Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Sexual awakening: From vanilla to firecracker?
October 3, 2012 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Personal experiences where your partner was initially not very sexually adventurous, but now is?

I have an awesome, awesome girlfriend -- one that I want to marry one day. There's only one thing I'm a bit concerned about. I tend to be (in the past) a sexually adventurous person, and very open with my sexuality, but she's not. We're both in our early 30s.

We have great sex and she's amazing in bed (no complaints about her techniques here at all). Probably nothing that most people would have issue with. But I like anal play (toys and anal sex) and she has indicated more than once that it's off limits and something she doesn't like. I do understand that some people genuinely don't like that zone, but she's never even tried it (not with previous partners or me), so she can't really know.

Additionally, I have also been in threesomes or foursomes (with close friends) a handful of times and really enjoyed it. She never has. I would love to experience that again, especially with some of our close friends that I think (but am not certain) would be open to it. I also have explored polyamory in the past (in theory, not practice) and that is also something that interests me.

I can tell that she, however, is not interested in these options at all, primarily due to reasons of jealousy (she thinks I'll become attracted to someone else and leave her -- which if you know us, is a foolish thought). Plus, two of our friends have tried the whole open relationship thing and it ended up not working (again, jealousy), so that experience seems to have even further entrenched her views.

It's not a dealbreaker if she's not into threesomes or open relationships etc, but I have heard (anecdotally) that these possibilities can mature over time (e.g. seeing on OK Cupid where people write "We've been together for 5 years and decided to try the open relationship thing and it's been fun"). In general, it rubs me the wrong way when people are against something without even trying it first. Like when people say they'd hate skydiving, but know nothing about it.

I think her reluctance at anal play, threesomes, or open relationships comes from a fear that she won't like it, jealousy that I will be more attracted to someone else, and an inability to relax and enjoy it if she did say yes.

(And no, I haven't actually sat down and directly said "Honey, I think it'd be fun if we had a foursome with some of our friends" because I am certain she'd be weirded out, would worry about it for weeks, and wouldn't do it anyway.)

Has this happened to you? Was your partner initially (say, first few years) not into sharing you sexually with other people and then changed their mind? What insight can you provide?

If it matters: We live in Northern CA (north of SF) and don't want kids (I can't make anyone pregnant, and she can't get pregnant). We hang mainly with people who are hippy-ish and progressive, have gardens, shop at farmer's markets, homebrew beer, ride bikes, go camping, and that sort of stuff.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sometimes people don't want to try things because they can't be untried. Sometimes people are also in touch enough with their wants and needs to know what is out of bounds.

The best you can do is as you described above: talk to her. Be honest, and provide a space in your relationship where honest communication can thrive. That means listening to her when she says things are off limits and trusting that she's being honest with you. It sounds like you're holding out hope that she'll become someone she isn't. Or worse, that you're hoping for a magical formula for making her someone she isn't. That's not the makings of a space where honesty and openness can thrive.
posted by jph at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2012 [32 favorites]


You're framing this question like you're somehow better at sex than she is because you like different things. That is not going to end well. Accept that she knows what she likes and stop trying to reframe her position as wrong or misguided.
posted by fshgrl at 3:11 PM on October 3, 2012 [55 favorites]


My insight is that that kind of thing ONLY happens if you're willing to listen to your partner's boundaries, accept them for who they are, acknowledge their concerns as real and valid, and overall demonstrate that you take them and their sexuality seriously.

So... yeah. By immediately invalidating her feelings about anal and threesomes, you're pretty much guaranteeing that any growth y'all experience sexually will be growth APART instead of growth TOGETHER, because you are fostering a weird controlling resentment and disdain with your judgement.
posted by spunweb at 3:13 PM on October 3, 2012 [13 favorites]


I tried something with a partner once that I was sure I wouldn't like, and it turned out I really enjoyed it. It was introduced to me once, in a fashion that made it clear that if I said it wasn't on the table, it would be dropped instantly and never mentioned again. So we tried it, and I enjoyed it.

However, there are things I will never do because the idea of doing them completely freaks me out. I don't need to try these things to see whether I like them or not. I know, already, that I won't like them. Your insistence that an individual has to experience something before they can actually know whether they'll like it or not is really quite patronising. I don't need to have sex with someone of a gender that I'm not attracted to (for example) to know that it's just not for me. It just doesn't interest me at all, and in fact kind of squicks me out at the thought of it. There are an awful lot of paraphilias out there. I don't need to engage in vampirism to know I wouldn't enjoy it in the slightest.

Also, it appears that you haven't actually asked her why she doesn't want to try these things. Why is that? Perhaps you should try to find out what it is about the various activities that she doesn't want to try that leads her to not wanting to try them, rather than jumping to conclusions. There's a difference between saying "I want to do X, Y and Z" and asking "How do you feel about X, Y and Z? Why do you feel that way?". The former applies a subtle form of pressure, while the latter opens up the conversation.

You deciding that your partner can't know her own mind and body in this fashion is rather odd.
posted by Solomon at 3:15 PM on October 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


I do understand that some people genuinely don't like that zone, but she's never even tried it (not with previous partners or me), so she can't really know.

I believe this is a self-serving bullshit rationale. I'm not going to go to the mat on this, but I think sexuality is one of the least-negotiable aspects of human existence. People like what they like and you're showing a bit of disrespect for her agency here. With your history, did you enter into this relationship thinking you could bring her over to your preferences, to fix her? Because that happens.
posted by rhizome at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2012 [34 favorites]


In general, it rubs me the wrong way when people are against something without even trying it first. Like when people say they'd hate skydiving, but know nothing about it.

Where does this idea come from? Despite your hedonistic background, I am sure there are some things that even you reject without trying such as a threesome with two goats or coprophagy. She's seen two friends have bad experiences with open relationships and unlike most people, does not think that she is such a special snowflake that she will beat those odds. Those experiences probably confirmed beliefs that she already held about such things.

