#807: “He who is selfish in bed should probably sleep alone from now on.”

Hello my Captain!

I’ve spent some time scrolling through the “sex” tag and I can’t really find something that fits the issue I’m currently having.

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about 6 months. The sex has been great, for the most part, but lately I’ve been feeling neglected in bed and I’m not sure how to bring it up or address it. He never seems to care if I get off or not, and sexytimes always end when he does, unless I specifically ask him to get me off. Last night things really came to a head (heh). He asked me for oral sex, finished, and then…went to sleep. I cried myself to sleep. I don’t know how to bring it up with him, or even if I should. He seems completely unaware that anything out of the ordinary happened. I feel so hurt and used. How can I bring this up with him after the fact?

Blown Off

Dear Blown,

This isn’t a one or two-time thing, you’re using words like “never” and “always” to describe the behavior. You’re crying yourself to sleep 6 months into a new relationship because your partner has forgotten that your body & pleasure exist.

There are two very direct ways to handle this:

  1. Skip directly to breaking up.
  2. Say, “Do you realize the past couple times we’ve had sex it’s been all about you and not at all about me? What’s going on with that?” and see what he says. Listen for words like “I’m so sorry, you’re completely right” and look for actions like Being Better At Paying Attention To Your Needs.

Over the course of a long-term relationship, getting off doesn’t always have to be exactly tit for tat, but the fact that it’s this unbalanced this quickly, the fact that’s it’s not a conversation (You’re not saying “aw, go to sleep, dear!” and he’s not returning the favor on another day), and the fact that it seems to be ongoing don’t predict that this will be a very long-term relationship.

As an aside, I’m reading Emily Nagoski’s Come As You Are and it’s great.





278 thoughts on “#807: “He who is selfish in bed should probably sleep alone from now on.”

  1. It’s only been six months??? Just dump him. He’s selfish. I bet he’s selfish in other areas of the relationship too. Cut your loses and dump him.

  2. Obligatory Lily Allen link to “Not Fair”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ewszd9n1CU

    More seriously, this is 100% not okay. It’s… possible that he just doesn’t know any better? But a lover who just plain doesn’t care if you’re getting off on the regular is not usually a sign of someone who is prioritizing your pleasure and happiness. I’m so sorry, and I definitely second the “skip to breaking up” option. You shouldn’t have to fight on something like this. (Where “this” is “you’re supposed to care about my pleasure, you know?”)

  3. I think the Captain is 100% right here. You are being completely neglected, and you deserve more.

    There are a lot of ways you could bring this up with him. (I’m totally envisioning you climbing over him to plug in a hitachi while he sleeps, and putting some loud porn on your iPad. Just because it makes me feel happy.) But honestly, if he doesn’t care, he’s probably not going to. Just as a PSA, there are amazing guys out there that love getting women off, they are real, you too can have one of these.

    Though I have experienced some people who COMPLETELY lose interest in sex after they have gotten off. They are just done and trying to keep things going is not happening. The only real solution to that is making them get you off first, every time. If your boyfriend is one of those people, then maybe that’s a possible option where you make sure that you get what you need before he gets anything.

    But honestly, it sounds mostly like he’s being pretty selfish and entitled in the bedroom. And you probably aren’t going to get him to admit to that. Better to move on now than swallow your unhappiness, especially if you are crying and they can sleep through it. That’s terrible. *all the jedi hugs*

    1. Yeah.

      The thing about complete-loss-of-interest-in-sex-post-orgasm, though, from my perspective (as someone who’s on occasion been that and on occasion had partners who’ve been that) is that if you’re being decent about it then… it’s a thing about yourself that you’re aware of, and you flag it up to your bedfellow, and you make sure that they’re happy before you hit the point of rolling over and going abruptly to sleep.

      Which… LW’s boyfriend does not sound like he’s doing. So, yes, that’s my articulation of why I think that “selfish and entitled” is spot-on for this one.

      1. Hah I totally had a one-night-stand with a guy like that. He said “I should warn you, I will fall asleep immediately afterward, and I will snore.” And sure enough, he did. It wasn’t mind-blowing sex, but I always appreciated that he was aware enough to warn me.

      2. Okay, I’m going to overshare egregiously here: so I don’t have a lot of sexual experience with women, and I have had a lot of sexual experience with cis men whose penis-related needs were so specific that the overwhelming odds were that the last ten minutes of every sexual encounter were going to be them handling it themselves while we hugged.

        I also genuinely, GENUINELY thought I knew the signs and symptoms of the vagina-based orgasm, and it turns out I DO NOT.

        A combo pack of me 1) assuming my partner might be fine finishing themselves off 2) apparently not actually being able to tell if a cis woman has had an orgasm has apparently led to me offending my current sexual partner for MORE THAN A MONTH, because she didn’t want to be demanding and say something. I feel so sorry! And so bad in bed! I am also in the insensible-after-an-orgasm camp and might not have parsed any hints that were dropped, but now that she’s actually said something while I’m not mostly asleep we can figure out timing that works. I just. D:

        A friend of mine is actually on the other end of a similar situation – she has a hard time having an orgasm with a new/unfamiliar sexual partner, and she didn’t want her current boyfriend to feel bad or pressured about this, so she succeeded in convincing him that this was okay SO THOROUGHLY that now she’s having to walk it back and explain that when she said it was “okay”, she didn’t mean “every time, forever”, and she actually WOULD like to try having an orgasm while having sex with him now, please.

        Don’t get me wrong, I have had selfish cis male partners and I’m not defending the practice, but I am also freshly aware right now of how hard it can be sometimes to communicate well around sexual needs, especially when someone’s previous partners might have left them with some funny ideas of what is and is not fine. I also always judged male partners who kept asking me if I had had an orgasm – couldn’t they tell? Were they unfamiliar with pelvic muscles? What was their DEAL – and now I’m having to eat some crow, frankly, because I am going to need to start asking for yes/no answers on that until I figure it out.

        1. To be fair, I don’t think that those symptoms look the same on every cis woman. I know, for me, they can look different literally every time. Especially with different kinds of simulation, it looks and feels different on my end. Sometimes it can seem like I don’t when I do or I do when I don’t and so on and so forth. So I really don’t think there is a reliable way to “tell” without asking. (Which can be really fun and sexy, honestly, talking and asking for what you need can add a whole new spice to the bedroom if you make it into fun sexy talk.)

          I think there is also a way to walk those things back in a less. “AND NOW I HAVE REGRETS” way. Just saying you’re feeling more comfortable and want to start focusing more on trying for certain things or trying new things or acting out fantasies or whatever.

          I think there is a way to make communicating about sex completely sexy, in a way that can enhance everyone’s good time. Less “and now I will tell you that I am happy so you know so that we can go to sleep.” And more “And now I’m going to pant in your ear and tell you how hot that was.” (IT is really hard to type this from work without using certain words lolol.)

      3. Yeah, there are several good ways to deal with being a person who wants to sleep after orgasm. My partner and I absolutely do pull the occasional “I’m really exhausted, can I just promise to get you off another time?” thing with each other. Sometimes we say this beforehand, like “I don’t mind doing sexy things if you know, going in, that I’m probably going to be too exhausted to give you proper attention.” Sometimes we say it afterward, like “Is it okay if I just fall asleep and make it up to you tomorrow?” — although that’s usually a genuine question, to which the other person could respond “Um, actually, would you mind at least cuddling me while I get myself off?” which is generally fine.

        We also have a nice ritual where we check in with each other before finishing up: “Are you done?”

        “Done,” in this context, can mean any of the following things:
        — “I have had one orgasm and that is all I need.”
        — “I have had several orgasms and don’t want anything else.”
        — “I have not had an orgasm, but I don’t think I want one.”

        “Not done” could mean that the person wants to come, or it could just mean that one or the other of us needs to cuddle a bit more before calming down or whatever.

        Maybe the LW and her partner could introduce this style of “done” into their conversations with each other about sex — or the LW could find a partner who is more amenable to learning this sort of basic sexual courtesy. It’s a concept that could do with wider circulation, and a well-meaning dude should be willing to understand it.

    2. plug in a hitachi while he sleeps, and putting some loud porn on your iPad.

      I am not the most adventurous person in the bedroom, but I am totally intrigued by the idea of grilling a burger while the Bad Lover sleeps.

      1. Isn’t that a hibachi?

        Well he would wake up hungry for SOMETHING.

        (Now I feel like George Foreman needs to come out with a line of adult toys, just you know, for the lulz.)

          1. Oh my goodness – George IS the name of my, ahem, vibrating friend…. (My friend calls hers, Bob.)

        1. If you don’t mind a noisy vibe and you hate paying for batteries the hitachi is A+++++++++++++

          1. I hate paying for batteries but I also hate plugging things into the wall, so I like Lelo vibrators. (I hate Hitachis. They’re weirdly industrial looking, which seriously puts me off. I’m not sure if I should be getting off or buffing a set of gears.)

          2. Noooo the vibration is so powerful that it makes me come in like 2 minutes and then makes my bits go numb and I can’t have a second round. The Wahl is so much better for me! (Also cheaper!)

    3. If your boyfriend is one of those people, then maybe that’s a possible option where you make sure that you get what you need before he gets anything.

      I think that I could be on board with some kind of strategy along these lines…IF the boyfriend were the one proposing it, if he had noticed the problem and felt concerned about it and were actively trying to troubleshoot. I am seeing zero evidence to suggest that he’s paying attention to the LW’s pleasure at all. Honestly, I kind of feel like he’s the one who should buy a vibrator; if he’s this bad at partnered sex then he should do the world a favour take care of himself.

      LW, there are so many people in the world who genuinely love to get their partners off, including dudes if that’s your preference. And the first step to finding those delightful souls is to dump this utter douchebag, and raise the bar for who gets to have sex with you. You deserve so, so, so much better than this.

    4. I read that as hibachi at first and was confused as to why the OP would be grilling in bed.

      But then my brain kicked in.

        1. I have to admit, if someone said to me, “I’ll give you a good steak or a good orgasm, which would you like?” I’d pick the steak pretty much every time. Because orgasms are free, but good steak is really pricey.

    5. Honestly, I have done this. The fella didn’t get the job done and hadn’t done the job in a couple of weeks and said something to the effect of “sorry, hon, next time.” And it was said in this, “Oh, silly, impossible to please female creature with unreasonable expectations, I am humoring you” tone. So I rolled over, opened my goodie drawer, unsheathed Excalibur and went to work. He was immediately very offended, that I would turn to battery operated means to please myself, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. I pointed out that I wouldn’t have to resort to these measures if he’d put some effort into pleasing me. And if he didn’t want to be confronted with buzzing evidence of his not pleasing me, maybe he shouldn’t treat me like a convenient warm storage area for his junk.

      He was pretty offended for a while. But he eventually got over it and put a little more effort in to our time together.

      Everybody has an off night every once in a while, but if this is a pattern, there plenty of lovely partners who are willing to please you and not use you as a masturbatory aid.

      1. That is a hero move right there. Good for you! Sucks that he was offended instead of immediately and profusely apologetic, but it sounds like things did get better, so that’s good.

        1. Man, I would’ve never gone to bed with him again. I don’t require that my climaxes be the direct result of a partner’s intervention, but I’m damned if I’m going to go without at least one because my partners tender l’il fee-fees might be hurt.

          1. It’s always the guys who either won’t bother to learn how to please their women partners who are SO. TERRIBLY. OFFENDED. by toys, too. Guys who actually care are either not offended or are actively interested in learning about the toys you prefer.

          2. Ironic, isn’t it? It’s always the guy who’d happily spend half an hour getting a sore jaw who’ll also use the bullet vibe (or whatever) that gets you off in five. The douchecanoe who complains about the effort involved is the one who gets snippy about mechanical assistance.
            Don’t even get me started on the ones who take a blow to their Manly Pride because my clitoris isn’t in the same region as my cervix and the orgasm party doesn’t start without it. (That has, fortunately, only happened to me once. Either the men I know are unusually well-educated or the culture has finally begun to hammer a stake through the “Real Women climax from penetration alone” myth.)

      2. Wow, some guys are actually turned on by this. Sounds like you drew the short straw. But I’m glad you two worked it out.

    6. Once I’m done, I’m done. That’s why I insist that my activity partner get theirs first before we try for mine, because I’m considerate like that. (OK, that and it’s just plain fun for me!)

      I think it’s perfectly fine to say “Look, you fall asleep when you’re done, so why don’t we work on me first and then get to you.” Even make it a standing rule going forward, and with any future partners until you know that they’re willing to do their share. Libidos don’t have to perfectly match in order for people to take their partner into consideration. He’s not even taking your needs into account, that’s just wrong!

    7. Yeah, I have a spouse who’s like that, but it’s never been an issue because we make sure that I get off first. The real problem here is laziness and selfishness. Mostly selfishness. You should not have to explicitly ask your SO to take at least some interest in your sexual pleasure.

  4. The neurochemicals released in orgasm do tend to make some great number of us sleepy, so while that’s not an excuse for selfishness, knowing that does lead to some possibilities for solutions: Sex in the morning or sex somewhere other than bed like the shower where falling asleep after is almost impossible. Better yet, shake things up by telling him you’d like to come first. You say that sex was great for the most part and that the stop-when-he’s-done thing has only been a problem lately. His not seeming to care is the big alarm to me. I’m not there so I don’t know if it’s that he really doesn’t care or if he cares and doesn’t know what to do. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt if everything else about the relationship is good (is it?) and start with specific things that you’d like him to do (as opposed to the general “get me off” which might be interpreted as scary in that it puts the responsibility on him when he might not know what will work. As for not knowing how to bring up the subject, I’m guessing that the fear is an argument in which he tells you one way or the other that he doesn’t, in fact, care. If you’re solid in your mind that you’re ready to proceed directly to break-up, that fear will dissipate. If you’re not afraid of break-up, then almost anything you say can work.

  5. Oh, LW. I’ve been there. I could have written exactly what you wrote a year ago. I just wanted to say that because I’m afraid you’ll hear everyone telling you to break up and think that we don’t get it. But we do. We totally get it. It’s just that we also know how it ends.
    For the record, I didn’t break up right away – I tried and tried to figure out what was wrong with me, tried to convince ex to change, etcetera. Ultimately, he was selfish about sex, and he was selfish about everything else, and I dumped him, hard. I hope you’ll choose to fast forward the process and break up with this guy, but please know that if you can’t, things will probably be okay anyway.
    That being said, I do wish I had dumped this guy sooner, and I think Future You will, too. Now, I am with someone who is so giving, and not only is the relationship great, the sex is amazing. You deserve amazing sex!! Dump the asshole and go get it. Someone who doesn’t care about your pleasure probably doesn’t care too much about you as a person. Sad, but very true.

