On Withholding Sex

Joanna Schroeder offers a practical guideline to couples who are challenged with mis-matched libidos. 

Let’s be honest—sex is a big deal. Great sex makes you feel like you’ve transcended into some heavenly plane. For some people, it’s a bond between partners that can’t be created in any other way. When you look at it objectively, it’s sort of odd what a big deal we humans have made of it. It’s two bodies, moving in a weird way, with the ultimate goal of achieving orgasm, a goal which can be reached any other number of ways without all the mess. And yet if you consider all of our sex-related industries here in the USA—from pornography to Viagra and everything else—we worship sex probably even more than we worship any religion. Any way you look at it, sex matters to human beings.

That’s why a loss of libido is such a huge deal. When once you were full of desire and lust, now you feel like a flat line—no ups, no downs, no nothin’. You can observe someone is attractive, you can remember when you had insane sex, but it becomes sort of like skiing or shooting skeet. It’s fun to do a few times a year, but you don’t need to do it every day. You most likely don’t even think about it all that often.

In the times when a person’s libido is low, having sex is so far from his or her mind that often it doesn’t even occur to them that they aren’t having it. Lots of people find those times in life to be very productive for work and other non-sexual relationships. Of course, problems arise when person who is in the “flat line” stage is in a monogamous relationship with someone who’s still burning with desire. Then it feels terrible for everyone.

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There are a lot of caricatures of a sexless marriage, first and foremost that of the couple who had a blisteringly hot sex life early on in their relationship, and once kids come along, the wife is no longer interested. Her sexy lace nighties become giant flannel pajamas buttoned up to the neck. Eventually, the husband becomes so weary from being rejected that he either has an affair or shuts down completely and becomes an asexual being, completely emasculated.

The truth is, we aren’t actually entitled to anything—even when we’re committed to monogamy.

The next caricature of a sexless marriage is one in which the woman becomes a bitter crow of a wife who uses sex as a tool to get what she wants or as a weapon to punish her husband for being “bad”—and not in a fun way, like with a spanking—but by abstaining from him, forcing him to the couch. The man in this scenario is so sex-starved and sex-crazed that he will do anything to get some, and will always relent, leaving this caricature of a wife smirking over his shoulder with her new Prada bag by the bedside.

We often hear both of these scenarios referred to as “withholding sex”, when in truth, only the latter is actually withholding sex. In both situations, the couple isn’t having sex the way they used to, and both are probably dissatisfied. But in the first scenario, the person who has no desire isn’t “withholding it”—they simply don’t have it to give.

And that’s where the point of miscommunication becomes tragic. In many relationships (we’re going to presume the relationships we’re talking about are monogamous, for the sake of this article) both partners feel entitled to sex—and to a certain type and frequency. Both partners feel entitled to have their needs met by their partners, and because of their belief in monogamy, they cannot have their needs met elsewhere.

But the truth is, we aren’t actually entitled to anything—even when we’re committed to monogamy. Sex is sort of like a gift given from one person to the other, and it becomes truly great when both partners are equally giving. As Dan Savage says, “good, giving and game” are the three Gs that are the foundation of a great sex life.

In reality, during 50 years of a life together (some lucky ones get 75 years, imagine that!), we’re not always going to be able to be good, giving and game. Sometimes we are a flat line. Sometimes we have no desire. Sometimes we need a lot of space and don’t want to be touched. That’s life as a human. It’s messy and imperfect and trying to match two humans together is almost never easy.

I think most people recognize that this mismatch will occur at times, but they intellectualize it and don’t quite realize the impact it could have upon their relationship as a whole. And the harm done to a relationship that becomes sexless over time isn’t necessarily from the lack of sex itself, but from a fundamental miscommunication that happens which can turn a good thing toxic…and fast.

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In order for me to explain this miscommunication, I’m going to have to do some generalizing. What we all know is that gender expression is an ever-shifting spectrum of masculine and feminine traits, and no one person owns the definition of what is “manly” or “womanly”. But there are some general trends we’re going to cite here in order to facilitate the conversation. Knowing that we’re generalizing, we recognize that anyone who doesn’t feel this way or fall into this pattern is just as authentic and entitled to their own way of being.

Also, while most of this article will presume that either partner can have a loss of libido, there is a unique challenge when a male partner goes through a lack of desire. While we won’t dive into the specifics of that here, please check out a unique and helpful article called “But He’s Supposed to Want it More”: The Damaging Expectation of Higher Male Desire by Hugo Schwyzer.

With those caveats in mind, let me explain how these sexual ups and downs become toxic and snowball into huge divisive issues.

First, there is a fundamental divide between the way most women and men regard sex. As traditional thinking goes, there is a saying: “Women need to have intimacy in order to have sex whereas men need to have sex in order to experience intimacy.” That’s a HUGE generalization, but sometimes there’s a kernel of truth there. My blogging partner, Eli, and I always joke about how foreplay to a man need only be his partner saying, “Wanna have sex?” His partner could look ugly, smell bad, be sick or have just eaten a head of raw garlic and he’d still want to do it. It’s a joke, but the truth is that for many guys it’s easy to get turned on and easy to perform.

For some women, all the factors have to be right. Not only do the sheets have to be clean, but her legs have to be shaved, the kids have to be away at the grandparents’ for the weekend, and Mercury can’t be in retrograde.

Thankfully, this is just a joke, but the truth behind it is important to understand. In a relationship, if one is an “always on” and the other is an “only in certain circumstances” person, the “always on” is going to have his or her feelings hurt by multiple rejections. It feels very personal. When his wife says, “I’m not in the mood, work was so stressful today,” or “I’m bloated,” the husband who is an “always on” can’t help but imagine what it would mean if he begged out of sex. To him, it would mean, “I don’t like you enough to have sex with you.”

In turn, an “always on” woman who is rejected multiple times may also have to contend with a cultural voice that has taught her that men are sex-crazed and always horny. When a woman is faced with a man who has a lower libido than her, she may not only question her own desirability, but also his fidelity, masculinity, or even whether he’s gay. In truth, he may love her dearly and desire her completely and still have a lower libido. This doesn’t make him less of a man, it simply breaks with the cultural narrative about men and sex that we’ve been hearing since the first time we heard the phrase, “boys are only after one thing.”

Let’s take a moment with the part that both genders may share: the shame. When the higher-libido partner is rejected multiple times, he or she thinks, I am not desirable and maybe even I am not lovable—no matter how untrue it may be.

He can tell himself that his wife is different from him, but often there’s an internal voice that says, “That’s just an excuse, man, she just doesn’t like you. You’re too _____ and she just doesn’t want to do it with you.” On top of that, society tells the guy that he’s not supposed to feel bad about himself, he’s not supposed to feel fat or ugly or hairy or short or whatever message the rejection keys into. He’s a dude, he’s supposed to feel awesome about himself at all times. Insecurity, especially body or sexual insecurity, is for chicks.

And so he probably wasn’t given the language to say to his partner, “I know you’re not in the mood and I respect that, but I gotta be honest… Being rejected makes me wonder if there’s something about me that you don’t like, and I’m worried that I don’t turn you on anymore. Even worse, I’m worried that I’ll never turn you on again and that really makes me feel like crap.”

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It’s not just men who have communication problems when it comes to sex in long-term relationships. The first assumption about men and sex that many women go into relationships with is that the desire for sex isn’t really about us. You’re men, you’re sex-crazed. We’ve been told this since our first sex-ed class. Even if we know better intellectually, a part of us often tells us that your desire to have sex has more to do with putting your thing in a warm spot, and less to do with knowing, loving, or connecting with us. So we think our rejection of you won’t phase you. Sure, it might make you mad or frustrated, but we don’t assume it’s going to hurt you.

Even if we know better intellectually, a part of us often tells us that your desire to have sex has more to do with putting your thing in a warm spot, and less to do with knowing, loving, or connecting with us

Beyond that, there is an idea in our minds that if we do any little thing that might turn you on, we’re guilty of feeding your frustration and therefore deserving of your anger. When I worked in retail buying, a coworker of mine and I were ordering cute pajamas for the store. We would tack on an extra of any item we wanted to buy for ourselves once the delivery came. There were a lot of traditional top-and-bottom sets and a few sexy little shorts or nighties. I asked my friend if she wanted me to put one on the order for her.

“No way,” she said. “I can’t wear anything but sweats to bed. I don’t want Sean to get the wrong idea.”

This is an example of how we’ve turned sexuality into an all-or-nothing equation. If Karen wore a tank top and little shorts to bed, Sean would want to have sex, and if she wasn’t in the mood just then, she would be the guilty party who incited his desire and then rejected him. And so she only wore sweats to bed, every single night, as an insurance policy that if Sean became aroused, it somehow wasn’t her responsibility.

As goofy as the pajama example may seem, this all-or-nothing attitude does a lot of damage to marriages, and ultimately it’s the fault of both partners. As we said before, sometimes the guy doesn’t feel comfortable enough to say, “the lack of affection or sex is really hurting my feelings. I’m starting to feel really bad about myself.” Even if he did, because of our expectations that men are obsessed with sex and are almost animalistic, the woman may not be able to hear the statement without defensiveness. She may be hearing, “You’re an asshole for not having sex with me,” instead of, “I feel like an asshole because of desiring you when you don’t desire me back.”

The version that the woman is hearing is filled with blame, guilt, responsibility and maybe even a threat (of him looking elsewhere to have his needs fulfilled), regardless of whether he intended them to be there. And let me tell you what will kill someone’s libido: guilt.

This guilt is what keeps many lower-libido partners from reaching out for non-sexual affection or non-penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex. If you think you might not want to have intercourse, the idea of reaching across the bed for a snuggle, or intertwining bare legs, or even kissing, becomes guilt-inducing. You think, if I snuggle in and spoon, he might think I want to have sex. Then I’ll have to say ‘no’ and he’ll be mad and I’ll feel like a jerk again. And so that gap between two partners who once couldn’t keep their hands off one another becomes a giant chasm, and both partners are left unsatisfied. Now they’re not only not having sex, they also have lost all physical affection.

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So, how do we bridge this gap?

With honest communication where both partners are ready to engage without defensiveness. I like a version of the Imago Therapy model of mirroring, particularly a model set up by Dr. Bill Cloke in his book Happy Together: Creating a Lifetime of Connection, Commitment, and IntimacyI’ve simplified both the method in Dr. Cloke’s book and the Imago method into a simple bare-bones framework so that it’s a great place to start communicating about sex. I highly recommend reading Happy Together for more ideas and further extrapolation. Also, this is sort of a cheat-sheet to help you get started, but I highly recommend seeing a therapist individually and/or as a couple for more information.

The first step is for one person to say how they feel about something—one simple thought or feeling. This is done without accusation, just a statement of how they feel. The partner listens quietly until the first person is done with the first thought. Then, instead of defending or even responding, the second partner tries to re-state what she heard so that everyone’s clear on what’s being said. It might look like this:

“Karen, I feel like our sex life has really fallen off a cliff lately, and I love you and I really miss that connection.”

At this point, Karen needs to remind herself that she is not to be defend herself, as much as she may want to. Instead, her job is to tell Sean what she believes he’s saying. She could say this:

“What I’m hearing, Sean, is that we aren’t having much sex lately and that you miss having sex.”

And he can correct her here if he wants. He may say something like, “It’s not just the sex, I really miss the connection we have when we’re having more sex.”

Then she can say, “Okay, I get it. It’s not just the sex, it’s also that connection.”

At this point she can say how she feels about this subject, and the roles will be reversed. He listens quietly and then repeats what he thinks she’s saying, and they clarify until both people feel heard.

Karen may then say, “I miss the connection too, and I really miss my libido. I don’t know what happened to me. But every time I say ‘no’ I feel so guilty, and I know you’re upset, and that makes me feel worse, and then I really don’t want to have sex.”

Sean then repeats what he thinks she’s saying. The couple continues this pattern until they both feel more resolution. The key here is to just try to understand what your partner is saying. Don’t judge and don’t defend. Just explain, listen and clarify. Those three words will get you where you need to go.

If anyone starts to feel really angry, the best thing you can do is walk away for 20 minutes with a reassurance that you want to try talking again in 20 minutes. As Dr. Cloke points out, once a person’s blood pressure starts to rise and they feel evoked, it’s hard for them to remain reasonable and stick to the guidelines of the communication model. And the goal isn’t to dump anger on someone, it’s to move through and past the issues that are making us angry.

Once you have a really good understanding of what’s happening inside each other, you can move on to the final steps of finding ways to avoid the problem in the future by doing things differently.

You wouldn’t try to cut down a tree with a kitchen knife. It may get the job done, but it’s far from the best tool for the job. If someone can offer you a saw—or better yet, a 316E Husqvarna chainsaw—you should at least give it a shot.

I know it seems really forced to keep repeating each other’s words. No one wants to follow a script to talk to the person they’ve been with for years and are in love with. But the script is just a tool, like any other. You wouldn’t try to cut down a tree with a kitchen knife. It may get the job done, it may even be what you’re used to, but it’s far from the best tool for the job. If someone can offer you a saw—or better yet, a 316E Husqvarna chainsaw—you should at least give it a shot.

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Finally, I have to address the people who actually do purposefully withhold sex—the ones like the woman with the Prada bag in the caricature I referenced in the very beginning. Those people are jerks. Sex is not a tool. It is not a weapon to be wielded. And unless you’re a sex worker or client, it is not a commodity to be bartered.

There may be traditional relationships where this works, I can’t say for sure, but in my mind, sex should never be used as a tool for manipulation. In a famous scene in the Bravo home remodeling reality series Flipping Out, a wife tells lead designer Jeff Lewis that he can’t go over budget because she’s all out of sexual favors, which is the only reason her husband allowed her to do the renovation in the first place. It’s a joke, we all laugh, but in truth this is probably a pretty unhealthy model for a long-term relationship.

In this scenario, she may feel like her voice, wants or opinions don’t matter unless attached to her sexuality, and he, in turn, may feel like his desirability has nothing to do with his value to her as a human. Without his wallet, he isn’t good enough to be found desirable to his own wife, and that’s obviously a recipe for disaster. If one partner doesn’t eventually leave the relationship, it’s likely one (or both) of them will find an outsider whose sex and affection—or respect and partnership—comes without a price tag…sexual or monetary.

The good news is that I think this is a pretty rare occurrence. My guess would be it’s more common that the couple has gotten themselves into a bad cycle of isolation and poor communication and are making repeated bad choices that may feel like one is withholding. Regardless, the model for communication I outlined above would still be really helpful.

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While no one ever has the right to demand sex from someone, the person whose libido is lower isn’t automatically granted absolution from the problems in the relationship. His or her responsibility isn’t to have sex when they don’t want to, but rather to solve the problems at the root level to the degree that they can. These solutions are as varied as the issues that cause the libido disparity to start with, but a good place for most people to start is with a visit to a doctor for a general check-up to see if there is a hormone imbalance (yes, men too!). Other ideas are adding at least 20 minutes of exercise into the day 5 times per week, going off the birth control pill (use a back up method though, folks!), seeing an acupuncturist/herbalist, seeing a therapist alone or together, doing yoga, looking at some sort of visual stimulation like empowering pornography or even just hot black and white photos (Tumblr is a great place to start), or reading a sexy book.

The partner with the lower libido also may need to step outside of his or her self-implemented sweat pants-straitjacket and engage in whatever form of pleasuring that both partners feel comfortable with. Some ideas for women may be to start with just kissing his neck while he pleasures himself, or telling him a dirty story while he does it. If even that is too much, reach out for some comforting non-sexual affection and offer your partner some verbal reassurance such as, “I know it’s hard that my libido is so low right now, but I want you to know that I do find you so attractive, and I’m so glad you’re my husband (or wife). I love you so much.” Just hearing those words, coupled with affectionate touch, can go a long way.

The partner with the higher sex drive will need to understand and respect that these efforts are being made, and should take some comfort in them. The efforts do matter, even if healing the sexual rift may require a bit of time and patience. The partner with the lower libido, in turn, needs to understand that there can be fallout from a long period of unmet sexual needs, and try to be understanding that the other person may need to self-pleasure more or even use pornography. We hear a lot about women being uncomfortable with their husbands using pornography, but it is something that should be discussed. Pornography spans a wide range of definitions, from sexy art photography all the way to hardcore fetish porn. The couple, together, needs to discuss what boundaries to draw, just as they discuss boundaries with sex. If both partners are comfortable with it, they should watch some porn together in order to ease the conversation. It may even ignite a little spark!

Either way, both partners should do their very best to compromise with one another in a time when one partner doesn’t feel like having sex. After all, you love each other and you want it to work out. Pressure, anger, resentment and manipulation will only cause you to be further apart.

 

Also read: Is Marriage Obsolete? by Lisa Levey

Read more sex and relationship advice from the author on She Said He Said

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Alyssa L. Miller

 

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. This all good and fine, except when you’re the woman with a very active libido and your partner, who has almost no sex drive, is practically rationing sex. What then?

  2. Good points. We do worship sex. To extremes that really diminish a lot of other important relationship elements. And we do vilify the one with the low libido a lot. I know men and women that have been made to feel worthless because their libido is lower than their partners. I know a majority of people who say their partner feels entitled to sex and specific frequency and style. And very few that actually accept their partners different drive as is. Most insist there is an imbalance causing it and few can realize different strokes different folks, we are all made differently. Enjoy the sex you have when you have it. Often with less pressure or stress around it the levels become more closely matched. Sex rarely happens in satisfying ways when it’s being fought about.

  3. Some great links in this post!
    Something you haven’t touched on is the difference in libido acceding to age. I am in a relationship with a man 10 years older than me (he’s 37). He says that as he has aged his libido has dropped. He can now only orgasm once a day, rare occasions he can go twice. He says that the lady doesn’t really make a difference to this performance. I am 27 and I have a high libido. I am ‘on’ all the time. I never say no and he sometimes says no. I have found now that I am starting to wait for him to initiate sex more often, as thats the best measure as to when we will have it. It is a huge turn on for me when he takes the lead anyhow. I have started to wonder though, if I let this slide and we stay together will I develop resentment? We are good communicators and talk about everything, but I haven’t approached this ‘initiates’ subject yet as I am unsure how to express it. one thing is for sure, I am ‘hell no’ ending up in a sexless ltr.

  4. I’ve been in a sexless marriage for over 20 years. I had trouble getting aroused by my wife from the beginning. But then again I found I would lose sexual desire for all the women I dated before I got married too. I simply needed the excitement of being with a new partner in order to get aroused enough to perform. My wife agreed to marry me if I promised to seek Sex Therapy after the wedding which I did. I went to a number of therapists over the next 3 years but none could help. They said that due to severe childhood abuse as soon as a relationship I was in started to get emotionally close anxiety would shut me down sexually. It was hard for my wife to accept at first but she finally did and our marriage is great except for the sex. I think this proves that sexless marriages can survive and thrive.

