24 May Sex, You’re Doing It Wrong
I know, I know. This topic gets written about a lot, and that’s an understatement. The Internet and print media are littered with blogs, articles, forums, and infographics that attempt address some derivative of this statement: “I am unhappy about sex in my relationship.” So if this proliferation of information about how to better your sexual relationship with your partner is greater than the proliferation of pictures of food on Instagram, then why am I wasting my time and yours by writing yet another article about it?
I am writing another article because I hear the same complaints over and over again in my work as a couples therapist. There are the almost universal complaints like, “We don’t have sex enough,” “He/she wants/expects us to have sex too much,” “He/she doesn’t know how to make me orgasm,” “I’m faking orgasm because I don’t want to make him/her feel bad,” “Our sex is boring,” “He/she wants me to do things that are uncomfortable for me wants me to put on an act during sex.” Of course there are many other issues that I have heard, and there are other complaints that people have, but these come up in some form or another very often.
You may have noticed that some of these are opposing. Usually I hear one from one partner, and the counterpoint from the other. Some issues can be chalked up to personal differences, however there are some good practices to make sex work for both partners. Of course there are exceptions, and not every couple can reconcile their sexual differences, but in my experience, the following points are key building blocks for a mutually pleasurable sex life.
You aren’t a badger, so stop badgering
“He just won’t leave me alone. I feel like the only thing he thinks about is sex.” I put “he” at the front of this sentence, because in the majority of heterosexual couples that I see, if one person wants to have sex more than the other, it is usually the man. And I get it, sex is awesome, she’s gorgeous, and as soon as you get home, you are reminded of how lucky you are. What better way to celebrate your luck than with some adult fun with her?
Unless she doesn’t want to right now. And that feels like rejection, and rejection feels bad. But not wanting to have sex with you right now probably doesn’t mean that she is rejecting you, it just means that she is rejecting sex right now. She probably doesn’t hate you; she probably isn’t repulsed by you, but if you continue to badger her about it, she might start to. If she wasn’t turned on before, you nagging her about it sure isn’t going to put her in the mood; it’s going to turn her off. Even if she gives in, and allows you to have sex with her like an exhausted dog owner whose Lab keeps nosing the leash further and further up her lap, she’s not going be into it. But that’s great, who doesn’t love to feel like the person that they are having sex with would rather be doing just about anything else?
So stop badgering her. You can ask, but if the answer is no, or not right now, then lay off. When she is ready to have sex, she will be way more into it and that’s better for everyone. You will probably also find that the frequency (not at first, but after she stops anticipating the badgering) will be pretty similar to what it had been prior to you changing your role.
Neither of you read minds, not all genitals are created equal
“We have sex, and it’s fine, but …” It doesn’t matter what the reason is after the “but.” What does matter is that the other person is usually oblivious to the fact that sex is just “fine,” and usually even more in the dark about what the reason for that is. How is your partner supposed to know what you like and what you don’t like if you don’t tell them? I know, you don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them that thing they’ve been doing with such confidence and vigor doesn’t work for you. You may even fake orgasms to protect their self-esteem. There is no surer way to ensure that he or she will continue to do that thing that you don’t like, than by making them think that it works.
So tell your partner what works for you and what doesn’t. Ask them what they like and what they don’t like. Don’t be offended when your partner tells you that your special move doesn’t work for them. It doesn’t mean that you’ve failed; it just means that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. Just like anything else, you need to work on being comfortable talking about sex. It can be during, before, or after. Help your partner by letting them know how to make sex more than fine, because no one wants that.
Honesty is the best policy
While this definitely applies within the context of the preceding paragraph, I am talking about something else here. Keeping secrets from your partner, or feeling like you have to hide something from your partner, is toxic for a relationship. I know you’re really good at keeping that secret, and telling your partner will result in a nuclear crisis of epic proportion, but not telling them almost always results in big problems in the long term. Pervasive dishonesty is like a parasite that slowly devours the relationship. In order to be emotionally safe with your partner, you have to feel that you can be you with them, that you don’t have to hide anything from them, and that they can be completely open with you. You have to be able to be vulnerable with them and feel safe doing so.
Is there anything more vulnerable than repeatedly rubbing your sweaty naked body against someone else’s until they get to feel, hear, and most likely see you lose all control over your movements and facial expressions, and then fall lifeless on the bed next to them? If one partner doesn’t feel safe being vulnerable with the other, then the sex will suffer in quality and frequency. So be honest. I’m not saying tell the other person that you think their stamp collection is stupid. But if you have lied about something big in the past, while divulging that information may very well be painful, and may even end your relationship, if hidden, it almost always causes problems in the relationship that will make things worse in the long term. Couples don’t break up because of money issues or cheating; relationships end because one or both partners no longer feel emotionally safe. But before that happens, the sex suffers.
So stop hounding your partner, communicate about sex, and be honest. In my experience in working with couples, that’s a great start and can make big differences in your sex life. For more information on improving your relationship, your sex life, and your mental wellbeing, check out the resources section at coastalcounselinggroup.com.
Eran Montiel, MA MFTI, is a Marriage and Family Theapist Intern. He currently works in private practice at Coastal Counseling. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Eran, please call 1.888.470.4415.
This article and the information herein are for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological or therapeutic services. The self-help information provided by this blog are solely the opinion of the bloggers and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Instead, the information is designed to be used in conjunction with ongoing treatment provided by a mental health professional. Use the information in this blog at your own risk. All of the information is provided “as-is,” with no warranties of any kind, express or implied.