    1. This. Right here. Please read this comment and consider its content, LW.

      I can’t relate to the sexual frustration part, because my one and hopefully only long-term relationship helped me to realize that I am, in fact, asexual. But everything about the guy who only seems capable of seeing issues through his own lens? The guy who subtly convinces you that you are the problem when, actually, he is? The guy you stay with for months or, in my case, YEARS too long? Yeah. That kinda sounds like the guy you’re dating now. Trust me, you don’t want to wind up in my shoes, where your three-year Freedomversary is coming up tomorrow, and you’re quietly berating yourself over the fact that it’s not your four-, five-, six-, hell, eight- or nine-year Freedomversary. I don’t have much of a basis for comparison, but I strongly suspect that it’s easier to move past six months of relationship hell than six years of the same.

  6. This doesn’t get better – I say this from experience. I know it sucks but personally, I say cut your losses and find someone who treats you the way you deserve. You sound like a lovely person and a GGG lover, you deserve the same.

    Whatever you decide, please remember that your pleasure and happiness matter at least as much as his. It’s not wrong to prioritize yourself sometimes.

  7. Wow, I’m really taking something different from this than the Captain and a lot of the comments do. To me, this just seems like a failure of communication, primarily on the LW’s part. He’s used to asking for what he wants, and probably expects his partner will do the same (and reciprocates when they do ask, suggesting the problem is NOT that he’s irredeemably selfish or doesn’t care about his partner’s pleasure). But on the other hand, LW, you seem to want him to just know how and when to get you off without you asking.

    Last night, for example, he *asked you* for oral sex and then didn’t reciprocate — well, did you *ask him* to? Sure, he probably should have asked if you wanted reciprocation, but if you guys weren’t already engaging in sexytimes type activities before he asked for oral sex then he may not have realized you also wanted to get off vs. were just happy to help him do so. Similarly, you say that the sex is mostly great but always ends when he does unless you ask him to get you off — other than asking on specific occasions for him to get you off afterwards, have you *told him* that in general you need more/different activity whenever you guys have sex? It sounds like not, in which case he’s probably thinking you’re not asking because you’re happy with what happened (especially because you DO ask sometimes, so the fact that you didn’t ask on a particular occasion suggests you don’t want or need extra help).

    As I said, in an ideal world, he would always be asking if you got off (or want to) and what you want him to do. But it seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here, which is to just sit him down outside of sexytimes and tell him that you want him to ask about/act on reciprocation without waiting for you to request it.

    1. I dunno, I’m super ask-culture-y by default as are most of my partners, but “thank you, that was lovely, is there anything you’d like” (or even “sorry, bedmeds + orgasm have completely totalled me, I’m completely happy to snuggle you while you get yourself off but I’m not in a position to take a more active role in things right now”) is completely standard round these parts. Like, “that was great, how was it for you” is a complete cliche of a question for a reason — I’m not sold on the idea that treating partnered sex as no-effort masturbation is an ask-culture thing.

      1. Asking your partner is of course what everyone should be doing. I just think there is a ton of space between “doesn’t proactively ask if I got off, but if I ask him to get me off he does” and “he’s a selfish asshole who will never care about your pleasure and the only solution is to dump him”, which is where a lot of these responses are going.

        To me, he just reads as a bit oblivious. He asks for things he wants in bed, and sometimes the LW asks as well, so if the LW doesn’t ask he assumes they either don’t need extra help or don’t particularly want to get off right then. That seems totally fixable with better communication: the LW asks him to proactively check in, and is more vocal themself about when and what they want/need. Good sex requires good communication, and right now it just seems like the problem is that they both think things do/should just work without having to discuss any of it.

          1. I agree with Kathleen. This is a very short letter, so we don’t have a lot of context about the relationship. However, the fact that LW cried herself to sleep the last time they had sex she was required to service him speaks volumes.

        1. But we’re not talking about “things he wants” as in, “could you shift a little bit to the left.” The “things he wants” are really basic satisfaction from sex. And assuming your partner doesn’t want to get off “right then” is different from not offering to get your partner off ever. This woman is saying that she doesn’t feel like her partner cares about her pleasure. She feels that way not because he seems not to know what she wants but because he doesn’t seem to care about getting her anything she might want. This isn’t, “Oh, I thought you liked Thai food.” This is, “What’s for dinner?” for months on end.

        2. Okay, I think I’ve a slightly clearer articulation of what’s bothering me about this: what was going on here was boyfriend touching LW entirely for his own pleasure, it sounds like, rather than seeking to touch them in ways that were good for the LW. That’s a kind of objectification I’m cool with if it’s clearly negotiated, but it seriously reads to me that it’s not so much that he’s assuming LW will ask as that he’s… assuming that LW is there for his convenience, and for things that he wants and thinks are hot.

          And I am kind of allergic, these days, to the barest whiff of a suggestion that someone is touching me in ways that are motivated by what they enjoy rather than what I enjoy.

          And mileage may and obviously does vary, but if I’m having partnered sex then… I care how my partner is feeling about it, I care that they’re enjoying themself, and I care that we’re having an actually mutual experience: I have made a promise to myself (after rather too much of it, and after being wryly amused by seeing a band of that name perform) that No More Joyless Fucking will occur in my bed. If I just want to wank then I’ll just wank: lower risk, less messy, etc. Someone who supposedly loves me just not caring about how I feel about an activity (any activity!) they’ve asked me to do with them just… really doesn’t work for me, and that’s the vibe I’m getting from the LW’s description, and that’s why I’m reacting so negatively.

          (“If it’s clearly negotiated” does of course apply again to the caring-how-my-partner-feels-about-it: but “we’re compatibly kinky in ways that go well with this kind of objectification as part of a menu of options” isn’t actually the same thing as just not caring.)

          1. Yes. LW is not their boyfriend’s sexbot or blow up doll, and it seems like even the sexy robot in the webcomic Chester 5000 XYV has a partner(s) who care more about reciprocation. And “I’ll get you off, but only think about it if you do all the emotional labor” is some grade A “I don’t see mess” level bullshit in my book.

            Because LW mentioned crying, and communication in bed is not great:

            I’m also curious, if LW is not up for what boyfriend requests one day, does he sulk or pout? Ask repeatedly until LW agrees? Just checking in not because sometimes in relationships where I’ve had dodgy issues negotiating sexual needs, there were other red flags, too. LW you did not mention it, but if any kind of pressure is occurring (passive aggressive or otherwise), please please leave those are giant red blazing lights.

        3. I think “oblivious” is just a good a reason to dump someone as anything. Just because you don’t know any better doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.

          1. Yes. Because even if they behave well when asked, but can’t figure out this stuff on their own, you’re signing up then for a relationship in which you’re doing all the work of asking, all the time, always.

          2. Agreed. Sex can involve a great deal of emotional labour, but ideally not the kind that goes “Hey, so this thing that we together for fun? Please be a dear and remember that I would like it to be fun for me, too.” over and over again as many times as you have sex with that person for as long as you have sex with that person.

        4. What kind of dude in this day and age is so oblivious that he doesn’t know that partnered sex = both/all partners mutually pleasure one another until both/all partners get off (unless otherwise agreed upon)? Or, if somehow they didn’t, but were a considerate and caring partner, would need to be asked/reminded over and over? I just don’t buy it. In my personal experience (LOTS), + hearing decades worth of depressing stories from my women-who-fuck-men friends*, I’m of the opinion that selfish men-who-fuck-women are a lot more common a thing than oblivious but caring/ggg men-who-fuck women.

          *Strangely enough, I rarely hear these selfish-lover stories from my men-who-fuck-men friends. I wonder why that is? *cough* STRAIGHT MALE ENTITLEMENT AND MISOGYNY *cough*

          1. Yeah, I have a partner who is SO focused on the idea that “partnered sex = both/all partners mutually pleasure one another until both/all partners get off” that sometimes I have to argue forcefully for the idea that I really don’t care about coming tonight, and I don’t want to keep going. We had to have A Talk about it once, even!
            So yeah, I don’t buy the idea that this guy doesn’t think “mutual orgasms” is a thing.

            If it’s gotten this bad this easily and this early, I think it’s a bigger uphill fight than is worth it.

    2. I don’t agree with this at all! It would be one thing if the sex were not-great, but this guy doesn’t reciprocate at all. There’s no parity between them, and he doesn’t care whether she has any fun. It isn’t her responsibility to ask for reciprocation that is as basic as, “One partner receives oral sex; then the other partner receives oral sex.” It’s his responsibility, as an adult and not a fourteen-year-old boy in a Judy Blume novel, to understand that (a) women can have orgasms during sex and (b) women have a vested interest in having orgasms during sex. It’s disrespectful to “not realize” that your girlfriend would like to get off, after you’ve initiated sex.

      Also, she only mentions “crying herself to sleep” once, but I suspect that her feelings of neglect and humiliation are not very well-hidden at all. I think this man is insensitive, so much so that there’s no way he will make a good partner anytime soon. She should leave him, and find someone better.

      1. I am totally on board with the idea that this guy is Not A Good Boyfriend, but I’m slightly uncomfortable with the suggestion from several commentators that *obviously* all women can orgasm and *obviously* all women want to orgasm during sex. Orgasm is not the only way to enjoy sex! It’s certainly not the only reason to *consent* to sex. Having a partner who is totally focussed on making you orgasm can be really off-putting and pressuring and generally not good.

        I think “is my partner consenting” is an important rule for all sexual encounters, “is my partner enjoying themselves” is an extremely good rule to follow for most sexual encounters, and communicating about everyone’s expectations of consent and/or pleasure is a hell yeah. But the idea that good sex = even numbers of orgasms for both parties leaves an awful lot of people out of good sex.

        1. Yes, some women do have a hard time orgasming, and no, not every woman feels that orgasm is important.

          Standard assumptions about what people want, however, exist for a reason. That reason being that they are true for many-to-most people. I say this as a woman who has a low sex drive and has experience with exactly the kind of situation you are describing.
          LW does not in any way indicate that for her, such conditions like “this isn’t important to me”, or “this is difficult for me to achieve” exist. Here in the comments, she clarifies that in fact, she has a high sex-drive and her bf is aware of that.

          Personally, for me, the responsibility for communicating your needs applies when there a reason to believe that they cannot be safely assumed to exist (to analogize: you do not need to communicate a need to eat. You should communicate allergies or dietary restrictions or even a lack of desire to eat before entering into a situation where another person is cooking you dinner).
          Not only is this not the case here (LW’s need is to have her bf make *any* attempt to pleasure her, not to be pleasured in a particular way or to any particular extent), but LW has also clarified that she has already completed the responsibility of making her sexual needs aware to her bf.

          ” It’s certainly not the only reason to *consent* to sex. ”
          I have no idea where this is coming from, or what it’s responding to??

          1. Having a high sex drive also is not the same as wanting to orgasm every time you have sex. You can have a high sex drive and still be someone for who, orgasming isn’t particularly important.

            I’m not disagreeing with the idea that this guy should be making more effort to ensure LW is enjoying sex. I’m just objecting to the general conflation of “good sex” and “everyone has an orgasm”, because that’s pretty exclusionary and normative. It may be a standard assumption, but I think it’s a standard assumption which causes a lot of harm and IMO needs to be challenged.

          2. @Forrest, since there was no button to reply directly

            “You can have a high sex drive and still be someone for who, orgasming isn’t particularly important.”

            Sure. But as I said, personally, i believe that communicating specifics to your situation is your responsibility, and in the absence of that communication, any doubt of part of the partner should be addressed as a question, e.g. “So I notice that X, is orgasm not important for you, or is there something that I’m not doing?”

            You know, like how people communicate when they have a high sex drive, or a particular fetish, etc.

            I’ll be honest, though, I’m not really seeing where you’re coming from on how assuming each person orgasms is part of good sex is harmful. Do you mind elaborating?

          3. @Kathleen — from my perspective, a lot of the time I can’t have orgasms (because of medication or dysphoria or uncooperative bodies or whatever), and a lot of the time my partners can’t have orgasms (because of medication or dysphoria or uncooperative bodies or whatever). It’s important to us that noone ends up feeling guilty/ashamed/inadequate/defective for not orgasming (or not being able to persuade their partner’s body to orgasm), which can very easily happen with Orgasms Or It’s Bad Sex and all of the other hang-ups patriarchy instills, not least because that kind of pressure actually makes it harder (hurr hurr) to relax enough that the thing’s at all likely; we’ve largely reframed sex as about familiarity and intimacy and endorphins and skin contact and things that feel nice — and with that as your metric for “success”, whether a specific physical event (viz orgasm) occurs becomes about as relevant to whether it’s good sex as whether any other physical event (penetration/nipple play/whatever) occurs.

          4. Sorry, changed names accidentally there – changed devices and I was logged on under a different name.

            @Kathleen, I think exactly what you’ve said here is what I’m disagreeing with as a “norm”. Apologies if I’m reading you wrong, but the norm you seem to be maintaining here is that most/all people except to orgasm from/during sex, and that if someone doesn’t want/expect that, it’s on them to communicate it. You’ve also framed your partner response as, “I notice you’re not orgasming – is that OK, or am I not doing a thing?” Again, I think that puts the onus on the non-orgasming person to explain their deviation from the norm in a way that isn’t helpful. And it is possible for people to say that in a totally open way, but it very often comes with a side order of, “Am I doing this wrong [reassure me!] or are you not normal?” Sometimes followed by, “well, let ME be the one to meet this challenge!” [oh god, please don’t.]

            All I’m saying is, I think that norm is too narrow. Lots and lots of people don’t orgasm or expect to orgasm for lots of different reasons, and I think framing that as a deviation from an orgasming norm is unhelpful to, well, everybody, really.

            I also think this is probably turning into a non-productive side-thread, which isn’t relevant to the main topic.

          5. Thanks, it is off-topic, especially since the LW and the boyfriend have 6 months of “whatever was ‘really good sex at the very beginning of the relationship'” to go on. They aren’t strangers who met last week & they know if it’s possible/desirable for either of them to get off.

          6. @kaberett

            Yeah, that’s a fair point. I hadn’t considered it that way


            Yeah, on that front, I agree. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

          7. (to analogize: you do not need to communicate a need to eat. You should communicate allergies or dietary restrictions or even a lack of desire to eat before entering into a situation where another person is cooking you dinner).
            I really like this analogy, because think of the ways we would treat someone who behaved this way around food.
            For example: It’s good policy to ask people’s dietary requirements. It doesn’t make someone a horrible person if they neglect to ask the first time, but you tell them, they should remember. You should not have to repeatedly say, “Actually, I’m a vegetarian.”
            Equally, you might have to request something specific in terms of dishes, but you shouldn’t have to ask for *food* if you’ve been invited over for dinner. If someone says, “Come for dinner,” I’m going to come over hungry and expect that I will both eat, and get enough to eat. If it turns out that they made enough food for themselves but not enough for me to be satisfied, then they’ve pretty obviously failed as a host. If someone said, “Come over for dinner,” and it turned out what they actually meant was “come over and keep me company while I eat” or worse, “cook dinner for me but not for yourself”, we’d agree they’re an asshole. There might, of course, be situations where you would be happy to do those things for someone, but not if that’s not how it was presented.
            If this is a long-running thing, you should at least occasionally ask me what I like and make an effort to prepare things I will enjoy. Doubly so if you’ve come to expect that you can ask/expect me to make things you like, and I do so on the regular. Again, it seems obvious that a person who doesn’t do this doesn’t care too much about your happiness and satisfaction.

