How To Feel Confident In Bed

My boyfriend is funny, cool, and really bright. We've been together for a couple of years. I decided to date him two years after a rough breakup, having had time to regroup and feel more like myself again. Our one problem is sex. My ex-BF was the most comfortable man I had ever known concerning sex. Open to suggestions, incredibly at ease with my body — he made me feel beautiful and sexy. My current BF admits to having huge hangups about sex, feeling uncomfortable in his own body, and having a low libido. His previous GFs have all complained to me about this, so it's not just me. 

HOWEVER: I find it hard to not feel in the sexual dumps, and have started to feel completely in limbo. Our biggest hurdle is that talking about it makes it worse, not better — since my boyfriend is very sensitive and feels very bad about this recurrent situation. Any suggestions on solo activities that might make me feel better about myself? Any tips on relaxing about this? -S


Sex educator and author Emily Nagoski just had an interesting piece in The New York Times about the ways we pathologize human sexuality and why we should knock it off already. She was writing about a drug intended to treat low sexual desire in women, but all her points seem applicable to male-bodied people as well.

Your boyfriend is funny, cool, really bright, and he desires a smaller amount of sex than you desire. This is an incompatibility, but not necessarily an insurmountable one. If he sees his libido as problematically less active than he’d like, I’d recommend he see a physician to check his physical function and then consider seeing a sex-positive therapist if possible. That one-on-one time in a safe space with doctor-patient confidentiality can help with relaxation, and the training that therapists go through makes them way more qualified to guide a person to and through hang-ups than, like, friends at a bar or a stranger on the Internet. It sounds like you’re looking for ways to get your sexual needs met and also stay in a romantic relationship with your current partner. The possibility of ending this relationship and finding a partner with comparable levels of desire does bear mentioning, though. There’s no shame in realizing that you don’t match up with someone on a big issue and separating.

One thing you can do right now is get super into masturbating. Make appreciating your body and satisfying yourself physically a priority. Go full-on Narcissus-at-the-pool with loving yourself, and make sure your confidence in your beauty and sexual allure is rooted in your own body. This might involve massaging yourself in a warm bath strewn with rose petals, or taking brightly lit photos of yourself on the kitchen floor with the handle of a saucepan in your butthole, or (most likely) some other activity. If you aren’t already the main expert on your own unique sexual tastes, go forth, experiment, and make it so.

Another option is opening up your relationship and exploring polyamory, or its less emotionally invested cousin: polysexery. Since you’ve said your boyfriend already feels bad and is sensitive, be very cautious of his feelings if you decide to broach the subject of adding new sexual partners. This conversation can be incredibly difficult to navigate, even under ideal conditions, and this sort of situation can easily turn into the partner with the lower libido feeling like they’re being replaced.
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My wife and I have been married for seven years now and together for nearly a decade. Up until a year and a half ago, my wife would give amazing blow jobs. Not necessarily on the regular, but enough that I could remember the last time I got one. 
Now, she says she's done with them. She says she feels demeaning doing them, they hurt her jaw too much, and she wants to feel better about herself as a person. So, BJs are out. The rest of our sex life remains largely unchanged aside from the fact that she wants me to be more controlling circa Fifty Shades of Grey. I have made a few attempts at it (some better than others), but I just don't feel like I'm that type of person. I'm assuming this is a large part of the BJ lockdown. 

I love my wife to death, but lately I have found my thoughts straying to "other means" to get that amazing BJ. I don't think I'll ever act on these rogue thoughts, but I also can't stop thinking about the amazing BJs I used to get. What can I do to get them back? — P


“More controlling circa Fifty Shades of Grey” is super vague. Furthermore, Fifty Shades, like Secretary before it, presents a frequently arousing but textbook abusive relationship. Both might be great to get turned on by and start important conversations about kink and consent, but (just like most pornography) neither should be taken as an educational how-to. 

So, you two need to have a conversation: Does she want you to tell her what to wear? Tell her what to do? What limits does she have and what is her safe word* going to be? Does telling her what to do extend to telling her to give you those amazing blow jobs? Because if it does, then your BJ nostalgia problem is solved. But, if it doesn’t, then demanding them while topping her would be a violation of consent.

If specific and detailed discussion of sexual desires and fantasies is uncomfortable face-to-face, consider talking about it through text or email (just remember that data is never completely secure), handwritten letters, or turning the lights off. 

Once you’ve got a deeper understanding of what your wife wants from you as far as control or domination, you might find yourself more comfortable with those roles. 

Now, on to those blow jobs you miss: Your wife might never want to participate in them again. If that’s the case, I feel for you, but you do need to respect both her limits and whatever agreements about monogamy the two of you have made. The option of a consentingly open relationship might be worth pursuing. You also may want to explore what about fellatio feels degrading to your wife. Was she frequently on her knees? Did you typically grab the back of her head? Degradation is highly subjective, so her specific feedback on this might unlock the way to oral pleasure she feels comfortable and happy giving you. Maybe something as simple as massaging her jaw might make giving oral sex an attractive activity.

*The safe word is a very important part of BDSM, and is used by the submissive, dominant, or any other person involved to call an immediate stop to whatever is going on.
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