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How to approach my boyfriend about sensitive sex issue (Long and incredibly NSFW)
August 17, 2009 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to figure out a way to approach my boyfriend concerning an issue about our sex life, but I'm having a hard time knowing what to say. For all intents and purposes, we have a fulfilling sex life, however the vast majority of the time he's not able to come inside me. It's been this way for the duration of our 3-year relationship and, though I'm not taking it personally, I'm really beginning to miss a certain level of intimacy that goes along with that particular part of sex. As always, there's...

First let me emphasize a couple of things: I am not taking this as a personal affront that there's something gigantically wrong here or that "if he loved me / found me attractive he could come inside me." I also know that this issue predates me and, based on things he's said, has come up in other relationships too. I think I have a pretty good idea what's going on and all I want to do is find a way to address this without making either of us feel bad, or before I lose interest in having sex with him.

I am a very experienced, open-minded woman and don't believe there's only one right way to have sex. I'm happy with lots of different methods and endings, so there's pretty much no position I won't try but eventually it all ends the same way. After I'm satisfied, either I give him a blow job, hand job, or he masturbates while I busy myself doing all sorts of other tickly/licky/nibblly things to participate. Don't get me wrong, I love oral sex and I think watching a guy jack off is one of the hottest things on earth, just not every. single. time.

We we first started having sex, he was able to come inside me some of the time, but it usually took a lot of work (which was totally fine with me), including manually getting him right to the edge before penetration. These days -- and here's the part that's the hardest for me to deal with -- we rarely even try to have actual intercourse. I miss penetrative sex so much that I'm starting to not care if he even comes inside me, if I could just feel him inside me for a little while.

I've been racking my brain for a long time trying to figure out what I can do or say that won't fuck things up. We've never talked about this directly (I don't have the sense he feels anything is missing in our sex life), but I am careful to let him know how much I love having him inside me and let him know I see fireworks when he's, uh, there. We are very, very open about what we do and don't like so I doubt this is a matter of me not being able to find the right button to push to help him come (and, believe me, I've tried damn near everything/.

I know at least some of you will suggest he / we stop with all the hand action, but I have no idea how to even begin to suggest that. If I had to guess, though, I'd say that's the underlying issue here. He takes no medication and rarely drinks so there's no desensitization issues related to that, however since we have sex several times a week, I know there's a lot of opportunity for him to get used to the hand. Add to that, I suspect there's a fair amount of masturbating going on when I'm not around (I don't care, I'm just saying that his man parts probably get one hell of a lot of hand attention over the course of a week. On top of that, he has a high sex drive and was single for a long while before we met. So, yeah, do the math.

What can I do, MeFites? I want penetrative sex added back on the menu and I'd love to have him come inside me once in a while too. I am open to anything at all that would make that happen, but I have no idea how to approach my incredibly sensitive boyfriend about all this.
posted by actuallyiam to Human Relations (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Seems you're already leaning towards suggesting what I'm going to: he's not allowed to touch himself. At. All. Agree that if he's going to come, it's going to be you doing all the stimulation. Hands, mouth, or otherwise.
posted by variella at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2009


What have you said to him so far and what was his response?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2009


Do you use condoms? If so, have you tried using different brands?
posted by orme at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2009


@Optimus Chyme - All I've been able to muster so far is the courage to tell him how much I love having him inside me, etc. I haven't had the stones (so to speak) to ask how we can make it happen more often for fear of A) offending him (I'm a wuss, apparently) or B) making him feel like he doesn't satisfy me (because, technically, he does). I don't want to put him on the spot or make him feel pressured, which is why figuring out what to say is so hard.

Between the fact that doesn't seem to care that he isn't coming inside me since he doesn't bother trying, and his comments that this was a bone (heh!) of contention in past relationships, it doesn't seem like this is something he's particularly concerned with or is important thing to him. He's an excellent and unselfish lover who's extremely concerned about my literal satisfaction (i.e. orgasms) so I think he just isn't getting the message -- or I'm not sending it the right way -- that this is important to me.
posted by actuallyiam at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2009


Just my opinion, you have three options:

1: Find a partner compatible with your sexual kinks.
2: Learn to deal with the partner you have.
3: Learn to work with those times that he does orgasm in the way you like to make them more frequent.

