3 Myths About Who Is In Charge

March 19,2019

Today, we’re focusing on unrealistic expectations that we often have of men when it comes to sex.

We’re also doing something a little different this month. Both Xander and I are writing the weekly blog posts together!

I’ll be sharing my perspectives as a sex therapist, and Xander will be sharing his perspectives as a man. We thought this would be a fun way to round out the conversation!

Unrealistic expectation #1 – Men should always initiate sex

Last week, we talked about myths about men’s sex drives. (Missed that blog post? Head on over here to watch a more in-depth video I created about it!)

Since we think that men want sex all the time, most people also believe that men should take the lead in initiating sex.

The truth: It’s really damn hard to always be the one initiating sex.

Anytime you initiate sex, you’re putting yourself in a position to be turned down. That’s a hard enough burden to manage on its own, but if you feel like you’re the only person ever being turned down, that makes the rejection sting even more.

You’re naturally going to have different sex drives in any relationship, but both partners should put effort into initiating.

Xander’s take: I think a big issue is that there is this stereotype of what we think men are/should be: type-A, aggressive, horny, always in charge in the bedroom, etc.

Like most stereotypes, these attributes do describe some men.

The problem, though, is that there are a whole lot of men that don’t fit this description!

The reality of life is that there is a wide spectrum of where men fall in terms of how much we want it, how often we want to initiate, how we want it, and who we want it with.

Like I mentioned in last week’s post, I have learned over the years that I have a very responsive sex drive – while I don’t tend to think about sex spontaneously, the moment I get reminded about it, my brain and body start to react.

Before I was able to recognize this fact about myself, I went through a period of time where I really worried about whether there was something wrong with me!

I wondered if I might need to change my diet, my exercise habits, try masturbating more (to jumpstart my sex drive, perhaps?) or less (to increase it…?), or even have my hormones checked.

To be perfectly honest, I think this might even be the first time Vanessa is learning about this internal dialogue that I had!

But once I better understood the various ways that our own sex drives functioned, Vanessa and I were able to have a constructive discussion about how we could each get what we need and want from our sex life together, including how we could balance out who initiates sex.

Unrealistic expectation #2 – Men should be in charge during sex

When I ask a woman who sleeps with men what kind of sex she likes, I almost always hear some version of, “I like the guy to take the lead and be in control.”

We women are socialized to believe that we’re not supposed to be in charge during sex, so we often turn to our male partners to fill that role. We want them to take the lead and show us what to do, every step of the way.

The truth: While it can definitely be fun to have a partner boss you around in bed every once in a while, it’s an awful lot of pressure to expect them to do it every single time.

It also robs us women of our agency when it comes to sex, if all we allow ourselves to do is follow along with our partner’s orders.

Plus, there are plenty of men out there who enjoy being bossed around by their partners!

During sex, both partners should feel empowered to speak up and ask for what they want. Partners should take turns taking the lead, whether that’s within the same session, or across different sessions.

Xander’s take: My last response was so long, I’ll keep this one short, especially since I’ve already talked at length about how all men have different preferences!

Not only do we all desire different things, but one of the things that we crave (in varying amounts of course) is variety!

If one person was always in charge, that would get pretty monotonous and boring.

I’ve had great sex when I was in charge, and I’ve had great sex when Vanessa was in charge. Sometimes I find myself more inclined to take charge, and sometimes I don’t. But the bottom line is that we both enjoy the variety that this creates!

Unrealistic expectation #3 – Men should know what you want and need

Most women want to find a partner who magically knows what they need in the bedroom, and is able to deliver.

This includes being able to make her orgasm, without her having to tell him how to get her there (or her even knowing what she needs to get there in the first place).

The truth: A huge part of being an adult is being willing to ask for what you need.

Believe me, I know this can be hard!

But it’s just not fair to put all of that pressure on your partner, especially if you haven’t even explored what your body likes.

Here’s another important truth: there is no such thing as being universally good in bed. One woman could absolutely love one technique, and another woman could despise it.

The only way to have good sex is to communicate with your partner about what you each want and like, and explore together.

Xander’s take: My first serious girlfriend definitely fell into this category. She had her whole life planned out in terms of when she wanted to get married, have kids, etc. All she needed was a man to deliver. And this train of thought carried over into the bedroom as well.

For about a month, this was all kind of exciting. It felt like I was living out a stereotypical gender-role fantasy where I was going to discover everything she wanted.

But then the reality set in.

I couldn’t really get any feedback from her about she liked. Everything I tried seemed to elicit the same general positive (and probably fake, in hindsight) response from her, so eventually everything we did would tend to default to what worked well for me.

Needless to say, this relationship didn’t last very long at all, but the moral of the story is that without any feedback or direction, things tend to get boring really quick.

And once you start feeling like you can’t deliver for your partner, you either end up settling for something that feels good enough for you, or moving on!


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!