Control in a mixed age relationship

My older partner never wants me to take the sexual initiative and turn her on. She is so controlling.

My partner and I have this age gap. I am 23 and she is 38. We have been together for 2 years – still on the go and enjoying. My problem is that I am always turned on by her. She makes me happy. But if I want to make love to her it’s sometimes not the right time and I want to turn her on but it seems imposible. We only make love when she is ready to, it all hangs off on her. I don’t know if it’s her age, that woman loose their sexy drive, or just her. Or is it me? Please help. I want her to show me a few things or two. She’s had a lot of partners in the past and she doesn’t want to talk to me about the past. I understand but it feel like she has done or explored so much with them. I feel jealous and I don’t know what to do. We are getting married but I don’t want to be with someone that just gets off on making love to me and not being able to show her that I want to touch her and make her head spin and to be wanting more. I tell her all the time I love her and she knows I do. And she is controlling me so much. She lets me make jokes about her age and she finds it so funny when I tell her, “Come here you old prune.” She likes nasty, funny humour. Any advice would be kind.

The Lovers Guide replies:

This sounds as if it’s adding up to one of the big issues you identify, that of control, but there’s a background to this need to control, in both your and your partner’s personality and personal history.

Mixed age relationships are inevitably going to carry the thought that the older partner has more experience to draw on. Often this is then translated into questions of power, as if greater experience equals greater power. There’s no reason why this should be the case, just as, in a culture which greatly prizes youth, there’s no reason why it should be the younger who is seen as having more power. What can, of course, happen is that where there is a contest of power in a relationship, one partner might have more resources to draw on – be they to do with experience, youth or some other quality.

The important thing to remember is that relationships definitely should not be about one partner controlling the other.

Your partner’s refusal to let you turn her on sounds a lot like a refusal to relinquish control of herself to you. The refusal to discuss past partners, however, is not uncommon – and while there might be a sex-drive gap, 38 for women is often said to be close to the sexual peak, not the abeyance of desire. It could just mean she’s valuing the present and that past relationships for her are over and done with – you’re the one for her now. It’s probably best for you to stop asking about the past partners, at least for the moment. After all, are you sure of your motives here? Why exactly do you want to know? What’s it going to achieve – if your partner agrees, sits you down and takes you over the catalogue of previous sexual adventures? Will your sense of the relationship really be enhanced by that?

If your curiosity is a way for you to feel that there are more sexual possibilities out there than you’re realising now – well, it could be time to start realising them now. Your partner’s refusal to let you turn her on is the obstacle here, as you say, but never mind her teaching you a few tricks: teach yourself!

If you’re toning your sexual persona down, stop doing that. Let yourself be and feel more sexual – and if your partner goes along with that, great; if not, that’s her loss. Of course, there must be compromise in any relationship, but don’t let your sexuality become a mere passive adjunct of someone else’s need or otherwise. Masturbate more. Fantasise more. Explore sensual possibilities within your imagination. Tell your partner about your sexual fantasies – not in a way that’s obviously meant to turn her on or make a point, but just as if you’re enjoying speaking of sexual fantasies. What would you like a lover to do for you? Show your partner your very real need to have more than you’re getting. You’ve got to know you are independent if you’re not going to be the submissive partner within a ‘co-dependent’ (an over-used word) relationship.

As for the next self-help step – it’s that one key word: communication. Have you tried explaining all of this to your partner? If not, why not? If so, how did she respond? You need to explain to your partner very clearly – and not accusing her or blaming her – how this situation is making you feel. If you do start to do this and a conflict ensues, don’t let this put you off explaining your case again. Worst-case scenario: this relationship’s over and you’re better off out of it. Moderately good to best-case scenario: you get the relationship you deserve. Win-win.

Finally, it is worth sparing a thought for why you chose this older and more experienced partner. Do you actually want to be the more passive partner in a relationship, for example? Were you hoping for something which turns out not to be here? Or have your motivations changed with time? Two years can be quite a leap when it’s from 21 to 23. Have you grown away from this relationship?

Some of these points might strike a chord with you; others not. What we’ve been trying to do here is help you get a real handle on the issues underlying your current dilemma. As to how you move ahead, that’s up to you.

Good luck!

Posted in Lesbian, Relationships, Sustaining