Being intimate with your partner is crucial in a relationship: It brings you closer, makes you feel connected, and, when you’re both being vulnerable and loving with one another, can be physically and emotionally satisfying. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. But in some relationships, there are moments during or after you hook up when you ask yourself, “Why does this feel weird?” You know something isn't right but can't quite pinpoint what the problem is.
Sex can be a litmus test for larger relationship problems: trust issues, a sign that the chemistry is lacking, or simply that you’re not compatible enough to stay together. If the physical side of things feels a bit off, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break up immediately: It just could mean you two need to get more comfortable with each other or talk about what you both want. But there are some red flags during sex you should be mindful of, because they could signal that you and your partner aren’t a good match.
Bottom line: Everyone deserves to have consensual, amazing, mind-blowing sex with someone they love and trust — and don’t settle for any less.
1. They Don’t Reciprocate Your Needs
If a person is selfish in general, that quality will most definitely show up in the bedroom as well. A partner who only thinks about themselves will be focused entirely on you pleasing them, instead of making sure you’re satisfied, too.
“Overall there are no ‘musts’ when it comes to sex and sexual satisfaction,” according to Marisa T. Cohen, a relationship coach and researcher who works as Head of Couple Relationships at Paired, an app focused on helping couples build intimacy. “However, if you or your partner have indicated preferences and the person goes from honoring them to ignoring their requests, wants, or desires, this can indicate an issue.”
2. They Don’t Make Eye Contact
Having sex is an extremely vulnerable act. Not making eye contact could be a sign of someone’s reluctance to be fully vulnerable and trusting. Sure, some people prefer to keep their eyes closed during sex. But if your significant other never locks eyes with you while you two are being intimate, something emotional might be going on. Maybe they associate sexuality with shame; maybe they’re afraid or unwilling to connect; maybe they’re not ready to let go with you. If you feel like they’re putting distance between you during intimacy — and you want more — it’s worth figuring out what’s going on.
3. There’s No Kissing
OK, so not everyone is a big kisser. But if the person you’re sleeping with doesn’t want to kiss you, that could indicate more than their sexual preference — it could be a sign of their refusal to show you affection. Cohen says if there’s something you or your partner typically enjoys in bed, and one of you starts to shy away from it, that could be a red flag. It may be that your partner is only looking for sex — that the relationship is purely physical in their mind — and you have to ask yourself if you’re satisfied with that. If you feel like you’re being denied the romantic aspect of sex, this person might not be the best fit for you.
4. There’s No Cuddling
Having sex isn’t just about the deed itself. Cuddling is an important part that builds physical and emotional trust. “Prolonged touch releases oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, and can improve your partner bond,” says Cohen. If your partner wants to put up a wall after sex, and you sense they’re being a little closed off, it could mean they’re not looking for a deeper connection, and that the arrangement might work better as a casual fling.
5. They Pressure You To Do Things You Aren’t Comfortable With
It’s a huge red flag if you feel uncomfortable during sex with your partner. If your partner wants you to perform certain acts that you haven’t expressly consented to, and they aren’t respecting your wishes, that’s a sign they can’t empathize with you or honor your boundaries. Your partner should care about your safety, full stop — and if they don’t, they’re not the partner for you.
6. They Don’t Communicate What They Want In The Bedroom
Keeping communication open about desire is necessary to maintaining trust and closeness, and growing together as a couple. If one or both partners become dissatisfied sexually, or feels their physical and emotional needs aren’t being met, they need to be able to talk about it.
“Sexual desire will ebb and flow over the course of a relationship,” says Cohen. “Therefore, it is important for partners to feel comfortable sharing sexual desires, as these can change over time — what they like and don’t like, and what their goals are for sex.”
If you feel like your partner isn’t sharing their needs, and isn’t open to hearing yours, instead, creating distance or pulling away, that’s a red flag, says Cohen.
Marisa T. Cohen, relationship coach, researcher, and Head of Couple Relationships at Paired
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