Bad at sex
November 14, 2017 5:24 PM   Subscribe

My gf told me that I'm bad at sex. I'd like to be better at sex. Part of my confusion is that how she sees my performance and behavior is not how I see my performance and behavior. Perhaps you can help me out and direct me to good advice?

Her first complaint is that I'm interested only in pleasing myself in bed, that I don't focus on her, and satisfying her needs and desires. I have trouble wrapping my head around what this means, because from my perspective, I'm focused on satisfying her and providing a good experience for both her and me. Some of the things I (think I) do:

-foreplay, kissing, caressing, sweet talk. Maybe not enough?

-give her oral. After she initially said that I didn't spend long enough on oral sex, I recently went down on her for probably 25-30 minutes. When I pointed this out as possibly a good thing I did, she said "It's not about how long you do it, it's about whether you're doing it right and doing what feels good to me, how you move your tongue, that sort of thing." I told her that when I go down on her, it would help for her to give me feedback and talk openly about what feels good and what doesn't. Otherwise I simply can't read her mind, it's not always easy to pick up on her body language and translate that into guidance, and actual instruction may not be the sexiest thing but maybe it's necessary for us to have better sex. She said that she can't do this - it's hard to explain, but that I just need to read and learn more about female anatomy and what women like. I said every woman is unique and likes different things, and I need to hear from her what she likes. She said we're not at that level yet - that I just need to learn even the basics of what all women like in bed before I get to her personal desires.

-I don't think I'm rough or insensitive, treat her like trash, play psychological or power games, coerce her to do things she doesn't want to, or anything of the sort. From my perspective, I'm making sure to "make love" more than "fuck", but I also know she likes to feel my strength and feel that I'm taking charge, so I try to provide a balance of both and cater to her. However, she thinks that I'm taking my cues from bad male-fantasy porn. She thinks that I'm a porn addict and prefer porn over her. I'm skeptical of this - I currently watch porn and masturbate once a day or every other day, and to be considerate I never do this when she's around, but she knows I do it and has caught me here and there. She thinks this is equivalent to cheating, and made it clear that I should stop it and focus more on her and satisfying her. I'm not convinced that porn addiction is a real thing, at least at my level of usage. Stories of people having terabytes of porn on their hard drives, spending thousands a month on sites, uploading naked pictures to share with webcam girls, etc. seem more in line with my understanding of damaging addiction than me spending 15 minutes here or there to relieve tension. Admitting I'm addicted to porn would require me feeling shame or regret over it, thinking that my porn watching is excessive or out of control, or thinking that my life is negatively affected by my actions. The only negative effect I can readily see is that she doesn't like it and thinks it's bad for me to do.

-I do cuddle afterwards, including talking, telling her how much she means to me and how beautiful she is.

-I do try to think of what would please her, but also what would please myself too, because my understanding is that focusing only on her and not on me is going too far in the other direction.

-I genuinely think I enjoy all this, and I genuinely find her attractive and am turned on by her. I don't have trouble getting erections during our foreplay. However, she said that I'm attracted to her, but not aroused by her. When I said these seem to be the same things, she said they're not at all - that she doesn't feel like I genuinely want and desire her. She says she knows what it's like to be desired by guys, and she doesn't feel it from me. When I told her that I genuinely do desire her, she said, no, you don't. I couldn't seem to convince her.

-I think we're having "enough" sex and I think I'm following her cues for when she wants to have sex, which seem to be once or twice a week. She says we're not having sex enough, that we haven't had sex in months, and that I'm never interested. When I said that we had sex around 4 days ago, she said actually it was 8 days ago, and she didn't receive any pleasure because I was just focused on myself like always. I said that I've never turned her down when she's initiated, and that she should try to initiate more and be more forthcoming about it if she wants sex. There are times when privately I want to have sex but she seems really tired and not in the mood, so I don't initiate; getting some cues from her would help with this sort of thing. She didn't seem to think that was an acceptable response. She wants me to initiate sex, and she says that she's "always" ready for sex and that she will hardly ever say no.

tl;dr I'm interested in improving our sex life because she does have so many complaints which sound bad, but her complaints are not things I personally see myself failing at or not addressing, and when I take the reasonable approach of requesting feedback so I can improve at them, she doesn't want to provide feedback. So it feels like there's a problem but I can't pinpoint how to solve it and I can't receive signals to direct and change my actions, which is frustrating. From other sex advice I've read on AskMe and elsewhere, I always took the nugget of wisdom that communication is really important in bed, and lovers who communicate with each other and tell each other what makes them feel good are lovers that have good sex, but I'm defeated by my situation where either she doesn't know how to direct me or explain, I'm failing at such a basic level that I'm beyond instruction, or I'm not sure what else. Help!
posted by website user to Human Relations (53 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This isn’t a sex problem, it’s a relationship problem. That might sound glib but you’re not gonna fix it by getting “better” at sex.

I don’t know how invested you are in this relationship but sometimes the most effective way to improve your sex life is by finding a more compatible partner.
posted by danny the boy at 5:33 PM on November 14, 2017 [79 favorites]

I can't speak to the specifics (I know about sex with women but not from a male perspective) but it sounds to me like your girlfriend isn't that into you and she's casting about for reasons why. The reason why probably isn't articulable (you smell wrong, or you're too tall, or your voice reminds her of her high school gym coach, or whatever) but you're asking so she's trying to come up with answers. None of them are the actual answer, which is why you can't pin her down on specifics at all.

