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My boyfriend loves to watch me masturbate, and I don’t mind it if it turns him on. Recently, though, he’s been asking me to do it more than any other sex act. He usually masturbates as well, which means I don’t usually get to have sex right away or at all. How do I get us back to a normal sex schedule without making him feel dissatisfied?

— Anonymous, from Tumblr

Sarah: I’m assuming you mean that it’s started to displace your regular sex, which definitely sounds like it could be frustrating. After all, anyone can masturbate anywhere, but partnered sex, well, requires the participation of a partner. Duh. This is one situation where I would, in a totally non-sexual or romantic situation, like when you’re washing dishes or driving or something, just bring it up. Try, “I’m glad it turns you on so much to watch me go to town on myself, but I miss regular sex with you. Do you think we could even out the ratio for a while?” He may not even realize how much it’s become part of the routine. The way to have a conversation about it is like any other: bring it up when discussion is a natural part of the setting and don’t make it sound threatening or like he’s not satisfying you.

Debby: You could turn it into a carrot at the end of the stick - like, you get to do this kind of sex play for every 5 times you have sex, or once a month, or you could save it in a less scheduled way by saying something like about that kind of sex play is for every now and then, but not your preferred kind of sex play on a regular basis. If it’s his preferred, it’s something you’ll need to talk about and figure out how it fits into the bigger picture, but it should be doable. If you find yourself at a standstill but feel you still want to make it work as a couple, bringing a sex therapist into the picture may help (find one through aasect.org or sstarnet.org).

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