  5. @ wakemenow: I must take issue with your point that men and women evolved separately. The reality seems to be that the two brains of men and women evolved in relationship to one another not in isolation. In this way, the masculine and feminine define each other. I think we can see plenty of evidence of this in society.(ies) Often what this means is men have a expectation that women( the feminine) will be good at the things he is not and vice versa. So, what we perceive as the masculine or the feminine to be is usually in response to some need that must be and or can only be fulfilled exclusively or, at least, easier by the other.

    • @ogwriter: Hmm. What I meant was refer to our evolutionary past that men and women have evolved to want to different things in a partner in terms of our humans’ historical needs. I am going on what professor Robert Sapolsky teaches in his lectures and also what seems evident when examining differences between the sexes. But that is in agreement with your statement that we evolved in relation to one another, not in isolation, and I apologize if that wasn’t made clear enough the first go-round. No one exists in a vacuum, and I’d never assume as much. Furthermore, the “feminine” and “masculine” traits are exclusive to one sex or the other, so being the yin to another’s yang is a highly personal search for the one who suits you as an individual. I am apparently masculine in some ways, as some see it, though a woman, and the men I attract most to are masculine yet sensitive in ways one might typically ascribe as “feminine,” in some ways at least. That’s how we fit and complement one another, and I don’t believe I’m entirely unique in this regard. It’s tough when discussing gender because there is so much overlap of traits we like to compartmentalize as belonging to one or the other when that, it turns out, is an oversimplification of the complexities of being human.

      • Sexual traits as they’re traditionally thought of ARE NOT exclusive to one sex or the other, I meant to say. I will become better at proof-reading on here eventually. The beer makes me lazy, that too is true. Ha

  6. @wakemenow: Well, my typos are worse than yours.You are missed ( by me anyway) when you are on self imposed hiatus. ;m) Your opinions are always so well thought out and equally welcome. I think you are fascinating and would like very much if my son’s could know a woman like you someday. My eldest son just turned 26 today. I certainly understand your take on the Democrats and the cynicism has been well earned.

    My last word on the crazies is this;You have figured out what many women much younger than you have not—own it and lets move on, it’d really that simple. The generational shift between you and I, in this context, concerns the fact that I have been acculturated to accept, without question or power, the negative consequences of this behavior. Perhaps those pressures are not what they once were.At no point have I ever expressed anything other than a desire to deal with this behavior in straight forward nonjudgmental fashion by having a strategy to do so.

    Of course men have their shit too but it’s often different shit. Too often in these types of forums, the tit for that game is played instead of just saying, no that’s my shit not your shit. Lets talk about my shit then we can talk about your shit then maybe WE can get OUR shit TWOgether. We have for the last 40 years focused our attention as a country on critiquing and changing the negative behavior of men. I don’t have a problem admitting to those negative behaviors specific to men that are bad for culture. But we live in a culture that wrongly and stupidly accuses men of random shit like loving war and violence, and of rape and subjugating women. They say that all men even men like your grandfather are privileged. This kind of propaganda is evil.This narrative of shame is not accidental and serves a useful purpose in controlling men. Shame is probably the primary psychological control tool used in culture to control and influence men.

    I understand that with so much diversity to have a concrete notion of femininity and of masculinity is impossible and not necessary. What is necessary is for men to be allowed more acceptance to define himself and not just be a tool for and of society, while getting no credit or appreciation. It is absolutely critical for the individual in a complex society to have acceptance for the role that they play in society. We can learn much from other cultures or subtexts of cultures where the poor and middle class man who works with his hands still gets respected and has a place of honor in society. In some sectors of the Hispanic, black and Asian communities, that haven’t bought into the morally bankrupt and dysfunctional model we currently are discussing, they don’t experience the same disconnection between the genders. For instance, latino men and African American men, because they prefer on average, curvy, thicker, women,” their ” women don’t suffer nearly the body image issues that upper and middle class white women do. And for some STRANGE reason, those women( white women) don’t know this or if they do don’t find those men attractive enough alternatives or don’t care that these men would find them attractive and sexy. What does this say about body image? In this case it seems like a choice to accept a narrow negative view of what one looks like. WOW! Talk about going off on a tangent!

    • @ogwriter:

      That anyone can see my grandfather as “privileged” is something that burned me to the core about feminism. He had a rough life, particularly due to abuse experienced at the hands of his mother, stepmother, and father, made to basically exist as their slave. It’s s sad story. But he did then turn that anger and pain onto innocent people who were trying to help him. And there goes the human melodrama…

      I would perhaps responded sooner had I received these emails. Didn’t see your comment until now.

      The body issue complex is weird, and I too see that it affects middle-class white women in a way separate than women of other races or even lower-class white folks. I don’t know what to make of it either, but I do see a lot of them attracting toward men of different races who are more accepting of larger body types.

      All men aren’t war-loving, irrationally violent, potential rapists and it is incredibly messed up that we are raised to see men in this light. These prejudices affected me too when I was younger, and it does none of us any real good. Real predators exist, but that is not the fault of mankind in total. These sexist attitudes are destroying positive relations between men and women, and that’s unacceptably misguided to the point of being cruel. I get that people are trying to protect themselves, but we wouldn’t be so wary of one another in the first place if not for tv and movies and news stories scaring the crap out of us at every opportunity. It is so sick and sad.

      That is very kind of you to say about your sons. Thanks. I’m humbled by that remark.

      And I hate to bring it up here since it may seem like a distraction, but my ex-husband died on Oct. 23rd and that did make me blue for a few weeks there. That obviously has nothing to do with any of you or your board here, so I wanted to state that since it’s something I’ve been coming to terms with that seemed to affect how I’ve been relating on this thread. Thinking about gender relations and whatnot and reminiscing about the past combined to make me a bit sentimental, so I needed breaks away to think, those hiatuses you speak of. Plus, my current relationship calls my attention, and I work quite a bit more around the holidays. But I truly don’t wish to dominating you guys’ board since I understand the necessity to maintain people’s spaces as they need to. I came on here not knowing a thing about this site other than it came up in search results when I was researching couples with mismatched sex drives, but being titled The Good Men Project tells me it’s men’s space first and foremost, so I’m trying not to write too much (as is my custom, as a talkative person in real life). For clarity’s sake I share that.

  7. One woman (cm) wrote above:
    I do not consider giving and receiving love as mercenary act or quid pro quo exchange. Each day it’s a choice. Women feel loved through acts of attention and are turned on by it. Men feel loved through acts of sex. When a man gives of himself and attends to my well-being, he shares a part of himself with me and he adds long-term value to my life. I will remember it forever.

    Sure, relations are all about sharing and caring, being there and helping each other.
    Yet, what stands out to me as a pattern from numerous conversations like this, is that women somehow seem to have a feeling of entitlement or privilege that *their* need to feel loved and cared for are more important and always has to be taken care of before they can “reciprocate” and (eventually!) have sex with their (higher-libido) partner. If they don’t get what they need first, they can just shut down.

    This is probably where a great deal of the mercenary or “transactional” feelings towards sex come from.
    If you are always in the position of being required to act first, and at the mercy of someone else’s whim whether your performance was good enough for a award in return, it’s very easy to grow resentful when you find out that most often it’s not! Especially when at the same time that action is lauded as something that’s supposed to be shared!

    • FlyingKal: You do make a good point, but look at it this way. Lets look at the model where a man gets sex first, and then shows attention and care for his partner second. She can have sex with him, but it won’t be good sex. Most men want enthusiastic sex where the partner is truly enjoying herself (that’s probably why you get so much crazy exaggerated moaning in p0rn). But see, if my partner doesn’t make me feel beautiful, loved (in a serious relationship), and special, I’m not going to have as great of a time with the sex, despite being high libido. He might notice, he might not. Maybe I’ll be looking elsewhere, maybe I’ll simply be going through the motions. This isn’t with malicious intent. It’s simply how my sexuality works. I don’t believe that sex is transactional, I believe that it’s something wonderful shared with two (or more) people.

      I don’t believe that a man has to jump through hoops to “earn” sex. I enjoy it too. At the same time, I’m not going to have good sex with a man who doesn’t give me that attention I crave and makes me feel secure. Even if I put on a great performance, I won’t actually be *feeling* it. I also believe that a woman should make a man feel desired, safe, and loved (in a serious relationship). It just makes for a better dynamic.

      • I disagree, Aya. I know many women need to feel sexy and special to have good sex, but its not necessary need serious relationship. It just needs a man who want to make his partner satisfied, that’s it. Even if he had not any feeling for her( and she had not any feeling for him ) , if he truly want to enjoy sex and want her partner to enjoy sex, with basic attractive physique ( not necessary god like chiseled body, just not repulsive ) and some confidence, even one night stand with complete strangers ( not necessary super strangers, but just few conversation ) can make any woman orgasmic. I said orgasmic. Why I would said that? From my experience.

        Most women argued it needs emotional connection and serious relationship to women to feel good for sex. I said not. It just needs a decent non asshole guy with non repulsive physique who are not super shy , can initiate basic conversation and ultimately, want and know how to make his partner satisfied. The last part is the most important. The reason why many men cant make her women orgasm its not because lacks of connection, its because those guys don’t know how to give women pleasure. That’s it.

        The key is men who don’t have sex just for the sake of get sex, but have sex ( giving and receiving pleasure) . Its not necessary need serious relationship and emotional connection. As a fitness model, I know even good looks and physique make up for the most of it. Good looking man who are decent man ( not asshole ) plus want to make woman satisfied, I think its a killer for most women ( maybe not for all women )

        Again I speak from my experience.

        • I never said that they needed a serious relationship. I was simply stating that within one, love is important. What I’m saying is that a lot of women need some context, and even outside a serious relationship (at least for me)–trust and feeling attractive to the guy are of upmost importance. Physique isn’t really that important to me. I orgasm better with a guy who has that ‘spark’ with me, regardless of his technique and body, because I know how to communicate what I want. And emotional connection doesn’t always mean serious or love–it often just means some sort of context and chemistry.

          • Well lets agree that every women is just different. For you maybe phsyique is not important , but I have met some girls who think otherwise ( and had some casual sex with them ). Again my sex is not lets bang some women there but more to have good times together.

            And I said there’s no need for emotional connection doesn’t mean there’s no context and chemistry at all. Well its hard to explain. Its like we are both attracted to each other, but its not love ( because its just casual sex ), and its not really emotional connection, but there’s an attraction there. As a guy who considered good looking, I know there’s an attraction for my physique too. But not just for my physique, one of my casual partners said she attracted to my shyness and think it was cute. Another said I’m hot and funny ( although I don’t think I’m funny? ). But I think there’s no real connection to us, just attraction.

        • @John:

          Orgasm itself isn’t the whole picture. It’s difficult for me to find the right words here, but I know men tend to place a premium on “getting the woman off” as if that is the end goal. whereas for women it isn’t necessarily. I’ve orgasmed with people I wasn’t even attracted to and didn’t consider particular enjoyable sex to where I’d care to repeat it. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Physicality. But that has little to do with long-term commitments and sex. I do agree with Aya that feeling secure and appreciated are huge turn-ons. Can’t explain why, blame it on biology, but it’s a reality. Can a woman enjoy sex repeatedly with a man she’s purely physical with and not dating? Yes, but for me personally I’d eventually get aggravated and walk on. That missing component becomes too much to live without, at least in my experience, so we seek out someone to commit to and share live with in an intimate way. And there security and feeling more than mere attraction comes to matter so much more. Physical attractiveness may certainly matter, but it’s not all that matters in the long-run.

          And as I type that I’m struck by knowing that security and comfort can lead to taking one another for granted and not making so much of an effort to keep the sparks alive. Sparks apparently come and go. There is an allure to being with someone who you’re not terribly bonded with who you can’t so easily predict, and that can be very titillating. I know plenty of men appreciate this as well, not because they don’t love and aren’t committed to their wives, but because it seems to be the way we’re wired, to want what is not ours, to fantasize about what’s outside of what we’ve established as a norm in our daily lives. It’s a conundrum of sorts, the stuff erotic literature is made up of, and I don’t have a good answer to it. Probably never will. But I do know when it comes to truly gratifying and intensely personal sex, it often comes down to being with a man who I trust, believe in, deeply appreciate it, respect, admire, and love, not merely someone I’m physically attracted to. Superficial attraction is pretty cheap and the novelty wears off fairly shortly, IME, speaking as one woman.

          • I agree with all of you said wakemenow, what I dont agree is if you ( and Aya ) said all of those criteria only exclusive to women sexuality. What I trying to say is women sexuality and men sexuality is not really different. Speaking of this :

            “Can’t explain why, blame it on biology, but it’s a reality. Can a woman enjoy sex repeatedly with a man she’s purely physical with and not dating? Yes, but for me personally I’d eventually get aggravated and walk on. That missing component becomes too much to live without, at least in my experience, so we seek out someone to commit to and share live with in an intimate way”
            “But I do know when it comes to truly gratifying and intensely personal sex, it often comes down to being with a man who I trust, believe in, deeply appreciate it, respect, admire, and love, not merely someone I’m physically attracted to. Superficial attraction is pretty cheap and the novelty wears off fairly shortly, IME, speaking as one woman”

            This is what exactly me, as a man feel. What goes between physical turn on, emotional turn on are also happen to me as a man. This is what I dont like when a woman talk about the differences between men and women sexually. They talk about us as we are only a sex pig that the reason we became interested in sex is just for physical reason, and that’s why we are so different compare to you, emotional creatures. The reality is we also emotional ( besides physical ) , and women are also physical (besides emotional).

            I get very emotional during sex, sometimes I even cry during/after very emotional sex with someone I love. My previous girlfriend don’t understand this, because she thought men are not emotional. When I rejected sex from my ex girlfriend because I didn’t feel appreciated , cared, and loved, she accused me of cheating. She asked me If I’m gay. Women sometimes don’t understand that men also emotional and need emotional support to became interested in sex, and if we don’t, the first thing they think are if we cheated or if we are gay ( or because we don’t find you physically attractive, because they think men only turn on because of physical reason).

            Physical and Emotional aspects of sex are lies on spectrum , both for men and women. I do think we could understand more each other if we do not think we are so different.

      • Aya, thanks for your answer.

        The thing is, I’m not asking for a model where a man gets sex first, and then shows attention and care for his partner second, every single time. Does it have to be binary? Can’t she show him that she loves him, just like that, without him “jumping through the hoops”, at least once in a while??
        (If you know the sex was good and he gave you all the attention you wanted the last time?)

        • I guess I’m a bit confused on the jumping through hoops thing. I don’t believe that making your partner feel appreciated, attractive, and special is jumping through hoops. I would want to do that for my partner/partners regardless of sex. And I don’t know too many women who demand diamonds and roses and crazy stuff in exchange for sex. I certainly never have. I do believe that if the woman is lower libido, she has the responsibility to ask herself ‘why?’ Am I not attracted to my partner? Is it a hormonal issue? Is there something that he’s doing/not doing that’s turning me off so I can tell him? Is it stress? A lack of time? Is it jealousy? Have we gotten lazy? Do we need to spice things up? Then to work on the problem if it’s possible. I believe that if a man is lower libido, he has that same responsibility. And ideally, the higher libido partner would be at least someone patient and communicative. The problem is that a lot of resentment can arise from such a situation, on both parts.

          Additionally, sometimes I wonder if the stuff that you *don’t* do is just as important as the stuff you do. If you have a partner who insulted you, stared at other women while you were out, abused you , put you down, was always looking at p0rn, etc –in some cases, all he would have to do to would be to NOT do those things in order to make a woman feel sexually secure. Is that also jumping through hoops?

          And you’re right, it doesn’t have to be a binary. Usually it becomes a cycle, good or bad.

          • Looking at other women to some degree isn’t controllable, I’ve never seen anyone succesfully ever stop noticing other people. You can stop staring of course but I notice women all the time for about a second before my brain really catches on, like magnets for the eyes. I also notice beautiful skies, cars, wildlife, all kinds of stuff. Any movement and my eye naturally jumps to notice and taht happens outside of my control. When I do notice I am looking at someone I usually stop straight away as I don’t wanna make em feel uncomfy but it’s pretty damn hard to never look in the first place especially for highly contrasting white skin with a dark top n lots of cleavage for instance and a necklace, so many leading lines n things to draw attention.

            Turning your head to look is making an effort to look, which can be controlled. So do women in general want men to not notice, or do they mean the specific gazing where you can control it and you’re purposely looking?

            • @Archy: Ya know, I wonder about this too. Because I have a tendency to get spellbound by attractive women too (though not attractive men, oddly enough, never really have). A lot of women take offense to men noticing other women, and I have mixed feelings about it. Like you stated, men who turn and stare at another woman bother me. Men who don’t even attempt to not check out attractive other women bother me. But just noticing people doesn’t really, because I too am drawn to attractive women and can’t seem to help it. Don’t want a lesbian relationship with them (ha, I imagine that wouldn’t work out! Not with my track record with women!), but it’s difficult NOT to notice their youth and exuberance and fleshy curves, and sensual lines (and cleavage!). I almost get annoyed that other women insist on distracting me in this way since my experience has shown that the most attractive gals tend to dress provocatively yet not be very friendly people. As if they get indignant that others notice their neckline is cut down to here. I don’t like all those side complications, but just noticing people I think is natural and the way our brains are wired and not something to be ashamed of. Staring and gawking though is rude and disrespectful when with someone else.

          • @Aya:
            Thanks again 🙂

            Yeah, I’m also confused about the jumping through the hoops thing. It’s just that whatever I do never seems to be good enough. And I am not doing ANY of those things (among other things) that you say a partner shouldn’t do.

            The thing is, I don’t know whether anyone really demands diamonds and roses, etc, either. Because… all there is, is talk. But no communication, if you know what I mean.
            Noone ever told me that the sex was bad, or that the hormones were low, that there was someting I did or didn’t do.
            Quite contrary, everything’s been just great, could hardly be better, according to their words! And yet, there’s just no attraction, and no interest in trying to bring forth the issue and trying to resolve it.

            And I guess there is where this “jumping through the hoops” thing really comes in…
            It’s when you have a partner trying in (his) earnest, doing almost whatever to get to the root cause, yet rarely giving anything in return and no clues to the mystery whatsoever. It’s quite a powerful hold you got on that person, to do almost anything you want!

  8. One woman (cm) wrote above:
    I do not consider giving and receiving love as mercenary act or quid pro quo exchange. Each day it’s a choice. Women feel loved through acts of attention and are turned on by it. Men feel loved through acts of sex. When a man gives of himself and attends to my well-being, he shares a part of himself with me and he adds long-term value to my life. I will remember it forever.

