By: Rebecca Kling
This is Ecstatic Kling, a sex column for the LGBTQueer community. Written by a queer identified trans* woman, this column will come from a Queer perspective but is open to questions from all. Whomever needs the answer, be it you, your friend, or “your friend.” All bodies, all genders, all sexualities.
As a bi-lady with a high sex drive, I’ve struggled in relationships where I’ve kind of scared off tamer partners, and usually any prolonged squirminess on their part is promptly addressed as a deal-breaking divergence in lifestyles. For the last two years, I’ve been with a man who I think I could spend the rest of my life with, who is a total sweetheart. He also has some body issues and OCD, and a bit of a Napoleon complex. These things are culminating in that since we’ve moved in together, his spontaneity and just general prioritizing has shifted such that we have sex only about once a month (it only happens when the stars align for his energy and not being too full or too hungry, and oh my, so many more criteria).
I feel like pushing the issue is just flipping the typical roles and becoming the dude that claims entitlement to sex, but I also feel like pretending I don’t need that intimacy is dangerously disingenuous. I’ve tried just initiating more often, but get rebuffed because he’s too tired for a “thorough” performance, and I don’t know a polite way to explain that “no, unlike your previous girlfriends, I don’t just have sex to make YOU happy, I have it to make ME happy, and lazy sex is totally better than no sex” that preserves his ego and doesn’t come off like I’m some kind of sex addict. Am I totally out of line in needing this? Is it wrong that I’m offended that he seems to think I don’t actually care about sex just because I’m a chick?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Kudos to knowing your body, knowing yourself, and knowing what kind of sex (and in what frequency!) works for you. Your needs are your own, and there is no way that they can be ‘wrong’ or ‘out of line.’ (Only the way someone expresses their needs – if they’re hurtful or presumptuous or not listening to their partner – can be problematic.) Likewise, you have every right to be offended that he assumes your sexual desire is equal to his pretty-darn-low drive. Partners don’t need to have perfectly equal sex drives or desires, but they do need to discuss those drives and desires and find a way to compromise so that everyone’s needs are met.
Unfortunately, in monogamous couplings, “compromise” often means “the amount of sex the lower-drive partner wants to have.” This is not an actual compromise, but rather a way of defaulting to the lowest common denominator under the guise of compromise. Since you two have moved in together, and since you’re expressing interest in something long-term, you need to deal with this now, rather than a year from now (or five years, or ten).
Broaching the topic exactly the way you expressed in your letter would be a good first step: “No, unlike your previous girlfriends, I don’t have sex just to make you happy, I have it to make me happy, and lazy sex is totally better than no sex.” (It sounds like you know this – you were pretty clear in how you wrote that out – but that you want my permission to say it. My permission is thus granted.) Ask him to think about if there’s anything you (or both of you) could do to increase his sex drive: kink exploration, role playing, dirty talk, etc. Reassure him that you find him incredibly attractive, and want to find a way that you can both be happy with your sexual partnership.
You can also remind your boyfriend that ‘sex’ can mean lots of things: What if he went down on you more often? What if he was occasionally responsible for getting you off (with toys or hands or mouth or cock) before going to sleep? Sex in a relationship should be equitable and fair, but that doesn’t mean sex needs to be divided perfectly down the middle, with each partner receiving an equal number of orgasms or the same number of minutes of attention. “Fair,” in this case, means “so that everyone is happy.” It may be that getting you off ends with him getting hot, too, and increases his sex drive. But this would be an added bonus, not the goal of him giving you more attention. (If you’re really caught up on “fair” meaning “the same amount of time,” offer to give him a backrub or foot massage in return.)
DO NOT have this conversation in the heat of the moment, or right before/after asking him to have sex. Make the conversation separate from the act, so that he has time to process and think through what could work for him.
But lets say you give him that time to think, and he still says he’s unwilling to change. Then you have a trickier problem. First and foremost, a partner who is unwilling to change or compromise should be a red flag, and should cause you to reevaluate your relationship. There may be perfectly good reasons to stay together, even without improving your sex life, but an unwillingness to find middle ground is gonna turn minor problems, today, into major problems, tomorrow.
If he’s open to change, but uncomfortable with ramping the amount of sexy-time you two have, you may want to bring up the possibility of non-monogamy. Note that I said ‘bring up,’ and NOT ‘threaten him with.’ It should be presented as another option, not as an ultimatum. If that’s a conversation you end up having, make it clear what you want (permission to get your sexual needs met elsewhere) and what you don’t want (another boyfriend or primary romantic partner.) I’m reading into your letter and assuming you don’t want those things, so tweak accordingly if I’m misreading things.
Finally, a note on sexual entitlement, and sexism: No one is entitled to sex. But, in a long term partnership, both partners are entitled to have their sexual needs met. That may mean having penis-in-vagina sex with your partner, both of you cumming, and cuddling until sleep. That may mean one partner ties up the other and flogs them until they’re black and blue. That may mean one partner goes bowling with friends while the other goes to a bar and gets fucked in the alley. It may mean some combination of all of the above, or something else entirely. As long as both partners are happy with the arrangement, there’s no right or wrong way to find that balance.
You rightly note that gender dynamics can complicate this issue, but the same basic advice applies to men, women, and anyone else. In a patriarchal society, the way a man approaches his female partner for more sexual satisfaction may differ from the way a woman approaches a man, due cultural sexism, sex-negativity, and rape culture. But that doesn’t mean I’d give EED different advice if she’d written in as a bi-dude.