Soft Service 

Mono fears and munch etiquette.

My wife and I have been together for more than ten years, practicing some kind of nonmonogamy for more than seven. We tried different things — open, dating others, FWBs — but after a bi-threesome with another guy a year ago, we knew that was our thing. For a while, everything was great, but roughly a month after that defining threesome, I came down with a bad case of mono. In a couple of months, we resumed our bi-sexdates with our FWB, and I noticed I had a hard time getting horny and even had a hard time getting (and staying) hard. More foreplay was needed and fewer distractions were acceptable. I even resorted to pharmaceutical help. We assumed I was still recovering and that diet and exercise would make it all better. Then I had a work-related crisis that lasted until March (and blamed stress from that, since things didn't really change), and finally in March I got shipped off to a war zone. And I still don't have the drive I had a year ago. My brothers-in-arms ogle every female who happens to be around, and sometimes they hook up even though they're not in open relationships — unlike me, who is in one but has no desire to hook up with anyone. I rarely masturbate these days, and if I do, I need sexts and naughty pictures from my wife (and our FWB) back home to get in the mood. I just recently started to get morning wood again, and I blame all this on the stress of being in a war zone. But I fear these are just excuses and I may have to accept the fact that I'm just getting older and this is how my libido is gonna be from now on. I'm turning thirty in a few weeks, so that doesn't help, either. What are the chances that this is just an unlucky chain of events, and when this is over, I could go back to being my old horny self?

Currently Occupied Mostly By Arms Though

I asked a doctor — Dr. Barak Gaster, a physician at the University of Washington and a regular (if sometimes mortified) guest expert around here — if mono could damage and/or diminish a guy's libido, his ability to stay hard, and his masturbatory routine for nearly a year.

"Mono is a viral illness for which there is no real treatment other than the tincture of time," said Dr. Gaster. "Mono is a pretty insidious illness in that it typically causes really severe fatigue, which can linger for a long time. Other common symptoms are muscle and joint aches."

Could fatigue and aches still be affecting mood and interest in sex? "They could," said Dr. Gaster. "It would not be typical, but they could. The duration of mono symptoms is typically around three months, but they can persist to some degree for one to two years in more severe cases. None of the effects of mono are typically considered 'permanent.' So it would be important to reassure someone that the effects of mono that are still present after twelve to eighteen months could still likely resolve as more time passes."

You came down with mono less than a year ago, COMBAT, so you're still in that one-to-two-year symptoms-could-persist window. You also dealt with a work-related crisis before being shipped off to a combat zone — that sounds extremely stressful, and not everyone reacts to stress the same way. The stress of being in a combat zone could make the guys around you horny while having the opposite effect on you.

Be reassured, like the doctor said, that things — your dick included — will most likely right themselves in another six to twelve months. The fact that morning wood is returning seems like a good sign, as is the effect a few dirty texts from the woman (and FWB) waiting for you back home has on your dick.

Come home safe — and props to you and your wife for continuing to grow together sexually. That's probably why you're still together, and still in love, despite having married so young.

My wife is a submissive. I'm not a natural Dom, but I've become more comfortable assuming the role. Recently, she stopped hormonal birth control, and her sex drive and interest in capital-S Submission kicked into high gear. She joined FetLife and went to her first munch a couple of weeks ago. She's not shopping for a Dom. She's looking to socialize, discuss this part of herself, and not feel like such a freak. She thought she hit it off with a few folks but now realizes she may have been sending mixed signals. The munch was advertised as casual, but she says most left that night with a hookup or play plans. One man in particular seems to read her interest in friendship as sexual. My wife is quite upset. How can she find a group of kinksters who will socialize and share their experiences without assuming her presence as an unaccompanied submissive female is an invitation to fuck?

Married, Optimally Nookied, Only Need Advice

The people your wife met at that munch are kinksters, MONONA, not psychics. If she's not interested in playing with anyone other than her spouse — if she has a hot Dom at home and is there only to make kinky friends — all she has to do is say so. Munches are informal meetups where kinky people, from nervous novices to wizened pros, get together without the pressures or expectations of a play party. Your wife's presence at a munch is not an invitation to fuck, of course, but someone who respectfully expresses an interest in playing isn't guilty of bending Emily Post over a bondage bench with the intent to fuck her ass. Most people who go to munches are open to play, MONONA, but those who aren't are welcome. Your wife just needs to let her new friends know she's interested only in socializing. You could help her send that unambiguous, non-mixed signal by accompanying her to the next munch.

I'm a 24-year-old heterosexual female. I discovered that my boyfriend still had an online dating profile up and was checking it regularly. We had a calm discussion about it, and he assured me that he just found the messages he got flattering and offered to take it down. I told him if that's all he was doing, then there was no reason he couldn't have those ego boosts and a monogamous relationship with me, too. Had I not been such an avid reader of your column, Dan, that discussion would've gone very differently. And, really, it's not like he was going to forget that other women existed — nor would I want him to. Though I may look back on this and cringe, right now we're in a great place. We have fun and are sexually compatible and have really excellent conversations. Thank you!

His Answer Perfectly Plausible, Yes?

I enjoy letters like HAPPY's because it's nice to be reminded that not everyone is cheating or being cheated on, miserably single and looking to get into a relationship or trapped in a miserable couple and looking to get out, kinky and stuck with a vanilla partner or vanilla and stuck with a kinky one. Some people are doing just fine. And yes, HAPPY, I do think your boyfriend's answer is perfectly plausible — some people are on dating apps for the ego boosts alone (they're called "time-wasters") — and here's hoping it's totally truthful as well.

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