It's entirely reasonable for you to say, "I need more of ___." Unless you have a D/s relationship that's open to that sort of thing, it's highly unreasonable to demand that a partner only orgasm in a way that's convenient and/or desirable for you.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2009


Maybe you've already tried this, but as a guy let me assure you that it is essentially impossible to turn down a sexual request that a woman makes in the heat of the moment. Just wait until you're both sweating and breathing heavily and say into his ear: "I need you inside me."

If your man then takes the time to become offended, his feelings are more sensitive than I had thought possible.

And please, please, please, do not try to give an ultimatum about masturbation. It's not reasonable under any circumstances and even if he agrees, he won't abide by it, and so all that will result is suspicion and guilt.
posted by 256 at 8:08 AM on August 17, 2009


@ orme - Nope, no condoms (I'm on birth control and we're in a long-term, monogamous relationship). BTW, we've tried no lube, some lube, lots o'lube, different positions, etc.

@ KirkJobSluder - "it's highly unreasonable to demand that a partner only orgasm in a way that's convenient and/or desirable for you."

That's not what I'm suggesting at all. I'd just like to have it happen more than once in a blue moon. Also, I'm not "demanding" anything. I'm here to find sensitive ways to bring this up so he doesn't feel like I'm demanding something of him.
posted by actuallyiam at 8:09 AM on August 17, 2009


After reading the second post, how about, "I'd really like to be ___ tonight, but we can also do ___?"

I'm sorry, I was responding to variella's post which strikes me as a wrong way to go about it. And I didn't really clue in until I saw your followup.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 AM on August 17, 2009


So... you tell him "how much I love having him inside me" and he ignores you?

This doesn't sound "very, very open" at all. He's aware of the issue and he's avoiding it. You need to talk about this.

It's possible that he has issues with the pill. It's a very intangible method of BC.
posted by Wood at 8:31 AM on August 17, 2009


Some guys just dont want to get the woman pregnant. Brith control is not 100 percent. its only 99 percent when taken the right way.

Maybe he just doesnt want to get you pregnant.
posted by majortom1981 at 8:36 AM on August 17, 2009


Question: I understand what you get out of penetrative sex--it feels good. But why does it matter so much to you that that's when he has his orgasm?

Because that's a bit pressure-y. Most people don't have absolute control over what brings them to orgasm. Flip the script: if you got the impression that your boyfriend REALLY CARED that you have your orgasm WHILE he was fucking you, and that was something that for whatever reason was really difficult for you, would that make you want to fuck? Or would it make you want never to fuck, because you associated fucking with performance anxiety?

"I'd love to fuck more, because I really like feeling you inside me," is a totally appropriate request. He has control over that.

"I want you to have an orgasm inside me" is a bit more difficult as a request, because he doesn't have the same level of control over it.

There's no reason why you can't fuck for a bit, then finish manually or orally. It's what the vast majority of women do, because so few women can consistently come from penis-in-vagina sex. Your boyfriend is one of the smaller, but not inconsiderable, number of men who can't consistently come from penis-in-vagina sex. You probably can't change that, because it's a complex multifactorial physiological/psychological pattern of response--what you can do is create approaches to sex that work for both of you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:44 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


i really think you should gently broach the subject...you guys have been together for a while so there is a foundation of trust. you should talk openly about his feelings and let him know that you are in no way criticizing him, but that you would like to adjust the routine...i have a BF that is very sensitive and have dealth with a similar issue and rather than tackling it head on by having an official conversation, i gently mentioned it during a cuddle session when he felt safe and open to listening to me. if you guys can't talk openly about this stuff, you should probably move on to someone who is less fragile.
posted by dmbfan93 at 8:51 AM on August 17, 2009


Having him inside you is a whole reasonable request but perhaps he feels pressure to finish there? If he does have difficulties finishing via PIV sex then maybe he doesn't like starting something he feels he can't finish. Perhaps you need to make it clear that you don't link the two together and it is ok to do one without the other.
posted by mmascolino at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


We all go through phases, things we pick up and are into for a while, and they either stick or fade or cycle out. What if you let him know that this is the thing you're into these days? He'll start to pick up the pattern.

