Stoya On Eye Contact & Moving In Together

We love chatting with Stoya — writer, thinker, on-screen-sex haver — about all manner of sexual, sensual, and feminist topics. In fact, we had so much fun talking with her that we asked her to write a monthly sex and relationship advice column. Have a burning question? Send any and all queries to stoya@refinery29.com.
Advertisement
I'm female, mid-20s. My partner is male, late 20s, quiet, and makes very little eye contact with me during sex. In fact, he keeps his eyes closed pretty much straight through, from the overture to the encore. The fact that he's not as vocal as I am doesn't really bother me, but the lack of eye contact can be very disconcerting.
This is my first sexual relationship with someone who is fairly inexpressive, and after nearly two years together, I'm still struggling with it. I've tried tentatively discussing it, and I realize that this isn't personal. It's not specific to me; it's just the way he has always been, and he says it probably isn't going to change. He says that he enjoys fucking me, and I believe that. (His dick testifies to this. And, dicks don't lie.) I just feel like the lack of eye contact puts distance between us and makes him seem less present and engaged. It also makes him harder to read and take cues from.
I don't want to pressure him into changing his behavior. That said, I'd love some advice on how I could approach this. Do I just need to get better at reading more subtle cues and become less hung up on 'looking'? Everything else is pretty great, and I'd like to keep it that way.
-S
Penises can actually sometimes “lie,” but if a typically honest sexual partner is telling you verbally that they enjoy having sex with you — and that partner also regularly shows evidence of attraction and enjoyment in the form of an erection, you’re probably safe assuming that they are telling you the truth.
I love that you don’t want to pressure your partner into changing his behavior. That’s really great, especially because closing his eyes during physical interaction is a completely normal thing to do. Looking at your partner(s), making eye contact with them, or staring hazily at the ceiling are also completely normal things to do. Everything in that whole range is completely normal.
Advertisement
The problem here is that his totally normal sexual behavior and your totally normal sexual behavior don’t quite match up. Because there’s such a huge range of totally normal sexual behaviors, tastes, and preferences in the world, this can happen pretty regularly. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it, but it’s kind of like pimples — just about everyone has to deal with it at least a few times in their life.
Absolutely focus on physical cues like vasocongestion (visible flushing of the skin) and changes in breathing, scent, or muscle tension in various parts of his body. Also, if he seems comfortable talking about it, you might ask if he knows why he closes his eyes. He might close them out of a desire to focus on the physical sensations or to be fully present in his body while it is touching yours. Blindfolds can be a really fun sex toy for this exact purpose — blocking one sense can heighten others, and to me that sounds like the opposite of distance. You won’t know what’s going on with him unless you ask, though, and knowing might help you see his eyelids as less of a barrier to intimacy and more of whatever they are on his end.
If you give both of those a serious try and are still struggling with feelings of distance, you need to remember that your satisfaction and enjoyment are priorities, too. The next step would be expressing your needs and discussing potential ways to meet each other halfway: Maybe he can give you oral sex while maintaining eye contact, and then you hold that memory in your brain during penetrative sex. What you’re each willing and able to offer as compromise is going to have to come from the two of you, and I hope you’re able to figure out a way to make things match up.
My boyfriend and I are having a problem with mismatched libidos. We’ve been together for a little over a year, and most of that has been the hormone-filled, can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other, sex-all-the-time phase. We recently moved in together, and as we settle into a routine, I find that he’s less and less interested in sex. At first, it took me a while to notice that I was always the one initiating it; now, I can’t help but think about it all the time.
Advertisement
Not being desired by the person you love the most can really start to grate on your self-esteem. The few times I’ve brought it up, he says that it has nothing to do with me, that he just has a naturally lower libido, and that it has nothing to do with how much he loves me. I find it hard to accept that someone who masturbates to porn VERY regularly has a low libido, but I’ve tried everything. I don’t want him to just have sex with me to make me feel better; I just wish he wanted to (a lot) more frequently.
Most of the times that we do have sex, he’s more of a passive participant than an enthusiastic lover — which, of everything in bed I’ve tried, is the biggest turn-on for me. I feel like he’s pressured to have sex with me to keep me happy; in turn, it puts pressure on me to make it as enjoyable as possible for him, in hopes that he’ll want it more often. Both things lead to me feeling unsatisfied anyway. What should I do?
-J
The desire to masturbate can be completely different (meaning separate from) the desire to have sex with a partner. It sounds like rather than having a generally low sex drive, he either has a low sex-with-a-partner drive or a low sex-with-you drive now that the puppy love has worn off and you two have gone all domestic.
So, you’ve got some choices to make here. If you’re comfortable having more than one sexual and/or romantic partner, you can broach the subject of opening up your relationship and work out the terms of that together. Or, you can resign yourself to feeling sexually unsatisfied most of the time. Or, you can get really good at masturbating and get your sexual gratification from that most of the time. Or, you can break up with this boyfriend, find a new partner, and wait more than a year before moving in together so you can see how the relationship develops once the sunshine-and-daisies, feel-good phase has worn off — instead of finding out after the lease has been signed and all the boxes are unpacked.
If it were my unsatisfied body, I’d go with the first or last option. But, it’s your body, so you’re going to have to weigh the pros and cons of each for yourself, and make your own decision.
Advertisement