    Sure, relations are all about sharing and caring, being there and helping each other.
    Yet, what stands out to me as a pattern from numerous conversations like this, is that women somehow seem to have a feeling of entitlement or privilege that *their* need to feel loved and cared for are more important and always has to be taken care of before they can “reciprocate” and (eventually!) have sex with their (higher-libido) partner. If they don’t get what they need first, they can just shut down.

    This is probably where a great deal of the mercenary or “transactional” feelings towards sex come from.

  9. @wakemenow: Feminism, even though you are not a feminist, must be addressed in any discussion of how to fix things between men and women. For instance, this presidential election season, which was supposed to be about jobs, was purposely framed by a feminists agenda, The War On Women”. We have, for all intents and purposes, a feminists president who has ignored some legislation aimed at helping men and boys. The effects of feminism on culture and on men are persistent and enduring.

    On crazy. I am sure that some men can be( other-directed( hate that term), however, you and Sarah were plenty explicit in describing the behavior as common among women, not men. You were equally explicit in that this behavior is uber difficult to deal with and understand, if at all.When the discussion starts to become, “Well, men do it too”… I get suspicious because it sounds like denial and avoidance.

    Even though you have said that women need to be held accountable it feels like you are also holding the opposite position.On the one hand you agree with accountability but you say that maybe women can’t help it because they are different from men.

    Well enough. Then submit to the gentle criticism. “Honey you are acting crazy, you know how you get sometimes.” Again, considering whats at stake, a loving, monogamous, etc, etc, relationship, it seems a small price to pay. One cannot have the whole cake for themselves.

    As for my focus on this issue.Number one, it’s in the closet and men are not supposed to bring it up or complain about it, “You how women are? is all we are allowed to say. So when you say men should bring up these issues in order to heard, then you question why I am doing that very thing, its confusing.

    I have been burned by the sexual other directedness and n other ways as well, enough times to require psychological skin grafts. It is unwise for me to take such a thing lightly. Which segues back to why your comments seem to be double-sided to me. You readily admit that the behavior is destructive, confounding, and often unintelligible. You also suggest that men should just ignore it as maybe its just the way women are.If its wrong, address it, don’t cover it up.
    I, probably, more than most men am stubbornly committed to being heard and also to change. Thats why i am on this site and not a feminists sites( n been there done that), though far too often this one feels like a feminists site.
    In my mind and in my experience, there is an imbalance between the masculine and feminine having nothing to do with politics. As I said before, it makes little practical sense to engage with someone in a discussion about how to improve the relationship when only their feelings are considered important. So the fix is easy and straight forward. Do unto others as one would want others to do unto them. Of course there are other factors that impact the relationship like our economy, mass incarceration( which the President refuses to talk about), a bloated military industrial complex,a host of isms and much more.I am not saying it is all the fault of feminism or women.

    However, as I said we are out of balance. For my entire life I have heard about how evil, lustful, warlike, simpleminded and emotionally deficit, as compared to women I am all because I am a male.For issues of mental well being, I cannot and will no longer stand for or entertain the possibility of dealing with such nonsense.

    Yes men do contribute in myriad of ways there own demise. No doubt about it. But, the idea that men aren’t heard simply because he doesn’t complain loudly enough is not the entire story. He must compete with the female voice that doesn’t actually want to share that space unless she is first. Many t imes on this site, where some women are truly supported, men must fight for space to be heard.

    • @ogwriter: I’m sorry if you find my attitude as “double-sided,” I can only speak from my own perspective.

      First off, in my last post to you I was trying to say that it helps me to learn from you how feminism impacted you earlier on and way back when, because I have been on this planet for a shorter period of time and can only speak from the perspective of someone born in the early 1980s, reading about the second-wave of feminism before my time. Didn’t affect me the way it affected you, but then again, it came to permeate our culture, and yes, we seriously need to address this. I completely agree. It is no trivial matter. The pendulum has swung somewhere weird and needs to be adjusted because screwing everything up for nearly everybody on one level or another. The new info you shared today helps me comprehend how long you’ve been living under this frustrating situation, hence the attention you pay it.

      But I can only speak from where I stand. Didn’t keep with the election nonsense this time around and haven’t had interest in the two-party bs circus since shortly after the 2000 election. Life under a rock is preferable to dealing with the daily backs and forths broadcast on television, but I know enough about Obama to agree that he is feminist-friendly. Speaking of which, have you ever read the book “Habits of the Heart” by Robert Bellah, et al.? In it, they reference what they call “the administered society,” and that I believe correlates with what we see on the feminist/pro-State/pro-Big Government/pro-social workers involved in everything/leftist/pro-micro-management end of the spectrum calling itself the Democratic Party (the Republican Party has its own issues, but that’s for another day). Feminism factors into that endgame, I have come to believe, so that’s why I keep yammering about other “big picture” concerns that tie in. Not to deflect attention away from feminism and its impact on society. So that is understood, assuming I’m being clearer now.

      But I don’t equate my womanhood with feminism, and while feminism has affected it, it does not define it. Furthermore, questions pertaining to women I respond to accordingly without dragging my opinions in about men, if I can help it. You readily dismiss a woman saying that men behave in similar ways, as if it’s just a post-hoc rationalization to excuse women’s “craziness.” No, it’s just a separate matter from the topic being discussed, and men really do have plenty of their own drama. Might be a little different, but still pretty darn irritating to put up with, generally speaking.

      I cannot speak on this matter without being personal. I am socially awkward, and increasingly so. My relations with women are probably more troubled than most, to where I barely relate with members of my sex, upsetting as that is for me at times. So I can barely viewing members of my own sex as aliens of sorts, not to be disrespectful, just lack much exposure and positive, close interaction with them. The social awkwardness is something I struggle with a great deal, especially when it results in being (fairly frequently in recent years) cursed out and dismissed by women, whom I’d like to get along with as well. So, while I appreciate you are approaching these matters as a man dealing with psychological pain pertaining to women, I have my own problems relating with women that I doubt you grasp. But I figured that was neither here nor there in the discussion we were previously having.

      As for straddling the fence on women’s accountability, I was offering up my ponderings. Emotionality is not restricted to women, and my focus was on how sensitivity may be making it difficult for a great many people to “adjust” to modern living in all of its complexities. Men claim women are preying on them, so I can see how that can happen in such a money-driven society. Feminism may encourage this, but the tendency is shown in non-feminist women as well. I am simply curious as to what the root cause(s) could be, and I don’t think it’s as simple as blaming feminism alone. In my world, though exercises are worthwhile for drawing out the larger view. I’m sorry if my way of relating isn’t coming across as clear as I’m trying to make it.

      Can my man tell me I’m acting “off” or hormonal or whatever? Yes. And we do talk about these things without huge fights erupting. I’m not sure how to respond to your comments like this. I realize you are speaking about women in general, but we’re each individuals at the end of the day, and I really have no clue what other women are thinking.

      I did NOT readily admit women’s behavior is “destructive, confounding, and often unintelligible” anymore so than men’s behavior. That I did not. We were discussing women, so I tried focusing on that exclusively for conversation’s sake, as if I don’t write enough already.

      This feels like a feminist site to you? I wouldn’t know, haven’t yet explored beyond responding to this comment thread.

      I would not say men are not being heard because they don’t complain loud enough. I only say that it helps when men honestly show their emotions at times, because those of who care do need to know what they’re experiencing. That’s all I was trying to say, not to make you feel like you aren’t doing enough personally. Obviously we don’t know one another and I try not to make assumptions about people over the internet. That’s the problem stereotypes, IMO…they get out of hand in a medium like this.

      I apologize if I’ve invaded and made it difficult for men to be heard on here. That was never my intention. My thoughts are a bit difficult for me to express briefly. My goal originally was only to share with others dealing with the torment of a lack of sex in our relationships, and apparently I got to talking on side issues. But I thought you wanted me to address the issue of feminism, so I’ve tried to, and shared my own views which take into account more than that. I’m trying to learn to accept that some things are more important than sex, much as I’m kicking myself over that aggravation, and I’d rather work it out with someone I genuinely enjoy the daily company and affection of. I did not come here to dominate your board, and I’m sorry if that’s how it comes across.

      • My typos were atrocious. Further apologies. Didn’t proof-read obviously.

      • Thank you, wakemenow, for your brilliantly articulated comments. I too have been in the boat where I’ve been denied sex by someone who truly loves, adores, worships me, and finds me attractive. Regardless of all that, being denied sex over and over can get really frustrating and even insulting. At some point, you just put the ball in his hands and stop initiating. When I was in my earlier 20s, I was on the other side of it. I lost my sex drive with a partner because he made me feel insecure, I lost a lot of weight due to the industry I was in, and I was on terrible birth control. Now that I’ve been high libido for several years, I understand his frustration.

        It’s said that women’s behavior is “destructive, confounding, and often unintelligible” Can you understand that maybe many women feel the same way about men? A lot of what men do simply doesn’t make sense to me or seems cruel. One example off the top of my head–How many women on here have asked “if I’m having regular, enthusiastic sex with my husband, why does he have to go to strip clubs and watch p0rn and web chat when it makes me feel so sad?” only to be attacked (this was in another thread on here). Many women don’t understand why a man *isn’t* emotional sometimes. Sometimes I truly can’t control my passions and my feelings. I do try to change, but I’m an emotional, passionate, hormonal woman and I’m upfront about that in my relationships and I’m upfront on how to react with me (if I’m pms-ing, don’t take every little thing I say as logical and to heart). I like throwing caution and logic to the wind sometimes. Life can more exciting that way, but I do understand that logic has its place, and that it’s very important. Why would it have to be I who has to change who I am completely? Can’t there be some level of compromise? I’ll try and understand you if you try and understand me. Men often don’t understand women’s actions, but it goes both ways.

        • “Many women don’t understand why a man *isn’t* emotional sometimes. Sometimes I truly can’t control my passions and my feelings. I do try to change, but I’m an emotional, passionate, hormonal woman and I’m upfront about that in my relationships and I’m upfront on how to react with me (if I’m pms-ing, don’t take every little thing I say as logical and to heart). I like throwing caution and logic to the wind sometimes.”

          Word of warning, sometimes when some women get into these emotional time periods they will rant about what he hasn’t done and use terms like “You always do this”, during this time women can say some stupidly highly hurtful things. “You don’t love me”, “you’re always with your friends” etc which can negate n belittle any time he has spent with her, to me at least it feels like a kick in the balls and hence why the logic problem arises. Imagine being told you’re shit in bed and can’t do anything to make me feel better as a man because one time you didn’t get me off yet there were plenty of times you did? Surely it’d hurt. Be mindful of your language n avoid direct statements as men are raised to pay attention to words. Stick to stuff like “I feel like SOMETIMES you do X and it makes me feel Y” and hopefully you’ll avoid triggering a war of words because you’re generalizing and he’s taking it to heart. Throwing logic n caution to the wind n expecting him to realize you’re expressing your emotion vs wanting him to pay attention to your words logically is a recipe for disaster, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been left stumped because a woman has done this n said you always do x, when I can prove I haven’t always done it. It’s very hard to try understand what she is trying to tell me because sometimes it makes zero logical sense to say to my male mind of thinking.

          Easiest way to deal with men is imagine him taking all of your words to heart, if you say always he will hear always. It’s a very stereotypical way of dealing with a man but it’ll probably work 9 times outa 10. Don’t assume men aren’t emotional either, we’re just excellent at hiding it behind a poker face as it’s a survival instinct reinforced by cultural gender roles of being stoic n never showing weakness. You may find it hard to know when I am sad because I can put on a very neutral poker face, or I seek activities to cheer me up which may look like a normal day (sex, gaming, etc), or possibly it’ll come out as anger and you may just assume I’m cranky.

          • @Archy: Your comment here is excellent and you raise a VERY important point. This is something I struggle with and have been working on for several years now, though sometimes I fuck up and say some shit that is wrong, that is hurtful, and that is not okay. Words can never be taken back. They can wound on a level that will last a lifetime, that is true. And I aim to always keep that in mind, often as I have to repeat it to myself. I have a sharp tongue on me which I attribute as inherited from my Papa, and we can be bastards if we’re let off our leashes. It has a lot to do with how emotional we are and how seriously we can take offense to disrespect or feeling humiliated. He let his out and went too far and unfortunately damaged his wife and kids (and to a lesser extent me, though he and I were close). I don’t want history to repeat, and that thought never leaves my mind. He turned abusive in language and physically (toward the rest of the family), and I feel as though I could be that way too if I let myself, and this is unacceptable to me. It is unfair and unjust for my loved ones, and it’s not how real love operates. Luckily I saw this as a teenager and have worked on keeping myself in check ever since. Not always successfully, particularly when it comes to my mouth. In my first marriage, I showed my ass. He did too, but that doesn’t make it okay. We were jerks to one another, but he is now deceased and we made peace a few years ago. But just knowing how I could be in that situation changed me, made me have to think seriously and deeply about who I am and who I want to be.

            Now, in my current relationship I am much better at watching my mouth. There are slip-ups but I don’t tear into him as I have others, because he doesn’t deserve it. The man truly loves me, and that’s a gift from the heavens, because he’s a good man. He’s a sweet and good-hearted person. He works hard and he’s earned a great deal of my respect in the time we’ve been together. However, with that said, let me say—and this is not to detract from all I explained above—that passive aggressive behavior SUCKS whether it be a man OR a woman bringing that shit to the table. We had a row the night before Thanksgiving and yes, as is so common, the argument went back to our sex life and yes, I see now that I was hormonal at the time too. Recipe for problems that began with his passive aggression after a bad day at work. The thing is he springs that way on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve known other men (and women) like that, and it is difficult for more direct types of people to not get hot-headed over. He takes after his mother in that way, not to knock her, just the truth. They have issues being direct, partly because I think they feel it’s rude, but also partly because I think they want people to intuit what they’re thinking and feeling. I realize we typically associate that sort of behavior with women, but personally I’ve experienced this with a number of men, and I assume anyone handling that would get frustrated. It makes communication difficult, if not impossible, because sarcasm or coyness obscures what they really mean. I’m not clairvoyant and find this behavior extremely annoying.

            But anyway, TMI winding down. We worked it out and are back to smoother sailing. Just needed to get that off my chest, since it’s an example of one those things men (or women) can do that can drive their partner nuts and antagonistically bring the situation to a head. This is a big reason why I encourage men to show and tell their emotions in an honest fashion, because it’s a mystery to comprehend when they resist doing so. But as with me and my hormones, we talk about it and hopefully he will be more cognizant going forward about the passive aggressiveness, though we both need to continue working on the tendency to over-exaggerate when we’re upset. “Always” and “never” are strong accusations that rarely accurately reflect reality.

            One thing he eventually came out with is how it feels when I put so much pressure on him to be more sexually active. After our fight we were able to sit down and discuss this and it made better sense to me this time around why he’s been resistant to initiate in recent months. But he also admitted that laziness is a culprit, which upset me for a while, but then I stop and think about it and realize we’ve both gotten lazy. We just don’t put in as much effort these days, partly because of work demands and falling into a routine. We’ve been slacking, but then I have to wonder, is it so bad? I like my time alone to write and peruse online, and he needs his rest. We’re a couple of procrastinators who’ve grown chummy, relaxed, and cozy in time spent at home. Maybe I am asking too much of him and of us sexually, and maybe my passion can be more productively directed toward so-called “intellectual pursuits” that i enjoy. He tells me that infidelity boils his blood in a way he cannot explain, and I can relate as a jealous and protective individual myself. So to step out in our case is to be a hypocrite. Doing unto the other what we don’t want done to ourselves. He’s not the sort of man to cheat, but also he’s not the one with the high sex drive and adventurous past. But then I think that I did get to do all of that, got to try most of what I wanted, got to see how relations could be in various scenarios, and maybe it is truly time to hang it up and move on. Change is difficult, but that isn’t to say it isn’t rewarding when needed. I’ve been learning a lot throughout this relationship, and one thing I know is that prior to being in a committed relationship all thoughts on the subject are theoretical. Because we imagine things will go some way has no relation to what actually winds up happening, and we wind up tested, not only by our partners but also by our own selves and the values we purport to hold dear. I guess it’s all talk until the rubber hits the pavement and we find out what’s what and who we are collides with what we wish to be. I’ve been drinking a little tonight already and will apologize for running on. The topic is mismatched libidos yet so much can factor into the equation.

            • “I’ve been drinking a little tonight already and will apologize for running on.”
              It’s all good.

              I’ve been hit before, and I’ve been had someone use a silver tongue on me and tbh I think the silver tongue hurt more. My insecurity n anxiety disorder is largely from actions such as verbal abuse, being outcasted by peers, made to feel ugly. The times I’ve had a fight I’ve actually become friends with some of them after, bruises heal but those words don’t automatically heal. Of course severe physical violence does a heap of damage but sometimes I’d rather be slapped than be degraded by words.

              • @Archy: Took a catnap and am back sipping tea in the insomniac hours of the morning. I hear what you’re saying there about hitting versus harsh words. Living in a society that discourages all forms of physical “violence” (as even slapping is routinely referred to as) can make it seem that speaking is always the more civilized approach. It can be, but not always. I witness men duking it out and returning to friendship on down the line, and I admit to being a bit envious at times that male interaction with one another provides this outlet for hostilities and checking disrespect. As a girl I was raised up thinking physical displays of that sort are bad for us, unlady-like, and so was encouraged to hurt with words, as I assume most girls were. But words can cut like a knife, and I too at times would rather just be slapped than verbally degraded and emotionally torn to bits. But with men and women’s physical disparities (me being a short gal) I see how that creates a tricky equation when we fight, with most men being taught that laying a hand on a woman is never okay. So then they too treat us more verbally with insults and cut-downs because it’s deemed the only socially-acceptable means for a man to feud with a woman. I often wonder if we wouldn’t be better off allowing a REASONABLE measure of physical correction in our relations, and I already know this notion is extremely unpopular and invites scorn from other women when I mention it.

                Talked to my guy about it in the past, and he’d prefer to walk away rather than let it come to that, which I respect as reasonable too (though not always guaranteed to happen when people are fired up). But there are times when I do probably deserve to be slapped myself, and for some reason people act as if this is never okay for me to admit out loud. But don’t we all know it’s true? I’d rather that than be verbally abused, because words slung carelessly in the past took a great enough toll on my psyche already. I can relate with what you said there about how much words can and do inflict pain. But so long as we as a society place such a premium on zero tolerance for any physical scuffling, especially between the sexes (however minor), words will remain the weapon of choice, and that creates problems in itself.

                Because we’re going to fight. That’s just the way humans are. In a perfect world we’d all stay calm and rational at all times and be able to settle our differences without physical or verbal escalation. But this is no perfect world, nor will it ever be. Just as I understand men’s pride not wanting to tolerate blatant disrespect, I feel the same way, yet I feel by acting on the impulse to check the other and establish the boundary they’ve crossed is real, I’m declared “crazy” or completely inappropriate, not unlike how we view children who step over the line with adults. That was very frustrating. So then I cry out of frustration, and that too is deemed “crazy” and evidence of me being “out of control” or trying to draw on sympathy. Then the indignation sparks inside me and the verbal war of words begins out of a sense of feeling punked out and belittled. Provided no more effective means of handling the conflict, that’s where the dispute can easily spiral to.

