Help! Our Sex Styles Clash!
By Dr. Sari Locker
So one of you is a morning person, the other gets frisky at night. Or maybe your desire levels are way different. Read on for some case histories—and solutions.
You seem like a perfect couple. You have the same hobbies, interests, and lifestyle. But behind closed doors — closed bedroom doors, that is — lurks an issue of mismatched sex styles. When two people have different tastes in what they like in bed, how can they make their love life work? I’ll tell you about how five couples who navigated their way to a great sex life, despite their differences.
Mismatch #1: Frequent sex vs. weekly sex
The situation: If two to three times a week is the average number of times that people have sex, then Maxine’s libido is definitely above average—which caused problems once her relationship’s honeymoon period wore off. “When we first started dating, we did it before dinner, at bedtime, and again in the middle of the night. Three times a day seemed like the right amount for us. Then, after a few months, I felt like we never did it anymore. We were down to like once a week,” she laments. Her boyfriend, Joel, felt satisfied with their weekly romp, saying: “Weekly sex was perfect for me.” He says, “I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, and I liked knowing that it wasn’t something routine. Having it less frequently made it more exciting and spontaneous for me.”
The solution: Think spontaneous, not sporadic. Joel thinks of sex as a treat to be savored sparingly. But in order to make Maxine happier, he had to learn that he need not sacrifice spontaneity when increasing frequency. To strike a balance, the couple came up with a great tactic that I applaud: increasing the frequency but varying the location of sex to keep Joel on his toes. It worked wonders for Maxine, who found that she was very content with having sex twice a week. It’s working for Joel, too, who isn’t minding the change as much as he thought he would. “She surprises me about which room in the house we do it in, and that gives me the anticipation I’d been looking for,” he says.
Mismatch #2: Tons of foreplay vs. fast-forwarding to the main event
The situation: Many women would rejoice if their boyfriend really dug foreplay—but for Daniel and Wendy, this situation was causing pacing problems in bed. Making love should be a long, sexy experience that is much more than just intercourse,” believes Daniel. But his girlfriend, Wendy, didn’t share his philosophy. “I just liked to exchange a few kisses and then get right to it,” she explains. Every time this couple wanted to have sex, they worried about how they would each get what they wanted. “I wished she would change,” confesses Daniel, “but she’d always push my hands away from her breasts and move us right to intercourse.”
The solution: Talk specifically about what turns you on—and doesn’t. Surprisingly, Daniel and Wendy aren’t on as different pages as one might think. And by talking about what they specifically like to do — and not do — in bed, they could easily find some common ground and both get what they’re looking for. Case in point: When this couple had an honest discussion, Wendy admitted that she was self-conscious about receiving oral sex and did not enjoy breast stimulation. That’s when Daniel pointed out there were plenty of things he liked to do during foreplay that didn’t involve those activities (like kissing and massage). Suddenly, their mismatch was well on its way to a resolution. “I respected that Wendy felt uncomfortable with certain things,” Daniel says. “And since then, she has found that she enjoys holding off and not just diving right into intercourse.”
Mismatch #3: Morning vs. night
The situation: Early-riser Roseanne would wake up craving sex. “I wanted to wake up, roll into his arms, and have him make love to me,” says Roseanne about her boyfriend Andy. But Andy didn’t share the same viewpoint. “Sleep was all I wanted to do in the morning,” he admits. For Andy, their mismatch was at its worst when Roseanne would try to rouse him with foreplay. “I just wanted to be left alone,” he says. “That made me get annoyed with her, retreat from her, and then she’d be annoyed with me. By the nighttime when I finally wanted to do it, she would have no interest in me whatsoever.”
The solution: Take turns. The problem here wasn’t just that these two like having sex at different times. It’s also that they let this difference lead to some pretty harsh rejections of each other and hurt feelings. So for starters, the couple would do well to keep their anger in check, and then learn to compromise a bit to keep their sex life ticking like clockwork. Andy struck a deal that once every two weeks Roseanne could wake him for sex in the A.M. and he’d oblige. Roseanne, in turn, was then much more receptive come nighttime. In fact, there’s been a real shift: The mornings when she could have sex with Andy aren’t as important anymore. “I’m usually tired in the morning now, and I feel content knowing that we did it the night before,” she says. “So, I don’t want to wake Andy up. It’s actually a relief now that I can sleep more!”
Mismatch #4: Wild vs. mild
The situation: Rausch loved to experiment. Blindfolds, honey—bring it on. But for his girlfriend, Rachel, tame and tender was the name of the game. “If he suggested that we try a new position, costumes, or sex toys, I’d protest,” she says. “Nothing was more exciting to me than feeling loving and close. Nothing was less exciting than something contrived.” Rachel wanted sex to be natural and calm. How could this gibe with Rausch’s wild side?
The solution: Establish some boundaries—and take some baby steps. Granted, anyone who’s into meat-and-potatoes sex might blanch when face-to-face with handcuffs. But there are plenty of ways to experiment that won’t seem so scary. Rachel, for example, agreed to try a few products that she felt comfortable with but that would still add experimentation and variety—like massage oil, a new perfume, and a slinky shirt that Rauch bought her. In exchange, Rauch promised never to bust out the blindfold again. Rachel says, “Rausch really backed off once I agreed to do a few little things that would make it hotter for him. In fact, now that there is less push-and-pull between us, I feel like we are more in love during sex, which is what I wanted, and he is getting a bit of what he wants, too.”
Mismatch #5: Noisy vs. silent sex
The situation: When Mary gets in the mood, she likes to let her partner know… in so many words, moans, and more. “I love to moan and talk dirty when we’d start fooling around,” she says. “It always made me ready for sex.” But her partner Ron was a bit more on the shy side—and wasn’t exactly into waking the neighbors. “I wanted our lovemaking to be tender,” he says. “Hearing dirty talk is just not a turn-on for me.”
The solution: Learn new ways to make music together. While it’s within all people’s rights to be as loud or silent as they very well please in bed, compromise is always key. Loud lovers can learn to tone down their sound effects (and quiet lovers to turn it up) without sacrificing their satisfaction or comfort level. Remember that whispering something can be as erotic as shouting it and using milder phrases like “you feel so good” can pack just as much punch as something more graphic. Or, consider adding some background music so your own utterances aren’t as noticeable—a tactic that Ron and Mary now stand by. “Jazz and blues did the trick for us,” says Ron. “Every thing took on a calmer tone, and we both got to express ourselves in way that worked for each of us and our partner.” Which is exactly the idea…
Sari Locker, (c) 2007, 2014
First published on Match.com 2007
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