Savage Love

My boyfriend wants me to push him around in bed. How can I learn to be more assertive?


By Dan Savage

I’m twenty-one years old and in a monogamous relationship. I lost my virginity to my boyfriend, and it was a really great experience. I was drawn to BDSM even before I began having sex, and he’s been happily fulfilling my needs. However, he revealed fairly early on that he also enjoys being submissive during sex. I asked him to explain what sort of dominance he was looking for, but he said he’d rather show me. Recently he tried to steer a sex session in that direction — me dominating him — but I felt nervous and self-conscious. I felt like I was failing a pop quiz. How do I become more comfortable with being a dom? Any tips for first-time doms? Or am I just not cut out for this?

— Not Quite A Dom

There are a lot of skilled, confident BDSM tops out there — people who are exclusively dominant or switch — who got into it for the same reason you’ve started to explore your dominant side, NQAD: to please a submissive and/or switch partner.

But “show me” is not how a couple incorporates BDSM into their sex life. Maybe he’s having a hard time articulating his desires because he’s shy, or maybe he’s insecure, or maybe he mistakenly believes that sex — even logistically complicated sex — should just “happen naturally.”

So here’s my first tip: Force him to talk about what sort of BDSM or D/S play he’s interested in. A lot can be assumed during a strictly vanilla sexual encounter — far too much is assumed, far too often — but what goes on during a sexual encounter involving BDSM has to be specifically and explicitly negotiated. If he’s too shy to have a face-to-face conversation about his kinks, do it over e-mail. If he doesn’t feel comfortable sending e-mails (they live forever on a server, they can be forwarded), tell him to you write you a letter, read it in his presence, then tear it up.

Second tip: The less a newbie dom has to fake during BDSM sex, NQAD, the less daunting the role feels. Instead of pretending that you’re a menacing and experienced dom, incorporate what’s really going on — your boyfriend is so submissive that he’s submitting to his submissive girlfriend, and how perverted is that? — into your play and dirty talk. Then your unfamiliarity with the dom role becomes something you’re bringing to the scene, NQAD, not something that’s causing you to fail at it.

Third tip: A blindfold is an inexperienced dom’s best friend. Not ready to visit your local BDSM sex shoppe? An ACE bandage will do the trick. You’ll feel much less self-conscious if he can’t see you fumbling with rope, suppressing a nervous giggle, or searching high and low for a mislaid key to the handcuffs.

 

I recently made friends with a guy who is in his first sexual relationship. He comes to me, his best male buddy, with questions, and I try to make sure he’s informed and being safe. But he’s asked me a question about oral sex that I don’t know how to answer. What is a man supposed to do when he’s about to ejaculate during oral sex? I feel like there should be a polite version of “Where do you want it?” that a guy can say to a woman, but I’ll be damned if I can think of it.

— Sexual Advice Xactly Our Need

When your friend is getting close — when he’s approaching “orgasmic inevitability,” as the sex researchers call it — he should say, “I’m getting close.” (Duh, right?) And just as he’s passing the point of orgasmic inevitability — his mother kicking down the bedroom door and leading a SWAT team into the room couldn’t keep him from ejaculating — he should say, “I’m coming.”

At that moment, the blowjob bestower — your friend’s new GF, in this case — can remove the dick from her mouth and point it at her tits or over her shoulder or at his mother. Or she can leave it in her mouth, let him come, and then decide if she wants to spit or swallow. She’s the decider.

 

I’m a twenty-four-year-old straight girl, and vaginal sex does nothing for me. I’ve never been molested and I don’t take pills. I feel sexual pleasure in other parts of my body and experience clitoral orgasms, but as far as getting fucked by a dick goes, it’s about as interesting as a finger in a fist. Through Googling, I’ve found others with this issue, and the general response to us seems to be that it’s a surmountable mental problem — which is vague and unhelpful.

So I’m asking for the opposite. Is there scientific research about this? Is there hope? Or do I just have to learn to deal? It is lonely and depressing to experience the gold standard that is vaginal sex as a kind of animate masturbatory aid. Also, at what point do I tell my partners I have this malfunction?

— Wrong Type Freak

“I’d recommend that she spend some time exploring her vagina, trying different positions, experimenting with placing pressure on the posterior and anterior walls of her vagina, and with friction on her cervix,” says Meredith Chivers, an assistant professor of psychology, a clinical psychologist, and a sexuality researcher at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. “The best position to do all this is with her on top, controlling the speed, depth, and trajectory — for lack of a better word — of the thrusts, and pairing this with clitoral stimulation.”

If you decide to give vaginal intercourse another shot, Chivers also recommends that you warm up with lots of oral sex, toys, masturbation, and the other stuff you enjoy. That way you’ll be “engorged, erect, and lubricated, and subjectively turned on” before penetration.

Chivers also wonders if you’ve discovered your G-spot. “If she hasn’t found her G-spot, finding it might be a watershed moment,” says Chivers. “For some women, G-spot stim is associated with experiencing intense ‘vaginal’ orgasms and ejaculating.” Finding the G-spot can be tricky, Chivers adds, and it’s best to attempt it when you’re very aroused. “Stimulate the anterior wall of the vagina (side nearest the belly button) about five centimeters in,” says Chivers, by using a “come here” motion with the index finger.