                Luckily my current partner and I get along well and rarely get that riled up, though we’ve had our spats and I’ve broken a few items just to put that anger somewhere, but not at or on him. And luckily he understands this and doesn’t think it’s crazy and seems to appreciate me taking out my frustration on inanimate objects that can be repaired. We both approach the relationship wanting to watch our tongues, so when upset those feelings have to find release some other way, and I think it’s what makes this relationship so workable is that he doesn’t apply this double-standard that says I as a woman need to keep all rage under control and vented through whatever proper channels others deem as lady-like. He’s had his fist-fights with other men in the past, so I can hurl my own jewelry box or bang on a wall if I need to. I’m sure he’d say it beats listen to me scream. Ha The point seems to be how people handle conflict resolution, and among couples I really think it comes down to complementary methods (not the same for each, mind you, just methods that don’t clash and stir up a bigger shitstorm). And I think this is determined between individuals and sincerely wish the State wasn’t granted power to tell everyone what is or isn’t acceptable in all cases. But I realize how controversial that take is and imagine it will be misunderstood by most others.

                • I’ve always thought that oversized puffy boxing gloves designed to have little impact as they spread the load would be great for people to work out there differences. Hit each other n exhaust your energy without being able to cause damage as the load spreads over a wide area, it’d be like pillow fights using very light pillows. Maybe one day VR games could do it, maybe add in a slight shock so each could hit each other, feel a bit of pain then get the fuck over it. Hell I’d do that shit for fun.

        • @Aya:

          Thanks for the nice comment. 🙂 It did help reading what you wrote, because I too am a passionate woman who’s become increasingly hormonal unfortunately since getting off bc pills. May have always been hormonal, but now it’s definitely more of a challenge to manage. Overall though, what never changes is being passionate and curious. And that alone can make relating with others a bit tricky especially when those passions are geared toward inquiries that are non-mainstream. And I love my passion and feel it’s one of my greatest gifts, despite how fiery it tends to make me when feathers are ruffled. Hormones and passion are a hell of a combo, and I’m not so certain the human can be in full control of that. Hence crimes of passion like when someone catches their lover screwing somebody else in their own bed, in their own home. I can’t type that without my blood pressure rising. The disrespect is immense, and hormones might be all it takes to push me over the edge and land me a lengthy prison sentence. Just sayin’. That is how I feel.

          There are times I turn into the female equivalent of the incredible hulk. Ha It’s funny and yet not funny at the same time. Sometimes I don’t mind it, frustration is vented and life goes on. Sometimes it screws up relationships between lovers and friends. I get that and am doing my best to remain cognizant of that., because the propensity exists within me. Be it because I was born and raised in the Deep South or because of my genetics and bloodline (stemming also from “cultures of honor”), I can be an intense person. Being woman probably adds a “special” dimension to that. Ha But what can one do but work with what they have?

          Part of it’s about knowing oneself, and part is about creating oneself. That seems to be the message life is sending me. Those thoughts came to mind, so I decided to share. But I also want to say that it’s easy to come off flippant about it, which I think kinda parallels men’s tendency toward stoicism that Archy mentions in his reply to you. Men are worried about showing their weaknesses to one another, and I understand that, but so too are we women a bit protective over who we are. Just as men are emotional creatures too and it can’t be helped, the sexes are emotional in different ways. The priorities are different, and yes ogwriter (as you stated in a reply below) that has everything to do with biology and how the sexes separately evolved.

          When I think of hormones I don’t know why but my brain always turns to Rick James saying: “Cocaine is a hell of a drug.” LOL That may make no sense to anyone else, but to me, seriously, hormones are a hell of a force to contend with. Men are driven by hormones too, just different ones that attract them toward different things. We all know this. But women’s hormones are a special case in a way, it is true. They can be a force to be reckoned with. Hurricanes come to mind. And you kinda have to laugh at it, because what can you do? Such is life in this body. Try your best and be upfront with close others, and that’s what you can do. It’s a dilemma that I doubt many women are happy about. It does suck, but what all do menfolk expect us to do about it? And that goes back to ogwriter’s comments that I’ll address below.

    • holmesr64 says:

      ogwriter, I haven’t read anything you’ve written other than this comment, but straight out I have to say your claim that feminism is to blame for ANYTHING in relation to relationships between women and men is absolute rubbish. (If it matters to you, I’m a man, married 22 years with children.)
      Your comment that you stay away from feminist blogs etc is telling.
      Can I be so bold as to suggest you go BACK to said feminist blogs, and take your medicine. If you are offended, affronted, insulted or enraged by things you read there (inasmuch as all feminist blogs are the same, which they aren’t, but whatever), step out of your male, white, middle-class shoes (I’m guessing, but even if you only wear male shoes, it’s still relevant) and try to walk in the shoes of a woman. Because even a woman of today, despite the supposed feminist revolution that allegedly brought equality of the sexes, faces many more hurdles in her life than you ever had.
      I’m not going to lecture you on the merits of feminism- there are many more out there who do that better than me. But I ask you nicely- get over yourself, get some perspective and grow up.

      • Victor Greed says:

        He believes the correlation/causation thing so blindly that I don’t believe we can do something about it.
        Did Feminism help change many aspects of society, womanhood and female/male relationships? Of course. Most good things, maybe some things got kinda twisted as well. Just like any other movement in society. But now to say anything bad is only because feminism is the most illogical approach one can make.
        Do you know aaaallll the good things we accomplished in the last 40 years or so as well? Well, if you are going that way, @ogwriter, better give Feminism their due credit as well. Be a good man. 😉

  10. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    @OW The idea of other directedness seems more salient now than in the fifties, the time mentioned in The Lonely Crowd. We do have more feminism now, but it seems to have been martialed in support of very traditional ways of women constructing their culture. So it’s fairly sex negative, and it really seems to reinforce very traditional ways of women marrying up, cirtiquing men, using old school femine wiles, etc. Surprisingly women seem even worse at being other directed, the condition Riesman critiqued. In the 1960s-70s, this seemed to go away for a while. My wife, like me ex-counterculture, is very inner-directed. She says she can’t imagine being afraid of other women’s opinions in the way they’ve been described here. I agree that men are other directed too. But a nice part of stereotypic masculinity is the development or character and individualism. So maybe less so.

  11. @ Hank: The conditions you speak of, it seems likely, that most men have experienced this otherdirectedness. This reference is so obscure that spell check doesn’t even recognize what chance does the average Joe have of dealing with it. There is like doubt in my mind that this female duality of behavior is at least partially responsible for why men consistently feel women are manipulative, emotionally erratic, overly sensitive etc.

    Growing up it was common to hear, in response to oft times sweeping changes in mood and desire from women, “It’s a woman’s pleasure to change her mind.” The meaning was that she could change her mind and not be held accountable for any negative consequences she may cause others. So even as we talk about women not being aware of this behavior, I have my doubts that is entirely true. Frankly, I think this behavior is an adaptation not an abnormal aberration that helps women to have and wield power with out the nasty consequences of alienating oneself from the group. It has clear and prevalent benefits to women.

    Because the behavior is supported by culture suggests an awareness and indeed an effort to make the behavior normal. I think culture is duplicitous in hiding this behavior, in plain sight, under the cloak of “crazy”. The weight and complexity of what you, Sarah and wakemenow describe and agree exists is above and beyond the pay-grade of most guys to deal with. Women like Sarah and wakemenow, who are thoughtful and circumspect, admit that even they can’t deal with some of this stuff. Lastly, saying that this happens and women don’t really know what they are doing is an invitation abuse.

  12. @ wakemenow: I ‘d like to weigh in on the question you posed to Jules. One thing that comes to mind is the issue of the struggles of men not being heard or felt by the community.

    As a man, why would I engage in a process of change, which involves being viewed as an emotional equal to women, if I am viewed as not as important.? That must change first. As you said, this is not about legislation, though I’m sure their are a few issues which need to be hashed out between men and women. This is about relationships. One can’t help but notice the unhappiness and dissatisfaction from both parties, in threads on Gmp and certainly, in the world around us.

    To be honest, I don’t hold out much hope for change anytime soon. If things are going to change it will come because men are tired of what’s happening. In my experience, men are reluctant, if not passive in this regard. I think this mirrors his conditioning from society that tells him; women and children come first, you CAN go it alone, being a man( manning up) solves everything, all males are privileged, so therefore, his problems can’t be that bad,and so forth.

    As you might expect, I think feminism, not freedom and equality for women, is the absolute worst agency for promoting the l kind of change you speak of.

  13. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Jules,
    OCD is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. I think many women have this as a defense against body feelings, especially sexual ones. It also facilitates working in the professions. MPD is multiple personality disorder. We all have disparate ego-states, but some people almost cannot remember their thoughts and feelings if they’re in an opposite ego state. Not remembering one’s sexual feelings is common for certain types of women, because they’ve had the hell scared out of them on this issue in the past. Goyische equals non-Jewish.

    • Hank Vandenburgh says:

      Women have commented here on the intense other directedness women experience. That’s why women are so afraid of being slut called by other women. It splits their consciousness. My theory is that for women who like porn, the porn is a permission giving. They can actually see other women having sex and appearing to like it. The split onsciousness is confirmed by women who become aroused by sexual stimuli and aren’t aware of it. Saxon’s Sex at Dusk is weak on this point.

      • @Hank: The other-directedness you speak of was discussed in a sociological text titled “The Lonely Crowd” by David Riesman (a book in my personal collection). But in the book he doesn’t refer to it as a specifically female-centered phenomenon but rather a general societal shift in attitudes. At least I assume that was what you’re referencing. Putting that out there in case others want to look for a used copy and see what the author had to say on the matter.

      • @Hank Vandenburgh: Well, they may say that this malady is not gender specific but that hasn’t been my experience. Dealing with a woman who has split consciousness around her own sexual desires( I have dealt with that before just recently, got burned badly) is asking to be with someone who could fcck your best friend and not “know” it. I dated a woman(a feminist) who used to have sex parties during the 70’s. She would brag about how many sex partners she had and talk about how much fun she had and about how no man ever refused her advances. Then when I would ask her what her motivation was she said she did it because everybody else was doing it.—not because she wanted to or because she had lust or desire.

        When I would suggest it was because of lust and desire things she would get weird and actually try to deny what she had just said. She spoke of waking up in bed with two guys and running out of the bedroom, not remembering what she did or whether or not she actually had sex with them. This kind of disconnect was, to say the least, disconcerting. Like I said, EVENTUALLY, I got burned badly by this one.

    • @Hank..

      Thank you. Now I understand.

      Very interesting.

      I always ask myself: Why do women like to pretend? Perhaps this shed some light on that question.

  14. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    On Withholding Sex: What I’ve noticed is women having a bifurcated consciousness around sexuality. So we get, and this is true of one of my old (OCD) girlfriends (actually two – both midwestern protestants) a very arousable body (and occasionally consciousness) accompnied by later disavowals of arousal. Empirical studies have confirmed this almost MPD reaction in many women who get excited, then disavow it consciously.

    Where you usually don’t see this is with Jewish women (as a child, their genitals get constellated – as Jungians would say.) “Oh what a cute liittle knish,” meaning vulva.

    Rich women from afflent families also don’t seem to have as many sexual issues, probably because their socialization is more permissive, provided they haven’t been abused when younger (abuse can produce either sexual acting out or its opposite.)

    Part of the problem is women’s intense other directedness when it comes to other women. For goyishe, non affluent ladies other women’s opinions can make their sexual consciousness and memories turn on a dime. It’s possible to be compassionate about these group responses (resisting possible “dogging”) but they’re also the root of much sexual repression and unhappiness.

    • @Hank…

      What is:

      1) OCD?
      2) MPD?
      3) goyishe?

      Thanks.

      But, I just do not know what the bifurcated consciousness is that you are speaking? Also, what is this “other directedness whne it comes to other women.?”

      Sorry to be a pest. I enjoy your contributions. I just cannot seem to make sense of this one.

  15. @ogwriter: Can’t find your last comment in the thread, but will respond from what was received via email.

    We’re apparently still speaking over one another’s shoulders. I wasn’t implying that because we women are different that this absolves us of any responsibility, and I don’t understand why you continue returning to that with me, especially when I’ve been very upfront on here about my own wrongdoings and have been actively striving toward doing better and being better for several years now. It’s an individual pursuit necessary for any of us aiming for better in this life. Nothing kumbaya about it. Taking a long, hard look at oneself on a regular basis isn’t pleasant, and doing what’s within one’s own power to hold oneself accountable and in check takes ongoing effort, especially if you’re emotional and prone to being highly reactive, but even if you’re not.

    I never ever stated on here that we women are above or outside of being held accountable and have stated many times that we women really do need to hold ourselves to higher standards than is common. It’s just that the standards for accountability aren’t on all levels universal. Some of us, male or female, are natured to be more “dramatic” than others (as I believe Archy was getting at), we handle our problems more ‘expressively’, and that’s the way life goes. We are a diverse lot on this planet, and I’m not interested in us all conforming to one set standard of behavior. Sure, that’s going to create some incompatibilities, and so be it. Such is the way of diversity.

    What behaviors are tolerable within a relationship are entirely up to the people engaged in the relationship. They decide what’s allowable and what isn’t, what they’re willing to put up with and what they aren’t. You always have the power to leave a relationship you’re unsatisfied in, especially if you feel your partner isn’t doing their best to be a high quality partner for you. So I guess I’m not understanding the questions you’re posing to me in that last comment. I don’t have any clue why some women would act one way or another, as I don’t date women, but if I did and they weren’t open to any comments or constructive criticism and also didn’t take my needs into account, I wouldn’t stay with that person. Rather than seek to force them to change, I’d change my situation if after communicating openly with them we could reach no understanding to go forward with.

    But you speak as though ALL men are in the same boat and just fed up with ALL of us women, and no, that’s not true. That’s your take. Lots of women are fed up with men, and women fed up with other women, and men fed up with other men. Nothing kumbaya about that either. I just think it points to bigger problems than what the narrow focus we’re so often trapped in, blaming our partners without taking a long hard look at our own selves or at the influences of our culture and economy that are pitting people against one another, including those sharing a household. That’s not absolving any of us of responsibility, and in fact I see it quite the opposite — that we have bigger fish to fry and bigger battles to take on, and all this infighting is obscuring THAT reality. Yeah, more of us women need to change focus from blaming so much on men and start looking for more productive questions to ask on what’s ailing us. And yeah, same goes for men too. We could all do better than this. Instead we want to hurl insults and speak of one another as if children. We seem to think if only those other people would change all would be fine in the world, and that’s just too convenient of a scapegoat, even when it contains truth. Men and women could both be doing better. Can’t change anyone but our own selves, and when we’re better, we tend to attract better people to us.

    As for being “trapped” in a bad relationship, an easy way to avoid that is to avoid marrying and having children. Then you are indeed free and clear to leave if you are being taken advantage of. That seems to me a perfectly rational approach to the problem of women currently possessing an unfairly skewed advantage within marriages. To remove the possibility of being trapped in fatherhood against one’s wishes, I highly recommend vasectomies. My guy had one, as have many men I’ve met, and they’re all pleased knowing they have one less worry to contend with. So, in other words, it’s not as if men are completely at women’s mercy and without any recourse. We can take precautions to protect ourselves from being exploited by manipulative, uncaring people that we will ALL come across at some point in time.

    I’m doubtfully addressing your concerns the way you’d like me to, but this is the best I can offer at this time. While I want people to love one another and try to work shit out, that in no way is meant to advocate for us staying with people who don’t care about our feelings or needs. And as for women being emotional, that doesn’t negate men’s emotionality nor reduce room for it to exist. Men are emotional beings as well and have lived alongside and communicated with women since the dawn of our species, and it hasn’t always been a one-sided affair. You have room to be yourself — just pick up and be who you need to be. People might not like it, but it’s still within your power to do so just as much as for any women out here. Speak your piece if you feel the need, tell your partner how you really feel, be fair and direct, and through that you’ll find out if it’s a relationship worth continuing to pursue. What else can be said here tonight?

    • Many doctors won’t give a vasectomy unless you’ve had kids though?

      Avoiding marriage will get you a whole host of women complaining about men not taking a commitment, wouldn’t it be better to change laws, etc to bring full equality to the genders?

      I am a man but not fed up with women. Seeing others talk about marriage n kids though is turning me off to the idea :S but I’m sure one day I’ll bite the bullet n have kids.

      • @Archy…

        “Avoiding marriage will get you a whole host of women complaining about men not taking a commitment, wouldn’t it be better to change laws, etc to bring full equality to the genders?”

        So what Archy?! Women will complain about men regardless.

        What is important Archy is to protect your own emotional, mental, and psychological well being.

        Yes, I am a man who is pretty much fed and disgusted by the behavior of a lot of women. Hence, I do not care for any kind of “committed” relationship with them. Instead of arguing and fighting with women, I have simply resigned myself to have sexually based arrangements with them.

        Is this the way I wish to live? Honestly, NO. It is totally contrary to what I always lived and believed.

        But, it is my way of coping with all the hurt, humiliation, and torment I endure with my ex wife. Men like myself need coping mechanisms. This is how I deal with the matter.

        When I look out at the world of women, I see lots of women like my ex wife. They want what they want. They do not care about their husbands needs. I will never allow my sexuality to become hostage to one woman. Never again.

      • @Archy: One man I knew about my own age who had no children did undergo a vasectomy. There are doctors who will perform this procedure regardless, and besides, it’s not as if doctors go out of their way to verify whatever you tell them there is true or not.

        I took for granted that the struggle for bringing about just changes to the law will continue. Avoiding having kids or getting married is just one way to protect one’s interests at this time. Plus it could alleviate a bunch of the stress people are experiencing, though of course that says nothing about those already married with kids and feeling stuck in an unfair arrangement.

  16. @wakemenow: I get the kumbaya, no one is perfect spirit of your points.But that doesn’t address my points, it only obscures them. For me it is simple. Said woman gets weird. Said woman knows from time to time that she gets well, weird and so does her partner. Said woman knows that her partner knows she gets weird. Said man is the man of her dreams, the man she wants to be in a lifelong monogamous, serious, committed, profoundly connected relationship with. Said man would, if it were necessary, drink said woman’s dirty bath water through a crazee straw if she but asked him. So, when said man says to said woman,” Honey, your kinda weird now and it’s freaking me out”. she does this:
    a) rips out his testicles through his larynx
    b) rips out his tonsils through his anus
    c) has an affair with his best friend because, “he understands me”
    d) All of the above
    e) she hugs him and says thank you for having my back, you how I get sometimes.
    I think e) is a reasonable expectation.