          8. I think Mary’s point may have been that because some people sometimes consent to have sex even when they don’t feel like coming, the boyfriend might not have gathered from the LW’s consenting to have sex that she also wants to have an orgasm.

            (I disagree strongly with Mary that this is a plausible thing that could be going on here, by the way. But I did understand what she was trying to propose.)

        2. well, yeah. But this problem could easily be solved by boyfriend asking, “And now what you would like me to do for you?”

          Simple question, not a big deal.

        3. (For the record none of what I have been saying has been intended to be about orgasm except the parts where I explicitly mention them; I absolutely agree that the thing of Now I Will Prove My Masculinity By Making You Orgasm Or So Help Me is toxic bullshit. I am frequently on meds such that orgasm isn’t possible, ditto partners of a variety of genders.)

          1. I actually appreciate this discussion and also would like freedom from society’s The Tyranny of the Orgasm.

        4. I’m really glad that someone mentioned that not everyone wants to have orgasms. However, the LW clearly wants to have them, and is clearly really unhappy about their sex life. This dude has not even checked in about how his partner is doing or how she feels about their sex life. People who care about their partners pay attention to them, and that clearly is not happening here.

        5. The part where I go, “This should be understood to be part of all partnered sexual encounters!!!!” is that you care about your partner’s pleasure, whether that is an orgasm or not.

    3. “he may not have realized you also wanted to get off”

      Uh. I don’t know what world you live in, but in the world as I know it, this is a standard assumption to make among allosexual couples. I’m in a similar situation to LW, except that I have a very low sex drive, so giving but not getting is really not a big deal to me. And you know what? My partner STILL does not assume that any particular time is going to be one of the ones where I want to give but don’t really want to receive. Even though that’s more often than not.

      Assuming your sexual partner who has not told you they have a low sex-drive or are (grey) asexual etc will be okay with not getting off is being an asshole. End of story.

      1. I live in a world where people have different experiences and expectations with sex and unstated “standard assumptions” tend not to be all that standard or helpful.

        For some people, it’s totally standard that if their partner asks for a blow job when they’re lying in bed the giving partner expects reciprocation, or at least the offer of it. For some people, it’s totally standard that the giving partner would ask for reciprocation if they wanted it. Some people don’t get off all that easily, or often, and “standard” sexual activity for them may not involve orgasm but is nonetheless something they enjoy; some people don’t have any trouble getting off but don’t feel the need to every time they have sex if the sex itself doesn’t do it.

        My point was simply that no one seems to be communicating here, and that although the LW’s boyfriend *should be asking* (as I said in my original post), the LW should also be *telling him that he/she isn’t satisfied and wants him to proactively ask*.

        1. And yet, LW’s bf is still being an asshole by assuming that LW is fine with unreciprocated blow-jobs, and your “original point” was to put responsibility for communication on LW’s shoulders: “this just seems like a failure of communication, primarily on the LW’s part.”

          You’re actually saying that in a relationship, the dude has little to no responsibility to check in with his partner.

          Sure, different expectations and all that, whatever, but frankly, in the absence of one partner clearly stating “it’s difficult to get me off”/”this isn’t important to me”/”I can’t get off”… we *have* standard assumptions for a reason, and hey let’s pretend for a moment that standard assumptions weren’t a thing, regardless of how helpful you believe them to be. BF is *still responsible for checking in with how his actions impact on his partner. Because when you are in a relationship, your actions impact on other people.

          LW is making sure her partner is satisfied. BF is failing *hard* and you’re giving lip service to his responsibility while still falling into the sexist trap that women need to never act as though their needs and feelings should be cared for because how on EARTH is a man supposed to know what they want, even though women seem to do this for men all the freaking time.

          1. I would like to poly-marry this comment alongside human, kthx.

            The idea that the LW is at fault here for not communicating more is really giving me an eye-twitch.

          2. at *fault*? No. But in the general case, I do ascribe to, “If something in the relationship isn’t working, use your words and give the other person the opportunity to fix it.”

          3. ❤ ❤ ❤ (if I messed up the html entities those are supposed to be hearts).

            I am so frustrated by this pattern I see freaking everywhere of “woman is unhappy, must be woman’s fault, solution is for woman to change her behaviour” (let me tell you how much I love hearing that women need to stop using the word “just” and magically we’ll be taken seriously at work). Yes, using your words is great, but why do we need to bend over backwards to make excuses for someone who is making his partner so unhappy that she cried herself to sleep?

            LW, it is not your fault that your boyfriend is being incredibly selfish in bed. It is not even slightly your fault, and even if your communication skills weren’t so hot (which I don’t think we can actually tell one way or another from one short letter), it would still be extremely rude and insensitive of your boyfriend to just roll over and fall asleep while you cry yourself to sleep. There is most definitely a problem here, but it is not you, LW. Your behaviour is fine, you do not deserve to be ignored unless you spoonfeed your boyfriend the basics of being a freaking boyfriend.

        2. I think you make some good points, overall, and that asking is a good idea, but then the LW probably has another calculation to make: “My sex partner does the bare minimum in bed and must be specifically asked/coached to do it. Is that fun for me?

          1. The fun factor!! It’s incredibly important. There is a vast chasm between tepid sympathy-touching (after you politely ask to get off) and “I want to make you shiver” (real quote from a rockin’ sex-haver).

            Asking questions and being clear about what you want are all good things, but I feel like that kind of communication should happen regarding the *details* of making sure the LW has fun, not to introduce the idea that the LW should be having any fun in the first place. A genuine hunger for your pleasure is not a quality you can annoy your partner into having.

          2. This is not fun for me. This is hurtful and shitty and I want him to enjoy my pleasure as much as I enjoy his.

        3. See, there’s a line for me – I don’t expect reciprocation on certain acts unless I ask for them, or unless my partner happens to feel like doing it anyway. But no, I don’t necessarily expect oral after I give it.

          But the basic standard of getting off – that’s important for my partner to care about. My current partner is great about that – if it’s not ridiculously obvious, he checks in that I’m enjoying myself and will ask how he can help, or will check in after. I’m the one who will stop him if circumstances are working against me orgasming and I just want to enjoy getting him off. It sounds like the letter writer’s boyfriend isn’t taking that interest and has only concerned himself with his orgasm. That part’s not okay.

        4. LW’s not hoping for the ideal world where “he would always be asking if you got off or want to”, LW’s hoping to be in a world where he *ever* gets LW off or checks if LW wants to. I’m all for communication forever about everything but I think it’s completely fine to treat curiosity and generosity about a partner’s pleasure is a minimum requirement for a partner, and I think it’s perfectly fine to expect those things to exist before you ask for them. They are, like, the minimum barrier to entry to getting into bed with me a second time. We can talk about literally everything else, and there are a million answers to give and preferences to have when your partner seeks information about your pleasure but another name for being oblivious to whether your partner is having a good time when you have sex every time you have it is selfishness and it’s a deal-breaker.

        5. I think it’s the “always” and “never” that’s making people feel like this guy has a pattern of selfish behaviour during sex. Maybe that’s just LW’s automatic negative thoughts talking, maybe it’s a conscious exaggeration… or maybe dude actually never pays attention to whether LW gets off unless they specifically ask him to. Going directly from what’s written, and assuming that LW’s use of “never” and “always” mean there’s a distinct pattern of lack of reciprocation, I think it’s safe to assume he’s at least a bit selfish. Otherwise, one would think he’d have, I dunno, brought up the fact that LW doesn’t get off very often, and maybe asked if LW is okay with that fact.

          1. Actually, it’s the “cry myself to sleep” comment that is the most telling for me. In my experience, if you are doing that because of your partner’s actions at 6 months in, very little will save the relationship.

        6. Or, radical idea–maybe LW would like a boyfriend who, you know, cares enough about her to ask proactively on his own? Who doesn’t have to be reminded to act like he might be interested in what her desires are? Only paying attention to your partner’s needs/desires when specifically prompted to do so is a sign of not caring very much–you pay attention to the things you care about. THAT is the issue here, not orgasms or LW’s communication skills, for pity’s sake.

          If he were trying to get her off but didn’t know how/wasn’t good at it/didn’t know when or how to initiate, THEN LW’s communication skills might be in question. Instead, he USED to get her off–he clearly knows how to do it and that she likes it–but he’s stopped doing it without consulting her on whether that was okay. BIG PROBLEM. And it is not the LW who is the cause of this problem.

        7. I too live in this world: I am heavy into kink stuff and would far rather walk way from a sexual experience with bruises than orgasms.

          That being said, I still have to commute through the other, cultural-assumption world on a daily basis to the point where 1) I am more-or-less aware of what the standard assumptions are and 2) I know that *assuming I can ignore the standard cultural assumptions* is likewise not going to be that helpful. Whether I like it or not, culture has decided certain things are the default and, in 2015, “everyone comes” is currently the default.

          Yes, the best thing to do before a sexual encounter is discuss all our quirks and desires and wants (though even that can be impossible to do exhaustively without relying on some cultural standards). If you’re not going to do that, the second best thing to do is probably go with the default cultural assumptions so everyone’s at least slightly on the same page. Otherwise, if we’re not to make any assumptions, LW’s boyfriend could just do any old thing he liked, couldn’t he? Since LW didn’t specifically request that he not?

          1. Thank you for articulating this neatly.

            I’m kinky too, and I think the primary negotiation we make for a scene is “sex or not” – implicitly or otherwise. For me, outside of my partner, it’s generally not, and context makes that clear.

            For scenes where sex is likely to be part of the proceedings, the norm is still in fact that all parties get off in some way! Now, it may be negotiated that some parties will not be getting off – maybe not specifically negotiated just for that scene, but there sure as hell has been a discussion at some point – but still there is a norm. Variations on that norm are negotiated *sometime*. And frankly, even with an orgasm denial scene, both parties are “getting off”, just in different ways.

        8. I feel very strongly that assuming a woman wants affection and reassurance from sexual contact, rather than orgasms, is not new or inclusive. It’s old.

          If LW’s boyfriend is operating from a position of Not All Sex Is About Orgasm, then I would bet cash money it’s coming from the idea that orgasm is not important to women anyway.

          And that’s lousy.

          1. Mrs Morley, absolutely. I think this diversion of sex =/= orgasms is irrelevant as the LW made it quite clear in her letter that she does want to get off from sex. I know I am not the only one who is getting extremely fed up with people in this comment section grinding their totally unrelated axes and then getting defensive and doubling down when it’s politely pointed out that the question is Not About Them™.

            To the original question, I don’t think LW’s boyfriend is operating from a position where he thinks orgasm isn’t important to women. I don’t think he’s thinking about LW and what their sex life means to her at all.

          2. I agree with you, as I was thinking along similar lines. I’d much rather live in a world where the standard assumption is that woman like, want, and expect orgasms than one where the standard assumption is that they don’t need them, shouldn’t want them, and better not expect them. My family growing up was full of sex-loving women who were born in and lived through the early to mid part of the 20th century when attitudes like that were the norm, and it absolutely terrible for them.

        9. So, let me just be sure that I understand you: you’re saying that the LW should tell their Boyfriend that (s)he wants him to pay attention to him/her? In other words, it sounds like you’re envisioning a situation in which the LW sits Boyfriend down and explicitly says “I’d like it if you could pay attention to me and check in from time to time to make sure that I’m happy with the relationship and satisfied with our sex life.” Have I got that right?

          Because if so, wow. I’m sorry, but if Boyfriend doesn’t realize he should be paying attention to his partner on a basic level, if it doesn’t occur to him to wonder how she’s doing, then he doesn’t care about her. That’s what caring is. If he doesn’t spontaneously have the urge to behave in a caring way to the LW, then he doesn’t care about her, and her asking him to care (or fake it) is not going to make a difference to the central problem of him not caring.

          (Sorry if that got a bit repetitive but I just really really need to maximize clarity with you right now)

          I’m sure that your situation is a really hard one to be in. Sex is so loaded and I agree with you that it’s stupid that we have these ridiculous ideas floating around about how good sex can’t happen unless everybody involved comes. If you’re a person for whom those toxic “standard assumptions” don’t hold, it’s probably really frustrating and awful to run into them all the time. I can see how you would feel strongly about this topic and how, when you see people making the same assumptions that have hurt you, you’d feel the urge to call them out on it. But could you please look for a way to not do that at the cost of making the LW question their own situation, which is quite different from yours, which you know because the LW told us that in their letter, which is the reason for this post.

          1. You just made me realise something! Elsewhere in the thread I advocated a technique I’ve had success with where I discuss sexytimes with a partner in a sexy way and then they “get” what I want them to do.

            You’d probably have said (quite rightly) that I, LW, or anyone else shouldn’t really have to initiate that discussion. But in my case, I think there may be a particular reason for it.

            I’m autistic. I really, really want to make people happy or at least help them not be sad, but I don’t always know how to tell if they’re not happy. And before I learned to use my words and ask, I had no idea how to help people in that way. I am still not good at it. I could deeply care about someone, yet it DOESN’T always occur to me to ask, because my brain doesn’t work in that way. I do have the urge to behave in a caring way, but I don’t always do it spontaneously because I don’t necessarily know what it looks like.

            Does that make me an awful partner? Apparently not; my husband says he’s happy with me! Do I think we should therefore give LW’s boyfriend the benefit of the doubt in case he is autistic too? Absolutely not! I don’t think this is what’s going on with him at all, because LW would surely have noticed and mentioned similar behaviours outside of the bedroom. So, apologies if this seems like a derail. I just felt it deserved a mention as food for thought.

      2. LW here. Yes, thank you, kaberett and Kathleen. You articulated what I’m feeling much better than I was trying to. He knows I have a high sex drive, and we had started doing things that get me turned on, like kissing and him touching my breasts. I think it was just the absolutely no acknowledgement of my feelings at all that really got to me. I would’ve been so much happier with something along the lines of “sorry, bedmeds + orgasm have completely totalled me, I’m completely happy to snuggle you while you get yourself off but I’m not in a position to take a more active role in things right now” as kaberett said than the rolling-over-and-going-to-sleep-and-not-even-noticing/caring-I-was-crying that actually happened.

        1. Given that information, I’d be a lot more inclined to label him a selfish asshole. Your letter saying the sex was “great for the most part” + him reciprocating when asked gave me a different impression than what it appears is actually happening.

        2. Ooof, I am sorry. That… really does sound to me like he’s touching you in ways he’s into without actually caring about their effect/impact on you, or your experience of them, and to be honest these days that’s an automatic “nope never letting you touch me again” from me. Which means I’m super biased about what course of action I think I’d be taking in your position, naturally, but… if you want some validation, here’s some validation.