And if you try all of that — or if you’ve already tried that — and it doesn’t work?

“Perhaps it simply is the case that for her, like a substantial minority of women, vaginal penetration is not all that fulfilling,” says Chivers. “If so, I would strongly recommend that she reinterpret her lack of interest in vaginal sex as a preference — one that is not uncommon — and not a malfunction.”

“As for telling her partners,” says Chivers, “I suppose it depends on the nature of the relationship and whether or not she’s willing to be GGG [good, giving, and game] and have vaginal sex to satisfy her partner, even though this may not be her first choice on the menu.”

In other words, WTF, if penetration doesn’t cause you emotional or physical distress — if it’s something you can take or leave — tell a new partner early on about your strong preference for other forms of sex. Then indulge the dude in vaginal intercourse when you’re up for it, or he’s desperate for it, while incorporating lots of clitoral stimulation during the act.

Meredith Chivers tweets on sex and gender research, sociopolitical issues relating to sexual and gender minorities, and psych research in general. Follow Chivers — and learn from her — on Twitter @QSagelab. (And you can follow me at @fakedansavage.)

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage 

mail@savagelove.net

Commentarium (18 Comments)

Nov 16 11 - 4:19am
Axl

Sexual Advice Xactly Our Need, you just need, I mean, your \"friend\" needs to stop worrying and just be more communicative with his GF.

Nov 16 11 - 4:51am
GDE

I hate my G spot stimulated. Why do all the doctors go for that when girls don't enjoy penetration?

Nov 24 11 - 6:27am
best

that is a shame. try, try, and try again. if your partner sucks, get a new one. if you are too dry, get some lube. if you hate penetration, get anal.
G SPOT BE YOUR FRIEND + CLITORAL = THE JESUS

Nov 16 11 - 10:07am
Kenzo

Try anal!

Nov 16 11 - 11:07am
+2

NQAD- I'd also recommend you take a look at a book by Jay Wiseman called "Sm 101: A Realistic Introduction" ; it will give you both a good basis for good and safe practices, as well as giving you a leg up on fun things to do that may not have occurred.

Nov 16 11 - 11:42am
BrosephofArimathea

LW#1: if he's a sub, making him squeal about his preferences shouldn't be a problem.

Nov 16 11 - 3:50pm
yep

I'm in the same boat... vaginal intercourse doesn't do much. I do, however, LOVE anal. Maybe you should check it out. It feels like all the things that you are supposed to be feeling vaginally happen for me anally. Unfortunately my last partner wasn't into anal, but most guys are super down. For vaginal sex, I just had to stimulate myself with my clit, which didn't do that much for me when there was a dick inside. OYE! It's tough being a woman!

Nov 17 11 - 1:49am
mai_b

A quick fyi - only 10% of women have a g-spot. So, please, please stop recommending that people search for it.

Nov 17 11 - 5:39am
nope

Citation needed.

Nov 17 11 - 9:41am
mai_b

Hines (2001). American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Levin (2003). Sexual and Relationship Therapy

Nov 17 11 - 3:45pm
Tah

Tap her on the head.
That's what I was told.

Nov 18 11 - 2:46am
Ryan

What the fuck? I don't understand either you OR Dan about this.

It's easiest just to ASK "Can I cum in your mouth?" I've done this with every girl that's sucked my dick, even when I've only known them for a night. Only one that I know of has said no, and it wasn't a buzzkill at all. I think if a girl is uncomfortable with swallowing just telling her "I'm coming" or tapping her on the head is a little late/a little vague.

I'm just saying, 90% of women are down to swallow... but it really isn't an inconvenience to give them more than a split second's heads up.

Nov 19 11 - 9:27pm
whoa

90% of women are down to swallow? I want citations on this research.

Nov 18 11 - 11:32pm
thenexxus

learn to slap him silly, i love to teach you

Nov 20 11 - 10:45pm
M.

To the 24 year old straight girl: about this lack of sensation in the vagina thing - yeah, sigh, me too. It's really common. However, I've found that manual clitoral stimulation during penetrative intercourse can make all the difference. It goes from feeling like nothing at all inside, to un-fucking-believably good - inside. Also, the older I get, the better it's getting. My girlfriends all report the same things. So don't give up hope just yet.

Nov 21 11 - 12:58am
MD

Agreed. I am also a 24 year old straight girl. By NO means are you malformed or dysfunctional. Up to 25% of women do not experience vaginal orgasms. We are socialized by the media (porn, television, etc) to believe that it happens for everyone. Although many women find vaginal penetration pleasurable, reaching orgasm is not a given. In our climax-driven culture, I can see how you think this may be a problem. I would take the pressure off of yourself, try some of the tips recommend above, and try and enjoy the experience.

Nov 28 11 - 5:47pm
tryagain

WTF- I thought the same thing, thru 2 marriages, I just dont get off vaginally... til I started dating a guy with an above average size dick... longer, thicker. It perfectly hits all the right places and I get to enjoy many vaginal orgasms.

Dec 11 11 - 5:07pm
jparkes

You can't always change your habits in bed to please someone else, if it's not something you're into then you may be with the wrong person. If you want to try it...i'd have a red bull or three to bring the energy level up and start smacking him around.