Behind Closed Doors: The importance of managing great sexpectations


I’m laying next to my partner, spooning in bed on a Sunday morning while we’re engaging in flirtatious banter. We’ve been fooling around for 45 minutes, and he’s posed, ready to enter, when he says something I find insensitive and mildly offensive. In that moment, he wasn’t attractive, wasn’t fun, and wasn’t someone I wanted to sleep with.

It’s so hard to figure out what the right move is in that situation. On one hand, I feel a sense of obligation and a fear of inflicting the ever-dangerous blue balls. I gave him all the signals that I wanted to have sex, and now I feel like I have to follow through. On the other hand, I have no desire to be in such an intimate situation with someone I’m feeling so negative towards. I can go through with it, feeling emotionally distant and pissed off, or I can grab him until his balls actually turn blue for being so insensitive. I decide to go for the happy medium. I roll out from underneath him. “Not so fast,” I say. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

When it comes to sex, no one owes anybody anything. I can have sex with the same person every single day for a week, a month, or a year, and if there’s one day I don’t want to, for any reason, we don’t have sex. No matter our history or our previous experience. It’s my right.

That being said, I’m not doing anyone any favors by rolling over and fuming by myself without even telling him what happened. Let’s be honest, no one ever intends to offend someone they’re about to get laid by; it’s just not a good strategy.  You can choose to view the inevitable case of blue balls (uncomfortable, but not death-inducing; no one ever died from an erection) as punishment enough, but if the other person doesn’t know what they’re being punished for, you just look like a jerk. More than that, it doesn’t fix the original problem. The other person still doesn’t know that he or she has offended you and is thus more likely to unintentionally do it again.

Fights and disagreements can get in the way of a positive sexual experience, but they certainly aren’t the only things that can. Over the summer, my boyfriend and I lived together across the country. Before we moved out, we always talked about how great it was that we were going to get to have sex. All. The. Time. But then we had our own apartment, and I would make advances, and he would turn me down. A lot. I thought there was something wrong with me, or with our relationship. I thought to myself, “Aren’t men the ones who are supposed to want to have sex all the time?” I was wrong on a lot of levels. There was nothing wrong with me, or with our relationship, and it was totally unfair for me to assume that because he was a man he wanted to have sex at all times under all circumstances. The fact of the matter was that he had started a new job, and he was stressed out and overwhelmed and not feeling sexy. It was so important for us to have that conversation so I could know where he was coming from, emotionally and physically.

It is equally important that conversations like that happen in such a way that no one feels guilty or obligated. It is fair for you to be disappointed if a perceived sexcapade doesn’t go as you thought it would, but it’s important to remember that you have no right to another person’s body, and it is always his or her choice about whether or not to share it with you.

Tyna H is a Behind Closed Doors Columnist and is never afraid to say no, regardless of the situation.