          Because yeah, I’d be feeling incredibly shitty about a partner not noticing I was crying. (I am still trying to wrap my head around the part where one of my current partners notices that I like something – blueberry yoghurt is my go-to example here – and then just… quietly makes sure his house contains blueberry yoghurt when I’m visiting, without expecting thanks or praise or even me remarking on it at all. He appears to think this is a totally normal level of consideration to show. I still don’t quite know what to do with it, but I’m finding it kind of fascinating in terms of reevaluating what “baseline acceptable” looks like.)

          1. That blueberry yoghurt thing sounds like normal consideration for a close friend, let alone a partner, given that it’s not particularly weird or expensive. Special tea and cereal and jam in stock for certain friends is normal for me.

          2. Yup, this was exactly a thing that made me cry once too, and was one factor in my eventually leaving that relationship. There is a Thing that I enjoy having a partner do to me, and which dramatically enhances my orgasm. Guy knew this. Guy consistently ignored this. He just didn’t like doing it as part of the getting-me-off process. But he did like doing it afterward, during intercourse, because *he* liked the way it looked visually. I wouldn’t have minded both, but not how it was. You’ve really nailed why that bothered me. It’s like he didn’t recognize that I felt sensations when he did that.

        3. Chiming in to say that being in bed with someone who is crying themselves to sleep and not noticing/caring would be for me Ultimate Reason to Break Up Number 1. This is Not Good!

          1. (Another thing I have just articulated, bouncing off this comment! There is a thing where one of my partners sleeps solidly enough that he doesn’t actually notice if I just… get out of bed and have an insomnia somewhere that isn’t next to him, and that’s fine. And then another of my partners? Will wake up if I’m having a nightmare, even if it’s a quiet nightmare, and will very gently wake me up enough to sort my head out and get me settled again. Obviously both of these are fine, but… honestly I think even solidly-sleeping partner would notice me crying myself to sleep.)

          2. Once upon a time, partner was asleep next to me (no sex that night, just usual bedtime). I was upset and unhappy about things unrelated to him, and hadn’t said anything before he went to sleep. I started crying. Partner, still mostly asleep, rolled over to cuddle, discovered I was crying, and woke up faster than he ever had in his life to ask what on earth was wrong, had he caused it, and could he fix it. He hadn’t caused it and couldn’t fix it, but the asking and the cuddles and the *immediate* and undivided attention he gave me, from fast asleep ten seconds before, are what I expect from a partner.
            LW, you, too, can and should expect this (with adjustments for your specific situation at the time).

        4. This appears to imply you were crying before he went to sleep. Like not that he went to sleep and then you cried, but you cried and while you were crying he just rolled over in obliviousness/indifference and went to sleep.

          If that implication is correct, my gut and intellectual response is “ditch him”. Like don’t even put yourself through trying to get through. Just, yeah. That is bullshit, you don’t deserve it, it’s not okay, and you deserve better, and he can figure out training to be a baseline attentive human being somewhere else – if nothing else, you have already been quite badly hurt by his behaviour, so you really aren’t reasonably required to spend MORE emotional energy on this guy.

          (And I am normally “use words all time always talk about things always give people benefit of doubt”, but that’s just . . . I mean I guess if EVERY OTHER THING about this guy is your dream-prince-whatever, toss in an effort. If not . . . don’t throw good emotional-effort after bad, is my feeling.)

          1. Everyone’s affirming that LW’s lover is, indeed, an asshole in bed, and, well, yes, he kind of is, but… LW doesn’t need a reason to walk away from a relationship that makes her feel miserable and unappreciated. If having him in her life is not a net plus, then I don’t care if it’s his habit of cuddling baby capybaras that makes her feel so alone. Life is too short to be partnered to misery.

        5. Everyone’s different, but nevertheless the fact that you needed to persuade your relatively new first-flush-of-lust boyfriend to kiss you and touch your breasts, of all basic, straightforward, traditionally mutually enjoyable activities, is giving me pause.

          1. Oh, that must not’ve been clear from what I wrote above. I didn’t have to persuade him–he’s the one who started things off by doing that on the night in question. Which he knows full well gets me all kinds of turned on. And that’s why I guess I feel so used.

          2. Yeah, that to me sounds like Dude is doing just as much as is necessary to get what *he wants* out of the experience (you turned-on, and presumably wet) without really considering what *you want*. There’s a big difference between Doing Sexy Thing Because I Know LW Likes It & Doing Sexy Thing Because It Will Make The Sex Better For Me. In the best sexytimes relationships both boxes are ticked at the same time!

        6. I’ve been in the place where I lay in bed crying next to the person who made me cry while he sleeps, oblivious. It is awful, and damaging, and I don’t think there’s really any coming back from that unless honest communication happens and he shows a LOT of concern and then some drastic behavior changes. Like, on his own. Not looking skeptical or put upon or shaking his head while you describe what you need and he tries to poke holes in it or insinuate oh-so-gently that maybe this is kinda your fault, a little.

          I generally agree with the Captain’s scripts wholeheartedly. But in this case, I think it may be too casual for your situation. I mean… you were CRYING in bed next to him while he slept, and I don’t think that should be your burden alone to carry. I think he needs to know that, because it’s awful.

          My partner and I are still working out sex stuff. There’s a lot to work out – I started our relationship by faking my orgasms and now I need to figure out how to stop. But because my partner is a REALLY good partner, I was able, finally, to tell him this, and he reacted by thanking me for telling him. Not a hint of judgment. He’s also backed off from me-assisted orgasms because he feels strange about it now. He feels strange because he cares for me and he’s concerned that our sex life is not what he thought it was and it’s weirding him out. The sex we have now is… stuff that many people wouldn’t even consider sex, but it’s sex for us and that’s ok. We’re building toward something where we can both experience pleasure and he’d way rather have that than having me feel pressured into faking my own pleasure to please him.

          I’m bringing this up because… you CAN have that. It exists. And you don’t deserve ANY less than that. And I think there’s a reason that it got to the point of you crying in bed next to him, trying not to wake him (but maybe hoping he would wake up and comfort you? that’s how I kinda felt when it was me, anyway), instead of bringing this up with him much earlier. I think that, for whatever reason, you don’t feel safe discussing this with him. Deliberately or not, he’s created – or you’ve both created together – an environment where you’re more comfortable hiding the pain which he caused you than sharing it with him. For whatever reason, you do not trust him to take care of you and your feelings. And that is a big, big problem.

          I think going to this site is a really positive step – you’re not sharing it with him, but you’re sharing it with SOMEONE. I hope you’ll read the responses from people here that can be your Team You and that it bolsters you. Please don’t cry in bed next to him, or anyone else, ever again. Nobody deserves that.

          1. “The sex we have now is… stuff that many people wouldn’t even consider sex, but it’s sex for us and that’s ok. We’re building toward something where we can both experience pleasure and he’d way rather have that than having me feel pressured into faking my own pleasure to please him.” rang SO true to my experiences and i just wanted to thank you for writing it. I want to marry this comment.

            Partner and I have been working through his/my/our/mostly my sex stuff for a really long time. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it sucks, it gets better and worse depending on stress levels/my body/anxiety, etc. but the reason we’re still together is we both do our best to listen, care about each other and do things that make us both enjoy ourselves. He’s pretty straightforward in that regard but for me we never really know what will “work” that day. To me, the orgasm a red herring in this situation. It’s about giving a shit whether someone you care about is happy, sexually or otherwise, and if not, doing what you can to help.

    4. I am not convinced that this is all there is to it, but it is worth having the conversation about “hey, this isn’t quite working for me.”

      Option A: As Esti suggests, he assumes that you’re happy and that you’d ask if you wanted anything different, and is horrified that you’re disappointed and wants to know what he can do to make it better. You discuss it, both make some changes to your communication styles, and sex goes marvellously ever after. You live happily ever after.
      Option B: He assumes you’re happy and that you’d ask etc, and when you tell him you’re not, he tells you it’s your problem and that you need to be more clear about what you want.
      Option B1: That works for you. You adapt to his style and live happily every after.
      Option B2: That doesn’t work for you. You reclaim your toothbrush from his apartment wish him well on his journey through life.
      Option C: He absolutely doesn’t care about your satisfaction, or is horrified at the very idea that you might also have sexual needs and desires of your own. Default to Option B2 but with extreme prejudice.

    5. Eeeeyeah no, I’m with kaberett and Kathleen here: I am actually usually for “ask/communicate” to the point of assuming the person I’m dealing with was raised on Mars, but frankly, you would just about have to be raised on Mars to behave the way he is, given the circumstances LW describes.

      Sure, LW can ask. But frankly all signs point to, this guy is an asshole, and the response to asking is probably not going to be a fix: it’s much more likely to be guilting, excuses, gaslighting and other bullshit. I would ask first, because of above-mentioned tendency, but I’d ask with the full awareness that actually, he’s probably not raised on Mars: he’s probably just an entitled jerk, and that’s not, in fact, an “easy fix”.

    6. I agree. Open up a conversation in some non-charged location — that is, not in the middle of the night, during sexytimes, etc. — express your needs, and see what his response is. If things don’t change, *then* dump his ass.

      1. See, this kind of thing really gets to me. Because it’s always women who have to specifically communicate their desires, because you can’t possible expect men to have that much consideration for their partners (to do nice things for their partner, to ask what their partner enjoys) in the first place, right?
        It’s always women who have to do the heavy lifting and give the guy the opportunity to change. Why?
        Why is his “chance to grow” her responsibility to provide? Why can’t he adult up and give himself the chance to grow? Why can’t he be responsible for asking himself “How can I be a better partner/person?”

        Why do dudes always get a pass?

        1. I wrote this before LW seemed to indicate that they were female. It doesn’t matter to me what the gender of the partners is.

          If LW is looking for permission to dump his ass, they don’t need my permission. Dump away. But they do say the sex has been great for the most part, and nothing else about the relationship. If you want to give the partner the chance to fix it, express your needs and see what response you get and then decide.

          1. “I wrote this before LW seemed to indicate that they were female.”
            You realize posts are time-stamped, right? Didn’t read the pre-existing posts =/= the posts didn’t exist.

            “If you want to give the partner the chance to fix it”
            That is very much not what you’ve been communicating, but whatever. Glad we’re on the same page now

          2. The point is, I feel the same way, regardless of the gender of the people involved. As a friend of mine used to say, “‘Should’ is a four-letter word. If there’s something you want, speak up.”

          3. I think posts are time-stamped when they’re posted. It’s possible to read existing posts, take a long time composing something, and have additional posts appear that weren’t there when you read everything there was to read and started responding.

          4. For me it does kinda matter a little bit about the gender of the partners, because there is a privilege gradient at play and because women are socialised not to ask for sex or express sexual needs (and indeed are often shamed for doing so) and so I feel like ‘communicate about sex’ isn’t really an instruction being issued on a level playing field. Which makes it doubly heinous that the male partner isn’t checking in with the LW here.

        2. Plus I have little sense of why this dude is worth being in a relationship with, period. All we know about him from the LW is that he’s selfish in bed and has to be specifically reminded to do things that she enjoys, and ignores her when she’s unhappy. There’s nothing about anything else that makes it worth her while to keep him around.

          Doesn’t sound like it’s worth her effort to cajole him into being a better bed partner, is what I’m saying.

          1. That’s the vibe I’m getting from LW’s responses in the comments. On the other hand, when there was just the letter to go on, all they said was that sex had been great and was now miserable, but since they’d gone to the bother of writing to an advice column to ask for advice on how to address this, it seems like a pretty reasonable assumption that they were after to strategies to improve things rather than permission to break up.

        3. “It’s always women who have to do the heavy lifting and give the guy the opportunity to change. Why?
          Why is his “chance to grow” her responsibility to provide?”

          Wow, that statement is just clanging around in my head. That is an amazing description of so many different kinds of emotional labor.

    7. I think “he never seems to care” isn’t a failure of communication.

      If–IF!–he deeply cares about whether LW gets off and it just hasn’t occurred to him to pull his [useful extremity] out of wherever it’s planted and actually DO anything which indicates he cares, then communication can fix it.

      It’s possible. I’m kind of not holding my breath for that being the case, but it’s possible.

    8. Whut.

      > he may not have realized you also wanted to get off vs. were just happy to help him do so.

      A person who needs to be told this (in the absence of a history of you telling him the opposite) is a person who’s maybe too oblivious to be ready for sex.

    9. The LW says in the letter that if they ask their partner specifically, they get to get off. So the boyfriend knows perfectly well that LW enjoys orgasms and can have them through partnered activities. It doesn’t sound like this will turn into a ‘just leave it I’m chafing like crazy’ ‘no I have to get you off for my Manly Pride!’ situation. The boyfriend has brought LW to orgasm before. And yet LW has to ask, each time? Even when boyfriend goes to sleep after coming? What are they supposed to do, say before starting the oral ‘hey don’t go to sleep after this is done I’d like mine too’? That would be kind of weird, I think. I bet you the boyfriend doesn’t have to ask for his orgasm every time, and if the LW had stopped oral halfway through and gone and done something else, that wouldn’t have made him very happy. I bet when the sex started he didn’t have to say ‘I’d like to have an orgasm and you not stop in the middle’ for that not to happen.

      1. *I bet you the boyfriend doesn’t have to ask for his orgasm every time, and if the LW had stopped oral halfway through and gone and done something else, that wouldn’t have made him very happy. I bet when the sex started he didn’t have to say ‘I’d like to have an orgasm and you not stop in the middle’ for that not to happen.*


        I would maybe give the guy ONE Talk, but if that doesn’t turn things completely around, then I would definitely end it. Don’t turn a few months of this misery into years.

      2. “I bet you the boyfriend doesn’t have to ask for his orgasm every time, and if the LW had stopped oral halfway through and gone and done something else, that wouldn’t have made him very happy. I bet when the sex started he didn’t have to say ‘I’d like to have an orgasm and you not stop in the middle’ for that not to happen.”

        Mossyone, I think this is the best summary of the problem, right here. Thank you.

    10. Please explain why you think the LW should take on the emotional labor of explaining basic relationship behavior to an adult partner, in addition to being in a relationship where they are not happy with how they are being treated during intimate moments.

    11. It’s all fine and well to be used to living by the rule of “ask for something if you want it,” and it’s all fine and well to not notice it right away if you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t always tend to do that. But that is not what is going on here. This is someone who regularly has sex with his partner in which she does not have an orgasm, and he hasn’t even asked her how she feels about that. The LW is so unhappy that she’s writing to some stranger on the internet for advice about her sex life. Someone who cared about their partner’s pleasure would not be capable of being oblivious to a problem that serious, because people who care about their partners pay attention to them.

    12. A good sex partner ASSUMES that both parties enter the sexual arena with the goal of getting off. If someone honestly has to be TOLD that their partner would like to have an orgasm during the course of sexual activity, they’re probably pretty selfish and awful in bed.

