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April 2, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

How do I get my partner to realize I dislike a behaviour without making either of us feel uncomfortable? (Mild NSFW)

Okay, this is a tad nothing awkard, but here it goes anyway:

My partner is super obsessed and focussed on women breasts. Furthermore, he is super obsessed on nipples, more so than the whole thing.

Now, I'm not exactly sure if this (pointing out boobies on tv, frequently browsing bobbies.net for the pictures, etc.) is normal for men in general as this is my first adult sexual relationship. Though honestly, one way or another, it really doesn't bother me that he is looking for breasts everywhere. Not at all.

Actually, the problem is: I have fairly (very) large breasts, which my partner naturally adores. However, I HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE having my nipples touched. There's nothing wrong with them (the nipples) but they are extremely over-sensitive and I can't help to feel very annoyed every time they are touched or stroked. (I don't mind having my breast caressed, squeeze, etc, but he prefers to go for pinching or twisting my nipples) Which, obviously, this doesn't sit well with my partner.

I've tried to explain to him how I feel, that it's not a pleasant sensation. I've tried to just ignore him doing it and try to enjoy the feeling (didn't work) and now I just... don't really know what to do any longer.

I also get the feeling that I'm hurting his feelings by yelping or saying 'no' when he starts with the nipple play. I do try to direct him to more pleasurable activities, but he always goes back to trying to or playing with my boobies.

posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

You have a right to feel comfortable in your own body, in your own relationships, period.

If you have told him that you do not like it, and not to do it, and he still does it, tell him again very forcefully. If he doesn't stop, break up with him.

This is non-negotiable. If he doesn't stop doing something like this, what does that say about his respect for your comfort and safety in other situations?
posted by Madamina at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2012 [46 favorites]

Yeah, I was going to say just tell him, but you have, and he's still doing it? Yelping, saying "no" and batting his hands away at this point is the absolute right thing to do at this point -- you get the feeling you're hurting his feelings, but he KNOWS that he's making you PHYSICALLY UNCOMFORTABLE! You have the right to control how your body is touched!
posted by brainmouse at 8:49 AM on April 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

What? You're concerned with hurting his feelings by saying no?! That is wrong! You have a right to say no to whatever does not feel good to you. If he can't respect that, then this is not a good, healthy relationship and you should not continue it.
posted by Eicats at 8:51 AM on April 2, 2012 [17 favorites]

If he's prioritizing his desires over your physical and emotional comfort, when you've explicitly and repeatedly explained how you feel, then he's disrespecting your boundaries. This does not bode well for the health of your relationship.

If you haven't already made it clear to him that this is a serious issue for you, please do so. If he argues, or if he agrees and then immediately returns to old behavior, then you should move on. Because the next time he disrespects your boundaries and your autonomy, it could be about something much more important.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:52 AM on April 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've tried to explain to him how I feel, that it's not a pleasant sensation. I've tried to just ignore him doing it and try to enjoy the feeling (didn't work) and now I just... don't really know what to do any longer.

Did you tell him "I HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE having my nipples touched"? It's possible that your discomfort with talking about this situation made it difficult for you to clearly communicate your feelings.

I'd sit him down in a non-sexual situation, tell him in very clear terms that you absolutely will not tolerate him touching your nipples anymore, full stop, because it hurts... and then, if he does it again, just get up, put your clothes on, walk away, and dump his ass.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:52 AM on April 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

I do try to direct him to more pleasurable activities, but he always goes back to trying to or playing with my boobies.

I'm really sorry but this is immature and rude - your partner is treating you like a fetish object and not a person with valid sexual boundaries. You have been clear this is not only not pleasurable for you but objectionable. Clearly he's not doing it for you; he's doing it to stimulate himself against your objections and that's the very definition of selfish. Oh, and an ass.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:53 AM on April 2, 2012 [19 favorites]

The way I handled this was by discussing it outside the bedroom, when we were both clothed and thus maybe a little less vulnerable? Basically I just said, "I know you enjoy X but I find it to be unpleasant. I LOVE when you do Y!"

