Tell me (a girl) how to sex up my partner like he wants: with me in charge!
October 12, 2007 11:31 PM   Subscribe

My partner wants me to dominate him. That's totally not my style, and his pickiness makes it harder, but I'm trying my best, and it's working! Up to a point. (NSFW text inside.)

I know a lot of this stuff is sensitive -- I completely understand, since I'm the shy, quiet type, and IRL I don't discuss my sex life at all with anyone I'm not having sex with -- so you can e-mail me at tryingtotop at gmail if you don't want to answer publicly.

I've known for quite awhile, and I made it clear to him from the very beginning, that I'm submissive in that I enjoy having my partner take charge. I also found out, with him, that I really enjoy being spanked and bitten and similar not-very-painful fun. He's okay with some of that stuff, but not with tying me up (something I want to try). When he's been in charge, he hasn't yet done anything more hardcore, really, than biting me and calling me names (which I don't like but he does).

Over the same months, he has been encouraging me to take charge of the situation. It's not that I don't initiate (I totally do -- I have a high sex drive and I'm clear about it), but it's very hard for me to forcefully take command -- which, of course, is what he's slowly revealing to me that he wants. It's really hard for me, mostly due to my nature, but also because even if we were both 100% vanilla, the sexual power would still be all on his side: he is older than me, he has tons more experience (he is my first partner), and he can physically overpower me.

Also, he is really picky about what he likes in that area. He also doesn't want to discuss kink -- he wants it to come up spontaneously in the middle of sex sessions, because (his explanation) what we might say no to normally could sound like a great idea when we're turned on. This means I have to walk a fine line between being creative and careful -- when I misstep by trying something he's not into, he gets grossed out and turned off, and shuts me down hard. As discouraging as that is, it's not something I can blame him for; I'd get turned off if he brought up a kink that grossed me out.

Anyway, I've found some things that seem to work, although the menu's pretty limited by his pickiness (list below). For example, we can make out while I undress him, then I can order him to sit apart and watch while I slowly strip and touch myself. (This alone represents a huge advance for me -- I do not like to order people around.)

Trouble is, when it comes time for him to get into the picture, everything goes haywire. The moment he touches me, I turn into a giant jelly -- moaning for him and totally at his mercy. I melt completely. Whatever toughness I have conjured up disappears. Obviously, that's no good for him -- he wants a girl who will sit on his face and ride him brutally without regard for anything but her own pleasure, but he's got a girl who, the instant she lowers herself onto his face, turns into a whimpering, begging mess. When I start going soft that way, it doesn't matter that we got to that point because I ordered him to lie down, hold still, and shut up.

So I guess my question is actually a couple of related questions. First, how can I overcome this? I'm sure it's related to my inexperience, but I've been doing this with him for a few months now and the way it affects me isn't lessening at all.

Second, what else can we/I do? "You sit over there and watch me" only goes so far. I mean if that's the setup for the third time in a row, he's got to be pretty bored with it by then.

Things I have established he is not okay with (aka really hard limits): pain, including mild discomfort like ice cubes; restraint, even light stuff with scarves; humiliation; anything nonsexual (e.g. making him do household chores); anything long-distance or outside of an encounter (e.g. telling him not to masturbate for a week); anything whatsoever going up his ass.

D/S-ish things I am sure he likes: me physically dominating him (being on top, sitting my full weight on him, physically forcing him to do things) -- tough because he is stronger than me; me ordering him around; (the idea of) me peeing on him -- I am not into it but okay with it, and trying, but it hasn't really worked yet (shy bladder I guess).

Other stuff I know he likes, in rough order: 69; eating pussy; being rimmed -- doesn't happen, I will play with his ass, but not with my mouth; blowjobs -- this totally makes me feel like the in-charge amazon he wants to see, but my mouth is occupied so I can't talk about it; playing with my butt (his fingers and tongue, nothing bigger yet) -- but this makes me feel super-submissive; dirty talk -- I am not good at it, although I am not embarrassed to try I seem to word things wrong.

Other technical stuff: We do not have PIV or anal sex, and we do not plan to (we are both 100% okay with this). We have not yet tried tittyfucking, intracrural sex, or other forms of outercourse -- I would totally try them (I love dry humping, so I feel like that bodes well), but I'm not sure how he feels about this stuff. Right now we deal with oral, oral, and more oral (and he also uses fingers and vibes on me). Sex is super-marathon -- when we see each other, it tends to be for 15-20 hours at a stretch, and in that time we take breaks pretty much only to eat, nap, and talk.

So how can all these preferences combine in some way that works for him and leaves me in charge?

Last question, I swear: I really want to call him names, but what? When he takes charge, sometimes he'll call me slut and whore (both of which I really dislike and consider very inaccurate, and they make me worry that's how he sees me) and bitch (which I dislike less, I guess since it doesn't specifically relate to promiscuity). I have been clear and told him how I feel; he doesn't get it, but says he'll try to stop, but when he's about to come it's not unusual for him to forget. I want to call him names partly so he realizes what it's like for me, but also because if he likes it, I want to try to understand why so maybe I can learn to like it too.

But due to years of cultural weighting, calling a guy a slut or whore is more likely to elicit laughter than shame. Can I still call him a bitch, or would that be weird? Is there anything else I can call him instead? "Slave" or "servant" or whatever would be way too hardcore for us (I definitely would not want him to address me by title as "mistress" or whatever). Also, he's not into humiliation, so I can't make fun of his (big, beautiful) dick or (highly developed) oral skills. Basically I want something to tack onto the ends of commands: "Get on your knees . . . bitch." Would calling a guy "bitch" work in that context? What else?

Thanks, MeFi -- again, you can privately e-mail tryingtotop @ gmail if you don't want to answer here!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (49 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

"Bitch" is great because it suggests he's your property. It's also completely emasculating... which sounds like it fits your needs perfectly.

You're right about "slut" and "whore" being linguistically empty here.
posted by rokusan at 12:06 AM on October 13, 2007

A small point... You don't call him a bitch. You call him your bitch.