      1. With the proviso that if the “partner left without orgasm” becomes uncomfortable and the big O just isn’t going to happen, the other party needs to back off. No one should be pressured to perform to the point of discomfort

  8. Ooh. One tactic that’s got me results is to turn it into a sexy game. I say to him, “I’m thinking about you and feeling kinda horny. Do you wanna hear what I’d like to do with you?” Then tell him exactly what would get me off. And then ask him what HE would like. He loves the sexy-fantasy aspect and can’t wait to do it for real. And if it works and he does do it, I make aaaaaaall sorts of enthusiastic noises etc to show how much I love it and then afterwards tell him how fantastic it was. Nine times out of ten, he catches on and thereafter starts initiating things he now knows I like.

    The other 1/10 was…special. He was particularly selfish in bed. Wouldn’t do anything that didn’t get HIM off, hated the idea of performing oral so just wouldn’t try it, didn’t like to try anything “new” (that is, brief missionary then a BJ). His immediate reaction to me telling him what I would like in bed was to dump me. After 10 months of an otherwise amazingly awesome relationship, this broke my heart. Until I realised, some time later, that if the idea of pleasing ME (or not telling me what the problem was) scared him so much, then he would not be great for me in the long run. It was only then that I noticed, in hindsight, all the other little acts of selfishness that were there all along.

    1. I’m glad this works for you, but I don’t think it’s LW’s responsibility to coach/train this guy into a decent lover. Even if he weren’t neglecting her* needs, being incompatible in bed is a solid reason to break up.

      * LW, apologies if these are not your pronouns. I just noticed this gendered pattern in your letter, the one where women are expected to take care of men’s needs as well as their own, and to do so with dazzling smiles on their faces all the while. Best of luck! You certainly deserve better.

      1. Well, it’s a solid approach to working out if your partner is selfish or just clueless/unnerved/shy about asking. Then you can decide what’s next. So is sitting them down – clothed and in a room with no bed, ideally – and speaking up in simple words. Or various appraches between those two points on the continuum.

        It’s up to LW to decide HOW they want to have the conversation, as well as whether.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong to want sexual compatibility as a starting condition; you’re not.

        I will say that a high chance of getting reliably satisfying sex without making any special communications effort is something that only people with either comparatively conventional or extremely broad sexual preferences tend to experience. Most of us have to do some amount of work to keep the sex good past the NRE period of heightened hormones due to novelty.

        And, most of us have to train/coach our lovers into being good lovers *for us*. Some of my worst lovers have been people with piles of technique and energy who wouldn’t fucking *listen* to me explain what I actually wanted them to do with it.

        Where I do absolutely agree with you is this: LW should not do much more work in bed until BF does a LOT more work. It’s on them, once told that LW is unsatisfied, to take that seriously and express a desire – not just a willingness but a desire – to learn what LW likes and help make it happen.

        If he’s not willing to do that, it’s time to move on.

        1. This.

          But also, LW, ask yourself another question. This may help illuminate things: how does BF respond when you tell him “no” to something you don’t like in bed and / or how does he respond when you say “hey that position / technique isn’t really comfortable”? Does he respond positively and change things up? Or does he just keep going on his merry way?

          As Marna Nightingale pointed out, you do have to train your lovers (and they train us, but that’s what makes incredible sex). The WORST lovers are the ones who don’t listen. So if BF is not listening when you say no, he’s never going to listen about what makes you say YES.

          1. Honestly, I can’t remember too many occasions where I wanted to say “no” to him. The few times it has happened he was respectful of my “no” and willing to switch things up.

        2. I agree that communication is vital for good sex 🙂 I’m just worried the responsibility of putting that communication in place would fall on LW’s shoulders on account on her being a woman. I also think that someone who doesn’t care if you’re crying yourself to sleep doesn’t deserve the gift of your words, but that’s only my take on this: the LW will know best what’s best for her.
          Sorry, I should have worded my first message better.

      2. No, I agree it isn’t LW’s responsibility, but thought they might like to try something that’s worked for me 🙂

        Some of my partners have just been a bit clueless/inexperienced and it never occurred to them that I might like different things from them or that what worked for them wasn’t necessarily *enough* for me on its own. They weren’t exactly selfish, just didn’t…realise. Once they found out what I really liked, most of them went all out to make it work for us both.

        I’m not saying LW should coach or train the boyfriend, but it might be worth having that conversation ONCE and seeing if he does anything about it. If nothing changes, well, he’s probably not worth investing any more energy in.

        1. To me, your method seems golden when dealing with cluelessness 🙂 Also, as you and Marna Nithingale said, to see whether it’s cluelessness or carelesness that’s the problem. It all depends on whether the conversational effort’s worth it to the LW, I think. In my opinion, her boyfriend should match her efforts and not let her do all the emotional labour.

  9. LW, why waste your time when you know your partner is selfish? I worry when I hear people say, “Well we’ve been together for [very short period of time] and they’re already doing [thing I loathe] but I don’t know if I want to dump them…” You’re setting yourself up to end up in a sunk cost fallacy. Why not just trade him in for a more reciprocal model?

  10. The fact that the sex WAS great and now it’s trending downward suggests something to me. Maybe it was great before because the new relationship butterflies made everything fun and exciting; maybe he was putting in his best effort in the beginning and now that he thinks he’s “got you” he’s showing a lack of thoughtfulness and consideration that’s more in line with who he really is. Regardless of the reasons, he’s not considering your pleasure or happiness, and that’s inexcusable.

    It’s absolutely something to talk to him about, if you feel that you can. If not, maybe that’s an indication that he’s not the right guy for you.

    1. That’s what I was wondering too- things started out good because he knew he had to do it in the beginning, and now he’s showing you who he really is as a partner?

  11. I do think that the captain gave good options. I also think that this sounds like a good time to practice using your words with regards to sexytimes. And telling someone else that you need to matter. Which are important relationship skills, even if in this case you are just doing it to practice and don’t have much idea of changing the relationship. An explicit “this isn’t okay” will get a good but gotten complacent guy to change, but will not do much about a jerk that doesn’t care. I agree that the rest of the relationship will tell you what he is.

    I will also say-you don’t need a better reason to dump him if needed. You are allowed already.

  12. Have you noticed a pattern of selfishness with him? Do you always end up going out to eat at his favorite restaurants? Watching the movies he picked out? Dump him.

    Check in with your best friend–have they noticed that things always seem to go his way when you talk about him with your friend? Dump him.

    Does he strive to spend time with you and has a pattern of being considerate of you and your feelings? Talk to him and tell him that he needs to be getting you off as well. If he gets defensive or agrees and then continues down the same path, dump him.

  13. Hoo boy. BT,DT. TMI ahead.

    I came (heh) with baggage – not just your everyone-has-issues level, but 10 years of dating phobia that meant it took getting together with a friend of 7 years for me to *not* literally run away. The slow build was great; I never felt rushed or pressures, and it was all mutual give and receive.

    Then Actual Sex started happening, and at first it was ok, nothing special, but ok. *Then* I realised that he came about 90% of the time (in our 40s, both more used to DIY than getting off in company, so <100% was no biggie) and I came… about 10%. And I didn't just "not come". I spent the whole dry 5 minutes from lying down to going to the bathroom to clean up wondering what to put on the shopping list for the next Tesco's run.

    Now, I have pretty major MH issues that both fed into not speaking up & subsequently into a firm conviction that I don't deserve (and will never get) anything better, and hey! He wasn't actually abusive! Go me for getting a good boyfriend! I stuck with it for about 18 months in total because of both those issues, and also because I kept telling myself "If he enjoyed going down on me, he would. If he doesn't, he shouldn't have to." Which is *just* rational enough to stick.

    I eventually split up with him (about a year ago) & am now lonely but at least not feeling like a self-cleaning fleshlight. (I'd say self-lubricating, but I never really got the chance.)

    Um. What I'm saying is, You probably know whether this is a "better communication will sort this out" or a "can I put up with this for however long the relationship lasts" thing. Either way, Do Not let it start getting to you, or thinking it's your fault somehow. Really.

    1. I mean, in my case, the…plumbing issues and the fact that trying to remember high school algebra equations was > than sex actually sorta WAS my fault, in the sense that I realized a while after the implosion that I was ace, but I was perfectly happy to blame the dude for my lack of interest. :p

      1. Mmm, algebra 😉

        Food shopping & cooking, for me, are somewhere below cleaning the toilet on the list of household chores. That was the point when I realised that things were seriously not right.

        1. I’m right there with you! Martha Stewart I ain’t.

          I went with high school math only because I still cared about the guy enough that I wanted to feign looking somewhat mentally engaged, and trying to remember how to expand out a quadratic equation was surprisingly effective. After I stopped giving a crap about him, I also stopped giving a crap about feigning interest in sex, so alas, I had to compose the shopping list on my own time.

  14. If you have a talk and it doesn’t get better, break up. I’ve been there and life is too short.

    Communication is important. I’m very lucky to have a GGG partner :). My rules for sexy times with me (created especially since I have a hard time with orgasm) are that I have to have 3 before my male partner can have theirs. This is especially helpful since women can have multiples. The first is a warm up, the second is a good one, and the third one makes your toes curl and the back of your head explode.

    So, even if I can’t reach the 3rd (or 1st or 2nd), I can let him know that it’s “not going to happen” or “what needs to change”. If it doesn’t happen, I still know he really cares about my pleasure.

  15. Dear LW: is it only lately that it bothers you or only lately that he does it?

    If it’s a change in behavior, then it might be worth asking what gives. My boyfriend – otherwise very… giving – gets selfish in bed when he gets drunk. I figured that out after 2 bad experiences, & he’s now aware that drinking too much leads to 1) being an asshole and 2) me going home until he’s sober because I’m not dealing with that. So far, so good.

    If it’s been the whole time, it sounds like he just doesn’t care and leaving is your best option to find what you need.

  16. Joining the chorus of people telling you to run. LW, a selfish sex-rut at 6 months is not an accident – it is his default. He was most likely exerting himself a bit more initially, and this is the direction that things are going from here on out. You’re going to have other awesomer relationships where equitable sex is not something you have to strategize for.

    So often with M/F relationships women are sitting there wondering what they have to do to make things better, or good again, when the truth is that if it’s taking that much work to stay in it, we should just leave. I wish my past self had just left so many times, rather than putting in “work” that simply revealed a deep selfishness or incompatibility with my partner.

  17. [CW: sexual violence]

    Oh, dear LW, I am sending you so much warmth and so many hugs.

    Yes, ask, communicate, what everyone else says. But be prepared for asking and communicating to show you this person’s true colors, for good and for bad.

    I profoundly hope your experience is not my experience, but I dated one of these folks. In fact, this person was the first person I slept with after I was raped. When I asked them, nicely, “Hey, what about me?” they called me selfish. Then they broke up with me.

    Which: yes, great, I dodged a bullet. But also … that encounter messed me up way more than the rape itself did.

    1. I am so so sorry that happened to you. You are a wonderful, kind person and you deserve so much better. Returning hugs if you want them.

      I think maybe these folks exist on a continuum, and I happened to find one who was on the fewer-bees end than your ex (SO MANY BEES). Makes it harder to dodge these bullets, or even realize that they ARE bullets, until your feelings are validated by some outside source.

      1. Thanks. We can share all the hugs!

        I’m totally in agreement about the continuum o’ bees.

        It’s super-legit to try to communicate and see what happens. There are people who are just oblivious, and if you have the spoons, it’s not a bad thing to try to find out if that’s what you’re dealing with. But that’s the tricky thing about low-bees folks — it’s so hard to know what’s a reasonable compromise to make and what’s bullets and bees.

        Anyway: if it turns out them bees are bees, whether more bees or fewer, that’s no reflection on YOU. Perhaps it means you’re trusting, but that’s hardly a bad thing.

    2. Aggghhh, I am sending such huge Jedi hugs to you if you want them!

      *TW sexual violence*

      I slept with a guy twice, six months after I was sexually assaulted by my ex. Those two encounters were so very loaded, and an important part of my recovery in terms of me feeling like my sexuality was mine to enjoy again, rather than sex being twisted and warped and sad and weird and making me feel lesser. A year on from the assault I’m only now starting to look at sex as something I’d maybe like to do on the regular/with different people again — but at the six month mark I really needed to prove to myself that it was a thing I COULD do.

      If it had gone awry or if the guy had been cruel, callous or obliviously hurtful, then I can imagine being even more scared of sex and guys and traumatised and turned off, which is exactly what you don’t need when you’re grieving and recovering from a rape. Ugh. I’m so sorry you had such a bad encounter.

  18. Hi LW! Like L. says–the people who are saying “just save yourself the trouble and break up now”, it’s not that we don’t get it, it’s that we DO get it, and that’s why we’re saying it.

    My experience with this as an issue has ranged from “pervasive and toxic selfishness in the context of a long-term relationship” to “dude who only texts when he’s horny”, and on every occasion it ultimately ended poorly. The only thing that varied was how long it took me to get tired of it, which was mostly about how far into the relationship the behaviour was “let out of the bag”, so to speak. It’s actually kind of nice when it only takes them a few months to show their true colours.

    But yes, if you want to try telling him it’s a problem and seeing if it gets better, go for it. Pick a time when you’re not in bed, be CLEAR–like, say “This is a PROBLEM, I have needs too and you are making me address your needs but not addressing mine,” and listen for a willingness to change that is then supported by actions.

  19. I’ve got a couple questions here, the first being how old your partner is. A guy in his teens or early/mid twenties might need some coaching depending on how many partners he’s had or how long he’s actually spent having partners. If he’s in his thirties or older that’s quite another matter – I’d just ditch him, pending the outcome of my second question.

    The second question has to do with his personal circumstances. I’m currently on my ninth straight day of work, so I’d probably be a very poor lover right now, and all the communication in the world wouldn’t fix it, though a couple days of rest would make a big difference in my performance. So consider whether he’s studying for finals or doing extra hours at work, or having insomnia or something. Generally, my advice would be to look at his age, his experience, and his current level of energy, then figure out what to do.

    Unless he’s very young or very inexperienced I wouldn’t give him much actual “coaching.” Instead, explain the problem in very general terms and see what questions he asks and how he handles the conversation – that will tell you everything you need to know about whether to keep him. Also, keep in mind that he may need to process the conversation for a couple days, particularly if he’s less experienced – the first conversation about a non-satisfied lover may be quite a shock.

    But if you talk to him and he doesn’t come around ASAP, then ditch him!

    1. He’s in his early 30’s (I’m 2 years younger), and is, from previous vague impressions–never asked outright, not my business–, that he’s had a pretty large number of sexual partners over the years.
      And as to your second question, he wasn’t under any unusual stress or circumstances. His actions that night have really brought a pattern to light, but it’s very hard for me to Use My Words and address it.
      It really hit home what some of the commenters said above, which is that he should care about my needs, that he should want to make sure I was happy too. It makes me feel really shitty to have to ask for such a basic consideration. I’m going to try and sit him down and talk about this, using the script the Captain suggested, but yeah. My instincts are kind of saying “run!” at this point.

      1. Good luck, Letter Writer! You’ve already established a little bit of bravery by writing in and wading through the comments. It can take a lot to confront someone you’ve come to care about, whether it’s to ask for improvement or run, but I think you have it in you. You deserve to be happy and someone who wants to make you happy, and I hope whichever track you take, that’s what you end up with.