I couldn't be with someone who doesn't respect my autonomy.
posted by muddgirl at 8:54 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

How old is he? It sounds like he has an extremely infantile obsession, and that's normal for some guys I guess, but none that I would ever want to be with. If he's that immature about boobies, then I would be worried about how immature he is in other ways. Sorry, but unless he's 12, a grown man should not be all "ZOMG BEWBIES!!!!!!!!1!!!!" (not outwardly anyway).
posted by katypickle at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2012

I also get the feeling that I'm hurting his feelings by yelping or saying 'no' when he starts with the nipple play.

If he's a good guy (i.e. the kind of guy you should be with), he will absolutely not have his feelings hurt by you telling him that something he's doing is uncomfortable for you.

If you haven't already done so, turn and say to him, "honey, I love being physical with you, your [insert body part here] is so [insert positive adjective]. But when you touch my nipples it's very uncomfortable for me and I would rather you didn't do that. I don't mind you squeezing my boobs, but my nipples are too sensitive to be touched. So please don't do that."

If he responds with anything except (paraphrased) "oh baby, of course I won't touch your nipples if it bothers you", he's not worth your time.
posted by fight or flight at 8:58 AM on April 2, 2012

Well there's some good advice here, but a lot of people seem to be overreacting. If I'm reading this right, everything else is fine, the guy just likes (and perhaps thinks you secretly like) getting aggressive with your nipples. This is not an egregious violation of your personal boundaries, he's just being a bit of a dick.

As others have said, explain yourself outside the bedroom, if he doesn't stop, then I'd say you maybe have a weirdo on your hands. Dump him at that point.
posted by Patbon at 8:58 AM on April 2, 2012

if he doesn't stop, then I'd say you maybe have a weirdo on your hands. Dump him at that point.

People are reacting the way they are because it sounds like she's already reached this point:
I've tried to explain to him how I feel, that it's not a pleasant sensation.
posted by muddgirl at 9:02 AM on April 2, 2012

Sounds like this is a straight-up fetish, and since you hate it...I see little to no chance for a romantic/sexual future for you two, no matter how you communicate about it. It's a basic incompatibility.

Also he's being an ass.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2012 [15 favorites]

Agree that some people are overreacting. Definitely what Patbon said, he's being a bit of a dick.

On the other hand, if I had a [favorite non-kinky sexual preference] and my partner absolutely despised that preference, I'd question how compatible we could be for the long term.
posted by Melismata at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

While I can relate somewhat with your boyfriend's love of breasts and nipples, and would likely have a hard time resisting the temptation to go in for nipple play during sex/foreplay, he needs to respect your body and your feelings about it.

You do not enjoy what he is doing. You've told him multiple times. He hasn't stopped. He doesn't respect your boundaries and he doesn't respect your body.

Because I sort of understand where he is coming from, I'd be inclined to say that you should sit him down for one more talk about this -- outside of any sexual situation; make this a conversation, not something you bring up once you're both naked and in bed -- and explain your feelings and that you really, really don't like him playing with your nipples. If he doesn't care and/or seems to care but then completely disregards your rules the next time he has the opportunity, I think that dumping him is your only option.
posted by asnider at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2012

Jesus, just knee him in the balls, honestly. He needs deep aversion therapy.

Overreacting? No. I mean, can we all read this over again?

I also get the feeling that I'm hurting his feelings by yelping or saying 'no' when he starts with the nipple play. I do try to direct him to more pleasurable activities, but he always goes back to trying to or playing with my boobies.

Man doesn't listen when his partner YELPS and SAYS NO in bed? To the balls! Repeatedly.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:05 AM on April 2, 2012 [37 favorites]

I'm going to have to agree with the young rope-rider. You don't sound compatible. And yes, he's being an ass. So really that's two reasons not to continue this relationship.
posted by Glinn at 9:08 AM on April 2, 2012

I've got a pair and I'm with RJ Reynolds, it is knee to the balls time if this is a relationship that you are still interested in.

