A CUTIE PIE:
I feel a bit unsettled about a particular aspect of my relationship. We’ve been dating for seven-ish months, we're exclusive, but we don’t really call each other anything. Never boyfriend/girlfriend, no introductions to outside parties (for either of us). But something that has wormed its way into my head lately is that we’ve never spent the night together. I’m a college student with one roommate, and he has his own place but works pretty long hours with early mornings during the week. He’s been very open about the fact that he doesn’t like sleeping next to other people because he’s a light sleeper. Sleeping (actual sleeping) with a partner is something I’ve enjoyed a lot previously, and I really like him and want that kind of intimacy. I feel guilty for wanting to ask him to do something I know he doesn’t usually like, but I’m also a little hurt that he hasn’t attempted it at least once. My birthday is in the next couple weeks, and as I’m not really a tangible object gift kind of person, I was going to ask him to have a sleepover (sheet masks, romcoms, cookie dough, the essentials) where he actually stays over and sleeps next to me. Is this a bad idea? Should I ask him to do something he doesn’t like?
P.S. Emergency Sex Question: We have really great sex!! I have a negative thing with blowjobs after my eating disorder-bulimia recovery, but I really want to with my current partner. So I bought ~flavored lube~ to make the experience a little more fun but every time I think about using it I feel embarrassed like I have to do math in front a classroom. How do I do it? When do I do it? Is this right? Am I still good at doing this? Any guidance is appreciated.
Howdy, howdy, howdy!!!!! To hell with Maria Von Trapp, let’s start from the very end: lube. Lube is underrated as all get out, and especially in your situation, I think it’s a nice workaround for your trigger (if it works for you—it may not, and that’s fine, although frustrating!) Here’s how you “do” lube. You keep it on a bedside table and then, like when you have to put on a condom, you go, “one second” and you grab the bottle, put some on your hands, and start touching his dick, and if you so feel like it, putting your mouth where your hands are. It might sound like I’m oversimplifying things here, but that’s… really all you do. At best, it makes for spicy spicy oral sex, at worst, it’s not great for either of you but you laugh it off and keep having the wonderful sex you claim to already be having. (It also might help you to start by using your mouth to lick rather than putting the whole dick in—think ice cream cone rather than corn dog. A whole dick in your mouth can be an overwhelming endeavor. Start slow. Stop when it isn’t fun.).
Ok, now ONTO THE RELATIONSHIP!!
Girl. What. He won’t let you sleep at his place and you guys don’t use labels???!?!?! ??!?!?!1?! My spidey senses are telling me that Something is Up with the two of you. You are about to—for your birthday—ask if you can spend the night at his place? And that doesn’t strike you as… a yellow flag for your relationship?
Look, I’m not saying that he’s dogshit and terrible and that you need to leave him because he’ll never give you what you want, but you’re asking for an Incredibly Normal Part of a Relationship FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY. It’s like if you were asking for your birthday for him to agree to meet your friends someday. That’s just like… part of the relationship. It’s been seven months!
I’m probably being a little unfair as I don’t know the whole situation. I don’t know if he cannot sleep with anyone in his home or if he’s simply being a little brat who is using his light sleeping as a cover for his intimacy issues. I will also admit that sleeping with someone is not always The Best (however, falling asleep with someone you love is very fun and nice, so he’s missing out). I also acknowledge that people ask for things all the time on their birthday that are Normal Parts of a Relationship. For example, some people simply ask for a nice dinner date together, and that’s an incredibly common part of a relationship. The problem is that he never gives these things to you regularly and/or you don’t ever feel comfortable asking about them outside of your birthday.
Are you afraid to seem too needy? Because wanting to sleep over with a partner isn’t needy, it’s normal. Does he usually dismiss your requests? Are you two rarely on the same page? Are you both scared of intimacy? Or is it just him, and you’re afraid that if you ask for more, he’ll leave? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But you do. Or at least you have all the Blues Clues and it’s time for you to put on your green striped shirt and get to the bottom of this.
What’s the point in not putting a label on it? What are you two doing? Why? Is one of you moving away soon? Is this so someone doesn’t get hurt when it ends? The amount of hurt you feel if a relationship doesn’t work out cannot be mitigated or bulwarked against by not calling someone your girlfriend/boyfriend. It will feel how it will feel. In fact, should you two split, I imagine that part of the pain would be how much effort you put into a relationship with someone who wouldn’t even call you his girlfriend.
I’m doing a lot of assuming/reading between the lines here. Maybe you’re the one who insisted on no labels. Maybe you’re the person trying to keep things from getting too serious. But, to be blunt, sleeping over and saying that you are boyfriend and girlfriend are not big steps for adults. It’s not marriage and it’s not kids. It’s not a mortgage or a sailboat. It’s not a joint account or Target credit card. Keeping each other at arms length will not serve any of the purposes you guys think it will. All it will do is prevent you from finding out if you want a marriage and kids and a mortgage and a sailboat and joint account and a Target credit card with this person because you guys will never actually figure anything out about one another other than good sex and how much it costs to Uber home from one another’s houses.
Yes, you should ask him to do something he doesn’t like (unless this is an actual phobia of his or causes him health problems). This is not a huge ask unless it’s one of those issues. You’re not asking him to climb El Capitan or pay for a trip to Bora Bora for the both of you. You’re asking to sleep together for fucks sake! (Seriously: Does he really get no sleep or just a bit less? Can you at least do it on the weekends? Can he wear ear plugs and an eye mask? Is he NEVER going to sleep with you? What happens on a vacation?) I think his response to your—very reasonable—ask will tell you a lot. Relationships are all about being 5% less comfortable on occasion so that your partner is 65% more happy. That’s like the deal.
And if you two do have a sleepover or two, maybe you can find a time to be like, “Uhhh, it’s weird that we don't call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. What’s that about? Or have we just not gotten around to it? Because I consider you that.”