Ask an Honest Question, Get an Honest Answer

“How often do other women give you a bone?” 

Note: “Bone” means “boner” aka “erection”

Note 2: We both laughed at the question, at the honesty of it all.

The other day my fiancée asked me this question. It was actually sparked by Tom Matlack’s A Dozen Questions for Men and my absolute belief that men are not biologically driven to be monogamous. We also spoke of the “Are all men on a spectrum from homosexual to bisexual to heterosexual?” and we realized we had a much different opinion due to our living for six months in Bangkok – a place that embraces ladyboys, open sexualities and mixed genders – as opposed to spending our previous 25 years in central Pennsylvania.

“Often, I guess,” I answered. “Honestly, sometimes I’ll walk over to the grocery store just to grab us something for dinner and I’ll see a woman and I feel a little something down there. But no matter how devoted I am to you, no matter how committed, other women still give me a bone. This is how I know it’s not that my moral compass is broken, it’s that I’m a product of my biology.”

“Well, are there certain triggers? Certain types of women or things that they do that turn you on?” She paused. “I want to know because I want to do more of those things.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Sometimes it’ll be heels or a skirt or hair or a smell or even just a women confident in herself. Sometimes, more often than not, I think, these things trigger something but then it continues with thoughts of our sex or your sexiness.”

“Well, how do you stop a bone? I mean, when you feel something down there how do you stop it so it doesn’t get full?”

“I think of my old obese grappling coach’s belly.”

“But no matter how devoted I am to you, no matter how committed, other women still give me a bone. This is how I know it’s not that my moral compass is broken, it’s that I’m a product of my biology.”


“Yup. I think of his disgusting rolls and how he must have to lift them just to clean the cheese that grows in between them.”

“Oh my gosh that’s gross!”

“That’s the point. It works!”

“Haha! Well, next time we are out can you show me who?” she said.

“Of course. But I’ll be with you so it’ll likely be from you.”

“Well, like, look around. Pretend I’m not there.”

“Okay, I’ll try.”

The openness and honesty of the conversation is one that still has us laughing. The next time we went out and she noticed a women society typically deems sexy – all done up, painted nails, loads of makeup, a tight dress – she looked over at me and nodded for me to look at this women.

“No way!” I said. “That’s what society says gives men bones. That might work for some but not me.”

“Good!” she said. “We’re learning together. This is awesome.”

The next day she brought this discussion up to her friend. “Cameron admitted he gets a bone from other women. I asked him and he was honest about it.”

“Doesn’t that piss you off? Ugh. I’d be so pissed if my boyfriend said that.”

“Not at all! He was honest and it makes me believe he’ll always be. Plus, I want to pick up some new tricks for what turns him on!”

The friend saw my fiancée’s side and they both started laughing. “I’ll go home and ask Danny,” the friend said. “We’ll have a good discussion about it.”

Now when we’re out she’ll look over at me, nod her head toward an attractive woman and say through a smile: “Bone Appétit?”

—Photo fitri.agung / Flickr


On Honesty:

The Paradox of Male Honesty

Tom Matlack hosts a Socratic Roundtable on Honesty with Joel Stein, Amanda Marcotte, Tom Miller, Dan Barrett and Todd Mauldin.

Ask an Honest Question, get an Honest Answer

Cameron Conaway’s fiancee asks him “How often do other women give you a bone?”

Honesty. Yeah, That’s an Action Word, Too.

When it comes to honesty, Lisa Hickey would rather ignore words and focus on actions.

The Curse of the Reformed Liar

A poem by Jack Varnell

About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.


  1. Cameron, good for you and your fiancé for the level of safety, trust and openness in your relationship. I have had that, and it’s wonderful. Reading the comments, it saddens me at the number of folks, male and female, who cannot conceive of such a dialogue as anything other than a trap. Jealousy and lack of trust are so rampant that real conversation stops before people have even made a long term commitment. Bringing awareness of attraction back to your own bed keeps the energy alive. I think it further reassures a flesh and blood human that our partners aren’t turned on by Barbie and Ken, but by humans with confidence, with curves, with quirks and uniqueness…as it offers hope that our own charm lies in our unique attributes as well. And knowing my partner is willing to share his lust for an “exotic other”, but come home to me makes our own time together hotter…it becomes something we are sharing, instead of a secret between us. Thanks.

