How To Tell Your Partner Your Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met

Sex is too good to not be out here enjoying it to the fullest.


If you're a diehard Girlfriends fan, you probably remember the episode when Joan had sex with her boyfriend Sean for the first time. Although she wasn't all that thrilled about him being a sex addict, what she didn't see coming was that he was going to totally suck—and not in the good way—in bed. Ugh. He ended up being one of those bang-bang-bang brothas and while luckily, those have been far and few between experiences for me personally, unfortunately I can recall what that kind of selfish, immature and egomaniacal sex is like. It's the worst…the absolute worst.

Anyway, a part of what made Girlfriends such a great sitcom is the writing was so much like real life. And believe you me, there have been countless conversations that I've had with people who love—or at least really like—their partner, but when it comes to loving (or even really liking) the sex…they can think about at least two dozen other things that they'd rather be doing. That's sad. Tragic, even.

Personally, I think that good sex consists of great communication. That's why, when someone is sexually dissatisfied, I don't encourage or support faking orgasms (more on that in a bit), only venting to their friends and/or quietly resenting their partner (or cheating). Sex is too good to not be out here enjoying it to the fullest, but there is a better way to go about getting what you want (and need). If you are sexually dissatisfied, here's how I advise handling the matter.

Do It Outside of the Bedroom


They say that timing is everything. You know what else is pretty important? Environment. Oh, and implementing the Golden Rule while you're in it. When it comes to having a sexually dissatisfied chat, think how you would feel if, while you were in the bed, giving your all to your partner, he paused, looked at you, sighed and then said, "Yeeeah, I'm not really feeling this. I haven't been for a while now." Talk about embarrassment. Talk about slight trauma. Talk about either being "afraid" to have sex with him again or not wanting to be in a relationship with him, period.

Does this mean that I'm encouraging you to grin and bear bad sex?? Absolutely not. But it is important to avoid having the convo in the very spot where all of the magic happens. Instead, do it on neutral territory like the living room or kitchen. Or even better, while taking a walk together outside of the home. That way, the conversation won't have to be associated with any area where the two of you regularly hang out—or are intimate.

Speak in Specifics


"Bad in bed". What does that even mean? I mean, we all get that bad is, well, bad, but what makes it that way for you? Is he a selfish lover? Is he a minute man? Is he a bang-bang-bang kind of dude? I'll tell you what, if there's one thing that constantly comes up in my sessions with couples, it's that a lot of women want their man to read their mind and a lot of men want their women to be specific when it comes to what it is that they are trying to say.

That's why, it's also a good idea that, before you embark on having this kind of conversation, that you spend some time alone so that you can figure out exactly what it is that you are so displeased with. He can't read your mind. He also can't change what you don't clearly (and lovingly) articulate.

Avoid Making Comparisons


Mama told us to think before we speak; I've got a great example of why we should take her advice. The first time I had sex with a particular partner, right when he pulled his pants down, my initial response was, "That's it?!" Le sigh. I didn't say it in my head either. He heard me. I didn't mean for him too…it's just that—peep this—in comparison to some of my other partners, let's just say that he wasn't what I was accustomed to.

That's kind of my point. As you're in the middle of processing how sexually dissatisfied you are with your partner, be honest about what it's really all about. Is it based on what he's not doing, or is it that he's not doing what ole' boy from before used to do? You've got to always keep in mind that, even when it comes to sex, no two partners or experiences are exactly alike. If you're not mentally and emotionally processing this fact, it might not be that your partner isn't holdin' it down. It actually may be that you are still caught up in your ex (or a few of your exes).

By the way, that guy that I just mentioned? It's some of the best sex I've ever had. Sometimes the best things don't come in the biggest packages. Words to live by.

Avoid Any Passive Aggressive Behavior Too


When it comes to addressing issues, I'm definitely more aggressive than passive aggressive. That's probably why passive aggressive people get on my last nerve. How can you know if you are a passive aggressive type of person? If you make backhanded compliments ("I mean, you were much better tonight than you usually are."). If you use sarcasm to get a point across ("Oh, I'm the one who needs to be more spontaneous? Yeah, that sounds about right."). If you say nothing after sex but, instead, give your partner the silent treatment and then roll over and go to sleep. Or worse, when your partner asks you if anything is wrong, you shrug and say "nothing" when, clearly, it's something. Another example of being passive aggressive is when you downplay your needs and say something along the lines of, "I know this is probably going to sound petty but…" Hmph, now that I think about it, a cryptic form of being passive aggressive is faking orgasms. You're acting like you're satisfied when you're not. And if you do that often, it's only going to lead to resentment.

From what I've read, a past history of childhood abuse, harsh punishment or neglect, or even low self-esteem can be what causes someone to deal with others in a passive aggressive kind of way. Problem is, it's a really ineffective and counterproductive form of communication because it requires others to have to try and read between the lines or play mind games with you.

Good sex is all about healthy communication. If you want your sex life to get better, being passive aggressive is not what's going to get you there.

Be What You Desire


One time, while sitting in a session with a couple, the husband brought up that although fellatio is important to him—like really, really important to him—he was getting irritated because his wife was pretty bad at it. While he was in the midst of breaking down the particulars—her not acting enthused, teeth getting in the way, rushing, etc.—I noticed that his wife was hemming and hawing and rolling her eyes. When I asked her if she was irritated, embarrassed or both, she blurted out, "Maybe if you went down on me every once in a while, a sistah could get more excited about giving you some head." I mean and I'm sayin'.

I have sat in enough sessions with couples to definitely vouch for the fact that some folks are sexually dissatisfied because, contrary to what their ego may be telling them, they aren't exactly doing what makes their partner climb the walls either. One of the main reasons why is due to their own selfishness—wanting to receive what they are not willing to give.

Do you deserve earth-shattering sex? Most definitely. But you are significantly decreasing your chances of experiencing it if you are wanting your partner to do or be what you are not willing to do—or be.

Don’t Harp on It


One more. There are all kinds of ways to have performance anxiety. One way is in the bedroom, and sometimes this happens when a partner is stressed out or anxious. Something that can get your partner there is nagging. I'm not kidding. I actually read an article on a licensed therapist's site that stated that nagging does more damage to a marriage than infidelity or financial challenges. It also said that the ones who are prone to nag are anxious or obsessive types. Who wants to have sex with a jittery person or control freak?!

Rome wasn't built in a day. For many of us, great sex isn't either.

Besides, this ain't a sex scene from your favorite chick flick; this is the real world. If you're diggin' him, there's chemistry and the relationship is going well in every other room of the house, don't assume that things are totally doomed just because you are currently sexually dissatisfied. Sometimes, a part of the fun of sex is figuring things out together. Be patient. Be open. Be creative. Give things a little (more) time. If he values you, he's going to want to please you. He's definitely not gonna wanna leave you out here all…sexually dissatisfied. NOT. AT. ALL.

Feature image by Giphy

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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