Excuses, excuses: what to say if your partner won’t try new things in bed

You’re eagerly anticipating a feisty frolic, one hand hopefully hovering over your zip, and they say….no. OK, not quite what the sex therapist ordered but never fear, help is at hand! It’s natural to be a little resistant to change, so here are a few hints on how to talk around a reluctant partner or give yourself courage.

I’m just not the adventurous type

We all have different personalities and while some people hate routine, others love it. Extroverts tend to welcome change, introverts dislike it – usually because their confidence level is lower. The more secure you are, the more likely you are to try new things because the risks are low. If you fail or make a fool of yourself, so what? Your self-esteem and ego are in good enough shape to handle the odd dent. If you’re the one wanting adventure, reassure your partner that it’s OK to take baby steps and you’ll hold their hand all the way. Also make it clear you’ll stop if they don’t like it. If you’re the one who’s a bit nervous, talk it through with them. Why don’t you like change? What does it represent to you? What are you scared will happen? Sometimes, just admitting our fears out loud makes us realise how silly they are.

I’m too old for all that!

If you can still eat, breathe and smile, you can still be open to new sexual experiences. Age is mainly an attitude. I appreciate that health problems and ageing can influence which ideas/techniques you choose but disregarding new things just because you think they’re for ‘young’ people is silly. Assuming you’re not parking a Zimmerframe next to your lover’s tricycle, you’re probably around the same age. So if it’s your body you’re worried about, I’ll lay bets theirs isn’t perfect either. Adventurous sex isn’t something only the young indulge in so start living, rather than waiting to die. (A bit harsh I know, but come on!)

I’m happy with how things are/so-so sex  Many people really don’t want great sex. Passionate sex is physically and emotionally powerful and if you don’t like losing control, it’s appalling rather than appealing. Intense sex usually means an intense relationship and that means intense pain if it all goes horribly wrong. If you’ve been burned in the past and don’t subscribe to the ‘better to have loved and lost’ theory, you might want to play it safe. Other people simply have a naturally low libido and can’t really understand what all the fuss is about. If both of you are truly content to laze around in so-so sex land, not wanting to change isn’t a problem and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to. There is a problem, however, if only one of you feels this way because mismatched sexual expectation and/or fulfilment leaves you wide open to an affair. Deal with this by loading on reassurance about how you feel about them and how great they’ll feel if they try something new they like. Suggest you just add one or two new things to your usual repertoire, so they feel less overwhelmed, and then take it from there.

What about the kids?

Presuming you’re not intending to put on a floorshow at bedtime/use the baby’s dummy for unhygienic purposes/lock the kids in the attic for a few days to avoid being interrupted, there are ways around the child problem. Get a babysitter when you fancy trying something special and want more private time and time quick sex sessions for when they’re engrossed in their favourite TV show. Make friends with other parents so you can take in turns looking after the kids and put a radio beside your bed to drown out the moans.

If (ohmigod, they’ll be scarred forever!), the kids do catch you in the act, don’t panic. If they’re little, explain calmly that Mummy and Daddy were doing what adults do when they’re grown up and in love/married. If they’re older, they’ll probably be more embarrassed than you are and will have rushed out of the room and slammed the door before their brain has even formed the word ‘Gross!’.

I’m too shy/I’d feel embarrassed

Worrying you’ll feel like a complete idiot during role-play, look decidedly unsexy in that role-play outfit, or just get it ‘wrong’ and muck things up, are fears most of us have. Some more than others. If you’re not a person who’s comfortable in the spotlight, being tied up naked with legs and arms splayed probably isn’t going to make you feel like all your Christmas’s have come at once. The trick to getting through it, is to start with the thing you find least scary and work up to doing the others. If you’re not naturally exhibitionistic, there may be things you’ll never enjoy. In those cases, let your partner take the dominant or starring role.