Side example. After about the second week of requests of milk from the store, my bf starts to get the picture that I'm on a cereal kick. It might not last forever, it doesn't matter, but by the second carton he usually asks me or I tell him. The next time he runs to the store, he either gets milk or asks me. If after a while, the milk goes unused, I usually let him know that I'm kinda over cereal for a bit, and have moved onto toast and jam or whatever. He doesn't take it personally, because its a changing preferences thing. It's really quite simple that way.

Fyi, I actually wasn't being euphemistic about the cereal and milk, etc.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've never talked about this directly (I don't have the sense he feels anything is missing in our sex life), but I am careful to let him know how much I love having him inside me and let him know I see fireworks when he's, uh, there.

I used to shelve books when I was a grad student. One afternoon, I read a book on sex disfunction and it was fascinating. What your bf has is known, unfortunately as "ejaculatory incompetence." It is 99% mental. Many people (mostly from reading Dan Savage) think that if he doesn't touch himself, the problem will go away, because men just always want to come and he's desensitized. It is commonly believed that men never have a sexual problem relating to not being able to come. This is not true and will only make things harder down the road.

I would suggest looking at this article on Medline.

You and your bf need to communicate and work together on this. First you need to ask for what you want, even if it is just penetration. Second, a sex therapist is really going to help on this. You and him will learn to work on some non-performance related sex exercises that lower the pressure on him to perform. The therapy lasts from 12 to 18 weeks usually.

Your support will be invaluable to him, because he fears your rejection here. The more love you have for him the easier this is going to be. Understanding, patience and communcation will really help and will bring you closer together.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:30 AM on August 17, 2009


....Forgive the obvious question, but what is wrong with simply asking for what you want?

Yeah, I know it sounds like an "easy for YOU to say!" response. Let me elaborate. I get the sense that you've been trying to hint at things in the heat of the moment; but everything I've read about having talks about sexual matters with your partner suggests that you should try to find a calm, impartial moment to talk about serious concerns. That way, at the very least, you know that your partner's full attention is focused on what you're saying, rather than your partner being distracted by any other sights/sounds/sensations/whatever that might be going on. When you have a quiet non-sexual moment, just try raising the issue that you really miss penetration -- and say just what you've said here, that you don't necessarily need him to come inside you, but...you'd just like more penetration now and then, you know? He can finish the job outside, but you just miss the feel of him inside you, and want to get a little more of it now and then.

I have a hunch that you've been trying to hint at this in the heat of things, and that maybe that's why this is getting overlooked; he very well simply may not be registering what you're saying because there's just a hell of a lot of other things going on at the time. If you have a gentle, non-confrontational talk at some non-sexual time, and you do so calmly and seriously, then you'll have a more open conversation about this. And, do try to be clear about what it is you're asking - I have had a bad habit of just hinting about what I wanted in the past and it used to drive guys nuts, but when I spelled it out, then guys said, "oh, NOW I get it! Oh, sure, I can do that..." and everything was fine.

good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on August 17, 2009


Seems you're already leaning towards suggesting what I'm going to: he's not allowed to touch himself. At. All. Agree that if he's going to come, it's going to be you doing all the stimulation. Hands, mouth, or otherwise.

I agree with trying this, but it needs to be a fun game that you initiate, not a chastisement. Keep it light and exploratory. Trying things like this is how you keep a sexual relationship fresh after many years. You need to be able to have a bank of experiences together to draw from later -- "Hey, remember when we did XXX? That was so funny. I was surprised to find out that we both liked YYY, why didn't we ever do that again?"

