Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My partner is constantly on the sexual alert

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Dear Virginia,

I thought that my partner and I had a good sex life. But last month, for my birthday, he bought me some sexy underwear. It's really uncomfortable and ill-fitting, but he gets very turned on if I wear it. Now he wants me to wear it all the time so that he can imagine what I look like under my clothes... he seems to be obsessed.

I'm no prude, but I don't want to feel he's constantly on the sexual alert, even when I'm just doing the washing up. What can I do without hurting his feelings?

Yours sincerely, Shula

While I can't see anything wrong with agreeing not to wear clothes that one's partner finds really off-putting – for instance, I don't think I could bear to be around a man who wore a dirty vest and trousers that showed a builders' bottom, however lovely and clever was the Inner Bloke – I think your partner's being very insensitive if he's actually trying to insist you wear something that turns him on 24 hours a day. Surely this makes you into some kind of object, a living Barbie Doll? You must feel that if it's just the underwear that turns him on, what if someone else were wearing the underwear? Would he then be dying to have sex with her all the time? Is it you or your (or, rather, his) underwear that he loves?

And anyway, there are moments, when we're preoccupied with other things and don't have sex on our minds, that we don't want to look alluring. I've known the odd man who, when I've been up a ladder vainly trying to hang a picture or change a bulb, or lying underneath a sink trying to unblock it, has suddenly said how sexy I look, and it's far from flattering. Quite the contrary. Fantastically irritating.

Then again, surely you want to have some choice in whether you're looking sexy or not. So, if you feel the moment's right, you feel sexy and relaxed, that might be the time to slip into something suggestive that you know he likes seeing you in. But other times, after an unresolved row, perhaps, you might well feel the last thing you want is for him to feel remotely attracted to you. Time to hide inside a ghastly old boiler suit.

Although I'm sure loads of men would be delighted if they knew their partners were wearing crotchless panties and tasselled bras under their clothes all the time, I think that most women would feel very uncomfortable about a request like this, particularly if it was suggested, as it sounds, without any affectionate humour behind it. And it makes me feel that this may well, unless you can nip it in the bud and even, perhaps, chuck the underwear out completely, turn into some kind of obsessive sexual power game, which, from your letter, I'm sure you don't want.

Are you really sure you want to be in a relationship with someone who needs his sex-drive to be stimulated all the time? Does he have nothing else at all to think about, ever? He sounds to me like a bit of a creep, and it might perhaps be time to wonder whether you'd be better off without him. Readers say...

Be a loving partner

You do not know how lucky you are. Men are constantly on the sexual alert and the good thing about your man is that he is inspired by you rather than anyone else. If the gear he bought you does not fit, or isn't comfortable, then tell him. Suggest going with him to the shop where he bought it and get him to buy you something that you like better. Life is short. I think you ought to try to be a loving sexual partner and keep this man. He is a good one. And anyway, what's wrong with abandoning those all-important dishes once in a while? Oh and one other thing to bear in mind – he did remember your birthday.

Name and address supplied

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Don't be such a killjoy

"I am not a prude". I am afraid you most definitely are a prude, and you must stop being one right now. Your husband has bought you some pretty underwear – probably the least offensive step he could take in trying to add a little variety to your love life – and you turn into a sanctimonious old killjoy. Judging by the number of unhappy, sex-starved, husbands on social networking sites, there are many, many wives who stop being the joyful, sexually up-for-it and liberated girls they used to be. Don't become one of them! If the stuff he bought doesn't feel comfortable, buy some that does feel comfortable, and rejoice in your generous, attentive husband.

Felicie Oakes

Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Let him try it on for size

Purchase your husband seven tightly fitting thongs. Then ask him to wear them daily, under the clothes he goes to work in, does the garden in or whatever his day-to-day life entails. He would have no excuse that his underwear was in the wash as you'd have bought him sufficient to preclude this. Don't joke about it or threaten it, just buy them. Insist he wears the thongs and tell him that the thought of him doing so brings you unbridled pleasure. Continue with this charade for at least a week. After that, I'd say the subject might be more up for discussion as by this point it would be more than his feelings that are hurting...

Lesley, By email

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