Sunday, November 11, 2012

How To Convince Your Partner to Be More Sexually Adventurous

In the last post, I reviewed the excellent Lelo Gigi vibrator. I received several messages from readers asking for advice on convincing their partner to try toys. The first draft of this post discussed toys in particular, but I realized the discussion could be generalized to convincing your partner to do anything sexually.

It's not unusual for one partner to have a stronger sex drive than the other. It's also not uncommon for one partner to be more adventurous. Part of the problem stems from our behaviors early in relationships. When we "fall" for someone, the cocktail of neurotransmitters released in our brain make us significantly hornier than we might otherwise be. It also makes us more adventurous sexually. As time passes and those chemicals calm down, we return closer to our "natural" state. That's usually about the time discrepancies in libido and adventurousness appear.

I'm a lucky dude. S is a big fan of sex and possesses an adventurous, non-judgmental spirit. However, I've had enough conversations with others to recognize our relationship is the exception, not the rule.

Here's a typical scenario: You want to try something new... maybe BDSM, introduce toys, try anal... whatever. You have no idea how to approach the subject with your partner. You fear they may respond with terror, anger, or assume you're a depraved pervert. Maybe they will think they're not adequate and feel rejected.

I should take a moment to address an issue. Some people will advise you shouldn't ask your partner to do anything they wouldn't readily agree to do.

NONSENSE!

Life is short. If your partner is so uptight they would never agree to try something, I would suggest your relationship needs serious help. The more adventurous partner is typically left to feel like they're a sex addict, which is sad. Sex is a wonderful thing to share with a partner, and the more adventurous partner is simply trying to keep things exciting. If anyone should be made to feel like the deviant, I would suggest it should the boring partner. After all, sexual adventurousness is positively correlated to the length of relationships. Those that experiment in bed (or elsewhere) stay together longer.

Anyway, I digress.

Whatever the reason, there are a lot of possible ways to effectively begin the conversation and convince your partner to try something new. Read through the list below. You should know your partner well enough to know which approach will likely work. Should you have questions or comments, leave one in the comment section and I'll respond ASAP.
  • The honest approach: This is the method I'd most recommend. I'm a firm believer in open, honest communication. Simply explain what you'd like to do with your parter, then give them an opportnity to express their concerns.
  • The analytical approach: If your partner is the geeky type, providing stats may help. For example, approximately 46% of women have used a sex toy. This is a bandwagon or social proof phenomenon- if others are doing something, we're more likely to do it.
  • Negotiation: S and I do this occasionally. If we do X, we can then do Y, where "X" is something I want and "Y" is something she wants. Just make sure "X" and "Y" are of comparable value. Negotiation works because of the rule of reciprocity- when we do something for someone, they feel a social obligation to return the favor.
  • Reassurance: This is handy if your partner will likely feel like your request is a veiled way of expressing your dissatisfaction with them as a lover. They may think thinks are great and there's no reason to experiment to possibly make things better. Reassure them that you love them and trust them enough to add a little novelty to the routine. This method can also be combined with other methods.
  • Use proper framing: Consider what you're asking your partner to do, then set the stage properly. For example, don't just ask them to try this kinky new sex act. Instead, preface the conversation by telling them how much you love their adventurous spirit and what positive effect that has on you.
  • Test the waters: This is actually known as the "foot in the door" technique and is based on the commitment/consistency rule.  Once we make a small initial commitment to something, we'll continue down the same path. Instead of going all-out, start with something small. Let's use BSDM as an example. Instead of going out and buying a full set of shackles, whips, and paddles, maybe start by having one of you keep your hands "restrained" by having to hold on to a head rail on the bed. If things go well, graduate to a scarf. Then fuzzy handcuffs. You get the picture.
  • The surprise attack: I wouldn't recommend this unless you have a very understanding partner, but it can work in some situations. Let's say you want to introduce a vibrator to your sexy time. After things heat up, just whip it out and put it to use. The heightened state of arousal tends to make us much more permissive, and if timed right, can be used to introduce something new.
  • Try it, you'll like it!: Okay, I just quoted Yo Gabba Gabba. What can I say, it's good advice. This is the first of S's contributions. The idea is simple, especially if you set it as a precedent. Convince your partner to commit to trying something one time. If they like it, awesome! If not, let it go and try something else. You can always come back to try again later on down the road. A major point of this strategy- make sure you know what you're doing! If you're performing oral for the first time, you'd damn well better know the basics of good technique. Learn the anatomy; learn what most people enjoy. Most importantly, learn to read your partner's response.
  • Appeal to their curiosity: Does your partner have a strong sense of curiosity? If so, simply asking "I wonder what _______ would feel like?" can be enough to start the conversation to experiment. Unfortunately, by virtue of you reading this list, YOU'RE probably the curious one.
  • Alcohol: It's cheap, easy to obtain, and lowers inhibitions. This was one of S's contribution to the list.
  • Offer a challenge: Is your partner competitive? Sometimes offering a challenge to try something may evoke a strong enough response to overcome any hesitation. I'd recommend starting an informal game of "I dare you to...", then go back and forth for a few days. Once you get into the swing of things, toss out the desired sexual idea.
  • Induce competition: This is a slightly different take on the same concept from above. If your partner is competitive, play on that by casually mentioning that one of your friends and their partner tried something. It helps if the friend actually did this. The idea is to make it sound like a resoundingly positive experience, then toss out something that will elicit a spark of competitiveness in your mate.
  • Our friends are doing it: This is sort of like the competition idea above, but uses more of the bandwagon/social proof phenomenon. We're more likely to do something others are doing, especially if those other people are similar to us and/or well liked by us.
  • Use a third party: Sometimes you may be able to use one of your partner's friends as a wingman of sorts. This is obviously predicated on the closeness of the relationships involved as it will require frank discussions with your partner's friends. The goal is to have the friend discuss the activity with your partner as a "safer" way to introduce the topic.
  • Door in the face: This is a classic negotiation technique. Ask for something completely and totally unreasonable. When your partner forcefully rejects you, ask for the much more mild request which was the original goal. Let's say you want to experiment with sex in public. Ask your partner if they'd have sex ona crowded city bus. When they say no, ask if they'd at least have sex in a deserted park under the cover of darkness. The likelihood of saying yes to the second, more reasonable request increases dramatically.
  • Use books, magazines, or website articles: People write about all kinds of shit. Pretty much every imaginable sexual practice has been discussed in some media at one time or another. Find these writings, then casually let your partner find them. This may require some tact, and it will help if you can find something from a more mainstream source. This can be a safe way to bring up something new. The technique is effective because it relies on the authority principle- we are more likely to go along with something if an authority figure supports it.
  • Porn. Or racy non-porn. Or Sex and the City. The same idea as above can be used with visual media.
  • Four walls: This is another classic negotiation technique. Ask four questions related to the topic that require an affirmative answer. For the fifth question, ask the goal question... in this case, ask if they're willing to try the new sexual adventure. The reason it works is subtle. Answering "yes" four times sets a pattern that actually influences how we process the fifth question. Interestingly, the person is unlikely to change their mind after saying yes. Once we commit to something, we'd rather not change course.
  • Alleviate fears of the acts themselves: Sometimes sexual acts themselves may be scary. For example, many women seem hesitant to try vibrators because they believe they will result in permanent nerve damage. While they can cause brief desensitization, there's no lasting effect. When considering anything new, know the pros and cons and be willing to discuss this openly and honestly.
  • Talk up the mutual benefit: Nobody likes a selfish lover... except the occasional sub. Aside from that specific situation, always present new ideas in a way that accentuates the shared benefit to both partners, not just your benefit.
  • Offer a solo run (toy specific): If you'd like to introduce sex toys but your partner is hesitant, offer them a solo run. For example, let your partner use a vibrator a few times themselves before playing as a couple.
There are a myriad of other techniques that could be used, but many begin to venture into the muddy water of ethics. 