He also doesn't want to discuss kink -- he wants it to come up spontaneously in the middle of sex sessions,


If you're OK until he touches you and you two are not hung up on conventional sex, then why let him touch you? Just do the entire scene without touching.
posted by rdr at 12:12 AM on October 13, 2007

He wants to be dominated by you? Fantastic. Tell him you're not a goddamn Barbie Doll.
posted by felix betachat at 1:21 AM on October 13, 2007 [10 favorites]

the instant she lowers herself onto his face, turns into a whimpering, begging mess. When I start going soft that way, it doesn't matter that we got to that point because I ordered him to lie down, hold still, and shut up.

OK, work that into it. Like order him to make you react the way that you do. "Turn me into a quivering mass!" etc. Try and paradoxically make the two things work together.

Plus he's got to talk to you and tell you what he wants.

You could, of course, order him to tell you what you want. Order him to the desk where paper and pen are and demand that he write down exactly how he wants to be treated. The first couple of times make him burn it before you read it. After that have him bring it over.

If he gives you shit, order him to shut up, I guess.

As for names, call him bitch, pussy or whore.

wow, I can't believe I answered that one.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:45 AM on October 13, 2007

The key to remember is that he wants you to actively seek sex from him in a way that makes him think you want it.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 AM on October 13, 2007

The Good Girl's Guide to Female Dominance, The Art Of Sensual Female Dominance and The Sexually Dominant Woman: A Workbook for Nervous Beginners are all good 'starter' guides for women just getting into playing a dominant role with their partners and offer lots of useful suggestions for when you're at a loss for what to do next.

But speaking as a female domme myself, good and frequent communication is at the very heart of any - no matter how mild - D/s dynamic in a relationship. It is absolutely unreasonable for him to refuse to discuss anything with you outside of the bedroom and simply lie back in the middle of sex and expect you to come up with the goods to match his 'picky' desires. Even if you were the most experienced female dominant in the world with a truck load of expensive toys and a mental shelf full of sex tip encyclopaedias in your head this would be unacceptable - good sex in whatever form it comes is all about communicating your needs with your partners and as long as you are not doing this you are going to find yourself floundering round unsatisfied. You are not a performing toy and he, especially as he is the older and more experienced one, should be prepared to start talking and guiding because right now if you do something he doesn't like during sex and he 'shuts down', he's got no-one to blame but himself.

And ultimately, while I don't want to discourage you from exploring all aspects of your sexuality and I'm certainly not trying to label you as one thing or another, if you get off more from being submissive to your partner and you find ordering people around and everything just 'isn't your thing', it may really just not be your thing. Techniques, methods and styles for dominating your partner can be learnt and that initial shyness, where you wonder how on earth you can treat this man as your submissive when he could in fact physically overpower you any second, does fade as you become more experienced but if you're finding that the whole thing makes you just as uncomfortable as when you first started you might want to think about whether a dominant role really is for you. Sexual power isn't about size; it is 100% mental attitude but you really do have to be into it, doing it for someone else alone rarely works.

One last thing; D/s is about respect above all. He's calling you names and you don't like it? Tell him to shut the fuck up and shut down his orgasm (by pushing him away or stopping what you're doing or whatever). Perhaps he'll like that particular display of your dominance, perhaps he won't, but a little on the spot assertiveness training won't hurt.
posted by Acarpous at 3:30 AM on October 13, 2007 [12 favorites]

Come Hither: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex is also a useful read.
posted by poissonrouge at 5:17 AM on October 13, 2007

I'm with Acarpous on this, plus a few comments of my own:

-- Communication is necessary here. Him wanting you to magically read his mind and do all the right things without being told, and you being punished (by him "shutting down") when you get it wrong? That's out beyond "passive aggressive" and heading into "really shitty boyfriend" territory. Not cool, needs to stop, or you need to find a guy who will treat you like the person worthy of respect who you are.

-- There really are some things that if you aren't in to, you just aren't in to. It's awesome that you are flexible and broad-minded and that you support him enough to try out his kinks ... but if it isn't floating your boat, either he needs to change his requests or you need to change boyfriends. And these things change over time -- you may want and need to be treated one way now, and five years from now you may want and need something entirely different. But you are living now, and you need to make sure that your needs are met now, not someday in the future.

-- Calling you names is super if it makes you feel sexy and empowered and good about yourself. Calling you names that make you feel dirty and bad about yourself, after you have asked him not to? Not cool at all, and also "really shitty boyfriend" behavior. Cool boyfriends only call you names in a good way, if you know what I mean.

-- I assume that you are either in a long-distance relationship, or one of you is living at home, or there is some other "non-traditional" element to the relationship, from your mention of "when we see each other" and the marathon sex sessions. A lot of your communication issues may be tied up in this -- it is a lot easier to communicate in bits and dabs, and to have sex not limited to infrequent marathons, but rather a daily sense of intimacy. The stakes in terms of "what if I get it wrong?" are a lot lower when you sleep with that person every night in the same bed, I think. Lots more room and opportunity for experimenting and communicating and learning about how each person's body works.

So there is a common theme to my comments here -- what you describe really doesn't sound very cool to me. You are not being treated with respect and dignity, and your needs are not being met. He either needs to have a "come to Jesus" moment and see the light and reform in a big way, or you should consider moving on and finding a new guy (or guys, or gal, or whatever) who will indeed meet you halfway and treat you well. By "treat you well" I don't mean call you "Princess" and kiss your pedestal (but if you want that, then more power to you) -- I mean someone who will talk to you, hear and respect your "no"s and "yes"es, not generally act manipulatively, and make you feel good, not bad.
posted by Forktine at 5:57 AM on October 13, 2007 [10 favorites]

And to answer your question in a more narrow way:

You overcome your shyness and anxiety by "faking it until you make it," just like with other difficult things in life. You are taking on a roll, like an actress, rather than changing some fundamental part of yourself.

Calling him "bitch" is fine -- very different connotation for a man than for a woman, but that is what you are trying for.

Why not make him shave your legs (and elsewhere if you shave more areas) for you, maybe also do things like shampoo your hair or massage your back? You can either give a firm "no!" to straying hands, or let the servicing slide straight into the other kind of servicing.