Adjusting to new sexual partners can be weird and involve messing up like this a couple of times and apologizing profusely. More than a couple of times is not ok and means something needs serious adjustment.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:10 AM on April 2, 2012

I would wear an especially sturdy bra the next time you have sex, and when he complains, tell him you're wearing it to protect your nipples from his mauling. If that doesn't make him stop and think, he's a lost cause.
posted by crankylex at 9:31 AM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Every time he hurts your nipples just stop having sex. Say no that hurts, hurting me takes me out of the mood and so I no longer want to have sex. Do that a few times and he'll learn to respect you, if he's getting what he wants anyway with you just suffering through it why should he stop. Yes you are going to hurt his feelings, but right now your feelings are not being considered so denting his feelings a little to get to a place where you are both happy is not necessarily a bad thing.

As a compromise it might be worth offering to experiment to find things you do like him doing to your nipples and breasts. Bring in soft toys, feathers, velvet material, or get him to use just his lips/tongue and no hand or whatever to encourage him that softer is better. A lot of guys like their nipples played with and the ones I've met seem to like rougher play with their nipples than I'd like on mine, he may just be projecting what he likes on his nipples to yours. If he's not into having his nipples played with though another option next time he grabs yours give him a nipple cripple and ask him how erotic he finds it (careful as I've known some guys that would consider that foreplay).
posted by wwax at 9:41 AM on April 2, 2012

this is my first adult sexual relationship.

For the sake of your future self and future relationships, don't let this get you in the habit of expecting that all men just naturally put their impulses/desires over yours. There are lots of good men out there who will care about and respect your boundaries, both in and out of the bedroom. My recommendation is to give this guy exactly one more chance to prove he's one of them (by you making a very clear, unambiguous statement, a la the advice above).
posted by scody at 9:42 AM on April 2, 2012 [31 favorites]

I don't think katypickle's assertion that this is somehow "infantile" is true or helpful.

Dude is:

1) super into nipples
2) so much so that he ignores OP's boundaries and preferences

TBH, especially as OP says this is her first adult sexual relationship, it sounds like this is possibly just an issue of sexual incompatibility. He really really wants to play with nipples and she really really wants her nipples left alone. Not sure how long a relationship can possibly live with those conditions.

I would consider splitting up so you guys can each find someone more compatible.
posted by kavasa at 9:46 AM on April 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

You need to tell him to knock it off. My partner likes to pinch my nipples, which I don't like, and I've made it clear it's not a pleasant sensation for me and never will be. He forgets sometimes in the heat of the moment, so I say "ow." I tell him what I do like as well. Is there something you do like that still involves your nipples (sucking or licking perhaps)?

But yeah, if you've made it clear it hurts you and he keeps doing it, reiterate more emphatically that it hurts you. All women are different, so he has to accept that.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:47 AM on April 2, 2012

The most generous possible interpretation of this behavior is that he's been 'trained' by past partners that they enjoy the nipple play and he's used to doing this. We all do that, really - is just that most times we're doing something that a part partner enjoyed and our current partner just doesn't care about. Stroking behind the knee, kissing a certain spot on the neck, whatever. The fact that he's into this personally means a double helping of habit to break.

But that's all the defense this guy deserves - he's got a habit he needs breaking. You certainly describe someone who isn't INTERESTED or WILLING to break that habit and that is NOT ACCEPTABLE, period.

If everything else with this guy is good, fine, take one more shot at making a no-misunderstandings-possible statement that you find a certain thing FLAT-OUT UNPLEASANT. If he doesn't respond to that with an apology and statement that he'll change his ways then dump his ass. Because if someone will ignore something like this that makes you unhappy in the bedroom then he'll ignore other things that make you unhappy elsewhere in life. And fuck that shit.
posted by phearlez at 9:54 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's your body, so you get to make the rules. If that hurts his feelings, he needs to get past that well enough to respect your rules anyway. I second bringing this up in a less-intense time/place.

But in any case, stand your ground. His wants don't outweigh your needs just because he wants them to or he thinks you're being silly or whatever is going on in his head. They just don't.
posted by SMPA at 9:54 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hold his balls when he goes for your breasts. When he does something annoying and painful with your breasts, squeeze his balls hard enough to make him stop and think. You don't have to crush his balls until he cries blood; just give them a firm enough squeeze to make him stop and say ouch. The next time he goes for your breasts and you grasp his balls, it will be like Pavlov's dogs.

