Shortcuts: “I Touched My Girlfriend While She Was Sleeping”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My girl and I have been together for three years, and over the last 11 or so months there have been zero physical relations. I’ve tried romance, waiting, and begging, and I have even resorted to doing it alone. She’s worried because she doesn’t feel like it and any thought of physical contact is making her ill. She tells me that it’s not “me,” but I can’t help but worry. The other night I was “in the mood” and decided to touch her while she slept. I had tried this before, but she stirred and I stopped. After I touched her for a while, she turned away from me, leaving me to have to leave the room and help myself. We never talked the morning after that. I think she feels violated, but I just wanna try things to see if I can’t help her get past this loathing of contact with me. — Helping Myself

Your girlfriend feels violated by you because she WAS violated by you. (That you “stopped” when she “stirred” indicates that you weren’t actually trying to get her in the mood — you were trying to use her body while she was unconscious, which is despicable). This is a toxic, unhealthy relationship that is unsatisfying and frustrating for you both and it hasn’t even been one year. Cut your losses and move on.

It’s been a year since I broke it off with the father of my 2-year-old daughter. What gets to me nowadays are his obnoxious whatsapp status and profile pictures, gloating about his new love. What’s even worse is that, even if I wanted to ignore them, I can’t because we use whatsapp to communicate about our daughter. What pisses me off is that he never gloated about our relationship while we were dating. Why is my ex making his love life public on whatsapp? It’s so obnoxious, and it makes me angry and hurt because he never did that while we were dating. — Not Into Gloating

Block your ex on whatsapp and find a private way to communicate with him about your daughter like, oh I don’t know, talking to each other on the phone.

About a year and a half ago I made a joke about my old-fashioned grandmother not letting me wear heels because I looked like a whore. My fiancé’s brother’s fiancée took that to mean I was calling her a whore even though I also wear high heels. I have apologized for any hurt I may have caused. Now they are having a big wedding and reception (400 people) and are inviting my fiancé to the actual ceremony without me and then inviting both of us to the reception. I think this is incredibly rude. Would it be in bad taste for us to decline? — High heeled Drama

Yes, and beyond that it would be setting a (bad) tone for the rest of your married life as part of this extended family. It was incredibly rude for you to be excluded from the wedding, but you were invited to the reception and that’s something at least. Be the bigger person and go and play nice. And when it’s your time to send out invites to your wedding, be gracious and include both your BIL-to-be AND his high-heeled wife.


Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. LW2 seriously? To see his whatsapp status you have to actually click on his “profile”. And ditto to see his picture (apart from the teensy one you see when actually chatting. Stop dong that!!!!

    LW1 If the first 2 years of your relationship you had a regular sex life,what changed? DId your GF start BC? Sometimes that can be a libido killer. It might be worth a check up.

    LW3 WWS

  2. LW1: You need consent. If she’s not been giving you consent while she’s awake, what makes you think you have it while she’s sleeping? Either get consent for this type of behavior in advance, or don’t do it. As for the actual issue, please encourage your girlfriend to look into some underlying causes for her sexual apathy and offer to help in any way that you can (after 3 years together it’s worth a shot), or WWS and move on.
    LW2: Keep reminding yourself that what you see on social media is a distortion of reality, it’s how that person wants the world to see their life. Focus on your own life and happiness, not your ex’s.
    LW3: You’re going to have to deal with this person for a while, possibly forever if both your relationships work out, so WWS.

  3. LW1: WTF?!? Just, no. Just because you’re together, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to grope your unwilling girlfriend in her sleep. Yikes! Either get to the root of the sex issue or break up. But knock it off with the midnight touching. Yuck!

    LW2: Quit focusing on your ex’s life. You broke up for a reason and whatever his motives are for being obnoxious on social media aren’t your concern. Do as Wendy suggests and either talk on the phone about your child or straight up text, and block this guy on social media. Trying to figure this out isn’t worth your time or energy.

    LW3: Let it go. Look at it this way: the ceremony will be boring; it’s the reception that is the fun part! Win-win! So go and enjoy it, wish the couple well and act like nothing is wrong. If your soon-to-be SIL wants to hold a foot in mouth moment against you forever, that’s her problem, not yours.

