Love Taps

Sex & relationship advice from Patrick Califia

Patrick is a family therapist, writer, sex radical, and all-round font of erotic wisdom. If you've read his collected advice columns in The Advocate Adviser, or his trenchant personal/political essays in Public Sex, Sex Changes, or Speaking Sex to Power, you'll know that Patrick is well-informed about the vagaries of the human heart, the mysteries of the libido, and how to pursue your desires — whatever they may be — safely, responsibly, and passionately.

Submit questions to Patrick here.

We also have an archive of advice columns from Sasha, whose column "Love Bites" appeared in Canadian weeklies for over 14 years.

Friday, August 04, 2017
Love Taps Mad at You

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: You had this really stupid column about Asperger’s last month. Clearly you know nothing about Aspies, and you should not pretend to be an expert on us or on sex. You are telling people that Asperger’s equals no libido. I am a gay man with Asperger’s, and my sex drive is higher than normal. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I enjoy going to clubs where I can meet other guys who are also very horny. If you think I can’t have a relationship, wrong again! My husband and I have been together for three years. He is a very hot man who also has normal sexual desire, for me and for other guys. We are happy together and we are not socially awkward. If you met us, you would never be able to tell that I have Asperger’s. Instead of putting us down, you should be helping Aspies to be part of the same world that other people enjoy!—Mad at You

Friday, July 28, 2017

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: I have a pretty stressful job that was giving me awful headaches. But I love the excitement at my company and don’t want to quit. My doctor suggested that I start getting massage on a regular basis. This works very well, if I can get a masseuse who understands I really do want a MASSAGE and nothing else.

Like many straight man, I have experimented with prostitutes. I was younger, away from home, scared to be in the military, and very lonely. But paying for sex just made me even more lonely. Today, I still feel that there are worse things than going home by myself if a horny evening’s search for erotic opportunities is not successful. I want a woman who is interested in me and full of her own desire, not an actress who is counting the minutes until she can leave.

I have tried only calling massage ads that say the person is licensed. Then they turn up and want to jerk me off instead of giving me a massage. I say no, they accuse me of being gay, and they still want to be paid. I feel that I shouldn’t have to pay for services I have not received, or support false advertising. I wish the law would just let sex workers advertise honestly, so that if an ad says, “Licensed Masseuse, No Sex,” I could be sure she really meant it. How can I get around the use of “masseuse” as a euphemism for “prostitution”?—Pounding [Big] Head

Friday, July 21, 2017

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: My partner and I are in an open lesbian relationship. I knew from the beginning that she had fantasies about cis-gender men. She recently met, flirted with, and wants to start dating a bisexual man who is HIV-positive. She feels fine about this because his viral load is undetectable. I am not sure what that means, but I don’t feel okay about giving her permission to have sex without condoms with this man. He is very active with public sex with other guys and makes jokes about getting various STDs from them. I do not want this in our bed. Do I have the right to make some boundaries here?—Mad about the Boy

Friday, July 14, 2017
Love Taps Sad Wife

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: I have been married for eight years. My marriage was, I thought, a solid and loving one, even if it wasn’t very passionate. My husband was a good provider and supported me in my personal and professional goals. For a long time, I was sad about not having children, but now I am glad I do not have to explain my situation to a little one.

My husband has come to me and told me that he is a she. Apparently these feelings of being a woman are very strong, even though I never saw anything feminine about him. He has already made an appointment to see a doctor about beginning hormonal “treatment.” I did get invited to go and support him, which doesn’t make me feel better at all. I don’t understand why he has to go so fast.

When I try to see him as a woman, I can’t conjure up an image that isn’t, to be frank, freakish. He was a Marine, for heaven’s sake! I’m angry that I wasn’t told about these feelings before we got married. I am not sure that I can stay with someone who is making this kind of radical and selfish change.

My religious belief in the sanctity of marriage is very strong. I never thought I would be one of those women who got a divorce. My parents will be so ashamed of me. But if my husband is going to start wearing a dress around town, I don’t see any way to avoid hurting them. I also have no idea how we are going to live if he gets fired from his job. We are both employed, but being a social worker doesn’t pay as much as being an engineer.

