Sex Advice

5 Signs Your Partner Is Selfish in Bed—And How To Approach Communicating About It in Each Case

Isadora Baum

Photo: Getty Images/Beatriz Vera EyeEm
Partnered sex can be super-pleasurable, passionate, and connective—but those feel-good effects are mostly the case when all folks involved are invested in the shared goal of enjoyment for all. So, it's a good sign your partner may be selfish in bed if it seems they're mostly focused on climaxing as a primary concern, leaving you to fend for yourself.

That said, sometimes it's tough to know for sure whether your partner is selfish in bed. Or for that matter, whether you, yourself, may be acting selfishly. For instance, if you're in the heat of the moment, you may not know that you’re not giving your partner what they need to orgasm and feel as satisfied as you are.

The good news is you can totally change that behavior and become more attentive to your S.O.’s needs, which in turn can help you enjoy the sex even more, because you'll be more confident that you're helping your partner go wild. And if it’s your partner who might be too focused on themselves, it's possible to look for those same signs of being selfish in bed and then take steps 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’re perhaps more focused on your own pleasure, leaving your partner without the attention they need. The same applies if your partner is the one who is holding off.

“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 Jenni Skyler, PhD, LMFT, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and sexologist.

“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 selfish partner just expects to be doted upon. Either way if your partner isn’t putting in the work you are, it’s time to chat. Regardless of the cause, opening lines of 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 helpful.

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’re just trying to get straight to point and are more focused on your end goal than the buildup.

“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 ignoring your requests or rushing through without seeing what you are in the mood for. Pick their brains for a solution.

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

You know your partner is selfish in bed when 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

While certain folks are more sexually explorative than others, if you care for your partner and support their sexual curiosity, you might be more willing to expand your boundaries in a way that will still keep you safe and comfortable. Being closed off can lead you to hold back from something you may actually enjoy and something your partner may enjoy with you.

“Remember that partnered sex is about mutual pleasure, and it requires active attention to make that happen,” says Litner. If you're not sure how well you're showing up, ask your partner how you can be more attentive and work on showing them how fast you can learn. The same applies if your partner is the one who is selfish in bed.

5. They feel entitled to sex

“You know your partner is selfish in bed when they feel entitled to various sexual activities, versus recognize that it may need to be a collaboration between both partners,” says Skyler. This often shows up as an entitled attitude around intercourse or oral sex. This also might be the case if a partner pushes sex on you when you’re not in the mood.

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

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