Is Sexual Selfishness the Key to Erotic Passion?

Nobody wants to be in a relationship with someone who is selfish in the bedroom.

For example, you give your partner a nice long romantic massage — then, when you seek one in return, they say they are tired and fall asleep. Or you give your partner oral foreplay before intercourse — and then it dawns on you that it has been quite some time since the tables were turned.

In other words, you give and give, and they just take and take.

When put like this, it makes sense that so much has been written about how to spot, steer clear from, and confront a sexually selfish partner. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to be with a partner who only thinks about themselves, or who is more concerned with their sexual pleasure than your sexual enjoyment.

But what if having a sexually selfish partner was actually good thing? What if it could help you experience increased sexual pleasure, more eroticism and passion?

That’s what Dr. Stephen Snyder proposes in his new book (link is external), Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship.

The Upside to Sexual Selfishness

Snyder identifies a problematic dynamic that can arise in intimate partnerships when one person is trying too hard to please their partner. He suggests that sometimes we can fumble over ourselves trying to provide pleasure, trying to get it "right." And instead of moaning with pleasure, our partner just ends feeling frustrated or dissatisfied. In other words, we can become too focused on giving pleasure instead of taking it. And he suggests that this dynamic can lead to poorer sexual satisfaction in couples.

Snyder suggests that the path to sexual passion may be to stop focusing so much on pleasing your partner and instead focus on receiving sexual pleasure from being with them — to take instead of give.

While aiming to please a partner is a good thing, when we get lost in trying to give and forget about our sexual needs, nobody wins. In Snyder's words, "Sexual generosity that's not accompanied by a certain kind of selfishness just isn't very erotic."

The Desire to Be Desired

The key to having a sexually selfish lover (when defined this way) is what you get in return — feeling desired. Feeling wanted. Being ravished.

Snyder’s proposition ties into a finding that has been documented in women, and is just gaining some acknowledgment in studies of men, which is: We all want to be sexually desired. We all want to be wanted by our partner, to feel that, even if just for a brief moment of bliss, they can't get enough of us. They are taking enjoyment from being with us.

Still, most of us probably don’t want to be with a partner who takes and takes without giving anything in return. But we most certainly do want a partner who cares about our sexual enjoyment — there just may be something to be said for focusing a bit more on taking pleasure and worrying less about giving it.

Our partner just may experience more sexual pleasure from it, too.

Sarah Hunter Murray