What’s that, you say… CARETAKER SEX???? Is that some kind of kinky thing?
Caretaker sex is where one partner in the relationship is having sex as part of their nurturing role in the relationship, as a duty, out of obligation (perceived or real), to show their love or very much about the pleasure, satisfaction and emotional wellbeing of their partner.
Often they don’t mind doing this, they get satisfaction from it- much like cooking a nice dinner than gets the tick of approval, but they do not get any sexual satisfaction from the sex themselves.
It might be sex where only their partner gets to climax, sex that simply does not have the key ingredients necessary for one partner’s pleasure, or sex that does not go for long enough.
Sometimes it is sex where their partner calls the shots- perhaps fulfilling the partners’ fantasy, kink or desires, but that otherwise outside of this relationship they wouldn’t much be into, or at least if they had the choice based on their own fantasy or desires they’d choose something different!
Maybe it’s simply sex as a gift- a sex act as a way of saying thank you for all you do for the family, the hard work you do, for staying around, etc.
As you can see, this is tricky stuff, even to think about.
Because ‘Wait’, you say, ‘this is part of me, I am a giving person. It’s totally fine by me to give like this now and then. I know just how to please him/her. It makes them so happy.’
Yes, now and then giving the gift of unreciprocated pleasure is a lovely thing indeed. But years and years of it??? Not so much.
For women, this kind of sex can be an extension of mothering, a caring act of duty and obligation that keeps the peace, serves to make everyone happy ( except herself )
Remember, pleasure is VERY good for us, for our health and wellbeing, for our nervous systems, for our new and ongoing connections, for our sense of self. Pleasure is for everyone. However in many cultures and for women especially, we have been conditioned to believe that other’s pleasure always comes first and that it is our JOB to make sure our partner is having the pleasure he ‘needs’ without attending to our own or expecting another to care about it.
Oestrogen, the hormone of accomodation, of connection and caring, plays a huge role in this too… eeeek!
Younger women who are just new to sex are OFTEN having sex as it is expected of them, maybe it makes them feels sexy and empowered, and that’s great. But they get a very short stick when it comes to satisfaction. This happens a lot in casual sex too. Self knowledge, boundaries and confidence is what is needed here. Asking for pleasure, demanding a basic balance of giving and receiving, and knowing how to BE pleasured.
Women can physically have sex without being aroused.. it’s true. But is it pleasurable? Is it sustainable in relationship? Is it fair?
In couples where Caretaker sex is showing up, it may be from any or many of the following:
An imbalanced sexual pattern started years ago as a ‘nice thing to do’ for their partner, but became, over time, the only way they had sex.
Perhaps the pattern started in the first weeks of their relationship and was never addressed- sex that didn’t have the ‘foreplay’ ( a phallocentric word that needs to be retired IMHO) needed to bring about the high level arousal for great and high level pleasure.
Maybe there was some ‘ performative sex’ or faking of pleasure or orgasm that once started became very hard to quit? ( this is so common, and there are many multilayered reasons we find ourselves doing this)
Or maybe it started after having babies when one partner’s libido took a hormonal and / or energetic dive.
Perhaps one partner NEVER SPOKE UP about their sexual response and the things they need to get aroused… maybe they never explored what gets them going. Here is that conditioning to not think their pleasure matters…. many women have never explored their own sexual response in self pleasure and simply don’t know what works for them.
Sometimes the partner who is getting all the joy is totally unaware what is going on and would be HORRIFIED to realise how imbalanced the sexual aspect of their relationship has become.
Some couples make love where one is there just for the intimacy and connection, and the other receives more of the physical pleasure, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Mutual pleasure is the best kind of pleasure. Thats where the sparks fly and the neurochemistry of connection really flows.
This kind of imbalance in sexual satisfaction is one of the main reasons why couples stop having sex altogether, even though they love each other. Once the pattern is ingrained it seems insurmountable (good news, it’s not!)
