I have a new partner who is pretty shy during sex. She likes it to be dark and usually has her eyes closed. How can I encourage her to look at me/make eye contact?
First of all, thank you for using the word "encourage"; that is a solid and constructive attitude to take with one’s sexual partner(s) and new behaviors or activities. You can’t spend too long “persuading” or “convincing” someone before you discover yourself embroiled in an argument about butt sex (this is usually the area that people try persuading).
OR what I think is worse, the person who is the target of all the persuading finally just gives in because they don’t want to keep having the same tedious discussion. Now you’ve got someone whose consent is less than enthusiastic, if not actually coerced, the idea of which should leave you with a serious limp/dry case of the heeby-jeebies.
Authentic encouragement is a good tactic, in other words. But what does that look like, in this case?
Let’s get a sense of perspective first. From your question, I am to infer that you like sex to be well-lit, and you like to have your eyes open. That is the way you like it. Let’s just put these out there as two different ways to have sex, neither of which being inherently more enlightened or liberated than the other one. They’re just different ways of doing it.
Also, your sexy times are still new. You and your partner are new to each other, maybe still feeling a little hesitant or unsure. Maybe this is how she is at the beginning of a new thing, and then as she gets more comfortable with you she will be okay with more visible sex.
BUT ALSO: how much eye contact does anyone actually have during sex? I mean… real assessment time. Even if you take out all the times when you can’t make eye contact because hello, roadkill! (!r, that’s a flattened doggy position) and you take out the positions where your partner is too far away for you to make meaningful eye contact without your glasses on… even if we just focus on cis-het missionary with your faces no more than 18 inches apart, how much eye contact do people have? I personally really enjoy watching my lover, but sometimes I need to close my eyes because I’m concentrating on a sensation or there’s a fireworks display happening on the backs of my eyelids, or I’m having such a good time that if I actually saw his beautiful face in the middle of all of it I might implode.
So. The question here is … how much and what kind of eye contact are you looking for? Is it even eye contact that you're talking about, or something else? Like, is the dark bothering you because you don’t think she’s looking at you, or because you want to be able to see her? Does she make eye contact with you when you’re talking? Some people just don’t do eye contact that well.
I think there’s some fun experimentation to be had here with blindfolds and daylight and intimate conversations and carefully paced afternoon make-out sessions. However, you need to answer those questions first. And not just you, but the two of you. Have a little conversation, where you tell her what you like and want, and invite her to tell you. Keep a curious, open-minded attitude—stay encouraging, and open to whatever result comes out of it—and I hope y’all will find a way to let some light in.
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