When Your Partner Wants Something that Turns You Off

Question for you: If your partner wants a sexual behavior that not only isn’t your thing, but really turns you off, what do you do?

  • Tell your partner no and expect your partner to shut down that desire? 
  • Do your best to accommodate your partner some of the time? 
  • Pretend to like it? 
  • Negotiate “I’ll do this for you if you’ll do this other thing for me”?
  • Give your partner a pass to get that need met with someone else? 
  • Break up because you’re not sexually compatible?
  • Other? 

If you’ve been at the other end of this — you have a passion for something that your partner doesn’t share — how do/did you resolve it?

I’d love to hear from you whether you’re encountering this situation now, or did in the past, or you’re thinking about how you might handle it in the future. Please describe the sexual behavior, fetish, role play, or desire if you’re willing and if it wouldn’t embarrass your partner or ex (no “revenge comments,” please).  I’m also happy to hear from counselors, sex therapists and sex educators about how you advise clients.

If you want to answer anonymously, please pick a name that isn’t yours instead of using the name “anonymous” so that we don’t have a string of comments by “anonymous.”

I hope we can start a discussion about how to work with dissimilar and conflicting sexual needs.


  1. Dan on August 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Mistake. I read it backwards. You meant, what if I WAS asked to be NAUGHTY in a way or ways that might be too risky or too wild FOR ME. My head hurts now because I can't think of a single one. And I can't imagine even being asked at the moment!
    As Tara said at the very end: "Tomorrow is another day."

    • Joan Price on August 30, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      I asked it both ways, Dan — if you were asked to do something you didn't like, or if you have a desire that your partner doesn't share. So thank you for that perspective!

    • Mountain Man Dan on September 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Actually, this morning we are going over Charlie Glickman's Yes, No, Maybe list I found here on your blog, Joan. How sad we older marrieds are too shy to talk about things we might like to try.
      And, as to using a vibrator during sex? Is there another way? We haven't had sex without at least one vibrator in YEARS. Palm Power has topped our list of late. So thanks again Joan.
      Perhaps Charlie's list is too wild; make up your own. Talk. I say.


  2. Dan on August 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I'd suggest taking it in steps. No, wait. I think there's only one step! The one who isn't getting what they want and need? Got to begin talking about what you need/want in the relationship physically, socially, sexually. Speak about it without getting butt hurt. Put a time limit on it. If just not going to happen? Make plans and be open and honest with your partner about what you need to do. If I'm not going to get laid I'd rather do it with good communication!!

  3. Essie on August 30, 2014 at 5:08 am

    If he's trying something and I'm not into it I just push him away (nicely) or redirect him. But if it seems like it keeps coming up again and again, then I try to put up with it a little and let him make a tiny bit of progress with it just to see if I might start to like it. It might not be something I really like, but it's nice to be desired, so if he seems really interested in it then I might let him start it, then I'll stop it if I just can't continue. He doesn't seem to mind. I think he likes the challenge, ha ha. It's like a little project for him that he can work on over time. It has worked for him in the past, where he has gradually won me over by being patient and taking it slowly over time. But if I really hate it I can say "No, I don't like it," and he'll back off.

    I do understand that my reluctance makes it more enticing for him–the lure of the forbidden. I don't think he minds when I stop him, as long as the possibility remains open for the future. We don't really talk about it, it's all unspoken but I think we understand one another.

    Now, if it's something I want and he doesn't…the only thing I can think of is that I want to start using a vibrator during sex. It's getting harder for me to reach orgasm and taking too long, so let's just cut our losses and introduce a vibe. He's not gung ho about it. But I bought a few, he's seen them. He says OK, maybe next time, not right now. It is going to happen obviously, but he has to get used to it. He's dragging his feet because change is tough, but in the end I think he'll like it. In this case we do a lot more talking, I inform him of the facts: it's a good solution for older couples, we're not the only ones, it's not a replacement for what he can give me, etc. I read a lot about these topics and he doesn't, so it's partly just educating him. I can tell he's somewhat interested, just still feeling awkward about it. No hurry, I can wait a little while for him.

    We've been together 30 years. We've had boring spells in our sex life when we were too involved in career/ kids, etc. Now we're older and things are much better. I think we're both trying to be open to possibility and change. No need to push or be in a big hurry with anything.

  4. Camino Walker on August 29, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    My first response is to let her fulfill it where she wants to. It would depend upon what it is and how important it is to her, how often. Safe practice and lots of communication around it. But i cannot think of a situation where i would say No. Integrity in the relating.

  5. Eva on August 29, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I give my partner a pass, but then, I'm polyamorous, so it's part of my relationship anyway. That's a huge part of why I'm poly: no one partner will meet my emotional and sexual needs, and that's okay! It's great, actually, because my partners feel the same way.

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