This is not necessarily a solvable problem, and it's totally legit to decide that the relationship isn't working for you because the sex seems like being set up to fail. She's not doing a good job of communicating here, and you may or may not be bad at sex (who knows?) but it's pretty clear that y'all are bad at sex together.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:40 PM on November 14, 2017 [17 favorites]

Find a girlfriend who doesn't expect you to be psychic, and who doesn't consider masturbation to be cheating.

I don't think I'm rough or insensitive, treat her like trash, play psychological or power games

Maybe do some deep thinking as to why you're drawn to someone who has these qualities, and is choosing to treat you in this manner.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:42 PM on November 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

She says we're not having sex enough, that we haven't had sex in months, and that I'm never interested. When I said that we had sex around 4 days ago, she said actually it was 8 days ago

This is weird. Like, super weird. If this is an accurate account of the conversation this is gaslighting of the highest order and places everything else she's said into potentially the same realm. It's not normal to go from "we never do X, haven't done X in months!" to "well, okay it was 8 days ago...but it wasn't 4 days ago!"

Gently, have you considered that she's trying to force you to break up with her so she doesn't have to be the one to do it?
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:43 PM on November 14, 2017 [47 favorites]

She said we're not at that level yet
If you've had sex more than once, you are at the level where she can tell you how she likes oral. If she refuses, that's on her. Every woman *is* different, and no amount of general reading is going to help - especially since so much of the standard advice involves finding out what *she* likes. I remember being a young lad and going down on my second ever partner, full of confidence at first, then flummoxed as what worked super well for my previous partner was the opposite of what new partner liked.

She says she knows what it's like to be desired by guys, and she doesn't feel it from me. When I told her that I genuinely do desire her, she said, no, you don't
If she can't tell you what she wants, you can't give it to her.

I get the sense she is either playing games or just not into you, but not sure how to admit it.

Do you two communicate better in other areas?

On preview - Iris Gambol said it way better than me.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 5:45 PM on November 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

The sex with her does not sound good but neither does her communication skills in or out of bed. Dump her and find someone who appreciates you for putting forth so much effort at being a good lover and friend.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:48 PM on November 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Bail. That relationship described above does not seem loving, caring and mutually supportive. Doesn't matter whether you or her is 'right' or 'wrong', the two of you are not working together as you would expect of two people in a relationship that has those attributes. Do yourself and her a favour and walk, sooner rather than later.
posted by GeeEmm at 5:54 PM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

There are times when privately I want to have sex but she seems really tired and not in the mood, so I don't initiate; getting some cues from her would help with this sort of thing.

I was all set to respond to your post with a DTMFA comment because "youre doing it wrong but I won't tell you how to do it right" makes it impossible for you to succeed, but this one part of your post gives me pause. If you are not willing to take that chance of occasional situational rejection from a partner, then fhat could be a sign of general passivity in your personality that she is responding negatively to. You say you can't read her mind in bed but this sounds like you are trying to read her mind *about* bed. What other chances are you not taking?

All that aside, if you see porn as ok and she sees it as cheating, you are incompatible.
posted by headnsouth at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2017 [9 favorites]

I assumed when I started reading that you would be an oblivious jerk, but this is really on her. You've been having sex for months and she is critical of how you do it yet excepts you to magically learn what she likes via reading books or magic or something instead of telling you what she likes. She wants to have more sex but won't initiate it. She insists that you're not aroused by her despite your words, actions, and penis telling her otherwise. She considers masturbation cheating, though for me it would sure be a lot more fun than having sex with someone as unconstructively critical as her.

I don't usually say DTMFA, but you really need to find someone you're more compatible with.
posted by metasarah at 5:58 PM on November 14, 2017 [16 favorites]

This just sounds miserable. I'll join the DTMFA chorus.
posted by Slinga at 5:59 PM on November 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

An "ask" vs "guess dynamic, in bed, probably will not end well. And it may mean the same dynamic applies to other aspects of your relationship as well.

Basically, you are the asker and she is the guesser, and she expects you to determine what she wants in bed without having to actually articulate it. Asking her to articulate it probably annoys her, or at the very least confuses her, because ime as someone who is a pretty unsubtle "asker," when I try and "guess" what someone wants, even when they expect me too, it usually doesn't end well.

The thread, if you aren't familar with it, can be read here.

Find someone who can tell you what they want in bed. It will be far less frustrating.
posted by Crystal Fox at 6:02 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can only speak from the experience I've had, but in some ways your question reminds me of an ex who I found just too frustrating to keep teaching. Whenever I would try to show him what I liked, he would over-generalize so that instead of just enjoying what I had asked for, I would have to say but not there, and not there, and not like that. Or I would ask for something, and he would argue that he DID do that, or he's TRYING, or look what ELSE he did for me. Just killed the mood. Honestly, if you and she are compatible, it doesn't take long to work out what you both like. But if there's not much that you both like, if it's like I'll do this for you and not really enjoy it much, and you'll do this for me and not really enjoy it much, (but there's a balance!) then the answer is a partner whose preferred style is more compatible.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:17 PM on November 14, 2017 [13 favorites]

It sounds like she has issues around asking for what she wants and/or she is actively looking for reasons to be unhappy with you. Either way, as you describe this I see this as a problem she is creating and is not offering solutions. I am leaning toward the DTMFA camp.
posted by ChristineSings at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

She sounds kind of awful.

