5 Things You Don't Owe Anyone In Bed
young chinese woman resting at home
franckreporter/E+/Getty Images

There's nothing you ever owe anybody during sex. If you do something solely because the other person says you owe it, that's not sex — it's sexual assault. That said, it's worth spelling out a few particular things you don't owe anyone in bed. "You don’t ever owe your partner anything in bed — other than respect," Astroglide's Resident Sexologist Dr. Jessica O'Reilly tells Bustle. Unfortunately, though, we as a society tend to view sex and relationships as a barter system. Under this belief, somebody might think they owe someone sex because they support them financially. Someone else might believe they owe someone a sexual "favor" because they've gotten one.

When we operate within this framework, it takes the joy out of every interaction. Rather than us simply interacting with others in the ways we want, sex and other encounters end up feeling like a chore, since we're just doing them because we think we have to. We start to resent one another for "making" us do things, whether they've explicitly told us to or not.

There's a more fulfilling way to have relationships, one where we only do what brings us and the other person happiness. Where you say "no" to anything that's not a "hell yes." Where you never feel like you owe any of these things, because you don't.



No one likes a selfish lover, but hear me out. We tend to think of many sexual acts as something one person benefits from, and then they're indebted to the other person. What if, instead, we only did things that both people enjoy? What if, for example, people only gave oral sex if they genuinely desired it? That way, nobody would feel like they owe someone something because they received a "favor" or like the other person owes them because they've done something they didn't get much out of.

If you're not into giving oral or manual sex, don't feel pressure to do it just because you've received it. Don't feel pressure to do anything you're not totally into.


Finishing What You Started

Just because you started having sex with someone doesn't mean you have to keep going until they're satisfied, because that is not how consent works. "You can change you mind at any point," says Dr. Jess.

Besides, our whole view of sex is way too goal-oriented. Just because someone hasn't orgasmed doesn't mean sex isn't over. It's over when you don't want to continue (and no, that's not an excuse to routinely finish and go to sleep as if there's not another person involved).


An Ego Boost

If something's not working for you, speak up. Any partner who penalizes you for that is more interested in feeling good about themselves than actually making you feel good. Even if constructive criticism bruises their ego a bit, they should be able to look past that and realize they'd prefer your genuine displeasure over your fake pleasure.


A Show

The objectification of women has reached such absurd proportions that even our pleasure is depicted as something that exists for our partners. Porn is full of women screaming and writhing, but in real life, our responses can be far more subtle. Your pleasure should be for you, so experience and express it however you most enjoy.


An Orgasm

Many people feel pressure to orgasm for the sake of their partners, and that's whack. As I mentioned, you're not there to make your partner feel good about themselves, and you're not there to put on a show. You deserve an orgasm if that's what you want, but if it doesn't happen, that doesn't mean you or your partner has failed at sex.

Along the same lines, you don't owe your partner an orgasm. "You can have three orgasms for every singular orgasm they experience," says Dr. Jess. "If you keep score, you’ll inevitably end up frustrated."

This isn't to say you shouldn't consider your partner's desires, of course. "Relationships are contracts, and you need to make an effort to meet one another’s needs," says Dr. Jess. "This is how you cultivate sexual compatibility. So while you don’t owe anyone anything, you’re likely to find that putting effort into sexual growth will benefit you both in the long run." But if your desires don't line up with theirs, you always have veto power.