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I'm SO ready...and he SO isn't.

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Anonymous asks:

I am a girl that has a past, I am still a virgin, but I know some things, but my current boyfriend is a complete virgin. I was even his first kiss. I am seventeen and can feel all these urges, and I want him to do something, make a move, or something....anything, but he never does. I talk to him about it, and all it seems to do is upset him.....what can I do?

Heather Corinna replies:

If your boyfriend hasn't initiated anything sexually, and he gets upset when you talk about it, then it's pretty clear your boyfriend isn't feeling ready for any kind of sex yet and you need to respect that.

You can certainly talk to him about this -- making clear that you have no interest in pressuring him -- and ask how he's feeling so you can better understand him. It may be that he just doesn't feel ready (or interested), it may be that he's worried about lousing things up, it may be that he has an ethical objection to having sex now, it may be that he has sexual abuse or body image issues in his past that he's still working through. He may also not feel confident initiating things, or feel it isn't fair to expect him to be the one doing all of the initiating as you seem to be asking him to do for some reason. It's fine for you to want to understand why he feels the way he does.

But what isn't fine is to try and make him have sexual desires he isn't having yet or to try and influence his own pace when it comes to being ready for sex.

Just like your own "no" -- when you want to say no -- should be treated as non-negotiable, so should his. It sounds to me like his upset may be due to feeling pressured by you, and it's understandable that he'd feel upset about that. For the record, the rules are also the same with men as with women when it comes to coercion: if you coerce him or anyone else into any kind of sex, then you are not having sex with full consent. Consent to sex given only under duress or due to coercion is rape.

There's a particular pressure for guys in most cultures to be ready for sex at any time someone else wants it, and a stereotype (which is unfortunately perpetuated by both men and women) that all men are always ready for and interested in sex when they are provided the opportunity to have it. But that just isn't true, and just as the case is for women, if men have sex when they don't really want to, that can be very emotionally damaging as well as not usually enjoyable. Because of those kinds of ideas, it can also be a lot tougher for men to deal with wanting to say no -- and to say no -- because they can feel like something is wrong with them for not meeting those stereotypes. If men have partners who believe those stereotypes and expect them to be ready just because they are, dealing with that is even tougher.

I don't know what you mean when you say you have a past, but I presume you mean you have had some sexual experience before. Just know that what other guys before may have wanted or done doesn't mean the same is true for your current S.O., and that having had sexual experience before (or not) doesn't have a whole lot to do with what we want at a given time with a given person. We can also "know some things," but that doesn't mean we have to put them into action or that it's right to expect any given partner to be on the same sexual page we are.

It's really important that what partnered sex is about isn't one person wanting to alleviate their sexual frustrations, but two people wanting to share and explore sexual desires together only if and when that feels right, and because that is what both want, not because it's what one person wants and the other feels obligated to provide.

I'd hope that you don't want anyone to have any kind of sex with you out of obligation (or would have any kind of sex with someone out of feelings of obligation yourself), and can understand why that's actually pretty rank, and not at all conducive to healthy relationships when people do. A partner isn't responsible for meeting or managing our independent sexual desires: that's our own responsibility.

Any one of us can manage our sexual desires and urges on our own with our own two hands through masturbation, and when it's really ONLY or primarily about our own desires, not shared desires, doing that (or nothing at all, if you prefer not to masturbate) is the right thing to do. A sexual partner shouldn't be a replacement for taking care of our own singular desires: we're responsible for that ourselves, and for knowing the difference between when we just need to get the lead out and when we really want to share something with someone else that is as much about what they want as it is what we want.

If your libido is running amok and you just need some relief, then you can masturbate. If you don't like that as an option, plain old exercise does a pretty good job when it comes to getting us physical and giving us a shot of balancing hormones and a good release, too.

We also have a choice in who we date. If we feel that having a sexual component to a relationship is very much something we need -- and that's totally valid, just like it's valid not to need or want that -- then when we're dating, that's something we need to talk about before we get very involved. We need to see if we and someone else are compatible in that way, and try and choose to pursue deeper relationships with people we're really compatible with in as many areas as possible. So, if you feel that you need to have a sexual relationship right now and your boyfriend feels that is what he does NOT want or need, then the two of you might want to consider parting ways, or shifting to a friendship, so you both can date someone who is in more alignment with both of your different wants and needs. After all, love comes in a lot of different flavors, and just because we like someone, love someone, or feel attracted to someone doesn't mean a relationship with automatically be sexual or that a sexual relationship is the right one between any two people.

If you feel like this is the only part of your relationship that isn't working and you two are fantastic together otherwise, then you might want to consider waiting it out a while longer: he may be ready in a few months, in a year or two, or at a different time in your relationship. While there is nothing in the world wrong with having sex or expressing our sexual feelings with others, it is something we can also always wait on without doing ourselves (or anyone else) any harm.

Okay? So, by all means, you can talk to him about all of this. But it sounds to me like before you say anything else, you need to make it very clear that you absolutely respect what he needs and wants and have NO intention of changing his mind. And if you don't feel like you can approach this that way, making room for a partner not to share your desires or your pace - or only dating people you know share your needs -- then I'd say it's probably best for you to press pause on dating until you can. Even if and when you are with someone who wants to be sexually active, there are going to be many times when one of you is interested in sex and the other isn't -- or one of you wants to do one thing the other does not -- so we need to be able to take no for an answer or live with not getting what we want all the time in any relationship.

Here's some more information for you to round this all out:

written 17 Sep 2008 . updated 22 Jan 2014

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