Why are you entertaining this?

Find someone you can talk to.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

It sounds from your description (and we're only getting one side of course) that she's the one not very good at sex. As in, she is failing at the first step of trying to please her partner and make sure her partner is enjoying the experience. Move on, there are far better fish in the sea. Particularly if, as ink-stained wretch suggests, this is the same person as the last question.
posted by tillsbury at 6:32 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

She is the bad sex partner, not you, and a bad girlfriend at that. I say DTMF and never take her feedback to heart.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

From the headline, I was kind of expecting you to be some kind of oblivious and selfish lover.... but actually, I think you sound quite lovely, if a bit of a pushover, and she just sounds like an absolute irrational and actively cruel nightmare.

Her behaviour, as described here, is mean, gas-lighting, undermining, ego-destroying, controlling, selfish, and my guess is that she's the one who's terrible at sex, as evidenced by her inability to communicate. I mean maybe she'd be a good match for a partner who likes nonconsensual humiliation and power plays... but not for anyone seeking a loving, supportive, communicative relationship.

Also- if this is the same woman as your previous question, it really really looks like she is using you to get a visa. Please don't marry her. It will be hard for her to get sent back to her home country, but at least she has work and friends there. She'll be ok.

You should 100000% break up with her. Find a communicative partner who appreciates you and doesn't pick your every action to shreds. I really wish you all the best!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:50 PM on November 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

[Deleted a couple of answers. This was a confusing one, but please do not link anon questions to usernames ever. Thanks for calling it out!]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:01 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Unless your self-esteem has been so worn down you think no one else would ever want you (not true!) I can't think of any reason why you'd continue to put up with this. Doubly so if it's the same person from your previous question. You have agency here, you have a choice - after a certain point you can't keep blaming the other person for being who they repeatedly show themselves to be, you have to decide if you want to continue in this situation or get out, putting aside what they want you to do. From my perspective at age 48 having lived more of my life than I have years ahead to look forward to, life goes by so fast it's too short to be miserable and if need be being alone is better than a relationship that grinds down your spirit. It's possible some of us here are projecting based on past unhappy relationships of our own, or there is some payoff you are getting from being in this relationship which you haven't outlined here, but based just on the details presented here I would have to say DTMFA, and I am not noted for being quick to join a DTMFA chorus here.
posted by AuroraSky at 7:06 PM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

-foreplay, kissing, caressing, sweet talk. Maybe not enough?

you describe this as something you assume women in general like (because she hasn't given you specific instructions), not as something you like, but you do it anyway. has it occurred to you that this might be exactly what she means when she says you're taking your cues from bad male-fantasy porn?

even more likely when you say:
-I don't think I'm rough or insensitive, treat her like trash,

well holy shit no wonder she won't breathe a word about what she likes. do you think that women who like certain style of sex are asking to be treated like "trash"? maybe you don't mean that at all, but you can see how she might suspect it. you have some fixed ideas about appropriate behavior towards women, and are frustrated because she doesn't fit this template that she didn't actually write.

on the other hand, if you actually are too rough or insensitive, that's not a thing where your opinion of your own technique counts. if she's in physical discomfort, it doesn't matter if you don't feel like you did anything wrong. on the other other hand, she does have to tell you. it is not nearly as clear to me whether she has, or not, as it seems to be to everyone else.

you are getting tons of sympathy because she won't explain herself more, and that's fair. that's not something in your control. but you have disregarded the few things she did say -- like the thing about how she's claimed to always be in the mood; that, you heard but did not accept. you chose to search for "cues" that contradict her spoken words. you don't owe it to her to sleep with her any more than you feel like, you have absolutely no obligation to force yourself into the mood or to be more aggressive than you like to be. but you have to understand that as your own decision and preference, not play it off as an act of consideration or sensitivity.

anyway, you should break up with her because she is unable or unwilling to explain herself in a way you understand and agree with. nobody can possibly know if you're bad at sex or listening or if it's exclusively her fault, but the best way to find out is to try sleeping with a few more women and see if any of them have similar opinions. maybe they won't, and you're fine.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:31 PM on November 14, 2017 [20 favorites]

this is not what a healthy and mutually enjoyable relationship sounds like. both of you are wasting your time.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:37 PM on November 14, 2017 [12 favorites]

Trouble is she's not using her words & expecting you to guess how to fix the problem. It could well be she can't put into words because I don't feel desirable this is a very abstract thing for some people to grasp, she could know that logically she knows you desire her but she's not feeling like you do. When someone says I don't feel desired & your only response is to say I do desire you that's not really going to make them feel you do. Just because her brain knows you want her doesn't mean her body does.

You describe doing things to turn her on to please her, but you don't sound like you're actually turned on from doing them, which would again not make her feel desirable. It's OK sometimes to suck it up & do something you don't love but don't hate for a partner in bed, but if that's the vibe she's getting from you from the foreplay stage onward, it's not going to help.