Are either of you cool with roll-play? Dressing up as a dominant figure (school teacher, policewoman, all the other clichés that work so well) might help you bridge the shyness, and gives you something to say -- "Speeding again? I'll have to arrest you ... unless you want to pay your 'fine' right now..." Cheesy, but for some people these games really work; I suspect because the structure of the game gives them the freedom to relax and express things they can't in "regular life."
posted by Forktine at 6:08 AM on October 13, 2007

Boys can be "slut."

That's all I've got. Hi, family members!
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:37 AM on October 13, 2007

Wow, he sounds like a real pain in the ass and something of a class-a jerk. Won't do what you're into, does stuff you've flat out told him you don't like, and now wants you to do what he's into, but is making you play twenty freaking questions to find out since he's not secure enough to say what he wants even though he knows it's not something you're interested in.

I hope he's pretty awesome away from the bedroom for you to be putting up with all that.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:04 AM on October 13, 2007 [16 favorites]

Fundamentally, you get what you put up with, and if you're not OK with the shutting-you-down and namecalling, you really shouldn't be putting up with it. It doesn't sound like you're very dominant by nature, so this might or might not be a broader life lesson (could I be any more condescending?) but that's the way it reads.

Not talking about it is, IMO, completely unacceptable. I get where he's going with the heat of the moment vs sitting down and talking about it, but the answer isn't to simply not talk about it. Maybe sit down and make a list of Yes, No and Maybe for each of you, then after a while of trying that, reconsider what's on the list? That way you start off with a good idea of the direction everyone wants to go but with the intention of reexamining it.

Also, because I'm a pedantic asshole, it's "roleplay" not "roll-play," might help your googling.
posted by Skorgu at 7:06 AM on October 13, 2007

I highly recommend anything in the "Women's Only" section at Akasha's Web. It used to be free (so you may be able to find things like "The Good Girl's Guide" elsewhere online) but it looks like she has integrated it into her members area since the first time I read it.
posted by DecemberRaine at 7:19 AM on October 13, 2007

Follow-up from the OP:

To try to head things off a little, I am not a puppet or anything. He does stuff he's not into for me -- spanking and biting, among other activities, do nothing for him, but he spends time on it and I don't leave a session without getting some really nice marks to remember him by. I didn't discuss this as much as I could have, because it's working fine -- it's not part of the problem I'm having.

Also, if there's something he wants to do and I really, really don't -- like hard-limit don't -- then I don't. He absolutely loves being rimmed; I will not put my mouth near his ass without a barrier; he says if there's a barrier you might as well not do it at all. So I said fine, and I don't do it. And when he's in charge, he likes to pee on me. It doesn't turn me on, but I'm okay with it as long as we're in the bathtub and I can wash right afterwards -- and as long as my mouth is firmly closed, and it's only on my body, not my face. I'm sure he'd like to change those rules, but it's not going to happen because I'm not okay with that. The end.

So I won't do stuff I really dislike, but I will do stuff that doesn't do anything for me. I think he's the same way -- he really doesn't like the idea of tying me up, so he doesn't, whereas spanking me doesn't do anything for him but he will do it anyway to please me. We found out early on that we have both read Savage Love for a long time, so there's kind of an understanding that we will be GGG (good, giving, game) for each other.

I also wanted to mention the name-calling -- it's not like he's doing it blatantly despite my wishes. It's just that when he's coming, it slips out. If something like that has been a longstanding habit, it's hard to keep in mind anyway, and frankly anything is hard to keep in mind when you're coming. I understand that and while I would like it to happen less, I can't hold it against him.

I'll respond to specific suggestions later -- there are some great ones in here, but I'm limited in time -- but for now, I just wanted to answer a couple of things that have been coming up. Thank you all!
posted by jessamyn at 7:50 AM on October 13, 2007

He also doesn't want to discuss kink -- he wants it to come up spontaneously in the middle of sex sessions, because (his explanation) what we might say no to normally could sound like a great idea when we're turned on.

If I were you, I'd be very curious where this fear was coming from.

For what it's worth, there are couples who do discuss sex with their clothes on, and a lot of them do it honestly and adventurously. It is completely possible to say "yes" to something new and exotic without being turned on. It's true that sex sometimes brings thoughts and desires to the surface that you didn't know you had — but even then, all it takes is a little courage to discuss those thoughts and desires over breakfast the next day. And even beyond that, the impulse to try something new doesn't have to come when you're, uh, coming. Sometimes people just get curious.

So it sounds like he isn't giving the two of you enough credit. It sounds, honestly, like he's scared you'll say no to the things he wants unless he's got you all quivering and begging first. That is really manipulative of him, but I think you've heard enough about how manipulative your boyfriend is. And the thing is, he may not realize he can get what he wants without being manipulative — a lot of kinky people, especially ones with odd kinks, just get used to assuming that they'll be rejected if they're honest.

So the question you want to be asking yourself, IMO, is "Does this guy act like this because he's a cynical asshole? Or does he do it because he's nervous or scared?" I don't think we've got enough information to answer that question either way, but I bet you do.

(In the meantime, another solution to your dilemma occurs to me. He wants to talk about his kinks when you're both turned on? You live in different cities and see each other rarely? Phone sex, kids. Get him worked up, let him know you're worked up too, and then get him talking and find out what the hell he wants that's too big and scary to discuss with a level head.)

Things I have established he is not okay with (aka really hard limits): pain, including mild discomfort like ice cubes; restraint, even light stuff with scarves; humiliation; anything nonsexual (e.g. making him do household chores); anything long-distance or outside of an encounter (e.g. telling him not to masturbate for a week); anything whatsoever going up his ass.

For what it's worth, this is a long list of hard limits. If someone called himself a bottom, and then said nobody was allowed to hurt him, tie him up, humiliate him, fuck him or give him orders, I'd find myself wondering just what "bottom" meant to him. This, too, makes me wonder if there's some specific, slightly odd desire that he's scared to tell you about. Because you can't be a bottom unless you want to bottom at something, and he's ruled out most of the common things that bottoms do.

One last thing. If he's doing things you don't like or can't deal with, you don't have to put up with it, even if it is fear that's motivating him. I do think exploring the fear might be a way to help him be more open about his kink. But if he's really just unwilling to talk about what he wants or give you what you want, then yeah, you need to dump his ass.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:22 AM on October 13, 2007

I agree that the dynamics of a D/s relationship can't really work to their best advantage without communication outside the bedroom. Otherwise there's just a bedroom/livingroom disconnect that, for me, would skirt unhealthy. But hey, it's your kickfest not mine.

