Go take a look inside a few women’s magazine on the newsstands right now, and I guarantee that in at least one of them, you will find the following admonishment: to have sex even when you don’t want to, because it’s good for you.
The more insulting versions of this sentiment are that you should have sex when you don’t want to because it’s good for your partner (they’re typically referring to your male partner), or because it’s good for your relationship.
Well, I’m here to tell you this: Having sex when you don’t want to isn’t good for anyone. Not your partner, not your relationship, and most of all, not you. So you shouldn’t do it.
Most of these magazines put forth pretty convincing arguments as to why you should let somebody fuck you when you don’t want them to. It’s great exercise! (Sassier magazines will even call it “sexercise!!!!!”). Once you get into it, you’ll like it! Sex releases endorphins, and so you’ll feel super awesome after you do it! The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it! Or – on the negative tip, here – your relationship will suffer if you don’t do it, so spread ‘em!
Now, barring that last one, I don’t want to say that some of these things aren’t partially or potentially true. For instance, I’m sure that if you’re involved in a particularly physical roll in the hay, you’ll burn some calories. Ditto if you’re bouncing on top of someone like a deranged pogo stick. And sure, sex releases endorphins. So does regular exercise (which, incidentally, IS something you should do even if you don’t really want to).
And of course, it is possible that you’ll get into sex once it starts even if you weren’t into it in the beginning. You might get turned on and want to continue.
But you also might not. And that’s sort of where this awesome advice falls apart.
See, when you do something you don’t want to do under the guise of feeling like you should be doing it, you run a few very real risks. One is that, despite your best efforts, you will actually not “get into it” once you start. That will make the act itself – whatever it is! Sex, or finishing a book you hate, or watching a TV show that everybody loves (Girls) but you think is stupid (Girls) – utterly unpleasant, and in the case of sex, might make you actually want to do it even less the next time an opportunity rolls around.
Another is that, since sex in this context is a partner sport, you run the risk of letting resentment build between yourself and the unwitting individual who is doing sex to you in that particular moment. After all, if you’re lying there while some sweaty grunting person is pounding away, and the only reason you’re doing it is because “Cosmoglamstyle” told you it was what that person wanted, you’re probably more likely to feel annoyed about the whole situation than you are to think, “My goodness, how well we two are bonding right now.”
But all that aside – because truth be told, you probably love your partner and you probably won’t ever completely lose interest in sex just because you did it a few times begrudgingly – the most important point here is that you should never, ever train yourself to do things you don’t want to do.
It’s important in relationships and in life to know what you do and do not want, and to learn how to advocate for those things. This is actually very hard for some people, and if you listen to gender studies people, women tend to have a more difficult time doing it. For instance: It’s hard to ask for a promotion. It’s hard to tell a friend that she’s being an asshole. And it can be hard to tell your partner that you’re not in the mood to fuck.
But the answer to that isn’t “Give in and fuck anyway and hope that you like it,” any more than the answer to not getting what you want at work is “Sit there and do shit you hate until someone simply notices how awesome you are.”
The answer is: Recognize what you want, accept what you want, be fucking proud of what you want, and then do what you want. In this case, that means learning a productive way to tell your partner you don’t want to have sex when that is the case.
Besides, hopefully the person that you’ve chosen to date actually only wants to fuck you if you also want to fuck them. There is something decidedly gross about a man or woman who would be totally cool with you having sex with them because a magazine guilted you into it. Ideally, you embracing what you really want will be a move that is in turn embraced by your partner. In fact, you might want to rethink the relationship if you find that’s not the case.
Now, here’s the beautiful thing about all this – unlike having sex when you don’t want to, the more you standing up for how you feel instead of roundly ignoring how you feel, the more you’ll be able to articulate other things that you want. As far as sex goes, maybe you want more foreplay. Maybe you want to be tied up and spanked. Maybe you want to do the tying up. Figuring those things out and saying them out loud will DEFINITELY make sex better.
But ignoring what you want will only confuse things and make them convoluted, and then the next thing you know, you’ll be lying in bed one day asking yourself, “Do I want this? Don’t I want this? Shouldn’t I want this?” When you really could have said, “I don’t want this” 15 minutes ago and saved yourself the trouble.
In short, any magazine that encourages you to ignore your feelings in favor of some imagined societal ideal can go fuck themselves. Even if they don’t want to.