I’ve been with a man for about six years. I believe we’re meant to be together, because I met him in a very unusual situation. I love him dearly and he’s all right in bed, but he’s not creative at all. Sex with him is always a rehearsed routine. Every time I try to introduce a new element — by talking to him or just going at it — he either goes for it once and dismisses it completely or he starts repeating it the exact same way until it’s part of a new routine. I can’t even caress him freely because he says it tickles him and he dislikes it. I told him he can do whatever he wants with me, and yet he does the same old things. That really discourages me from being with him for a longer term as I’d like to be. Please help me solve this situation.
Greetings, Laura, and thank you. I sense that your fellow’s sexual experiences prior to this relationship were perhaps not the most liberating or expansive, and as a result, you’ve inherited a cornucopia of awkward emotional responses. You have to understand the context in which such repetitive mindsets become ingrained, and realize that this is actually a very loud statement regarding his view of female criticism and sexual power. As a rule, men resist change. They are often raised to resist it, clinging to traditional ideals and maintaining prosperity via time-tested methods. Women, by nature, are more adaptive. They embrace spontaneity much more readily. After all, even very traditional women know their entire lives will change several times. They will marry and take another’s name, they will bring new lives into the world and be left very much on their own in learning how to deal with it.
For men, sexual spontaneity is seen as a sure-fire way to get rejected or criticized because they generally first attempt this in junior high. As they get older, men learn even more about female sexual rejection. Mad bursts of passion lead to laughter and ridicule instead of romance. As for your fellow specifically, I see that he did have long-term relationships in which he did, believe it or not, try to spice things up, but his suggestions were often met with disdain. So even though you are an open, cool sort of chick, he’s been criticized, he’s been scoffed at, and sex is just not fun anymore. He sees you as critic and judge, because you are a woman. He does the same thing over and over in bed so he can learn you like he would a machine. Machines are safe. Women, on the other hand, can be dangerous and explosive devices.
I see he also has tactile issues due to negative body orientation from childhood, hence the defensive sensitivity to touch. The conditioning that goes into this mindset involves parenting styles that negate bodily admiration and sensation. No going nude, no discussing bodily functions, always wearing shoes and socks, never speaking of sexual issues, frowning on self-pleasure, etc. He learned that the sensations of his flesh were not to be explored, indulged, or enjoyed, and so he finds them torture instead. When you stroke him, he finds it more an irritant, because he isn’t giving himself internal permission to follow and enjoy the stinging sweetness of tactile sensation. That’s a real tough issue to deal with, my dear.
And so, I fear you have a decision to make. Is this man worth the effort of doing some deprogramming, or do you feel there’s just too much work to bother? There’s no crime in seeking a better deal, so think it over. You say he’s “all right” in bed, but it sounds to me like you might be feeling an itch to move on. If you do decide to stay with this man, here are my suggestions.
First, he can never be in fear of sexual criticism from you. You’ll have to eliminate all suggestions, all critiques, all judgments of his performance, even in jest. Instead, you’ll have to be his cheerleader in bed. Give yourself over to his touch entirely, even if he is doing it “wrong.” If he is using a routine, then you have to find a way to show him you think that routine is the most erotic thing in the world. Encourage him with your eyes, your hands, your voice. If he cannot bring you to orgasm, no matter. It felt grand anyway, and tell him so.
Stop trying to introduce new practices. If his lust for such things is ever going to awaken, you are going to have to give it some silence and room to grow. Be submissive, be sweet, and let him develop a taste for taking charge once in a while. If he suggests anything, and I mean anything, new give voice to your pleasure, as though you’ve never experienced such pleasure before. Keep maintaining that he can do whatever he wants with you. But whatever he does, praise him like he is the Sex God of the new millennium.
At the same time, start planting some seeds of sensual expression to create an environment of sexual playfulness. If you feel a bit on the risque side, let him catch you in the act of self-pleasure. Do not stop if he comes in. Just gaze at him, and continue. Or let him stumble across some erotic DVDs you have purchased for yourself. Hide some secret lingerie in a dark part of the closet and let him find it. Start breaking other routines in your lives. Go somewhere else on Saturday night, instead of the club. Switch his brand of beer. Foster delightful, positive changes in the environment, priming his subconscious for more primal spontaneity in other forms.
As for his tactile defensiveness, this may take actual professional therapy, and he isn’t ready to go that route. You will have to encourage a body-friendly environment as much as possible. Nude beaches might be an option, if you can get him to one. Certainly, encourage nudity in your time together, even if you’re just watching television or playing cards.
Try to encourage him in physical, non-sexual pursuits: running, yoga, swimming. Solitary body exercises are very sensual and help stimulate one’s body knowledge and sensual appetites. They form reconnective pathways in the brain that stimulate body consciousness. Above all, don’t press too hard with wanting to touch him. He really does feel tickled and tormented, even a bit put-upon by such actions, and you are going to have to let him come to it on his own.
For yourself during all this, I would suggest taking a younger lover to stoke your fires for a time, one you can dispense with easily if and when this man becomes the sort of man you really want. Think it over, consider the long trail ahead alongside the potential of cutting your losses now and getting back out there again. It’s up to you.
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