The Seven Deadly Sex Sins: Greed
By Jon Pressick, from Sex in Words
Think back to the most recent time you found yourself in bed with someone. Now, now, calm down a bit, I imagine there are some pretty sexy thoughts running through your head at the moment. Or, perhaps, maybe you should focus on those thoughts. What are they of? Are you thinking about something you did or something your partner did? Are you envisioning your body being touched or theirs? And whose pleasure is it that you remember the most clearly?
In an ideal world, most sexual encounters are an egalitarian affair that provide everyone involved with pleasure and satisfaction. Sadly, we already know that this is often not the case, but hey, we can dream. But are we all keen to move toward this ideal or have you had the misfortune to find yourself with someone who is only about getting their own kicks? This month in our series of Seven Deadly Sex Sins, we explore greed in sexual relationships.
When we think of greed, we most often think of people who take more than they’re due, who do not share and become quite covetous of their own pleasure. Greed is usually drilled out of people while they are young. Unfortunately, some people cannot quash their impulses and greediness rears its head throughout their lives. We all know someone who always wants more more MORE.
Of course, it is only natural that greediness can slide into our sex lives as well. You know the type because there’s a good chance you’ve slept with someone who could be considered selfish in bed. They are focussed on their own pleasure, but do not (or rarely) reciprocate. A common greedy character is someone who\ loves receiving some oral fun but rarely pay any lip-service themselves. They’re a “come-and-done” type who is happy to just roll over after orgasm even if you’re not close to cumming. Just as in day-to-day life, most people want sexual experiences that prioritize pleasure for both partners. It doesn’t have to be at the same time, or even both every time. But an understanding of mutual satisfaction spread throughout a shared sex life goes a long way in ensuring continued happiness.
The curious thing is, greedy in bed does not always translate to greedy in everyday living. It certainly could, but some people who are overwhelmingly selfish in the sack can be loving, caring, sharing folks outside it. Unfortunately there is, particularly among men, a long-standing idea that men’s pleasure is paramount. And by long-standing I do mean centuries. Women’s pleasure has been diminished so significantly that some guys are greedy in bed without even realizing it—because they’ve grown up with the idea they should be.
Take, for example, the recent studies that have come out about oral sex. Overwhelming numbers show that women are going down on cock a helluva lot more than guys are eating pussy. This despite the growing recognition that clitoral stimulation through oral sex can greatly improve the possibility of a woman reaching orgasm. However, regardless how much you tell guys this, they fall back on the societal silliness that dudes aren’t supposed to go down. Where this foolish idea started is a bit baffling, however it does persist. And it manages to pervade culture despite the equally hypocritical idea that men are somehow “owed” blowjobs. Somehow, oral sex on a penis is presumed to be a regular part of any sexual experience. Is there anything more greedy?
On the other hand, some perceive different sexual arrangements as being inherently greedy when, in reality, they aren’t at all.
Polyamory and open relationships have grown significantly in recognition as legitimate relationship models—though some folks still think enjoying sex with more than one person while in a relationship is inherently greedy. But I never said greed is inherently bad. On the surface, sure, it is greedy to want and seek as much as you can possibly get. And for some in poly relationships, that is the goal. However, what sets this apart from negative greed is that nobody is getting hurt (if the relationship dynamics are in good shape). Here’s where we need to make a clear distinction. There is greed and there is hedonism, and the two are often conflated to meaning the same things. They are, however different. Hedonism is the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good and greed is excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions. A poly dynamic would seem to fall under hedonistic.
With that in mind, other sexual dynamics that are often misconstrued as greedy are the many different relationships that can happen among the identities in the BDSM community. The societal perception of Dominants and submissives is that the Dom(me) is taking all of the gratification in sexual situations and the sub is just there to serve and get nothing. This facile view of D/s entirely diminishes and negates the dynamics and interplay that is crucial to understanding how these relationships work. Yes, a Dom(me) may be the one dictating action and demanding service—the outward-facing signs of pleasure. However, the sub is an entirely willing participant who derives pleasure from service, from offering their body to their Master or Mistress, from pain, degradation and humiliation. The sexual relationship is symbiotic and intimately intertwined. Were either truly greedy, the scene would not go well at all.
There is one last type of misconstrued sexual greed that is a real problem for many couples. In long-term sexual relationships, it is natural for our sexual needs to change over time. You may be good-to-go every day while your partner is more of a once-a-week person. If this disparity is not discussed and understood, the partner with the lower libido may consider the other greedy for wanting sex all the time. And the person who is more sexually interested may think the other is greedy for “holding out.” Neither of these feelings is good for the future of the relationship. Clear and open communication and understanding of each other’s needs is essential. And you might want to consider consensual non-monogamy or sex workers to fulfil the sexual partner’s needs.
Ultimately, when it comes to sex, greed can be both negative and positive. I heartily endorse everybody being greedy in desire because sex is awesome. However, at the same time, being generous in your acts and sharing pleasure will ultimate gain you the most reward.
Whose pleasure do you prioritise in sex?
– Jon Pressick
About the writer: Jon Pressick is a sex-related media mogul. He is also a writer, the editor of the Best Sex Writing series from Cleis Press, co-host and producer of Sex City Radio, event organizer, workshop facilitator, (very occasional) burlesque performer and general sexual gadabout. Jon Pressick also won the prestigious 2010 TNT Favourite Adult Journalist Award and has been named as one of Broken Pencil’s “50 People and Places We Love.”