My partner is a little too vanilla. How do I introduce new flavors?


My partner is very vanilla. Mostly, that is fine - except that I am interested in all kinds of flavors! When I try to talk about it and/or introduce something into our play, I get shut down immediately. This has been going on for years, and I am super frustrated. I don’t know what else to do.


This seems like a loaded question, meaning that there may be more going on than I can address here in a one-off. I will do my best.

I have a lot of clients who come to me with similar issues around differences in what they want sexually. The real question when it comes to these issues is whether there is room for compromise. In other words, are the things you want to try negotiable, and is your partner's vanilla negotiable - or not?

Perhaps, you could first take a look at your approach. Could it just be that your partner is overwhelmed with the onslaught of things you would like to try because you introduce what you’re already interested in in its entirety? By that I mean that if you are trying to have anal sex, did you first broach trying anal fingering or analingus? Think about what your end goals are and then consider introducing some of them in smaller increments to lessen the shock factor. After all, it's your fantasy - you’re already ready and used to the idea. Even if you have tried discussing it with your partner before, they may still feel overwhelmed and reject it without really hearing it. This is the same as the things that you want done to you; introduce them in smaller steps.

Also, let your partner know what this means to you and really listen to their responses/answers. Obviously, you place a specific value on sex in the relationship. Do you and your partner share that value? How is your current sex life? Are you both enjoying the sex you are having? Do you both feel safe enough to explore some of these experiences together, or are there barriers to the exploration that maybe you’re unaware of? Your partner may have very good reasons for not wanting to partake in some of these flavors, whether it is fear or prior bad experiences or even just a lack of understanding of what it is you want. As I tell all of my clients, talking about it is always the first and most important step. I cannot promise it will work, but it usually helps.

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Written by Karen Washington
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Karen Washington is a graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in sex therapy, with a foundation in communication and self esteem. Karen works with couples and individuals through discrepancy, dysfunction and disorder to achieve their desired sex life. She firmly believes in presenting education and information through the lens of humor, especially when it comes to sex. 

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