Ask Professor Foxy: How Do My Partner and I Compromise on Safe Sex?

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Dear Prof. Foxy

I’m a lesbian and have been with my girlfriend for about four months. I was a virgin when we met (one of those mythical 25 y.o. virgins) and she had previously had a very small number of partners. We’re both clean and monogamous. Per her insistence, we always practice safe sex. Gloves. No oral. Her reasoning behind this is that she is saving skin contact for her wife. At one point, in a particularly apologetic mood, she said that she thinks the gloves are about her paranoia. I don’t think her reasons are either/or but a both/and.

I want to respect her. I don’t want her to feel bad about her standards or compromise herself. But I definitely want something different. I waited so long to have sex, not that I’m ashamed or regretful about that, and now I’m in a sexual relationship that is inhibited (maybe unnecessarily). When we have sex, she has no problem coming to orgasm. I have only orgasmed once while with her. Sex is not about the orgasm, being intimate together is fantastic. And I want to be with her without a barrier, latex or otherwise. I want to try oral sex and she knows it. She’s talked about trying other things to find something that I really enjoy (toys, light bondage) and has been willing to get dental dams to go down on me but has maintained that in her experience, safe oral is highly unsatisfying. I trust her, so I’m game for just about anything, but I can’t help but feel that we wouldn’t have to go to crazy with the accouterment if we could just touch each other.

All this being said, I’m a little frustrated. I don’t want to be a nag. But right now, our sex is vanilla. I think it could be so much better. Should I keep pushing the issue (tactfully)? Should I wait until our sex life naturally progresses into something more? Or maybe I should just accept that this is where my girlfriend and I are at and find ways to enjoy it? Perhaps there are other options here that I haven’t considered. Any advice you could give would be wonderful.


Dear Blue,

I think that you are right that her reasons are a both/and. Paranoia has two parts: actual and mental. You two can go get tested for STDs together, find out that neither of you have any STDs, and she could still feel uncomfortable. In addition, she wants to wait until she meets her wife to have skin-to-skin contact. You are clearly very frustrated with this situation.

You two need to have an in-depth conversation about this issue. Ask her to come to the conversation after having spent some time thinking through her reasons for not wanting skin-to-skin contact. You should spend time determining how important skin-to-skin contact is for you. Have the conversation and really listen to each other, don’t argue about how you feel or try to change the other person’s mind. After the conversation, take some time to think about what she said and about what your needs are.

At this point, you have a sexual and intimate desire that she is not willing to meet. Your need for skin-to-skin intimacy is real, but it feels like it is a proxy for you two not being as intimate in general as you would like. You need to think about what you need and what intimacy looks like to you.

Is there a compromise place? Can you take steps towards skin-to-skin contact? Do you actually think it will progress into something more? What if change does not seem possible? What do you need?

Think through these things and have a final (or more final) conversation about the issue. If compromise is possible, work on figuring out that compromise. If a general timeline is possible, work on that (for example, after we’ve been dating X months I would stop using gloves). If none of that is possible, work on how you feel about this, do you want to stay in this relationship? If you decide to stay, you two have to agree on or at least not constantly revisit what sex and intimacy look like. Relationships are about compromise, but compromise you can live with. You two need to find that compromise or start thinking about whether or not you can meet each others’ needs.


Professor Foxy

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