Last spring, my husband and I had a deal: if he came with me to hot yoga, later that night, I’d give him anal sex. For me, this arrangement made perfect sense. It wasn’t that he didn’t like hot yoga — it was just that he found it more physically exerting than his usual two-mile run. Similarly, I don’t *not* like anal sex — it’s just that, well, sort of like hot yoga, it requires a certain “above and beyond” commitment. In the end, the trade-off felt fair and made me feel closer to my partner. After an intense class — followed by a shower, of course — I was, all but once (as far as I remember) happy to carry out my side of the bargain.
I mentioned my little arrangement to a friend and found out from her that apparently, this is a thing.
It’s called “sexual bartering” — when one person agrees to do a sexual act in exchange for something they want. It made me wonder, is there anything problematic about trading foot rubs for blow jobs? Or is it, as this GQ columnist once suggested, a healthy way to add a little spice to a long term relationship?
Cheryl, 27, says that when she and her husband first got married, he was dead against. “He felt it cheapened the act and he didn't want to have sex if I didn't really want it.”
Three years — and some health issues that have negatively impacted their sex life — later, and she says, “he's totally cool with it.” For Cheryl and her husband, sexual bartering means trading one favor or act of kindness for another, i.e. “I'll have sex with you if you make me a sandwich.” Off the table, Cheryl says, are household chores that have to be done anyway, like doing the laundry or cleaning the apartment.
Sexual bartering is a close cousin to offering sex as a reward.
Chloe, 34, told me about a time her she and her boyfriend met up with someone who is close to an ex (“the one who really burnt me”) with the purpose of impressing him. “He poured on every bit of British charm,” Chloe recalls. Although they didn’t have an agreement in advance, Chloe told him afterward that his performance was worth three blow jobs. She hasn’t yet, but she intends to pay up.
Spicing up your sex life isn’t all that hard on Love Life.
For Heather, 36, sexual bartering isn’t transactional so much as it is reciprocal. “When you're going to get something as a result of giving [something],” Heather says, "the turn on is huge!”