He may have chosen you because of your breasts (or your nipples in particular), so making them off limits may make him lose interest in you sexually. But who needs annoying sex? There are millions of guys out there and most of them get turned on by making the woman happy, not by doing shit that bugs the fuck out of her.
posted by pracowity at 9:54 AM on April 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm not sure how useful this is to see in terms as his "need" or "fetish" that might render you incompatible, a la Dan Savage. That maligns all upstanding fetishists everywhere. I am prettu sure there is some way that you and your nipples could delightfully coexist with a nipple fan. But dude here is being an ass - he is doing something unpleasant, painful, and unsexy to you, and he knows it. That is the problem.
posted by mrs. sock at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

When he does it - or when anybody does anything you aren't comfortable with - you want to immediately respond in a "seriously, this is not fun" way. Briefly stop whatever you're doing, and in your normal non-sexy voice, say, "Please don't do that. I don't like the way it feels." If he does that weasely thing where he backs off and tries again a few minutes later, repeat the "don't do that," and get out of bed.

There's a possibility he gets off on your resistance, so you need to push back in a way that totally breaks the mood, if only for a few seconds.

Maybe his feelings will be hurt. But if he's any sort of worthy partner, he'll get over it quickly, and he'll be able to see your side in this. Otherwise, he's more interested in your nipples than in you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

He's ignoring you when you're sensitive to his feelings, so clearly you need to get more blunt. When he starts touching your nipples, pick up his hand, say "i told you i don't like that", put his hand somewhere else, and say something positive ("I like that" "touch me here" etc).

Also: has someone who has dated her share of dirtbags - dirtbags in retrospect - i've come to realize that not respecting sexual boundaries and not being as concerned with you pleasure as his own are completely reliable predictors of him turning out to be an asshole. If he doesn't care if you're happy in bed, he won't care if you're happy in general.

I know that seems like an over-reaction, and you'll eventually learn the lesson on your own, but i always wish i'd somehow figured that out when i was younger, and i guess i hope i can prevent you from spending too much time and emotion on someone who doesn't care about you in the way a loving partner should.
posted by Kololo at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm not sure how useful this is to see in terms as his "need" or "fetish" that might render you incompatible, a la Dan Savage. That maligns all upstanding fetishists everywhere

No it doesn't. When someone is "super obsessed" with [body part] and their partner can't stand to have it touched (which is totally reasonable and completely her right), then the sexual relationship has no future. For either one of them. In which case it's best to just end it.

And he's being an ass, which has nothing to do with the fact that this is likely a fetish.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

He absolutely needs to respect your boundaries. It sounds like you have made it clear that you don't like him playing rough with your nipples and he just hasn't listened. You may have to cut him loose.

Since this is your first adult relationship, though, he MAY not be very experienced either. If you think maybe he is just clueless about what to do instead, you two could work on this.

Can you stand having your nipples touched at all? Sensitivity can be a good thing. Maybe he just doesn't know how to be gentle.

It might seem a bit awkward or embarrassing to give him a lesson on My Breasts And How To Play With Them, but the average heterosexual guy with a girlfriend wants to know what she likes.

He SHOULD be motivated to change his behavior to match your preferences when he knows what those are. The added bonus in taking the time to show him is that while you are placing his hands on your breasts (which he will love), you are also controling what happens (which means you don't have to put up with painful twisting or pinching).

If you take the time to show him what does feel good, and he STILL doesn't change, then you'll know he just doesn't repect your boundaries and it is time to say good-bye.
posted by misha at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

FYI, you're being manipulated by someone who's supposed to care about you. You're being taken advantage of and your thoughts, wishes and feelings have repeatedly been ignored. That's enough, right there, to dump the guy.

You're already express your nipple wishes, without hurting his feelings. He's ignored you. That's not a good sign in any relationship, particularly an intimate one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If someone doesn't listen to you saying that not only don't you like something being done to you, but it causes you discomfort...then that person isn't being a caring partner and is a selfish prick at the very least.