Is there any kind of therapy that would help my husband to conquer this obsession with becoming a woman? Any way to make him see that he is risking everything he has? This would protect the happiness of so many people.—Sad Wife, Sad Life

Friday, July 07, 2017

Patrick califia love taps

Dear Patrick: I am lovers with a leatherwoman (masochist) who is in a ten-year relationship with another top who describes their relationship as one of ownership. But they don’t see each other very often due to living in different states. Shortly after I began dating this smokin’ hot bottom, all three of us discussed the situation because it was clear I wanted more than a one-night stand with her. Her owner decided it would be okay for us to continue, with the understanding that this other top comes first in her heart and life. If he says, drop it and run over here, she is supposed to do that without thinking.

Things between me and this girl have continued to deepen. We play every chance we get. But a few weeks ago, her other top showed up for one of their weekend visits and told her she was getting a permanent collar. It is not supposed to come off. Ever. I like to play with collars. But this thing is so fragile that I can’t lock a heavy chain around her neck. This is frustrating to me and interrupts the rhythm or pattern of a scene.

I have to admit that it pisses me off that nobody asked me about this before it happened. I had no warning. I just had to be gracious. There is no acknowledgment that this affects me. I am also hurt that my masochistic lover doesn’t seem to care whether she gets to wear MY collar or not. She is too busy showing off the permanent one.

In my heart of hearts, I suspect that I have no right to feel this way. I don’t want this creeping edge of jealousy to ruin what has been a really wonderful experience. I love this girl, and I am friends with her owner. He matters a lot to me. So—what are your thoughts?—Second String Hitter

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dear Patrick: I am about to get surgery for prostate cancer. Depending on how the surgery goes, I may be getting radiation treatments or hormone therapy or both. My cancer is aggressive, so all of this will be happening very quickly. My family is being supportive. All my children have arrived to help me and my wife to deal with this. But of course they are worried, and I am not sure how to be reassuring when the truth is, this disease could shorten my life.

I have not had a lot of privacy to discuss certain things with my wife, and I need more information before I can do so. I feel that my doctor is not being honest with me about what will happen to my sexual functioning as a result of this surgery and the other treatments. He actually commented that sex stops being important when you get older. I don’t know what his marriage is like, but my wife and I enjoy a really good sex life, and neither one of us will be very happy if that stops.

Can you give me the truth? I will get the treatment no matter what, but I need to prepare for life after cancer. I can’t do that if I am being kept at arm’s length with euphemisms and half-truths.

-On the Block

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dear Patrick: I am a teenage guy who has epilepsy. Is it okay for me to have sex? I am really worried that it might make me have a seizure. I am still living at home with my parents, and it’s usually my mom who takes care of me if I have one. I take the medication like I am supposed to even though I don’t like how it makes me feel. Someday I’d like to be able to live independently, partly because want to have enough privacy to be able to bring somebody home! Right now, when my girlfriend visits, it’s “keep your bedroom door open” rules. I’m 19, for heaven’s sake!


Friday, March 03, 2017

Dear Patrick: Due to an accident in childhood, my penis bends at a sharp angle about halfway up the shaft. I am in my early 20s and still have not experienced intercourse. Everybody else seems to like it, so I would like to see what all the hype is about, LOL. But I am afraid of being ridiculed if I take my pants off. I’m also concerned about whether my erection would hurt my partner. To be honest, I have never gone to a doctor about this. It is a very personal and embarrassing thing to discuss with a stranger. Can you give me any pointers that might allow me to have a normal sex life? (I realize “normal” is a problematic word, but I think you know what I mean?)

—Finally Facing It

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dear Patrick: What is the story with hepatitis vaccinations? If you are a sexually active man, should you be getting one?

—Straight Not Narrow


Dear Straight Not Narrow: The simple answer is “probably yes,” but this question brings up the whole topic of a disease that is sometimes sexually-transmitted and sometimes caught via other routes of transmission. You may not want to read everything that follows, but I am guessing some readers will be curious about the complex reality of these viruses.

Friday, February 17, 2017
Love Taps Big Bottom Dyke

Dear Patrick: My doctor says I am going through menopause. In the past, I enjoyed vaginal fisting a great deal. I never had any trouble safely taking a gentle partner’s well-lubricated hand. But now, every time I try to go there, I bleed. Not a lot, but enough to be visible. My girlfriend is freaked out by this and says we should stop fisting. Menopause is making me have a lot of emotional ups and downs, not to mention the hot flashes and night sweats. If I have to ALSO give up my favorite kind of sex, I think I will get very depressed!

