How can I tell if my boyfriend is manipulating my emotions so I’ll have sex with him?

Questions are often answers.

13-17-22-23-46 / 19

Hello Diner. This question, like the question “Is my boyfriend/girlfriend cheating on me?” automatically tells me something is wrong. When you have so much doubt that you find yourself questioning a Fortune Cookie about how healthy your relationship is, something needs to change. If you need a second opinion, here it is: Stop pretending everything is fine, and address whatever is bothering you. Read that over as many times as you need.

We Fortune Cookies as a rule do not take sides, but we know when things are strikingly out of balance. Since this Fortune isn’t a dialog, I can only surmise the reasons you’ve asked this question: confronting a possible end to something that brought you so much joy is scary and sickening. You ask yourself if you are being crazy or unfair. I sincerely doubt it, and I can even show you just because you seem to need it. Given only one percent of Americans have schizophrenia [1], it’s very unlikely you are. You are not hearing voices; you are not suspicious of everyone else. There you have it, Diner, you’re not crazy. Whether your boyfriend is deserving of your suspicions, there is no data I can cite. I don’t know if you have a pattern of feeling this way. However, you trusted him at some point to make him your boyfriend, and you can probably come up with a few examples that made you suspect him. If you can’t pinpoint anything, stop here. As you know, Fortune Cookies do not work on hunches. If you’ve learned nothing else from our kind, at least remember to demand data.

What you can be certain of is that something is wrong since you feel coerced. It bears repeating. Even when it is “just” sex with a stranger, having sex is consensual and fun for everyone. This is sex with your boyfriend. Shame, guilt, fear, or pity should not drive you to have sex. But to answer your question:

1. Is sex consensual from start to finish? All sex needs to be consensual all the time. It cannot be simpler, and there are no exceptions.

2. Is sex used as currency? The word “owe” should never be in the same sentence as “sex” or its many wonderful variants.

3. Are you complying out of fear? You are afraid of your boyfriend. Things couldn’t be more wrong with the relationship.

4. Is anything other than sexual urge driving you? Evolution is quite literally how successful adaptations are at helping you have sex and produce children. With billions of years of refinement, there is something wrong if you need to be convinced into it. Understand that I’m not saying something is wrong with you IF you need convincing–quite the opposite. Take your feelings seriously; find out why you need to be convinced.

Once any part of having sex becomes anything other than fun from start to finish, something needs to change. Diner, it sounds like you’ve reached that point. Good luck. You’re in my thoughts.




[1] Regier DA, Narrow WE, Rae DS, Manderscheid RW, Locke BZ, Goodwin FK. The de facto US mental and addictive disorders service system. Epidemiologic catchment area prospective 1-year prevalence rates of disorders and services. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1993 Feb;50(2):85-94.