She's not helping by not talking openly about what she wants, but you're not listening to what she does say. She wants you to take initiative sometimes, she wants you to get aroused by making her aroused.

I'm not anti porn, hell I'm a woman & watch way more porn than my husband, but you have a sexual partner that says she's open to sex pretty much any time but jerk off more than you have sex with her, this might relate to her not feeling desirable. Of course she's not feeling desirable, you'd rather get off then get off with her.

If you want to fix this you both need to sit down, you both need to talk openly about this without being defensive. You both need to go hey our sex life isn't working is this a deal breaker, or are we going to go hey lets keep practicing until we get it right. I had a bf years ago that was pretty bad in bed, after a few long talks deep into the night we decided to give it the good old college try, and bought a sense of fun & adventure to bed while we figured out how to get our sex life clicking. We got over the hump as it were & both ended up with a good sex life. There is nothing wrong with sex not being great in a couple if you're both .. note BOTH willing to work at it together, this starts by talking, sex is a two person sport you both have to work together, her basically just saying get better without any guidance isn't helping.
posted by wwax at 7:44 PM on November 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Echoing that this is not a sex problem, but a communication problem.
posted by honeybee413 at 7:51 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Going purely by what you're saying here, it sounds like you guys are all wrong for each other, you'll never please her (and that's not your fault, if she's not articulating what she needs) and this stuff she's saying is doing a real number on your self-esteem. (Did she actually say you were "bad at sex"? That's blunt to the point of cruelty.) I don't know if she's a jerk, if you're a jerk, if you're both jerks or if you're both good people who are just not communicating well. But it sounds like you're both pretty unhappy and you'd be better off breaking up and finding partners you click with better.

Also, jerking off to porn once a day (or every other day!) does not make you a porn addict, and please don't listen to anybody who suggests it does.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:54 PM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I can see both sides of this problem, which probably indicates that you're just not sexually compatible. It happens. You feel that your efforts are unappreciated and she is tired of teaching you what she likes. Neither of you is wrong, you're wrong for each other.
posted by Knowyournuts at 8:38 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just as a data point, porn is great in theory, and more difficult in relationship practice at times. I, as a data point, would not want to have a sexual relationship with a guy who watches porn every day. Just how some women feel. Maybe it's uptight, but ok, so what, it's based on my experience and my nature. It makes me feel like my partner doesn't bother paying attention to me when we have sex. He's mechanically applying his body to mine - I think that is what she means by actual arousal. I have also experienced a daily porn user who didn't bother to initiate any sexual encounter because he's got his. Some people feel that way. Some people don't. She can be wrong about it. But so what. Find a partner that doesn't care about it. She should find someone more in line with her feelings on this subject.

And I think your benchmarks for assessing your own abilities [foreplay and sweet talk] and 'not treating her like trash' are pretty low and adolescent sounding. I wonder if you could think of some higher benchmarks for this, or most probably your next, relationship. And her benchmark seems to be increasingly critical and annoyed. She's resentful of the daily porn use and this shines through your post, and this may not ever change.

Just as a concrete suggestion: do you open your eyes when you kiss? Do you really look at her as you make love to her? Do you listen to her breath/watch her stomach/thighs or pelvis move when you touch her in some places or explore her with your tongue? I get that it would be better if she provided a manual, but every lover and lover-y situation are unique too.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:11 PM on November 14, 2017 [18 favorites]

in some ways your question reminds me of an ex who I found just too frustrating to keep teaching.

Yeah, honestly I felt exhausted just reading this question. I have been with that guy who just can’t seem to get it right, and it’s not a technique thing, it’s just that they don’t seem to be paying attention at all to how you’re reacting, but doing What They Think They Should Do. Even if you’re honestly trying your best, there’s a dynamic where teaching that much is absolutely unsexy, because it makes you feel maternal and there is no bigger sexy-time-killer.

I think you guys should break up, but not because she’s bad - she just sounds tired and like she kind of doesn’t want to be there, and that’s not a good dynamic whether it’s your fault or not.
posted by corb at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2017 [20 favorites]

When I told her that I genuinely do desire her, she said, no, you don't.

this little detail has gone largely unmentioned but it raises a flag. Your partner does not get to tell you how you feel. That's a lack of trust and a lack of respect.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:39 PM on November 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Your girlfriend is bad at sex. Also she’s just awful. Dump her please. She’ll get even worse over time if you stick with her.
posted by w0mbat at 11:53 PM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This sounds like the sort of relationship that you should convert into a memory. You'll find someone who likes having sex with you, and you won't feel that there are any problems. That'll be nice.
posted by tillermo at 12:50 AM on November 15, 2017

I don't think this guy needs stories about guys who just couldn't learn sex good, and suggestions (from people who presumably have never met him, much less banged him) that he probably is just as bad at sex as his girlfriend seems to think.

Website user, if you and this woman both really want to try and make this work, I think you should try couples' counseling instead of seeking the advice of a bunch of strangers online. But in the opinion of this stranger online, you'd probably be better off calling it quits and finding somebody who enjoys your company more.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:22 AM on November 15, 2017 [9 favorites]

Ok, fair enough that some of us didn’t actually give concrete advice as to how to be better at sex.