      2. From what you’ve written, it sounds to me that he doesn’t put effort into getting you off.

        There are lots of people who will get off because that gets them off.

        There are lots of people whose idea of fun will be you begging them to stop because you have come so much it hurts.

        So yeah, dump him.

      3. My apologies if this reply shows up multiple times. The circuit I’m using right now isn’t very good.

        I’ll add one thing to the Captain’s script from my own personal (and male) experiences, when 2-3 decades back I completely missed what my partner meant when she used the words* “pleasant” and “other-than-pleasant” to mean that she did or did not successfully – I’m at work now so I’m avoiding the use of certain words – but I could have fixed the problem if I wasn’t a little mystified about what she meant, and I would have done so very enthusiastically.

        So when you talk to the BF, don’t use polite circumlocutions or obscure phrasing. While you obviously want to be start out pleasantly and gently while discussing the problem, don’t use words which might be misunderstood and don’t talk around the problem. Use the bluntest words you can to describe what is happening or not happening with your body. (Maybe someone who isn’t at work can contribute the right words.)

        * She didn’t actually say “pleasant” or “other-than-pleasant.” She had trouble talking about s-e-x and I’m trying to translate the flavor without having to go into obscure relationship issues from long ago.

        1. I think that would be more applicable if he was trying to please her but doing it wrong, or if there was something specific she wanted but couldn’t bring herself to ask for. Those are common scenarios, but this isn’t a case of finding the right way to say “it feels good when you…” it’s “You do know, right, that I also like feeling good?”

        2. Now I’m not at work…

          Don’t say “…unsatisfied with our sex life.”
          Do say, “…consistently not having orgasms.”

          Don’t say, “…need you to reciprocate.”
          Do day, “…give me an orgasm before I give you an orgasm, because I won’t fall asleep afterwards.”

          Etc. You want to make sure that you’re not obtuse and that he has no chance of being confused about what you want. I probably shouldn’t harp on this particular issue so much, but this particular misunderstanding was a big issue in the failure of the relationship I referenced above.

          1. I… actually think “unsatisfied with our sex life” and “need you to reciprocate” are pretty clear in situations where one person has been *bringing the other to orgasm*. Unless the person not having orgasms is actually faking, one would expect their partner to notice they’re the only person getting off and display some sort of attention to the fact.

          2. Hi Phospher, I bring the issue up because it happened to me this way, and it still hurts, and the relationship I was in decades ago had some very good potential. It probably could have been saved if the other person had been blunt-but-pleasant about what they meant on perhaps 4-6 occasions over three years.*

            I’d hate to see the LW run aground on the same rocks I did when those rocks are easily avoidable.

          3. Hi Troutwaxer, I’m really sorry that your relationship didn’t work out – that’s obviously a difficult and painful thing for you. But I’m with Phospher on this one, those sound like reasonably clear expressions of the problem to me (they certainly don’t sound ‘obtuse’) and certainly clear enough to be the start of a conversation where you could have asked ‘what exactly do you mean by ‘reciprocate’ or ‘unsatisfied’?’ if you felt you weren’t understanding properly.

            I don’t want to seem harsh, especially as this is something that clearly still upsets you, but I do want to offer up a (female) perspective on this scenario and point out to you how difficult it can be for some people to talk about sex, especially women (and even more so 2-3 decades ago) who are conditioned by society that they CAN’T talk about it, and that asking for sexual pleasure is shameful, or makes them sluts, or might hurt the man’s feelings, or might make them too vulnerable.

            Given that you’ve said your (female) partner found it difficult to talk about sex, by even managing to say the things she said I think she was communicating really well, and it seems harsh to me that because she didn’t use the exact verbal formulation you needed to hear, you are still blaming her for the misunderstanding that caused your relationship to fail and that in your advice to the LW you are suggesting it should be on the woman to spell everything out and do all the work of making sure the man understands. Is there not room for a little ‘meet in the middle’ here and can we not expect our male partners to make some effort to try to understand?

          4. I think sexual partners regardless of their gender or orientation are responsible for making it clear to their partners what they want or don’t want. I understand that that is more challenging for some, whether it’s because they have trouble expressing their feelings or societal expectations or whatever. I don’t believe that those challenges mean their partners are consequently required to be mindreaders. Negotiation is a useful skill for people to acquire.

            “Hey, our sex life has been pretty good but the last few times haven’t worked for me. I don’t know if you realized it, but I didn’t come, and I was disappointed about that and that it felt to me like that wasn’t a priority for you. What can we do differently in the future?”

            I’ve had partners where they could only perform in the mornings, so “sex” was sort of a two-stage process; it would be “for me” at night and “for them” in the morning. And that was fine, once we negotiated it that way. There’s *lot* of options but the people involved really have to figure it out.

            And if the partner slut shames them, makes it their problem, says they can’t do anything different? By all means kick them to the curb.

          5. “I’d hate to see the LW run aground on the same rocks I did when those rocks are easily avoidable.”

            Isn’t the rock of assuming it’s okay that one’s partner isn’t having orgasms, even when she expresses dissatisfaction with one’s sex life, equally easy to avoid?

          6. Hi Manattee. Hi Phospher. My advice is meant to cover the possible edge-case of a bad misunderstanding in communications, not to attack, shame or oppress the LW. I agree completely that “unsatisfied with our sex life” should suffice; the edge-case in question has to do with how badly the BF might misunderstand female sexuality or how poorly he might communicate.

            I certainly made mistakes in my long-ago relationship, but they’re not relevant to the LW’s needs, so I won’t be rehashing them here.

          7. If the problem is something that can be addressed by a specific action on your part, then asking for that specific thing is fine. If, on the other hand, the problem is that the partner seems to be oblivious to your needs and is not exhibiting an awareness that he should care about your needs, then framing it as “ask for what you specifically want” is not only not all that helpful, it’s counterproductive. It teaches him that he doesn’t have to pay attention, because you will always ask specifically for what you want. It ignores the fact that he expects to get what he wants without asking specifically (see earlier comments about how he didn’t have to ask that once she started going down on him, she finish what she started) but is unwilling or unable to provide the same to his partner.

            “I am unsatisfied with our sex life” is a great way to find out if he will respond with concern, curiosity, and interest vs. if he will respond with defensiveness, obtuseness, and blame.

            And frankly, while perhaps it’s okay not to understand “I need you to reciprocate” the first time it’s said, the second time you hear it, the message is “Whatever you tried in response to last time I said that, it’s not working” and if you can’t figure out what I’m asking for, it’s on you to ask. That is how communication works, and since this LW is writing about something that might be a communication problem, it’s reasonable to expect that if this can be solved, the BF is going to have to step up and engage. Which meas not hiding behind “I don’t know what exactly you mean by ‘reciprocate’ and I can’t be arsed to ask for more details, so it’s your fault if you don’t get what you want.”

        3. I agree with this advice but not with your reasoning, which is frankly pretty bad for the reasons Phosphor and Manattee already mentioned.

          LW, if you do decide to explain to your boyfriend that your pleasure matters too, I strongly recommend being extremely blunt. Not because a misunderstanding would be your fault – your boyfriend is a grownup and entirely capable of uttering the words “I don’t understand” if he cares enough to do it – but because if this ends up being a relationship ending problem you may feel better if you know that it was not a misunderstanding that you could have somehow prevented if only you had said the words “give me an orgasm you self-centered walnut!”

          From many other comments I’ve read about difficult relationships, it seems to be really common for people who don’t actually care about your happiness to mysteriously “not understand” what you’ve told them you want no matter how clearly you say it. If that happens to you, which I hope it won’t, it may help to know for a certainty that you explained things perfectly clearly and the problem was that your boyfriend just didn’t want to understand.

          To be clear, it’s totally unfair that you might have to do even more emotional labour to make sure boyfriend can’t rules-lawyer his way out of caring about you and it is in fact completely and utterly reasonable to expect your boyfriend to take the unspeakably onerous step (yes I’m being super sarcastic here) of saying “I don’t understand” if he doesn’t understand. I recommend bluntness not because it’s okay for him to be too lazy to say he doesn’t understand (it’s very much not, and anyway a misunderstanding would be just as much his fault as yours if he didn’t bother to ask you to clarify), but because it might help you feel better if you end up dumping him.

          1. Thanks Mel, you explained it much, much better than I did.

            I would only add that “I expressed myself poorly” and “I didn’t understand” are a matched set and they’ve been ruining relationships for thousands of years.

      4. *offers Jedi hugs*

        If you decide to listen to your instincts and bolt, that’s cool.

        If you decide to have the conversation and graciously allow him the clue-by-four to stop coming across as a selfish asshole, that is also cool.

        I hope that, whatever you do, it works out awesomely for you.

      5. You’re the one who knows what you’re getting out of the relationship and how the scales of happiness balance out for you here, but I just wanted to say that if your instincts are kind of saying run you can just run. You don’t have to ask, or talk, or try to work it out. Feeling like you’d like to leave is a good enough reason to leave. You do not need to put in some amount of effort or work or time before you are entitled to bow out of this thing if that is what you want to do.

      6. Yesss. You deserve to be loved the way you want to be loved, and for someone to find as much joy in your pleasure as you do in theirs. This is not a big ask. This is allowed to be a baseline. You are allowed to have wants and needs, but more than that, you are entitled to consideration.

        I can’t recall exactly who gave me this advice but it was someone here and so helpful. A two-person relationship or partnership is 50/50, yes? Do you feel like your wants and needs matter JUST AS MUCH as his? Do you have just as much say? Is your say not optional but a critical component of often-major things like, sex? Or are you falling into the trap of being the Most Understandingest And Caringest Partner Ever (usually gendered or socialized as a woman but hardly only) and curling yourself in smaller and smaller to take up less space and your say, when asked, is suddenly a very shining moment instead of the norm?

        You matter. You’re a good person, a caring person, and you deserve to be happy and absolutely deserve to have someone who treats you as a separate person with needs and thoughts and desires, all of which matter, and honestly all of which are important to them on the sole basis that these needs and thoughts and desires are YOURS.

        I hate onions. My sister loves them. If one of us brings over take-out or one of us is cooking for the other she knows to hold the onions for my portion (and I will add onions to hers). Because her enjoyment matters to me, and my enjoyment matters to her, and even if Onions Ruin Everything for me, they delight her, so I don’t mind keeping a couple around for her.

        My Ex never understood what the deal was with onions and always forgot my deep loathing and always had them in everything and it is not why I broke up with him but it is 0.01% of a hundred hundred things that were basically that.

      7. G’luck! I hope whatever comes next (hee) for you is what you need, whether that’s Dude getting his act together or you DTMFA & finding a considerate partner who’s more generous with their attentions. Don’t settle for less than you are worth!

      8. *hugs* I’m so sorry that this guy turned out to be such a jerk, but please know that there are people out there who will appreciate you and care about you, and who will positively delight in fucking your brains out.

      9. I’d be listening to my instincts here. Have the conversation, but go in ready to walk if he’s not willing to level up and show you the same consideration you show him.

        Good luck.

      10. My instincts are kind of saying “run!” at this point.

        Go ahead. Give yourself permission to listen. Got all your stuff from his place? Willing to abandon the toothbrush? Then there is nothing wrong with just Nopeing on out.

        The situation points sufficiently at him perpetrating an extremely selfish act. If he hasn’t apologized for it yet, why invest any more emotions in this unhappy situation?

        If you are Done, be Done.

  20. I’ve noticed that bad partners will sometimes improve their behavior for a short duration after being confronted and then revert to the bad behavior.

    If he has to be prompted to be curious about how you are doing, then it seems likely that he’ll need to be prompted again to remain curious.

    It’s possible he’s sensitive and it never occurred to him to ask his partner, in which case dumping him immediately would be a regrettable but totally survivable loss. It’s also possible that a talk will elicit the bare minimum needed to keep you mildly dissatisfied in this relationship until a year has gone by and you’re unhappy but don’t have a REAL reason to break up with him. I consider the latter situation far worse than the former.

    1. I have noticed this as well. Same outcome–in the moment, someone will improve *just enough* to keep you in place, then revert the second the crisis is over, until the next crisis. Lather, rinse, repeat, until they die and release you from your obligation, or you pick up your courage in both hands and leave.

    2. Yeah, I completely agree. TBH, I see this as a long, uphill climb for the LW. It’s one thing to start from a place of “he cares about pleasing me, he just needs some specific guidance as to what I like.” But if you have to start by explaining to him WHY it’s important that he cares about pleasing you, it seems like you are in for a whole hell of a lot of emotional work, and it’s not going to just be about your sex life.

      1. Before getting involved with a partner, I’m finding it helpful to go back through their social media feeds. Even if they’re good at hiding “jokes” that sneer at partners or relationships, the people they’re linked to and have active communications with, might be more overt.

        I really listen hard these days for how well the person can human before letting them be close to me, and that goes for friendships, too. A lot of nonsense was presenting all along, but I wanted to glaze it over. -No more tears in bed for me.

  21. LW, a friend of mine and I, years ago, dubbed the sorts of men who, after repeated second chances, just do not prioritize your needs and do not factor you in, whether sex or life decisions or plans or whatever front, careless men. Careless men are the worst – if you stay with one for long enough you will also forget that you’re a priority. You will forget you have value – it’s a terrible, soul-sucking place to be, nearly as bad as being abused, because you cannot convince someone to remember that you’re a person just as much as they are – you can’t convince someone to remember you. As someone who spent a year trying to figure out whether or not I was being crazy for wanting to matter, I’m seconding/thirding the chorus of, “I know how this ends.” Just go now.

    1. Oh wow, this really hit home. In my case it WAS abusive — silent treatment? Ignoring me unless they needed an opinion validated but not really caring about the actual response? Expecting me to be immediately responsive to their needs but my own not mattering at all? These are intensely hurtful things to do to another human being, even if the INTENTION isn’t there.

      There was more going on, but yes. Yes, when someone you love and who says they loves you forgets that you exist until they need something from you, you forget you exist too, and it is painful and horrible and very hard to find your way out of. My very first post to the forums started with “How can I be better to my partner” and wound up being “Whoa shit I need to break up don’t I”. The beginning of the wonderful end.

      PS it’s my one-year leave-a-versary, wow!

  22. The last time I had sex with a former partner felt kind of like this. I gave this dude a fantastic blowjob (his words), he passed out, I felt weird sitting around his house wide awake in the middle of the day so I woke him up enough to make my excuses and went home. I didn’t quite cry myself to sleep but I had a pretty strong sense that something wasn’t right. And it was more than just the sex, but I felt like it was symbolic of a pattern I’ve let myself get into where I make an effort to communicate what I like and what works for me during sex but if they aren’t super receptive I don’t push it.
    I REALLY want to remember that I can say “no really, let’s work on this” instead of letting my desires come second.

  23. Dear LW,

    Here’s a thought experiment: define sex as “activities that get me off ”

    Anything that doesn’t get you off – foreplay, vaguely sexy, bleah, kind of hot- but not sex.

