When I first started having sex, I was so excited to be having it, I didn’t really care about the specifics — like how respectful my partner was, whether I orgasmed, or how we interacted outside the bedroom. But now, there are things I won’t put up with in bed. If someone’s going to leave me feeling devalued or unsatisfied (or both, because they tend to go together), I’d rather go to bed with myself.
Katherine Schafler, a licensed therapist who runs a private practice in New York, tells Bustle that most of the things we deserve in bed come down to safety and dignity. "Safety means consent for sex, transparency about protection and contraception use, and understanding that people are allowed to change their minds about any aspect of a sexual encounter at any time,” she says. "At the most basic level, dignity simply means that you understand that a human is a human, not an object. Objects don't have feelings, can be used whenever you want or need them, and can be thrown around, thrown away, and otherwise disregarded.”
Here are some things I used to put up with in bed that I just don’t have the time for anymore.
Comparisons To Porn Stars
“Why can’t you put it all in your mouth like porn stars?” “Don’t you want to swallow it?” These are actual questions people have asked me in bed, and they horrify me. If someone is still operating under the belief that real people should act like porn stars, I just don’t have the time to teach them how to be the kind of partner I want, because they’ve got a long way to go.
There’s no need to keep count or anything, but if your partner’s consistently orgasming and then stopping before you, there’s a lack of consideration there (unless orgasming is difficult for you and you’ve told them you prefer not to think about it). I put up with way too many people who didn’t seem to understand sex is for both people’s pleasure.
Pressure To Orgasm
On the flip side, I’ve often felt pressure to fake orgasms or say I was close when I wasn’t because I knew my partner wanted it. Between partners asking “are you close?” so they could finish and saying “did you come?” afterward, I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. It’s possible to help someone orgasm if they want to without making them feel pressured.
Anything someone does that makes you feel obligated to sleep with them is a form of sexual coercion. There’s a big difference between someone saying they want sex and waiting to see if you do too and someone saying they want sex in order to convince you to have it. Even if someone’s not intending to pressure you, they should be conscious of anything they might say to give off that impression.
This may seem obvious, but it was not obvious to me at the time. One of my exes would keep going when I told him sex hurt, and my therapist told me it was just hard for men to stop. Another guy talked me into giving him oral sex when I’d said “no,” and since he didn’t physically force me, I assumed I’d consented. Another unbuttoned my shirt soon after I’d said I wasn’t ready for that, and I assumed he just thought I’d changed my mind. These are all abusive behaviors. If it feels even a little abusive, it’s abusive.
Lack Of Human Decency
Contrary to what stereotype might suggest, women don’t all want relationships with the people they hook up with. What they do generally want is basic respect. That means acknowledging your existence outside the bedroom, having an actual conversation with you, and communicating about what your relationship entails. It’s not “biological” for men to be inconsiderate toward their partners. Guys who do this are just trying to project a socially lauded image of masculinity, often because they’re insecure.
Attempts To Force A Relationship
Assuming that any woman you sleep with should be your girlfriend can be just as misogynistic as acting like she’s good for sex and nothing else. Declarations of love the first time you hook up (yes, this has happened to me), attempts to start a relationship when you have nothing in common, and pressure to be monogamous when you’ve just met all feel forced — and often possessive. They’re the product of someone trying to fit you into a box rather than explore whatever connection you genuinely have.
When you’re starved for sex or attention, these things become easy to overlook. But more and more, I’ve realized it’s better to go hungry for a while than eat junk food.