As of 12/7 comments on this discussion are closed.
I need a script for talking to my girlfriend about what she wants in bed. She’s eighteen and I’m twenty and we’ve been together for four years. Neither of us really experimented with other people before we met each other, so we’ve done most of our sexual experimenting and maturing together. The problem is, we’re still having big communication problems.
The first issue is that, over the past year or so, my girlfriend has started to think that she might be a lesbian. She says she’s attracted to girls and not guys, and has explicitly stated that she’s not physically attracted to me. I think this might be part of the cause of the second issue.
The second issue is, my girlfriend never gives me an answer about whether or not she wants to have sex. She never gives me a solid “no” and she never gives me a solid “yes”. We tried employing a direct consent method where I would ask her directly, “Do you want to have sex right now?” but she would never give me an answer. Instead, she says things like, “Honey…” or “Maybe…” or “Tomorrow, okay?” For a while, she told me she didn’t want me to ask; she just wanted me to do what I wanted. Of course, that backfired, because I could never tell when she was actually into it and when she wasn’t.
None of her feelings on the matter come up until after we’ve already had sex. I never know if she wanted it or didn’t want it until sometimes hours or days or weeks afterward, when she’ll tell me either that she liked it or that she didn’t actually want to have sex. She gets angry with me during these times and says that I’m using her body, or that I expect sex too often, and then she’ll stop sleeping with me as a way to set me straight.
Captain, I know that my girlfriend is well within her rights not to have sex with me, and if she wants to have sex with other people instead or not to have sex at all, that’s okay. I love her and we’ll find a way to work it out one way or another. But I can’t do anything to help her feel safe and happy with me if she doesn’t tell me what she wants. If asking her directly doesn’t work, what should I do?
Thank you for taking the time.
Yes Means Yes
Dear Yes Means Yes:
There is a lot of badness here. At this point, with your history, you should not have any sex with your girlfriend unless she herself initiates it or responds to your request by smiling from ear-to-ear, taking your hand, leading you into the bedroom, and removing your pants while saying things like “This is awesome” and “Yes please!” and “More!”
I can imagine your response to the above suggestion:
“But, Captain Awkward, if I didn’t initiate sex then we’d never have sex!“
You are correct, this is probably what would happen if you stopped initiating sex. This is because she does not want to have sex with you anymore.
She says explicitly that she is not attracted to you and that she might be gay. These are what are known as dealbreakers. She refuses all the time, indirectly. “Just do what you want, stop asking me” does not equal “Fuck me now, you magnificent bastard!” It means “Giving in is easier than fighting/explaining why/dealing with the constant badgering.”
You asked for a script about talking to your girlfriend about what she wants in bed. She’s TOLD you what she wants in bed. What she wants = NOT YOU. If you literally can’t tell whether or not someone is into what is happening in bed, the answer is “They are not all that into it.”
Tomorrow* = no.
Maybe later = no.
I am not attracted to you = no.
I am maybe gay = no.
You’re using my body! = no.
You want sex too often, maybe I’ll just stop altogether = no.
Anything but “Yes!” or “Yeah!” or “Okay!” or “Get over here!” or “Take off your pants!” or enthusiastically touching you = no.
You say “Captain, I know that my girlfriend is well within her rights not to have sex with me, and if she wants to have sex with other people instead or not to have sex at all, that’s okay,” and you’re using the lingo of “Yes means Yes” which sounds really nice, except for the part where you keep pressuring her and having sex with her even when she clearly does not want to and then try to argue that she wasn’t PERFECTLY clear so how you are you supposed to know what to do since this is basically her fault for not being a better communicator.
It’s not surprising that she might not have actually fully internalized that she gets to refuse sex with you, since she says no all the time and then finds herself having sex with you anyway. So I have to ask: If she broke up with you because she’s not into you anymore, would you go quietly? Or would you convince her to stay the way you convince her to keep having sex with you?
You want to do the right thing for both of you? Break up with her. Make it clean, final, and irrevocable. “Girlfriend, I care about you but this isn’t working for me and I want to break up.” Even if she says she wants to stay together and work on the problem, I don’t think love and good intentions fix this thing. It’s hard to break up with your first love and your first sex partner. But she needs to be free to explore her actual desires (and figure out what they are) with a partner who doesn’t badger and coerce her. And you need to see what sex looks like when someone actually wants to be there with you. She can do better than “constant coercion” and you can do better than “grudging submission.”
And since you have a bad track record of wishful thinking and coercion in reading signals about a partner’s willingness to have sex, I suggest you make enthusiastic consent your absolute personal ethic going forward. Without forthright, clear, explicit, demonstrated consent from a partner, you don’t have sex, period.
- Jaclyn Friedman’s What You Really, Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety
- Heather Corinna’s S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide To Get You Through High School and College
*In a good relationship where people are having enthusiastic, regular sex, “Tomorrow” means “Tomorrow!” In this relationship, it definitely means “no.”