Social Q’s: Unsettled by a Sex Tape Request

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Social Q’s

By PHILIP GALANES

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six years. We are in our 40s. Early on, we made some sex videos. They weren’t porn; they were cute and captured how much in love we were. I’m glad we did them. But lately, he wants to push our boundaries, “while we’re still young enough,” he says. He would like a friend to film us having sex. I want to make him happy, and maybe it would be fun, but I can’t get my head around it. Should I try this, or tell him to forget it?

ANONYMOUS

I was without my cellphone for an entire week recently. It forced me to looked around and see what people are actually doing on the street. Short answer: taking endless pictures of themselves. (Who has time to look at all these selfies — much less steamy video selfies?) Don’t do anything with your body, naked or otherwise, to make another person happy, unless you want to do it, too.

Honor your ambivalence and say no. Play out a sexy fantasy that you can both agree on. One that leaves no evidence splashed around the internet, in the event of an angry breakup. Or check out “Big Little Lies,” a terrific (and binge-able) TV show that explores, among other things, the challenge of sex in relationships. (It also made me wish for a time machine so I could travel backward and undo my initial attraction to the Alexander Skarsgard character.)

Exclusionary Texts

My fiancé and I moved to another state last year to be closer to his adult children. I landed a fantastic job that enabled us to make the move. My fiancé loves being near his kids. His son, though, is in the military and deployed overseas. I discovered that the kids send group texts to my fiancé and his ex-wife with family updates, usually about the son in the military. I am excluded from these texts, which hurts my feelings. I told my fiancé, but nothing changed. What more can I do?

ANONYMOUS, NASHVILLE

For the moment, nothing. But let’s zoom in on the second sentence of your question: I might be misreading you, but your fiancé and his kids don’t owe you for making the move possible. That’s not the way relationships (or affection) work. You and your man made a life decision together. It is not a blunt instrument to be held over his head or a free pass into his children’s hearts.

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You don’t mention how long you’ve known the kids, whether you’re close with them or if you’ve even met the son in the military. Becoming enmeshed in a family, much less its profound anxiety about a child in harm’s way, takes time. Don’t make these texts about you. That would be selfish.

When the kids feel closer to you, they will add you to the chain, assuming their mother doesn’t resent you (which, in fairness, is not about you, either). Bide your time, and be supportive when you can. Blending families, even adult ones, can be complex. As Bonnie Raitt sang, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.” So tread lightly; it’s your best move.

Role Reversals

As an older person, I am confused when I read about people in same-sex marriages. If one man is the husband, what is the other man? Is he also a husband? Is it the same with women? Who is the wage earner in these relationships, and who takes care of the household and the children? Please help.

JOAN, OREGON

I’m glad you wrote, Joan. How will you know if you never ask? You seem to have the vocabulary of same-sex spouses down cold. They are husband and husband, or wife and wife. Not so complicated, right?

But your seemingly rigid view of gender roles inside relationships surprises me. Surely you must know some straight couples who flip the script on Ozzie and Harriet, in which the woman and man share bread-winning, child-rearing and household chores. If not, let me recommend “Big Little Lies” to you, too. Reese Witherspoon drives the kids to school, and Adam Scott cooks dinner. Laura Dern makes big bucks, and so does her husband. (You can tell because he wears Adidas to the office.) Same-sex couples are the same: just striving to get everything done and often negotiating the division of labor.

Handling Self-Inviters

My husband and I bought a weekend home. A friend often drops hints about wanting to pay us a visit. He’s a nice guy but talks constantly. A weekend with him would drive us over the edge. So far, we’ve managed to change the subject. But now he’s being direct: “How about the weekend of May 6?” Is there a polite way to decline?

JENNIFER

Why are the self-inviters never the folks we actually want to invite? Say: “We’d love to have you, but we really need our weekends to rest and recharge as a couple. How about dinner in the city, instead?” It’s true enough. He may not love your answer, but it doesn’t sound as if you’re fated to be great pals anyway.

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