Putting your partner first sometimes is part of a healthy relationship. Putting your partner first all the time is not. If you're a people pleaser, or even just a really considerate, loving partner, you may be guilty of doing unnecessary things during sex to make your partner happy.
Even though you're just trying to please your partner, what you're really doing is setting the stage for how your future sexual encounters would go. You're also building the perfect storm for resentment, exhaustion, and even depression, according to Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT, in an article for Psych Central.
And subverting your own needs and desires for the sake of pleasing your partner has even more negative consequences. You don't get your needs met, and over time, you may become disconnected to what your needs even are.
Plus, being more concerned about your partner's experience than your own can actually have the opposite effect. Your partner may feel weird about some of the things you do, or guilty that she or she gets all the attention.
In my time as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and a Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I've talked with numerous couples about the unnecessary ways one partner tries to please the other during sex. These are some of the most common responses.
1. Keeping Your Feelings In
Since we're trying to move past stereotypes and gender role expectations, let's bust the myth right now that talking about your feelings, wants, desires, fantasies, and even dislikes, is annoying and not at all sexy. Equal, caring partnerships (and random hookups) should be about both (or all) parties having a good time and feeling comfortable. Not to sound like that person, but you shouldn't be having sex with someone who doesn't care about what you like or dislike. Even if your thing is for your partner to be rough and, let's just say, "not at all romantic," you're still getting what you want. Speak up!
2. Freshening Up
If it will make you feel more comfortable and confident, then by all means, head to the ladies room to to do your thang. But odds are, you're already just fine in that department. Most of the time, you won't be making enough of a difference in the freshness department to make stopping the action for some clean-up necessary. Plus, it's about to get all sweaty and fluidy anyway. And while we're on the subject, makeup is about to get wrecked, hair is about to get trashed, and undergarments are about to get ripped off, so don't worry about those either.
You might think that going for the "Best Sexual Performance During A Sex Act" Academy Award makes your partner feel like a sexual ninja, but there's definitely a line. Too much thrashing and moaning interrupts the whole experience. Plus, if your partner really knows you and your body, then cues like your breathing and muscle contractions will let him or her know how it's going. And putting on a full-on porno performance will probably make your partner think you're faking it, even if you aren't. Just be yourself, and enjoy the experience in whatever way feels natural to you.
Studying the Kama Sutra and trying complex sex moves can be totes fun and exciting, but it can also be weird and uncomfortable. And I'm assuming you both want to be comfortable. There's no need to feel pressure to do wild and crazy moves in bed. It's better to have good sex than interesting sex. And it's definitely harder to have sex with a muscle strain. Try new things, sure, but your partner probably isn't expecting Cirque Du Soleil every time.
5. Not Taking The Lead
You don't have to just go along with things because you think that's what your partner wants. You'd be surprised how sexy it can be to toy with power dynamics or to take the lead and demonstrate what works for you. If you're worried about how your partner will react, just take it slow, and don't be afraid to ask if he or she likes what you're doing.
6. Focusing On Orgasms
Of course you want to get your partner to the promise land, but that's not the only enjoyable part of sex. Some women find that they have a hard time orgasming and then one or both partners feel guilty and it's a whole thing. Maybe it's due to stress stress or nervousness or a new medication or for whatever reason, it's just not happening. It's OK to focus on the other pleasurable aspects of sex and let each partner decide what's enjoyable.
7. Turning Off The Lights
If you assume your partner wants the lights off, you're assuming her or she doesn't want to see your body. Seeing your partner naked can be a huge turn on. If you don't feel confident (trust me, your body is everything, just the way it is), then consider dimming the lights instead of turning them all the way off. That way you can both take in the fabulous sights of your sexytimes. Of course, if you both are into lights-off sex just because that's what allows you both to have the best time, then go for it. But don't ever feel like you have to hide something, because you are fabulous.
And remember, if someone doesn't respect your wants, enjoy your body, or care about your pleasure, they don't deserve to have sex with you.