11 Signs You’re Selfish In Bed — Because It Isn't Just A Guy Thing

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today's topic: 11 signs you're being selfish in bed.

Q: I just got dumped by my boyfriend. We were only together for a couple of months, but he said something as he was breaking up with me that I can’t get out of my head. He’s a shy guy, and he seemed really nervous as he was breaking up with me. Stuttering over his words, having a hard time expressing himself, that kind of thing. Finally he said, “you can be kind of selfish… you know… in the bedroom.” That comment caught me off guard. I asked him to elaborate, but he wouldn’t say anything else, and that was the end of it. I’ve been with so many men who were selfish lovers that, to be honest, I never even really thought that women were capable of being selfish in bed. Is it possible I was being a dick without realizing it?

A: Thanks for the question! Break-ups always suck, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. At the same time, they can also be really good opportunities for self-reflection. This is a chance for you to take a look back at your sex life with your ex and get some clarity on what you might want the next time around. It’s hard for me to guess at what your ex meant by his statement, but there’s one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty: selfishness in the bedroom knows no gender boundaries. Women can be just as selfish in the bedroom as men. The tricky thing about selfishness when it comes to sex is that it doesn’t always come from a place of genuine self-centeredness. Most of us have complicated relationships with sex, and sometimes we inadvertently wind up coming off as selfish when we’re actually just struggling with our own certain hang-ups, double-standards, or insecurities. 

Here are 11 subtle and not-so-subtle signs that you’re being a selfish lover.

1. You Always Expect Your Partner To Initiate 

Did you ever find yourself getting mad at a partner for not initiating sex when you wanted it? This is a prime example of a selfish act that can have complicated roots. Heterosexual women are typically socialized to take a backseat when it comes to sex. If we’re too expressive with our desires, we can even get slapped with the ridiculous “slut” label. So a lot of women sit back, waiting for their partners to initiate sex. 

But for some women, this laid-back approach is a sign of actual selfishness. Some women don’t want to put themselves in the vulnerable position of initiating sex, or they enjoy the thrill of being the one to say “yes” or “no”. Regardless of your motivations, though, it’s not fair to put all of the burden on your partner’s shoulders. Even if you're naturally more submissive in bed, there are ways to initiate sex.

2. … And Then Do All The Work

The same kinds of dynamics can pop up around who takes charge during sex itself. Some women’s insecurities or hang-ups make it difficult for them to do or ask for what they want during sex. Other women enjoy not having to do any of the work. Let’s be honest — sometimes just laying back and letting your partner do everything can be really enjoyable. But making your partner take the reigns all the time is selfish (unless you have an established agreement in place, of course!). 

If your partner ever asked what you wanted to do, would you usually respond with, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Would you always expect them to pick the positions, suggest the fantasy to act out, or be the one on top during intercourse? If so, you might think you're being agreeable, but in reality, it can actually be selfish to put that burden entirely on someone else. 

3. You Refuse To Give Up Any Control

On the other hand, there are some women who know exactly what they like, and want to take the lead and be in charge every time. (Again, this doesn't apply if you have an agreement in place for one of you to be the dom and the other the sub.) But if you don’t take your partner’s wishes into consideration, it’s a pretty good sign you’re being selfish. Did you ever ask your ex what he liked or what he wanted to do? If not, that's pretty selfish.

4. You Don't Wait For Enthusiastic Consent 

Challenging your partner’s boundaries can range from subtle pressuring all the way to straight-up sexual abuse. Did you ever push a partner to do something that he wasn’t fully comfortable with? Ever say anything like, “I know you’re going to like it” or “just try it for me”? Did you ever go ahead and try something without getting enthusiastic consent beforehand? That doesn't respect consent, and it's selfish. 

5. You Expect Them To Perform

This one is especially an issue for women who have sex with men. It’s one of the main ways that I see women behaving selfishly during sex. Most women expect their partners to get hard immediately and stay hard. If your ex ever had issues with his erection, did you ever catch yourself complaining, getting upset, or making degrading comments? The reality is that penises — and the men attached to them — are not machines. Sometimes penises don’t feel like cooperating, even if the guy is raring to go. Of course it’s disappointing, and of course it’s hard not to take it personally, but it's selfish to expect your partner's body to act exactly how you want it to, or that they will always be in the mood for sex. 

6. You Expect To Recieve, But Rarely Reciprocate

The main way I see this one happening is with oral sex. Do you expect your partner to perform oral sex, but refuse to return the favor? Receiving but not giving is a classic example of selfishness. Everyone gets to decide their own boundaries when it comes to sex and intimacy, but it’s not fair to expect something you’re not willing to give in return.

7. You Don't Pay Attention To Your Partner’s Pleasure

If you’re honest with yourself, does it ever feel like you're solely focused on getting yours? Does a partner's pleasure and satisfaction matter to you? Do you take the time to focus on your partner, or communicate with them about their experience? Even if you’re having casual sex, you should always want to ensure that your partner is enjoying themselves. 

8. You Don't Care If Your Partner Orgasms...

Do you catch yourself checking out after you orgasm? Or not caring whether or not your partner has an orgasm of their own? Your partner’s orgasm isn’t fully your responsibility (orgasm is too personal of a process for that), but you should want to do anything you can to help your partner get there.

9. … Or You Care Too Much

Have you ever thrown a fit if your partner couldn’t come? Ever guilt trip your partner and accuse them of not being attracted to you or for not enjoying being intimate with you? The flip-side of the coin is getting too invested in your partner’s orgasm. Yep, there is such a thing as caring too much about your partner’s pleasure, and it's actually selfish and pressuring. 

10. You Put A Timeline On Your Partner’s Orgasm

Do you ever get upset if your partner comes too quickly, or takes too long? Some women are really picky about when their partner climaxes. Lots of people want to have simultaneous orgasms, even though they are pretty rare. Orgasm timing can be complex, but one partner should not get to dictate when you both come.

11. You're Not Showing Basic Respect

As I said before, sometimes it can be tricky to sort out when something is selfish and when it inadvertently comes off as such. One of the best and most straightforward guidelines is the good ol’ Golden Rule. Do you ever treat partners in ways that you would not want to be treated in return?

If you see yourself in any of these dynamics, it’s worth taking some time to think about ways you might be able to be more considerate with your next partner. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, but try to be honest about your intentions. Do you have any hang-ups or issues you need to address on your own? Remember, double standards have no place in good sex.

Good luck!

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