bunch of other places, TBH). I’m here to answer your most pressing sex questions with thorough, actionable advice that isn’t just “communicate with your partner,” because you know that already. Ask me anything—literally, anything—and I will gladly Sexplain It. To submit a question for a future column, fill out this form.

This is the transcription from last week’s “Sexplain It Live,” which was recorded on Men’s Health‘s Instagram. I was joined by sex and pleasure educator Luna Matatas to answer a bunch of your sex and relationship questions.

My girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for almost three years, but I feel like all she wants to do is have sex. Don’t get me wrong: We spend quality time together, but it always ends up the same, with our clothes off. Am I in the wrong for not wanting to have sex every time we’re together? Signed, “Sexually Liberated But Suppressed Monog Girlfriend.”

ZZ: First off, that’s the worst sign-off I’ve ever heard. He could’ve gotten a little bit more creative. Anyway, what were your first thoughts when you heard the question?

LM: My first thought is there is so much pressure in relationships. Particularly for men or people with penises, there’s always something about how often you want to have sex, how long you have sex, and who comes during sex. All these rules are actually thwarting all of the pleasure and add so much pressure. So this guy with the long sign-off needs to remember that he’s normal. I also think there are different ways of connecting that don’t necessarily have to involve sex, like kissing and cuddling. And being able to enjoy that with each other without having to go into sex can be a fabulous way to keep things spicy and to really deepen that connection.

ZZ: I feel like there’s this heteronormative idea that men are always the ones that want sex and women do not. When there’s a sexual desire discrepancy, that’s often how it plays out. So this guy is in the opposite situation. And I think there are some weird stressors and societal norms that are making him feeling potentially guilty, being like, “You know, most guys would love if their girlfriend wanted to have sex all the time. Why am I complaining? What is wrong with me?” And the answer is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Women are just as horny as men are, just probably less gross about it, although honestly, sometimes, equally as gross. So let’s take out that you’re the man, and she’s the woman. I think doing this might already take a little bit of stress away.

Then, having this conversation with her, saying something like, “I love having sex with you. It’s something I enjoy immensely, but it’s not something that I want to do as much as you want to do. What are ways that we can be intimate together that don’t necessarily involve sex, or what are ways that you can get off sexually where I’m not necessarily there?” Maybe this means you get her a vibrator. You don’t have to be in the room when she masturbates.

Let her live her best life with sex toys and feel sexually satisfied. Especially if you guys have been together for almost three years, maybe you live together. And I know that what happens is when you live together, you sometimes feel weird about masturbating when the other person is home. Now we’re here during COVID, and your partner is home all the time. So they may no longer be masturbating. So I think being able to encourage her to get her sexual needs met without you is a beneficial thing to look at.

LM: Yeah, I love all those tips. And I think so much of what you shared is about this idea of keeping the sexiness that you want, while honoring where both you and your partner’s sexual levels are.

I’ve been with my girlfriend for two years. I don’t want an open relationship, but I really want to sleep with other people badly. What do I do? Signed, “I Want More.”

ZZ: I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but when I saw this, I laughed a little bit. I’m like, dude, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But what were your first thoughts hearing this?

LM: Honestly, I thought the same thing. My first question was, “Where is this desire to sleep with others coming from?” Is it that you’re looking for a new body or experience, but you don’t want to interfere with what you have? Is it about a particular fantasy? Maybe he’s feeling inadequate or unsatisfied in some ways in the existing relationship.

ZZ: Yeah, there are two options here. One, you either reaffirm and work with your partner right now to get your sex life to a point where you’re satisfied. Has the sex been bad for long, and you’ve gotten in that stale routine? Instead of doing “things to spice up your sex life”—which sex educators love to say, and honestly, should be banned from our vocabulary—have you put in the work to keep your sex life exciting?

It’s been two years. There’s going to be a lull. You’re probably going to get a little bit more excited by other people in a way you weren’t before. So recommit to your partner. Say, “Hey, I want to try some new things.” This is where you bring in all the usual suspects, whether it’s new sex positions, sex toys, kink, BDSM, or whatever.

Or is this something where maybe you’ve tried that, and you just no longer enjoy sex with your partner? Perhaps there are other issues with your partner. This means, it may be time to move on from this relationship. It’s difficult to know where you are in your journey, but the answer is either you recommit yourself and try to figure out your sex life together, or you move on.

My partner always dated really muscular men before he dated me. I’m very thin, with no muscle or fat on my body. He says it’s not an issue. And he loves me and my body, but when we’re scrolling through his Instagram together, I noticed that literally every single guy he thirst follows is muscular and jacked. That’s all his feed is, and it makes me feel insecure. I worry about becoming that needy boyfriend who’s constantly seeking validation from my partner—asking every day, “Are you sure it’s fine that I look like this?” but I’m not sure what else I can do. Signed, “Skinny With No Butt.”

LM: I talk about sexual confidence a lot since it’s something we all struggle with. We’ve all had moments where we feel our bodies aren’t good enough. So it’s perfectly normal that he’s internalized a lot of these messages and can’t take in what his partner is offering him in terms of relationships, sex, and all of the other joys that comes with being attracted to someone, simply because of what his boyfriend likes on Instagram. And the reality is that Instagram, and everywhere else, celebrates particular kinds of bodies.

And so you really have to curate your content to find sexiness represented in bodies that aren’t jacked or aren’t thin. This narrative is very powerful and disruptive. So he needs to find ways to feel sexy himself. It’s not about wearing sexy underwear. It really is about feeling like you belong in your sexual experiences, that you are here with something to offer, and that you are delicious.

And then there’s the co-regulation part. Being vulnerable with your partner is not being needy. It is not needy to ask for reassurance. “It’s great to say, you know, babe, I know that you love me and you find me attractive, but sometimes it doesn’t sink in for me.” Get that reassurance from your partner.

ZZ: You hit on so many good points here. The first one is that Instagram follows aren’t “real,” for like lack of a better word. If you go through my feed, yes, it is a lot of jacked men. It’s a lot of women with huge tits and bubble butts. And honestly, I post the same modeling photos as these Instagram “models.” And my stuff is photoshopped to no end, as is everyone’s.

I’m complicit in this terrible culture, but I think recognizing that this stuff is fake, and not necessarily what anyone is expecting in real life, can be really helpful. It’s like how you make that differentiation when watching porn. It’s a fantasy. It’s not real. I like how these people look, but how these people look isn’t necessarily how real human beings look day-to-day.

And yes, I think there’s such a big difference between being needy and asking for reassurance. You’re seeing your boyfriend swipe through all these Instagram guys, and let’s say, he’s drooling while looking on his phone. It’s fine for you to say, “Hey, I see you doing that. Just want to make sure you know I’m here, and you still find yourself attracted to me.” Doing that periodically is not being needy. Doing that 15 times the day is being needy, but that’s not what you’re doing.

Oh, and I think it’s okay to admit that your boyfriend may miss jacked men. That is totally fine! We sometimes miss the things or people that we are not with. That doesn’t mean that he wants to leave you. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to break up with you and find a jacked man. It doesn’t mean anything outside of the notion that you can like apples and oranges. He’s currently dating an apple. He still has gets enjoyment out of seeing oranges. So I think it’s okay to tell yourself, “Hey, I don’t have that. He misses that a little bit, and that’s okay. I’ll live! It doesn’t mean he’s going to leave me.”

Watch the full conversation here:

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