My partner will only have sex with me if I wear stockings and high heels

I used to enjoy dressing up for him as part of our sexual repertoire. Suddenly, after eight years, there’s no chance of intimacy without it

I am a 50-year-old woman and deeply in love with my partner, who is 65. We have been together for around eight years. When I met this man I was excited to be with someone who was attentive and enjoyed sex as much as I did. We experimented and tried lots of things which made me feel confident and safe. My partner has certain things he likes in a woman: tight dresses, stockings and high heels, all of which I had been happy to go along with. But suddenly they became absolutely necessary before any sex could take place. There were no more “quickies” before the kids came home or sex on a weekend morning – everything seemed like a production. I did not feel sexy any more and didn’t really want to dress up as I had lost my confidence. The sex just changed – it felt less loving and more functional and there was a loss of trust. When I bring up the idea that dressing up doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for sex, he always says: “You know what I like. He is still loving in the things he does every day, but our sex life is different now. Having sex shouldn’t have to be such an effort. I do still get dressed up on a weekend, and we have good sex, but I really miss that feeling of being wanted without any strings.

Some people are sexually wired so that they need certain elements to be present in order to become aroused, desirous or to orgasm. This is usually created over time, and is sometimes linked to underlying anxiety. I have known many couples where one person is fetishistically fixated on something visual or tactile for example, and with good communication they can usually negotiate an agreement that says, “dress-up sex” will happen on two weekend days, and “non dress-up sex” will happen on two weekdays. Maybe you can come to such a mutual understanding. But there may be other factors such as erectile difficulty, so I hope you will be able to have a very frank and gentle conversation that will allow you to fully understand who he is sexually, and so he can understand your feelings and needs. You both deserve to have your needs met, and to be seen for the complex sexual beings you both are.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

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