Dear Dr. Ren,
I’m 20 years old and have just entered a relationship with a woman (only guys before this). We have been dating for about three months.
When we have sex we both feel something missing. I feel toys are an option but think she may be offended if I suggest them. Due to our upbringings, neither of us has been exposed to much. Everything else seems great between us but the sex lacks. How can I introduce new things delicately and where should I go for information to educate us both?
New to This
Dear New to This,
Your letter affords me the rich opportunity to address a number of psychosocial dynamics. I don’t know your gender or your girlfriend’s sexual history, so I’ll have to give you several responses.
For example, if you are male and have always been with other men, it is no surprise that it is taking you a bit of time to learn a body physically different from your own.
You know how a male body responds to arousal and touch, but after only three months you are still learning what works for a body foreign from yours. Be patient.
It could be your erotic connection is not with female bodies and that is why you feel “something missing,” despite your fondness for this woman. Then again, the two of you may simply lack an easy sexual chemistry. We can’t control this.
Sometimes, if the awkwardness is due to disparate styles or initial anxiety, practice and communication gets us over the hump (pun intended) and our lovemaking grows smooth and synchronous.
Other times, despite our desire and best efforts, we just don’t have a good fit. When this happens, there’s nothing to be done but accept the sad truth and renegotiate the relationship to exclude the sexual component.
If you are holding back on suggesting toys, it indicates you are still in shy mode. Propose a field trip to The Art of Loving and see what tickles your honey’s fancy. Swap fantasies. Pick any number of the excellent ‘How To’ books available and read them together. Let her know you welcome adventure with her.
Then again, if you are female, you are experiencing not an adaptation to an unfamiliar body but the first steps in coming out. As before, your lacklustre sexual reaction may be the result of your being attracted to your best friend but not being erotically drawn to women. And again, this is not under your control. Have you lusted for other women? Are your fantasies woman-spawned?
If, when you first fell into bed with this woman, you felt like your body had just found its home, then the discomfort you describe now may be likened to the halting tempo of a new reader. You are where you belong, but you’re not yet at ease.
If this is the case, get naked verbally as well as physically. Risk telling her what you want and ask her to tell you how to please her. Give up attempting to mind read and talk to each other!
Since you have both been sheltered and are now transgressing societal norms simply by being together, take your time. Love languidly, explore slowly, make carnal knowledge —rather than orgasm —your goal. Protect and encourage each other.
And what of her? Does she identify as lesbian? Is her history with men as well? If so, then of course you two are feeling unsure and tentative. You need practice!
Remember, too, that you are three months in, immersed in limerence, believing you have found your soul mate, your perfect person. Magnificent as this feeling is, it is driven by brain chemistry and illusion and is transitory.
She is your first female lover, regardless of your gender. You may be her first. Difficult as it is, try to consider this an extraordinary affair rather than a sunset relationship. Build windows of opportunity rather than fences. Think short term and glorious, and resist merging. You both may have other shores to explore.
You don’t tell me how you liked sex with men in your previous relationships, nor how long you have been sexually active. You seem to be the Top in this one. I suspect there are many other areas of your sexuality that you still want to investigate. This is probably equally true for your new girlfriend.
I encourage you both to encourage each other, but not at the expense of your individual explorations. You stand on the threshold of a magnificent technicolour landscape. What would GREAT sex look, feel, smell, taste, sound like to you?
Find out! Settle for nothing less. Make it happen.
It may take you years to come into yourself (no pun) and you do yourself and all your lovers a disservice to be impatient with the process.
Remain open to possibility. Consider all options. Allow yourself to make mistakes so long as you behave honourably.
Risk love, lust, and a wee bit of wickedness. Push your limits and exercise kindness. Appreciate every opportunity and enjoy every step of the journey.