Neither of you are initiating intercourse, but for different reasons. Have you tried surprising him by being a little more aggressive and dominating? Seriously, sometimes all it takes is some firm direction and rough talk to let someone know that the tables have temporarily turned and you're about to have your way with them. You can get away with saying and doing things during sex that you would never say at other times, I say take advantage of that.
posted by hermitosis at 9:51 AM on August 17, 2009


A couple more clarifications.

* It's not a pregnancy hang-up (he'd love it if I got pregnant but *I* don't want to).

* There's not some big psychological reason that I want him to come inside me, I just happen to like the way it feels and it's a huge turn-on (moaning in my ear, grabbing my ass or shoulders, that kind of thing). It's akin (I suppose) to getting to come in a woman's mouth during a blow job if she usually pulls away at the last minute. It's just a different, hot, intimate feeling I'd like to experience more than once every six or eight weeks.

* I doubt I'm "pressuring him" into coming inside me since I've only said, "OMG, I really like it when you do that" a handful of times over the last three years and that's ALL I've said on the matter. I've said other things and made other requests far more often and his response in those situations is usually to grab the idea and run with it. :)

@ Wood - I don't think he's ignoring me since he does penetrate me if I -- and only if -- ask. He's just not pro-active about it. Hmmm.... that's interesting. I never really noticed that before, that it's only when I ask. Guess I'll consider why that might be,

@ Ironmouth - Thanks so much for the link and info. I do want to be sensitive and patient, and I'd never reject him. I do love him a lot and this isn't a deal-breaker for me, so if we can figure it out, great. If not, that's okay too.

Thanks, everyone, for the helpful and insightful comments. You guys are the best!
posted by actuallyiam at 10:04 AM on August 17, 2009


He's an excellent and unselfish lover who's extremely concerned about my literal satisfaction (i.e. orgasms) so I think he just isn't getting the message -- or I'm not sending it the right way -- that this is important to me.

This!

He's too concerned about your pleasure and not at all attentive to his own. He must've been raised in a very progressive environment where it was explained that one must take great care to make the woman come, because if she doesn't she won't tell you, and if she doesn't tell you, you won't know, and if you don't make her come, you're useless.

While this has a very positive feminist tinge about it, and I'm glad that an increasing number of men are raised with this attitude, it is very, very self-effacing behaviour. He cares deeply about your satisfaction, to the point where his own is secondary and almost unnecessary. One could even make the argument that the only reason he's jerking off afterwards is to please you further :)

He can already get you to come, so he shouldn't worry about it anymore. It's a non-issue at this point: you've been together for three years, and you're going to come during sex regardless of what he does. And even if that's not true, you have to drill it into his head, because that's why he's not coming.

None of this is your fault or your problem, of course, but you can help him along. So try this: next time, you fuck him instead of him fucking you. Take charge of everything, and tell him to concern himself only with his dick. Though it sounds dirty, you want him to masturbate with your vagina. See where that gets you!

Eventually, he'll learn more about himself, and he'll get to a point where, while being attentive to your needs and pleasure, he'll also look after himself.

(Oh, and I disagree about this being a mechanical issue. If he can bring himself from flaccid to orgasm in 5 minutes when he's alone, then there's nothing wrong with his dick. It's all in the head. And plus, you don't want him to ONLY be able to come when he's been abstaining for several weeks: you want him to come every time!)
posted by Mons Veneris at 10:12 AM on August 17, 2009


Oh, and I disagree about this being a mechanical issue. If he can bring himself from flaccid to orgasm in 5 minutes when he's alone, then there's nothing wrong with his dick.

There's nothing wrong with my husband's dick, either, but he only comes from intercourse about half the time. And it's not in his head, or a fear of pregnancy (he's had a vasectomy)--it's just that it's easier for him to come from oral.

