August McLaughlin offers advice for couples on how to enhance connection, intimacy, and pleasure.
Editor’s Note: August McLaughlin is our weekly relationships advice columnist. She’s here to answer questions and offer guidance on the tough challenges we face in our intimate relationships. Readers can submit questions to [email protected]. Not all questions will be published. The opinions expressed in this column do not constitute professional advice. The Good Men Project assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any actions taken by, or reactions that ensue from, anyone following the recommendations in the answers.
I’m in a wonderful relationship with a great guy. There’s just one problem. I’m having a really difficult time feeling satisfied in bed. I can’t seem to talk to him about my frustration, and end up putting sex off instead. I’ve never been one to do so. I love sex and consider my drive pretty high. I’ve also had strong sexual chemistry in previous relationships—everything seemed to click. How do I bring up my concerns without making him feel hurt or rejected?
In a word, gently. Your frustrations aren’t uncommon, nor is your difficulty in discussing them—and they are hugely manageable. Here are some tips that can help bring more zest to your bedroom life, drawing you and your man even closer.
Share your desires.
A fear of sharing one’s desires is often at the root of sexual dissatisfaction in women, says Laurie Mintz PhD. If you never share, how can he learn? Ask or show him what you want sexually, taking caution not to complain. (Say, “Here, let me show you,” versus, “You’re not doing it right.”)
Stop faking it.
Wether you’re faking orgasms or a lack of desire, neither will help resolve your conflicts. While faking climax isn’t always problematic, doing so because you’re sexually frustrated only masks that angst, giving your partner no guidance or support whatsoever. Tell him you want to try something new, such as self-stimulating side-by-side, next time you both want to make love, rather than pretending you’re not interested. He’ll probably learn a lot from your demo.
One thing I’ve learned from talking to hundreds of women about sexuality is that very often, all you need to do is start the conversation. Ease in and make talk about sex fairly routine, rather than a one-time “the talk.” It’s best to talk about dissatisfaction in safe, non-sexual places, says Mintz, such as your kitchen table. Time it right, avoiding times when either of you are exhausted, stressed or about to rush off.
It’s natural to compare your guy to previous partners on occasion, but keep those comparisons to yourself. Telling him you’ve always been satisfied with other men could merely cause hurt, making way for more problems.
Focus on the positive.
You don’t need to hurt his feelings in order to resolve your problems. Let him know that you’re craving more pleasure with him—rather than complain about any lack. Tell him what he does that you adore, even if it’s not sex-related. (Do you adore his kisses? The way he holds you?) Ask him about his fantasies. Doing so will make it easier to share your own answers, and you may learn a great deal in the process. When he does bring you pleasure, respond, respond, respond. Show your gratitude. Speak it. Reward the heck out of each other and more rewards will follow.
There’s no such thing as a “bad lover,” in my opinion, merely partners who need to learn more about themselves and each other. Prioritize discovery, adventure, and each other, keeping open hearts and minds, and your intimate journey as a couple will flourish. I can almost promise you that.
Cheering for you,