My boyfriend is so quiet in bed that I’m worried he’s not enjoying himself

I have been with my boyfriend for about 10 months. While I have never been so happy, I do feel slightly uncomfortable in the bedroom with him compared with my past relationship. He has never been vocal during sex. I have tried asking him what he likes and he has always shrugged it off. It is making me feel as if I am not good enough for him and I can’t do anything to please him without knowing what he is truly into.

He has opened up about not being confident with sex in his previous relationship, and he has been rejected many times, so I think this has something to do with it, but is it a thing that men don’t moan or even speak during sex and foreplay? When we have discussions about sex, I always say that I want him to feel more relaxed and confident around me. I know it is easier said than done, but I really want to help him feel as if he can be himself and enjoy sex.

A person’s sexual learning, including his discovery of his body’s sexual functioning, starts in childhood. In our society, one learns pretty quickly to be secretive about masturbation. If, for example, your boyfriend shared a room with others, he would have had to be quiet about it and that would probably have set up a pattern of suppressing any vocal expression of pleasure. Our early sexual styles and routines follow us into adulthood and are not easy to change. Your best plan is to be accepting of his developed sexual style. Reward him if he ever does express himself more vocally, but recognise that his reticence to verbalise is consistent with his learning and certainly does not mean he is unsatisfied.

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