He's not the only partner I've had who had that constellation of stuff. Seriously, I think it's odd when people insist that everyone "must" be able to come consistently from the same stimuli--real life would suggest otherwise.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:17 AM on August 17, 2009


There's nothing wrong with my husband's dick, either, but he only comes from intercourse about half the time.

There's a vast psychological chasm between coming sometimes from coitus and never coming at all unless you trick yourself, as is the OP's SO's case. The later is indicative of some sort of weird thought process going on in the fellow's head, whereas the former is just a question of preference, drunkenness, tiredness or what have you.

And it's not that everyone should be getting off on the same stimuli, but coitus is pretty basic, and men coming during coitus is even more basic. No one should feel bad because they can't come (it's a rather widespread issue, anyway), just as no one should just accept that as the status quo.

The OP has indicated a willingness to help him solve the problem, something that very few girls would do. I would much rather she give it a shot while armed with the proper mindset rather than just accept things as they are, even though she's not getting what she wants and he's feeling like a dolt for not giving it to her.
posted by Mons Veneris at 11:25 AM on August 17, 2009


It might be all in his head. And quite obviously, no one here has a clue as to what is clicking up in the head of someone we know from only hearsay.

And even so, does that make it less legitimate? The necessary flip-side to the whole "good, giving and game" mantra that passes for sex advice lately is that people are entitled to have preferences for how they like to get it on. Compromise is a good thing. But it's foolish to expect a partner's sexuality to significantly change as a part of that compromise.

This is something that we take for granted in regards to other forms of sex. Most people don't assume that a person giving oral sex or a hand job is going to vicariously have the best orgasm of their life. We probably shouldn't have these expectations of intercourse either, we'd probably enjoy it more.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:30 AM on August 17, 2009


He's too concerned about your pleasure and not at all attentive to his own. He must've been raised in a very progressive environment where it was explained that one must take great care to make the woman come, because if she doesn't she won't tell you, and if she doesn't tell you, you won't know, and if you don't make her come, you're useless.

Brilliant.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 AM on August 17, 2009


Mons Veneris: No one should feel bad because they can't come (it's a rather widespread issue, anyway), just as no one should just accept that as the status quo.

Why not if sex is otherwise satisfying? This is one of the many symptoms that IMO signal that the whole sex positive thing has gone off the rails and into the lake. The whole point of sexual liberation isn't to mandate certain ways of reaching orgasm, it's about communication and negotiation.

The OP has indicated a willingness to help him solve the problem...

It's not obvious that her partner's inability to orgasm during intercourse is the problem. It's not a problem at all unless he decides it gets in the way of his happiness.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:49 AM on August 17, 2009


I agree with Ironmouth and Mons Veneris here. There may well be a psychological issue or special perspective of some point which is influencing your partner's behavior. And, if you don't speak up in a clearer and more direct way, how is he going to know that there's something missing for you?

Background: I'm a gay man who came out in the early/mid 1980s, height of AIDS fear. It was drummed into me to never ever ever ever EVER come inside someone. That created a huge psychological and emotional hurdle to cross at any point where I decided that I wanted to or a partner encouraged me to.

No doubt your partner's situation is quite different. But also, no doubt, he isn't going to know that there's something missing for you unless you go ahead and say so, more explicitly. Don't do it in the heat of "the moment." Be supportive, talk about it in a non-judgemental way, just tell him that this is something you need more of.
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:08 PM on August 17, 2009


Hang on a second, everyone -- I think we're having two different conversations.

It sounds to me like some of us are trying to address the "partner cannot attain orgasm through penatrative sex" question, which I don't actually think actuallyiam was asking.

Meanwhile, others of us are trying to address the "I want penatration, but do not require an orgasm to happen during it" issue, which I think IS the question.

