Two Sense: Dealing with "The Daily Grind"
My boyfriend of two years wants sex every night. I prefer two or three times a week. I love him, but I feel pressured every time I get into bed. There’s no regard to my mood, stress or what’s happening between us. If I say “no,” he sulks; if I say “yes” when I don’t want to, it’s usually blah. I feel like this pattern is ruining the good sex we could be having if he’d just lay off a little. Why don’t guys understand that quantity does not equal quality?
He Said: While women think of emotional connection as a prelude to sex, men often think of sex as a prelude to emotional connection. So at least some of your man’s desire for sex might also be a desire for emotional intimacy. Knowing that, look for ways connect with him before you turn in for the night—chatting with him, cuddling on the couch—and you might both be happier.
Often, though, one partner simply has a larger sexual appetite. And, unromantic as it sounds, the only fair option in that case is compromise. You need to clearly tell him, “I love you, and my ideal sexual frequency is about three times a week. Let’s work something out.” Somewhere between three and seven lies a little number like … oh, say, five.
She Said: Sorry to burst your bubble, but for guys, quantity does equal quality. To most men, any sex is better than no sex; while for a woman, only physically blissful, emotionally connecting sex is truly worth our precious, put-upon energy after a long day of working followed by chores around the house (which, statistics show, we still do the bulk of).
I’m going to turn this around and put the onus on your boyfriend. First off, start listening to your body. Women are beautifully subtle creatures. What turns most of us on isn’t under-the-sheets groping that begins at 10 p.m. It’s a man’s ongoing, consistent presence, and—quite elegantly—a woman’s level of sexual desire is a no-fail barometer of how present her man is.
Here’s what it looks like when a man is fully present: He looks you in the eye, speaks directly without avoiding or kowtowing to you, displays curiosity by asking questions, laughs a lot, is unfailingly kind but firm and provides a lot of nonsexual touch. The truth is that if a man does this, most women will melt and do just about anything he wants in bed, anytime. It’s when a guy goes numb, withdraws emotionally, leads with his crotch or takes sex for granted that things go south.
Watch how much of this your man does, and watch your response. Do whatever you can to solicit his presence: Touch him affectionately, ask him about his day, laugh with him. If he shows up—and you know what that feels like—you’ll naturally want to say “yes” to sex. If he doesn’t, you probably won’t. Tell him you’re not up for sex, and suggest a few small, practical things he could do the next day to prep you for a “yes.” Then watch how he responds. Sex with a loving, devoted woman isn’t something a man wins once and gets for life. He has to keep earning it. Don’t lose sight of that.
He is a novelist who’s had one marriage, two live-in relationships, 10 girlfriends and one very wise therapist. She is an SF health journalist who’s been married, single, communal and bi-curious and has studied tantra and orgasm—for research purposes, of course.
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Illustration by Marcos Chin