If one partner is giving far more than they are receiving, sexually, it’s inevitably going to cause them to feel less and less like sharing their body. On top of all the other things they often ‘have’ to do in their day, having
sex becomes less desirable. Resentment, withholding and shut down are common over time. Feeling used or unappreciated, not feeling sexy in themselves, losing their connection to eros, to their innate sexual energy, no longer desiring the other… it all becomes a bit domestic and routine, more work to do.
Many people in this situation speak to me about a craving to be desired and wanted, adored, worshipped…
They would love to be pleasured just for the sake of their pleasure, not having to work, to perform or to TRY. Just for once activity not having to do a THING, just receive.
They have a deep wish to have all the time in the world dedicated to their pleasure and not feel the need to force themselves, or rush, or worry about how long they are taking. They long to just surrender to sensation.
Really good, satisfying sex is co-created, it’s mutual pleasure, it’s giving and receiving. It’s not so much the unspoken – ‘I’ll give you 5 mins oral then you give me 5 mins oral then we will have PIV sex’ ( that’s NOT good sex)
It’s more than that. It’s the act of truly wanting to see the other in peak pleasure, in full blown arousal… whatever that takes. Great sex is a meeting of souls and a co-regulation of nervous systems. It might not even include penetrative sex.
Time spent helping the other become fully aroused should never be about equality in time. It should be about equality in care and dedication to mutual pleasure.
One partner’s sexual response is almost always different than the other’s. Different genders, different hormones, different nervous systems, different ideas about sex, different genitals, different needs. Our response and desires can, and do, change at different times in our life.
I hear from women in peri- menopause and beyond who ‘suddenly’ wake up to the fact that they have been in such an unbalanced sexual pattern with their partner in a longterm relationship…. and feel incredibly sad. As our oestrogen declines we lose a lot of our ‘caregiving’ responses and feel very strongly the desire to put ourselves first, for the first time in years.
This understandably creates HUGE shifts in their sexual relationship as well as their sense of self in relationship, a sexless marriage may set in- and this may even result in separation or divorce if those shifts aren’t recognised and honoured by both members of the couple.
What can we do about this kind of imbalance in a sexual relationship?
Well it might take a LOT of bravery, but it all starts with communication.
True and honest sharing of how you both feel, without blame or anger. With understanding of where you at at right now in this moment.
An open reflection about where things started going wrong and both of your roles in it, as well as nature’s role. And step by step plans about how to make it right, to tips the scales back to a more even state.
Then an exploration into your unique sexual blueprints, each of your arousal types and the kind sexual response types unique to you both. What are your own accelerators and brakes to desire and arousal.
Finding out new things that don’t you know about each-other, sexually. You’d be surprised at the inner workings of someone you know very well.
Tantric and energetic practices- tools to bring about a new kinds of intimacy, connection and exploration.
Developing ways of being intimate that cause high desire and arousal ( such as teasing, or being fully ‘served’ when you are usually the one who takes the giving role) or perhaps exploring role play, some light kinks or fantasies that have specific charge for you.
Playfulness and fun!
If the pattern of caretaker sex, or imbalanced pleasure is something you need help with, (and trust me I’ve been there, and was for quite some years) I have 1:1 coaching packages to help you work out what you really want and need, learn about your own sexual response type, and how to start communicating you needs and desires with your partner.
Or, if you know you’re BOTH ready for better intimacy, I can help you together directly in my
Couple’s Coaching packages- details are here on my website under the tab: Services; Couples Coaching.
In these Couple’s Coaching packages you meet with me as individuals 1:1 several times to work on your own stuff that you’ve collected along the way in this relationship or in your life in general, and then come together to work on bringing you back into balance and union, and to co-create the kind of intimate life you both relish and enjoy.
Have you got a feeling this is JUST what you need to do? Book in for my free initial conversation- either one or both of you can chat to me over Zoom in this 30 min obligation free call