Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lesbian Bed-Death

Originally Published in Sass Magazine in February 2011:

Dan Savage, the fag counterpart to my dyke-ness, often says the only qualification needed for a sex advice columnist is people asking for advice. I like this, but I also don’t agree with it completely. When it comes to sex advice, I believe having a lot of sex, a healthy respect and love of sex, and the ability to communicate experiences with sex is equally important. I’m sure Mr. Savage is qualified in this respect as well, but his expertise in sex tends to be of the man on man type, while mine is entirely woman on woman. I have other qualifications as well, gold-star, romance/erotica writer, notorious sex-fiend, etc., but the most important thing I have to offer is answers to questions unique to lesbian sex.

Lesbian Bed Death: When Girlfriends Become Roommates.

This is probably the primary issue, and feared outcome, of most lesbian relationships. We have so many fantastic excuses for not only why it happens, but why it is okay that it happens. For those of you who don’t know about this phenomenon (good for you by the way if this is the first you’re hearing about it) it’s when the sex drives of both ladies completely drops off and you end up with two cuddly friends who happen to share a bed.

My favorite explanation to hate is the lack of a penis in the relationship. Doesn’t it make sense? Without a horny guy and his little yogurt-slinging trouser snake driving sex to happen, how are we ladies to even know if or when we want to have sex? Of course, if this theory were remotely true, it would mean gay male couples would have active sex lives right up until they died of exhaustion from excessive sex. The problem is they can eventually run into the same drop-off in sex, they just take longer getting there. Straight couples run into it as well where both parties, but usually women, list the need to get the spice back into their marriage as one of their primary goals in their relationships. So, if bed death occurs in couples that don’t even have a lesbian involved, we can’t really blame the lack of penile involvement.

Here’s my theory, one that encompasses not only lesbian bed death, but the bed death of couples of all make-ups: people get comfortable. Routine is comfortable, boring sex fits into routine, and usually ends up being cut for lack time/energy/interesting things to do in bed. Bed death isn’t a lesbian-only occurrence, it just happens faster with us because we race headlong into the comfort zone. Question: What does a lesbian bring on a second date? Answer: a U-haul. Sisterhood, the fact that you’ll start cycling with your girlfriend during cohabitation and our urge to merge brings us to the comfortable, routine state in a matter of weeks where it usually takes straight couples years to get to the same point. Biochemically speaking, we’re designed to be comfortable with each other.

How do you morph this lovely, comfy roommate relationship you have back to the steamy love affair you started with? The same way everyone else does: re-ignite your sexual fantasy fire. Our fantasies about our partners taper off when familiarity grows. Part of this is the letting ourselves go thing everyone seems to do in stable relationships, and lesbians tend to be some of the worst offenders. Take care of yourself, not just for yourself, but so your partner will still get tingly feelings when they look at you. Alluring clothes, keeping fit, staying interesting, and just plain old trying to be your partner’s fantasy will all help stave off the dreaded bed death. Stand in front of the mirror in your glasses and sweatpants and ask yourself: would you fuck her? Putting effort into yourself will encourage your partner’s efforts in bed.

One huge problem in any long term relationship is the lack of tantalizing fantasies. Either you didn’t come in with many or, more likely, you’ve done to death most everything you wanted to do. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t grow new fantasies; most people just don’t bother to. Here is where people struggle based on their own restrictions when it comes to outside sources. If you had the ability to spontaneously think of fantastically hot things to do, bed death wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. There are how-to books on the subject that’ll give you a million ideas, with pictures, and encouragement to purchase ancillary products, but, like all self-help programs, they imply you don’t have to do any of the work, which is completely false. The answer is porn in all its various forms. We are living in a golden age (or as close as we’ve ever been) for lesbian porn. There are several studios now that cast actual lesbians, have lesbian directors, and don’t have a male anywhere near the set (Girlfriends Films, Cyber-Dyke, LezSex, Crash Pad Series, etc.). They all have very good ideas that could easily be adapted to your love life, plus, they’re really hot, and what better way to start thinking about sex than to see people having sex? If you’re not ready to take the leap to a DVD powered love life, or you’re a more text-based individual, and a lot of us are, why not try erotica and romance? I’m not just saying this as a romance author either. The fantasies I’ve read in the erotica I love have fueled my own sex life for years. Find fantasies you like and share them with your girlfriend. Encourage her to find fantasies she likes and share them with you. Go out, find sexual gems, and bring them back to your relationship; your partnership does not exist on an island. With the amazing collection of lesbian porn for lesbians and e-reader copies of erotica books, the ability to bring in outside creativity material is easier and more discrete than ever.

