The Urban Dictionary definition states that a Starfish is:

A female sexual partner who remains ‘unmoved’ during lovemaking, physically non-responsive (like a ….).

OR, even more joyfully:

Starfish sex

Sex where the girl’s arms and legs are spread as far apart as possible, like a starfish. Legs open wide, arms out, and a very bored look on her face as she rolls her eyes and waits for the guy to be done.

It’s a pretty offensive term, but it doesn’t hide the reality that for many people, this is what happens to their lover during sex.

In this post I’ve explained a bit about why this happens (spoiler alert- usually because your partner doesn’t know what feels good, she struggles to speak out about what she wants so puts up with sex that doesn’t feel amazing, or she’s distracted because of intrusive thoughts caused by anxiety, stress and/or a wandering mind).

But what you really want to know is- what should I do if my partner is lying still looking bored/distracted/stressed/paralysed?

Step one: stop

If you’re having sex with someone who is “star-fishing”, stop.

They aren’t enjoying the sex (take it from someone who’s been there done that), and it isn’t not good for you or them to continue until you’ve talked it through.

Step two: start a conversation.

Ideally don’t use the term star-fishing (its gross!) but try to gently open a dialogue with her about what’s going on.

“I’ve noticed you don’t seem to be enjoying this- can we talk about it? I’d really like this to feel great for you too”.

Be aware that this topic is EMBARRASSING with a capital E, and possibly shameful for some women.

Being called out on your sexual performance has the capacity to really dent her self-esteem, so be kind and compassionate, and most of all non-judgemental- you want for her to open up on this one and feelings of trust, safety and intimacy need to be established before she will.

Try to enquire how it’s feeling for her, whether she is enjoying it, what would she like to be different to make it feel better for her or to help turn her on?

Is she afraid? Tired? Not into it? Worried about something else?

Be mindful with this that many women have NO IDEA what feels good for them, and even if they do, ASKING FOR IT can be even harder.

This is because women aren’t socialised to speak out about their desires or embrace their own sexuality. If they do they’re called sluts, if they don’t they’re labelled frigid. It’s a lose-lose situation, so many women just float along never really understanding what THEY want, and only ever existing to please their partner.

If this is the case, ask your lover what is making it hard to know or ask for what they want? Can you help in any way? What could you do that would make it easier for them to express what they need?

Step three: take her lead

Figuring out what you want sexually is a lifelong journey, and many women haven’t got started yet or don’t know where to begin. It can feel scary to take on your sexuality- often there are layers there which require careful consideration and even professional support. Many women have histories of trauma, or difficult past experiences with sex, that might mean she is reluctant to approach the issue. She might also be happy with the status quo– unaware there is something much better out there.

Take her lead on what she wants to do next– is she comfortable continuing to have sex? What else could you explore together that might help her build her confidence, or keep her present during sex?

Consider things like a pussy massage to mix things up a bit and take the pressure off and have fun together.

Step four: support and/or love your partner anyway!

If you’re patient and kind (and offer plenty of hugs- if appropriate) you CAN figure out together how you can create a sex life you both love and enjoy. 

Seeking out resources to understand how your partner might be feeling could be helpful. Check out the resource on “How to know what you want in bed” in the sidebar to help you understand the kinds of things a woman might consider if she wanted to figure out what she needs in bed. If appropriate, you could use the workbook to start a conversation with her about what she wants and needs.

After all- wouldn’t you prefer a wild woman in bed too?