    So even if you don’t articulate this to your partner, you’ll have in your head that cunnilingus is sex and fellatio isn’t (for example) and you may feel more comfortable expecting the former, and not performing the latter. (Substitute other acts of these don’t suit)

  24. My disturbed excuse for a brain keeps interpreting the title of this thread as “He who is selfish in bed should sleep with the fishes.” Is anyone else getting that?

    1. Maybe the LW can try using that as her script. I’m being flippant but it’s a hilarious fantasy.

      1. Here, I envision a dump truck full of mackerel backing up to this guy’s bed the moment after he rolls over to go to sleep before finishing his next lover…

    2. I admit my first response to reading that he left LW crying alone while he flew off to dreamland was a deadpan “Kill him” so I am feeling this reading. Not that I would actually support that, but, jesus, that is a level of using a partner that makes me see red.

  25. Dump him. If you care enough to give a parting gift, a copy of Ian Kerner’s She Comes First might benefit the next woman he dates.

      1. Since I’m a one-shot wonder (unless other substances are involved) and I know I zonk out afterwards, I have to come last.

        Of course, I KNOW this, and I work it out with my partners so that they get off. Also, I know some guys aren’t programmed this way, but I’m glad I’m queer so it’s less of an issue than it might be.

  26. Oooooh, I had one of these when I was in law school. Dude was about a dozen years younger than me (I was a “non-traditional” student) and wasn’t into reciprocating. I didn’t believe him when he said, “Oh, I turn into a puddle after I come! I’ll just fall asleep,” because it seemed so cute — until it actually happened. Selfish, selfish, selfish. Since he knows he’s no good for anything after he’s had his orgasm, then it’s up to him to say something, and then go and take care of his partner first.

    So I went the D*n S*vage route and “left him in better shape than when I found him.” I told him that his shenanigans weren’t going to fly in the long run, and he should do a better job with his next partner. Hope it worked.

    LW, I hope you can likewise kick this guy to the curb and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

    1. I feel you should receive some sort of honour for your services to humanity. I raise my glass to you!

  27. I’m wondering whether this is one problem, or a symptom of a larger problem. Is he selfish out of bed? Do you feel neglected in other ways? If you do, it’s not worth trying to fix it, just let him go. But if the relationship is otherwise good, it may be worth trying to change things.

    Communication is key, and it sounds like the BF is not good at it. In addition, I’ve found that many men are kind of oblivious, they don’t see the BIG OBVIOUS THING until you point it out. The good ones say, “OH, there it is, why didn’t I see it, I’ll look out for it from now on and thank you for pointing this out” and do. The bad ones shrug and continue to ignore it. I totally agree that it’s the BF’s responsibility to care about whether his partner is enjoying the sex as much as he is, and he shouldn’t have to be taught. But maybe he *can* be taught, so why not give it a shot unless there are other reasons to dump his ass?

    Possible script (to be had separate from sexytimes)

    “When we first got together the sex was great, but lately I’ve been feeling a little neglected in bed. You don’t seem to notice or care if I get off, and sex ends when you have an orgasm whether I have or not. If you can’t stay awake after you come, maybe we could start with (specific sex act that gets you off) first. What do you think?”

    At this point, you should get profuse apologies, followed by a conversation about what gets both of you off and what made your sex life in the beginning so much better, followed by mad crazy extremely satisfying sex. If you don’t get that, or if he does that once and then goes back to his selfish ways, time to dump him and find someone better.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

  28. Have to side with the running part in this case. Yes, communication is key, but you simply can’t ignore the gender politics in this one. The very fact that in this M/F relationship the F gets to the point where she needs to *ask* for an *orgasm* – not a specific sex act, as I saw it understood here, but an ORGASM, the basic of basics – like some kind of humble supplicant at the Magnus Phallus Temple is just GAAAH! WTF! GAAAAAAH to me. It’s galling beyond reason and belief. Having myself been in a similar situation (in a 5 year long relationship), I feel I must reiterate the RUN, RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY NOW! There are indeed other men out there who, and this is important to stress, DO NOT ACT LIKE THIS. Therefore, it cannot be considered the default/norm/acceptable behavior, because we wouldn’t have seen examples to the contrary or felt the need to have this very debate if this were so.

    1. Seriously.

      I read an article a while ago about how women needed to “take responsibility for their orgasms” and it made me see red, because could you imagine someone telling a guy that?! Like hey buddy, sorry you didn’t get off, take responsibility for it yourself! Must be something you said/didn’t say/said wrong/maybe you should just not be that concerned with getting off.

      Of course that sounds ridiculous, because we’ve been so conditioned to think of sex that involves someone’s dick to end when they get off. Someone wrote to Dan Savage complaining about a similar situation and one of his suggestions was to have sex that didn’t involve the guy getting off. Revolutionary!

      LW, you should not be crying yourself to sleep or feeling used after sex. (And I give a lot of side eye to someone who can sleep through their partner doing so.)

      1. I read an article a while ago about how women needed to “take responsibility for their orgasms” and it made me see red, because could you imagine someone telling a guy that?!
        Even better? Guys who get *testy* if you go, “Well, that was fun, I’m just gonna use my vibrator to round things off for myself…”

      2. Oh my goodness, thank you. I read something once from a woman whose husband told her, “You’re responsible for your own orgasm.” She thought this was helpful and insightful, and reminded her that she needed to be okay speaking up and being proactive. I had MAJOR twitchiness from that; my immediate gut reaction was, “What? I have to be responsible for BOTH of us?” In a way, yeah, I get the point that I need to communicate. But on another level, I’m so not okay with anything other than the idea that we’re BOTH responsible for BOTH of us having a good time. We both communicate what we want, and we both care about the other person having his/her needs met. The end.

        1. When I first got with my current partner, we decided — together — that we were each responsible for our OWN orgasms. It made perfect sense at the time. New lover, new situation, some uncertainty about some emotional issues that I had, etc. But the point is, that decision was made together and the approach was reciprocal AND it worked for us. YMMV.

        2. I read something once from a woman whose husband told her, “You’re responsible for your own orgasm.”

          The first thought that popped into my head was, “You’re responsible for your own divorce attorney.”

  29. Are you dating an ex of mine? This relationship started with sex on the first date. We didn’t have a whole lot in common. But it also didn’t occur to him to provide for my needs from orgasms to breakfast and coffee (which he didn’t eat or drink, but I needed). I would come home from an overnight stay at his house starving for food and caffeine. My only regret is putting up with it for five months. Fuck that guy.

    1. N-no caffeine? No biscuits, Jaffa Cakes or other snack foods? That is way below the most basic of human decency standards.

      1. Best Boyfriend keeps cookies (which would never occur to him to buy, left to himself, because he’s not a cookie person) at his house because I like a nibble first thing with my coffee to fortify me for more complicated culinary efforts.

      2. I’m sort of surprised about the coffee bit. I agree it’s ridiculous not to have any food in the house, or any toilet paper, or any thing that every human needs. Coffee requires a special machine to make it, though. I’m happy to run out and get some for someone who stays over, and I could get a coffee maker for someone I was dating regularly if it was something that mattered, but it seems like a bit much to ask that people buy an appliance they won’t use for a non-specific person they haven’t met yet.

        1. I can’t imagine not having some kind of coffee or tea to offer someone who was an overnight guest in my home (regardless of whether or not that involved sexy rumpus). Not everyone drinks coffee, but most people (in the US at least) drink some kind of caffeinated beverage in the morning. If you are really opposed to getting some kind of coffee maker (even the little pour over thingie that sits on top of a single mug), they make single-serving coffee packets that are like tea bags and only require a mug and hot water.

          1. I’m a tea drinker and most of my friends who might crash also drink tea (or drink both coffee/tea and are fine with tea), so it has never been worth it to me to buy a coffeemaker to waste space in a cabinet in my apartment. Luckily after my boyfriend’s first sleepover he was gracious and drank some black tea with me the next morning, but I went out to get those coffee tea bag packets for him, thinking I’d be a better host to offer them.
            Apparently they’re awful? Boyfriend was again gracious and had a cup, but since then in the morning he has either asked for tea or gone out to a local place around the block for real coffee. So I guess the coffee bags are just not worth it 🙂
            But still, at least I have tea, and for any overnight guests, romantic or platonic, would totally go to the local coffee place myself in the morning and pick some of for them.

          2. I’m not a coffee person, and I still went to Goodwill or a garage sale or something and spent $5 on a coffeemaker for guests, and bought a can each of caf and decaf, even though they had to make their own coffee because I didn’t know how to do it.

          3. I suppose I could grab some single serving packets. It does seem like this is edging toward insisting that everyone take up the most mainstream lifestyle possible if they want to be an adequate sex partner, though.

            I expect there to be food, some basic level of cleanliness, and sanitation products like soap and toilet paper at others’ homes. I don’t expect that others will always have soda, alcohol, meat, or anything needed to serve those items, though. I consume one or more of those products every day, but I understand that lots of other people don’t enjoy them and wouldn’t necessarily think to have them until they got to know me better or I mentioned I’d like to have something available. I tend to raise an eyebrow a bit at the idea that coffee is somehow in a special category.

          4. This reminds me of college when there was this certain fairly dweeby guy who got all sorts of props from his ladyfriends because he stocked Tampax.

          5. I’m a tea drinker, and very used to the fact that if I want a cup of tea when visiting someone I may have to pull the teabag out of my pocket or daypack. (Many people either don’t have tea, or only have herbal teas, which can be fine things but don’t supply caffeine, or taste any more like tea than they do like coffee.) So far I’ve not visited anyone who was unwilling or unable to boil water so I could make tea (which doesn’t require a tea kettle).

            One of my partners actually bought one of those one-cup drip coffee cones (which goes on top of a mug and you pour boiling water through it, and requires little cabinet space), not even for her partners but for our other partners, who sometimes travel with us. But she hadn’t bothered with that for the possibility that a more casual visitor would want coffee, nor would I expect that. (If you only have occasional coffee-drinking visitors, is it worth buying and storing the filters and coffee, and replacing the coffee when it gets old?)

          6. Echoing the comments of others about how since I don’t drink coffee and only have one overnight guest who does, and she comes maybe once or twice a year, it’s not worth using up precious apartment space on coffee or a coffee maker. But then again, I live within one block of one espresso stand, 2 blocks of an in-store coffee shop, and 3 blocks away from another (although the third one is rarely open when I have guests), so I don’t feel so bad about it. If I were to start having more coffee-drinking visitors, I might revisit the issue, but for now this seems to work.

          7. Vietnamese coffee packets are ridiculously delicious. If you’re a person who doesn’t drink coffee but has a frequent overnight guest(s) who does, I heartily recommend them. (Assuming the coffee drinker is okay with milk in their coffee, anyway; they’re milky.)

        2. Do you guys not have instant coffee? I know it’s not like the real thing, but as a non-coffee drinker I always have a jar in my cupboard as an emergency standby.

        3. Not if you use instant granules – no matter how dried up and vile they get in the cupboard it’s still better than the horrors of waking up to a caffeine desert.

    2. Yup.

      I am one of those people who is always starving when they wake up. You need to have food in your house when I stay over. And tea because I don’t drink coffee. I should not have to bring my own fucking food after graciously providing an orgasm for someone else.

      Seriously, I dated a guy who could just never seem to remember to have stuff like, I dunno, food for me to eat when I took the train to a city an hour away to visit him. That is fucking rank and it is now on my list of shit I don’t have time for. If I have a vegan friend come over, I have vegan food. If someone who needs milk and coffee in the mornings stays over, I pick it up from the shops on the way home. This is not that fucking hard to be a goddamn human being instead of a garbage person who thinks other people just sort of float around in their orbit.

      1. Exactly. The only excuse I can accept is if it’s the first time someone has been over and the sleepover was completely unplanned. After that, ASK WHAT THEY NEED.

    3. Last time I had a partner stay the night, I got up early the next morning to bake us scones. Fuck that guy indeed.

      1. Ha ha, thanks for the validation and the reminders about what decent people actually do. Longtime reader, first time poster. Sounds like the LW has a similarly good handle on her situation.

  30. It sounds to me like he was bringing his A-game at first, and then when he decided you were sufficiently committed to the relationship, he showed his true colors, and those true colors are selfish. It’s vaguely possible that having a talk with him will help, but not very probable. Sorry, LW.

    1. This is a depressingly common pattern and it’s one of the reasons I am very slow to commit to exclusive relationships. Everything is fun and sexy and new for a few months, then sexual entitlement rears its ugly head. Nothing to make you feel used and objectified like a dude (especially one who professes to care about you) rolling over and passing out after you have dutifully provided an orgasm.

  31. This kind of thing is the reason my grandmother, may she rest in peace, always told me not to marry a man I hadn’t slept with. Not to see how good at it he was — everything improves with practice — but to find out who he was when his inhibitions were low. Someone who was selfish, or a bad listener, or sure he knew better in bed would eventually be that way out of bed (and someone that way when drunk would eventually be that way sober). She was a wise woman, albeit somewhat unconventional for her generation.

  32. LW, are you by any chance dating my ex husband?

    Bringing it to his attention helped for about, oh, three months. After that there was quite a lot of whining about how tired he was and how he didn’t have that much energy after working all day and how *long* it took to get me off and how *inconvenient* it was. Eventually I learned that if I didn’t want to put all the work in during sex, we would not be having any.

    There were more problems in the relationship than just this. But I have definitely found since the divorce that if I’m going to be doing all the work anyway, it’s much more satisfying if I’m the only one reaping the benefit.

    It’s entirely possible this is just a failure of communication, but that in itself only points up the larger issue that if you are a person who wants to be having sex with another person, you *deserve* for that person to be excited about the fact that they are having sex with *you*, and be excited about getting you off. You are not an unfeeling receptacle for someone else’s pleasure.

    1. “if I’m going to be doing all the work anyway, it’s much more satisfying if I’m the only one reaping the benefit.”


  33. I briefly dated someone like this years ago. Dumping him was very satisfying. Much more satisfying than the sex.

  34. I want to say that it is ok for sexual pleasure to be a deal breaker. I stayed with guys in crappy sexual relatiinships because I bought into the idea that as a woman, focusing on my sexual needs was selfish. I worried about how to explain breaking it off to those around me – I was still on a ridiculous quest for the One which made every dude The One until he became unbearable. I invested too much too soon so walking away at six months for sexual incompatibility felt like a failure rather than what it was; a smart choice.

    My personal experience is this; I live with my life partner who has chronic pain issues, I have trauma issues related to sexual abuse, we both are under stress and despite a lack of spoons – sex is always focused on mutual pleasure. It isn’t happening every night. It isn’t swinging from the rafters wild.But my guy knows what gets me off and he works hard to find ways to let me know he desires me. I know he thinks about how to get me off and it matters to him that I do. Even when he is in a lot of pain and we can’t fuck, it matters to him. When you love someone, you put the time in and you don’t need convincing.

