“He wants me to initiate,” she blurts out of the blue.
We’re sitting on the couch, devices in hand, chatting and casually reading our screens.
I glance up from my phone and focused on her face.
“Sex, you mean?” I ask her.
She looks uncomfortable, as if the topic was brought up by me, not her.
“I don’t understand why I want sex but can’t bring myself to ask for it,” she continues, her eyes shifting around my face without actually making eye-contact. “Maybe there’s something wrong with me…”
She sounds resigned.
I turn off my screen and put it aside.
“Tell me what happened,” I encourage her. “No judgement.”
For the first time since she spoke, she meets my eyes.
“How does it happen with you?” she wants to know. “Do you just reach for him? Do you go down on him? How does he know that you want to have sex…?”
She has trouble expressing sexual thoughts, and leaves her sentences hanging, trailing like an afterthought.
“How does he know that you want to?” she repeats as if to punctuate her inquiry, emphasizing the he part.
I’m not sure if she truly wants to hear my answer. This clearly isn’t about me.
“When was the last time you had sex,” I ask her, hoping this will get her to open up a little more.
“I don’t know…a long time ago. He penetrated me, and ejaculated…”
Again, she trails off.
“Does he go down on you first? Get you warmed up? Or is there some other form of foreplay?” I pepper her with a few of my own questions, trying to get a clearer picture of what is bothering her, exactly.
She looks sad, and forlorn, sitting there. She doesn’t answer. Maybe I pushed her too far.
I stay silent.
After a while, she makes eye-contact again.
“I told him I want oral,” she said. “I want him to do it until I reach climax.”
It dawns on me that she can’t seem to say the word orgasm. Or at least say it out loud in front of me.
“What did he say to that?” I asked her, trying to keep her talking now that she’s found her voice.
She stares at me for a moment.
“He wants me to do it to him first.”
“Oral?” I reply to her statement. “He wants a BJ before he goes down on you?”
I try to say it nonchalantly, so as not to alienate her away from the topic. This is obviously hard for her to express, so I try to keep it casual, relaxed. And nonjudgemental, as I promised earlier.
Again, she sinks into herself a bit, ponders how to answer my questions.
We’ve been friends for a long time, but we never really talk about sex, especially not since we’ve both been partnered, and raising families. It’s just not a topic we discuss. Maybe we should have…she clearly needs someone to confide in now.
I watch her think and ponder, waiting for her to be ready to divulge more.
“I don’t know if he wants me to do it first, I think so. But since he didn’t jump at the chance to do it on me, I figure he’s not really attracted to me.”
She spoke her words while staring out the window behind me.
“Or, he doesn’t really like doing it. I mean, anytime he did before I always sensed some hesitation. He is a bit of a germophobe…”
I wait until her eyes meet mine, and give her a silent but encouraging look. She understands, and continues.
“He says he needs things to get started too, and figures since I don’t initiate, it means I’m not attracted to him.”
“Are you?” I ask her and then immediately regret it. I should have stayed silent, not risk her getting spooked and stop her in her tracks just as she was getting more comfortable with this conversation.
But she doesn’t react shocked. She looks at me for a moment before replying.
“Well, he is very attractive. I can’t quite believe he hasn’t been approached by women all this time…”
I try to think. It is obvious to me that this is a tricky situation to navigate, and I have to be careful not to alienate her with my much more liberal attitude toward sex with men. Although I don’t necessarily describe myself as aggressive, I am very confident and liberal, and take what I want from my man who seems more than happy to comply with my demands.
But my friend, she is not like me. She is much more timid, and insecure. And, as has just come to light, relatively inexperienced. I suddenly have a lot of questions about her past, but I hold back. It’s crucial that I tread carefully.
“What is keeping you from initiating things with him?” I ask her cautiously. I want to know, but I also want her to feel free not to answer.
She stares out the window again, watching the tree sway in the breeze outside. She remains silent for a time, but I can tell she’s crafting a response in her head. After a while, she looks at me again and starts to speak with less trepidation.
“It seems we both want to be desired. But he wants me to start, and the more he wants it the less I want to. I don’t know why I feel this way…maybe because in all the times before, I was never fulfilled or satisfied? I mean, he always ejaculates. Does he realize I need to have my own climax for it to be worth it for me?”
She stops suddenly and bites her lip. My heart breaks for her, but this is hardly an unusual complaint in the grand scheme of things. I have seen, and heard, and especially read a lot about sexually troubled couples. For the most part, it’s a lack of communication between them, born out of stress often rooted in other circumstances.
Sexless marriages are rampant, if reading social media tells me anything. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In all my studies involving sexuality, the disconnect between two people inside an otherwise stable relationship often ends up affecting relations in the bedroom. I had, over time, dabbled in the subject online where evidence is mounting that her problem, my friend’s situation, is far from unique or unusual. If anything, more people are sexually unfulfilled than one might think.
I glance at her again while she sat there pondering her next response, which came quite abruptly.
“When I invited him to do oral on me, his immediate reaction was ‘what about me’.”
She declares this almost defiantly. I can see it fires her up a bit.
“And that’s not even the worst part,” she resumes her train of thought. “When I didn’t react immediately to his statement, he concluded out loud, to my face, that I must not be attracted to him.”
She sighs, and leans back into her cushion, arms folded in front of her.
“He sulks,” she says and looks at me again. “He wants a dominant, self-assured woman to take him to bed and make him feel sexually desired. Yet he doesn’t know, or see, how that isn’t enough for me.”
“Have you told him that, in those words?” I ask her gently. “Men sometimes need things spelled out…”
She sighs again.
“I don’t want to.”
I watch her roll her eyes at herself. Then, she gives me a slight smile before speaking again.
“I want to be desired, and dominated,” she declares. “I want to be taken by a man who knows how to do this.”
Watching her advocate for her sexual needs like this gives me hope. But a nagging feeling leaves me slightly worried that she’s about to take some drastic measures which may not necessarily follow the most appropriate, legitimate path.
“How…” I begin but stop before continuing.
I don’t know exactly how to complete my question, so I redirect it another way.
“What do you want to happen next?”
And then I see it. There is a slight twitch in her face, something in her eyes, that tells me that there is more going on. I want to shake it out of her, but know that this will clam her up, so I just wait for her to say more.
“I do know one thing,” she finally discloses. “I don’t want to teach. I just want to submit.”
She looks at me with with tears in her eyes.
“I want to feel something,” she says quietly. “It’s my turn to feel something now.”
I don’t know how to respond to that, but nod my understanding.
This isn’t over, I think to myself and watch her reach for her phone.
(sequel coming soon)