We used to have sex while drunk or hungover, but now I realise his foreplay is rough and he doesn’t have good rhythm. How can we improve our emotional and physical connection?
Photographic illustration of a woman lying on her side in bed, covering her face with her arm
‘I try to tell him: “That hurts,” or: “Do this,” but he gets upset easily’ Composite: Getty (posed by model)/Guardian Design Team
‘I try to tell him: “That hurts,” or: “Do this,” but he gets upset easily’ Composite: Getty (posed by model)/Guardian Design Team
Sexual healingLife and styleI recently got sober – and have stopped enjoying sex with my husband

We used to have sex while drunk or hungover, but now I realise his foreplay is rough and he doesn’t have good rhythm. How can we improve our emotional and physical connection?

  • I got married nearly a year ago to a man who is supportive and kind. I have also been sober for the past four months and realised in that time that I don’t actually enjoy my husband’s moves in bed. We used to have sex while drunk or hungover, so I didn’t notice as much, but I don’t really enjoy his foreplay, as he is quite rough and doesn’t have good rhythm. I try to tell him: “That hurts,” or: “Do this,” but he gets upset easily and we get frustrated and annoyed. I asked him to pay for the website OMGYes to learn some new moves, which he did, but he hasn’t looked at it. Now I find myself avoiding sex with him, or playing with my vibrator as foreplay instead of allowing him to touch my clitoris. He is fine about me using my vibrator, but it feels difficult to connect emotionally when that happens. I love sex and want to connect, emotionally and physically, but I don’t want to pretend that things feel good when they don’t.

    “New moves” aren’t necessarily your moves. It is important to gently and patiently help him to understand what you need without making him feel inadequate.

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    Every woman is unique, so, far from expecting a partner to be super-skilled or a mind-reader, her job is to take responsibility for her own pleasure by sharing clear information about how her body works. Don’t expect your partner to be a fast learner.

    Many people don’t even know that direct stimulation of the clitoris is often a far better path to orgasm than vaginal penetration alone. One of the best ways to teach a partner what one needs in a non-threatening way is to gently explain and show him or her in incremental stages. Use positive reinforcement: praise and reward when they get it right. Use soft language and a seductive style, as in: “I love the way you’re touching me right now. It feels really good!” Perseverance will pay off, so you can certainly be hopeful.

    Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

    If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

    Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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