Erotic Assertiveness for Modern Men
Do Women Really Want a Nice Guy?
As a sex coach, I talk to many individuals and couples who want assistance with improving their sex lives. Lately, one recurring theme in my work with male clients is a feeling of conflict about their female partner’s desire for them to be more sexually assertive. So many of them embrace self-described feminist values of fairness, respect, and equality. They put these values into practice by allowing others time and space to speak and express their emotions, to listen and process disagreements, to share in all household responsibilities. When it comes to sex, they understand how to give and ask for pleasure, take their time in making love, to incorporate way more sensual, oral and massage-like pleasure than they themselves often need, and to make sure that their partner is satiated with pleasure during their lovemaking. They respect their partner's "no" and do not assert their desire for sex: they know how to take care of their own needs when their partner is not in the mood for sex.
While the partners of these men appreciate the value of sharing chores, sometimes they don't want to share in the initiation of sex and taking control in the erotic realm. It is the one area where they want him to "be a man" in the stereotypical sense. This difference in expectation seems to present a particular conundrum for many “modern” men: how can I be a "nice guy" in the relationship and access my more aggressive side when it comes to sex? How is it that those dominant urges, desires and ideas that I had to suppress and unlearn are now back on the table? Is it disrespectful to be more sexually assertive? How can I meet her desires of being more aggressive with her while honouring my values?
What does it mean?
Participating in aggressive sex does not mean that you do not respect your partner nor does it necessarily contradict your values. One theme that often surfaces from their female partners when requesting assertive behaviour is the need to feel desired. They want their lover to be so overcome by their attraction to them that it raises a primal urge inside of them. They don’t want to always hear an egalitarian and thoughtful: “Do you wanna give it a go?” but at least occasionally they crave a passionate “I want you” that is truly “of the flesh”. They want to know that their partner notices them and finds them hot and irresistible. They don’t want to be loved just for their skills, intelligence and values, but also for their sexiness. What can be more egalitarian than this?
So what is a good guy to do?
First of all, don’t assume anything. Just because some women want a sexually assertive partner, does not mean your partner shares these desires. Ask first, then negotiate if the response is affirmative.
Secondly, find out how your partner wants you to be assertive. Most people are turned off by the all-too-common assumption that assertiveness means being mean, rude and rough. While some people may crave this type of play, actually what these partners are often asking for is quite tame in comparison. It can come in various flavours: playful, seductive, passionate, tender or even spiritual. One fun way to find out is to repeat a phrase such as “Take off your clothes” in each of the above flavours to see which style feels hot, natural and authentic to both of you.
Thirdly, ask her for some specifics. Get details on the what (activities, toys), where (location, parts of the body to be indulged), how (flavours of play), who (roles? dress up?) and when (morning or evening? when wearing certain shoes or perfume?) that your partner envisions. Her request to be assertive may sit better with you when you find out more specifically what your partner is looking for: perhaps she’d like a romantic date with candles that leads to her being restrained and teased endlessly to the point just before orgasm; texting or whispering many persuasive suggestions of indulging her to the heights of pleasure; seductively kissing her all over after she jumps out of the shower; or even just initiating a mischievous wrestling match or pillow fight that stirs desire and leads to sex. You may be surprised to learn that what your partner wants is much easier to do than you thought.
Finally trust your partner. Your partner has asked for something that is likely challenging for her to accept and express as well. She may too feel conflicted about her desires. Expressing authentic desires and challenging norms shows strength. Trust that this is indeed her genuine desire and choice. Accept what she is consenting to as a valid and empowering request. If it still feels “wrong” or makes you uncomfortable, try framing the fulfillment of your partner’s request as an act of service, of giving pleasure, of lovemaking in a new way. Of course it still may not feel right to you. Sometimes trying something different helps to uncover your latent desires. But if being assertive is truly not in your nature or you would prefer that your partner were more assertive instead, then you need to negotiate your differences in desires.
It’s about FUN
Don’t take it all too seriously. Have fun, play, discover, and learn new things about yourselves and each other. Embrace the different sides of your personality and discern together when to embody your assertiveness and when to bring out your cooperative side. Take your time. You usually have many more lovemaking sessions ahead of you, so you don’t have to do it all at once. Besides, saving something to look forward to always makes for fabulous erotic tension.