—Big Bottom Dyke

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dear Patrick: I'm an abuse survivor who left a relationship two years ago and am ready to try sex again. During that long-term relationship I was denying there was anything wrong, pretending to like sex and waiting for that to happen. It never did and I developed an aversion. Now, I realize I'm a little different from other people. Part of me is looking for what turns me on (pain and probably masochism). Another part thinks I should at least try to associate sex with love and intimacy. In either case, I'm not interested in monogamy but rather sexploration. I'd appreciate some advice! Thanks

—Trying to Mix PTSD and Pleasure

Friday, February 03, 2017
Love Taps Small Girl

Dear Patrick: Some of my girlfriends claim that you can tell how well-endowed a guy is by looking at certain parts of his anatomy...

Friday, January 27, 2017
Love Taps Virus Zero

Dear Patrick: My AIDS medications have taken my viral load down so far it is almost zero. My doctor says I am “undetectable.” Since I cannot possibly give this disease to anybody, do I still have to disclose that I am HIV-positive?

Friday, January 20, 2017


Dear Patrick: My spouse and I recently had a threesome with one of my female friends...

Friday, January 13, 2017


Dear Patrick: I like to be tickled! I don’t think this is a very intimidating desire. I’m not asking anybody to hurt me. I just want to be tickled until I lose control and can’t stand it any more. It’s easy to do, or so you would think. But you would not believe the trouble I’ve had persuading a lover to devote a little time to tickle games. Why? Do you understand this? Maybe if you talk a little bit about my fantasy, it will be less intimidating for my girlfriend.