Anyway, assuming that what he wants (and again, this is where communication is your friend) is to be verbally humiliated, you can always go with the classics: he's your bitch, you bitch boy, a nancy boy or just a dirty little boy. The last works well if you are telling him to masturbate for you. Aside from the books rec'd above, you might investigate some D/s video porn on your own - sure, it tends to be crap, but you might still find some dialog you're comfortable with.

But there's a difference between humiliating someone and shaming them. He may be seeking one experience without the other or he may be seeking both. These lines tend to be very personal - you, for example, are not fine being called a slut and a whore, but are okay with being called a bitch, whereas I'd have the exact opposite response.

At the end of the day, you're asking us to be your Psychic Friends Network, but the only person who can clarify these distinctions is your partner. Better through conversation than trial and oops.

Lastly, I just wanted to say (even though you didn't ask) that I would totally not fret about him calling you a slut or a whore when he orgasms. I really, really don't think that means he sees you as being promiscuous - you can be a (very happy) slut within a monogamous relationship, and unless you're charging him by the hour, he's unlikely to be under the impression you're a whore. Not that I have an issue with whores, mind.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:26 AM on October 13, 2007

This has so many red flags I don't know where to begin. Are you really, really compatible with him outside of the bedroom? Like madly in love with him? Then maybe this has a chance to work. MAYBE. But I really think you are wired too differently, and you're going to end up frustrated and resentful.

I'm female and I've been the dominant in my relationships for years, so I have some direct insight into this. I'll e-mail you if I get the chance today. If a few days go by and I forget, feel free to e-mail me, it's in my profile.
posted by desjardins at 8:30 AM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, because I'm a pedantic asshole, it's "roleplay" not "roll-play," might help your googling.

Dammit! But you know, there is a fetish for everything, and I'd bet a dollar that somewhere out there is someone who gets turned on by rubbing jelly-rolls all over their body, so maybe my misspelling opened a door for someone.
posted by Forktine at 8:31 AM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I didn't read the whole thing...due to the length, but I got the gist of it. I suggest listening to a podcast called sex is fun. I haven't listened to it in a while but the beginning is good. The host has a segment with his wife called bath talk or bath tub talk or something. They talk about both the husband and the wife being subs and the things they do to promote healthy sex life and try things. It's about willingness to explore each other's interests and accepting when your partner is definitely against something.

If you're trying to make something that's not working, then endless ideas from metifites won't help.
posted by icollectpurses at 8:52 AM on October 13, 2007

My first sense of this is, and I'm someone who also likes kinkish stuff to come up spontaneously via experimentation rather than conversation, that the "passive female" is such a boring stereotype. If you turn to jelly every time he touches you, it may be flattering but it gets old having to be the one in charge, especially given typical male-female power relations. Keep in mind that guys are expected to be dominant in their everyday lives, and sex can turn into a chore if he has to be that way in bed when he may prefer to have some respite.
posted by rhizome at 9:27 AM on October 13, 2007

Boy George used to recommend a cup of tea instead. You can be too serious about all of this in other words.
posted by A189Nut at 9:27 AM on October 13, 2007

God, what a whiny bitch. And by that, I mean him, 100%. Look up the concept of topping from the bottom. Either he needs to tell you what he wants and shut up and let you do it (right now it dosent sound like hes really sub at all) or you need to just slap him around and stick him in adult diapers.

Ok, no more ranting. A BDSM checklist is a good tool. If he's uncomfortable talking in person, email or old fashioned paper works great. Use instant messaging if he wants dialouge. Maybe yall should switch off being dom/sub? It sounds like yall do this sorta, but defined times might help. Whoops, 10 pm, time for you to be in charge! If he gets all the sub juices out of your system before expecting you to be the mind reading magic domme hes always wanted, it may help.

Of course, you can always dump him and find a more healthy relationship with someone whos not a switch/topping from the bottom nut/totaly and innapropriately uncommunicative. Some sites you can browse info/forums/personals are collarme dot com and bondage dot com. And last, if you live in a non-bible belt state you can probably find a kink-friendly therapist. Or, even a normal therapist. Might help. Since, you know, I'm not a doctor.
posted by Jacen at 9:46 AM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I'm not going to tell you what I want, but if you don't give me what I want, I'm going to hold you responsible for my unhappiness" is not a good relationship dynamic (common as it may be). He's got to realize that you are not a mindreader and stop expecting you to be; you have to stop taking on any responsibility for reading his mind. Some plain ol' communication skills might help here.
posted by occhiblu at 9:58 AM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

He sounds like a jerk, about the kinks and otherwise. If he wants you to do something, he should explain it to you. I can imagine how frustrated I would be in your situation. He would wind up grounded in his room until he decided to answer Madame's questions.

I can't believe you're being made to feel bad about this. The first step to being able to domme for him or anyone is going to be seeing through this kind of emotional manipulation, stopping co-dependent behaviors and learning to distinguish what you want from what he wants.

What really needs to happen is a long talk about whether its power dynamics in play that are hot for him, or what. It sounds like you're both awfully uneasy about the power exchange, and that unease creates mistrust, which makes giving up power or seizing it even harder, like fracturing ground beneath your feet.

So, first, try this. Get him tied up and blindfolded and then make him tell you , in detail, asking follow-up questions, to describe a hot encounter with a domme. Maybe once he finally gets his picture-perfect sub experience, it'll oncork him and he'll be as willing to experiment as he expects you to be, or at least talk to you about his further desires. Be sure to reward cooperation with long, hot blowjobs.

Next, try asking him to buy you something. Leave it up to him. Then find out how he wants it used. It might be a buttplug, it might be a jar of mayonnaise, I don't care. Letting him show-and-tell and playing along, just like at little jimmy's house down the street when you were seven.