So I’ll try to remedy that. Drop the daily porn and masturbation routine for a set period of time, like a month or six weeks. Think of this as an opportunity to focus on developing a new skill set with regards to this particular woman.

During this time, initiate, initiate, initiate. If you feel horny, go to her or tell her if she isn’t there right then. Don’t expect an end result (sex) but experiment with different ways you can demonstrate your interest- kissing her passionately? Sending a sexy text? Hugging her from behind while perhaps caressing a favorite sexy spot on her body? Expect to try a bunch of different things.

Also initiate sex. Not just night time sessions where you expect that proper performance is an hour consisting of a rote 15 minutes each of foreplay, oral, penetrative intercourse, and post sex cuddling. (Whoever came up with that script, by the way, has some serious explaining to do.) Sometimes “making love” can be right, sometimes “fucking” can be right. Best way to find out is to experiment.

If she’s still into you at all, after a few weeks of you showing active invested interest in finding a way to engage, she’s going to start to guide you, first with her responses and then with her words. If she doesn’t, then she already had one foot out the door anyways or actually is bad at sex rather than just frustrated by you not engaging with her as a person and “seeing” her. If that’s the case then definitely DTMFA and find someone who is compatible.

Tl/dr: there’s a huge huge difference between someone who’s already gotten off that day sitting passively at the other end of the couch whining that you should just tell him the cheat codes already, and the guy who’s got his hand in your hair, pressed up against you while he whispers in your ear “how about like this”?
posted by susiswimmer at 2:30 AM on November 15, 2017 [21 favorites]

Well it does sound like you'd rather jerk off to porn than have sex with her--you're using porn daily and not initiating sex with her. And you also know that porn makes her feel undesired, and yet you've come here asking for confirmation that you're doing everything fine, that you don't have a problem with your porn use because you only use it once a day when she's not around so neither should she, and so on. Seems pretty obvious that you try dropping the porn for awhile and having sex with her instead, paying attention to how her body is responding to what you're doing and reacting accordingly. But you don't want to drop the porn. Your question really reads to me like your girlfriend has voiced some concerns to you and you want validation here that you don't need to listen to what she's saying. She sounds frustrated. If you care, you should listen to what she's saying. But probably you should just break up because you do not sound sexually compatible.
posted by Polychrome at 3:26 AM on November 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

If she's telling you how you feel, exaggerating the number of days since sex to prove a point, telling you that everything you do is in some way wrong....then this smells more like controlling behavior than genuine dissatisfaction. If you're planning to build your self esteem by keeping this particular person happy, then I see a hard road ahead for you.

Move on and regain a sense of context.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:27 AM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

Nthing that breaking up is the thing to do. IME, no amount of technique can overcome basic compatibility. Restless_nomad's interpretation reads true for me, and I suspect breaking up will be a relief for you both.

However, in the interest of answering the question - Come As You Are is pretty great. Get the book, find a partner you are compatible with.
posted by bunderful at 5:18 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe she's naturally (or has been socialised to be) submissive and enjoys (or is used to) sex in which the partner is more confident or domineering?

Or maybe not. We internet strangers cannot possibly know. Ask her. She may genuinely not know herself exactly what her deal is. But if neither of you are able to talk about and deal with frustrations in sex without blame or judgement it won't matter, it's best to split and hope for someone more spontaneously compatible.
posted by freya_lamb at 5:42 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, I think she sounds angry, and I would be too. If my partner was watching porn every day, or every other day, but finding it sufficient to have sex with me only once or twice a week, that would strike me as extremely strange, and I personally would never be in a relationship like that. And I probably wouldn't have the generosity or inclination to teach my partner how to be 'better' at sex with me, because I would be angling to get out of such a lame situation (in my eyes, maybe not others). Hopefully you guys will just cut ties, because this sounds miserable for both of you.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:39 AM on November 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

When I told her that I genuinely do desire her, she said, no, you don't.

this little detail has gone largely unmentioned but it raises a flag. Your partner does not get to tell you how you feel. That's a lack of trust and a lack of respect.

Well, it could be that. And there could also be evidence for her of a lack of desire. From her point of view what does she see? His sexual attention goes to his computer, the OP twice observes that she says he's selfish in bed and only interested in himself, and doesn't initiate. Some people say things, like I love you or I want you, but their actions don't show that.

I recommend Passionate Marriage by David Scharch all the time here, because whether married or de facto it is an amazing resource for understanding the powerful forces of intimacy and sexuality in partnerships. He has a few exercises geared towards feeling intimate and sensually connected to your partner. I think you've gone way down a bad path with this relationship and it's probably never going to recover from the insult she delivered to you nor the wound she's nursing. But this is an opportunity to learn for next time. It's not popular on Mefi to question porn, or to push back against the conflation of porn and masturbation, so ymmv. But my suggestion is you take that fifteen minutes a day to look up something different around sexuality, and masturbate without porn for a few weeks. What has helped in some of my relationships is doing some of the Schnarch activities, and a sexologist gave us a list of sexual activities to reignite a raunchy, safe n loving connection that were really great. We each ticked off ones we'd enjoyed, or would like to try and then compared lists. It got us talking, and because there were paaaages n paaaaages of options, it opened up a lot of communication about our desires and vulnerabilities.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

One of the biggest turns on for me (not all women granted, but probably a fair amount) is to feel completely wanted and desired by their men. I mean like Outlander Claire and Jamie, all encompassing, no-one else will come close, DESIRE.

