November 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm EST | by Michael Radkowsky
Option vs. ultimatum
stop sign, ultimatum, gay news, Washington Blade, relationship

At what point do sexual practices become deal breakers? (Photo by Bidgee; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Dear Michael,

I’m having an ongoing argument with my boyfriend of eight months, David.  Simply put, I enjoy being a fisting top but David is not interested.

While we share many other sexual interests, this is something I really want to do with David. We met in a dungeon where I was pretty dominant, so it’s not like he didn’t have some sense of what he might be getting into with me.

I’m a pretty devoted boyfriend, supportive, show him a great time, etc., and I don’t ask for much. Given how important this is to me, I think he should be willing to at least try it. But he says that it’s a line he won’t cross. I tell him that if he wants to keep dating me, he has to be open to this, yet he still won’t agree.

Outside of this one big issue we have a pretty good relationship, so I think I speak for both of us when I say we’d like to stay together.

How do we resolve this situation where we have very different ideas about what we want to do and what we’re willing to do?


Michael replies:

First, I urge you to stop threatening David as a way to get him to do what you want.

Even if you want to dominate David, threatening to end the relationship so that he will go along with you is not the way to do it. Doing so will only serve to replace the warm feelings between the two of you with bitter ones. When you use threats to get your way, you’re holding your partner hostage. He cooperates with you out of fear, not because he wants to.

Keep in mind that once this tactic gets introduced in a relationship, its use by both partners tends to escalate. And you really don’t want to be in a relationship where you both use threats against each other to get your own way.

Here’s an alternate approach. Advocate for what you want by talking with David about why it is so important to you. And then let go of the outcome. It’s up to David to decide if he wants to participate.

I strongly suggest that you get clear about whether this is truly a deal-breaker issue for you. If you would prefer to look for a boyfriend who will be a willing participant in all the kinds of sex that you want to have, rather than continuing to be with David if he isn’t willing to join you, then you should let David know this. But don’t tell him it’s a deal breaker unless you’re certain that it is, or you’ll simply be using empty threats to get your way.

Telling David what is most important to you is very different from telling him that he has to do what you want. The words may be similar, but if your intent is to yank your partner’s chain rather than to let him know where you solidly stand, you aren’t playing fair.

If David says no, then you’re free to leave this relationship and look for a new partner — someone you care for as much as David, but whose sexual interests are a closer match to yours. Of course, there are no guarantees that you’ll find this combination.

If you’d rather be with David than leave him, even if he won’t acquiesce, then of course you should stay. But remember that you have made this choice; so griping to David about what you’re missing going forward is foul play.

Sometimes we get what we want from our partners and sometimes we don’t.  That’s just how it goes when we pair up with another person who has his own desires and interests. Expecting otherwise, believing that our partner should do what we want when he has a different wish, simply isn’t realistic. While you absolutely can ask for what you’d like, trying to force the outcome will certainly give you a miserable relationship.

Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to

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