    I hope you can see that you have options and that sexual pleasure and closeness is something many people need, it’s ok to express that.

  35. If this was just about BF needing guidance, and LW felt super-confident in bed and had a lot of effort to spare, they could try making a game of it that BF has to give LW a certain number of orgasms, by following hir instructions, before he’s allowed to get off as a “reward” for being good at sex.

    But he’s already had ample time and experience to find out how to have good sex with LW – to work with this kind of selfishness, you would have to sustain that level of effort and work every. goddamn. time. you wanted to have sex and get off, because he’s both lazy AND disrespectful. And that is liable to wear you down very quickly.

    But it’s not just about the fact that he’s not giving you your share of the sex, LW. He’s left you CRYING afterwards. No amount of communication should be needed for that, because that should just be a given that you do not leave your partner in tears, ever.

    From your letter, he’s not interested in your sexual needs, and he’s not interested in your emotional needs. Honestly, I can’t see this guy’s fundamental unwillingness to do things for you in this relationship changing, and I would personally find this a dealbreaker. Apply the Sheelzebub Principle. Could you even stand another 6 months of this? Could you replace him with a vibrator and feel better?

    Best of luck, LW. You deserve reciprocation from someone who cares about you.

    1. That sounds like a fun kinky game! Might have to try it sometime. ^^

      I agree that this seems a different issue tho. I don’t know how communication in the bedroom goes with LW and their bf as it wasn’t mentioned, but I find that if communication is not very strong during sexy times, it can’t be improved by just one partner changing. It just feels like your words are bouncing off nothingness (haha guess which side of it I’ve been on). Sex without a lot of communication can totally work for people but it sounds like this is not working for LW, the bf probably thinks it is, and they may be sort of ‘stuck’ in this position. The LW could try very hard to sort it and still nothing might change.

  36. Ah, I just had to talk to my partner of a year and a half about this. It was super painful and I felt so used. I asked him flat out if he could remember the last time he got me off and told him that I felt like his flesh light and that was super gross and demeaning. Things have been really good since – the rule is he doesn’t get off until I get off and that we are NEVER going to have that conversation again, on pain of his ass to my curb.
    Good luck, LW. Maybe you can work this out, but nobody deserves to feel blown off, sad, and neglected in a relationship. Jedi hugs if you want them.

    1. I’m so glad that conversation worked! It sounds like you were totally baddass, and also that he’s a decent guy who was just being really oblivious.

      1. It was a hard conversation to start and I was crying through most of it, but I went in willing to end it if the conversation didn’t go the way I needed it to, so that helped a lot!
        I’m glad it went well, I really like this guy, but I’m also not willing to let myself feel used and sad in relationships anymore.

  37. This whole conversation is doing wonders for me. It’ll take time to sink in, but it’s *so good* to hear that I’m not the only person to feel like a self-cleaning fleshlight, and that it was, actually, really selfish of my partner, and that it is, actually, a big deal and that, actually, That Is Not On.

    (Also laughing hollowly at an earlier partner who said “But I can’t do it now you’ve told me to! It won’t count! I’ll only be doing it because you’ve said!” Yeah… He’s called the Exhole for a reason.)

    Thank you, everybody.

    1. Big big hugs to you! Yes it is a big deal, your wants and desires matter, but it is soooo hard to remember that when you’re with someone who treats you like you do not (and in my case, acts like you are COMPLETELY UNREASONABLE anytime you express even the tiniest need or want). It’s like living in a world of funhouse mirrors and only when you’re out are you able to get perspective and go “Oh wow that was seriously fucked up”.

  38. So, this might just be because we’re older, but my DH always makes sure I achieve my goals first, as it were, before he goes after his. And although it’s been nearly fifty years since I was with anyone else, that’s how I remember it going back then, as well. This has been a very enlightening thread.

  39. I like to think I am the amazing lover I am ~because ~ of the communication given down to me from on high. Teehee.

    Fact is, you gotta forgive me here, but the first two people I practiced oral sex on magically got off without me even knowing what I was doing. Beginners luck? I dunno. But I was young and we didn’t have the internet and so me finking *slurp around* alot is all ya gotta do, then hang on for fire works… Kinda was doing OK for me…

    Until lover number 3. I lost my midas touch (and was not aware of the macho idea of get her off at all costs trope yet…

    Third lover was older than 30.

    I was still very Young 20s.

    Third lover had communication skills.

    I was doing it all wrong. Had no idea. Yup, had to draw me a map and everything… But mostly I was blown away by her faculty to *talk about it.* And direct me. Instructions I can follow!

    This was earth shattering info

    And maybe my first two lovers had faked it? But coz I was genuinely *WANTING* to please they let me feel it? Who knows?

    But the whole conversation about it? Just talking about it and being made to feel comfortable set me apart from my younger self.

    Yes to finking LWs bf, considering he’s OVER 30 and had multiple opportunities to be (ex) plained to… Either all those couple ups were devoid of sincere communication or he was able to cut loose at the time that best suited him.

    This, in its most nefarious version is akin to laying seige to the LW. He is already over you. Oral sex is the one role play where he can imagine you are anybody in the world, and the submission to such a prospect one of the most generous acts one might perform in trust with a lover, that requires immediate reconnection upon *release* in order to restore *reality* when he or she might be imagining the last person they saw in the elevator.

    For anybody to not want to reconnect after such a trusting, generous gift, means they are not at all connected to you.

    It’s a grievous act.

    This boy is not 19. And should not be allowed near other women. Until he is trained.

    Yes women doing emotional labour is WRONG.

    But the current paradigm is still so imbalanced there is at least the same kinda feeling we get when we take car keys off drunk motorists. An ugly job, but a community act.

    I don’t know the answer, but rewarding this behaviour is not it.

    it’s customary in balanced, loving relationships for each of us to check in with one another. Empathy and true connection cannot be faked, but neither can we predict how long the real thing lasts.

    Crying oneself to sleep is the most honest response to this.

    Please take care of your needs or be afraid to voice your needs. You might be the first person in their life who so far dares.

    1. Gotgingham, if I may derail from your main point to address something you said, there’s another possibility with regards to your first ywo lovers: it may be that they did like your technique. One of the weird things about humans, we’re all special little snowflakes, and just as there is no one true Sinanju technique that always gets every lover off to absolute perfection, there are very few ways that are absolutely wrong, either. Your third lover may have taught you a more statistically-strong method, one that a greater percentage of women respond more strongly to, but your first two lovers may have been a couple of orchids who need their roots exposed to air to thrive in a world of philodendrons, which tend to hate that— if that makes sense.

      Tl:dr: sometimes things work in one situation but not in others, and you’re right, feedback well-done can lead to a lot of fun.

  40. So, I actually have a sex problem, too. That I’m not having it. I completely understand that it needs to be consensual all the time, but I have not had me-focused with my spouse (we’re both women, so that’s pretty broadly defined, for me, as “someone touching someone else’s genitals or using a vibrator on them”), for probably eight months. About twice or three times a month, we will take some time and both masturbate while kissing and doing boob things (she’s still fairly attentive above the waist), and/or I will do her.

    It’s two problems, really. First, consent of course, but that’s just not enough sex for me! And I want to have it with her, because I like the affection and closeness of it- not the same with someone else. Not going to be all, “you have to have sex,” but I don’t know about just turning me down because I didn’t do X, or wanting to watch a rerun of a show instead. She has literally seen all the episodes of the West Wing 3 times already, but won’t interrupt them for anything much, not even sex!

    Second, there are things I want from sex, like the giving up control to another person, being penetrated, and so on, that I can really only get if there’s willingness to do me, you know? She’s actually less depressed than she was previously, and changed jobs to one she likes better, so I don’t think this is about a medical condition or a ton of extra stress.

    I know these commenters come down pretty hard on the people who want the sex from partners who may not want it, but please try to see where I’m coming (ha!) from.

    1. Dear notcrying:

      I am lousy at asking and talking.

      I hope you and your wife are better than I

      Because for whatever reason, she is ignoring what you need.

      Please know that wanting the hotness from your love is good. And hot

      Jedi hugs if you want them

    2. Sounds like it’s time for a conversation about this with her. It is so hard but ultimately so freeing to put yr cards on the table and say, hey, this is the pattern that’s been happening and it’s actually a big deal for me – can we talk about it?

      I think lots of people here have been in your shoes! I know I have, and it was awful. As long as you’re not pressuring or manipulating yr partner into sex, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t sympathize/empathize with your situation.

    3. (I am afraid I do not have brain to go into detail at the moment, sorry, but I want to flag up that I think the difference between “I want to have sex with my partner” and “I want my partner to want to have sex with me” is an important one; the former I… think needs approaching with a lot of caution, because it suggests the wanting-to-have-sex is more important than one’s partner’s thoughts on the matter, and the latter isn’t an issue that can be solved by having sex with someone who’s indifferently-acquiescent.)

  41. I just want to say, LW, that taking the time to give the dude an ultimatum might be eye-opening or satisfying or even make him change his sexual patterns, but it is serious work, and we shouldn’t sugar-coat that.

    Like, a lot of people up-thread are talking about being proactive and using your words, and I am totally into that (in bed), but there’s a difference between Using Your Words with someone who is supportive and enthusiastic about you and just missing the point, and Using Your Words with someone who is doing something which makes you feel used and awful.

    Story time, because we love story time: Because of medical/medication/stress circumstances, my Friend With Benefits (henceforth known as Bennie) found it really difficult to orgasm unless he was doing A Thing. Now, A Thing was something we’d done in bed before, it had been fun, it wasn’t physically painful or awkward or unpleasant, and it didn’t even require any extra effort on my part. However. Because of the same medical stuff, for a while we wound up only having sex when we woke up in the same bed, and it turned out that he would, groggy with sleep, segue into A Thing without asking me. And it turned out that when we did A Thing under those circumstances, I felt miserable.

    A brief timeline:

    First time: Oh, that’s… oh. Hunh. Well, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that?

    Second-~Fourth times: Hm. That’s not really fun. Or… was that a mistake? Should I be doing something to fix this? What’s going on here? Ugh, I just wish this wasn’t happening.

    ~Fifth time: If this continues I will not be responsible for my actions. I may commit dickmurder.

    Now, Bennie and I had been friends and having sex for something like a decade on and off at this point, so we knew each other pretty well. He’s always been a super-considerate guy, enthusiastic about giving me orgasms, laughs at my jokes, lots of good stuff. And nerving myself up to talk with him about this was still one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. Because what if it makes him feel bad about about his dick? What if it adds to that stress? What if I’m just being mean to someone who’s trying to manage his meds? What if this totally isn’t his fault and I’m just being a bitch?

    You’ll be glad to know that I told him straight-up, “I need A Thing to never happen again. And if you can’t promise that it WILL NOT, I need to never have sex with you again.”

    Because A Thing was making me feel like shit, and that was important! It was important to me, and it was important to him, because Bennie is my friend and he wants me to be happy! And he immediately said “Woah, of course it won’t happen again, I didn’t realize it bothered you that much.” And maybe I could have done a better job of letting him know in the moment that I was bothered, but I was worried about him and his problems and trying to minimize my own feelings until it changed on its own, until I finally hit dickmurder limit and had to say something.

    And as soon as he agreed, that’s when I burst into tears and had a few minutes of freakout, because it was super stressful and what if we were dooooomed and what if Bennie and I never had sex again GUYS I REALLY LIKE SEX, OKAY, IT IS IMPORTANT. But because he had been continuing to do something that made me feel terrible and used and not like a person, I found it a total mind-fuck. Similar to how gaslighting makes you doubt your sense of reality. It made me imagine a world in which Bennie would say something like, “I know you don’t like it, but it’s really important that I keep orgasming and that’s the only way I can do it, so I won’t promise and I think we should keep having sex.” Which is ridiculous, but it had screwed with my self-esteem pretty badly.

    So yes, even in the best case scenario with a dude who was exhibiting some anomalous behavior for a period of a couple of months when we had years of good history behind us, that come-to-Jesus moment was DIFFICULT. It might be easier with a dude you’ve only been dating for six months? Because saying “Hit the road, buster” is less fraught when you have less history? But ugh, I do not blame you for wanting a way out other than a Talk or a breakup. Having gone through that, I now understand why women’s magazines keep repackaging tips to “influence” men without actually making your needs known, because that shit is tense. If you feel like you can’t trust him to pay attention to you during sex, why should he be trustworthy in a conversation when you’re letting all your vulnerabilities show?

    The only advice I can give you is that if he blows you off, that’s on him, not you. There is nothing wrong with what you want and there is nothing wrong in asking a lover to change their behavior to accommodate you. There’s also nothing wrong with deciding this guy isn’t worth that effort and packing your bags.

    1. Oh, wow.

      “I know you don’t like it, but it’s really important that I keep orgasming and that’s the only way I can do it, so I won’t promise and I think we should keep having sex.”

      That’s, roughly translated, what my ex-partner said when I objected to some Things (plus some bullshit about “compromise” in relationships). Except for him, it wasn’t anywhere near the only way he could orgasm, just the most convenient way. I’m glad I’m gone, even though I’m still putting myself back together.

      I’m really glad that your friend acted decently there and that you were able to speak up clearly.

      1. Oh, I am so sorry, quartzpebble.

        I know I shouldn’t feel so lucky that my dude met the basic standards for decency we should all get from our partners, but I hear all these stories and I do. I’m so glad you got out of there, you deserve far better.

  42. I had a partner that was like, “you know if I get off first I’m done after that” (ie they don’t care about getting me off if they already got theirs, now they’re tired or whatever

    yeah that person was also a problem in other ways like belittling me all the time, acting jealous of my other friendships or achievements, gaslighting etc

  43. Going to reiterate what everyone else has been saying: it’d be different if he wanted to learn. If he asked what he could do to please you. If he actually gave a shit. But that’s not what he’s doing. There’s a difference between “ignorant” and “willfully ignorant.”

  44. — if you think you want to leave anyway I don’t think you are obligated to have A Conversation about this – just go.
    — if you would prefer to stay If Only This One Dealbreaker Thing Changed – I think it’s worth explicitly stating at least once.
    As captain says, the response can either be “oh! Woops, okay, I will work on that!!” Or something that is not “I will do better”, ie, [excuses without a plan to do better], or [saying you, LW, need to do x y and z], or [flat out denial], or [anything that doesn’t make you think this will be resolved anytime soon] – in which case, bail
    — if you get the “Oh ok I will do better!” and then… better doesn’t happen, also bail.
    — if better happens for a while but then slides, well your mileage will vary. Depends how long, how badly. I get that people are human, habits can be hard to break, etc. So, it’d be up to you to decide, if it comes to that, whether it’s worth having the talk again. And again, if it’s not worth it /that’s okay/. Relationships don’t need to have an infinite number of “give it a chaaaaance!” or even ONE “give it a chaaaaance!” if you are digging it.

    — there is also the possibility that this thing isn’t a dealbreaker and you’d stay anyway (not the sense I’m getting) – but if that’s the case, I would say communicating your needs is imperative, more so than if you definitely want out.

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