    The idea that this behavior is impossible for women to control, so therefore, we shouldn’t have accountability is strange and absolutely inconsistent with the message women give men about how important it is for men to be evolved and self aware;because God only knows they are naturally more evolved than men. I read again what you and Sarah wrote and please explain to me how and where, given the breadth, scope and complexity of this behavior, a man can expect his issues to coexist? Given that both of you say that the behavior is extreme and very difficult for you to manage, imagine if that person is your partner. Dealing with it as a woman is different than if one is a man.

  17. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Won’t try to find the comment. Sexual addiction is quite real. Usually psychologists and psychiatrists are the last to know about anything useful. Guys stay up all night stroking it, or spend all their and the family’s money on prostitutes. Read Cairnes. He can be preachy, but is right on about this.

  18. I am a recovering sex addict, who’s wife of 20yrs remained in a loving re~committed monogomous relationship. She’s now pre menepausal and sex is very infrequent. Sex had to become optional for me. As a CSA survivor sex outside my marraige was used to fill a hole in my soul, though it never worked. Who, where, what I climaxed to was insignificant, only the ritual of acting out mattered.

    In forced abstinence, due to her needing to mourn the death of her married ideal, and in agreed upon abstinance, where we relearned all other forms of true intimacy, we were able to reclaim sex as an act of worship to Our Creator.

    True intimacy is when two WHOLE individuals are UNITED (un I tied) and can the

    • @ur loved…

      First, what is a “CSA survivor?”

      It never cease to amaze me how those who have sexed it up now want to tell other folks about “true intimacy.” Please. Spare me.

      Btw, there is no such thing as a sex addict. Only dysfunctional sexual behavior. Nor is “sex addiction” recognized by the American Psychological Association as a mental disorder.

      As for worshiping our Creator, I do that outside of sex. I am of the Protestant faith. No where in the Bible is there anything about sex being used to worship God. I guess King Solomon and his several hundred wives and concubines were for the worship of God?

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Sometimes, though, the abstinence thing goes way too far, or the co-dependent wife subjects the addict to gross domination. That last can be really evil, and I saw it several times when I worked in addiction treatment in the 80s. One wife went to open-SA meetings with her husband. She was from hades.

      • CSA = Child sexual abuse.

  19. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    My wife prefers KY to any of the “runnier” lubes, like astroglide. And, come to think of it, so do I. At my age, a little more resistance is welcome– a little more frictional drag.

  20. Has anyone here compared Androgel to the new Androforte (AndroMeds.com)? I’m about to give one a go… advice appreciated

  21. @cm: You know your an absolute romantic and it is smalltown charming but… The keys to ,her” libido,as described by you, don’t always unlock the chasity belt. Furthermore, what you mentioned,giving compliments,advice and support is fairly pedestrian romantic behavior that most women wouldn’t recognize as such. I mean, honey can I help with your resume doesn’t scream sex like dinner and dancing. Besides,I think most men,myself included,do the very simple things you listed WITHOUT expecting sex in return.

  22. @Jules: You know Jules I can see Aya’s point,though I feel uneasy about that.( I’m smiling Aya ) The hardcore truth is, no matter the arrangement chosen,it is taken on faith by the participants that each will honor the contract. So, whether one chooses monogamy or FWB there is probably equal chance one is sharing one’s partner with someone else. The poly life only seems to be a more open way to acknowledge and legitimize otherwise “secret” culturally objectable habits. Considering the prevalence and long history of adult sexual alternatives; swingers,doms,kink and fetishes of all kinds people are quite comfortable sharing sexual partners. Like you said Jules,you’d rather be the surrogate lover than primary partner.

    • @ogwriter….

      Yes, but the big difference is neither is a connected primary partners. Hence, I do not care about who she screws.

      Aya’s view was to have a primary that you shared. This is what I objected to. I simply do not see the point. Hence, my desire to be a surrogate lover as opposed to a primary partner.

      • Thanks for understanding, ogwriter. 🙂 If you don’t see the point, Jules, then maybe you’re just not a relationship person and never were. That’s perfectly fine, but it could have been part of what caused problems in your relationship. If you saw no benefits from a relationship other than sex, maybe your wife sensed that? You ask what the point is of having a primary partner. It obviously means that you don’t care about much other than sex and sexual exclusivity with women–which isn’t all that there is to a relationship. If your wife lost her libido, I absolutely believe she should have attempted to fix it and let you stray a little. She should have found the root of the problem and worked on it. She could have tried to spice things up for herself in whatever way worked for her. I also believe you should also have put some work in to keeping things sexy in your married life. We only have your side here, but I am very sorry for what happened in your situation.

        • @Aya..

          Throughout my adult life I was always a relationship only man. I never did any kind of casual dating prior to marriage. I only dated and slept with the few women I chose whom I thought were worthy of being my wife. My rule was simple: Only date and have sex with women who were worthy of being my wife.

          Post divorce my view has changed. While I still eschew lots of sex partners and womanizing behavior, I have no desire for any type of relationship other than an FWB arrangement. I am just convinced that committed relationships with primary partners are sex killers. I want no part of it. I have suffered torment, mental anguish, and just pure hell..Never again.

          As for my marriage, I endured a sexless marriage for 12 of the 15 years. I did my part Aya. Yes, you have only one side of the story. But, it was not because I did not know how to be a relationship. I was a caring, loving, kind, thoughtful, supportive, and giving husband. All it got me was torment. Lets face it. I married the wrong woman. It just was not meant to be.

          Now, single again I want absolutely nothing to do with primary partners, formal relationships etc. Nothing.

          If we are two consenting adults, what is wrong with enjoying a woman just for sex?

  23. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    On the “cuck” phenomenon. I’m not going to try to find Jules’s post on this. I presented on this once at a sociological meeting. There are probably at least three separate motivations: 1. The male is basically gay. 2. Or, the male is an orgiast (usually a sex addict.) 3. The male gets a testosterone boost from having another man with his woman, and is all over her after– when the other man is finished. Often, other race males are used by white couples to get this additional charge going (the increased phenotypic difference makes for even more of a competetive charge.) Janet Mason’s husband Steve, to use a well known example, seems to be both types 2 and 3. Earlier in my life, I was an outside lover (I’m more of an alpha) for four couples who were 3’s. All were years apart in my life, so it wasn’t a constant habit I think the woman is typically excited at first by this, but then is angry at being “turned out.”

    • Victor Greed says:

      Many men also like to join while the other man is still with her. Kind of a threesome sometimes, but still with a “cuck” aspect. And that is true, males do feel extremely horny when they see the female they want to fuck be fucked, that happens also in nature all the time.

  24. I can agree with you in principal that, generally speaking, these problems are rooted in selfishness. However,that only partially explains the roots of the conflict.I think it is great that you and your partner have agreed on what roles each will assume in the relationship. The selfishness we see is specific to the conflict pursuant to what those roles should be. Many men are saying,at least on this site, that they don’t want to participant in monogamous so called connected relationships because the risks versus reward ratio is disfavoring to him. To discuss this issue without weighing the impact of feminist prinicipals on the selfishness we debate is folly.

    • But what about a connected relationship that is poly? I don’t understand why people are so against that.

      • @Aya..

        What man wants to have his woman banged out by other men? Really. If he is the primary partner, a poly relationship is really saying he is unable to sexually satisfy his woman. Else, why would you need a poly relationship?

        He just as well become a cuck.

        • But isn’t that what you’re saying, Jules, that one woman isn’t enough to satisfy you? That you prefer an alternative arrangement to avoid the difficulties while maximizing on the parts you enjoy most with two female partners? Do your partners take issue with feeling like each of them isn’t capable of satisfying you alone? Probably not because that’s what agreed upon. And in a poly type relationships that’s the understanding as well. The matter is framed differently to where it needn’t be approached as simply “one is not good enough,” right?

          • @wakemenow..

            The difference in my case, as opposed to Aya’s proposal, is that I do not have a primary connection with either of my FWB partners. Aya’s proposal was to do this within the context of having a primary partner. I simply do not see any value in having a primary partner within this poly arrangement.

            As for “one is not good enough”, I can say that if she is high libido then it would work for me. One of my partners is a high libido woman. She likes sex several times a week, if she could get it.

            I simply do not wish to entrust my sex life to one woman again having suffered significant torment in the past.

        • As for the benefits of a relationship. To love and to be loved. To build a life with someone. Someone who’s going to be by your side and whose side you’ll be by. Who you can help through their own difficult times. Who you back up when people are treating him poorly and who’ll back you up when people treat you poorly. Shared rent, shared responsibilities. Someone you can kiss, cuddle. Share hobbies with. Learn from. Teach. And of course, sex–ideally at least several times a day. Low libido and stale can happen on both ends. As Joanna said, it’s a natural waxing and waning. If it happened permanently, like it did with your wife, first I’d try to fix it. Why is it happening? If it might take a while to fix, I’d let him stray outside the relationship.

          I respect that you don’t agree with a “monogamish” or poly situation, but it’s difficult for me to understand from my own perspective. I don’t believe it means that you’re not a good enough lover or anything like that. But libido waxes and wanes, and it’d be nice to have other options. Also, spicing things up. You’re ok with having two lovers–so why not having a partner just leaving the option there for both of you? Additionally, men are not immune to wanting variety and novelty. Plenty of men have said this, and a lot of it is what drives much of the sex industry. It’s an individual thing. I know men who only have eyes for their partner and I know men who really need variety in some way. I can say the same thing about women. As for things getting stale–that’s rarely the fault of one party and one party alone. Usually, both parties are contributing to the problem. And who gets blamed simply depends on who you ask.

          And can we please get over the cuckold thing? It’s 2012. THERE IS BIRTH CONTROL. USE IT. There are paternity tests available if you really care that much. I don’t have sex for procreation, I have it for recreation. One day, maybe I’ll have it for procreation, but sex doesn’t have to be about babies.

          • @Aya…

            With respect to the cuckold thing? I am at a loss regarding your reply.

            I full well know people have sex (myself included) for purposes other than making babies. It happens to make me and my partners feel terrific. We enjoy it! Also, I always use condoms. Yes, most women are using some form of contraception these days.

            So, what does that have to do with cuckolding?

            While I would agree that their is a possibility of a person loving more than one person romantically, this is just not for me. My libido has rarely “waxed and wanned.” I love sex. I could have sex daily if I had access to a woman with such frequency or a partner where the logistics would work.

            My preference was always to have that one special women I loved to enjoy a great sex life with. Well it did not happen. Nor do I think it is really possible. The odds are stacked against a man to get this in one woman.

            With that said, I still would not be interested in a poly arrangement. I know I have two lovers. But, it is all about sex. I have no idea if they are having sex with any other people. It’s non of my business and I really do not care. I am not in a connected relationship with either. And I always use a condom(s).

            • Hank Vandeburgh says:

              Very common pattern (this goes along with ev-psych too): Very expressive women in a relationship with very anal man. She gets the material benefits. But she almost always finds an external lover. Because he thinks she’s overwhelming in many ways, the husband often welcomes this if he senses it. He usually does sense it in my opinion. My lover’s husband used to tell her to go find me when he was tired of her complaining. I was infatuated with her, and could listen to hours of it. I usually had the same compliants about the places I was teaching at, anyway. I’ve been in at least three other relationships that were similar to this over a 25 year period.

        • My comment got deleted, so I’ll try again:

          As for the benefits of a relationship. To love and to be loved. To build a life with someone. Someone who’s going to be by your side and whose side you’ll be by. Who you can help through their own difficult times. Who you back up when people are treating him poorly and who’ll back you up when people treat you poorly. Shared rent, shared responsibilities. Someone you can kiss, cuddle. Share hobbies with. Learn from. Teach. And of course, sex–ideally at least several times a day. Low libido and stale can happen on both ends. As Joanna said, it’s a natural waxing and waning. If it happened permanently, like it did with your wife, first I’d try to fix it. Why is it happening? If it might take a while to fix, I’d let him stray outside the relationship.

          I respect that you don’t agree with a “monogamish” or poly situation, but it’s difficult for me to understand from my own perspective. I don’t believe it means that you’re not a good enough lover or anything like that. But libido waxes and wanes, and it’d be nice to have other options. Also, spicing things up. You’re ok with having two lovers–so why not having a partner just leaving the option there for both of you? Additionally, men are not immune to wanting variety and novelty. Plenty of men have said this, and a lot of it is what drives much of the sex industry. It’s an individual thing. I know men who only have eyes for their partner and I know men who really need variety in some way. I can say the same thing about women. As for things getting stale–that’s rarely the fault of one party and one party alone. Usually, both parties are contributing to the problem. And who gets blamed simply depends on who you ask.

          And can we please get over the cuckold thing? It’s 2012. There is birth control. Use it. There are paternity tests available if you really care that much. I don’t have sex for procreation, I have it for recreation. One day, maybe I’ll have it for procreation, but sex doesn’t have to be about babies.

        • Victor Greed says:

          “What man wants to have his woman banged out by other men?”
          Many. Many really. Much more than they are willing to confess. I believe most times it is the wife who is not willing to act on it.

          “If he is the primary partner, a poly relationship is really saying he is unable to sexually satisfy his woman. Else, why would you need a poly relationship?”
          Nope, not really. She can be sexually satisfied by him but still want to band other men. Isn’t it natural, as women love variety?

    • @ogwriter: Not sure if that comment was directed at me, but I’ll respond in saying that we haven’t ironed out our roles yet, still working on that. But I do agree that feminism plays a major role in all of this, which I could expand on but didn’t want to derail the conversation too far off subject. I can appreciate how men feel the rewards aren’t sufficient to warrant entering into monogamous relationships if so many truths can’t be drawn out on to the table and openly discussed and, hopefully, resolved.

  25. @Jules: Yo Jules you’ve got this thing figured out.I know it wasn’t easy getting there either.You earned your knowledge and more than likely it was a painful education. Probably, like most of us men, you believed all of the overromantized hype surrounding women’s sexuality. The pc narrative that says, “the monogamous male must earn sexual favors from his partner,” is a contempable glass prison for men. Though I am not surprised at the strength and durability of this construct as it is deeply interwoven into culture. However, it is disappointing that so called progressive women continue to push this flawed, selfish,hypocritical, dysfunctional, narrative.

    • @ogwriter…..

      Yes, I did earn my knowledge the painful way. I have spent the last few years unlearning and thoroughly rejecting the false narrative pushed upon men by monogamy.

      As Ben Franklin once said, “Experience is the fool’s best teacher. The wise don’t need it.” How true. And how foolish I have been all these years.

      I have decided that I am only going be a lover to women the rest of my life. I am not going to be a romantic/emotional partner. I have zippy interest in any type of relationship other than a sexual one.

  26. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    Jules, if 50% of the women in my small town tried to have affairs, it’d be all over hell immediately. So they probably stay at home with romance novels and vibrators. You know who does do this stuff?: rich girls, even when married. I’ve slept with some of them.

  27. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Quitting lasts forever.

  28. Like the Sean & Karen example, communication is key when thinking about to progress from that point where low-libido is in the mood for anything but sex, but possibly willing for some intimacy, like cuddling and not against a kiss or two. but even though high-libido has already been spurned sex, cuddling might be seen as the amber light. receptive to a few kisses, green!
    so even if it might sound awkward voicing your yes and no limits at the time out loud, it saves you from the downward spiral you could end up on with ambiguous, open to interpretation mixed mssages can bring on

    • Hunter @Green Detective says:

      Romance is communication. There is no awkward in partnership. If a commitment is made, communication is oxygen to peace, as courtesy, civility, good social skills, et al.

      Both partners come to the table equal, in good faith, creating a custom relationship with zero assumptions.

      Write “Declaration”, based on unique alchemy of love and commitment, omitting old history. Start fresh. Keep the romance strong.

      Add modifications and amendments, progressively, as needed. Remain in spirit of creative, as Partnership IP (Intellectual Property), Us Inc.

    • Just a guy says:

      When I get shot down for sex, I have zero desire to cuddle or kiss. Absolutely none. I already feel misled into this shitty situation. I see no reason to further tease myself with some crappy half measure of a sexual relationship.

      As far as voicing limits, if women were more honest about throwing this low-libido thing on the table, I wonder how much lower the marriage rate would drop?

      • @ Just a guy: You hit the proverbial nail on the head. There are many items on the list of don’t tells about women that of were talked about openly honestly would impact marriage rates;maybe for the better.
        If men knew that pregnancy, insecurities, mood swings due to hormones, secret unresolved lust, a need to be constantly stroked, guilt and body image to name a few, are all reasons that his sex life is no longer his when married, men could either enter marriage better prepared to deal with these ups and downs and quite possibly have a successful relationship. Or they can make an informed decision to stay out of a situation that would make them unhappy. The idea that relationships are just messy, while to some degree is true. is too often just an excuse to cover up a glaring lack of self awareness. Throwing up one’s hands after hurting someone and saying,” I didn’t know I’d feel that way,” time and again is avoidance.

        • I have been with my wife for 13 years, been married for 10. the first year was outstanding in the bedroom the last 12 have been a constant fight for sex. I am so tired that i want to leave, but i cant because I have two children. my wife always has a diffrent excuse, i am so tired of begging that i stopped. It is not worth getting married my dad told me that this would happen I did not belive him. I have tried talking to her taking her on vacations nothing works.

          • @ed…

            I really have much empathy for you. I have been in your shoes. It is a painful and sad existence, indeed. Do not expect your wife to have any sympathy for you. The behavior of many of these married women borders on sociopathy.

            Married women just refuse to be honest about sex and marriage. This is because they want to sex one type of man but marry another. That’s OK with me. However, as ogwriter stated above, lets be honest so I can make an informed decision.

            All of this crazy talk about communication blah blah blah is just that – crazy talk. I did leave after 10 years of being in a sexless marriage. I was married for nearly 15 years.

            Women should stop marrying perfectly decent and good men whom they do not want to have sex with and marry to men they want to have sex with. But, the men they desire are not good and decent men. It is just that simple. They want what they want and simply do not care who get hurts.

            While I would not advise you to cheat, I would hire a PI to make sure she is not cheating on you. It is not that she does not want sex. It’s just that she does not want sex with you. She might be getting sex elsewhere. In 50% of the cases, a married woman is having sex with someone else. My ex was not, as I hire a PI on 3 occasions, to check on here over the years of marriage.

            • That’s a pretty cynical view of women there….

              • Word. Very cynical. And I have trouble accepted it, especially as evidence of malicious intent of the part of married women. As Jules discovered, his wife wasn’t cheating on him, she just apparently had a totally different sex drive than him. Well, okay. That happens, sad as it is. But I don’t believe it’s come about through malicious intent on the part of most women. Most people don’t seek to really know themselves thoroughly and so make decisions they later regret. That’s a problem that plagues women as much as men.

                And furthermore, all this talk of women marrying one man and preferring to have sex with another leaves me reflecting back on all the men I’ve met who had relatively active sex lives with their partners yet still chose to pursue sex on the side with other women out of desire for excitement and variety. Isn’t that also evidence of malicious intent and an unwillingness to be upfront and honest? Well, malicious I’m not sure, but dishonest and selfish, absolutely. My point is that we all have a lot to answer for here, men and women, to one another and to our own selves. Our lack of honest communication is pulling the wool over the whole situation. But to just resolve ourselves to use one another instead and take love off the table, that really troubles me. Such a strategy has potential to do a lot of harm in its own right if enough people turn that way.

  29. FlyingKal says:

    I am a man (believe it or not…)
    I am also a lot of things. I am in good physical shape, I am patient, considerate, respectful, kind and attentive, and a lot of other things.
    And the thing is, if I find myself in a committed, monogamous relationship, and my partner has problems that among other things make her libido diminish, I expect her to let me know what it is so we can work on it together. Or at the very least acknowledge that it may be an issue.
    Cause, frankly, the old “If you don’t know what’s wrong I sure as hell ain’t gonna tell ya!” treatment is just bulls cr@p, pure and simple. And so is any blanket statement that (we) men just need to work harder and give her more attention, without having the slightest idea about what’s going on.

    • Hunter @Green Detective says:

      ROMANCE includes communication, as 2 way street. Partners negotiate personal rules, and follow. Negative assumptions are negative attraction. You get what you give.

      ROMANCE ensures intimacy for marriage full time. Not a part time option. Not for holidays. Only way to keep peace. There is no substitute for common value system. 70’s casual sex, and psych squad ditched romance, and women don’t buy it. Too casual for commitment? Watch womens’ media. Understand social conditioning, and you are 1/2 way there. Communicate needs x 2, and meet in the middle. Teamwork 101.

  30. Kerry Soileau says:

    Times have changed. Years ago, marriage was a good idea for men. They knew their job was to bring home the wealth, and they could count on their wife to take care of the home, the kids, and give him the physical comforts and pleasure he craved.
    Now, men still are expected to bring home the wealth, but the home awaiting him at the end of the day just isn’t worth it any more.
    So now, women have “priced themselves out of the market.” The psychic and economic costs of marriage are now greater than the benefits. So more and more, men are going to avoid marriage.
    If this is what women want, congratulations.
    If not, you made your bed, now lie in it. Alone.

    • Victor Greed says:

      Years ago women knew even less about their sexuality, the concept of marital rape did not exist, many men would pressure women all the time forcefully, many women didn’t even know they could reach orgasm or in fact, that female orgasm exists and of course the men, even if they knew something about female orgasm or capacity to feel pleasure or the clitoris, could and would act selfishly as if they didn’t know about that and just expect, just you said, that she would “give him the physical comforts and pleasure he craved”. Never most men would in return give their women the pleasure she can feel as a woman. They didn’t have to, they could act as selfish as most men still want to act even today, they could rape as much as they wanted and women could not even accuse them, as they themselves did not know anything about it or even about their own human rights.
      How could a man act like it was a good deal for men without remembering the heel of a deal t was for women? Are you guys that sadist and misogynist to ever believe women should live like that, that women deserve it, that it is not too much of an issue? I don’t even know what to call men who dismiss human suffering like that. No term insulting enough exists.

      Nowadays, men and women are expected to bring the wealth. And to share sexual lives in an equal and not criminal way like men wanted to get away with in the past, taking care of each other’s needs, giving each other physical comfort and pleasure. And you find that is bad. Creep.

    • Victor Greed says:

      Years ago women knew even less about their sexuality, the concept of marital rape did not exist, many men would pressure women all the time forcefully, many women didn’t even know they could reach orgasm or in fact, that female orgasm exists and of course the men, even if they knew something about female orgasm or capacity to feel pleasure or the clitoris, could and would act selfishly as if they didn’t know about that and just expect, just you said, that she would “give him the physical comforts and pleasure he craved”. Never most men would in return give their women the pleasure she can feel as a woman. They didn’t have to, they could act as selfish as most men still want to act even today, they could rape as much as they wanted and women could not even accuse them, as they themselves did not know anything about it or even about their own human rights.
      How could a man act like it was a good deal for men without remembering the heel of a deal t was for women? Are you guys that sadist and misogynist to ever believe women should live like that, that women deserve it, that it is not too much of an issue? I don’t even know what to call men who dismiss human suffering like that. No term insulting enough exists.

      Nowadays, men and women are expected to bring the wealth. And to share sexual lives in an equal and not criminal way like men wanted to get away with in the past, taking care of each other’s needs, giving each other physical comfort and pleasure. And you find that is bad. Creep and psychopathic.

  31. Lots of good, or if not good then provocative, points have been made. I may be being redundant but it’s difficult to see mismatched libidos or mismatched sexual styles as anything other than a zero sum game. I guess sacrifice is an idea that’s been discussed, but that seems to be a term to dignify the losses inevitable in a zero sume game.

    In a monogamous relationship there are two options when sexual needs diverge a bunch. One party can aquiesse to the needs of the other, accepting more or less than they want (significantly more or less or its not really a mismatch), in which case that party has lost something of value. Or, the two can split the difference somehow, meaning both parties lose something. I know that’s all cold and logical, but it’s also true on a cold and logical level.

    I guess trade-offs are possible, but those are limited. Bartering for sex or for more dominance or whatever would be just a bit awkward and I couldn’t help but resent being on either end of the bargain. Maybe that’s just me, but if sexual wants or needs are swapped for some other need the way we swap chores, then I think we’re moving in the wrong direction.

  32. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    In terms of the sadism reflected above by one or two posters. Yes, I’m aware that that works, but if you were with my sister, I’d be having a talk with you about it, and perhaps more. That’s a sickness, much more than the perv and creep naming we read about here. My fantasy is that many of the people doing this are nerds, and that they need to relax and become one with their bodies, rather than refect the worst aspects of modernity. I’m fairly dominant, but I’m quite gentle, and I think that this is a better approach.

    My wife had a perimenopausal complete lack of desire, and I got my sexual needs taken care of elsewhere during this time with another married woman. When my wife came back sexually, the affair was over.

    I do agree that women are much hotter than men potentially. I think that there’s been a partial Lysystratization of society, if I may coin a new term. This is where middle class women dial down the openness to sex because of new opportunities demanding their energies, but perhaps also because of dissatisfaction with the speed of acceptance of their new roles and the rewards therefor.

    I’m enough of a Freudian to agree with the sadists that a woman completely swallowed up in eros is somewhat masochistic (so also men can be to an extent,) but I think it’s warped to push this to its limits. Some of these guys turn their women out to be used by other men while they photograph, etc. There’s sometimes a racist component, as white couples use other race men for this. The masochism means that it can work for the woman, but there’s usually an emotional hangover and subsequent alienation from the man.

    If sociopaths are 1-3% of the population, it’s normal that this’ll crop up in sexual behavior too. I don’t think tolerating it is necessarily good, as some sort of postmodern “let many flowers bloom” approach.

    • Hank – I’m going to call your kettle black. You are criticizing the other posts for what they do inside their relationships, yet you think it ok to cheat on your wife freely anytime when she is turned off by you?

      I’m not surprised she ‘magically’ turned back on, she’s threated by another women and your infidelity just made it worse. If you were my brother, I’d be having a talk with you, an perhaps more.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Sure, if it goes on for a number of years. And she wasn’t turned off by me, in particular. It was chemical. I’d expect her to do the same, by the way. I’m not a sexual sadist, again, and I do think that kind of thing is much more alarming.

        • I didn’t read anything that suggested harmful sadist or masochistic themes thus far. Hair pulling, spanking, oral sex, and a man dominating in the bedroom is ok, unless you are of a faith that prohibits those activities. I respect that.

          But infidelty and betrayal of trust, that’s a deal breaker for both men and women…that cuts to core of a man or a woman’s self-worth.

          • Hank Vandenburgh says:

            Sorry, Susan, I don’t happen to agree with you at all. I love sex, though, both getting and giving. The other crap, when taken to any kind of extreme, is repulsive to me. Probably because I can read the male subtext pretty well. Most men don’t earn their manhood in this soiciety, and this may be pathetic yuppie S&M. I was born in 1945, am a vet, and earned everything I ever got. I’m definitely an alpha and I do dominate in the bedroom, but usually because I know more than my (past now) partners. The hair pullling etc. would crack me up. What’s his face upthread is what <I'd call a creep. Definitely a sadist. Read the text.

            Also, as a tantrist, more or less, I think you can give a woman so much pleasure over a long time that it amounts to a form of torture, if you will. Just one example: eat a woman very slowly for a long time, making sure she doesn’t come. Then just intermittently tap her clit every few seconds with your tongue. She’ll climb the walls. (Maybe I also have a touch of creep/sadist in me too, but I’d rather express it directly than through fetishes and nasty mumblings that depend on sexual stereotypes.)

            I’ve never taken vows that required me to be monogamous. I prefer living that way, however. In my first marriage, my wife and I had other partners for about three years, but she was actually more comfortable with this than I. I was working in another city during the hiatus in marraige two, and we were both getting tenure at different universities– it was like ships that pass in the night with constant publication when not actually teaching, etc. In light of the hormonal problem (she preferred not to use estrogens) I took care of myself. My hunch is that alpha types are likely to do this.

            What that means is that many of the men women are ga-ga for are the same ones who are likely to cheat. Some theories call them the “sexy sons,” while other men (good providers) are the sought after husbands. I’m getting too old to be a sexy son– but a number of women are cheating with them. And yes, I still think manifest sadism is worse.

    • Just because I’m a sadist doesn’t mean I’m a sociopath, and it is nonsense to assume so. I care very deeply for the people I hurt and take every precaution possible to make sure they endure no harm.

  33. @Jimbo: While that may be true that these women can expand their dating pool, they seldom do. Mostly these women have never done the work of freeing themselves from the privilege of the pedestal. During these tough economic times, studies have confirmed that many women have raised the dating and romance bar that men have to negotiate. I dated a woman just like this. She went to college to be a dental hygienists and her husband went to school to make money. She met her alpha male, he cheated, they split and we met and hit it off. She once invited me to wedding at Black hawk, very expensive, very exclusive. She got out of the car to register us, I had to stay in the car because the idea that she would have to be seen paying for our stay was too much for her to deal with.

  34. @Joan: A little off topic but related. I absolutely agree that fluctuations in hormones can alter a woman’s sex drive. At the same time, those same hormonal fluctuations can radically alter other aspects of a woman’s behavior and perspective. We see this clearly in PMS or PPD and at midlife and sometimes in daily interactions. For instance, science has shown that women under going midlife changes can become spontaneously angry and be simultaneously unaware of her behavior. Men are almost never told these things,a permanent cultural veil obscures his vision. These facts are critical to know but a permanent cultural veil has, until recently, obscured his vision but is slowly being peeled back. I think many of the comments on this thread by men suggests that this awakening is happening. What would it take for a woman to admit that from time to time her behavior will seem absolutely nuts and will require a good deal of patience to deal with? I think most men would welcome and honor the honesty and self awareness.

    My point is that for men who are on the receiving end of these fluctuations and struggle to manage them, where is his support? If he calls the behavior crazy, which is understandable, he is condemned, as insensitive if not anti woman altogether. Yet, mood shifts in women are legendary but only they can talk about it.

    My related point is that if what you say is true about post child birth female libido ( it is) then men have a right to know ahead of time that they should expect to have to deal with something of this nature before it happens. This way he can make an informed decision about what he wants for himself. @ FlyingKal : Your right in that Joanna’s explanation doesn’t explain the drop in sex for couples before children.

    There is one explanation that hasn’t been considered but should be, boredom. Women want sexual variety but I guess we can’t actually talk about it. In my view, for what it’s worth, Joanna’s argument assumes that monogamy is the preferred arrangement for most women. Read Dan Savage for a week and that rumor will be quickly dispelled. Overall, most of the discussions about these issues follow that script. I might even venture to say that a certain kind of traditional middle class monogamy is promoted. People across the country, some married some not, are into all kinds of arrangements. It seems that for many men, in today’s gender climate, weighing all of the facts, marriage and or monogamy doesn’t sound like a good deal. Too much confusion, too much distrust, not enough honesty and not enough self awareness.

    • @ogwriter:
      Hormones have certainly upset my applecart, I can tell you that. Quitting birth control pills after more than a decade on them has resulted in some weird hormonal changes, even now over a year on. Seriously. And my guy and I talk about it openly. Has made me more emotional at times, no denying that. And I do appreciate his patience and tell him so. Hormones can definitely make us crazy, no question about it, but telling us we’re crazy while already feeling and acting crazy probably will lead to a crazy kaboom. Ha It’s true. But it does help me when I realize I’m hormonal, because it’s such a relief figuring out I’m not losing my mind. Haha Then I can retreat and occupy myself until the wave passes.

      Something I wonder though is the role estrogenic compounds in our environment may be playing. For example, xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens we’re exposed to through cosmetics, hair products, foods containing soy, etc. There’s also much concern about endocrine disruption caused by pthalates found in nearly everything: adhesives and glues, electronics, agricultural adjuvants, building materials, personal-care products, medical devices, detergents and surfactants, packaging, children’s toys, modeling clay, waxes, paints, printing inks and coatings, pharmaceuticals, food products, and textiles (according to Wikipedia). How might these factor into our the hormonal problems we seem to be increasingly experiencing? I agree that this topic completely needs to be brought into the light and discussed, among women and men, society-wide, because this indicates major health concerns may be awaiting us going forward.

      • @ wakemenow : Whoa, you have a lot going on.One thing that I am curious about is the idea that you have 2 close male friends that you and your boyfriend know you are interested in having as sex partners. Doesn’t the fact that you want to have sex with these men and are presumably spending time with them almost render the act anticlimactic? Isn’t that quite a bit to ask your boyfriend to manage?
        Doesn’t that stretch the boundaries of trust to there very limits? How does that make him fell… really?

        For many men, if they are in monogamous relationships, to be faced with having to tolerate the kind of subdued erotic relationships you have with two men could/would be psychologically damaging. I must say, this scenario ( I’m offering no moral judgements) is a contributing factor to my dismissal of monogamy.

        Do these guys walk around with a sign that reads, In Case of Emergency, FCK ME! It just sounds insane to me, not the desire, the arrangement. Would you put up with that?
        True story: I dated a woman, a jealous woman who made it her business to make sure I knew of her jealousy. She once asked her ex boyfriend to come along with us on a romantic getaway we had planned to Napa. According to her, she had no sexual interest him and in fact they had been friends for 30 years. When I tried to explain to her that this was troubling and made me feel inadequate she didn’t get it, at all. After some other equally troubling events, eventually offered her an open relationship.
        My is point is that women can and do engage in crazy making behaviors around monogamy. It seems to me that, based on your conversation, you have one foot out the monogamy door and its just a matter of time before you act on your strong impulses. I have been on three occasions, asked, no recruited, by women ( never men) to be her sexual surrogate.

        This demonstrates that context influences women sexual behavior far more then culture admits. The guy at home has a different expectation placed on him than does the bad ass. The bad ass gets the sex that he craves without the drama the guy at home gets.

        On two of the occasions, I knew the husbands but we didn’t have an ongoing relationship. They were aware of the arrangement. Quite frankly I preferred not having relationships with the husbands or the wives. Or should I say it required I have enough of a relationship with the wife and husband so that everyone felt comfortable. There was genuine like and concern for each other but there were also strict boundaries. I first introduced to the idea of poly relationships by a woman. I mean, lets face it, monogamy is taken on faith anyway.

        A woman I dated when her marriage broke up9 she later returned,he had the big bucks) text-ed me late last night, out of the blue , flirting and still married, When I called her on it, she went radio silent. Sheesh?! Don’t know what you are going to do but one thing is certain, you are moving in some direction, if not directly.

        • Ogwriter, radio silence, good for you. Monogamy is still important to some of us. Personally, I hold a man’s self-respect and self-esteem in reverence and try not do things to threaten it and turn down attention from other men.
          Just as I expect him not to put his attention on other women, real or two-dimensional. He expects me to have some self-control too about where I receive attention.
          Why did stay with her? Ouch, it sounds like she was hurtful to you.

          • @ Joan: Actually Joan, she was very considerate and I took the position of a big boy, knowing full well what could happen. We ended the relationship on a good note and remain friends. I thought it prudent to call her on her stuff. So many times, in my experience, so many women aren’t even aware when they start to go off reservation.

        • @ogwriter:
          Hi. Yeah, sorry, wasn’t trying to air too much laundry while discussing this, but it is a complicated situation on my end. In my 20s I worked as an escort (sex worker), so I grew accustomed to variety and remain friends with a couple people I knew from back then. My partner has met one on a couple of occasions and never met the other, though he knows I speak to them regularly, mostly over the phone. We have established platonic friendships over the years, but it is understood that the door remains open if ever I am interested in coming back around for a little fun.

          Is my partner pleased with this? Well, he doesn’t complain much. He met me and I told him upfront what the situation was, and he chose to accept it, just as I chose to accept entering into a more vanilla, monogamous union, or at least am trying to. I felt like I could do it, I could reform into what some consider a respectable woman’s place, but it is proving to be a challenge. My past lifestyle created in me expectations and fetishes that “normal” day-to-day living doesn’t cater to. The hormonal problems of this past year haven’t helped certainly. But But everything seemed to be going along rather nicely until his libido checked out, coinciding with his work hours increasing, and admittedly the wheels have been coming off my little red wagon since. I don’t know if this will work, but I want it to, very much so.

          I do consider how something like this affects a man, hence why I am trying so hard to become a better partner to my guy, in part because I do expect that few men would want to take on my situation, and those I’ve met in the past weren’t compatible. In a job like that, it’s not hard to imagine the creeps and opportunists it can attract, in reference to trying to date in my personal life. That’s been a bit depressing too. But my guy takes it all with a casual smile and remains steadily by my side. He doesn’t try to take advantage or put me down over the matter. So, mismatched libidos isn’t enough to send me packing, not when I already know of the emptiness and loneliness at the end of years of NSA sex, at least from my perspective. Now that I’m confronted with just the opposite, and I’ve begun to wonder if 100% compatibility is just a dream, one more illusion our Disney culture peddles.

          But I’ve rambled on this board long enough. Sorry if I’ve derailed the conversation. We all want to reach out to others who appear like they might understand, but you’re right in that I do have a lot going on that others likely won’t relate with. It was very interesting reading the views expressed here, and I appreciate how respectful most of the commenters have been toward one another. There are no easy answers, and I don’t believe this boils down to gender differences alone, not when so many other crazy-making variables can and do enter the equation. We get to thinking we can have it all, and I’m no longer convinced that’s realistic, not unless one reduces their standards or shortens their list of wants. But I could be wrong.

          • @wakemenow,

            Your situation seems to be somewhat similar to mine. I love my wife and my life with her. I hate to risk all this over my libido.

            Worse yet, in my case I feel like a social misfit because of my high libido. Since the relationship work I mentioned previously, we are having sex 2-3 times per week on average, and I can go off by myself to hit the porn whenever I want. I doubt many people could comprehend how this could not be enough for me.

            I don’t want to cheat, but eventually I figure an opportunity is going to fall into my lap, and I am going to end up taking it, knowing that she’ll feel hurt, and I’ll feel guilty about it.

            So we are negotiating. Although we agree in principle that our relationship is more important than anything else, I realize that giving up monogamy would be very difficult for her. I am seeking counseling, in order to cover all bases before I ask this of her. (I figure the first issue to come up in counseling will be the effect that near-daily porn use has on me.)

            It doesn’t help that I am socially awkward, so I don’t know how I’d ever find FWB partners even if I had permission.

            • I think it makes sense. I’m in the same boat. We can have sex 2-3 times a week, but it’s not satisfying. And I have a hard time imagining how that’s going to change. My wife just doesn’t seem to have much of a libido, she doesn’t seem to be at all adventurous anymore. Sure, she’ll go along with it a few times a week, but that kind of sex sucks.

              People can jump all over with… she’s got a libido, just not for you. Or, you’re doing something wrong. Or, whatever… fuck that. I married a woman with a libido and some erotic imagination. Nothing I’ve tried’s brought either back. If I cheat, well I’ve been cheated too.

              As for the porn use… I think it’s an easy thing to hang on men. Because some feel guilty about it anyway and I wonder how many would really stand up for it. The effect porn has on me… mostly makes me wistful. I used to fuck someone who was that enthusiastic and willing. And an orgasm leaves me in a better mood.

              • @Same Boat,

                Wait. You’re having sex 2-3 times a week AND you are married? Or do you feel she lacks enthusiasm about the sex.

                Hell, consider yourself lucky!!!! A lot of married men are not getting anywhere near that amount of sex.

                Just saying.

                • I’m not saying it couldn’t be worse. It could certainly be better.

                  The women you sleep with… do they seem like sexual people who are really craving it and you? Are they women who fuck with energy and imagination? Or do they think it’s enough to show up and say, I’m here and naked?

                  These women you sleep with, do you feel like sex is an effort and a compromise for them that they make because they’ve realized you’ve about had it?

                  I didn’t get married to have boring sex 2-3 times a week.

          • @wakemenow: Please don’t trouble yourself with apologizing. I find you to be remarkably freshing and uncluttered with nonsense. You seem to know yourself, at least more than I used to dealing with from women discussing these lkinds of issues.I certainly didn’t want to judge you or imply that you have issues which are so out the norm that they are overwhelming.Onm t6he contrary, i think your issues are well with in the boundaries of the norm.I have learned much from you and some of it has been reassuring

      • @wakemenow: Actually, you are funny. Not ha-ha, hee-hee funny, but more …hmm she funny, funny. I would not advocate, at least not the first time, telling a crazy person caught up in the throes, that they are being crazy .However, certain conditions do apply. For example, my woman, if there ever is such a person, under no circumstances is allowed to call my mother a bitch… even if she deserves it. Nor would I ever leverage my woman’s hormonal fluctuations as a excuse to disparage her intellectually…except when I’m with my friends.
        Come on, women have to step-up here and not be so sensitive about this issue. How women have chosen to deal with this issue makes it more difficult then it has to be.

        The point is that these issues are real and the shroud of mystery and denial that keeps them hidden in plain sight must be eradicated. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of monogamy.
        Men are expected, secretly, to help their women manage their emotional lives( insecurities, body image, etc ) while getting no support and little admiration for doing so.

        In this regard, you are ahead of the game but most women are not. We teach men as a culture that when women emote, his job his to keep his mouth shut, be supportive and be available for whatever she wants of you. The message is you he doesn’t matter, except as a retaining wall, in this equation.

        I think heard this message in your post. Check this out. Why aren’t women made more responsible of this process of management of their emotional state? It not ok to allowed to say, “sorry I didn’t know,” or to get angry at the person on the receiving end. It seems reasonable to expect that a man should be able to say, “Honey I think you are a little off today.” and be done with it, mostly? Why can’t she trust him that way? These issues don’t have to be the drama filled, gut wrenching, events they too often turn out to be.
        In fact, women are far too sensitive to any comment that might call into question their emotional state. The truth is men have been carrying this burden for a long time without getting the credit they deserve.. A good example is found here. Over 25% of women who give birth suffer from hormonal related PPD.
        This has been the case for generations here in America and other places in the world. Very often this means that the man has got to perform double, no triple, duty. Additional, this also means that he, because she can’t see herself clearly, has to be her rational eyes and ears. These men provide these services in relative silence.
        I know how tough it is because I did it for my family ; Lastly, I’ll leave you with this fact: AARP released a study that showed that there are 30 million male caregivers in this country of parents, children, foster children, etc. Betcha didn’t Know that.

        • @ogwriter:

          I am aware plenty of men are caregivers. My best male friend is the best caregiver I’ve ever personally known, and I completely respect that about him. Not sure what that has to do with the topic though, but I am aware of men being capable in that capacity.

          I addressed the hormone issue when you brought it up above, and I admitted its role in my own life and agreed with you that it’s an issue deserving to be brought out into the light. I won’t attempt to speak for other women (not knowing enough of them closely to be able to gauge their situations), but for myself it can create a very frustrating situation at times. But we talk about it, and I aim to be by myself when I’m feeling hormonal so as not to take it out on my partner. Just asked him what his thoughts are on that and he says he doesn’t feel my hormones create a problem he cannot handle. I’m not in a situation where I can resume taking hormonal birth control pills to alleviate the symptoms brought on by quitting the pill (after more than a decade of use), so it does come down to managing it at home on my own. What else can we do? All a doctor can prescribe is estrogen, and it comes with serious drawbacks for smokers over the age of 30. I’m also aiming to avoid soy-containing foods since they might also cause hormone fluctuations (as I’m reading).

          Not sure what to make of the rest of your comment. Am I crazy? Hmm…how does one answer that. Has the thought ever crossed my mind? lol Of course. But define that. I am admittedly eccentric and don’t imagine that will ever change, and my partner is cool with that. As for our sex life, well, I have ideas in mind to try and have given a great deal of thought as to what I can personally change myself, so I’m not shirking responsibility here, and I thought that’s been made clear. I’m not blaming my partner, just observing a difference between us and trying to manage it going forward so that we might both be relatively satisfied. I’m not sure what else to say beyond that.

          @Arium:

          The role of porn I question as well. Seems most people I know who watch lots of it (as I once did as well) wind up changed by it somehow. But then again, which came first, the chicken or the egg? The desire for sexual stimulation leads people to porn, yet frequent exposure to porn seems to change our expectations over time. *shrugs* I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. But as for being highly-sexually driven, I think that’s just the way some folks are, for whatever reasons that made us that way, and I doubt once it’s become an established part of the psyche that it can be fully undone. I don’t know, but it’s something I think about too. I wish you luck in talking with your counselor and wife about this matter, difficult as I’m sure it will be.

        • @ogwriter:

          I tried replying to you but apparently it didn’t go through. Let’s try again.

          Yes, I am aware of men acting as caregivers. My best male friend is an excellent caregiver for his elderly family members. So I am aware that men can do great in that capacity. Not sure of the point of mentioning that, but yes, you’ll get no argument out of me over that.

          I did address the issue of hormones in a post you wrote up above. It’s a serious issue that I have no problem discussing, though obviously what goes on within the confines of a home is ultimately that family’s business. My partner, when asked earlier, said he feels he is able to handle my hormonal situation, that it isn’t a major deal to him. We keep communication channels open about that, and he is free to mention to me if he thinks hormones are playing a role when I’m upset. We are close enough that I know he wouldn’t say that to belittle me, only to shed light on the situation so I can check myself and put things in perspective. Typically I choose to be alone when I realize my hormones are acting up, so as to avoid giving him a hard time unfairly. The rest of what I had to say about hormones I stated in a previous reply to you up above.

          As for the rest of your comment…I don’t exactly know how to take it. There may be a fine line between eccentricity and so-called craziness, but who can really put a finger on it. What matters most is that my partner understands and accepts who I am, and vice versa. We get along well for the most part. It was my understanding the goal here was to discuss mismatched libidos, and I’ve attempted to offer my own perspective. My goal is to keep trying, and no, I haven’t been shirking responsibility, as I believe my words make clear. So, I’m not really sure what to say beyond that.

          @Arium

          I can feel for your situation and do wonder what role porn may play (as it probably has in my own). Porn seems to create unrealistic expectations in us whether we’re conscious of it, depending on the frequency and duration of exposure. But then again, highly-sexual people tend to attract toward porn, so it’s a tangled web to sort out. I can relate to your mention of social awkwardness. I do wish you well with your therapist and wife in figuring out a way to manage your drive in a way that you can live with. The guilt associated with cheating is difficult to live with, that I do accept, but there are other avenues to explore and hopefully one will prove helpful for you.

        • @wakemenow: How are you, well I trust? I must remind myself when I am discussing with you that you are a bit different than most who wage the gender battles on this site. That you have seemed to live a life where these issues have less importance than to most on this site is interesting and different.Certainly it doesn’t mean that these issues don’t or haven’t affected your life story only that how you view that process is uncommon. Again i don’t think in anyway that you are not responsible, indeed, you take that part of your life very seriously, that is evident.

          • @ogwriter: I am fine. Doing better. Helps to put things in perspective, as reading people’s comments on here has helped with. I’ve heard a lot of the same gripes from clients in the past and can appreciate how painful it is for men to feel rejected by their wives for extended periods, sometimes going on several years, sometimes forcing them to retire to separate bedrooms at night. It’s a truly sad situation that I’d love us to be more honest with one another about. Because the problem(s) don’t appear to be the kind to rectify themselves on their own. Giving it time or taking on more chores to alleviate the wife’s burden doesn’t always work, as a lot of men here know.

            Uncommon?: Okay. I’ve heard that before. But I am an emotional being just as others are, trying to make my way in the world probably no differently than most. I hope you are well also. Take care.

  35. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    For me, the “fix” was avoiding “opposites attract” sorts of relationships. I’m a big, talky guy. But I have a weakness for small OCD women (sort of my opposite.) I love female introverted scientists or even bookkeeper types, for example. And they can be hotter than a pistol in the first phases of a relationship. But OCD usually wins out– and they become preoccupied with things other than sex, and then wonder why you are.

    So, I do well with verbal women, body type less important. The three most important relationships of my life were with extroverts (two ENFPs and one ESFP if you do Meyers-Briggs.) I’m an ENFP. I still think about an INTJ I had it bad for, but the frustration probably increased the desire.

    Make things easy on yourself. Get with a type similar to you. Chances are that the problem will disappear.

  36. Haven’t read “Fifty Shades,” but I agree with Ulysses that dominance (obviously to an extent, not going crazy here) should not be conflated with violence. I’m not advocating people going hog-wild and harming one another in uncool ways. I didn’t read into what CmE said above as advocating damaging one’s partner. Just that there is something erotic about a man I’m attracted to who’s acting in control, who’s taking control, but obviously I’m thinking he’s going to show respect for me as a lover, not abuse me like someone he despises. There’s a WIDE spectrum to dominance, control, and violence; it’s not an all-or-nothing affair. Not all is created equal.

    About to veer slightly off-topic a bit… Thinking back, I once upon a time had a terrible boyfriend I stuck around dating for a year because he had those masculine qualities I adore in a sexual partner. The sex was fabulous, but unfortunately he was a total creep, so I walked. But the fact that I stayed months longer than I should have had a lot to do with the sexiness of the dynamic we had between the sheets, and I knew that back then! It was no secret to me. Ha And he really turned out to be a major asshole, dumb as rocks, so we’re talking amazing sexual chemistry here.. Taught me how alluring that trap can be, but I still can’t entirely regret it looking back. Am happy to never see the man ever again, I’ll tell you that.

    On the flip-side, most of the men I’ve dated since who make great companions do tend to be sensitive, caring, concerned, respectful men completely unlike the jerk described above. And our sex lives tended toward being lack-luster, luke-warm, a major reason I kept moving on, though a couple remain close friends.

    So I’ve been left wondering if nice people tend to just want less sex on average? And what does that say about us with high-libidos? For me, I can already guess. The men I’ve enjoyed the “best” sex with aren’t people I’d likely want to settle down with, not that I can recall. And the ones I love and bond with are gentle, easy-going, big-hearted men. But if it comes down to choosing between great sex or a big heart, I have to go with the big heart in my guy. BUT, I’m not convinced going without hardly any sex is realistic for me.

    I can’t make heads or tails of it. But maybe someday my guy will come around to letting me see someone casually for that purpose. Maybe. Doubtful, yes. And maybe, if the relationship is otherwise wonderful and my partner is satisfied, and I am extremely careful and selective, then maybe I just have to do what I have to do. The self-loathing drove me nearly insane before, but maybe that too will change. He’s claiming to be happy, so why must the only acceptable option be to break up an otherwise happy union? These are the questions I ask myself periodically.

    • FlyingKal says:

      @Wakemenow:
      So I’ve been left wondering if nice people tend to just want less sex on average?

      I’m pretty sure that the respectful, etc, men you dated, wanted sex just as much as your badass BF. (Maybe not each and every one of them, individually, but as an average.) Maybe (possibly) they were just more concerned about what *you* wanted than he was. And especially, about your display of your wants and feelings.

      • @FlyingKal :
        Exactly. They are/were more respectful of what I wanted, and to a fault I kinda have to say. By being so sensitive and cautious, they were less willing to make a move unless everything appeared in order. Green light says go, no question about it. I say sex after an argument helps mend hurt feelings and re-engage bonding; they say sex while one or both are in a bad mood feels uncomfortable to them, so they’d rather wait until we’re both in better spirits and there’s time. Less sex winds up being had under this strategy. But they are more respectful and responsive, and for that I am grateful.

    • @wakemenow….

      “So I’ve been left wondering if nice people tend to just want less sex on average? And what does that say about us with high-libidos? For me, I can already guess. The men I’ve enjoyed the “best” sex with aren’t people I’d likely want to settle down with, not that I can recall. And the ones I love and bond with are gentle, easy-going, big-hearted men.”

      Well, this is my take. You stayed with the badass guys because of the good sex. However, the sensitive, tender loving guys seem to have no sexual drive/chemistry with you. Do you think it is because you never EXPECTED the sensitive, tender, caring guys to be sexual?

      I strongly feel many women select men for sex and men for long term relationships. Unfortunately, the qualities of these men do not overlap. Many women just do not feel the nice guys are as deserving of sex. They seem the always be ready to give uninhibited sex to these other men.

      This is why I divorced. I wanted to be treated sexually like the badass. My ex had done with her old boyfriends, so why could I not get the same? Now, I have friends with benefits and I have come to the conclusion that it is better to be a lover to woman than a husband. I am having sex with two different women. They know about one another but they do not know one another. This seems to excited each one even more!

      • @Jules:

        Let me first state that my dry sense of humor doesn’t always translate in writing. 🙂 Now, did I NOT expect the sensitive guys to be sexual? No, I assumed they would be sexual, so it blew my mind, still blows my mind. Especially considering early on in dating they all seemed revved and up for play quite often. It didn’t start out with me realizing there might be a major libido mismatch, just learning as I go along. And the things is, just because these guys are sensitive in no way implies they’re wimps or “lesser men.” These men I speak of as sweet are also muscular and strong, great with their hands, down and dirty in their jobs, productive and manly, good-natured. I’m attracted to them. What would lead me to think early on that they wouldn’t be just as horny as me? Turned out they weren’t, at least not over time, though initially they were more gung-ho. Call me oblivious, but I did not see that coming.

        Interesting reading your thoughts on women feeling “nice guys” less deserving of sex. Hmm. Not sure what to make of that. If the nice guy has a lower libido and doesn’t initiate sex or seem all that interested, then it doesn’t make much sense. If the nice guy has a higher libido than his partner, and she is more sexually open to other types of men but not him, hmm, sounds like some honest communication needs to be taking place. I can see why that situation would wind up ending in divorce.

        • @wakemenow…..

          You spoke glowingly of the fabulous and great sex you had with the bad-ass guys….My questions is: Why did you not marry one of these men? I do not ask in an insulting manner. I just cannot understand how a woman can view sex as so important, know what guys give her the best sex, but turn around and get in a long term relationship with a man type she KNOWS has not given her the good sex. It boggles my mind!

          Sex is a BIG BIG deal to me. It is important to me. I vowed after my divorce and sexless marriage that whatever relationship I entered into with a woman sex was going to be my number one priority. This is why I only do friends with benefits with two women. This way I have sex 2-3 times a week. I am happy and so are they.

          It makes no sense whatsoever for me to enter into something with a woman where I KNOW the sex is going to limited. I am going to pick the women I KNOW who are going to please me sexually.

          So, with that said, I just cannot understand why women just don’t marry the men or male type they KNOW can give them the sex they need?

          This is why I have little faith and confidence in Joanna’s approach. The issue is much deeper than one of simple communication. You even confirm this. What you really need sexually is a bad-ass guy. It’s obvious. What is not obvious is why you chose some other type of man KNOWING full well based on previous EXPERIENCE that it was not going to work?

          • @Jules

            I didn’t know “full well based on previous experience” that it wouldn’t work, because each individual is different, each man unique unto himself. I don’t try to stereotype them according to what happened with a couple of (somewhat similar) others prior. Besides, I’m far more attracted to my current partner and the sex was really great for us earlier on. Just isn’t so hot now.

            Why didn’t I marry Mr. Badass-in-bed (who, btw, I dated in my early 20s back when life was less complicated)? Short answer is because we weren’t compatible in any other way besides between the sheets. Because I am not interested in marrying simply for sex alone — it’s important, but not that important. Furthermore, I’m not so sure I’m interested in being remarried. As it stands now my guy and I live in our own separate homes and pay our own separate bills, so this isn’t really about marriage for us. Just figuring our way through a situation where we’re largely compatible emotionally and sincerely enjoy one another’s company and aid, but our libidos are out of sorts. If the situation can’t work, it will end, but I am aiming to do what I can to keep it going since I truly love this man. And if that means me changing, well…perhaps that’s what love asks of me at this stage in life. Not advocating others do as I do, just trying to go where my heart is taking me. The heart pulls one way, the loins another, so I’m going to cave to loins over heart? Walk out and wait for Mr. 100% Compatible to stumble across my path? I’m trying to remain realistic here.