The particulars of who will or won't do what at the moment of this impasse are, imo, totally immaterial. You should try, earnestly, to be "good, giving and game" as Dan Savage says, and he should too. Having a dramatic "shut-down" reaction to a frisky faux-pas is bushleague baby shit: totally selfish and hurtful to your partner. If you can't see that happening with him, I wish you the best of luck finding a guy who will let you grow in the direction of domming and every other, because there's no sex life like a varied sex life. I', confident such guys are out there, eh?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:22 AM on October 13, 2007

He wants you to physically dominate a larger person without using restraints and to order him around without humiliating him. He's super picky and bossy about his likes and dislikes, but wants everything to happen spontaneously without discussion beforehand. Basically, he wants you to psychically read his desires and fulfill all of them...while he's simultaneously "submitting" to your "dominant" orders.

This is a tall order that some might call "topping from the bottom." Here is what I would consider:

1. Do you want to do this? "Good, giving and game" doesn't mean that you're enslaved to follow this guy's orders to the letter, it just means that you're game to try it out and see if you like it. If you really don't like doing this, then don't.

2. IANADomme, so I don't know if this sort of thing is allowed, but see if he'll agree to this: tell him that you're giving him a safe word and that you're going to do exactly what you want to him, ignoring his long list of no's. (Obviously, if he doesn't agree, don't go ahead with this!) If he really hates something, he can say the word and you'll stop, but you're in charge so you're making the rules now.

This might violate the D/S rulebook, I dunno. Consult your local bawdy house.
posted by lemuria at 10:27 AM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just want to add one thing. It is NOT EASY for a guy to tell a girl he's submissive and what that specifically means for him. All our lives we have been programmed to be masculine and dominant, all the pornography we're exposed to, especially the misogynistic shit that's so ubiquitous now makes sub guys wonder what makes them that way, and being honest about it is an obstacle to overcome. So two things that have been brought up, to wit: " He also doesn't want to discuss kink -- he wants it to come up spontaneously in the middle of sex sessions" and "Over the same months, he has been encouraging me to take charge of the situation " - this simply means that he is still struggling with what he likes and his acceptance of same. I believe that being kinky but still having a bit of shame is healthy, and he is reticent to explicitly articulate what he wants because it's embarrasing for him to hear the words come out of his own mouth.

It actually sounds like you two are doing pretty well. Communication is coming in fits and starts, and you're asking the right questions and learning about each other. That's the cross that perverts have to bear that vanilla people don't.

One more thought - as for what to call him? It doesn't have to be a specific word. Phrases and thoughts are good too. I have a few in mind. Maybe this is the point at which I use your email.
posted by vito90 at 11:24 AM on October 13, 2007

He also doesn't want to discuss kink -- he wants it to come up spontaneously in the middle of sex sessions,

In "dom mode," can't you order him to tell you a fantasy? Can you force him to beg you to do things to him, tell him he's not going to get off unless he begs for it (where "it" = specific detail/request)? These are ways of getting him to express his desires while in the moment.

because (his explanation) what we might say no to normally could sound like a great idea when we're turned on.

This is probably the most significant issue. Playing armchair psychologist, sounds to me that he fantasizes about some way kinky stuff, stuff that he's afraid will freak you out, maybe he fears that you'll leave him if you knew what he was really into. Maybe he's even too ashamed of his desires to discuss them. I remember reading a question here a long time ago, the asker was so ashamed of his kink, he couldn't even say what it was. He had to spell it out, quite literally, in a code of randomly bolded letters scattered throughout the post (iirc, it was a pretty out-there fetish).

By not telling you what he desires and hoping that you'll guess on your own, he's able to avoid shame/ embarrassment because the idea will then be yours, not his. Thing is, you'll probably never figure these things out on your own or even though searches or AskMe advice. After all, one person's kink is another person's vanilla sex, and vice-versa.

Finally, as cheesy as it sounds, Ann Rrampling/Rice's Exit to Eden might be a good primer on female dom role. It is pretty explicit, and at the same time, less clinical than the books recommended by acarpous and others.
posted by birdlady at 12:04 PM on October 13, 2007

2. IANADomme, so I don't know if this sort of thing is allowed, but see if he'll agree to this: tell him that you're giving him a safe word and that you're going to do exactly what you want to him, ignoring his long list of no's. (Obviously, if he doesn't agree, don't go ahead with this!) If he really hates something, he can say the word and you'll stop, but you're in charge so you're making the rules now.

No, that's allowed. In fact, it's one of the best uses for a safeword. If you're going to be pushing someone's limits, it's good to give them a way out.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2007

We found out early on that we have both read Savage Love for a long time, so there's kind of an understanding that we will be GGG (good, giving, game) for each other.

Everything you wrote suggests that you're very much GGG or at least trying to be but that he definitely is not and I think he completely fails to understand what GGG means in practice and in theory.

DTMFA. As others have said, he sounds like a jerk. One example, calling you derogatory names when he comes. That doesn't silp out. He's getting off specifically because he knows you don't like it and it degrades you. So find someone else, someone with whom you can easily and comfortably explore different aspects of sexuality.

But if you're set on staying with him I'll try and answer one question you've got. Call him cunt, your bitch, fag; whatever you can think of to emasculate and degrade a straight man.
posted by 6550 at 1:44 PM on October 13, 2007

one more follow-up from the OP:

Wow, guys, tons of responses! Not going quite how I expected, but seriously, thanks for helping. One Amazon order is already on the way. . . .

Logistics: We do live in the same city, but far apart within it. We share apartments with roommates, but have our own bedrooms (I also have a private bath). We don't see each other more often because we both have 9-5s that are more like 8-6es, and we're each committed to professional activities 3 nights a week -- opposite nights, of course, leaving us with only 1 night/week off at the same time. So that turns into an evening and night and most of the next day.

Relationship: Yeah there's a reason I didn't talk about this. We are not in a serious relationship. I'm not sure if you would call this "fuckbuddies" or "friends with benefits" or what. We have a lot of interests in common, love to talk about them, get along well, and have deep conversations when we're together. He always stays the night, he is fine with cuddling, and we occasionally go out and see a show (dutch) in the evening before we come back to my place. So it's weird to define. We are very intimate (he helped me through a ton of body issues when we were starting) but love doesn't enter the picture. We are casually dating other people; I am not having sex with anyone else, and I told him I want to know if he is (not because of jealousy, because I want to know about the risk [he has had a lot of sex, mostly oral, but before we got involved he had not had sex for 2 years, and he assured me he was tested and came up clean during that time]). I obviously trust him and like him, but even if he offered, there's no way I'd get into a serious relationship with him -- he is still hung up on one old ex, and that baggage I don't want to be the one to deal with.