  2. John Barry says:

    My aunt used to say it didn’t matter where you got your appetite, as long as you went home to eat.

  3. Really? I guess I was looking for something more in this piece and I’m not sure what that was. I can’t help but be surprised that anyone would not know that their partner would not find another sexually attractive. Maybe it’s because I’ve been married a couple of times and had a few boyfriends in between. I’ve been with my current spouse for 20 years.

    Good for fiance for asking the question. I say more importantly good for you for answering. I’m surprised she needed to ask. It’s been my experience that it’s fairly obvious when my husband finds another woman attractive and/or sexually appealing. I know he’s not interested in being with her and the reaction is physical. I have no fear of him wandering. He’s just looking and at the end of the day I’m the only naked woman in the room. So I’m am the most appealing.

    Yes, yes if people were meant to be monogamous there would not be so much pornography bought and sold on the internet. There would not be dance clubs featuring mostly naked people and prostitution would not be legal in Nevada. Welcome to the human experience.

    My suggestion to any man (or woman) who’s entering into a monogamous, long term relationship. Just make a mental list. When you see an attractive woman you just put her on that list….. that list of women you’re never going to have. 🙂

  4. wellokaythen says:

    I simply cannot imagine having such a conversation in such detail with my wife or any woman I’ve ever been in a relationship with. I’d find the whole thing horribly uncomfortable. Call it paranoia or whatever psychological diagnosis you want, but it would sound to me like a trap or a trick question. A LOT of men would only see negative consequences on the horizon for answering honestly.

    I’d assume that it was one of those questions that was not really looking for an honest answer, so I’d have to answer the question with questions of my own:

    “Can you say more about where this question is coming from?”
    “Are you looking for reassurance?”

    Otherwise, this line of questioning sounds a lot like “Does my butt look big in this?”

    • Yeah, all this ‘Honesty’ is wonderful, a regular ‘Kyumbia’ moment. That is, as long as the relationship is running along nice and smooth. If the relationship should hit a ‘Rough Patch’, a little acrimony, a bit of tension, watch how quickly those ‘Honest’ answers get thrown back in your face!

  5. While I realize that this article focuses on the male sex drive, I have to point out that women are also NOT geared towards monogamy. Just because we cannot display such an obvious physical manifestation of arousal does not mean that we don’t get stimulated by attractive men. It happens all the time, and most women admit to fantasizing about men who are not their partners. Not to mention the fact that rates of female infidelity have been on the rise since the 1970s and, I predict, will eventually level out with rates of male infidelity. It is incredibly problematic to imply that only men are “naturally” non-monogamous and only serves to reinforce the traditional notion that men want more sex / more sex partners than women. That is simply not true.

  6. Yeah. Nice try. It’s got NOTHING to do with being male. It’s about being human. All this schtick about “biology” and men being “wired differently” just rings more and more like male privilege and self-justification. Scientific study over the past 70+ years shows unequivocally that women’s charges, desires, and impulses are much the same as men’s. The difference would appear to lie very much in how we’ve been socialized to behave around those impulses. And of course, stats show us again that women are JUST as likely to be unfaithful, now that opportunity is equal. So thanks for your honesty, but why don’t you get REAL honest and take into account that there’s a very good chance your wife has the same feelings around other men… ?? I am 50 years old, in a committed relationship, and have these exact same experiences you describe in the grocery store on a regular basis. And I am absolutely female. Always have been. Just sayin’.

    I think honesty’s great. But PULEEZE don’t cloak it in the “I’m a guy” thing. That stuff is SO tired. Thanks.

    • Adele, notice that he didn’t say he was “wired differently” to women. He was just speaking to his own experience. I understand your position, that tired line gets trotted out so often that it’s caused a huge gap to emerge between the perceived male and female sexual norm. I reject the notion that men are uniquely non-monogomous, or uniquely sexual. That said, I think it is unfair to the author to suggest that he is describing anything other than his own experience.