Speak up louder if there is a next time. If not, then you are well within your rights to pull the plug on the relationship because he doesn't give a shit about your comfort and it placing his wants higher than your need to not be touched there.
posted by inturnaround at 10:39 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he's prioritizing his desires over your physical and emotional comfort, when you've explicitly and repeatedly explained how you feel, then he's disrespecting your boundaries. This does not bode well for the health of your relationship.

Is this behaviour demonstrated in any other context or situation? Or is it only confined to sexual activity and nipple play?
posted by infini at 10:40 AM on April 2, 2012

Umm...Pinching? Twisting? Is that behavior ever NOT painful, even if it's just a little bit? Unless you have specifically informed him that you are extremely UNDERsensitive, or have informed him that you enjoy a little pain, or unless the pinching is more like just lightly squeezing with his fingers, so that there might be some misunderstanding there that doing that might hurt, there is no reason for any human being to EVER do that to another human being without asking permission first.

For some depressing reason, it's way harder to speak up in bed than in most other situations. But this is a very important situation. Sex can become tiresome, painful and generally miserable in a multitude of ways, and the sooner you start standing up for yourself in relationships, the better.

(I do suggest, as well, that you look up "breast tenderness" on the Internet. You may find some good suggestions, such as putting Vitamin E on your nipples and cutting out caffeine.)
posted by serena15221 at 11:17 AM on April 2, 2012

To me it sounds like he is possibly into or headed towards being into nipple play. He's being a dick by not listening to you about how it actually makes you feel. Discuss this outside of activities time as SERIOUS BUSINESS and tell him it's uncomfortable enough that if he doesn't knock that shit out that you'll walk.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:17 AM on April 2, 2012

Also, if you haven't done so...try mirroring his moves. He may want you to do the same things to his nipples and not know how to state that especially if the relationship is new-ish, depending on ages, comfort levels, etc. (Still being a dick by not hearing what you're saying.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:24 AM on April 2, 2012

It's not hurting anyone's feelings to tell them that something they enjoy in bed is something that causes you physical pain and psychological discomfort.

That is basic self-protection. You're not failing to be "GGG" in Dan Savage terms; you've tried going along with what your dude likes, and you've hated it.

Please draw your boundaries clearly and consider ending the relationship if he can't respect them. Or, perhaps he will end the relationship if he can't enjoy sex without rough nipple play, and that's certainly his right. What isn't his right is to engage in non-consensual rough nipple play. That is never his right, or anyone's right.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:46 AM on April 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

Be explicit: Sweetie, I know how much you love my breasts, but I really don't like them to be touched (be objective - I don't like them to be touched, not I don't like it when you touch them). I just don't, so stop. One time, since you've already told him in several ways. If he tries/starts to touch you in a way you have asked him not to, leave the bed/couch/car/wherever you are being intimate. Every time.

One thing you can do that is more positive is to teach him what you *do* like, and ask him to teach you what he likes.

However, I suspect that he's already made his likes clear, and is ignoring yours. You deserve a partner who respects you, your body, your spirit, etc. If he (continues to) shows disrespect, DTMFA.

(as a person who nursed a baby, vitamin e makes the skin healthy, but does nothing about tenderness.)
posted by theora55 at 12:16 PM on April 2, 2012

Unfortunately, there is probably no way to have this conversation without it getting uncomfortable.
Because he's crossing your boundaries, and that's just uncomfortable. More so, because you've pointed out before that he's crossing them, and his response has been less than....stellar. Some might say, dickish. Who wants to have the, 'So you're kind of being a dick' conversation? Not comfortable at all. But necessary.

I feel for you, because I have some awesome, shapely D cups, and if anyone touches my nipples I want to slap them. Really, there is no way to touch them softly, or from an angle, or with a feather, or blow on them, or with ice, or applying forceful pressure. or whatever. Whatever anyone does, I get the sensation I imagine cats must have which causes them to hiss and pull out some claws. I wince even watching other women's nipples getting rubbed because I can't fathom how that's not killing them with discomfort similar to fingers on a chalkboard. My breasts are like the Mona Lisa - generally understood to be magnificent, and you can admire, but if you nipple touch, shit's getting locked down. And no one wants that.

