Dear Love Lounge,
My partner and I have different sexual needs. We are both disabled and before getting together had limited sexual experiences. We’ve been together for almost a year and are very open with each other and comfortable in our own skins. It’s fair to say we really love each other and want this relationship to last. The problem is that there’s one thing in particular that really excites her, and it is a complete turn off for me. I have attempted to go along with it, but she knows I’m not into it and it ruins the moment and causes an argument.
It’s becoming an issue and our sex life is suffering. How do we get over this?
(Billy’s name has been changed and he recieved a private response prior to this Q&A being published.)
It sounds like you have a strong, happy relationship despite your different sexual needs. I’m encouraged that you’re very open and comfortable with each other. This will hopefully set you in good stead for resolving this issue.
Sexual compatibility is about the shared feelings that you and your partner have about your needs, desires, wants and beliefs around sex.
What To Do When You Have Different Sexual Needs
Ultimately, you and your partner will have to discuss how far each of you are willing to compromise. This will involve very honest, open, frank discussions. And lots of trial and error. It is vital that each of you always feel respected and gives consent.
If you can work together towards a shared goal, this will help. Set some targets, keep giving feedback about how you’re feeling. It needs to be something that you both are keen to achieve, not something that will make you feel under more pressure. Currently it sounds like you’ve tried to fulfil her need but she isn’t enjoying the fact that you’re not enjoying it. That’s a good indicator that you want your love-making to be enjoyable for both of you and your partner isn’t being selfish about her needs.
The Dangers of Forcing The Issue
With different sexual needs, sometimes one person might think that if the couple tries a particular act many times, the other person will get used to it and enjoy it. This isn’t always the case. Doing this can cause trauma and irreversible damage.
So, the compromise, or solution, that you find together will be whatever you BOTH find acceptable, and perhaps fulfilling for both too. No one should be forced to do something they don’t want to and equally if someone is constantly sacrificing what they’d really want to do, it will build up huge resentment.
What If We Can’t Resolve It?
The key is to recognise that both of your feelings count. When in a relationship with another, your partner’s feelings are just as important as yours. By working within this frame, you will have mutual respect and are more likely to share your honest feelings with each other knowing they will be safe and valued. If your opinion of something differs, that’s ok, but to dismiss the other person’s opinion or feelings as not mattering, then begins a problem which will just push you further apart.
Ignoring the disparity between two people’s sexual tastes will never work. The problem will become bigger and impact on other areas of the relationship. If you are unable to find a mutual compromise, then therapy will help to repair resentments. It will offer a safe space for you both to share your feelings and concerns, without shame, accusation, or guilt. The therapist will facilitate each partner to be heard and will notice patterns and hidden meaning in what you’re both saying. (Learn more about what sexual therapy involves in this episode of Undressing Disability Podcast.)
How sexually different are you?
If it seems impossible to find compromise or your tastes are far too different, it may be time to call an end to a relationship. If you are both unable to satisfy each other, is it fair to stay in a relationship full of resentment, frustration, and angst?
If your different sexual needs were a matter of frequency, and you’re near the desired target of your partner, then compromise would probably be easy to achieve. However, if your partner is into kink and you’re into vanilla and neither are wanting to compromise by doing a bit of both, then it will be much harder to make it work.
Both could set each other free to find a partner whose sexual tastes are more compatible. And therefore, you may be more fulfilled in a different relationship that matches your needs. This wouldn’t be an easy choice and would be the last resort, but sometimes the gap is just too vast.
With your desire to stay together and your openness and love you have for each other; I feel you will manage to have the important talks. Respect for each other will be key here.
I wish you the best of luck in finding a compromise!
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