It seems like a sticking point is he doesn't like to talk about kink when not in sex mode. I doubt he's hiding a deep, dark secret -- or actually, it seems like he was, but golden showers was that secret. He has a very full sex history and has done this d/s-ish stuff with a ton of other girls, no problem. This makes me think it's not about him not wanting to confess he likes whatever, or not wanting to admit to himself that he likes to sub...he's had super-hot times with lots of other girls, so the problem is me in general, possibly with my inexperience contributing.

Honestly, his reticence really doesn't seem to be about fear of what might come up, it's just the way he is with sex -- he likes things to find their own way, not to think of anything specific for next time, "whatever happens, happens," be spontaneous and natural..."natural" is huge for him. (I of course do research and plan outfits, scenarios, etc., in advance -- but he doesn't know that!) A checklist or anything similar he would describe with disgust as dry, clinical, not sexy at all, dispassionate -- really the antithesis of sex to him.

And we can sometimes talk, it's just only when we're naked, either fooling around before or cuddling after. That's how he warned me off (way in advance) putting things in his ass, told me about golden showers (not as badly as possible), and that's how we established in the first place that we would stop short of PIV and anal. So it's not that he completely refuses to talk, it's just that he seems to really prefer it the other way, and gets unhappy with me and finds me prudish or hesitant or uptight or, most of all, lacking in passion if I am not all about going with whatever comes up.

As for him shutting me down if I misstep, it kills my confidence, but it's not malicious or even purposeful on his part. If someone were nibbling my nipples, and I was enjoying that, and then (s)he suddenly said something like "Yeah, you like a little pain like want me to pierce them for you," that's totally a turnoff for me, and I would also be all "wtf, fuck no" and grossed out and not into it anymore. The same way he is when I stumble into an area he dislikes.

I want to reinforce that I'm not a total pushover. There is stuff up with which I will not put -- viz. rimming without a barrier, getting pee on my face -- but shutting me down and calling me names are involuntary and understandable, so there's leeway there. And although I didn't discuss it because it's going fine, he does reciprocate, he spanks and bites me just because I like it when it does nothing for him, he'll give me oral for an hour although I haven't been able to come, and he does still take the lead most of the time. He just wants me to step it up so he can have his turn not being in charge, and I haven't been able to take complete control like he wants, so that's what I was hoping for advice on.

Some of the advice is great -- the "my bitch" distinction was perfect, and making him get something for show-and-tell would be so fun (if I can convince him to spend the money/time/effort, and to plan ahead to that extent). Next time I see him I will try to pin him down enough to make him tell me a story, and I can see what that brings up and where to go from there. And like I said, I've done a lot of online research, but I haven't read any books -- some are already on their way from Amazon. I would love any help along these lines, and if you e-mail me (tryingtotop @ gmail) I will reply and we can talk privately. Make a throwaway address of your own if you want!
posted by jessamyn at 1:48 PM on October 13, 2007

You are turning yourself inside out for someone who is not reciprocating. You plan things in advance, but hide that from him, because it would piss him off, so you've also got the added work of having to pretend to be spontaneous. You're taking all the responsibility for the interactions not working onto yourself, and letting him use your inexperience to intimidate you or make you feel like you're doing things wrong.

Your follow-up is full of subtle put-downs of yourself. You are not "the problem in general." What he does is not "involuntary." Even if this is not a grand love affair, it's still based on two people interacting and compromising, and it sounds like you're doing all the (emotional) work here and he's doing all the judging.

.... which would probably (I assume) be fine if you were the one in the submissive role here, and he in the dominant one. Because you're letting him push you around here, big time.

I'm not trying to say that you're wrong, or bad, or whatever -- I have done the same thing you're doing over and over again in relationships (minus the sex complications), where I'd just assume that I had to take care of my own needs and his because that's what being a good partner was.

It's not, no matter how casual the relationship. You have to research for your dates and you're hiding that from him because he'd get mad. I've been there, really, and so I know from experience that it's just really not healthy.
posted by occhiblu at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

Sweetie, take it from the older women in this thread. You are so not the problem here.
posted by astruc at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2007

I think my view has totally changed now that I've read your follow-ups. If he's not relationship material, if he's just a friend with benefits - why the FUCK would you bother with someone who's so blatantly incompatible? He might be a nice guy, blah blah blah, but you're putting in WAY too much effort. If you really do want to try topping, there are bazillions of guys who aren't as whiny and picky as this doofus. If you really enjoy bottoming, there are bazillions of guys... etc. I read Dan Savage, I listen to the podcasts, and I'd bet my shirt that he'd tell you to DTMFA.

he helped me through a ton of body issues when we were starting

This is why you stay with him, isn't it? If I'm wrong, I will eat my whips AND my chains. Whatever your body issues are, don't think that he's the only guy, or the best guy, who is going to find you attractive enough to sleep with.
posted by desjardins at 2:38 PM on October 13, 2007 [8 favorites]

Oh, and by putting all these conditions on you (not on the sexual acts, but on YOU), he is telling you that you're only desirable to him if you jump through hoops X, Y, and Z. He knows you've got low self-esteem, so he's betting that you will jump through those hoops. Which is what you're doing. Which will further lower your self-esteem.
posted by desjardins at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

...he's had super-hot times with lots of other girls, so the problem is me in general, possibly with my inexperience contributing.

Can't you see how this guy is doing a head trip on you? (Or maybe you are doing it to yourself?)

I'm sorry, but if all other girls are super hot in bed, and you are a big dud, he should move on. Staying with you, but making you feel bad about yourself, makes him a shitheel. All of this bad feelings, for a once-a-week session? Totally not worth it.

