Lost all control in the bedroom

Originally Published: June 24, 2011
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I have been with my long term girlfriend for 5 years. I am seriously thinking about getting engaged.

Over the last 3 years she has taken control of our sex life. I have definitely become submissive in the bedroom. We don’t get into BDSM but she always decides when, where and how. She loves this control. While I have come to accept my submissive role, and I do certainly enjoy making love to her and pleasing her, I have asked her on many occasions for some variety. I would like to enter her sometimes and she has not performed oral sex on me for years. Granted, I am a bit under average in the endowment area and she always has a hard time reaching orgasm with straight intercourse. I have tried to talk to her but she always shuts down the convo by making me admit that I love pleasuring her. Of course when we start fooling around I am so excited that I just follow her lead.

Honestly I am very happy in every other aspect and I don't want to add any friction to the relationship. She is a very private person and doesn’t like to talk sex. Visiting a therapist is not an option as have already subtly suggested it and been rebuffed. Should I be overly concerned? Should I continue to press the issue (although it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere) or just accept my role? Again, I do enjoy pleasing her and I usually get off. I guess I could be happy continuing this way and I don't want to lose her. I would love your thoughts.

Dear Reader,

Relationships are more than just love and sex, and though there are numerous models of what one should "look like," there are some mainstays of every healthy partnership. These include open communication (talking AND listening), mutual respect, and honesty. Think of these three components as the legs of a stool that your relationship is resting on. If any of the legs are missing or weakened, the stool and whatever it supports will be unstable. Even if your relationship with your girlfriend thrives on the current power dynamics, the first question you should ask yourself is whether those three mainstays are present.

You mention that when you try to bring up your interest in mixing up your sex life, your girlfriend shuts down the conversation. Do you openly communicate with each other otherwise? Is it just the topic of sex that makes her close down? Are you bringing up the issue in a space where the two of you feel safe and open to communicating about a potentially uncomfortable subject? How does it make you feel when you can't openly express your sexual needs or desires with your girlfriend? You have a right to your emotions and beginning a conversation with "I" statements like "I feel…" may allow you more of an opportunity to express your desire for a change up in the boudoir in a way that she will listen to. Maybe even try writing down your concerns on paper (kind of like what you did in writing this question) so you know what you want or need to say to your partner before you initiate conversation.

Once you begin the conversation, framing it as part of the basic need for open and honest communication in your relationship (rather than making it a "sex talk") and conducting it in a caring, understanding, and supportive way may help her open up and become more comfortable in the situation. Starting this conversation when there are no other emotional or environmental distractions may give you the opportunity to ask her why she shuts down when you bring up the topic of sex. Many people grow up with the idea that sex is not something that should be talked about so that may be one reason why your girlfriend is so hush-hush about it. Honestly discussing your relationship concerns, wants, needs, goals, etc. (about sex and everything else) is part of a healthy partnership so nesting your sex talk in a larger conversation may help ease her into what has previously been an uncomfortable subject.

Relationships aren't static so bringing these issues out into the open may help your relationship mature. Considering that you hope to marry your girlfriend, the issue of sex will be one you will have to deal with for a very long time. Relationships will inevitably have friction, but ignoring or pushing aside a partner's feelings may be causing more friction in the long-term than having this uncomfortable talk. In healthy relationships, working through friction directly may even help stoke the fire that keeps your relationship strong. More importantly though, your concerns and desires, whether about sex or anything else, deserve respect especially from someone you hope to spend the rest of your life with.

Sex is meant to be pleasurable, not just physically but emotionally as well, and if it's not, that's a red flag. Though compromise and negotiation are also important components of a healthy relationship, with as much concern as you're dedicating to her enjoyment in the sack, you deserve the same effort on her part. Being made to feel like your emotions or desires are less important (whether intentionally or not) is definitely not something you should compromise on. Many women find it difficult to orgasm from just intercourse alone, but there are many ways to enjoy sex and achieve orgasm. The two of you may benefit from checking out the tips in No orgasm from intercourse (female) from the Go Ask Alice! archives.

Understanding where your girlfriend is coming from in this situation may help you better understand how to address your communication gap but letting it slide and putting your needs on the backburner may just lead to friction building up and eventually bubbling over. Though your girlfriend may not want to speak with a counselor or other health care provider, that doesn't mean you can't. If you are a Columbia student, consider contacting Counseling and Psychological Services at x4-2878 to work through some of your concerns. Just remember the analogy: the stronger the legs of communication, respect, and honesty, the more stable the stool that supports your relationship.

Good luck!

Alice