      Also as a blogger who’s written a few revealing articles, I am sensitive to the fact that he may be carefully revealing only what his fiance would be comfortable making public. I strongly doubt that the actual conversation didn’t swing both ways…

  7. I am a woman who is not wired for monogamy. In fact, studies show that women are not “wired for monogamy”. (See here for a little bit more information on that:

    You might feel you are a product of your biology but this entire article shows how much you are both a product of your social conditioning. Women are trained to “behave” and “please” to “keep their man”. So archaic.

    I love giving and receiving pleasure but I would never ask for a man’s “honesty” so I could better please him. Hopefully you’re with her because she pleases you. Where is HER pleasure in this “honest” conversation?

  8. I had this conversation with my then boyfriend. We pointed out people that were attractive to either of us, and to discuss the factors that go into that. I think it helps a lot for understanding WHY your partner likes you. Which adds a layer of comfort.

  9. The fact that you two can even HAVE such an open discussion is amazing and means you’re both confident in being yourselves. The fact that SHE asked YOU this question can’t be ignored. Sometimes women are genuinely curious and want to have these discussions, not create a trap for men to fall into. Thanks for writing this honest article, because I’m sure it will give a lot of readers something new to consider.

  10. Haha. I love this, Cameron: “This is how I know it’s not that my moral compass is broken, it’s that I’m a product of my biology.”


  11. What I don’t get is why anyone (male or female) would be angry that their partner finds someone else attractive or gets aroused! That still gets brought back home to your partner…so what’s the issue? We can appreciate all kind of other beauty, it doesn’t reflect poorly on the person we are with or mean that we want to be with someone else. Even when I’m in a committed relationship, I still notice the attractiveness of other men…doesn’t mean I don’t love the one I’m with.

    • Agreed. We’re all human, and if alive, not dead. Attraction is human nature.

    • I also don’t get why they’re pointing out men doing this as if men are the only ones who still find people outside of the relationship attractive. this reeks a little too much of traditional gender roles… i’m married and i look at other men and find them attractive and my husband does so with women. we both also comment of members of the same gender that we find attractive. i find the idea of people saying that they do NOT find other people attractive just because they are in a loving and monogamous relationship very strange and, well, it’s most likely just not true.

      • Heck yeah I look at other men and find them attractive! Women are just the same, you know! We will notice any fine specimen 😀

  12. In reading this and the responses, I found myself wondering about basic male/female differences in regard to initial (physical) attraction. I noticed that people did not approach the subject, really. I’ve always had a relatively low sex drive, and didn’t find myself getting aroused unless it was essentially shoved in my face. That, combined with my shyness and women’s passiveness in social initiation, I’ve always blamed for the extended lonelinesses I’ve suffered. Under the traditional gender roles (that we’re hopefully escaping from) it seems to me that as a man you pretty much have to be aggressive at some point or you ain’t gettin’ nothin’. And if men weren’t hepped up on hormones (a lot more than me, at least), well, the sexual world would cease to spin. I’m not saying women don’t have desires, it’s just that their desires usually take longer to develop, and like a fine wine, they’re saved for the occasion–if you know what I mean. Anyway, so I appreciate the fiancée in this piece, as a woman who doesn’t place undue judgment on what is essentially an involuntary response. Perhaps she recognizes that Love is infinitely more important than base physical attraction, and has faith that’s she’s chosen a man who’s intelligent enough to know it too. Most women could count themselves lucky to enjoy not having to be the aggressor in the initial relationship; I wish I could’ve done that.

  13. I think this type of conversation is great and I would expect my bf to be honest. I routinely point out which females I find hot all the time. I do it about male celebs but not ‘the man on the street’ though, out of respect. I sincerely would like to know which other women give my man a boner. Its really intriguing more than anything else and if she has some attribute similar to me yeah i’ll feel happy, but I won’t be busting my balls to emulate her. Ive asked my bf in the attract what he find attractive and his newer is ‘sexiness’ he says that when it just works, it just works and it isn’t always the obvious. So that is why the answer to this question is intriguing. I had never been particularly jealous or self conscious in this way, in fact I’m probably open to an open relationship arrangement in the future. I know a couple who go to a local bar or club and pretend they are not together. They talk to the opposite sex and flirt maybe, then they see each other and come together, leaving together. this role play works for them because it puts that first meeting back in their mind. It sounds pretty hard to do but they enjoy it.

  14. While I like that your fiancee is someone to have a laugh with and not get jealous, at the same time I don’t see how picking out the women are appeal to you on different days help. She may be confident to point out women herself that you might fancy but when it comes to all those other women, you’re not with them, you’re with her and she shouldn’t have to learn and apply tricks to keep you interested and try and be someone else . That’s absolving yourself of responsibility of expressing your sexuality in a level. She is the one who is trying to do more to keep your attention and that is not how a relationship should go if you are secure with each other enough

  15. I am onboard with this, especially as it speaks to the confidence and security within your relationship — ideal. Nice to hear that it is not stereotypical trappings that tweak his sausage. My only question is, what if what gives him said bone is something completely unappealing, unarousing, even disconcerting to you (eg. complete opposite of what you are or aspire to be, even in fantasy, physically or otherwise. For example, infantilization in dress and/or behaviour of adult women)?

    Understand points that tastes should mesh, as you are on the same wavelength, however… there are unexpected perversions we might not expect and where does that leave you?

  16. Darla Seder says:

    Great article.. if you’re looking for another way to get good answers, feedback, you should try using , a new social network just for that. Pretty cool.

  17. Kevin Houston says:

    Are there any real hook-up sites where you can “REALLY” meet a woman/women??? I’ve wasted way to much money & time on “Scam” sites; I would “REALLY” appreciate the “HONEST TRUTH”. I’ve BEEN SINGLE 4 “WAY WAY” to long!!

  18. Cameron, an enjoyable and interesting read.

  19. Black Iris says:

    I guess I think this probably isn’t a good idea.

    I don’t think trying to look like women that turn your boyfriend on is great. Asking what someone wants in bed is good. So is asking them if they like an outfit, but trying to look like someone else seems off to me.

    Then there’s the problem of what will happen when she finds out that you’re attracted to some women who don’t look anything like her. Sooner or later this can lead to bad feelings.

    The other thing is the question sounds to me like maybe the woman wants more sex or romance. Maybe she’s feeling a little taken for granted and is trying to figure out what she can do to get her boyfriend to notice her. Maybe she’s worried that other women are turning him often than she does.

  20. I think about Rosie O’Donnell eating hot dogs. I’m dead serious too.

  21. I would rather not know which women my husband is attracted to. For me, it’s better not to have this discussion.

    I don’t think being open about the subject makes a relationship better or worse. The important thing is to know how much information you both want and act on that. Just be wise enough not to ask unless you really want to know.

  22. I happen to think that its great that you guys can be this open and honest with each other. If there were more relationships like yours, without either side having to lie and cover things up, I think you would see a higher success rate in marriages, etc. I am constantly asking my male friends, questions about what they think about all different subjects regarding women, and I have to admit, it is pretty refreshing to hear some of their answers, because they are not the stereo-typical answers that we have come to expect from men, due to the various articles we read in women’s magazines. Nice job.

  23. “I want to know because I want to do more of those things.”

    So obviously not married.

  24. I with you on the talking openly about attraction and the fact that we get attracted to other people. And about how attraction and acting on it is not the same.

    But I’m puzzled by the need for biological-deterministic explanations. You get attracted to other women – but why tuck that under “all men are like that” and “it’s not my doing, it’s my biological wiring”. To me, that kind of explanation always sounds like trying to avoid responsibility for oneself. Not at all a man thing.

    Like you, I’m attracted to others – both visually and in other ways. I don’t know if all men (or women) are like that. I don’t know if monogamy is “natural” for men (or women). And I don’t think it’s very important. I know what I am, and I think it’s good and healthy. Nothing wrong with, nothing wrong if my partner is the same. Sure – there might be women (and men) who wouldn’t want a partner who feel like I do. No problem – lots of fish in the pond. It’s far from the only thing about me that will be a dealbreaker to some people.

    I’m glad you found a partner who clicks with you. That’s what really matters.

    • Lars,

      Thanks for the feedback here. I see how you could see it coming off as an excuse, as though it’s “Well, it’s my biology so get used to it.” Humans need to eat, we are driven to reproduce, we are born with certain colors of skin and hair…it’s all the same. I don’t see getting attracted to other women and stating how it has biological roots as avoiding anything. It’s an acknowledgment. Avoiding the acknowledgment is where I think avoidance issues come in. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to say, “Well, I’m this way but I don’t know about others,” because we do know about others. That’s like saying, “Well, I walk using my legs but I’m not sure about others.” Of course, we can’t say all men have a certain characteristic, but I’d say the vast majority of other guys out there are just like me.

      As for you not thinking it’s important, I guess I disagree. For me, it’s important to think about ideas and science and things outside of what’s right in my face. It started this discussion and I think it was important just because of that. For connecting with you on here.

      You’re right on about what really matters. 🙂


  25. I think there is some value to having such conversations as it does give the other partner an idea of what their partner likes. But I think there are limits to how much reward there is in this before it goes into the territory that Erin has pointed out in past threads about porn. There’s a difference between, “Oh you like ___? Well let’s try that everyone once in a while.” and “If I don’t ____ then he’s/she’s not going to be pleased with me.”

  26. I put this in the category of “stuff I don’t need to know.” Would my boyfriend like it if I told him what guys make me hot? I don’t think so.

    • Jill,

      Of course he wouldn’t like it. I think you’re assuming from this article that every human being I find attractive I point out and rub in my fiancee’s face. That simply isn’t the case and would be harmful for the relationship and disrespectful regardless of which partner brings it up. We’d never do that to each other. But to flat-out say no, if your boyfriend asked, that you have the potential to be physically attracted to other people in the world? That’s just as dangerous. And, likely, it’s an absolute lie.


      • Cameron,

        I understand your point, but having the potential to be attracted to other people is different than discussing “what kind of person (other than you) makes me hot.” I just don’t see the need to talk about it at all in a healthy relationship. Honesty is great but there are some things I’d rather not know about. I guess what I’m saying is that in a relationship, you should try to build your partner up, to the extent possible, and not tear them down by comparing them to others who are more desirable. We all know that others are more desirable, but why dwell on it? It just leads to heartache.

  27. Loved the fact that you and your fiancee are able to communicate so openly with each other. Very touching and sweet! Thanks for expressing yourself so well here, on a topic that can be potentially thorny, as The Wet One points out.

    And I’ll mirror what Jeni said above, I’m not sure women are so biologically wired for monogamy, either. The biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher posits that our wiring has us ideally having four men available to us at any given time. (In case the saber-toothed tiger kills your main man, you have other lovers around to help ensure that your offspring survives) So her “science” goes. I always consider this when I hear the old trope from men who justify their cheating by blaming their biological nature. When I share Dr. Fisher’s assertions with them, most men are very surprised. My hope is they’ll divest themselves of the warm, fuzzy security of “knowing” their little lady is safely tucked at home crocheting potholders as a way to use that secure vantage point from which to then go out and play around.

    But back to you and your boners (ahem.) It must be very assuring to you, Cameron, that your fiancee wants so much to be everything you find sexy. But I do think that ultimately she may become very tired, trying to morph into more of what turns you on. Especially when you’ve already described that quality or look in another sexy woman as amorphous, undefinable, really. Try replicating “a smell” as you put it!

    I’ve tried the “I’ll be everything he finds sexy… soon as I can figure that out and reliably tap it.”
    It doesn’t work, because of The Coolidge Effect, and precisely because most men don’t have a proscribed “type” that turns them on.
    What to do when you learn your man is most turned on by dark-skinned women, for example, and you’re as white as a piece of paper? Fry yourself to a crisp in tanning salons?
    Done that. Didn’t work.
    He was with me because he loved ME. That’s the point I ultimately had to relax into, and have the confidence that he would stay true to our love for as long as we were destined to stay together. It’s not always easy, though. This is where a man can help out a LOT and tell her you find her sexy, as you already do.
    So, to your fiancee, I’d say: Forget all the other women. If he’s marrying you, it’s likely he’s already sexually very happy with you.

    And I loved Amanda Marcotte’s answer in the first question of Tom Matlack’s article today:

    “The most important thing is not to exploit the fact that women are socialized to be accomodating, but instead treating a woman with the same attentiveness and graciousness you’d want for yourself”.

    And the fact that you’re outspoken about not using porn, Cameron, tells me a lot about you and your approach to intimacy. Between your fiancee’s being so accommodating and you being so committed to what I find to be pretty high values in relationship, if I were officiating at your wedding, I’d lay bets on your marriage lasting a long time! Just keep that image of the cheesy rolls of your coach’s belly always handy 🙂

    • Lili Bee,

      Love your response here, as always. But I think it missed (or I didn’t write it in enough) the joking nature of this. My fiancee is totally confident in her own sexiness, has no desire to morph into someone or something else, and is totally aware of how strongly and passionately I feel about the qualities that make her beautiful.

      That said, we’re both totally open and acknowledging that we each, as humans, have the potential to be attracted to other humans. I was asked to write a piece on honesty and because this conversation happened the other day I felt it fitting.


      P.S. We both laughed out loud at your final sentence!

      • Cameron, I think maybe the key is that you and your finance are both young and consider yourselves to be sexy and attractive. If your finance is incredibly hot and totally confident in how incredibly hot she is, of course she probably won’t care if you are attracted to other women. But most people on this planet are nothing but average (that, after all, is the definition of average), and for those of us who are a less confident in our ability to please are partners because we have a lot less to offer, the conversation you describe could be emotionally devastating.

        • Jill,

          Point taken. Thank you. We’re confident about how we feel about each other, but we’ve got the same insecurities as everyone else. I see what you’re saying and I’m so grateful you shared this perspective.



  28. Cameron,

    Good stuff. My wife and I have the same discussions, except we laugh because we never find the same women attractive. I definitely have a certain type (redheads, pale skin, thicker/athletic build, etc) but with my wife it’s more by feel. There are no attributes that automatically qualify someone as attractive, just a general sense of “something” that works for her. I often try to guess which men and women she finds attractive and I’m seldom right. It’s kind of a fun game.

    I’ve found the couples who can’t talk openly about this stuff are the ones who have deeper problems and can’t handle relationship turbulence well.

  29. The Wet One says:


    In my experience, this doesn’t work with women. Note that’s just my experience. The reaction would generally fall into the making her angry with me category. Personally, I just don’t go there, because there’s no reward in this kind of “honesty.” In my experience, this is called “stupidity” and “insensitivity.”

    That said, that’s just my experience. Other people will of course have other experiences.

    • I’m with you, I don’t see any reason to talk about that kind of thing. I realize that my boyfriend probably finds other women attractive, but what good does it do me to know that? It’s not like I can turn myself into a 25 year old hottie in order to compete.

  30. Jack Varnell says:

    Great and admirable writing here Cameron. I very much admire the ability to have such a frank and honest discussion with your partner. But then again, that may be the key word…partner. Well done and best to you both.

  31. Well, I am glad your relationship is one where the two of you can be so open with each other. My only comment is that I don’t think women are biologically wired for monogamy either. Just sayin’

    • Thanks Jeni,

      I agree. But I also think it’s okay (essential at times) to speak of men and women individually rather than as some abstract collective generality. Just sayin’


    • I think women are more biologically wired to be socially dependent, women do interact with people in general better than males do (towards both genders). They also have faster word recollection then males as well which further emphasizes this point.

      With our patriarchal society however, it gets twisted to women are meant to be monogamous/dependent on 1 male. There are many tribal societies that actually do the “it takes a village to raise a child” thing literally and they tend to have a strong, well respected female base that aren’t necessarily monogamous.


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