  4. I guess I must live on a different planet. When you live with your girlfriend for three years and SLEEP IN THE SAME BED with them, I think you can safely assume you are allowed to touch them, by default. Holy cow.

    If she was really “violated”, why didn’t you encourage the LW to turn himself in to the police?

    1. To clarify – if you don’t want to be touched at all – don’t sleep in the same bed! That is a mixed message in the extreme.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Ewww, this rule feels icky with some icky slippery slope. … how about we stick to any sort of sexual touching/other acts requires consent and you can’t give consent when you’re asleep.

      2. Because sleeping is sleeping and sexing is sexing? And she doesn’t consent to sex while she’s awake so why should he help himself to her unconscious body while she’s not awake??

      3. Sunshine Brite says:

        What mixed message? I don’t understand, I really don’t. Just because I fall asleep in the same room as someone doesn’t mean they get to fondle my boobs or start playing with my vagina until I stir. It just doesn’t.

    2. I think touching can happened as in you touch their back, their arm, maybe their leg. But, it seems like he was talking about touching parts of her that you would have to work at to touch. Not everyone is ok being woken up that way (being touched say on the genitals) even though they choose to share a bed with someone. And you’re saying she can’t feel violated without telling the police? Have you never felt violated in any way by an act that wasn’t reported to the police? I think it’s obvious in his letter that they’re having sex issues and the way to fix them wasn’t by touching her in the middle of the night.

    3. If things were otherwise all right between them sexually, I would agree with you. The problem is, she has not been giving consent recently, for whatever reason, so you cannot assume that things are the way they’ve always been, regardless of what may have happened in the past. People can change their minds, you know.

      1. I feel I need to clarify my response. It’s now that touching somebody while they’re asleep is wrong. Some women like it (myself included). But, I think there needs to be a preexisting understanding that it is okay, arrived at through mutual discussion. And, even if it did exist before, clearly there is something going on now which makes her uncomfortable. So, out of respect for her wishes, the LW needs to back off and not do that.

    4. If she doesn’t let you touch her when she’s awake, it’s quite clear you can’t when she’s asleep.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Great. Comment.

    5. I’m almost as grossed out by this comment as I am about LW1 touching his girlfriend while she was asleep. You and LW need to get yourselves educated about consent so you’re not, you know, out there existing in the world with this entitled attitude.

      1. I think you should educate yourself about the meaning of implied consent. If you share a bed with your girlfrield/boyfriend/finacee/spouse there is a common understanding that you can touch them. It hasn’t been a problem with me “existing in the world” because no one I have ever dated in my life had any confusion about this. In fact, unless the bed is really huge, it’s going to be impossible to avoid any touching.

        And if she’s been denying him any sex for 11 months, doesn’t she think she’s being just a little cruel here with all this teasing? If you don’t like him, leave him. Or at least don’t sleep in the same bed!

        Would you prefer written consent in each case of touching? (which is where many universities and California’s new bill SB 967 is heading).

      2. I’m sorry, but existing in the world, even in close quarters, does not give anyone free reign to do whatever, especially sexually, with another person, regardless of relationship. To give a very extreme example of this type of reasoning, “implied consent” is the reason marital rape was not recognized for a very long time. Are you also saying that marital rape should not be considered rape because marriage is the implied consent? It is only became law in every state in the US in the 1990’s (the first laws on the books were in the 1970’s). You bring down this definitive “implied consent” like it’s a black and white issue, but it is far from a settled matter. Maybe think about why universities and states are putting new rules and laws in the books in this area instead of painting them as ridiculous.

      3. Marital rape is a different issue, so you are trying to change the subject.

        The LW says he was touching her, he didn’t go into detail. “Touching” could mean a lot of things, but I am assuming he didn’t mean penetration.

        Anyway if “the thought of physical contact is making her ill”, then getting into bed with her boyfriend is the last thing she should do. It’s not complicated.

      4. I said it was an extreme type of example. But it proves my point that “implied consent” is a moving target – it’s not like everyone has agreed on what implied consent is. For example, we obviously have different ideas of what that is. This is really a large part of why I prefer to leave very little unsaid with partners when it comes to sex – why err on the side of violating another person?

