BOUND AND GAGGED One of my turn-ons is to be bound and gagged. With my husband due home from work in half an hour and my teenage daughters at a sleepover, I had a girlfriend tie me up (fully clothed) and leave me in a kitchen chair. My husband was late, but after 45 minutes my daughters appeared. Their sleepover had been canceled. After they untied me I told them their father and I were playing a game. They seemed to accept that but could they now think I’m weird? Should I attempt a better explanation?

—L.L., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

All teenagers think their parents are weird; you just confirmed it for your daughters. We like your explanation, and it’s none of their business beyond what you offered anyway. But take a lesson from your misadventure: It’s never a good idea to be tied up and left alone. Bondage requires safeguards, including supervision and safe words or signals. Your girlfriend should have hung around until your husband returned, even if she had one foot out the door. HOLD THAT THOUGHT

I just started dating a guy, and he’s already driving me crazy. He’s into setting the mood whenever we have sex: candles, incense, music, the works. Sometimes I want to be ravaged, or ravage him, but if I start grabbing at his clothes or kissing him hard to get things going, he says, “Hold that thought,” and scurries around to get things just right. Most guys I’ve dated have no interest in any of this stuff—they’re ready to go whenever. Should I be concerned?

—R.T., Duluth, Minnesota

Your boyfriend sounds like what one of our favorite cultural observers, Lisa Carver, would call a sensualist. You, on the other hand, are a sexualist. “Sexualists are into sex,” explains Carver, who edits a fanzine called Rollerderby. “Sensualists are into eroticism—things that aren’t sex but that involve the thought of sex. Sensualists are romantics; they like to set the mood. Sexualists aren’t waiting around for someone to light some candles.” Foot fetishists are sensualists, as is anyone who experiments with tantric sex, writes erotic e-mail or fusses over dimming the lights. Henry Miller and Marilyn Monroe were sensualists; Jack Nicholson and Xena the Warrior Princess are sexualists. Like you, Carver is a sexualist. “I had sex with a sensualist once. He hung his hair around my face like a tent, cutting off all light, and said, ‘How does that look and feel?’ I realized he was waiting for me to compliment him on his eroticism, and until I did, he was withholding his thrusts. So I lied and said, ‘That’s so cool.’” The issue isn’t your different approaches to sex, but the lack of variety. Unless your new boyfriend is willing to set aside his sensualism once in a while and let you take charge, this relationship may be a challenge.SISTER SWINGER

Last night when my husband and I were opening responses to our swingers’ ad, he went pale. One letter included a photo of a nude woman, and it was his sister. We had no idea she and her new husband were swingers, and we don’t think she knows we are (we use a pseudonym in our ads). My husband says we should return the letter and photo marked “not interested” and say nothing more. I argue that we should discuss the situation with them, because our paths are sure to cross. I’m not suggesting that we swing with them, but perhaps they could benefit from our experience. What do you think?

—M.J., New York, New York

Small world, eh? Acknowledge the letter for exactly the reason you state. Rather than send a written reply, invite your sister-in-law and her husband to dinner. Don’t reveal your shared lifestyle with the idea that they might benefit from your experience—who says they’re beginners? Simply explain that you wanted to acknowledge the unusual situation in a comfortable, familiar setting rather than after rounding the corner at a party. Then have a good laugh.

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