Talking About It

Many women don’t like to talk about their sexual needs and responses out loud. Some of that reluctance might be because they feel that talking about it takes the “magic” out of the whole business. Talking about thaaat is crass, it’s ugly, it’s not romantic. In their dreams, their Hero knows what will perfectly satisfy them and doesn’t have to be told. We’ve also been taught since teenhood that men’s sexual egos are fragile beyond belief, that your penises and your masculine mystiques have to be coddled and nurtured and treated very, very delicately, or you will collapse, blow up, or leave us flat. *

Talking about sex also makes some of us self-conscious. Me, for instance. If I’ve recently talked about a certain act with my husband, about how I like some kind of touch or enjoyed a particular part of a recent encounter, when we do that same thing again, I’m likely to remember the conversation, and that can distract me from what’s going on in the present moment. Being one of the more distractable women on the planet (maybe I have ADD?), thinking about myself thinking about having a recent conversation about what I’m doing can be enough to derail a moment. I also feel that talking about sex with my husband tends to make him more of a detached “observer” of my reactions, and I am distracted by THAT image as well.

I usually don’t like to be asked directly about what I want, or what I liked and didn’t like. Yes, even now that my little red wagon is all fixed and everything. Heh. Conversation and direct inquiry still makes me uncomfortable. I remain a product of my upbringing and life experience. I guess you can get the frigidity out of the suburban matron, but you can’t get the suburbanity out of the matron. I will volunteer sexual information to my husband when I’m feeling sexy and comfortable, but he can’t give me the third degree (and I almost always remember the conversation the next time we do that particular thing…sigh).

I would also warn you that many, many women especially do not like to be teased about their sexual performances or reactions. If you are joking around about how hot you made her or the noises she made when she came, what you’re doing is beating your own chest at her expense. She might even smile or go along with it, because to be disagreeable when you’re bragging about your sexual prowess is Against the Rules. But that doesn’t mean she actually likes it. She might even HATE it. A lot.     … continued …


* I liked how commenter Jeff addressed the “delicate male ego” mythology.

About this ego thing.. If there is any feature commonly found in women is this insistance on sparing our (my feelings). Nothing, and I mean nothing, enrages me more than being denied the chance to honestly react to reality, to *deal*, to feel the hurt and get past it.

The reason? It seems so selfish of them. Thats right, selfish. They don’t do it to make it easier for us to get through life, they do it to make it easier on themselves. So that our reactions don’t cause problems. I guess something happens to women, that they feel they have to manipulate men, even ones they care about. I suppose they think of managing them, but its basicly just aborting and denying the natural emotional responses of men for their own comfort.

Jeff, you’re right, but what you’re seeing is not something that only women do. Anybody does it who is insecure in their relationship or their place in the world. Men do it too. They don’t express certain things in order to save themselves grief from their wives.

Some of this interpersonal delicacy and reluctance is only right. It isn’t productive to air every little dissatisfaction and gripe we feel in life. Can you imagine the non-stop pissing and moaning if we all cut loose with absolute honesty? But in an intimate partnership there should also be limits on “being nice” for the sake of peace. When it gets to the point where you’re both limiting your communication so much that neither of you are really being honest about ANYTHING any more — or worse, the only thing you’re being honest about are the routine irritations of the daily slog — you’re in major trouble.

COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG POST:
I suspect that a lot of the talk of men’s “fragile egos” comes from women who never learned how to criticize without insulting, and then wonder why their men don’t want to hear it. In counseling, this is known as “negative honesty” – yes, it’s honest; yes, it’s the truth; but there is more than one way to say something, as anyone who has to tell his boss he is wrong will attest, and as most of the above-mentioned women will say whenever they find themselves on the receiving end of criticism.I’ve been explicitly and sometimes harshly criticized on many subjects, sexual and non-sexual, by many people, and only my wife’s criticism leaves me feeling both stupid and resentful. Everyone else’s criticism leaves me feeling like there’s real hope for improvement.

Raging Bee  11/12/03; 10:38:40 AM
Once again, PTW, you’ve said it clearly and concisely. Those who want to be brutally honest seem more interested in the brutality than the honesty. Is it because we are closer to these people, have more on the line, that we have opened up ourselves to them? Does that make us more vulnerable, and more sensitive when the criticism comes? Or is it just that, since they see us day in and day out, they are less likely to temper their criticism, and give it to us without padding the rough edges? I don’t know the answer, but I can relate to the feelings of stupidity and inadequacy, and the resentment that sweeps over me after my wife criticizes me for something I did or didn’t do, or did in a sloppy manner.

Harry  11/12/03; 11:47:49 AM
Harry: thanks for the compliment. I can’t come up with a precise answer to your questions. Part of it may be that women feel forced to be kind and tactful to others, and feel they have a right, or a need, to drop the tact and cut loose on their men. Another part – at least for some women – is pure fear: they feel they NEED their men to be a certain way, because the relationship is so close, and the stakes are so high, and therefore they use ALL the verbal force they can muster to get what they need, to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that their men don’t get complacent or confident enough to be able to stand up for themselves. (I admit I’m speaking from an extreme – sometimes abusive – personal experience here; but I suspect that my own experience is an extreme form of something present in most relationships to some degree.)

Raging Bee  11/13/03; 6:40:54 AM
Again, Pony, it’s not only WOMEN who use verbal force or attempt to intimidate their partners with whatever “weapons” they can get their hands on. Men do it, too.You are absolutely correct that fear is the motivator for all behaviors of this kind: fear that the relationship cannot be sustained by Love, therefore Power has to be used.

And of course, the more we use Power on our nearest and dearest, the more it HAS to be used and the less chance Love has to break the cycle.

Sad, isn’t it?

Julia Grey  11/13/03; 7:11:45 AM
>Talking about sex also makes some of us self-conscious. Me, for instance.This is interesting. It makes talking about not having sex easier than talking about having sex. One of those reasons I am all for “getting in touch with your inner slut”. Really, learning to revel in your responses and interests – even your reactions, is probably the greatest gift you can bestow upon yourself. Let the “observer” draw from your heat and feed it back to you; and get very used to it, so that revelling is a lot more normal than closing off.

Roy Kay  11/14/03; 4:52:37 AM
There is a great difference between knowing that one SHOULD do something and being able to do it.I think I’ve made great progress on this issue over the span of my sexual life, and I’m still making progress. Some things — especially relaxation and openness! — simply cannot be forced by merely willing them to happen.

I know you mean well, Roy, dear, but sometimes you’re a dreadful scold.

Julia Grey 11/14/03; 7:47:41 AM
I quite agree that willing something doesn’t necessarily make it happen. What I am noting is that this is a function of self-training. Presumably, prior to marriage, no such inhibitions were there. It is the marriage (or monogamy) that has triggered the “squelch” button.My thinking is that this is a function of the switching circuit and that the choice is to either chase the circuit down and rewire it, or replace it with something else. Yep. That’s a poly promo, though it may allow for a lucrative mono-engineering contract for someone if sold on a T&M basis. 😉

Roy Kay 11/14/03; 9:53:58 AM
Presumably, prior to marriage, no such inhibitions were there. It is the marriage (or monogamy) that has triggered the “squelch” button.You once again presume incorrectly. I have NEVER liked to talk about sexual specifics with my partners, before or after my marriage.

But it has become easier now in this “second stage” of my erotic life. So actually, in my case at least, working within this turrrrible constraint of monogamy (and the deep relationship of real trust that after all these years I could finally believe it afforded me) has begun a “cure” for a hesitation I’ve ALWAYS had.

Julia Grey 11/15/03; 3:04:03 PM

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