Everything you are describing screams "manipulation!" -- this just isn't how a healthy relationship, body issues or no body issues, works. No matter how imperfect you are, you deserve a lot better than this.
posted by Forktine at 3:39 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

DTMFAx1,000,000. Please. This guy is a controlling loser who gets off on manipulating young, inexperienced girls. He has you completely wrapped around his finger, so much so that you acknowledge he's an experienced player and instead of seeing the writing on the wall, you're coming up with crappy excuses for his bad behavior and pulling things out of thin air to blame yourself for. I'm practically flipping out over here. Even though you've clearly tried to paint a pretty picture of him, it's all so obvious to many of us. You can do so much better.
posted by infinityjinx at 3:41 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I occasionally ask my bt (boytoy) "did/does that make you feel used and dirty?" he gets such a kick outta feeling that way and then me pointing it out that he was my bitch... I also use him as a human vibrator of sorts. We do this for what feels like hours, after he is hard, apply condom and masturbate him with your hand if you need to, to keep him hard, if you are not really really wet then slather up the punanny with some lube then climb on top, grind and rub against his "manhood" (heh that term always cracked me up in those romance novels) focus only on you and your getting off while sliding up and down rocking your pelvis against his... no insertion required. The fact that you are getting satisfaction and are turned on by him and using him as your personal selfish toy should turn him on. If he asks for something tell him to shut up his job is to say hard and make you cum. He can cum only after you are that time he should explode
Er...I hope that wasn't to metagraphic, please edit/delete if necessary.
posted by meeshell at 4:07 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

DTMFA. This guy clearly gets off on degrading and belittling you (and not in a fun consensual way), and his main method appears to be maneuvering you into a role he knows you don't enjoy much or do very well at because it's contrary to your personality, and then he makes it even more impossible for you to succeed by refusing to let you actually take on the domme role he claims he wants, and then he gets his jollies by sitting back and watching you fail.

He wants you to make these "missteps" so that he can shut down and blame it on you because it just reinforces his inflated sense of himself as an "experienced sexyman with lots of hot times" who is doing Little Miss Newbie a big favor. When secure, trusting partners have sex and one of them ventures into an area that the other is uncomfortable with, they generally say, "um, no, not really into that" or a safe word or otherwise indicate their discomfort, and maybe pause for a bit to recalibrate or not, but they don't usually dramatically shut down and freak out. Sounds like Mr. Player has some body issues of his own that he's not willing to deal with.

And how do you know about these hot times of his, anyhow? I'm betting it's because he tells you, and not in the spirit of sharing but because it's another fun way to make you feel inadequate.

If he's really just a fuck buddy and you have no emotional stake in this, then why make the large time and energy investment you describe when you have so many other demands and commitments to focus on in your life? Yes, it's natural to think your first partner is fabulous simply because you have nothing to compare him to, and I'm sure the orgasms are swell, but you can do so much better than this jerk. The cost-benefit analysis simply doesn't justify continuing unless there's more going on for you than some diverting once-a-week sexplay.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:21 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

You are not in a D/s relationship by any stretch of the imagination. You only do what he wants, and a few spankings here and there doesn't make it even. I suggest you find another partner who can really teach you the things you want to learn. You can't be in charge with someone who won't relinquish control of the situation. This person does not behave like he's very experienced with these types of relationships- "shutting down" does not go far with anyone who requires a healthy level of adult communication. Believe me when I say grownups do not act like this, and you can't play these sorts of games with children. You deserve much better.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

eh. tell him to stop being such a wuss. sounds like you've made a lot of concessions to him in terms of what *he wants* but that he's not willing to make any concessions to you - and you need him to ease up on his limits in order to give you a bit of room to work with. he's framed "being submissive" in such a limited way that even if you were to do it, he probably wouldn't get the kick he wants out of it.

it's one thing to say "i want you to be in charge" but then to put a dozen qualifiers on it? chances are even if you found a way to work with those limits *you* wouldn't enjoy yourself - and that's what being in charge is usually about - he'll be getting his kick out of being used. well, it's more complex than that but that's for another day. be completely selfish sexually, and see how he reacts to it.

he obviously enjoys going down on you, so exploit that. try skipping penetration altogether, if you can handle that. grab him one day and make him go down on you, then get dressed and walk off. see how he takes it. come back half an hour to an hour later and tease him mercilessly before engaging in any penetration.

with this sort of thing it's a lot about acting. if he wants to be submissive, then he'll fall into that role pretty easily if you use a commanding voice and some strong body language. just think - confidence, assuredness, and about what *you* want, and they should be apparent in you. plan it beforehand, if necessary.

the big thing with having a guy sub, i think (most of my exp other way round) is that you want to put physical superiority out of the question. to make him feel helpless you'll have to use something like a pair of handcuffs. again - you'll have to work on his limits - but asking to be "submissive" without allowing any restraints is pretty ridiculous IMO.

there was this great how-to be a dom on a site linked a month or so ago (for other content) but i can't remember anything that would help me find it - maybe someone in this thread remembers?

well, anyway - good luck. keep experimenting, be playful, and have fun. life's too short for bad sex.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:32 PM on October 13, 2007

er, and totally second oneirodynia's post, but the question wasn't "what do you guys think of our sex life?" :P
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:34 PM on October 13, 2007

one more follow-up from the OP

I have no clue how you picked that out of so much other stuff, but yeah, the body image thing plays into it. Not only is he amazing to put up with how I look, he was also incredibly understanding and so, so patient about letting me cry on his shoulder about it. He is both a better person and a better match for me than anyone I could have hoped to get. I want to clarify -- and I am being honest with myself -- that I am not trying to top him in a desperate attempt to get him to stay with me even though I'm ugly; rather I want to top him because it will make him happy, and I like him and want to make him happy.

Like forktine suggests, I am not sure why he hasn't moved on, when having the girl take control is a big plus for him and it's something I haven't been able to do. Despite tons of opportunities to bring it up, he's only even mentioned it once (I was trying something I couldn't make work, I said "but I think with another try or two I can," and he said, not harshly, just in passing, "if I stick around waiting that long"). That's the only suggestion he's ever made -- despite plenty of opportunities -- that my inability might push him away.

The big issue now seems to be what the "shutting down" thing means, and I think there's some confusion -- I said he shuts me down. He doesn't shut down himself -- he doesn't go catatonic, or flip out on me or anything. Specifically, he pulls away and withdraws, giving me a kind of grossed-out "wtf are you doing, where did that come from" look. He might or might not say something along those lines. When we resume, only a moment later, I go back to whatever was working last, and because he got turned off, I have to retrace my steps for a little while. That's all, it's not a huge deal or a freakout or anything, just a totally normal reaction. It only hurts me at all because it's a rejection after I built up the courage to try something else.