You want to marry her. We don't know her feelings, but let's assume she feels the same. If so, please keep in mind that despite the over-representation of polyamory on The Green, for most people "marriage" means forsaking all others - even close friends.

Do not go into marriage hoping that your spouse will change, either on her own or by force of your will.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2012 [22 favorites]


Yeah, just to echo the comments above: her reasons for not wanting to try things are just as valid as your reasons for wanting to try things. It sounds like you are dismissing her views because "she hasn't even tried it."

Everybody has boundaries and she can know that she's not into something without having "tried it." I don't need to try it to know that I'm not into wearing a ball gag (to give you an extreme example). Try to think of it that way.

By all means, speak to her about this, but don't hold out hope that a few years in she is going to magically become someone she's not. That's not fair to either of you.
posted by hamandcheese at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll admit right off the bat that this is an extremely sore subject for me, because at one time in my life I was in something like your girlfriend's place. For my ex-boyfriend, though, it wasn't about anal or group sex or openness, it was bisexuality. He loved the girl-on-girl action and was really eager for me to like it too.

I am not bi. 100% not. For some reason, he thought I would change my mind, and I heard a lot from him along the lines of statements you've made here. Apparently I wasn't "open-minded enough", "afraid I wouldn't like it", "how can you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?" Of course, he'd also constantly say "if you never like it, that's totally fine too", but then would continue pestering me about it anyway. Long story short, this led to a huge amount of resentment from both of us - on his end because he saw me as close-minded, on my end because I just felt like he wasn't fucking listening to me when I said I didn't want it. Lots of fights, crying, yada yada, we broke up, it was the best decision of my life.

(Noteworthy: in the years since our breakup I did end up trying something sexual with a girl, once. Surprise surprise, I didn't like it.)

Please just assume your girlfriend knows what she wants. Yes, it's possible that sometime in the future she will change her mind, but it's also possible that she won't. You have to (HONESTLY) be OK with both of those possibilities, or it'll eventually lead to a world of hurt for both of you.
posted by DeadliestQuack at 3:20 PM on October 3, 2012 [25 favorites]


Here's one way for you to look at this situation. How do you know you don't want kids if you never had them? I realize you said you can't have them, but aren't you stating that you don't want something you never had at the same time you are having trouble with her doing the same thing? My point is that although it's absolutely good to be open-minded, people are also entitled to opinions and they ultimately have to be respected.
posted by Dansaman at 3:24 PM on October 3, 2012 [13 favorites]


What new sexual experiences would she like to have? What has she fantasizes and masturbated over but never actually tried. Go on that adventure with her and open her up to the idea of trying new things she may not have thought of exploring before. If you can help unleash her inner sexual-cosmonaut she may become willing to try out your fantasies.

Or maybe not and you two are sexually incompatible. But you won't find out if you don't appeal to her kinky side first.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just to straight up answer your question: No, not really, and when I was younger I used to try as hard as it sounds like you are trying.

IME one day your girlfriend might wake up and want to try some of that stuff (or other stuff, or less stuff than she likes now) but it will be a close to random chance, and happen because of what's going on for her personally. There's nothing you can do to influence it except to make her feel good or bad about you, sex with you, and maybe her sexuality.
posted by crabintheocean at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nthing what everyone else has said.

Also, given your current attitude I can imagine that if she tried any of these things and still didn't like them you would then be trying to once again convince her that her feelings, preferences, what have you are illogical, incorrect, unenlightened, just jealousy or paranoia. And there is a pretty decent chance she's had the same thought. You seem like if she opened the door or a crack she would never be able to close it again. And that's really the opposite of a safe space to try something.

You really can't "logic" some things. Some things you just feel or just like or just don't like. There isn't a power point presentation on the 18 reasons polyamory is inherently better that is going to make her suddenly really want t have group sex with all your friends.

Also, in all honesty you seem to really be underplaying the risks of opening up a relationship. You reject out of hand that you could ever have feelings for someone else. To me that says you would be completely unable to navigate that situation if it were to arise. Such a cavalier attitude about the risks and her feelings on the subject is likely to not helping your case.
posted by whoaali at 3:31 PM on October 3, 2012 [20 favorites]


(And no, I haven't actually sat down and directly said "Honey, I think it'd be fun if we had a foursome with some of our friends" because I am certain she'd be weirded out, would worry about it for weeks, and wouldn't do it anyway.)

Wait a minute, have you not discussed this topic with her? Or are you just rolling it together with anal play based on a supposition? I don't think you should be judging her based on conversations you've only imagined.

So anyway, are those your two things: anal, and sex with more than two people? Those are two very different things, with very different reasons for not being flexible about them. I think anyone's desire NOT to open up the relationship, for a night or for longer, has to take precedence over anyone's desire not to. Anal play on the other hand is something I'm sure lots and lots of people have talked their partners into, and eventually converted them into enthusiastic practitioners. If you look at Fetlife, you'll find testimonial after testimonial by people who have gotten their partners into spanking or bondage or whatever. But it doesn't matter how many other people have done it; it matters what the dynamics of your relationship are.
posted by BibiRose at 3:32 PM on October 3, 2012


I think you guys have a basic philosophical difference around sexuality and its role in your lives. It might be good to talk with her about that, instead of about particular sexual acts. Like, what does sex mean to her? Is it a form of bonding? A fun recreational activity? A type of self-expression (as it appears to be for you)?

Try to get into her head a bit. As Bibirose said, anal play and threesomes are very different things, with very specific reasons why she would or wouldn't want to do them. Maybe she would like anal play, but only if she gets to do it to you first. Maybe she would like threesomes, but only if you all meet in a bar and never see each other again. Who knows? Finding out what her fantasies are is a good idea, and then you can perhaps open things up to your fantasies later.

As for personal experiences with this kind of thing, I've never been able to get a partner to open up to something they didn't like, and I ended up breaking up with people whose philosophy of sex was very different than mine (basically not as open-minded as I am).

I have tried a few things with former partners that I wasn't really into, just to see what it was like -- I share a similar philosophy to yours about sexual activity. In each case, though, I never really got into the activity long term. After breaking up, I never did those things again.
posted by 3491again at 3:40 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


In general, it rubs me the wrong way when people are against something without even trying it first. Like when people say they'd hate skydiving, but know nothing about it.

I'd lose this line of thinking. Sex is absolutely not something where "oh, just try it, you'll like it" applies; you have to be genuinely interested in the activity for it to be pleasurable. Any given activity involving erogenous zones can be sexy, boring and clinical, or downright unwanted and invasive depending on the context. You have your limits, too, and you don't need to experience them to know you're not interested.

She's shown you who she is and where she stands - and her stance is just as normal and reasoned as yours. Some people's preferences change over time, sure, but it's a bad idea to stay in a relationship assuming an incompatibility will eventually change.

she thinks I'll become attracted to someone else and leave her

You know, I bet it's not a hypothetical other woman she's concerned about, but that you're more interested in your particular brand of sexy adventures than your partnership with her. If you keep pressing these issues, that's how you'll come across.

Would you rather have her in your life, or threesomes? You may not be in dealbreaker territory, but this is a question you'll have to think about all the same.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:41 PM on October 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


OP, you are probably familiar with Dan Savage and his mantra that all partners should be GGG (good (in bed), giving (in bed), and game for anything (in bed)).

That means that you both give it your best shot. Here's what I mean. First, you need to talk to her before you jump to conclusions about what she thinks. Maybe she does have some anxieties that you can help her address. (For example, anal sex can be kind of intimidating to those with no experience). You need to be patient, and not pressure her to do something she isn't cool with. You need to stop when she wants to stop. Perhaps you can suggest baby steps ("maybe if i try to put one finger here for tonight and that's all? What would you be comfortable with tonight?"). Maybe a third party watches you and doesn't touch. Suggest creative ways to meet in the middle. But remember: You must be able to take no for an answer and allow her to set the parameters.

This part is key. Dan Savage has clarified many, many times on his podcast and in his column that GGG doesn't mean that people can't have boundaries. And you don't get to decide what boundaries are reasonable or unreasonable. For you, it might be obvious. You might think, sure, furry fetishes and adult babies are gross, but anal play is totally awesome. Your partner might think differently. You can tell her that you have these sexual interests that you would love her to be a part of, and you can do your best to help her try those things with you in a safe and supportive environment.

But if you talk about it and she's totally NOT into it, or if you ease into it and she's totally NOT into it, you must give it a rest. It is ok to ask for something that you are into. It is not ok to pressure someone into it.

If she is NOT INTO IT (as you are assuming), you really have to drop it. You have to accept her sexual boundaries. If you can't, you've got to end it.

Good luck.
posted by murfed13 at 3:53 PM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


When you're an adult, you get to decide what you want to try and what you don't regardless of whether you might like it or not.

Don't mentally bully her.

Can you live with the sex life you have for the rest of your life? That is the only question that matters, not what she will/wont try or maybe possibly would like under the correct conditions if you entered the correct cheat code on hard mode.
posted by Shouraku at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'll bite: I'm male, North Bay, snipped, child-free, a decade ago I could have been you. My partner and I met in a hot tub at a neo-Tantra community potluck in Tiburon. But I'm going to describe the other transformation, not as a model of how things could be, but to perhaps give you a little better look into her thought processes.

As I mentioned in another Ask.MeFi thread, no one was more surprised than me to discover that I'm actually monogamous. What I discovered in the process of experimenting with all of these things is that sex is not about friction or lubricity. Sex is about relationships, about the social context in which it occurs.

Anal sex isn't about that sphincter, there are silicone toys that simulate that feeling pretty effectively. It's about a set of excitements and taboos, about patient careful probing, and, maybe, how we process different kinds of pain, trust and communication that goes to levels far beyond verbal, where small twitches and movements are questions and answers, "maybe"s and "yes"es and "no"s, and as with all communication, what matters isn't what I'm saying or what she's hearing, it's in that wonderful space in between where we're sharing at a level where each of those little movements carries large depths of meaning.

The physical sensation of anal sex isn't my favorite. When our relationship is in a place where we're communicating at that level... well... hell, we could be sitting across from each other staring into the other's eyes and it'd be pretty damned good.

Similarly, I've been in group situations and it's a huge cognitive load for me. How am I reacting to this person or that person? How's my reaction to that other person reflected in this person? Is my presence in this space offering a permission or prompting to that person that's a social pressure that they'll regret later? I'm remembering one instance where someone said "you looked momentarily distracted. Jealous?" and, no, it was concern, and, yes, that concern was justified, and...

I could go back to a group situation, but, you know, only with people I'd cooked for, with people I'd sat and played Scrabble late into the night with, or laughed in the rain as we dashed from shelter to shelter, or wandered through a strange city and uncovered cool adventures, people I'd farted in front of, and...

On Facebook a few years ago, I posted the results of some stupid quiz with the note that "I guess I'm not as kinky as I thought" and a friend, who's happened to work as a pro dom, commented that I'm a lover, not a kinkster. Latex, leather, even silk, don't do as much for me as knowing what makes my partner laugh. And back in the early days of the net I was on a mailing list where some Freshman women's studies student came on and made a comment about how "all sex was about power", and a been-around-the-block bull dyke came back with "if you're doing it right", and I thought about my own looking for equals and realized just how personal the context, social and physical, of our respective turn-ons was.