I've had this conversation with my husband, who I actually think may love my breasts more than I do. He is disappointed. But you know, it's been like, seven years, and in general, we both get that we're only having sex if we're both comfortable. And we've discovered all sorts of other stuff that we do like to do together.

I just hope you realize this isn't 'you'. Lots of ladies don't like their nipples being touched, any more than people like to be tickled. Lots of guys like breasts and nipples. And the emotionally mature ones have fun times touching breasts and admiring (and not touching) nipples with ladies they like having sex with, if those ladies aren't into nipples. They also sometimes go find ladies who like that, if it's really that important. The way ladies go find guys who respect the fact that they don't like their nipples touched.

So I think you let the universe unfold as it should. In the universe, you so much as put a finger on the Mona Lisa, and shit gets locked down. And you don't get to say things like, 'Come on! It don't be so sensitive!" or plead about how much you like touching stuff you were told not to touch. No one buys that you 'didn't know' the rules. You don't get to pretend that you didn't see or hear the respectful requests not to touch before you entered the door. It is understood that if you're entering the building, you're abiding by the very reasonable guidelines. So, when you decide to ignore that, your ass just gets thrown out the building and you get to reflect on whether or not that is the outcome you were going for. Because you and your actions just ruined what could have been a very pleasant evening.

In this case, you're stifling your reasonable and natural reaction, and messing up the flow of the universe. I'm assuming it's because you really like this guy. But really, there are some things you can't compromise on, that have to do with you taking care of yourself. Sadly this is one of them. Tell him no more, and let him step up to the plate of figuring out if and how he can deal with it. Because the alternative - you putting up with it, associating the phrase "HATE HATE HATE" with sex, is not a positive outcome.

Someone deciding that their desire is more important than your discomfort just isn't okay. No matter what it is that you find uncomfortable - and how many others don't have a problem with it. And that's really the way to frame this problem. Your man has decided that his desire is more important than your discomfort. Of course that's uncomfortable. That sucks.

And there's no putting up with it - Eventually, it all falls apart, because it's like a sexytime killer, and usually all that happens is you get more and more annoyed, and want less and less to have sex with him and grow more and more resentful. So you've identified your boundary - now you've got to honor it.

By the way - love your title......
posted by It's a Parasox at 1:47 PM on April 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

He's not just crossing your boundaries. He's sexually assaulting you. You've told him no. You've yelped. You've talked with him. This is assault. He's prioritizing his desires over you.

You have a right to heal from this abuse. And it's possible that you can work through it, whether that means staying with him or going to counselling and finding a way to work together (unless you are sexually incompatible).

Plenty of people are able to discuss and express issues of sexual incompatibility without assaulting their partners. He has the right to have needs or interests, but he does not have the right to force them on you. Nor does he have the right to sulk, become coercive, manipulative or anything else like that, just in case that ever comes up.

What he is doing is not okay.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:55 PM on April 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Holy shit, forget the moving of the hands and all that, I would not even have sex with him again until you told him flat out, "This is NOT okay with me. I won't sex with you when you do that." You are saying no and crying out in pain, he keeps doing it, and people are suggesting you're overreacting? Unbelievable. It makes my skin crawl.
posted by amodelcitizen at 3:59 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If he's really into nipples, and you don't want yours messed with, I don't think you guys are going to work out. Now, it sounds like he's being really immature about this, and this is definitely his fault, not yours, but I don't think either of you will be happy in this relationship due to the nipple factor, and I would break up sooner rather than dragging it out. If this is your first serious relationship, well, you can do better, and you will find someone else who respects your boundaries.
posted by Slinga at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

*Oops, I meant to say that you can also work through it by leaving him.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:45 PM on April 2, 2012

How many other situations does he ignore your wishes? I wouldn't be surprised if there's a pattern.

When a guy's "feelings are hurt" when you try to tell them what you want or don't want in bed, it's usually one of 2 things.

1) he's spoiled. He's throwing a sulky fit because he doesn't get what he wants. He doesn't understand that others have needs and feelings. He's immature. He probably has no problem hurting or ignoring YOUR feelings. He doesn't respect because children are too self-
centered to have respect. He is unable to understand that you could dislike something that he enjoys.