He has been doing me huge favors, I promise. I had a lot of theoretical knowledge, but honestly zero hands-on experience with anything when we started. He's been unspeakably patient with me and I've learned an incredible amount from him already. Also, I don't get just "a few spankings here and there" -- whenever we see each other, he'll put in serious time, I mean a lot of time and effort, doing exactly what I enjoy even though it does nothing at all for him. I like being spanked by hand best, and his hand must start to sting after a minute, but he has never, ever breathed a word about it; he just keeps going despite the pain, without faltering, because he knows I like it and he wants to please me. He'll go down on me for literally an hour (even though I haven't been able to come) and he'll be fine with that, he'll even suggest it. And he is usually in charge -- he just wants that to change occasionally, so he can sit back and get what he likes for once, which I don't think is too much to ask at all.
posted by jessamyn at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2007

Kiddo, you deserve pure, unadulterated happiness, not a headache. This really sounds like a headche. It looks like you liked the things I suggested before, please feel free to contact me for one on one talk if you like. Body issues are hard to deal with but they really do not belong on the table in relationship negotiation, by which I mean to say, how in the world has he done you favors? This sounds like a very prettily manicured mess. I think you'd be better off making yourself happy, alone.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:49 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Like forktine suggests, I am not sure why he hasn't moved on, when having the girl take control is a big plus for him and it's something I haven't been able to do.

Because what he is saying that he wants a girl to take control (and that all the other women are total hotties, etc), but what he is doing is deliberately making you feel like shit, and keeping you off balance and out of kilter.

He's manipulating you, and it is working -- you are seeing your situation through his manipulations, not with your own eyes. I mean, sure, we are all random internet dogs, but is it perhaps worth noting how no one here is saying, "wow, you are right, he sounds so incredibly awesome, you are a lucky girl to have caught such a man"?

Of course I don't think he should dump you -- why would he do that? With you, he has a woman who is falling over herself to do stuff for him in bed, can be treated like dirt, and comes back saying "thank you, please give me more." He can piss on you and call you "slut" when he comes because you hate it, and all he has to do in return is go down on you? Not a hard bargain there, you know.

I think you should dump him, and sometime down the road find a guy (or gal) who rocks your world in a positive, wonderful way. Maybe that's easy for me to say -- I'm not there, and I'm not living your life. But the times in my life I said things like, "wow, I'm so lucky to have her, even though she treats me like dirt," I sure realized later that maybe I wasn't really so lucky after all.
posted by Forktine at 9:38 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

The OP's responses just make the situation seem more and more awul / pathetic / depressing. You deserve someone who respects you. This guy clearly does not.

Not only is he amazing to put up with how I look

He is both a better person and a better match for me than anyone I could have hoped to get.

"if I stick around waiting that long"

It only hurts me at all because it's a rejection after I built up the courage to try something else.

Somewhere out there is a guy who will do what this guy does that you like, *and* treat you well. Don't waste any more of your time with this asshole.
posted by marble at 9:57 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Not only is he amazing to put up with how I look
I said "but I think with another try or two I can," and he said, not harshly, just in passing, "if I stick around waiting that long"

Honey. No no no no no. Nooooo no no no no.

Imagine the most nurturing, understanding person in the world, who cares deeply about you and your welfare. What would this person say to you when they heard you say those two things? Do you think that person would agree that this man is making such a great sacrifice to put up with you? What would they think about the fact that, when you tell him that you're going to try your best to please him, he threatens to reject you if you don't succeed?

That person is the part of you that cares most about your well-being. Please listen to that voice instead of the one you're listening to now.
posted by lemuria at 2:14 AM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

The reason that what you're trying to do isn't working, despite your enormous effort, is because this is a bad relationship. And it is a bad relationship because he's expecting you to do all the work without reciprocating (going down on you is not "reciprocating," it's pretty much just expected, especially if you aren't having penetrative sex).

Your doing more work is not going to fix it. His acting like an adult and taking responsibility for his own needs might fix it. His acting like a human being and ceasing to manipulate, and destroy, your self-esteem might fix it.

Find your inner domme by standing up for yourself and ending this destructive pattern.
posted by occhiblu at 9:25 AM on October 14, 2007

I don't like this guy either. Find yourself a real dom, and ditch the topping from below guy.
posted by Area Control at 10:02 AM on October 14, 2007

This guy sounds great in so many ways: he's your first sexual partner and you get to try out a whole lotta stuff. He's also not someone you are invested in marrying either, but more of a hot, friendly experiment. Perfect for a first partner.

Because he's your first partner though, there's a great deal you have yet to learn about yourself and sexuality, including what happens to your emotions and to your thinking when you get turned on.

Also, because he's your first partner, you have no basis for comparison.

You have self-esteem issues which make it difficult for you to distinguish between 'abusive,' 'great' and 'perfectly normal but not a match.' This also ties in with your inexperience. It's amazing how difficult it can be to make these distinctions, which spelled out like that sould so basic but in messy real life can be so unclear. Many of us take decades to make any significant progress in this department.

My advice is that if this man is just a really hot fuckbuddy then you shouldn't consider yourselves exclusive. The problem is that if you only have one day a week to devote to really hot sex, and he gets that day, then in practice you *are* exclusive. Your whole sexual identity gets tied up with one man who does not want to invest in you and who you consider just a friend. So, see him every other week instead. The week you don't see him, go to a fetish night in your city. Go with a girlfriend, or alone, or with someone you meet online. I'm not telling you to dump him - for one thing, you can't because he's not your boyfriend. I'm not telling you to stop seeing him. I'm just saying... expand your horizons. He might be perfect for some things but he's not perfect for everything (if he were, you wouldn't need to Ask Metafilter for advice). This of course applies to everyone - it's not a criticism. So if you've gone as far as you know how with this one guy, go out and explore with someone else.

You can't expand your own sexuality on an advice board. That you can only do in the meatworld... so out you go, honey!
posted by maremare at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

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