      5. I also wanted to clarify, there are situations in which implied consent is appropriate, and it’s a part of my own relationship and past relationships. But if someone is physically unable to give or take back consent (for example, if they are sleeping, extremely drunk, under the influence of a substance, etc.), then implied consent really doesn’t apply and you need to get some sort of actual consent. It could be ahead of time, it could be making sure the person is awake or in their right mind, or something else. This is something I might have thought about more than the average person because I used to sleepwalk. It’s still scary to think about what could have happened to me while sleepwalking, even by (or especially by) someone I trusted of either gender.

      6. Nope. We’re not talking about a sleep cuddle, we’re talking about a relationship that’s no longer sexual, and a partner deciding he’s entitled to her body because he doesn’t like that she’s no longer consenting to have sex with him. No longer consenting. No consent. Consent not there.

        If he’s upset about that he doesn’t get to force her to be sexual because that is LACK OF CONSENT. In that case he needs to act like a grown up and break up or communicate so they can once again have CONSENSUAL sex, not assault her in her sleep because he’s pissed he hasn’t had consensual sex in a while.

        It’s not rocket science.

      7. We don’t know that this isn’t a “sleep cuddle” because the LW didn’t go into detail about what kind of “touching” he did. Most likely, he was groping her.

        And he does this because over the past 11 months “there have been zero physical relations”. That doesn’t sound like someone who thinks he is “entitled”, that sounds much more like someone who is simply desperate for some physical contact again. My point here is not to justify his actions, but to more accurately depict what is going on.

      8. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        We don’t need this mansplained to us, thanks. We read the same letter you did and have interpreted it our way as you have interpreted it your way. Unless you were in the room with these people, your depiction isn’t more “accurate” than any of our speculations.

      9. Specifically, it was Tara describing him as “entitled” which I thought was inaccurate, giving the rather pathetic, desperate tone of the LW.

        But as you have said, you are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. Have a good day.

      10. RedroverRedrover says:

        Wait, so you DO think he was groping her? Sorry, but that requires consent. You can’t just grope someone who has clearly said no to sexual touching.

    6. Ele4phant says:

      I think in healthy relationships, there can be implied consent. Like my boyfriend knows given our long established relationship patterns that if touches me sexually during my waking hours I’m okay with that. I mean I may not want to be sexual in that exact moment, but our relationship to this point has been that it’s okay unless I say otherwise. And knowing my waking attitude, it’s okay for him to assume the same if I’m asleep.

      The difference between my relationship and the LW’s is that he *doesn’t* have a healthy sexual relationship and he knows *he is not okay* to grope her when she is awake, so there’s absolutely no reason he could reasonably assume it’s okay when she’s asleep. Now to me it sounds hellish to be in a relationship with someone who rejects you sexually and I wouldn’t fault him at all for wanting to make her address that or dump her if she won’t, but when it comes to groping her in her sleep that’s his bad.

  5. lily in NYC says:

    #3 – For a wedding gift, I would be so tempted to get the happy couple one of those hideous chairs shaped like high heels.

  6. findingtheearth says:

    LW 1- No. That is in no way shape or form cool. You need to talk to your girlfriend, apologize, and discuss resolution. Has she started birth control or anti depressants? Is she stressed out in some other area of her life? Help her find counseling or therapy where she can freely discuss the matter.

    LW 2- Call him. Text him. Let him live his life. His new relationship is not a reflection of you or your daughter together. Be happy he is involved with his child.

  7. LW3, the other commenters are right – you get to skip the boring part of a wedding and just enjoy the fun part – lucky you! And, maybe you can turn this into an inside joke with her? Like maybe when you are both wearing heels again, you can joke how you’re both “1920s whores” or something? Maybe turn this into a solidarity thing?

    1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      I agree with you to a point, but if it has been a year and a half and this is still an issue, I doubt that ANY “smoothing over” is going to be helpful at this point. 😉

      1. Yeah. My theories on this:
        The future SIL is uptight as all get out.
        LW might sometimes say things as jokes that don’t actually come off as jokes.
        Either way, these two don’t sound like they’re going to be buddies. Hopefully they can smooth it over so they don’t spend the rest of their intertwined lives shooting daggers at each other over the Thanksgiving turkey.
        And FTR, I think not inviting LW3 to the ceremony, but allowing her to come to the reception is just weird. What exactly is the couple trying to impart with that bizarre decree? I don’t get it.

