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Ask Anna: Is my boyfriend just using me for sex?

Your boyfriend can still be a bad partner or a bad lay, but he can’t use you for sex if you don’t grant him that ownership.

Ask Anna is a sex column. Because of the nature of the topic, some columns contain language some readers may find graphic.

Dear Anna,


How do I know my boyfriend’s not in it JUST for the sex? — Feeling Used

Dear FU,


Sex and relationships are two-way streets. If your relationship feels unbalanced, it’s probably because you’re sacrificing your own needs in order to make your boyfriend happy. This then leads to resentment, discomfort, and anonymous, one-sentence missives sent to advice columnists.

I can’t tell from your very short letter what indicators have made you feel like your boyfriend might be using you for sex — does he only text to booty-call you and ignore other messages? Does he balk when you ask him to take you on a date? Is he not very available, except with his penis?

If your needs aren’t getting met in this relationship, however, I would encourage you to take a hard look at what you’d like to change and say something about it. Require actions and not just words from him in response. (This is important. Talk, as they say, is cheap. He also might shape up for a few weeks and then revert back to old habits, which is also something you should watch out for.) For instance, if he bails as soon he’s had an orgasm, and you’d like him to spend the night sometimes, then make that a request. If he puts forth no efforts to show up for you in the ways that you require, then send him to the Landfill of Relationships Past (LORP).

Remember, too, that you are in charge of your body and your genitals! If you are doing what you please with them, and taking ownership of those decisions, then you can’t be “used.” Because you have the power. You always have it. It can’t be taken from you. Your boyfriend can still be a bad partner or a bad lay, but he can’t use you for sex if you don’t grant him that ownership.

Often, when we talk of being used, what we really mean is that we feel unappreciated. If your relationship feels one-sided, and you seem to be the one putting in all the effort, scheduling all the dates, picking up all the tabs, and so on, then that’s going to make you feel you’re being taken advantage of. So, again, take stock of what’s upsetting you, speak up about it, and act accordingly.

It’s good to keep listening to those gut-level discomforts. If something feels off, it’s probably because it is. The onus is then on you to do something about it. And if the off-ness doesn’t change, then find someone else who will devote the kind of care and attention that you crave.

Don’t settle for crumbs when you deserve a damn meal.

Check out more sex and dating advice from Anna here. »


Anna Pulley is a RedEye contributor. Want to ask Anna an anonymous question about love, sex or dating? Send it below, or email