Sex should be equal parts giving and receiving, and it can be frustrating to have a partner who is only focused on their own pleasure, and not yours. Beware the so-called “pillow princess” (or “pillow prince”): the sexual partner who’s only thinking about their own needs.
“They come to sex in order to be pleased and not do too much work,” says Dr. Juan Camarena, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and certified sex therapist.
Now, let’s get one thing straight: It isn’t selfish to want your sexual needs to be met—especially given that women and people with vaginas tend to have far fewer orgasms than men and penis-havers. But it is selfish to completely shut out your partner’s desires in favour of your own.
“In order to become sexually responsive, an individual needs to be primarily focused on their own experiences and follow their own sensations to a higher level of arousal,” says Dr. Kelifern Pomeranz, an AASECT-certified sex therapist “But selfishness is being so absorbed in one’s own experience that you ignore your partner’s requests.”
There’s no fun in that.
What’s more, selfishness in bed can be a sign of problematic dynamics in other aspects of your relationship. We reached out to several experts to find out how to spot a selfish bed-mate, and what you can do about it.
Does your partner rush foreplay?
Foreplay – whatever that may mean to you, because penetration isn’t the definition of sex – is one of the greatest (and most important) parts of sex. Unfortunately, some couples overlook it in favour of getting right to the orgasm. But the warm-up is just as fun as the big finish, and many people need it to have a successful sexual experience.
Now, there are reasons your partner might skip foreplay that have nothing to do with selfishness. Maybe they had a previous partner who wasn’t into it, or maybe they’re worried that they won’t last all the way to the main event, whatever that may be.
But if your partner is skipping the foreplay and going straight to sex, there’s a chance they might not care about giving you the necessary extra care and attention you need. Ask yourself:
Do they ignore, demean, or mock your pleasure?
If it’s unclear why your partner might be rushing through foreplay, the next question to ask yourself would be: Do they ignore your pleasure? Skipping foreplay because of performance anxiety is one thing. But skipping it because they truly aren’t interested in your experience is another.
“When you express what you would like in bed—like roleplaying, sharing a fantasy, or cuddling—does your partner blow you off either by actively ignoring your requests or by making fun of you?” asks Pomeranz. It’s an important distinction.
After they orgasm, if they roll over and go to sleep, that’s generally a good indication that they are disinterested in your satisfaction. Another sign might be that they insist on having sex even after you’ve made it clear you’re not in the mood.
Do they brag to their friends about your sex life?
Some people don’t mind when their partners share intimate details of their sex lives with their friends, but others find it a massive violation of privacy. If you’re in the latter camp—and your partner does it anyway—it’s a good indicator of selfishness.
“Another way to tell if your partner is selfish in bed is if they brag to their friends about your sex life,” says Pomeranz. “They tell all of their friends intimate details of your sex life without any regard as to how this makes you feel.”
Do they use your orgasm as a trophy?
It’s generally a good thing if your partner wants you to orgasm—but ask yourself, who is YOUR orgasm really pleasing?
If your partner cares about making you come because they want you to feel pleasure, then, by all means, carry on. But if your orgasm is being used as a benchmark for your partner’s personal success, that is a red flag.
“Notice if your partner becomes extremely upset if they are unable to help you achieve orgasm,” says Pomeranz. “Are they mean, or do they put you down when you use a vibrator in order to reach orgasm?”
If so, you probably have a selfish partner on your hands.
What can you do about a selfish partner?
So you’ve identified that your partner is selfish in bed. Don’t lose heart. There are still ways to fix the problem without having to end the relationship.
Identify your needs
“Not everyone has the same needs, so it’s up to you to recognise what your sexual needs are. Do you want a hug or oral sex? Are you in the mood for a long series of foreplay, or just a quickie?” says Dr. Camarena.
Communicate those needs
After identifying what it is you want or need, clearly articulating it is the next step. Start with requests like “I’d really like it if you..” or “I’m wanting to try…”
“It is important to be thoughtful about the timing of these ‘bigger’ conversations about sex,” Pomeranz says. “Trying to have the conversation right before sex can be a buzzkill, and having the conversation right after sex can feel like criticism. Both individuals should find a time to have the conversation when they are well-rested, satiated, and undistracted.”
Use positive re-enforcement
Try “complimenting your partner on what they are doing in bed that is working for you in the moment, and then gently suggesting additional things you would like them to try,” Pomeranz says. “Then [try] expressing excitement after the sexual experience, reinforcing behaviour that you would like them to repeat in the future.”
When should you walk away from a selfish partner?
There are some circumstances that can’t be fixed—or at least, not in a timeframe, you’re willing to endure. Selfishness during sex could indicate larger personality issues, and could mean you and your partner aren’t compatible outside the bedroom, either. These are the instances where it might be healthiest to walk away.
“If you’re in a relationship where you consistently feel used or unappreciated, and your partner doesn’t want to talk about it, or do anything about it, those are pretty strong indications that you should evaluate what you are doing in the relationship,” says Camarena. “All of us have the responsibility to try and get our needs met, and then make tough decisions when that doesn’t happen.”
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US.
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