Home > Uncategorized > Aunt Pythia’s advice: 50 Shades edition

Aunt Pythia’s advice: 50 Shades edition

February 14, 2015

Readers! Dearest readers! Welcome! And a very warm welcome as well to anyone coming from the Slate Money podcast “Exotic Fantasies” edition, where Aunt Pythia was delighted to be featured this week.

Aunt Pythia is so very happy to welcome you (and your Inner Goddesses) onto the bus today. Please enter single file, find an empty seat, or sit on someone’s lap, or lie across a series of laps, and then apply the “restraints” (otherwise known as seat belts) to yourself and others. I’ll wait. Oh, and before Aunt Pythia forgets, please sign this consent form before we begin. Yes, that’s what I said. It’s an unusual column today, people.

Because, dear readers, although Aunt Pythia does not believe in Valentine’s Day in general, she is making an exception this year for the opening weekend of 50 Shades of Grey, simply because it has created an extraordinary opportunity to talk about sex nonstop for a week:


The movie is entirely sold out all day today, so I’m going first thing tomorrow morning, kind of like church.

After you read the column, but before you go to the movie, please:

ask Aunt Pythia a question at the bottom of the page!

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell Aunt Pythia is talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.


Dear Aunt Pythia,

Now that you’ve been out of the ivory tower for a few years, do you have any particular advice for smart math phd’s who want to leave academia?

I’m asking because one of my students is more interested in having a permanent job after her Ph.D. than doing a research post doc and moving several times. She’s a decent programmer, but with little formal training beyond a few classes and a lot of experience with Magma.




Dear Cutie-Patootie,

Sounds like your students is not psyched for the nomadic, monastic, and frugal lifestyle of the mathematician. I get that.

And here’s the thing, I wrote Doing Data Science for people like her. She should take a look and see if that is her style. And if yes, she should learn python and do a few data projects and exhibit them online.

If not, she should take the following quiz:

  1. Are you boring?
  2. Are you evil?

If she said “yes” to #1, she might consider actuarial math. If she said “yes” to #2, she should think finance. If she said “no” to both, she should consider moving to Canada.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia


Dear Aunt Pythia,

Couldn’t tolerate the thought of that picture getting posted again next week, so. . .

What are your suggestions for getting better at sex? I’m sure open communication, mutual exploration and play will be at the top of your standard list. Problem is that my partner doesn’t want to do any of that. I think the reasons are a mix of shame and an idealized romantic notion that this should be effortlessly perfect.

No More Bouncy Castle Genitalia Pics


Do you mean this picture?

I could post this every week and die a happy woman

I could post this every week and die a happy woman

As to your question, here’s what I’ve noticed. A lot of people complain about their sex life and when I ask them whether they’ve tried various things, they tell me their partner “doesn’t want that.” But when I ask whether they’ve asked their partner, explicitly, about that, they admit they haven’t. It makes me wonder if their partner also goes around saying exactly the same thing.

The thing about open communication is that having it clears up these kinds of mutual misunderstandings. It’s worth double checking sometimes, in other words.

And if you do double check, and she agrees she doesn’t like open communication, mutual exploration, and play, then I’d say find a new girlfriend.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia


Hello Aunt Pythia,

So this is a tricky question to phrase, or to ask at all, but I will give it a try.

I met my girlfriend online and for the first two years, all of our interactions were carried out that way. All of them. There was something I could do that she liked, and it IS kinda fun, once in a while. I didn’t know it was rare, but she assured me it is, and that it excited her enormously.

Now we are together, and of course she wants me to do it ‘in the flesh’. I worried that it wouldn’t be nearly such a turn-on for her as it was online … but she absolutely loved it. Now she wants me to do it every time, and even while I’m inside her. As I’ve said … I enjoy it sometimes … but not every time, plus I am a bit worried about the hygiene element of the whole ‘inside’ aspect of it.

I don’t want this to be something that dents our relationship, but nor do I want it to happen every time. I know it’s stupid, but occasionally I even think this might have been what brought her to me, and in those moments, I can’t countenance NOT doing it for her, in case I lose her. Most of the time I know that last sentence isn’t true, but that 1% of the time when I don’t rather carves me up.

Dear Aunt Pythia – can you help me retain my lovely girlfriend, and also help us both to get the maximum enjoyment from sex?

Hopefully yours,
Finding Our Unusual Net Techniques Aren’t Intimate Nirvanas


First of all, amazing sign-off. Possibly the best one ever.

Next, it’s not clear if you’ve ever expressed to your girlfriend that you’d like to try sex without this. For all she knows, you might like this as much as she does. So the first thing to do is to talk to her about how it would be nice to have sex without this element once in a while. She might be fine with that!

Third, it’s not ok for someone to insist on something, anything, to happen every time, unless both people want it. It borders on abusive, in fact. So keep in mind it’s totally OK to tell her what you need. Or another thing you might do is discover a kink of your own and agree to alternate between your two kinks, thus naturally creating balance.

Finally, here’s what I’d actually do if I were you. I would just “forget how to” do that thing that you do once or twice and see what happens and see what conversations emerge, if any.

After all, penises are mysterious things that women don’t have direct experience with and thus don’t understand. They don’t always do what you want them to do (we all know that from our experiences in 7th grade!), with all those myriad valves and fittings. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that this specific thing sometimes just doesn’t work. Not that I want you to be consistently devious, but try it out and see whether the sex can be good for both of you.


Aunt Pythia


Aunt Pythia,

You seem to have a great and helpful perspective on sex. I’d love to ask a sex question or three. And you seem desperate for sex questions. But I’m afraid that the closest I can come right now is more of a disappointingly meta sex question.

In particular, how can people safely ask their sex questions? Aren’t they thinking ahead and afraid that their letter will be immortalized online and someone, someday, will read it and figure out who wrote it? Do people play tricks like reversing the genders? Would that really be convincing, like “I can’t get my wife to help with the dishes. Can you help?” Most of the time gender issues are raised that would not allow this. 

I think part of what makes your answers great is that you don’t always insist on the idea that one must necessarily share with one’s partner anything one might think, fantasize about, etc. Thus the worry.

Perhaps this has brought me closer to a sex question: what is your general guidance about when one should and should not share thoughts and fantasies about sex with a partner? That seems safe enough for starters.

ME Think Ahead

Dear META,

First of all, I’d advice you to stop worrying so much. Everyone thinks about sex all the time, so by the pigeon hole principle most people think for at least a few minutes a day about any one question, and might find themselves asking any old sex advice columnist that question. So you are well camouflaged here on earth.

Plus, if you are worried you could always just change your handwriting a little bit like students do on end-of-semester evaluation forms, which totally doesn’t work.

As to your eventual question, I’ve got three rules. First, share when it will make your partner hornier. Second, keep it to yourself if it will make your partner angry or jealous or less horny. And third, change it ever so slightly to bring it from the second category to the first. Become an erotic story teller!

Good luck,

Aunt Pythia


Well, you’ve wasted yet another Saturday morning with Aunt Pythia! I hope you’re satisfied! If you could, please ask me a question. And don’t forget to make an amazing sign-off, they make me very very happy.

Click here for a form or just do it now:

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I infer from the quiz answers above that you find people who have studied actuarial math boring. Have you given any thought to whether actuarial studies attract boring people or do annuities and life tables squeeze the excitement out of people?


    • February 17, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      You know, I feel kind of bad about that quiz. It was meant to be funny but it’s really just a stereotype. I don’t know enough actuaries to have any basis for believing it or not. As a nerd myself, I’m pretty sure anything can be interesting if you ask the right question in the right way.

      On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 3:45 PM, mathbabe wrote:



  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: