How can I have more sex with my boyfriend?
February 2, 2011 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I hope this isn't bratty, but I want to have more sex and I don't get why my boyfriend doesn't.

My boyfriend and I have been together for one year. I am 25 and he is 27. I love him and I absolutely want to spend the rest of my life with him. We've talked about marriage and are renovating an apartment to move into together in three months.

There are so many good things: we can hang out and do nothing together and it's totally comfortable and fun; we have great conversations; in general I feel comfortable being completely myself around him.

Now here's the bratty part - For some reason, a lot of my self worth is rooted in my appearance. I'm not sure why, and it's not something I like about myself, but it's true. It's important to me that my partner finds me attractive, and tells me so regularly. (It's also important that he considers me funny/smart/kind, and we are very compatible in those areas). But my boyfriend doesn't say those everyday things to me, the "whoa you look hot tonite," "I like your hair," "your boobs are cute," random comments that in other relationships I really appreciated and made me feel physically comfortable around my partner in day-to-day sexytime. Because he doesn't give me those affirmations, I feel kind of uncomfortable when I'm naked around him. Like, "how does my belly look now?" "oh i'm naked and crossing the room, better put my arm over my boobs" just because I doubt whether he finds me attractive in that moment.

We have talked about this before, on two occasions. Both times he laughed and and told me that he thought he was the luckiest guy because I was the most gorgeous girl in the city, and that I was crazy to doubt myself and super hot. He says that other aspects of my personality are way more important to him and to our relationship and that it just doesn't occur to him to tell me these little comments about my physical appearance. But he said that he would try to tell me more often. He hasn't and I can't really blame him if it doesn't occur naturally to him.

It was reassuring but the effects of those comments haven't lasted. I don't want to bring it up again because I DO NOT want to be one of those girls, sobbing to their boyfriends, "TELL ME I'M PRETTTTTYYYYY".

I went into this backstory because for the past two months our sex lives have been in a bit of a lull. We were having sex 4-5x/week (once per time we hung out) and now we're having sex 1x/week (about every third night we spend together). He took on a job where he is out in the cold all day, and is always dead tired by the time I get out of work at 9pm. So we go to bed, and then we wake up to his dogs jumping on the bed a to be taken out for a walk at 5:30 am. One of us lays in bed while the other takes the dogs out, then we sometimes have sex. Further complicated is the fact that I live with my parents about 20 minutes away, we've been having storms and my car is shit in the snow so we haven't been able to spend so many nights together.

I told him that I wanted to have sex more, and he told me that he was stressed out about work and that stress makes him not want to have sex. He said that I would have to put forth a greater effort to make him want to have sex.

I totally see his point, but: I'm really, really nervous about initiating sex because I am so doubtful about whether he is attracted to me or not. It's crippling. We will be lying in bed talking and I''ll be thinking, " I really want to lie on top of him and kiss him but what if he doesn't want to? What if he thinks I'm kind of ugly, and there's this gross girl on top of him?" It makes it so hard to work up the courage to make a move that I don't even try, and then we fall asleep.

The thing is that when I am alone, or even with anyone else except him, I think I am the bomb dot com. I'll look at myself naked in the mirror and think "look at that cute butt!" Or I catch a guy checking me out and think "thats because I look awesome." I don't get why it doesn't translate to my boyfriend. But now I am starting to feel uncomfortable just changing my clothes in front of him!

Even worse, I've started to resent him when he actually initiates sex. In my head I'm like, "oh, NOW you want to!"

Tonight was another night I couldn't go over there because of the snow, and we haven't had sex in a week. I don't know why it bothers me so much. I know that I need to do something, or have another talk with my boyfriend but I don't know what to say or how to go about changing my actions. Please help me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
he was stressed out about work and that stress makes him not want to have sex. He said that I would have to put forth a greater effort to make him want to have sex.

That sounds like the problem. He doesn't want to because of stress/tired, so you have to put in more effort. The way you have phrased it, it doesn't sound like a reasonable ask.

Could more seduction make someone overcome tiredness? Maybe on some occasions, but in a long term relationship it's not reasonable to expect that the partner could do that. It's like saying 'make it like first date sex so I can get excited after work.

I'd say the stress and attitude is the issue...once you've had a look at that then sure there's plenty you can do as a couple together to work on the sex, but it's not your sole responsibility.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:02 AM on February 2, 2011

I told him that I wanted to have sex more, and he told me that he was stressed out about work and that stress makes him not want to have sex. He said that I would have to put forth a greater effort to make him want to have sex.

I've been where your boyfriend is with work and being exhausted mid-winter and in retrospect I once or twice rejected my then-girlfriend's advances in ways much less kindly than I should have. Anyway, your second sentence here doesn't follow your first. It's fine for you to go the extra mile, and hopefully partners do that for each other somewhat often anyway. But if he's the stressed out one, he needs to fix that - you can't do it for him. If he's far enough into introspection about this to realize it's work stress that's reducing his libido, he's far enough into it that he should be thinking about ways to get around it. You could make some suggestions, but the next time he tries to put the onus on you, gently explain that (a) he's the distracted one and needs to fix that and (b) you're open to ideas.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:03 AM on February 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Interesting that you used the word "bratty," because my first reaction was that you were not acting like a grown-up in this situation. Simply put, you cannot expect to get what you want without making some effort yourself, and even so you will not always get what you want. Adults in relationships realize that sex drives wax and wane according to external factors sometimes - it's not always going to be perfect, and you will not always have the exact sex life you might want. Obviously great incompatibility should not be ignored, but there's miles of room to compromise. To insist on 100% satisfaction is ... childish. As for initiating - if you want sex, you're going to have to go for it. There's no magic way around this.
posted by mrs. sock at 9:19 AM on February 2, 2011 [11 favorites]

I have been the female in this relationship before. If he was never complimentary, even in the beginning, that may just be the way he is. And being responsible for making him want sex? My ex was passive to a fault, i had to initiate sex at least 80% of the time. He enjoyed it, but after a while it really grates on the self esteem.

You should try to explain how you feel, how important it is to you that he makes you feel wanted. If he can't give you that, and you want to stay, you will need to cultivate your self esteem in other ways. Hobbies, friends, etc.
posted by virginia_clemm at 9:20 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

You want to know how you can have more sex with your boyfriend, and he's told you--initiate sex.

The real problem here is that you're so insecure, you're paralyzed. I don't think this is a problem in your relationship, I think the problem is something you need to work out for yourself, maybe with a therapist--why is your self-worth tied to your appearance? why don't you believe your boyfriend's assurances that he finds you beautiful and worthy?
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2011 [31 favorites]

Can you imagine how awful it must feel to never - ever - have your partner initiate sex? That's what you're saying you're doing to him. And though he might not have the level of insecurities you do, that really must sting and make him feel like crap. Initiate sex when you want it. You might get turned down occasionally but so what?
posted by brainmouse at 9:26 AM on February 2, 2011 [5 favorites]

I don't think it's fair to put the entire onus on him, either, I.G.. Swap the sexes around, and imagine the boyfriend is a '50s-style wife/homemaker who's exhausted by taking care of the house and kids all day. "she's the distracted one and needs to fix that" ?!?

There are two problems here, really, and I think you could deal with either one on its own but the combination is too much. Problem one is boyfriend is too exhausted to put much effort into sex. Problem two is he's not very verbally affectionate and this makes you feel bad.

I think problem two is something you should encourage the bf to change, but realize that you're asking him to change for you. Yeah, it feels needy, and it is kind of, but doing little things like complimenting your partner's body simply because you know your partner likes it is one of the parts of a working relationship. Problem one, IMHO, is something you need to work on together.

Since part of the problem is that you can't physically get together very easily, what about having phone / cyber / epistolary / etc sexytimes when you can't? This would help on both fronts. It'd get the bf into the habit of saying appreciative things about you, and it would also heighten the general sexual tension when you are together and hopefully get one or the other of you over the hump. so to speak In my experience anticipation is a really effective aphrodisiac.

Anecdotally, having something (eg dogs) wake you up in the middle of the night is a great way to have more sex when you're tired from work. You're already doing this, maybe you could make a habit or an occasion of it?
posted by hattifattener at 9:27 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you need to focus on finding self worth outside of your appearance/sex appeal. Maybe seeing a therapist/someone to talk to would help, or maybe just journaling and working it out on your own (reminding yourself that other qualities are more important... I know you know this, but do you really KNOW it?)...

Right now you're upset because the weather is preventing you from having sex... What if your boyfriend breaks a leg and you can't have sex for weeks? What if you have to go on a business trip? Etc. Having times with more sex or less sex is totally natural!

I mean, yes, you can/should remind your boyfriend that compliments about your appearance are one of the ways of showing love which are important to you (remember to find out which ways are important to him)... But if you're really upset after a relatively short time of less sex, you can't really pin that one on him.

Or, you could try an open relationship. Or dump him and find someone else. In general the first few months of a relationship have the most sex. If your boyfriend's sex drive is a lot lower than yours--totally possible, once a week is well within "normal"--then really that's it for him, and if it's crucial to your existence that you have sex with another person a lot more than that, then he's on the long list of people who are perfect for you except for one really important thing.
posted by anaelith at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

We will be lying in bed talking and I''ll be thinking, " I really want to lie on top of him and kiss him but what if he doesn't want to? What if he thinks I'm kind of ugly, and there's this gross girl on top of him?"

Honestly, nothing -- not even more sex -- is going to satisfy you until you've overcome this kind of insecurity. If anything, the sex and stuff is just a band-aid that keeps you from having to do this work on yourself.

No dude is ever going to stick around and be the boyfriend to someone that he secretly thinks of as "this gross girl." If it turns out to be a bad time for you to lay on him (like, he has to pee, or he is grumpy or something) then he will probably politely demur. Of course, there's basically no way for him to do so without you assuming it's BECAUSE YOU'RE TEH GROSSNESS. So your problems have basically eliminated the possibility of casual, honest sexual interactions.

Next time you catch yourself throwing an arm across your boobs to cover up, straighten your spine and let them lead the way. Confidence is attractive in both sexual and nonsexual contexts, so you're covered either way, whether he happens to be admiring you sexually or not at that particular moment. He has seen you naked, he has had sex with you, and he chooses YOU. Relax and enjoy it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:31 AM on February 2, 2011 [49 favorites]

I think first and foremost, you need to work on figuring out why you tie so much of your self worth in your looks. And once you figure that out, you need to dump that attitude altogether.

I'm not saying stop caring about how you present yourself or don't take care of yourself, but someday, your cute butt, taut tummy and perky bits are going to go by way of gravity. It doesn't all go to hell, but you cannot stop aging.

And really, beyond aging, there are various other out-of-your-control things that could happen to anyone to screw up your body/appearance.

You're 25 now. Enjoy that! But don't wrap so much of your self worth and value in looks. Behind your pretty face and awesome hair, you've got a gorgeous brain and a stunning intellect and a perky personality. Indulge those things as well. Go the extra mile to workout those parts and keep them beautiful and healthy too. You are an absolutely valuable, worthwhile and awesome person without your looks.

As far as your boyfriend, understand that he's tired and you're getting home at 9pm and everyone gets up at 5am the next day. He's also working in the cold, so I am presuming it is manual labor. The intimacy doesn't fall directly on your shoulders, nor does the initiating. Let him know that you are concerned about his stress, are very much willing and that this is something you want to work on together.

Don't count the times per week and freak out about it, especially if distance/weather is becoming an issue. Nothing you can do about the snow, you know?
posted by jerseygirl at 9:32 AM on February 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Other people have addressed the self-esteem issues so I'll focus on the fun part.

Your dude, in a very round about way, has said that he needs some foreplay to get in the mood. This is normal although not discussed as often in regard to men.

Also, who is the more active party during sex (if you aren't both equally as active)? If it is him and he's tired then initiating things yourself could push him from the "too tired to bone" category to "vagina ahoy".
posted by Loto at 9:33 AM on February 2, 2011

Been here before. It's all the stress, it can have an enormous impact on libido depending on the person. I doubt he has a second of time during his day to fantasize and build up that energy for later in the night. It's not you, and while I'm pretty sure you recognize this on some level, it does have to be said.

Your plea for more compliments probably didn't last because he takes his attraction to you for granted. I didn't understand this at all, myself, and my reaction mirrored his- laughing it off because OF COURSE I found my partner attractive. There will be a time when you convince him of your actual need for compliments in a relationship, but I don't think (with your rather hectic schedules) it's right now.

A further note: my partner had the same frustrated reaction when I would initiate- she felt that sex had become all my call as far as timing went, to an unfair degree. My feelings at that time were "I don't define when my sex drive picks up, so let's use it when we can."

As for actually solving this situation, yes it may fall to you to segue into sex, but working out the stress thing can be accomplished mutually. It's horribly cliche, but a backrub after work, some hot cocoa and something as benign as a board game might help both of you to relax more. Work on cultivating a relaxing atmosphere as a team. Candles, scents, keeping the place neat, etc. If the atmosphere clicks it's likely his brain will be able to move onto sexual needs. If you press the sex issue too much right away, as a guy it's likely his response will be to withdraw further.

It's eerie how similar your situation mirrors my (previous) one, and while I may not have a perfect solution I hope that by acting as a foil here you can rationalize what may seem like callous behavior on his part. Hope it works out
posted by MangyCarface at 9:34 AM on February 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't think it's fair to put the entire onus on him, either, I.G

I don't intend to and I hope my answer doesn't read that way. As I read the question, everything was going well on the sex front until OP's boyfriend started a new job, and since he's the one suffering from stress, he needs to determine how he can reduce it / get around it, probably with some help from the OP. If I misread the question or my answer didn't make that clear, please disregard my answer above.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2011

It sounds like you're saying that you need him to initiate sex four times a week in order for you to feel good about yourself, but don't want to initiate sex because you don't feel good about yourself.

It's totally normal to get a good ego stroke from physical intimacy- but I can see how from his point of view you might not be reciprocating. If you never initiate sex then he might feel like you don't find him attractive, which isn't sexy at all.

You say it’s not something you like about yourself, but now that you see it as a real problem in your relationship maybe it’s time to address it with a counselor.

On a side note- once a week is still pretty often for a down period. If your average is 4-5 times a week for most of the time you’ve been together, I wouldn’t worry too much about it bouncing back after the stresses go away.
posted by Blisterlips at 9:48 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're both being lazy or selfish, but at least your boyfriend has a stressful job as an excuse.

It would be reasonable if it were a once-in-a-while thing, because that happens in all normal relationships where one partner helps pick up the slack in the other's libido. But now you won't initiate sex without extra compliments from him, and he won't initiate without extra seduction effort from you. You're both asking for more without offering a carrot. Do you think anybody is going to get what they want in the end that way?

It sounds like meeting halfway between his job stress and your insecurity would be easy enough.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:53 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

How often do you tell your boyfriend that he looks cute or that's a hot shirt, or daaaaamn that's a nice butt? It's a two way street. Despite the stress and such, he might be thinking the exact same thing while lying beside you in bed, wishing you'd just jump his bones already so he can just go with the flow.

Have you ever said to him, "I feel like I need to hear these little things from you more often. Intellectually I know how you feel about me, but emotionally it really helps my self esteem to hear those things when you think them." ?
posted by utsutsu at 10:05 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

This sounds like your problem more than it is your BF's.

You say it yourself.....from your original post:

"a lot of my self worth is rooted in my appearance. I'm not sure why, and it's not something I like about myself, but it's true. It's important to me that my partner finds me attractive, and tells me so regularly."

Why not attack this problem? It is your problem to own. Not your boyfriend's.
posted by PsuDab93 at 10:19 AM on February 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

He's not a mind-reader. He's not always going to know when you want to have sex, and he's not always going to know when you want him to tell you that you're beautiful. Constantly saying these things may may not be part of his personality. If that's the case, it may just be something you'll have to accept. If you feel the need to be dating someone who behaves this way towards you, then you may need to reevaluate the relationship.

I agree with brainmouse. The bottom line is, if you aren't comfortable around him, then you probably won't be doing things that turn him on. I know my girlfriend is totally comfortable around me because during sex, she acts like it. She totally exposes her body and her inner-most sexual desires and it's always clear that what I'm doing turns her on. Does he really turn you on? If so, do you act like it? You need to keep in mind that your own behavior during sex may affect his attitude and his behavior.
posted by nel at 10:41 AM on February 2, 2011

While it's true that you can't always get what you want, do try to let yourself off the hook a bit for being "bratty" about it. There's nothing immature or wrong about wanting more sex in a relationship. You have a right to want sex, and you don't need to apologize for the component of your libido that's about feeling desired -- it's a normal, healthy part of sexuality. The trick is to keep it in perspective so as to not let it become detrimental to your happiness and your relationship.

It's pretty much universal that being asked/told to do something can make people resist/resent doing things they would otherwise be perfectly happy to do or even were already planning on doing. Doing something of your own volition produces a feeling of achievement; doing something you were asked to do feels like capitulation. So while communicating what your needs are is always a good idea, try to avoid framing it like a request or a demand to your boyfriend, and be very careful to not make him feel bad for not initiating sex more often. Once guilt gets involved, sex gets tied up with everything else your boyfriend "ought" to do more, and starts to feel like a chore. And then he'd actually start to find you less attractive.

So, practically speaking, instead of saying "I wish you'd instigate sex more," tell him how hot you found specific instances in which he was sexually aggressive. If you want more compliments about your sex appeal, it's pretty easy -- start (honestly) complimenting his. Guys are not immune to wanting to be desired, but mostly, it will establish it as an everyday topic of conversation between you two and give him a model to emulate in expressing his own feelings of attraction to you. And of course, when he does initiate sex or give you compliments, make sure he knows how much you like it and how good it makes you feel.

Essentially, what you're doing is focusing on rewarding behavior that you like instead of criticizing behavior that you don't. If it sounds a bit like dog training, well, it maybe is, though not in a gross or demeaning way, it's just based on the shared principle negative reinforcement works great for getting someone to stop doing something, but if you want to get someone to do more of something, it's all about reward.

But here's the thing: you still might not get all the lovin' that you want. The late 20's is often when a guys sex drive first starts to lose some of its manic intensity, for both biological and cultural reasons. Work stress is probably a bigger source of anxiety for him now that notions of impending adulthood loom. Try to be empathetic; his diminished sexdrive is probably kind of new and scary for him, too. If he's just not feeling it, try to find ways in which he can make you feel desired, without having to "perform" sexually. As much as you might find the idea (and portmanteau) off-putting, 'sexting' could provide a safe channel for him to tell you what he'd want to do with/to you, without the expectations of actually doing it.

And finally, but importantly, be sure to do whatever you can do for yourself to feel more attractive. Don't leave it all up to your relationship and your boyfriend. If you're insecure about your belly, than do something about it. Getting more exercise is almost always helpful in improving one's attitude and self-esteem. Additionally, you'll feel more attractive if you feel more interesting. Wherever your interests lie, get more engaged -- read books you've been meaning to, go see more revival screenings at the local art house, or download interesting classes from itunes U. Also, get out more, without your boyfriend -- you will feel more interesting to your boyfriend if you find your life outside the relationship more interesting.
posted by patnasty at 10:51 AM on February 2, 2011 [8 favorites]

Throughout your question, I keep wondering what micro-signals this guy is giving off that keeps killing your confidence and sexy?

Now you're at the point sexytime is happening less often?

Yes, follow all the good advice above. I'm sorta wondering though if you are two very nice people that just aren't compatible long-term? That happens a lot, and it doesn't mean either isn't desirable, just that you should keep looking for someone you have even MORE compatibility with.

Be open to whatever is in your best interests. Good luck!
posted by jbenben at 10:51 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a really widespread myth that straight guys are always up for sex with a hot girl — that men have sex on the brain all the time, always want more, never feel satisfied, and so the only possible reason for a man to turn down sex is if he finds the other person totally repulsive.

It sounds like you've bought into that myth. But the truth is that men are pretty much just like women on this. I'm sure you've had the experience of being too tired for sex (even with a really hot guy) or too stressed or cranky or sad for sex (even with a really hot guy) or just one way or another not in the mood no matter how hot the guy is. Contrary to what they tell you on TV, men are the same way. Men turn down sex for all sorts of reasons: including, yeah, stress and exhaustion and all-around sorry-I'm-not-in-the-mood-ness.

Something to keep in mind, anyway, and maybe to remind yourself of when you're feeling rejected. When he says he's tired, he doesn't mean "ZOMG YOU'RE DISGUSTING GET OFF ME." He means "I'm tired."
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:25 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think it's reasonable for you to ask him to compliment you on your appearance. I'm willing to bet he vastly underestimates how important it is to you to hear that. Suggest he try and attach it to something else he does on a regular basis (brushing teeth for example). Every time he brushes his teeth, he compliments you in some way. At first it may feel a little forced, but so long as he's not saying the same exact thing each time, you will appreciate it. In the longer run, he may not need that reminder. However, I think you need to explain to him that no matter how many times he tells you this, you'll still need him to tell you. Just like no matter how many times in his life he's taken a shower, he'll still need to take showers. It's basically like a verbal hug of some sorts.

In regards to your own insecurity, I think you could share this with him. Preferably not when he's dead tired but at some point. It doesn't have to be clouded in lots of roundabout sentences. You can just say, "Sometimes I want to be with you, but I feel insecure about myself. I'm working on it." It's something to share with him!

Finally, if he's really tired after working then maybe there's some chore you can do around his place which will save him 20-40 minutes every other day. This'll give you more free time with each other.

Good luck. I don't think you sounded bratty at all. I do think you could share most of this with him and he'd be cool with it.
posted by fantasticninety at 11:34 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, practical question: What about not-quite-sex just-fooling-around stuff? I mean, if he's worn out from work but you still lie around in bed and kiss for a while before you go to sleep, is that going to make you feel more desirable? Or have you convinced yourself that anything short of fucking "doesn't count"?

Because standard advice for men in your situation is to take some of the pressure off: to start with "okay, honey, no sex tonight, let's just cuddle" and then gradually reintroduce sex to the routine.

The thing is, if someone feels like it's EPIC MARATHON SEX OR NOTHING, they're gonna say "no" every time they're not 100% certain they're up for EPIC MARATHON SEX. And a lot of the time it's hard to be 100% certain of that, especially when you're tired. You can be like, "Jeez, I'd love to fool around, and I'm pretty sure I've got the energy, but what if we get going and I start to relax and then I realize I'm just too worn out to keep going?" And someone who feels like it's gotta be all or nothing will just say "no" in that situation — they can't commit to the "all," so they go for "nothing" because those are tho only options on the table. But someone who feels like it's okay to say "well, if I'm too tired we'll just make out for a bit and that'll be fun too" is more likely to say "what the heck — yeah, let's do this and see how long my energy lasts." (Which means sometimes, he'll surprise himself and discover that he does have the energy for EPIC MARATHON SEX. Win/win.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:39 AM on February 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

Are you giving him all the things you want from him?

Are you telling him he's hot, that he's sexy, that you want his body? Are you giving him random compliments just because, out of the blue, the same as you'd like from him? Are you admiring and complimenting his naked body the way you'd like him to admire and compliment yours?

Are you acting on your attraction, the way you'd like him to? (You're not, it's in your question, but think about it.) You want him to demonstrate that he's physically attracted to you. He likely needs the exact same thing from you. He needs you to show that you're attracted to him, that sex is appealing, that sex with him is something you desire. Telling him so, initiating sex, is a way to demonstrate it, just like you want him to demonstrate it to you.
posted by galadriel at 12:17 PM on February 2, 2011

You're solving the wrong problem. The problem isn't "How can I spark my boyfriend's libido more?" The problem is "How can I get over tying my self-worth to my appearance and to my self-perceptions of whether I am sexually desirable?"

Because the thing is that you are only going to get older, and as you get older you will be "told" by popular culture that you are less and less sexually desirable. Why not get out of this trap now?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:22 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is good practice for marriage. He's tired because of his work. Spend some time taking care of him. Bake for him, give him a massage, or make him a hot bath. The next morning, take the dog out. Come home with coffee and seduce him.

Part of being a grownup is knowing how to compromise and cooperate. He's too tired for lots of sex. You want sex. If you want to get what you want, you're going to have to make it happen. And it's a skill that will help your relationship in your lives together.

When he compliments you, at all, Thank Him. Give him a kiss. Say "I love it when you tell me I'm attractive." What gets rewarded gets repeated.
posted by theora55 at 12:48 PM on February 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Women are socialized to eroticize male desire. Many sex researchers consider the experience of being desired critical to female arousal. And it sucks that because of internalized patriarchy we get turned on by our own objectification, self-esteem is not enough, but unlike some other commenters here I don't consider this something you should attempt to fix. I don't think you can. In regular life you can fight patriarchy, but as far as your sexuality goes, you sometimes need to work with what you've got.

It would not be possible for me to have a sexual relationship with a man who didn't openly communicate his desire for me. Maybe it's not possible for you either. If you've asked for this from your boyfriend and he hasn't been able to provide it, you need to clarify how important it is to you, and discuss the possibility that the two of you are just not compatible sexually.
posted by milk white peacock at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2011 [10 favorites]

You know, sometimes it's a relief to come to full terms with the fact that you're NOT the most gorgeous girl in the city, despite what your boyfriend says. And that he loves you despite you not being Angelina Jolie, and not because you could pass for her twin. Attraction isn't based on physical appearance exclusively. Talk to your boyfriend about what is sexy for him in his relationship with you, and I bet it's not going to be a list of your physical attributes. Maybe it would help you in gaining the confidence to initiate sex.
posted by namesarehard at 4:59 PM on February 2, 2011

"oh i'm naked and crossing the room, better put my arm over my boobs" just because I doubt whether he finds me attractive in that moment.

I understand the feeling, but it might be worth reflecting on the fact that you totally have the right to cross a room with your own body without being ashamed. You would have that right even if you were the ugliest person on earth. It's not like when I'm walking down the street, the beauty police come by and say, "salvia, sorry, this is a Zone 4 Attractiveness Zone and your body does not qualify you to be here. In fact, you are so ugly that the only place you can allow yourself to be visible to others is in your own basement." You were born and you get to take up space, be visible, and feel desires. It's not like some people don't qualify.

You might be responding, "sure, I can walk down the street, but does that mean that my boyfriend thinks I'm attractive? not necessarily." And that's true. But as he is an adult, and as he's said you're incredibly attractive, if he decides he doesn't want to look at you, it's up to him to say that. Until then, you could waste a lot of effort needlessly worrying what he thinks when he looks at you. And instead you could spend that time just enjoying the opportunity to look at him.

Honestly, you speak of feeling bratty, but it sounds to me like you don't feel entitled and selfish enough, if you feel like you have to ingratiate yourself with others on the basis of your appearance to earn the right to be visible or express desire. Yes, all this is easier said than done, but you're kinda far along the spectrum in one direction. See if you can stop being an object seeking his approval, relax and enjoy being there, and take a turn being the one who looks at and desires him. :)
posted by salvia at 11:28 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Haven't read all the other responses, but I can relate - both me and the bf have massive fear of rejection due to past bad relationships, and I also tie too much of my self-worth to how much sex I get. I used to panic that he'd gone off me if we didn't have sex every day. I am learning to let that go. Here is what is working for us:

- I don't want/need him to tell me I'm pretty verbally, but we have a lot of intimate touching and cuddling in our general interactions - silly little games, like he'll squeeze my bum "to check it's still there", or he'll pass me in the kitchen and give me a sly grope, and I'll do the same to him - stuff like that lets me know he still desires me/finds me attractive.

- if I want sex, I woman up and I ask for it. He very rarely turns me down. This is helping with my fear of rejection.

You have to learn to trust him that he's with you because he wants to be.
posted by corvine at 5:08 AM on February 3, 2011

The answer to your problem is probably in the good advice above.

But the thing that caught my eye is that , while you locate your self-esteem in your appearance, you rate yourself pretty highly around everyone but your boyfriend. If you walk around in public or on your own recognizing that you are the hotness, but feel inadequate around your boyfriend, he may be the cause.

Is he kind and respectful? Are you getting what you need from him outside of the bedroom?
posted by freshwater at 8:59 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

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