What To Do If Your Partner Is Selfish In Bed

Sex can be an important part of a romantic relationship. It can be a way to foster a deeper connection with your partner that you don’t have with anyone else. So, it can be frustrating when you and the person you are dating don’t seem to click in bed. When your partner is acting selfish in bed it can leave you feeling unsatisfied and disconnected, which might lead to bigger problems in your relationship later down the line. But don’t worry— it’s not the end of the world. We talked to Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author and Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., human behavior and relationship expert, do get some advice on the best way to approach this tricky subject. Here’s how to approach the situation:

Try giving them cues in bed 

As humans it’s sometimes natural to put our wants ahead of the person we are with, and this may be happening to your partner in the heat of the moment. “It’s best to first try using non-verbal communication,” says Dr. Lieberman, “such as by gently placing their hand or mouth on the spot you want, or by moving your body into your preferred intercourse position.” Respond positively when they do something you like, and shift if they do something that doesn’t feel good.

Bring it up casually and see what happens 

If your partner doesn’t take the hint while you’re in bed, then later you could casually bring up making some changes to your sexual relationship. Start small and with specifics: I liked when you did this particular thing or I felt uncomfortable when you did this particular thing. Dr. Wanis says to “practice feeling comfortable and asking for what you need as well as what you want.” Be honest, but don’t be too serious or heavy, and make sure you feel comfortable and confident enough in your relationship. These small hints along with cues you may have given your partner while in bed may help them see the bigger picture. 

If there's no change, have a more in-depth conversation

Here’s where things get tricky. Most people don’t like hearing that they are doing something wrong or that they need to change, but if your partner still isn’t getting it then it’s time to bring it up in a more direct way, and there are things you can do to help soften the blow. First, pick the right time and place. “You’re not going to have this conversation in bed during the act of sex, it’s not the right time to do it,” says Dr. Wanis. “It’s better to do it in a neutral setting where the person doesn’t feel threatened.” Obviously, you’re going to want to have this conversation in private, and doing it at home will ensure that your partner feels safe and secure.

Related: 6 Things Everyone Is Insecure About When It Comes To Sex

Watch your language 

Choosing the right words when bringing this up is SO important. Steer clear from the words “unsatisfied” or “selfish” even if that’s how you’re feeling because that is just going to make your partner feel like they are being attacked. “If you’re approaching a conversation or challenge from the perspective of ‘I’m unsatisfied’ you’re already starting to criticize the other person,” says Dr. Wanis. Frame it in a positive manner: I want to talk to you about our sexual relationship and how we can make it better. This lowers the chance that he takes it as criticism, which will hopefully make him more receptive to the suggestions you offer. And make sure you have those suggestions! If you go in without a plan, the conversation won’t get you anywhere. Think about what you are going to say in advance, and it may be a good idea to practice beforehand. 

Be specific

Once you’ve framed the conversation, give some specific suggestions about ways you can improve the sex. “Ask them if they would like to know what really turns you on,” says Dr. Lieberman. “And then suggest that you try it.” If there’s a particular position they’ve been initiating that you don’t like, or if they’re being too aggressive or assertive, then don’t hesitate to say something about it. “Get clear, and be specific. It’s so much easier to respond to specific. What is it about the way this person is having sex with you that you want to adjust?” They’ll feel more confident in bed if they know exactly what it is that makes you feel good, resulting in a better experience for everyone.

Find out what they want in bed

Relationships are a two-way street, especially in regards to sex. Make sure that you take the time to find out what’s been working for them, and what hasn’t. “If you say ‘I want to get more out of a person in bed,’ then you’re thinking about you, you’re not thinking about them,” says Dr. Wanis. “Come from the approach of here’s what I want, now what do you need? Here’s what will excite me more, what would excite you more?” Maybe your partner has been feeling similar to how you are. Regardless, sex will go better if you are both on the same page about what you want and what feels good.

Ask why there hasn't been a change

It’s okay to be a little blunt, especially if you feel like you’ve been very clear and your partner has been ignoring you. “If you have talked about your sexual relationship and you have suggested ways that your partner can make it more pleasurable for you, and he keeps ignoring your needs and isn’t willing to try things you suggest, then you can ask him why,” says Dr. Lieberman. You need to determine if your partner really hasn’t noticed what you’ve been saying or doing and if they have and have ignored it, if that’s really the kind of relationship you want. There may a specific reason they’ve been doing things a certain way, and that’s okay.

“Instead of getting upset, I decided to ask him and get into his head about why he wouldn’t [give oral sex],” says Marisa, a sophomore at Arizona State University. “He opened up about his fears and some past bad experiences that led him to not wanting to and I was so happy I didn’t get mad at him because I had no idea!” According to Dr. Wanis, sex often reflects deeper parts of your relationship, and if your partner isn’t willing to make changes to make you happy you may not be in the right relationship.

Sex can complicate relationships fairly quickly, so don’t get discouraged if you find a shift in your relationship after making changes in your sex life. Talking to a professional relationship counselor can only help you get more on the same page. Take the steps necessary to fight for a relationship you believe in, and don't be afraid to walk away from a partnership that feels one-sided or unhealthy.