Say YES. This is simple, when she’s in the mood, and you’re not, say yes, and do the work to get yourself in the mood, or encourage her to do the work to get you into the mood. Ladies, let’s be honest here, we hate rejection, we don’t often risk it, and of all rejections, sexual is just about the worst, isn’t it? Take that out of the equation by making a deal with your partner to endeavor to say YES as often as possible. When you know your advances are appreciated and accepted, you’ll be more likely to make them. This creates reciprocity, something astoundingly important in lesbian sex, and will make her feel more comfortable to come to you when she’s in the mood knowing you’ll be receptive. The question of who should instigate sex should always be whoever is horny.

Finally, and this is the most important step to take, stop taking your partner for granted. When you lose the fear of losing your girlfriend, you lose the motivation to do things to keep them, and those things are most often the ones that lead to sex. If you still take the time to make her feel special out of the bedroom, she’ll take the time to make you feel special in the bedroom.

Bed death is both avoidable and curable with a little effort, a little porn/erotica, and a lot of saying yes that’ll lead to screaming yes later.


BMF said...

Ok, so, since I lost everything I typed earlier and I can't remember it all, let me sum it up. Do you ever feel your feminist ideals clash with the whole "keeping yourself attractive" thing? Like, if a hetero female honestly feels that the high heels and makeup isn't her (I dont know if you figured it out by now, but Im talking about myself) should she force herself into that for the sake of a man finding her attractive? And do you think it would be different if she were lesbian?

BMF said..., this was a delight to read. I dont know if it's the filled-to-the-brim glass of wine I just had, but I laughed a lot.

Cassandra Duffy said...

The more contact I have with second wave feminism/women's lib/Gloria Steinam feminists, the less I feel I have in common with them. So much of that movement seems to be based around the idea of don't listen to men, but listen to us, which just trades a master of old white men for old white women, and that just doesn't sound like actual equality or freedom to me.

So, according to their logic, it would be different for a lesbian, because when I get tarted up and sexy, it's to appeal to a woman; I don't really agree that it's different though. The whole concept of keeping yourself attractive also has an element of self-esteem, which is very closely related to a healthy sexual appetite. If you don't FEEL sexy, you won't expect anyone else to THINK you're sexy (even if they do) and you'll end up subconsciously derailing things before they get started. Doing the things that make you feel attractive is far more important than whether or not they're male fantasies/standards of beauty. Odds are, there's going to be some overlap, and that's where I disagree with the second generation feminists who would label them as evil just because men enjoy tight jeans, eye makeup, or whatever it is you're doing that makes you feel attractive.

As for the stuff you don't like to do, the high heels, makeup, etc. That's a personal compromise/relationship compromise you have to make, and I don't think Gloria Steinam or her ilk should have any say in what choices you make for yourself or your relationship--that's true liberation and equality. So much of keeping a healthy sex life is keeping your partner happy and that goes for both genders. There are things he's going to have to do that you think are attractive that he might not necessarily think of as important or show any interest in; in the name of equality, you should do the same. If you like boxer-briefs, he should compromise and wear them in the interest of sexual chemistry even if he prefers tightie-whities. If he likes seeing you in heels, you might have to buy some and wear them even if they're only one your feet while your legs are in the air.

This last part, by the way, has nothing to do with straight sex and everything to do with sex between two people of any gender combination. I'm a weird, odd-ball, completely out of the ordinary lesbian-feminist-liberated woman because I LOVE wearing thong underwear. Nikki prefers me in boy-cut. Because that's what she likes, and I like turning her on, that's what I wear and we both get something out of it. Dan Savage calls it being Good, Giving, Game (GGG). It means being as good in bed as you can be, as giving to your partner (as long as they're as giving in return) and game for what they're down for (so they will be game for what you're into). You get what you want and give what he wants because that's real sexual equality.

BMF said...

That's a great way to look at it. Honestly, I feel incredibly awkward dressing up like that, so I refuse to do it. But I don't really know that he cares about high heels. I suppose as long as there is a reciprocal thing going on, it's not "oppressive". Anyway, thanks for the advice, dear! Looking forward to your next entry.

Cassandra Duffy said...

Can you imagine how lousy of a sex life you would have if you eliminated everything a guy liked and everything you didn't feel 100% comfortable with beforehand? Most of the stuff we really like started out at 51% and didn't jump to the top of the list until after we tried it.

It's not like your boyfriend personally oppressed women for thousands of years. Holding the sins of his gender against him would be super silly behavior. Communication and willingness by both parties can only deepen satisfaction for both.