It's so wonderful for a man to take charge, take complete control, throw you down, make a woman feel as though you ONLY see her, and her alone and that you just won't be complete until you have her right there and then and nothing will satisfy you until you've had your wicked way.

It's one of the reasons why you can have the best sex with someone you don't really know very well or don't even LIKE very much.

I like a man to take charge, know what he wants and just goes for it. It sounds trite but I've had several lovers who have kind of been doing everything "right" but it just fell flat because they kept looking to me for confirmation on things, and it sounds silly, but I didn't want to have to "babysit" them in the bedroom at that exact moment.

You sound as if you're going through all the motions and maybe the passion is lacking. I politely disagree with a lot of the people who say your girlfriend is a horrible person. I think I hear frustration in her tone and she perhaps feels resigned to the situation. She has tried to voice her concerns and you feel as if you are addressing them, but maybe she's just afraid to ask you to just GO FOR IT. I don't know.

Sometimes people just are sexually incompatible and that's ok. Maybe you're not meant to be... you've tried, it's not worked.
posted by JenThePro at 11:04 AM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nope, having someone critique your whole performance to the point that they want to even dictate whats in your head is a no go. No wonder you'd rather do porn, etc. Step away. No matter what you do will never be enough for them.
posted by PJMoore at 11:24 AM on November 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sounds like you both prefer a more dominant, confident, assertive partner and have got yourselves stuck in a passive aggresive feedback loop of trying to cooerce the other into taking on that role. Since you've both reached the point of insults to egg each other into taking the lead, neither of you likely are willing or capable of it. I don't necessarily think either of you are in the wrong here, it's just basic sexual incompatibility.
Fwiw, if my partner was choosing porn and masturbation daily while only initiating sex every 4-8 days, I most certainly would not feel desired either, I'd likely feel very undesirable and rejected sexually.
posted by OnefortheLast at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I currently watch porn and masturbate once a day or every other day

-I think we're having "enough" sex.

So this is a really interesting kind of difference in what you're self reporting. It sounds like you're saying that even though you think you're having "enough" sex with your girlfriend, you still feel the need to masturbate once a day or every other day. I think it's worthwhile getting to the bottom of why that is - when you have a real live girl who wants to have sex with you right there, why you wait until she leaves to masturbate rather than just make a move to have sex with her?

I will also say - I can /always/ tell the difference between when a male partner is using porn/masturbating to get their needs met and when they are solely focusing on their partner. The latter is always better sex, without exception - they can come faster, it's more organically driven, and doesn't seem like "work". It feels way more exciting - like they actually /need/ it rather than a "oh that might be nice".

I would suggest you try to do without the porn for a month and see if your sex life improves.
posted by corb at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

"She says that she's "always" ready for sex and that she will hardly ever say no."
You appear to be missing the glaring obvious here: she always wants and desires you and has offered you this. You're saying, "ok great how about every 4-8 days hun, but I actually prefer porn more often."
Please do her a favor and break up.
posted by OnefortheLast at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

My personal takeway from this from a kink/fetish perspective would be:
You're looking for a Dom (or dominatrix) who cuc's/cuckold's your self-pleasuring habits and "wandering" eye and who will give you plenty of verbal orders and feedback (instructions) on how to please/pleasure her once she's taken/seduced/etc. you away from yourself.
posted by OnefortheLast at 2:43 PM on November 15, 2017

In addition to the excellent recommendation of Come As You Are, there's an explicit sex-ed website called OMGYes [NSFW] that has a diverse bunch of women taking the time to explain, explicitly, the factors that make sex pleasurable for them. It's a one-time payment of $40 to see all their content, but it really is a good approach for anyone who plays a role in women's sexual pleasure.

I agree with everyone else that there are communication problems in your relationship, and it may be best to mutually DTMFA. But your question also makes it appear likely that your theoretical framework for "what makes sex good" could probably use further development. OMGYes is just one framework, but it is more developed than most I've seen.
posted by xueexueg at 3:09 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, you've picked the answer you like best, but I'll just challenge one detail in it--this idea that porn is the problem.

Besides being... surprisingly regressive of an attitude for metafilter (really? porn can't be part of a healthy relationship?), it's giving you the answer you want, but not the one you need. You want this one weird trick to make things better with your girlfriend, but porn isn't the problem--it's a symptom. Cutting out porn consumption won't address the root cause of your sexual incompatibility.

Porn isn't making you not want to have sex with your girlfriend. Porn is the result of you not wanting to have sex with your girlfriend. Best of luck.
posted by danny the boy at 3:28 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Two things that come to mind --

She's brought up the porn thing before, and I've made a commitment twice before to try to go without porn and masturbation. Both times I didn't last very long before I eventually gave in to the temptations - a week and a half, 2 weeks and a half. I told her again that I would sincerely make a commitment to go a month, and she rolled her eyes because she's heard it before. I guess I have to feel, in the core of my being, that my porn/masturbation activity is wrong (for us) and bad (for us), and I'm still struggling with that. I know that it's hurting her and making her feel like I'm not prioritizing her (and maybe it's true), and that should be enough, but intellectually and biologically understanding this and converting it into actual resistance is a struggle. It's possible, though. It will involve reprogramming the way I've accepted porn and masturbation as "everyone does it and it's pretty harmless" when it can be harmful for a relationship and harmful for sex between two partners and I hadn't considered that before.

Regarding this:

So this is a really interesting kind of difference in what you're self reporting. It sounds like you're saying that even though you think you're having "enough" sex with your girlfriend, you still feel the need to masturbate once a day or every other day. I think it's worthwhile getting to the bottom of why that is - when you have a real live girl who wants to have sex with you right there, why you wait until she leaves to masturbate rather than just make a move to have sex with her?

That's a very good question that I need to explore more. So I think of masturbation as a quick release valve for stress and tension, it stops my chattering brain, it helps me sleep. It's fundamentally a reliable quick dosage of medicine that feels good and appears to have no ill biological effects. I've grown up thinking it's healthy and worthwhile. It's also easy to do without feeling particularly "up for it" or prepared, because there's no live human on the receiving end and no considerations about performance, sensitivity, pleasing your partner, or anything similar. Sex is something that has historically come with some anxieties for me. I have to be present, in the moment, I have to be physically and emotionally prepared, I have to think about how I'm presenting myself and my body and whether what I'm doing in any given moment is right, I have to not overintellectualize at the same time, I have to make sure I'm receptive to pleasure and enjoying and showing I'm enjoying, etc. Some people can just have sex - indeed, for some people, sex is one of the few moments where they can "turn off" all analysis and just have fun in the moment. I haven't been one of those people, though I'm learning and getting better at experiencing pure pleasure the more experience I get, it's a slow process for me whereas it comes naturally for pretty much everyone else. Perhaps when she thinks I'm being distant or I'm not "seeing" her, what's happening is that I'm in my head rather than just ragingly lustfully laser focusing on her. I don't know how to solve that, but the porn thing might be a solution; maybe anxiety meds? Maybe experience and time? Maybe rethinking my entire idea of masturbation as a quick dose of medicine and sex as something I have to prepare my entire being for.
posted by website user at 4:09 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's a really unpopular thing to say here in a community I enjoy very much otherwise, but many women, including myself, find porn usage to be the opposite of its purported "sex positive" label. I love having sex, but porn is a complete turn-off. Yes even the "amateur" stuff, yes even if you have under a terrabyte, yes even if to you it's no big deal. The fact that in all this advice you still latched onto the "take a break from porn" advice is very telling. You DO seem to have some sort of a compulsion, even if it's not a "porn addiction". Real, in the flesh women can find it very difficult to live up to porny ideals, and the sex portrayed in porn is not at all sexy to me, nor does it look enjoyable NOR does it show men how to have competent sex with a woman. I think your sex will get better when it's about your actual partner and less about your boner.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:56 PM on November 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

Okay, like everyone else here, I think your girlfriend’s refusal to communicate, not wanting to live in consensus reality (months vs days) and treating explaining herself (the “things a woman just wants” etc) like a grievance in and of itself are a bigger problem than your sex life. That being said, there are two concrete things that she has asked you to do that you can work on.

The first thing is that she has explicitly told you that she wants sex more frequently than the two of you have been having it. This is a big one, and I think the porn issue might be less of a problem if you get this taken care of first: she might find herself caring less about your porn habits if they dont seem to her like a replacement activity that you are choosing instead of having partnered sex with her. I don’t think porn or masturbation are cheating, and generally find that pov really controlling and unhealthy— masturbation doesnt even always fulfill the same desire as sex with a partner does. But if I already felt starved of sexual attention in my relationship and my partner was taking care of their sexual needs with porn more reliably and regularly than they were having sex with me, I would feel, yes, like they were being sexually selfish. I would feel like their primary sexual relationship was with themself, and like I was being excluded from that relationship.

You also need to cut out all the justifications about your porn use. You dont think your porn habit is pathological, and honestly I don’t either, but that also really isn't the point. It doesn’t actually matter to the issue at hand that you aren’t some porn freak with a closet full of hard drives of hentai who needs to jerk it every quarter hour. The issue is that your girlfriend feels like you are using porn to avoid intimacy. Imagine if you were smoking pot 4-6 nights a week and your girlfriend asked you to be sober more often so you could be more mentally present and you two could have more connected quality time, and you responsed with a big defensive rant about how at least you aren’t a heroin addict shooting up under a highway overpass somewhere: not the real issue, not her actual concern.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:35 PM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

A few observations:

Admitting I'm addicted to porn would require me feeling shame or regret over it

Both times I didn't last very long before I eventually gave in to the temptations

I don't think it is necessary that you feel "shame or regret", but I think you do need to admit that being unable to stop does lead one to think of words like 'addiction' or 'compulsion'. If you can't control it, then it controls you.

When I told her that I genuinely do desire her, she said, no, you don't.

I agree that someone telling you what you think or feel is a very big red flag.

