If Your Partner Won’t Take Feedback In Bed, Experts Say To Try These 8 Tips
Sexperts always stress the importance of communicating what you want in bed to your partner. It’s as if everything can be solved by great communication — and often, it can. But what if you communicate everything perfectly and your partner doesn’t listen? For some people, the challenge isn’t giving feedback but getting their partner to take it.
"Your sexual satisfaction is equally as important as your partner’s," psychologist Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., author of Becoming Cliterate, tells Bustle. "And, if we are going to be understanding (albeit not tolerant) of their getting their ego involved, if this is a male partner, we need to realize that they’ve been heavily socialized to equate their manhood with their ability to please a woman. In fact, one recent study showed that men view women’s orgasms as a masculinity achievement. However, they’ve often been misguided that the key to your orgasm is them thrusting hard and lasting long, and this makes some men reluctant to take direction, especially for clitoral stimulation. But, in the end, if they won’t take direction, it’s likely time to find a new partner."
Here are some tips for getting your partner to listen to your feedback if they tend to ignore it, according to experts.
1. Understand Why They Won’t Take Your Feedback
Mintz often sees this situation with men in relationships with women, and it’s often because men view their ability to please women as proof of their manhood. A request for clitoral stimulation or something else outside intercourse can be particularly triggering due to the societal idea that what a man’s penis can do defines his sexual prowess.
That’s not an excuse, but it may help you understand how to broach the topic with them. “You may need to work a bit harder to help them let go of these cultural lies, get their ego out of the way, and take directions,” Mintz says.
2. Lead By Example
You can model the kind of behavior you want from your partner by asking for feedback yourself. Receiving this kind of attention may make them more willing to give it.
"Make an offer first,” Astroglide’s resident sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly, tells Bustle. "Ask them what you can do to make the experience even hotter so that you’re modeling a willingness to learn, grow, and adapt. Some lines to consider include: 'Is there anything you want to try?,' 'What can I do to take care of you?,' [...] 'how can I make it even better for you?,' [...] and 'I like when you give me direction.'"
3. Give Positive Feedback Often
The negative feedback will be easier to handle if there's lots of positive feedback couching it. “Be vocal with positive feedback on an ongoing basis,” Dr. Jess says. “If you make talking about sex a regular occurrence, they’re less likely to be taken aback when you speak up about wanting something different or new. Giving ongoing praise will make them more eager to respond to your requests and feedback, as they’ll crave more of your positive reinforcement.”
4. Start Off The Conversation By Complimenting Them
If these tactics don't work, it's time to have a separate conversation about them not listening to you. Since your partner’s reluctance to take directions likely stems from insecurity, reassuring them that you like having sex with them can make them more open to feedback.
“I really love you and our sex life is important to me” is a good way to begin the conversation, Mintz says. Then, you can say upfront, “I want to talk to you about a way to improve it, and I am fearful you will get defensive, and I’d really appreciate if you try to just hear me out.”
5. State Clearly What You Want
Even if you’ve requested certain things during sex, it may have a stronger impact if you bring it up in no uncertain terms outside the bedroom. For example, you might say, “I really would like you to take more time with pleasuring me before intercourse” and then repeat the compliment: “I am talking to you about this because I love you and want us to be the best we can be together in bed,” Mintz says.
6. Suggest Educational Resources
Your partner may be scared to try to change things in your sex life because they don’t know if they’ll do a good job at it. If that’s the case, you can offer them resources like the site OMGYes or books like Becoming Cliterate and She Comes First. “If none of it works, you could seek out counseling together with someone who specializes in sexuality,” Mintz says.
7. Listen To Them
If you want your partner to get better at listening to you, make sure you're listening to them as well, Dr. Jess says. "Remember that the way you perceive their reaction is also a matter of your own perspective," she says.
"Perhaps you perceive them to be sensitive when, in fact, they’re more open than you realize," she says. "Share your own feelings and concerns as opposed to pretending to understand theirs: 'I love how you/we _ and I’d really love if you/we could _. I know it’s an uncomfortable conversation (for me, at least), but it’s important because I love having sex with you.'"
8. Consider Leaving
If you’ve tried these techniques and your partner still won’t take your desires seriously, leaving the relationship is not unreasonable. After all, their unwillingness to budge doesn’t just hurt your sex life; it conveys a lack of concern for your happiness.
“At the risk of being a bit dichotomous, I’d say either get them to listen to you or leave them — and this may depend on both just how important sexual satisfaction is to you and how committed you are to the relationship,” Mintz says.
Remember, Mintz adds, “You deserve a partner who is open to your feedback and your pleasure!” Don't be afraid to stand up for your sexual needs. There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want, and if you partner makes you feel bad about it, that's their problem, not yours.