So: actuallyiam, are you actually asking us to solve the issue of non-orgasm through penetration? Or are you just asking "how do I broach this as a subject of conversation, and by the way I don't acutally need him to come at all anyway"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:42 PM on August 17, 2009


We don't have any information about the OP's partner beyond that he doesn't get off from intercourse, isn't initiating intercourse, does get off in other ways, and this has been an issue in previous relationships. We can make up dozens of equally brilliant stories regarding this person's past and current sexuality: He's a bottom who needs to be passive. He had a traumatic rape experience. He grew up in a conservative environment and read to much Suzie Bright and Dan Savage. He masturbated too much as a teen. He didn't masturbate enough as a teen. He's sexually fixated on a previous partner. He's sexually fixated on an ideal partner. He's in a arrested Freudian stage of development and sees the OP as his mommy. He's homosexual and longing to be fucked. He's straight and longing to be pegged.

If it is due to his past, it is his business to deal with, not ours to speculate.

For about six months I was on a drug where I still had a libido but my ability to get an orgasm was significantly altered. Getting an orgasm was unreliable and technically challenging under the best of circumstances. Setting up the expectation that I'd orgasm from sex with a partner or even solo masturbation pretty much killed the mood. Treating orgasm as a happy accident that may or may not happen, and if not, could be reached in other ways or skipped entirely actually made orgasm more likely.

Since then, things have gotten much better. But I still think the expectation that someone will orgasm from ___ interferes with the process of enjoying ___ and learning how to orgasm from ___. The feeling that I'm on the hook to orgasm usually ends up preventing orgasm for me.

Which is a long-winded explanation for my objection to the "problem" language being used here. I think it's extremely reasonable to request that intercourse become a regular part of your sex life. But I think setting a goal that this will solve his "problem" is likely to be counter-productive. Fucking can be a fun time even if it doesn't result in mutual orgasms.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:28 PM on August 17, 2009


@ EmpressCallipygos - Fair question. Ultimately, I'd like for my partner to orgasm inside me once in a while (I don't consider the fact that he doesn't a problem, his, mine or otherwise, and want to emphasize that I didn't use that word). I'm not looking for what physical buttons to push to make that happen because this isn't an issue of mechanics or lack of experience.

Whereas I used to think, "Boy, it would be nice to have him come as long as he was there," now the larger issue seems to be he doesn't even go there in the first place. I don't mind (and neither does he) taking a more assertive approach and simply *putting* him inside me. However, I'd like to gently ask him if we could find a way that might make him come once in a while when he's there, rather than getting me off, then finishing things another way.

I can't stress enough that I don't see this as a problem, but rather a situation that I want to make sure I sensitively address the first time since things like this can sort of be a minefield.
posted by actuallyiam at 2:47 PM on August 17, 2009


"It's not a pregnancy hang-up (he'd love it if I got pregnant but *I* don't want to)."
posted by actuallyiam at 4:04 AM on August 18

Hmmmm. Maybe this is the issue. Does he really, really want kids? If so, maybe subconsciously he's decided that if he can't have kids with you because you've said you don't want too then there's no point in cumming inside you?
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:27 PM on August 17, 2009


Go out on a date..to a really nice place to eat and during after dinner drinks yask him....what does he think of your sex life..is it ideal for him? Maybe he will tell you and maybe he won't..but it is a conversation best suited for some relaxed place that isn't the bedroom.

I had a male friend who did tell me that once (we weren't sexual partners & he leveled with me)..that hands were best because the tightness could be managed better than anywhere else. Translation....hands tighter than female parts. I guess it is your "creative" job to try to undo this penchant for hands only...without making it seem like hands only is a flaw.

How about blindfold and bondage..where you are expected to call the shots? That way you could take the use of his hands away and do what you want with him. Just a thought.
posted by naplesyellow at 3:57 PM on August 17, 2009



i dated a man with a similar situation. he could orgasm while inside me but rarely and it was a lot of effort on both our parts.

however, this didn't result in any less penetration. when i felt like it, i'd ask for it, and he'd happily do it... and then we'd help him orgasm via another method together afterward.

are you sure he doesn't feel like penetration = pressure to orgasm? 'cause in my case, he knew there was no pressure and thus wasn't inclined to avoid it.
posted by groovinkim at 1:37 AM on August 23, 2009


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