Her first complaint is that I'm interested only in pleasing myself in bed, that I don't focus on her, and satisfying her needs and desires.

I could be wrong here, but this does read like a rather passive approach on her part [when coupled with your statements above]. This can be tricky to navigate. On the one hand, you have "I like a man to take charge, know what he wants and just goes for it." [which is all very well, unless it leads to "you're only interested in pleasing yourself"], on the other hand, leaving gender right out of it, what would you call someone who said: "I expect you to initiate sex whenever I want it, and I also expect you to satisfy all my needs and desires without being asked, oh and you can also get off yourself if you like." - I'd call them very selfish.

The idea that it is a man's job to satisfy a woman's needs in bed is heavily gendered. In reality, each person in a sexual encounter is responsible for their own satisfaction - which will can be achieved by a) doing something themselves, b) their partner doing something, c) All of the above. The participants involved in achieving satisfaction can vary, but the responsibility rests with oneself - unless one is the sort of person who regards sex as a passive activity that is done to them, rather than something they actively engage in.

I think you'd be happier with someone who takes more responsibility for their own satisfaction, but I also think you need to deal with your compulsions - saying "I can give it up whenever I want" falls flat when you actually can't.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:41 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Btw, I cant believe I left this out, but if you are not OK with having sex all the time, you don’t have to do it. It doesn’t make you bad at sex, and it doesn’t make you a bad boyfriend. It might mean that you and your current girlfriend are incompatible, but neither she nor anyone else gets to tell you that you have an obligation to be having sex that you don’t want to have. If you amp up the frequency of your sex life and it’s too much for you, that is OK. Your partner does not get to guilt you or coerce you or otherwise pressure you into sex you are not comfortable with. Don’t violate your own boundaries to make your partner happy.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

I currently watch porn and masturbate once a day or every other day

There’s your problem and that’s why your girlfriend complains. You watch porn and masturbate every day, therefore taking your cues about pleasing a woman from porn, and don’t even see it as an addiction.

Stop it entirely and focus on her.
posted by Kwadeng at 9:12 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't mention whether your girlfriend masturbates herself or has any hangups around female masturbation. Does she masturbate? Does she ever let you watch her masturbate? Are you interested to? Have you watched her guide herself in how her ladyparts go from 0-60? Is part of the problem that she's in fact relying solely on you to figure out how her sexual parts work? An answer "no" to any of these questions would possibly explain a lot.

I agree with others that your routine porn use might have you heavily overlooking the fact that the "cues" you've grown accustomed to watching for in a woman are those from pornography (not from the practice of observing real-life cues from an actual person you're spending sexytimes with).

Consider whether your oral sex skills are coming from what you've observed in porn, where women are paid to moan and groan no matter how unskilled and unattuned the male "actor" is. FWIW, from a female perspective, I've personally found oral sex too scary outside of a serious relationship because I've experienced (some) men to be really rough and aggressive in going about it. And when you tell someone to be more gentle and don't just beeline for the target, and then they continue doing what they saw on porn anyway (because "they know" that's what got the woman in the porno off)... well, that could be part of the dynamic related to this disconnect with your girlfriend.

I don't know how else to make this relatable for men other than maybe imagine you're with a woman who just won't go down on you without pressing down on the end of the penis like she's going to snap the shaft. And while what she does from the sides and with certain repetitive motions is okay, unless you're constantly directing her, it seems like no matter what, whenever she seems to get into it, she eventually returns to bearing down like she's going to break the shaft. This actually really hurts, and you keep "gently" telling her to not do that and... or because you don't want to make her feel bad about her blowjobs, you try to enthusiastically re-direct her. And well, after a while, it's just not worth it. She seems convinced this is how blowjobs happen. It must be from watching too much porn, where she's seen too many men get paid to pretend that kind of blunt stimulation gets them off, and now she just keeps dismissing my actual cues for what feels good and instead keeps repeating what she's seen on porn... even though I've explained it's not about how long you keep doing it, but whether you're doing it right, etc.

Also consider the glaring obvious: how would you feel if your girlfriend was the one to use masturbation and pornography more often than she involved you in her personal sexual practice? If she used pornography for sex more often than you, do you really think you would feel secure that she actually wants to be with you (as a sexual partner) at all?

Please really think about it. I agree above: she has in fact demonstrated (via her behaviors and choices) that her first choice for sex is you, and you're demonstrating (via behaviors and choices) that your first choice for sex is not her, but solo masturbation and porn instead. And if it turns out your girlfriend does not masturbate, well then, that is an inequity she herself is contributing to the relationship experience here. No one has to feel forced to masturbate, but if you're expecting partners to better at handling your hardware than you are yourself, well... that would make this an entirely different ballgame, now wouldn't it. Is part of the problem for her is that there is no choice for her because she can only "have sex" when she has that experience with you?

Btw, I think "sex as something I have to prepare my entire being for" is a very healthy way to re-shift your perspective, especially now that you have someone to share your world of sexual expression with. I think there is a level of "sex as a medicine" you are missing out on when you see that medicinal effect as something that can only be experienced alone. Again, if your girlfriend has never masturbated, this could be part of the disconnect!!!! Good luck finding your balance with partnered happiness, however you decide to handle this.
posted by human ecologist at 11:58 PM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

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