      2. As to your last paragraph, it’s hard to say without more information I think. I know a lot of couples that had very few people at their ceremony and then a lot at their reception… it is kind of weird to invite her fiance to the ceremony and not her, but maybe she is his “fiance” like how some people use the term to mean long term relationship and they aren’t as serious as one would think? I dunno, something like this is hard to gauge with only one person’s perspective.

      3. Sunshine Brite says:

        I need more info too. I don’t think it’s about the joke even unless another sibling of the couple was able to bring a fiance too. I think it’s about how the couple chose the guest list for the ceremony.

      4. I agree with both of you. I was going off the letter that it was about the joke incident, which as you both pointed out, very likely has nothing to do with it. And that makes much more sense.
        I’ve just never encountered a ceremony guest list being more restrictive than a reception guest list, thinking it was usually the other way around, so I thought that was weird. But I guess that’s more common than I knew about. And my experiences are just anecdotal, obviously. It’s interesting to hear that it can be the other way around.

  8. Consent: So much more than failing to actually call the cops and have you charged with sexual assault due to not technically being conscious.

  9. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    Whoa, WWS to all three obviously.
    LW1: First, to say that you and your GF do not have good communication would be an understatement at this point. Second, your touching her while she slept is beyond creepy and a total violation of all that is right in any relationship. There is something major going on with your GF if she says “any thought of physical contact is making her ill,” whether it be medical or psychological. Which goes back to your communication issue/major malfunction. Bottom line, DONT TOUCH YOUR GIRLFRIEND WHILE SHE IS SLEEPING OR OTHERWISE… because if she found you repulsive before this, I cannot imagine the emotions she is feeling about you now.

  10. Katmich15 says:

    LW2 – He didn’t gloat publicly about your relationship because he wasn’t trying to make anyone jealous or pissed off, he’s doing it now to piss you off, don’t let it work.

  11. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) Hah. My ex used to constantly wake me up all the time with blow jobs. Who knew I was supposed to prosecute? But no wonder every hetersexually paired off man I’ve ever met is bored out of his mind sexually.

    LW2) Lets review. You’ve fuck up. Have wrecked the life of an innocent? But the biggest crisis facing you presently is vapid status updates on some facebook wannabe. No forest through the fucking trees, eh?

    LW3) “DW, I was a unfunny bitch and it pissed somebody off. Well, FUCK her! This now gives me the right to be a both petty and wrathful bitch, right? PS — why do so few people seemingly want me around?”

    1. tbrucemom says:

      RE LW 1 – thanks BGM, I thought I was the only one that liked being woken up by some wandering fingers (or mouths). I guess at least my hetero husband isn’t bored!

      1. RedroverRedrover says:

        Yeah, but that’s when you’re in a sexual relationship. If these two haven’t done anything sexual for the past 11 months, it’s fair to say they’re not in a sexual relationship at this time (even though they may have been in the past). So he can’t just decide that now they’re going to be in one and start pawing her when she’s unconscious. That’s not acceptable. You two are talking about relationships when you have implied consent. There’s no implied consent in this case because there hasn’t been any explicit consent in almost a year.

      2. I agree, in this case, there is no implied consent because it has been almost an entire year without sex. But even when there is a relationship with some implied consent, I think there should be some sort of affirmative consent before engaging in acts with an unconscious person, at least the first time. And I speak from my own experience – after being the one waking up the other with sex, and pausing as soon as I realized what I was doing to make sure there was some form of consent, I made sure to debrief the next day and get (what turned out to be enthusiastic) consent for any future acts. And believe me, none of this ruined anyone’s day.

      3. RedroverRedrover says:

        I think that can be a grey line… in my experience, wake-up sex usually starts (the first time) with one person rubbing the other’s back, or something. Light foreplay. Something like that is totally fine. Once it’s clear that you both like waking up to that kind of thing, it usually just moves on from there. The next time there’s less foreplay, then less the next time, until you’re waking each other up with oral or something. I agree with you if you haven’t done it in this progressive way, and you want to jump right to waking them up with oral or penetrative sex, that you should talk about it first and consent.

        But if you’re not in a sexual relationship, there’s no way you should be doing this stuff. I also think there’s a time and a place. If you did it in the middle of the night, yeah, that’s a bit off. Because then it sort of seems like you’re hoping the other person doesn’t wake up.

      4. tbrucemom says:

        I think this guy is beyond frustrated and if the GF doesn’t get help he should move on. I still think if you’ve been together 3 years and having sex up until the last 11 months and I’m assuming sharing a bed for that long, getting “consent” seems unnecessary and frankly a mood killer. Besides based on her reaction he didn’t continue because of her lack of “consent”. He also said he had tried this before and I’m assuming her reaction previously was positive. I like to be ravished sometimes and asking for consent to do it would completely ruin the mood.

      5. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        It may be a mood killer–but if she hasn’t consented awake, why the fuck would she consent when she’s sleeping? Oh boohoo…it kills the mood–so violating her is worth it? Interesting.
        Previous behavior from over 11 months ago doesn’t matter. The present behavior matters- NO SEX. No sex while awake means no sex while sleeping unless he receives clear, verbal approval BEFOREHAND.

      6. RedroverRedrover says:

        I agree that he’s frustrated, but you ALWAYS need consent. If you read the rest of this thread you’ll see the discussion on implied consent, which is what you have with your partner, and why he’s allowed to ravish you without asking. This guy does not have any consent, implied or otherwise, because she’s been saying no for 11 months. Clearly she doesn’t want anything to do with him sexually. I agree he should move on. He shouldn’t take it upon himself to knowingly violate her.

        Look at his last line:
        “I think she feels violated, but I just wanna try things to see if I can’t help her get past this loathing of contact with me.”

        He wants to keep trying to touch her! Even though he thinks she feels violated and he knows she doesn’t want any contact! THAT is assault, sorry. It’s totally different from what you’re describing. It doesn’t matter if they share the same bed or not. They’re not having sex, they haven’t had it for 11 months. She has clearly withdrawn consent. If she doesn’t let him touch her while she’s awake, why the hell does anyone on this board think he has the right to touch her while she’s unconscious?

  12. Sunshine Brite says:

    WTF, why does her lack of sex drive have to be all about you? It could be medical or she could just not like you. Does it really matter though? If you didn’t like the terms you should’ve dumped her, not tried to screw her in her sleep.
    WTF is whatsapp? Am I that old? I communicate perfectly well with people without whatsapp, I’m sure you could find a way.
    I don’t think it was exceptionally rude that they didn’t invite you. It might not even be about the joke. Sounds like it could be one of those ill-thought out guest list limits like married couples only and immediate family only, especially since you fall in neither of those categories.

    1. Whatsapp is bascally a textig app. Here we use it a lot, since texting can be expensive. With it the texts are sent internet, so free.

      1. Yep. I was just using WhatsApp a few minutes ago to chat with a friend in Germany. I use it almost as often as iMessage/texts, sometimes more, because my closest friends are quite literally spaced out all over the world the past few years. Free international texting FTW!

      2. Yeah, here texts are I think like 3 cents (US) per message, as you can imagine that adds up quite quickly!!!!

  13. Hi I am LW3 and to clarify: We are getting married august 2016 (yay us) and they are having the ceremony at Disneyland with both a massive ceremony and reception. I also found out that I am not invited to their Saturday reception but they are having a second reception on Sunday and that is the one I am invited too.

  14. Deepregret says:

    I have something to confess as well. I’ve done something recently to my girlfriend as well. I came on her back while she slept and I feel horrified about myself and that I let myself violate the woman I love.
    I didn’t respect her boundaries and only cared about my own lust. I don’t understand why I couldn’t control myself and see her for the value she holds.

    Now I have to live with this monstrosity of a memory, The consequences of losing the one I love and killing all the memories we held dear together. I am going to start to see a counselor tomorrow and get to the bottom of where this fucked up shit comes from. It has absolutely destroyed me that I’ve resorted to this and knowing I’ve hurt her this incredibly much.

    I’m going to work on myself as hard as I can until I get to the bottom of this, and only then can I allow myself to face her again. I’m just so scared that I have pushed her away forever with this heinous act. And that no matter how much time goes by that this wound is not something coming back from. Or that by the time I am a more whole person that she will have moved on.
    I know this is nothing but my own dumb fault. And I don’t deserve her love. I just wish I know how to come back from all of this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *