5 Signs Your Partner Is Selfish in Bed—And How To Communicate About It

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Partnered sex can be super-pleasurable, passionate, and connective—but those feel-good effects usually require all folks involved to be invested in the goal of mutual enjoyment. So, if it seems like your partner is mostly focused on their own pleasure, leaving you to fend for yourself, it's a good sign they may be selfish in bed.

That said, sometimes it's tough to know for sure whether your partner is sexually selfish. Or for that matter, whether you, yourself, may be acting selfishly. In the heat of the moment, it might be difficult to tell if you're giving your partner what they need to orgasm and feel as satisfied as you are.

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The good news is you can totally change that behavior and become more attentive to your S.O.’s needs, which can, in turn, help you enjoy the sex even more. And if it’s your partner who is too focused on themselves, those same signs of being selfish in bed might help spur you to ask for what you need to really get that orgasm you deserve.

5 signs of a partner who is selfish in bed, and how to approach each to get the pleasure you deserve

1. You're doing all the "work"

If you’re receiving oral sex each time you have sex, but you’re not offering the same in return, you might be leaving your partner without the attention they need, or vice versa.

“You know your partner is selfish in bed when they lay there expecting you do to all the work to create an erotic environment.” —Jenni Skyler, PhD

“You know your partner is selfish in bed when they lay there expecting you do to all the work to create an erotic environment,” says AASECT-certified sex therapist and sexologist Jenni Skyler, PhD, LMFT.

“Typically, the selfish partner doesn't engage in much or any mutual touching. Sometimes this is because of trauma, and the receiving partner doesn't touch back because it's triggering, but it shows up as selfish,’ she says. Other times, the receiving partner just has the expectation of being doted upon. Either way, if your partner isn’t putting in the work you are, it’s time to chat. Regardless of the cause of the disconnect, opening lines of bedroom communication to share what you need and what you aren't currently getting is important. In some cases, particularly where there is a history of trauma, seeking professional help as a couple may be key.

2. Foreplay? Not often

There’s a time and place for a quickie (which can be fun!), but if you’re regularly missing foreplay, any sex act that builds up to orgasm, it could mean you or your partner is more focused on the end goal than the buildup. There are different types of lovers, but communicating about sex is key to a fulfilling relationship.

“You know your partner is selfish in bed when they are not curious about what you enjoy and they have their own agenda and plow forward without checking in,” says Skyler. The best way to approach this situation is to be upfront with your partner and ask them why they are rushing through without checking in with you about your mood.

3. When you express what you want, it's met with resistance

Though there are different types of selfishness, one sure sign that your partner is selfish in bed is that they don't take feedback well. “Typically they will respond to your feedback or requests with defensiveness or anger, and while this often comes from their own place of insecurity, it shows up selfishly,” says Skyler.

And if you're the one who's not open to feedback, “explore your resistance,” says sex therapist Jennifer Litner, LMFT, CST. Ask yourself what keeps you from feeling open to hearing your partner’s suggestions. It can be helpful to think of feedback as an opportunity to make sex more enjoyable for everyone. “Feedback is truly the lubrication of sexual satisfaction,” Litner says.

4. They’re only focused on what they enjoy

A partner who is a narcissist may expect sexual activity only on their terms, and refuse to deviate or try something new. Plus, they may lose interest after they get what they want.

“Remember that partnered sex is about mutual pleasure, and it requires active attention to make that happen,” says Litner. Of course, there can also be positive selfishness, like when your partner's needs have been met and it's your turn for some pleasure.

5. They feel entitled to sex

“You know your partner is selfish in bed when they feel entitled to various sexual activities, versus recognizing that it may need to be a collaboration between both partners,” says Skyler. This can show up as an entitled attitude around intercourse or oral sex, or as a partner pushing for sex when you’re not in the mood. Sex is important in a relationship, but it still needs to be consensual.

The opposite can occur, too, Skyler explains, where you or your partner might withdraw from sex. This can also be selfish, as it’s an unwillingness to keep the intimacy alive (especially if this becomes a chronic issue). It's important to find that in-between and learn to work together to connect intimately and be attentive to each other’s sexual needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About A Partner Who Is Selfish In Bed

What can I do about a selfish partner?

It may be uncomfortable at first, but talking to your partner and addressing any perceived selfishness is going to be the best way to sort things out. "Talk to them, listen to them, and ask how come their sexual pleasure is being prioritized over yours," says sex therapist Jackie Golob, MS, LPCC. It's important not to attack your partner, but to try to engage calmly.

"Say something like, 'I’ve been doing some reflecting on my personal sexual boundaries and our sex life. I’m wondering if we can have a talk about how we can balance both of our desires, sexual needs, foreplay, and aftercare more,'" advises Golob. Simply asking if your partner is open to speaking about the issue now or at a later date is a great first step. Golob also mentions that it's important to do this without your phone in hand or the TV on in the background.

When should you walk away from a selfish partner?

If you've tried to speak to your partner about their selfishness at least two to three times and they aren't willing to have the conversation, it's time to walk away. "They’re not prioritizing you, so you have to," says Golob. "Walk away if you feel like nothing has changed and if you’ve voiced this opinion for quite some time. When you feel like you’re running in circles, stop."

What causes a selfish lover?

There are many reasons why someone might be a selfish lover. "There’s toxic masculinity when it comes to the patriarchy with cishet couples, family of origin dynamics with not seeing what a healthy relationship is like, lack of affection growing up, lack of emotional awareness and skills, and also learning how to be in a sexual relationship as well," explains Golob. Different attachment styles, lack of communication skills, and unhealthy past relationships can all contribute to present selfish behaviors.

Do selfish partners ever change?

Here's the good news: Selfish people, including selfish lovers, can change—if they want to. "If this is an individual goal, and the person wants their relationships or marriage to work bad enough, they’ll do anything to change," says Golob. A shift in mindset is necessary, and you or your partner may need to make sacrifices. Both people need to speak their mind and say exactly what they are looking for in a partner. "You’ve got to prioritize you, your relationship, and your sexual wellness. If you don’t do show up for you, don’t expect anyone else to," adds Golob.

Is it ever OK to be selfish in bed?

At times, it's fine to be more selfish in bed. But don't make it a habit. "In a healthy sexual relationship, it's important to strike a balance between your own desires and those of your partner," says neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, director of Comprehend the Mind. "This involves open communication to understand each other's needs and boundaries, as well as a willingness to give and receive pleasure in a mutually satisfying way. Consent, respect, and empathy are crucial elements in any sexual relationship."

How do I stop being a selfish lover?

Now, if you're reading this article because you're thinking, wait, am I selfish in bed? there are things you can do to create more balance in your relationship.

"Prioritize foreplay: Invest time in foreplay to build emotional and physical connection. Focus on kissing, touching, and other forms of intimacy before moving on to more sexual activities," says Dr. Hafeez.

Mutual satisfaction: Remember that sex isn't all about you. Aim to please and do things that will turn on your partner in addition to yourself.

Patience: Take your time and don't rush through the act. "Rushing through the process often leads to selfish behavior. Explore each other's bodies and enjoy the journey," says Dr. Hafeez.

Ask for feedback: Talk during and after sex to understand your partner's likes and dislikes, and adjust as needed. Try not to take their preferences personally, and instead, think of the conversation as a learning opportunity.

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