2) he's using his "feelings" to manipulate
you into giving him what he wants.

It doesn't matter which one it is. You don't like it. You did the right and responsible thing by telling him. He kept doing it anyways. You think he'd give a rat's ass about hurting your feelings if you physically hurt him in bed? Or do you think he'd straight up command you to stop, and probably get pretty upset?

Lose the loser. You can do better.
posted by windykites at 2:07 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

You seem to have tried all the polite ways of dealing with this: it sounds like you've tried re-directing him and speaking outside of the bedroom. It even sounds like you've tried being a bit blunter by saying "no" while he's doing that.

I think at this point I'd stop worrying about hurting his feelings. If it were me, if he touches again I'd say no and move his hand. If he persisted I'd stop the activity and explain that he's not respecting my wishes when asked, so I'm giving him no opportunity to carry on. When/if he agrees to respect my wishes we can go back to the fun business.

As a data-point: because it might be useful for you to know how other women handle it: sometimes my breasts are tender, sometimes they're not. If my partner touches them when they're tender, I'll say something ("not today") and he leaves them alone. I *do not* have to repeatedly tell him. He did ask why once (outside of the bedroom) - and it's never once been an issue.
posted by SuckPoppet at 3:37 AM on April 3, 2012

If you don’t break up with him immediately (which might be your best option), you may want to try some variation of natural consequences/removal of rewards. Generally, I’m not a fan of this behavioral conditioning way of looking at other people, but this seems a circumstance where it might work. Many of the comments above suggest this. I tried to come up with a “plan,” but I’m not a psychologist and I don’t know you, so it could be totally worthless.

Generally, removal of rewards works better than positive punishment. In this case, your body and breasts are a very powerful reward, and they seem to be overwhelming the “punishment” of seeing you upset. When he manhandles your breasts, you need to remove the reward of sexual activity for the day. And if he gets upset, you need to remove the reward of yourself for the day. You also need to have a set deadline in your mind in case he simply can’t learn. If he hits that deadline, you need to break up with him. Finally, help him find some fun sexual conduct to replace the unfun stuff that you are extinguishing.
Here’s a possible plan.

1) As soon as possible have one last, very short talk with him on this subject. Do so before there’s any hint of sexual activity, so that he’s engaged intellectually rather than instinctually. Explain that you won’t tolerate any more nipple contact (or whatever the line is), and that you’ll stop all intimate activity immediately if he doesn’t respect that desire. Explain that there will be no further sexual contact for that day as a result. No need to say more. No need to provide an explanation, rehash prior history, or get upset. Generally, the less justification you provide, the better. You are just explaining the natural consequences of his behavior.

2) At the beginning of the next instance of intimate activity, show him exactly what is allowable and what is off limits. Demonstrate what you like and show him what you don’t like on his own nipples. Be sure to draw the line at a place that you enjoy, rather than what you can just barely tolerate. Practice a bit.

3) Engage in sexytime. If he crosses the line, your clothes immediately go on. All sex/intimacy is done for the evening. You go from being lovers to being friends. You can hang out in public, enjoy each other’s company, and end the evening with a nonsexual hug/peck on the cheek/whatever. If he is unable to control his frustration/anger, you go home. No need for you to become upset or provide an explanation. No need to hash it out next time you see him. The incident is over.

4) Set a hard limit for how long you are willing to do this. I’d say pick a number between 1 and 3. If he can’t get himself together after 1, 2 or 3 instances of frustration, you need to break up with him. That may be a learning experience for him, and you’ll be doing his future girlfriends a service.

5) Finally, replace good behavior with bad. Talk now and often about what specifically you both really like. Show him where you want to be kissed and touched. Find out from him what other things really turn him on. Are you more willing to do some of those things? Great! You want him to see his change of behavior not as a loss of one particular pleasure, but as a net gain of a variety of pleasures.

All of this could fail, of course, but I’m wishing you the best of luck!
posted by ferdydurke at 4:57 AM on April 3, 2012

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