The fine art of usurping your partner’s pleasure

Making their happiness about you

“I want you to want to”

Sometimes my partner does this thing where he wants me to climax more. Or feels like I’m “distant” during sex. (Or maybe I am distant during sex. Whatever; linguistics.) But I still orgasm, though, and I’m pretty sure I enjoy it. So I don’t see the problem.

But he brings it up and sometimes “calls me” on it. And like, tenderly tho.

But what is that?

I am sincerely at a loss as to whether it’s because a.) he cares about me and my sexual pleasure (more than I do tho?), b.) he cares about himself and is feeling insecure about his sexual ability, or (most likely) c) both: he cares about my pleasure as a testament to himself.

It’s a question neither of us can answer with certainty, so I lie there as he’s telling me this, say nothing and just agree — which is obviously deeply meta and ironic.

What if I *am* pleased?

He won’t let me “just go through the motions,” and I guess, good on him, but my big hang up is: I didn’t realize I was. I thought I was having fun.

And what if this is how I have sex? What if it fucking is? I mean, how would I know?

Sure, maybe in a parallel universe I respond to some lover’s hands like the earth is consuming me whole, and that version of me would look at this version of me and be like, “girrrl.” But shit, I don’t know what I don’t know. This is what I got, and frankly it all feels pretty good to me.

I really fucking like drinking beer, too, but you don’t see me going into ecstasies over it, now do you? No. I just want to drink my fucking beer. And in fact, my strong preference is for a “background beer” — something light; accessible; “boring.” I don’t want it to rock my world. I don’t want to be fucked with. I just wanna drink my fucking beer.

I want it every day — obviously — and, yeah, I will readily talk about how much I like having it every day, and that’s fucking genuine. I never meant for it to mean I want or need to go to pieces over it. I want it simple and ready and straightforward. I just want to come at, get what I want, and move the fuck on.

And the same goes for sex.

But somehow that’s not the point. Or good enough.

What if he’s just feeling uncertain

I know. I know we all want to think its as well-intended and sweet as this.

Is he doing well? Am I happy? Am I thisclose to bolting and leaving him for a better McLovin bro? Or am I deadened with post-coital bliss?

When I show enthusiasm, I reassure him. I know this. The problem is that I already do. And if he doesn’t sit calmly and reassure himself, this will quickly become a black hole where no matter how blissed out I am, he will always feel it could be better.

I know this because he already feels this way even though I’m sexually satisfied.

What if I could be more pleased? You sure this is me and not you?

Men do this thing where anything that goes wrong in the bedroom is either 100% their fault or 100% yours, and it’s almost always 100% yours.

He didn’t enjoy it? Something you did. He thinks you didn’t enjoy it? Also you.

When it comes to you being blissed out of your face, even if they want it and you don’t, it’s somehow still on you and not on them. Like, the answer couldn’t possibly be for them to do something differently — or ask. The answer is somehow always back on it being you.

They disconnect their own actions from the asynchronous effects they have. Like how “playfully” critiquing your body outside the bedroom might be at all related to the fact that you “hang back” or “act guarded” or “aren’t enthusiastic enough” once in it. Or how anything they might be doing in the bedroom might play a part.

And I’m not saying for sure that’s actually happening. I’ve only considered it — saying it out loud without taking responsibility just makes me as bad as them.

Plus, I’d better be sure as fuck that’s what it is before laying into them with it (more than I can say for them, with their Rolodex of excuses and accusations for their ED.) So I hunker down, consider this, and in the meantime put out a bit more energy.

For them.

What if it’s not about my pleasure, but his

And what my pleasure means for and about him.

Him bringing this up is him sharing his feelings. Which is good. But they’re also his feelings regarding my pleasure. Which seems… less good.

It looks and sounds like him “inviting” me to express more. Which is good. But it also feels a lot like him cajoling me to. Which is less good.

He wants me to be more enthusiastic — but, he’s careful to clarify — not fake it.

He’s just another version of every guy I’ve ever dated, but this time it’s the bedroom.

I once had a boyfriend who’s Big Thing was always wanting me to be Happy. But — he often stressed — he didn’t want me to pretend to be happy . He wanted me to just BE happy.

“And whats wrong with that?” You might ask. Well, what’s wrong is that it’s superficial and insecure; it’s about me curating a perfect snow globe and really it’s about me doing this so that he could have all the room — mine and his — to be imperfect and human.

Put differently: it’s the way a parent cares for a very small child.

In other words: yes, he did want me to pretend to be happy; he just didn’t want to be able to tell. And his mother and the girlfriend in his head and, sure, the way he remembered other girls he dated, were more willing to wear that hat and play that game. And I wouldn’t.

It’s like the words of Jennifer Aniston’s Brooke character from The Breakup:

“I don’t want you to do this dishes. I want you to want to do the dishes.”

Or, in my case with these dudez:

“I don’t want you to act more pleased. I want you to want to act more pleased. (And not because it pleases you, but ultimately because it pleases me.)”

I want. From you. “For you.” But really for me.

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