Friday, December 23, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am getting married in a month. My fiancée has told me she is a virgin. I have had sex with one other woman, but she was not a virgin. All I know about this is that sex is supposed to be very painful for women the first ti...
Friday, December 16, 2016
Dear Patrick: I transitioned about five years ago. Instead of being an unhappy, androgynous girl, I am now a furry bear cub who has had love affairs with both men and women. But when I am alone, I am finding myself fantasizing about and ...
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Dear Patrick: I have known for a long time that my husband would like to go to a swing club with me. His 30th birthday is coming up, and after giving it a lot of thought, I have decided I want to make this his special birthday surprise. ...
Friday, December 02, 2016
Dear Patrick:  My 25-year-old partner has requested a spanking. I was never spanked as a child (the idea is repugnant to me), so I have no idea how to go about spanking an adult. I am not unwilling, just unsure of how to proceed. She say...
Friday, October 28, 2016
Love Taps Penis Pumping
Dear Patrick: I recently ran into a clip of another guy pumping his cock. It just fascinated me, but I was also worried about damage. How long can you do something like that without hurting your cock? Also, in the case of someone who was...
Friday, October 21, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am in a good relationship with a woman of transgender experience (as she puts it). We have been scrimping and saving for years now to pay for her sex-change surgery. It has taken a lot of research to find a doctor that we...
Friday, October 14, 2016
Dear Patrick: What is the best kind of dildo to buy? I think I need one for practice. But they are expensive. So what is the best one?AnswerDear Single Girl: There are so many different kinds of sex toys available today that I hesitate t...
Friday, October 07, 2016
Love Taps Scat Fantasy
Dear Patrick: First, a bit about myself I guess. I'm a 29-year-old, white, heteroflexiblemale. I am a university graduate in the sciences, and work in a professional role related to my studies. I live in Ottawa, but find myself a little ...
Friday, September 23, 2016
Dear Patrick: I have been in love with a kind-hearted young guy for more than two years. He is smart, beautiful, and so understanding, I feel like I have met my soul mate. To prove I am loyal to him and I take this relationship seriously...
Friday, September 16, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am new to university (male) and am not quite used to being surrounded by other young people my age. One thing I have seen a lot of is hookups, and it would be a lie to say that I'm not interested in these. My worry is tha...
Friday, August 26, 2016
Dear Patrick: My fantasies, for as long as I can remember, center on being something other than a human being. Sometimes I am a cat-like being and sometimes I am a horse. This feels like my real form, and when I can sleep and dream that ...
Friday, August 19, 2016
Love Taps Sex and COPD
Dear Patrick: I was diagnosed with COPD a few months ago. It is a problem I got from a job in the manufacturing industry, being around too many solvents. Before the diagnosis, my doctor told me I had asthma, and I used various inhalers. ...
Friday, August 12, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am writing to ask if you have any theories about why incest fantasies are so common. As a top, I find that more and more often, other guys call me “Daddy” without even bothering to ask if that’s okay. I don’t think they w...
Friday, August 05, 2016
Dear Patrick: I'm so relieved to finally have someone to ask this! I have been sexuallyactive for about three years with the same partner, a long term relationship. I have never had an orgasm. I enjoy sex, but I wouldn't say I feel sexua...
Friday, July 29, 2016
Love Taps Sex and IBS
Dear Patrick: After years of discomfort and embarrassment, I have finally gotten an explanation for the problems I have been having with my digestive system. A specialist says that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). In order to contr...
Friday, July 22, 2016
Dear Patrick: You promised several weeks ago to write a column about genderqueer people and sexuality. I was and am offended by fiction and non-fiction in which the author assumes that only men have penises and only women have vaginas. I...
Friday, July 15, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am a transman who is having trouble dating heterosexual women. It seems to me that women who have sex with men don’t like them very much. Is that possible? I have had girls I am dating speak to me in a condescending way, ...
Friday, July 08, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am trying to become active in my local BDSM community, but I am having a very hard time relating to the group I tried to join. I keep being rebuked by various group leaders for behavior that they think shows poor social s...
Friday, July 01, 2016
Dear Patrick: I would expect a libertine like yourself to be in favor of a remedy like PrEP that promises to let gay men have sex without condoms and still prevent AIDS. It is horrifying to me to see all of the public health education we...
Friday, June 24, 2016
Dear Patrick: I am writing about the woman whose girlfriend wanted to have, she felt, too many orgasms. I am in a similar position, which is that I have orgasms all of the time. Only it is not a pleasant experience, no lover or partner i...
Friday, June 17, 2016
Love Taps Put Off
Dear Patrick: I’m an attendant for a paraplegic man. He needs to be catheterized a few times a day, so I go over to his apartment and take care of that, make his meals, take care of his service dog, etc. Lately he has had a friend—a very...
Friday, June 03, 2016
Love Taps A Caring Client
Dear Patrick: When I hire a woman to have sex with me, am I doing her any harm? It was recently suggested to me that most sex workers were abused when they were little girls. The fact that they get paid for sex is every bit as traumatic,...
Friday, May 27, 2016
Love Taps Shattered
Dear Patrick: I am one of about 2,000 American veterans whose genitals were injured by an IED (improvised explosive device). In my case, a roadside bomb also took off my legs and one of my arms. Soldiers and Marines like me are waiting f...
Friday, May 20, 2016
Love Taps Exhausted Butch
Dear Patrick: I know that women can have multiple orgasms, and I have happily given my lovers two, three, or four orgasms during long sessions of loud and sweaty lesbian sex. But my latest girl is about to lay me out! Can you tell me if ...
Friday, May 13, 2016
Dear Patrick: I have been part of a triad for three years now. My other lovers are a “straight” couple, a man and a woman, who were together for eight years before I met them. She wanted to explore sex with another woman so he gave her p...
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dear Patrick: I recently went home with a very attractive young woman and thought I was lucky as hell to have gotten her attention. But after we undressed, I was absolutely freaked out to see that she had a ring through her vagina. I was...
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dear Patrick: How do cock rings work? Can they help you to stay hard if you have a problem coming too soon? Where can you get one? Which one should I try?AnswerDear Straight Reader: While it’s true that cock rings were popularized by gay...
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Dear Patrick: Is it true that if you use a toy like a vibrator, it will become more difficult for you to enjoy other kinds of pleasure?AnswerDear Fascinated but Nervous: Vibrators were one of the first small appliances to be invented onc...
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Dear Patrick: Do you think it’s okay for a couple to use masturbation for birth control? The pill is really difficult for me to tolerate, and I don’t like the idea of an IUD. My husband is satisfied with massage, oral sex, and a hand job...
Thursday, March 03, 2016
Love Taps Haunted
Dear Patrick: You have often discussed trauma survivors and how difficult it can be for them to have a sex life. There is one aspect of this topic that is important to me, which I don’t see mentioned very often. My husband is a veteran. ...
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Love Taps Tongue Blocked
Dear Patrick: My girlfriend says my tongue is too short to satisfy her. She won’t let me go down on her very often. When she does, she stops me after a few minutes, laughs, and claims she won’t ever be able to come because my tongue isn’...
Friday, October 30, 2015
Love Taps Mid-Life Crisis
Dear Patrick: As I hit middle age, I am starting to worry about a sexual pattern that I can’t seem to change. I don’t have any trouble functioning with women as long as we are just dating and getting to know each other. I have to confess...
Friday, October 23, 2015
Love Taps Buzzing
Dear Patrick: I am a 26-year old virgin. I bought my first vibrator and I use it a couple of times a week. I get super turned on with it, to the point where everything is extremely sensitive. But I don't know if I've ever had an orgasm, ...