What do you think? Have anything to add? Have any questions about the techniques? Leave a comment!

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-Jason

 


5 comments:

  1. Forgive me, but i felt strongly that you already were venturing into muddy ethical waters. A lot of these sound like subtle coercion and at least disingenuous if not deceptive. After all you did use the word "convince" twice in your introduction.

    I agree that the honest approach is best. I'm not absolutely opposed to the other methods, I would just feel that motives should be transparent, candid, and even parodied by the individual.

    You didn't mention in what kind of scenarios people should resort to these methods outside of "when the hormones die down." And you also suggested that some discrepancies are worth ending certain relationships for. I would like you to say more about that. For instance the only reason, I would encourage the methods beyond the honesty method would be if a marriage or non-traditional life commitment felt compromised by lack of sexual fulfillment. Short of that, I would encourage knowing what you want, being open about that early, and not settling for someone who isn't into it.

    Again, I would love to hear more about that "hormonal" early stage. What are the pitfalls, how might one be confused about what their partner is up for, and how might that partner be confused about what he himself is and isn't up for.

    Again, you touched on this briefly but I feel it is all very important intrapersonal groundwork that needs to happen before any ulterior stuff goes on.

    Also for the Door in the Face method I hope that person's partner would take them up on the sex on the bus just to see their reaction!

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    Replies
    1. I agree most of these methods are subtle forms of coercion, and the "ethical" line is arbitrary.

      I'll address the neurotransmitter theory soon. It's absolutely fascinating as it explains a lot of relationship behaviors.

      And I agree... the initial request when using the Door in the Face technique should always be something you actually would do in the unlikely event they go along with it. :-)

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  2. Any suggestions for how to convince your partner to try other partners?

    I have a friend who wants his wife to try sex with other partners (they both have a limited number of partners before they married), ideally so that he can watch (I don't think participating would be a problem, either). She isn't interested.

    Any suggestions for broadening her horizons? Reading your other post on conditioning, it doesn't really apply, because he already /has/ a fetish (effectively), and would like her to have it too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Any advice on how to get my bf to do oral on me ?? He said he tried it in the past and it made him throw up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Answer here: http://sexpressionists.blogspot.com/2013/08/give-me-oral-concise-guide-to.html

      ;-)

      Delete