She may be worried about jealousy, or she may not know what she's worried about, but know that not just anyone turns her on. She may realize that an evening trading glances while the forks clink tentatively on the plate is part of her turn-on, and the transgression of social norms isn't. She may be more dom-y or sub-y or whatever.

Going into the relationship with "I'm going to change her" might work, but it's more likely to end in tears. Going in with communicating "these are my kinks, these are the situations I'd like to share with you, boundaries change and flow all the time" might help you find common ground with her. Or it might not. Not everyone is guaranteed compatible, not even all the time in a long-established relationship.
posted by straw at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


In order to become sexually adventurous, you need a partner you can trust to respect your boundaries.

Your insistence on things she's said she's not comfortable with makes you less and less that guy every single time you push.

If she starts feeling more comfortable with it, she will let you know, not the other way around. Trust me, it is not like she has forgotten you like this stuff.
posted by corb at 4:30 PM on October 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


Definitely everyone I have been with for any length of time has included (on both sides) shifts from "no fucking way!" to "woah, I kind of like that after all." That doesn't mean that your partner is going to be demanding ass pounding and hot four way action any time soon, but I do think that people's sexual preferences tend to be somewhat flexible, within limits, and with time.

But those constraints are key. Time is not an optional piece of this, and everyone has limits. If you are simply hoping she will magically start wanting the same things you want, I predict disaster. And if you think you can have these changes but no others, I also predict disaster. I mean, are you really ready for the risk that you talk her into a four-way... and she falls in love with the other dude?
posted by Forktine at 5:49 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a small warning - if you beg, plead and manipulate her into sex acts that are primarily about your enjoyment you run a huge risk of irreparable damage to the relationship. Because the next time she wants to have sex with you, the irritation of the begging/pleading/manipulating and the discomfort of 'it's just one finger' or 'we're really close friends' will raise it's nasty head. Because if she tries it and doesn't like it, you are unlikely to be accepting and kind about it - you haven't been accepting and kind about her not wanting to.

The way you frame this question illustrates no positives, no pleasures for her apart from you. And the continual bringing it up, discussing it, pushing it, does you no favours because it not only makes her defend her desires, it makes you seem like a tool. If you're going to do this just talking about it, what makes her think it'll be fun to do it? What makes her secure with the possibility of not liking it?

(Also, you can absolutely know you don't like anal stimulation without doing it - it is not just a purely physical thing).
posted by geek anachronism at 5:51 PM on October 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Here's a small warning - if you beg, plead and manipulate her into sex acts that are primarily about your enjoyment you run a huge risk of irreparable damage to the relationship. Because the next time she wants to have sex with you, the irritation of the begging/pleading/manipulating and the discomfort of 'it's just one finger' or 'we're really close friends' will raise it's nasty head.

I couldn't agree more.

One other thing that's worth keeping in mind is that she has probably (unless you are her first boyfriend ever) had conversations about anal and "hey, your friend is kind of hot" more than a few times before. In fact, there's a greater-than-zero chance that she's had one or both of those things sprung on her out of the blue before, and fun as it might be to the perpetrator of OOPS WRONG HOLE, it's not much fun for the receiver.

The point being, she's probably had time to think about these things before you came on the scene, and if you are hoping to get her interested I can guarantee it will not be through agonizingly earnest and endless conversations, or through surprise "mistakes" ("I totally had no idea that your friend was going to be in this bed, honest!"), but rather you making her feel so happy and comfortable with you that she becomes interested in taking things further.
posted by Forktine at 6:49 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you were not dating her and she did not want to do anal with you, you would have to accept that, right? At a certain point it would be wrong to force the issue.

Maybe just because you are together does not mean that boundary has lifted.

Do people's tastes change over time? Of course.

Can people change their authentic desires, what actually turns them on, specifically for a partner???

.....not sure....
posted by kettleoffish at 7:36 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh boy. Okay, OP, please take this in the sprit in which it is offered – I am going to do my very best to give you advice on maximizing your girlfriend’s desire and willingness to do new sexual things with you.

Here’s something I don’t love broadcasting publicly on the internet or talking about a lot with people I don’t know, but will anyway: I done quite a bit of sexual experimenting in my time. I’m not going to enumerate everything I have done so you will have to trust me. But I have been generally interested in a quite a variety of things and up for trying stuff.

I would not feel at all comfortable experimenting sexually with YOU, with the attitude that you display here. I would be extremely leery of even having “vanilla” sex with you, with that attitude. This is coming from a person who did not need any “convincing” from anyone else to try stuff, a person who wanted to try those things entirely of her own accord.

Your post gives the impression that:

-You believe that your personal sexual preferences are better or superior or more correct in some way. Therefore, you would not respect me, my preferences, my likes, my dislikes, or my boundaries;

-You believe that you would know better than I would whether I would enjoy something or not (and yes, saying “You can’t know” in reply to someone saying “I know that I would not like that” is believing that you know better than them). You also believe there would be no consequences if you pressured me into doing something that turned out to be a horrible experience for me. And based on that, you would pressure me into things that I really, really did not want to do;

-You would believe that you knew better than me whether I actually WAS enjoying something or not. (And based on that, you would pressure me to continue doing things or do more of them even after I communicated to you that I did not like them and did not want to.);

-Your main goal way beyond anything else (including my comfort, peace of mind, happiness, or even possibly safety) would be the maximization of your own sexual pleasure. (Which would, again, lead you to pressure me into things I didn’t like and/or didn’t want to do).

-(Or, you would want me to be “happy” but only in the sense that you wanted me to be “happy” about doing the things that turned you on.)

-You would make value judgments about people based on their sexual preferences. So, if our preferences diverged, you would come to negative conclusions about me as a person based on that, and treat me badly.

This makes me think that experimenting sexually with you would lead to horrible sexual experiences which were unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful, upsetting, possibly disgusting, possibly dangerous, or maybe even traumatizing. It makes me think that you would not acknowledge that I felt that way, and would continue to pressure me to take part in those or different experiences and judge me if I refused to, or judge me if I didn’t like them. Or maybe you would be “satisfied” once I had tried it, but then I would be left with the horrible, corrosive memories which I would then think about and feel disgusted by every time I looked at you and remembered the pressuring, lack of respect, and singular focus on own wants.

Why the fuck would I ever want to open myself up to that??? Seriously! I would never, never do that to myself, not in a million years. And like I said above, I LIKE experimenting. If someone who is pretty sure they would enjoy certain things wouldn’t trust you as a partner for trying them, someone who is leery of those things is really not going to trust you for that.

Please remember here that I am trying to give you advice for creating an environment where your girlfriend can feel more comfortable experimenting if she feels like she wants to.

Here are some things you can do to start moving in that direction:

1. Lose your sense that your sexual preferences are superior in some way and lose the condescension and contempt towards your girlfriend’s statements and desires.

Examples:

“Sexual awakening: From vanilla to firecracker?”

This line implies you think that when it comes to your sexualities, you are awake and she is asleep. You think you are on a higher plane of consciousness than she is. And that your sexuality is real, fully formed and you are lucid and fully aware of it. But when it comes to her, you think she’s just asleep and dreaming WRT her sexuality, she is just not totally conscious of it like you are. That she thinks it is one way but if she could just wake up to your level of consciousness, she would find her real, and more fully formed sexuality is more like yours. This attitude is really grating, please try your best to lose it.

You could say I am making too much out of a random fluke of phrasing but this sort of attitude is woven throughout your entire question.

“she thinks I'll become attracted to someone else and leave her -- which if you know us, is a foolish thought”

It is extremely disrespectful and contemptuous to describe your partner’s thoughts as “foolish.” You can disagree with them without being disrespectful about them.

“It's not a dealbreaker if she's not into threesomes or open relationships etc, but I have heard (anecdotally) that these possibilities can mature over time”


Your phrasing here implies interest or willingness towards 3somes/open relationships is a more “mature” state than not being interested in or willing to do those things – that lack of interest or willingness is a “less mature” state. If you think that, you’re wrong – both of those states are equally “mature,” they are just different. And yes, they can change over time – in either direction, by the way – but that has nothing to do with “maturing.”

“I tend to … very open with my sexuality, but she's not.”

No, she seems to be perfectly open with her sexuality. She has described her sexuality with perfect clarity and has ably communicated what her desires are and aren’t. It just so happens that she isn’t into all the same things as you are and her sexuality isn’t entirely the same as yours. But that doesn’t make her a “less sexually open” person.

2. Stop assuming that you know better than other people whether they would like or dislike something, or disbelieving them when they state their own preferences,

In general, it rubs me the wrong way when people are against something without even trying it first

Really? Are you not sure whether or not you would enjoy having your fingernails pulled out one by one? Are you not sure whether or not you would enjoy chemotherapy? Are you not sure whether or not you would enjoy breaking your back? Please keep in mind that I am talking strictly about physical sensations here. If you are really saying you don’t believe anyone can know whether or not they would enjoy a physical sensation without trying it first, I don’t think you are being honest with yourself.

Not to mention that one of the really beneficial things about our big human brains is their ability to make inferences and find patterns. The entire point of that is that it allows us to make accurate judgments and predictions without having to try every single iteration of every single thing. You’re basically arguing that one of the biggest evolutionary advantages that humans have doesn’t exist and/or doesn’t work. If you really and truly believe that, you are wrong.

3. Stop assuming that there will be no consequences if you pressure her into something and she doesn’t like it.

You mention her “fear” that she doesn’t want to do something because she doesn’t think she’ll like it, as if that’s a weird reason not to want to do something. If you’re thinking, “okay, if we try it and she doesn’t like it, then so what?” I will tell you what. It will become a memory that she has. Depending on just how unpleasant it was, and just how hard you pushed her, that can have a whole range of consequences, including but not limited to disgust and resentment towards you, disgust and resentment whenever you touch her sexually, disgust and resentment when anyone touches her sexually, and you see where I am going with this. There are a whole lot of different things that can happen.

4. Since I started with 3 “Don’ts” I will switch it up with a “Do.” Build up a really, really strong foundation that she feels like you would NEVER pressure her into anything she didn’t want to do, you would NEVER just gloss over her objections to something or try to argue them down, that you will always listen to her and believe her when she says that she wouldn’t like something. Because if you do that, I think she can then feel comfortable dipping her toe into various waters she might think about from time to time. Without being afraid if she goes anywhere near the pool she is going to just get shoved right in. Let her be the one to lead it is what I’m saying. I’m sure from time to time she brings up ways she wants to experiment even if she starts small with some things.
posted by cairdeas at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2012 [58 favorites]


I think you're being simplistic by calling her reluctance for polyamory "jealousy." Jealousy is an emotion. Sometimes a reluctance to opening up is much more than just an emotion. It can be closer to a life philosophy or deeply held value. Some of the posters above in this thread have touched on some of that. For instance:


She's seen two friends have bad experiences with open relationships and unlike most people, does not think that she is such a special snowflake that she will beat those odds.


It can be a deeply held belief about volatility vs. risk in relationships. Or, I have one friend, a male, who prefers monogamy because there is something about the energy of monogamous relationships that he deeply prefers and craves. For another friend of mine, it has to do with the cultural history of multi-partner relationships and it gets into some strongly held political beliefs -- the thought of anything even close to FDLS polygamists, and Afghan multiple child brides, is triggering for that person. You do yourself a disservice by repeatedly using a simple one word explanation (jealousy) for her reluctance. That makes her reluctance seem less individualized and possibly more easily changeable than it is.
posted by kellybird at 8:44 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course OP should actually believe his girlfriend when she talks about what she does and does not like. She's a grown woman.

But come on. Expecting someone, eventually, to try anal isn't a crazy expectation. I mean, it shouldn't be a subject of constant nagging. Goes without saying. Guaranteed to make her never try it. But in our times I don't think it's all that demanding, wanting to bring up anal from time to time. It's not like mentioning goats every so often.

"From time to time" doesn't mean every night. Leave it be for a long while, I say. Down the road (a year from now?) it may be more appealing to her.
posted by skbw at 9:05 PM on October 3, 2012


Most people want some amount of sexual adventure. By focusing so much on anal and group sex you might be missing out on all the ways in which she is adventurous. Or maybe she's just less adventurous than you, but you won't find out unless you talk to her more about what she wants to explore.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:15 PM on October 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think her reluctance at anal play, threesomes, or open relationships comes from a fear that she won't like it, jealousy that I will be more attracted to someone else, and an inability to relax and enjoy it if she did say yes.

Or not. I have a feeling that she doesn't want to experiment with her limits with you because she thinks that she wouldn't be able to "take it back." That is, she might feel like if she tries something with you, even once, it is a signal that she is officially OK with it, and it will go permanently into your sexual repertoire. Nobody wants to open a floodgate like that. Also, she may be afraid that even if she ends up being merely lukewarm about these things, rather than actually disliking them, you will like them so much that she will end up doing them just to please you, and that your whole sex life will reorient itself around things that have less total reward for her.

This means: take the pressure off. If you've made your interest in a particular thing clear, don't act like it's a big deal; let her bring it up next time (and accept the fact that this may be a while from now). If you do end up trying something, let her open the discussion about what it was like. (As in, do not lead off with "Wasn't that great?") You want her to be able to experiment on her own terms in a low-pressure zone. Do not make her feel like if she gives an inch you'll take a mile.

Also, have you asked (low pressure! low pressure!) if there's anything she wants to experiment with? Getting in a more experimental zone in general, if you can prove you can do it without pressuring her, might encourage her interest in some of the things you want to do.
posted by ostro at 9:37 PM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was just coming here to comment, and matildatakesovertheworld has said what's on my mind.

If your question is about her being more adventurous, ask her what she likes.

If, however, you just want her to want anal sex and three/foursomes, she's told you her answer.

If I were her (sexually adventurous, but zero plans to participate in anal or group sex), and my boyfriend posted this question, I'd want him to decide as quickly as possible whether it was a dealbreaker or not, so he would quit wasting my time. And if it is a dealbreaker, I'd like to know that that's the reason for the breakup, so I wouldn't be all up in my head about "what went wrong" and instead be able to shrug, "oh, we're sexually incompatible."
posted by quartz at 9:38 PM on October 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


When I was younger I did something sexually I had no interest in and felt I wouldn't like under pressure from my boyfriend. It wasn't hard pressure, I believed it was good to try new things, that you don't know if you haven't done it, be ggg, all of that. Not only did I not enjoy it, but even now, many years later, I visibly flinch when I recall the memory. I'm flinching right now in fact.

I hate that memory.

If I was dating someone who told me that they simply can't respect someone who is "against something without even trying it first" while simultaneously trying to pressure me into something I knew I wouldn't like, well. I think I can do better then that.

Your girlfriend knows herself. Believe her.
posted by Dynex at 9:48 PM on October 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Not only did I not enjoy it, but even now, many years later, I visibly flinch when I recall the memory. I'm flinching right now in fact.


I have this extremely vivid memory from when I was 23 (and I'm in my late 20's now). I was letting my boyfriend at the time do something to me that he really wanted to do, and I told him beforehand I really didn't want to. I remember this thought suddenly came into my mind - it wasn't something I was consciously thinking, just a random thought that arose - "this is what being molested must feel like."

Now, that wasn't something I logically thought or believed, but it was the thought my brain generated. At the time, I had been dating the guy almost 6 months. We never had sex again and broke up a few weeks later, I just couldn't after associating sex with him with that feeling.
posted by cairdeas at 9:55 PM on October 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


I am kinky as fuck and if my partner wants me to do something (or do something to me) I am going to do my best to accommodate her but I do have hard limits and, yeah, anal play is not happening. I am also monogamous. If she continued to mention how much she wanted anal play I would be resentful and begin to wonder why she does not respect me.

Your question is all about you and what you want her to participate in. Have you asked her what might turn her on? Maybe you both could fill out a BDSM checklist (Google it).

Good for you that you are a sexually adventurous person, and very open with my sexuality, but you must have hard limits of your own? Suppose your girlfriend had two things she wanted you to do and they were hard limits for you?
posted by false flag at 10:04 PM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


People change, but you should never bank on them changing for you, or in the direction you want.

Also, you do not want to be the person who causes someone else to flinch at your memory.
posted by ead at 12:09 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't change other people. The best you can hope for is to be either a good example...or a horrible warning.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:45 AM on October 4, 2012


(she thinks I'll become attracted to someone else and leave her -- which if you know us, is a foolish thought)

I hope this doesn't come across as overly nitpick-y of the way you've worded your post, OP... but is it really illogical -- to the point of being termed foolish -- of your girlfriend to imagine that you might become attracted to, or develop feelings for, a woman that the two of you are having sex with?

It's interesting to me that you feel you can definitively know that you wouldn't become attracted to the third party in your threesome, but you don't believe that your girlfriend can definitively know whether she'd enjoy anal stimulation. The physical sensation of anal sex is something that your girlfriend can probably pretty accurately envision, but it's genuinely difficult to predict what your emotional response to non-monogamy will be until you actually experience it.
posted by arianell at 1:00 AM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


- I do understand that some people genuinely don't like that zone, but she's never even tried it (not with previous partners or me), so she can't really know.

- I think her reluctance at anal play, threesomes, or open relationships comes from a fear that she won't like it, jealousy that I will be more attracted to someone else, and an inability to relax and enjoy it if she did say yes.


Dude, seriously? Read what you wrote again because I don't think you're aware (or maybe you are now after these responses) of how patronizing this reads. I don't know you from Adam, but this reads kind of bullying to me, or at least it would be bullying if you pressed the point with her continuously to the point where she gave in.

Your girlfriend is an adult. She isn't a five year old that is pouting over no wanting to try BBQ chicken. She also isn't refusing to anything that, by not doing it, is harmful or damaging (like refusing to brush her teeth ever, or refusing to slow down when driving in a snow storm). She is an adult and she has experiences and knoweldge about herself. She is an adult that knows:
a) she doesn't want to engage in anal play, is makes her uncomfortable and she finds it gross
b) she doesn't wish to involve additional people in her monogamous relationship

Just because she "hasn't tried it" doesn't count for a thing. As a grown up she is allowed to not want to do something without trying it. That she has said she doesn't like it and has no interest should be enough. For example, I know that I don't want to engage in breath play during sex. I don't have to try it to know that I don't want to be choked during sex, I don't want my ability to breathe be restricted. That isn't sexual to me, it is terrifying, and while some people enjoy it I know I would not. The end. And no one gets to challenge me on that.

Don't misunderstand me - it is totally okay for you to enjoy anal play and it is okay for you to enjoy threesomes and open relationships, but it is EQUALLY okay for her to NOT enjoy those things, and she deserves enough respect and understanding to not be challenged on those beliefs. If they are that important to you then this relationship with this woman may not be the right one for you. Don't try to guilt or bully or force her in to any of those situations because "she hasn't tried it therefore she can't know whether she'd like it". That would be incredibly disrespectful to her.

and for the record, she hasn't changed, she hasn't up and altered the rules. She hasn't suddenly introduced a totally new element to this relationship. She hasn't promised to do something and then not followed through. You, however, have suddenly decided to change the rules and expectations. You have changed the terms on which you've set this relationship.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:28 AM on October 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's possible that she may eventually want to explore things with you that she hasn't done before. You're in this for life, right? You've got plenty of time to work out things with her. You can't push her, you just can't, because it won't work.

Sexually, things evolve. You have to be open to signals that can only come from complete trust and respect for each other. This is something that only you and her will be able to give to each other. This is a long term thing.
posted by h00py at 5:41 AM on October 4, 2012


I can't help but wonder: you mention anal but aren't clear about which one of you is on the receiving end. If you're only interested in your girlfriend receiving, I think it's fair for her to say "oh yeah? You first." If you're talking about both your butts this is irrelevant (and, regardless, everything else above still applies), but if you just want to put things in hers and won't even consider putting them in yours, your "just try it" argument is going to sound pretty darn hypocritical.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:18 AM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree with Metroid Baby but just want to say even if you are totally open to receiving anal, it is still okay for your GF not to be open to it and doesn't confer any more of a justification to pressure her on it.
posted by cairdeas at 7:47 AM on October 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, and if you want her to play with your ass, then there are some really practical considerations:

1) Play with it your own damn self. If she's not interested, fine. You don't have to be secretive or ashamed about it. You can say to her, "Look hon, I know you're not into this but I really enjoy it and so I'm going to take care of my sexual needs on my own. You're welcome to watch. You're welcome to take part if you'd like to. But if you want me, I'll be over here with my buttplug."

2) Clean that shit up! Literally! Butts are gross, mmkay? (And I'm gay. I know.) Cleanliness is absolutely crucial. You need to scrub and scrub, and probably douche, and then once you've got it as clean as you think you can get it, scrub a little more. Seriously.

3) Along those same lines, suggest that you two have a sexy shower and tell her that you want her to "touch you all over." Nothing specific. Nothing vulgar. AND WITH NO AGENDA TO GET HER TO DO ANYTHING THAT SHE DOESN'T WANT TO DO. Then you're clean. You're naked. You're together. Perhaps she starts by massaging your taint. And maybe that's all she's comfortable with now or in the future. But the more comfortable she gets with that, the more comfortable she might be with touching other parts of you.
posted by this *is* my happy face at 7:48 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you love her, and it sounds as if you do, I would suggest weighing this against a speculative hot buttsexandgroupsexloving partner out there who may or may not exist.

In a perfect world, I would have the type of sex life that you aspire to. But the price of admission to my very lovely and wonderful marriage is that this is not on the table.

That said, after decades of marriage, my partner and I have a very mutually satisfying and hot (for 60somethings) love life, which has ebbed and flowed but lately is more on the flow.

You would be well served by deciding that you want to be with this woman, and putting away your desire for stuff that she is not willing to try or do.

Or she would be well served by you deciding that you want this other stuff, now, and leaving her in order to go out and find it.

But she is going to go through her own evolution, and chances are she will not remake herself into the sexual being that you desire her to be.
posted by Danf at 12:04 PM on October 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah I'm still stuck on the fact that you called her concers foolish.

Up untill really reciently, oral was considered pretty hardcore. You gave two examples of what you want and what pushes your buttons, but you seem to be really focused. There are piles of kinky things that exist and probably won't totally skeeve her out.

Why not open yourself up to some lower stakes erotic stuff that she might be interested in? Stop thinking "threesome" and try "erotic stories outloud" or "meeting at a sketchy hotel for a lunch date."

Honestly, I could see why she may not want to share with you her interests. I would be afraid you would expect a tit-for-tat for anythink I asked for, even if it would be trading backseat making out for fucking on a swing with an audience.
posted by Blisterlips at 2:26 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


basic basic rule: other people do not get to decide each others sexual boundaries.

if you guys were 20 maybe the "how do you know?" argument holds a little water, but it doesn't here.

And I've done nearly everything under the sun... yet there are probably a thousand things that are hard "no"s for me. Because there is always a bridge further.

Do I need to eat human waste to know I wouldn't like it?
Do I need to where a diaper and live in a crib to know i wouldn't like it?
Do I need to sever a finger during sex to know I wouldn't like it?

No. I don't.

Would that make a poop eating, man-baby, with 3 fingers more sexually adventurous person, and very open with their sexuality than me?

No. It would just make them different and a bad match.

I 100% do not think there is anything wrong with what you want.
But there is 100% nothing wrong with what she doesn't want.

and there's your problem.
posted by French Fry at 9:48 PM on October 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think you probably have no idea how common your attitude is in the general straight male populace. Out of all the boyfriends I've had, well over half have been so gung-ho about "sexual experimentation" that I had no interest in that I just went along with it and had terrible sex for years and years. (I faked a lot.) Breaking up with a guy who consistently pressured me to have sex "his way" (because if I tried it I'd have fun, and actually when we did it it seemed like I really did like it, even when I was saying it really wasn't my first choice) was the best break-up decision of my life. I have never felt so free, liberated, and sexually adventurous as after that break-up.

The sex in question wasn't forced on me, just something I was incessantly asked to do, something that he would start doing without really asking me, something I learned to do for his sake because literally every single sexual encounter we had was somehow steered toward what he wanted. He would talk all the time about how adventurous and kinky we were like I was supposed to care about those words in the abstract. I couldn't have given less of a fuck, to be honest. And it's not like I was 100% vanilla-- I just had different "kinks," which we never tried, because his were the "cool" (male-oriented) ones.

As a woman who likes anal play, I've always known that I liked it. Before I tried it, I wasn't disgusted or opposed to it. I was curious and started doing it on my own before any guy ever asked me to. Your girlfriend clearly is not me, and has every right to say she's not interested if she's literally not interested.

Also if my boyfriend pressured me for a three- or foursome I would dump him. We've both agreed that we're vaguely nauseated by the idea and it's not a turn on. I really don't think you should bank on her changing her mind, even if it's a possibility, because if she can sense it at all she's going to be hurt and probably pissed off at you.

---

I have this extremely vivid memory from when I was 23 (and I'm in my late 20's now). I was letting my boyfriend at the time do something to me that he really wanted to do, and I told him beforehand I really didn't want to. I remember this thought suddenly came into my mind - it wasn't something I was consciously thinking, just a random thought that arose - "this is what being molested must feel like."

This is exactly my experience. I had this feeling with a boyfriend when I was 19, and again when I was 20 (two separate guys!). It led me to believe for several years that men literally couldn't stop themselves from sexually abusing people. Probably you don't want to be the person to make your girlfriend feel that way.

And yeah, OP, I don't know whose anus you want to be playing with (or if it's both), but pretty much every guy I've ever dated has had a hard boundary about anal play performed on them. Every. Single. One. So boundaries about this kind of thing are actually quite common. I don't think most women would feel entitled to pressure their boyfriends repeatedly to let them anally penetrate them, because that's not as embedded in the narrative of "sexual experimentation." (If you want the anal play performed on you, it really doesn't matter, either way it's common for people to have boundaries about anal.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:36 AM on October 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have a feeling that she doesn't want to experiment with her limits with you because she thinks that she wouldn't be able to "take it back." That is, she might feel like if she tries something with you, even once, it is a signal that she is officially OK with it, and it will go permanently into your sexual repertoire. Nobody wants to open a floodgate like that. Also, she may be afraid that even if she ends up being merely lukewarm about these things, rather than actually disliking them, you will like them so much that she will end up doing them just to please you, and that your whole sex life will reorient itself around things that have less total reward for her.

I missed ostro's comment the first time over, but oh my god, this this this this this. For all my adventurousness, I get really tired of the mainstream porno-kinky stuff (facials, 69ing) that guys really seem to dig-- but there's no going back to missionary after saying OK to that stuff. Also consider that your girlfriend was probably raised in a culture that was constantly trying to strip her of her sexual autonomy the moment she hit puberty and maybe feel proud of her that she has such a firm grasp on her boundaries.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:58 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with everyone above who said that you should not go into this relationship expecting or hoping for her to change, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her or her boundaries.

You did ask for personal stories, though, so --

My husband is very kinky, much more so than me (I'm female). However, one thing he'd never done was be with a man. This was and is my strongest sexual fantasy (to watch two men). I told him that when we met. He told me that he had moral reservations (mostly religious) and it didn't interest him at all.

At this point, I agonized over whether or not I should continue dating him. I talked this over with a friend, who pointed out that in my 30 years I'd only had a small handful of experiences with bisexual guys. Therefore I could clearly live without it and I shouldn't let this fantasy get in my way of an otherwise awesome relationship.

I completely dropped the subject. For seven years. We did all manner of other kinky things, but not that. Occasionally he would bring it up in bed as a fantasy because he knew it would reliably turn me on. This happened about a dozen times. But there was no follow-through and I didn't pursue it.

Then one night we're at a bar with other kinky friends, and he taps me on the shoulder and asks if I know the guy next to me. Sure, I'd known him from before we'd gotten together. My husband asks me if he thinks the guy would be up for a threesome. OKAY THEN! About a year later, my husband has come to the conclusion that he's probably actually bisexual.

I don't believe people choose their basic sexual orientation, so he was almost definitely a repressed bisexual all along. This seems extremely unlikely in your case since she's not kinky at all. I have seen SO MANY relationships destroyed when the people have wildly incompatible levels of kink. She will be heartbroken; imagine if, at some point, she revealed that all along she'd been hoping you'd become more handsome and instead you still looked the same as when you two met.
posted by fantoche at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older I am tired of this damn comput...   |  What to do when, as a peer rev... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.