            Getting along with someone and being able to spend this much time together isn’t something I am able or willing to do with most anyone. So sex can’t take automatic precedence over that or I’m liable to wind up without a partner at all someday. It’s a conundrum, yes, but I’m not simply trying to be difficult here by staying where I’m most happy, albeit sexually-frustrated.

            I can understand your situation of keeping two casual lovers, and prior to this relationship I kept similar setups, rarely dating anyone monogamously for much length of time (outside of a 4 year marriage early on). That was nice sexually, very satisfying, but it wasn’t so fulfilling in terms of deeper intimacy and committed bonds. This relationship is my first time in 10 years to try my hand at monogamy, and it is tricky once you’re used to something completely different. In a perfect world, I could occasionally have sex with a couple of close friends (and maybe one other), plus my partner, keep it all respectful, and remain committed to him emotionally, designating him as my primary partner. So far he refuses to go along with this idea. I have no kids or any desire for any, so this is a purely adult equation I’m pondering.

            Perhaps some people get lucky in finding a thoroughly compatible relationship, and most of us have to give and take more than we’d care to. I don’t know. Seems that way to me though, and that just may be the way life goes.

  37. Joanna Schroeder says:

    I just thought about this great old article that you guys might really like, about Charlie Capen and the time after his son was born and the natural slow-down of sex.

    http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-wont-my-wife-have-sex-with-me/

    • @Joanna…

      “…..natural slow-down of sex.”

      Natural?

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Yes, it’s scientifically shown that after delivering a baby, especially during breast feeding, that a woman’s sex drive lowers. Many attribute this to the severe shift in hormones, including an imbalance with testosterone.

        There are evolutionary psychologists who believe that this slowdown in sex drive is protective of an infant, to keep mom from getting pregnant until after the nursling has fully weened, as pregnancy is shown to decrease breast milk supply.

        • Does the scientific evidence show this “natural” slowdown to be permanent?

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            No, but I have theories about that… But they’re just theories.

            I strongly believe that the cycle I talked about in the above article explains a LOT of the reasons why women’s libidos often don’t return to their pre-baby days. The cycle of guilt, miscommunication or complete lack of communication, resentment, shitty attitudes toward one another as a result… I think it can ruin a marriage fast, and if women and men both understood that the hormones take a serious dip during breastfeeding, and that a lack of desire is often very natural, then there’s a freedom to it. A man may not feel as rejected and a woman may not take on so much guilt and feel like a bad person for not having the same levels of desire.

            Also, she may learn that once she’s done nursing, in a few months (I’ve found with most women it’s around 6 months after they stop nursing) it’s almost like the switch turns on… little by little… and they start to feel a little tingle of desire again. If they have healthy communication at that point about the problems up until then, I think that flame is easier to re-ignite.

            That’s not to say ALL women are like this. I know lots of women who were horny throughout pregnancy and nursing, and I know others who had trouble with libido until they started on a hormone cream after seeing the doctor. It’s just a thought.

            But I can say this – communication is key.

        • FlyingKal says:

          @Joanna:
          Yes, it’s scientifically shown that after delivering a baby, especially during breast feeding, that a woman’s sex drive lowers. Many attribute this to the severe shift in hormones, including an imbalance with testosterone.

          Sure.
          But that doesn’t explain the drop in sex drive that also seems pretty common to occur already at the point of commitment to monogamy (engagement/marriage and/or moving in together), long before even comtemplating to have a baby or two… 😉

  38. @ Susan and Wakemenow: Being assertive and taking control is a mixed bag of nuts for men that will get him a variety of responses. Generally speaking, for progressive men, being assertive sexually is exactly the opposite of what they have been told over the last 30/40 years. Who knew? This is just another in a long line of confusing and contradictory behavior and expectations women have give men and few understand it that way. Thank you feminism.!

    Perhaps most frustrating is the fact that women are now realizing that the changing of the gender guard, didn’t factor in biology, but women and feminists are not taking any responsibility for fixing the problem.

    They are just expecting men to react positively once again to a major role change BACK to what it was, without a ripple. What they should do is simply say, “Wow, we fucked up and lead you down the wrong path and have caused a lot of hurt and pain in doing so.. We are sorry about that and realize that you may be reticent to engage me or believe me when I say I want something a certain way headed forward. I will try do a better job in the future of understanding myself before making demands on you.” OR women could just bite the bullet, stop making excuses and take on ALL aspects of being independent, not just the easy parts.

    I must say to hear a woman say if a man flexed their power more he would get more sex from his woman, I want to scream. I mean if they were more masculine they’d get more sex, right? Just another invisible layer of emasculation and shame. Asking men to take on all of that burden only serves to imprisons him not empower him.

    • Well, getting laid isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. If you think traditional gender roles aren’t for you, you do have a legitimate choice to be made between having more sex and opting out of the trad roles. Your call. I can easily understand how one or the other might be more important to you, and I mean that sincerely. It’s not even a straightforward either/or, because non-normative women who enjoy taking a more dominant role in a relationship do exist and aren’t that hard to find.

      Yes, feminism lied. Anyone who says that most (not all) women aren’t looking for a strong, dominant, high value male to lead them and command them – in a respectful fashion – is selling you something. Or just is woefully ignorant of the sales figures of 50 Shades of Grey (aloof slightly crazy alpha badboy with kinky sex tastes gets tamed a bit by the power of the Magic Vagina for a happily ever after ending). That is hypergamy: it is hardwired into the genetic code of woman, and is not going away any time soon.

      But in general, it’s important to focus on things people do, not what they say. Really, it should have been a clue that despite the success of feminism in the West over the last 50 years, the bad boys, jerks, and assholes still got laid like tile, PUA tactics went from the underground of the internet to the mainstream, the Nice Guys remained mocked, 50 Shades of Grey sold like hot cakes,

      • Amen. Smart women with PhDs and MBAs have their men lead, have great sex lives, and submit to occassional spankings.

        • Victor Greed says:

          Many smart men with PhDs also have their women lead, great sex lives and submit toccasional spankings. In fact, most powerful men are very submissive in the bedroom. That goes both ways.

      • @CmE…

        “But in general, it’s important to focus on things people do, not what they say.”

        Yes. That’s why I always look at what a woman does.

        My ex wife once said to me, “I love having sex with you.” But, we were in a sexless marriage (strictly because of her). I guess she thought I was Charlie the Tuna. That’s why she is my ex wife.

        While Joanna vehemently denies it, most white middle and upper middle class white women do practice hypergamy. If they did not do so, they would be willing to consider men who are lower in socioeconomic status. Most seem to only desire this for marriage and/or long term relationships. Otherwise they will date/screw any man they are attracted to for the most part.

        I am a financial planner. I have about 40% female clients. Many are very successful. I have one who earns over $300K a year. She flatly refused to date anyone who does not make what she does. So, she has already excluded 90% of eligible men. It is women like her who bark about the lack of nice men (as in men with $$$$$).

        Most of the married men have wives who are far less educated. Several only completed high school but are married to an attorney, CPA, lawyer, dentist…etc. How many female doctors do you know who would marry a guy with a BA making $70K? A female doctor married Mike Tyson, but she was Black.

        As a Black guy I can tell you Black women do not practice hypergamy to the extent of white women. I also do not believe women of Hispanic origins do so as much either.

        JMO.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Jules is right, I strongly believe that the majority of women do not practice Hypergamy.

          I believe that all of his evidence that they do is entirely anecdotal and the trends toward the husbands being higher earners is almost completely correlational (ie most men earn more than women, therefore most couples in relationships will show that the woman earns less). That is why that is changing now and will change more, where more women earn more than their husbands. My own cousin works in a hardware store like Home Depot and his wife is a physical therapist. I know at least 10 couples like this, all under 35 years old. That’s my anecdotal evidence, but in truth it’s the distinction between the correlational and the causational that really explains why the pay discrepancy happens in marriages. Not Hypergamy.

          Hypergamy is the American blue collar man’s bogeyman.

        • @Jules
          A large problem with most feminist centered websites and articles is that they almost exclusively come from and are created for college educated white women. I totally agree with your assessment, on who is using hypergamy. I would say most college educated women practice hypergamy. The percentage of white college educated women who do so is probably very high (and likely only exceed by Asian women).

          Judging from what I see on facebook of the women from my high school who went on to college, nearly all of them found their Alpha, high-income Prince Charmings. Definitely none of them married down. Of those, about 25-33% are already divorced after a few years of marriage (in classic “wait, this Alpha male jerk-wad who was soooo hot, tuned out to be a terrible husband and mostly absent father who cheats? I can’t believe it” fashion), but they already got the kids and the house they need from their “high-value” males so now they can open up the dating pool to everyone.

    • @ogwriter: Women are different. Not all aim for the same things, regardless of what feminism’s told the world.

      It’s emasculating to men for me to admit that I am attracted to men who do flex their power a bit? Now, I’m confused. I didn’t say that would bring them more sex, only that, in the right context and with the right man, it turns me on. But anyway, I wasn’t trying to speak for womankind. Undoubtedly plenty of women would take issue with what they might interpret as a power play. Gender relations make my head spin, so I don’t know, and never claimed to know. Just commenting along with the rest, trying to make some sense out of an aggravating situation.

      I’m not happy. Depressed as hell actually. But I’m not the one withholding sex from my partner either. Men want honesty, well, the honest truth is going to differ from person to person. There’s no key to understanding all people belonging to one sex.

      • @wakemenow: Sorry to hear about your depression, I know the feeling all too well. Allow me explain myself. My comment wasn’t a critique of your like for this kind of man, which as natural as breathing to me, It was the idea that if said kind of man wanted to turn you on sexually that he was totally responsible for that process. Therefore, if we agree that part of the definition of masculinity means being sexually in-charge, when said man is not being in charge he is being less than a man.
        Trust me, many women think this way. I have been called gay because I refused to play that role. Just didn’t feel like it. Though I tend to be sexually dominant, sometimes I want my woman to be my whore and make herself available to me in a slutty, no pretense, take me now fashion. This serves to bring out the most passion in me.

        • @ogwriter: Thanks for elaborating. And you know—and I’m going to try to tread softly and thoughtfully as I try to explain this—I do understand a bit of what you’re referring to about men being viewed as “less than a man” due to a less dominant personality or relative masculinity. I’ve been on the guilty end of thinking that sort of thing about a couple men that immediately spring to mind. They’re not gay, but I can’t help but (snobbishly perhaps) roll my eyes at what I consider their “metrosexualism.” Sounds mean, I know, but it doesn’t mean one’s not a decent person or that another woman won’t find him compatible and sexy. I personally no longer can. Call it prejudice, but it’s honest. I call it a preference, and we all have them. The sweet guys I’m attracted to are definitely manly in my eyes, every single one, hence my attraction.

          Does a lower libido or less dominant personality automatically equate with metrosexualism or make you less of a man? Of course not. Manhood spans a wide spectrum. Comes with huge populations of unique individuals. You should not feel like you HAVE to play a role, because then you’ll resent it, and what’s the good in that? That’s not being true to oneself, not unless it’s a role you want or feel you need. Some men simply prefer to be in the more submissive role sexually, and that shouldn’t be too surprising.

          As I write this, I’m thinking that’s probably exactly how my guy is. And because I don’t receive the signals that turn me on, I’ve dwindled down into not trying very hard anymore to seduce him. So if I’m not feeling sexy, I’m not acting sexy, and therefore am initiating sex less often. Perhaps he’s waiting for me to make the moves, to take the aggressive/hunter role like I did back early on in us knowing one another. That’s how I can be, but the desire to do so has left me when the “hunted” is snoring in the bedroom, needing his rest (works hard), normally into very vanilla sex (so I’ve learned, and pretty inflexibly). He says he wants sex, but he just rarely initiates and doesn’t usually seem to get all that into it anymore. Says he does, but it’s tough to tell. It’s my fault here too, but more stimulation is needed, and I wonder quite frequently if one partner alone can really do it for me anymore. Maybe not. Perhaps not even if we had a more active sex life, because that’s just the way I’ve turned out: desiring to the point of requiring a little variety. Wouldn’t doubt it. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

    • Victor Greed says:

      @ogmriter: It is contradictory because, surprise surprise: not everyone is the same. And even if a majority of women can be alike, many will be different than that majority. Feminism finally allowed them to speak up about these differences, so sure we should thank it for it.

      “They are just expecting men to react positively once again to a major role change BACK to what it was, without a ripple.”
      They who? Women are more than billions. Just like many men also want women to go back and be the submissive damsels they used to be… and then you look the other way and hear this big, big pack of men who love the more independent and assertive women of today. We are all different, deal with that. Nothing is black and white.

      “I must say to hear a woman say if a man flexed their power more he would get more sex from his woman, I want to scream. I mean if they were more masculine they’d get more sex, right? Just another invisible layer of emasculation and shame. Asking men to take on all of that burden only serves to imprisons him not empower him.”
      Well, power is subjective. Power is not exactly or necessarily “masculine” or “feminine”, it could be anything really. Also, that particular woman is probably as delusional and ignorant as you and believes all women are just like her, because she feels attracted to whatever concept of “power” that would be.
      And what “burden” are you talking about? Sure, no one is feeling empowered in this world right now.

  39. @Johanna: Good topic. However, I think whats missing is what one gets when reading Dan Savage, honesty. Not from you, but from women in general about who they really are sexually. In general, I don’t believe it is one of the things, as a culture, that we do very well. Women choose to have sex for a staggering number of reasons having nothing to do with intimacy or a need to feel to feel connected.

    Many of these reasons are linked to some personal benefit or gain. Sexual researchers at Texas University, Dr Minton and Dr Buss, have found that there are at least 220 plus reasons women have sex. I have had enough personal experience to know that the myth about connection being critical only applies in certain circumstances, usually when a woman wants the man for a long term commitment..

    The truth is most women seem to have multiple sexual strategies based on what they want in a relationship. One is a long term strategy and one is short term. Clearly, women get horny too and want sex to satisfy that condition but many feel as of they have to present that desire in culturally appropriate ways. Men are so used to paying for pussy, in some kind of fashion, they don’t even notice when they do, Just like the husband in the show Flipping Out. Sex for profit, even in marriages is a common feature of American society that is condoned. What that husband did, husbands and boyfriends have been doing ever since the Romantic Era arrived in time to make men miserable. Valentines Day and Victoria’s Secret is built on the idea of sex for profit.

    Women. in general, are not the sexual vanilla ice cream that they are presented to be and they have the ability to shift and change in and out of different sexual modes depending upon what they want. I have noticed that if I keep a relationship from getting serious and maintain it over a long course of time, the woman I’m with is usually much more attentive sexually for a longer period of time. Asa soon we become serious, that changes. For me, if a woman wants a long term monogamous relationship, she is going to have to be like Jennifer J, who I think has it figure out.
    @ Jennifer: If you know of any women with your world view on sex and marriage please let us know. There are men who would happily would naked through a briar patch with our hair on fire to be so completely taken looked after.

    • @ogwriter….

      “I have noticed that if I keep a relationship from getting serious and maintain it over a long course of time, the woman I’m with is usually much more attentive sexually for a longer period of time.”

      The God honest truth!!!!!!

      Since my divorce, I have discovered it is better (sexually) to be a lover to a woman than a husband. Yes, women have all sorts of sexual motivations. The connections thingy is hogwash. Many women will screw a man just because they are horny and he is available. He could be unemployed or an ex con. I am a Black guy. I have had several white women who wanted to screw me because I was a Black man..etc. And so forth and so on….

      What really baffles me is just why monogamy is so detrimental to sex?

      Great post!

      • “What really baffles me is just why monogamy is so detrimental to sex?”
        Read “Sex at Dawn” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. A fascinating exploration of just that question.

  40. Jennifer J. says:

    I think we’re all trying to avoid saying that sometimes a person (usually, but not always, a woman) should have sex when she doesn’t feel like it, because that sounds a little rapey.

    I have less need for sex than my husband. I’m content with once or twice a week; he prefers more like three or four times a week. Because I am unhappy with him using porn (other than homemade stuff that we’ve made together), I feel that I have an obligation to help him be sexually satisfied, even when I’m not in the mood. The truth is, as a working mother of two, I’m not in the mood for three-quarters of the stuff I do in a given day. If my daughter is sick and needs me to rock her back to sleep at two a.m., I do it willingly and lovingly. Her need for me may not have come at the most convenient time, but that’s life.

    A version of the “women to feel loved to have sex/men need to have sex to feel loved” cliche is that (some) women need to be relaxed to have an orgasm while (some) men need to have and orgasm to feel relaxed. That is certainly the case in my situation. I’ve also noticed that when we’re on vacation, we’re much more aligned libido-wise. Unfortunately, we can’t be on vacation all the time. The result is that I am sometimes giving my husband a blowjob at 10:30 on a Tuesday night when both of us have to be up at 5:30 a.m. I don’t mind doing it; it makes me feel closer to him even though I may not want PIV sex or an orgasm until the weekend. He, in return, is accepting of my limits, grateful for the intimacy, and understanding on those rare occasions when I say no. He is also willing to abstain from using porn, which as I said is a big deal for me.

    It’s taken us quite a few years to work out a situation that makes us both happy, but it’s worth it. If you love your spouse/partner, why wouldn’t you be willing to compromise on this, as on any other marital issue?

    • Well yeah, you do have some obligations to a point in satisfying each other. You’re in a relationship which demands faithfulness, you hold power over his sexuality, you have a monopoly on it and you’re also restricting his porn usage but hopefully not his masturbation time too. That is a lot of burden and responsibility, in my view yes you need to ensure he is fulfilled as best you can within limits and he should for you too.

      This is the problem people have when dating and having such a difference in libido, as wellokaythen says “Being the less interested party doesn’t give you dictatorial power over the sex life.”. If you want someone to remain faithful, to own the rights to their monogamy, you have strict responsibilities to fulfill their desires. It’s the basis of a relationship, they can’t seek it else where so you have a huge amount of control over their sex life. This means as a couple you need to workout a compromise between the higher and lower libidos, that means having more sex, or less for the higher, or it could mean allowing porn use or whatever the higher does to allow them to still remain satisfied and you too. Making your own porn was a great idea I think, I’ve heard some couples cuddle whilst one masturbates as well.

      Personally it’s a deal-breaker if my partner’s libido is much lower than mine and nothing can be done to fix it, I don’t think I could stay. Imagine dating someone who doesn’t make you feel loved? Isn’t sharing intimacy with you? Because for me sex is an essential part of intimacy and making me feel loved. One only has to look at the sheer level of frustration, sadness, rejection, low self-esteem from people that aren’t having enough sex to realize the damage it is doing.

      I think yes you can have sex without really wanting to in the form of not wanting to go to work but you do it because you need to eat, instead you have sex because you need to keep the relationship alive. It’s still a willful choice, just one you aren’t that interested in. I think it’s far far far different from rape, as rape is against your will. You aren’t raped or forced to work, or to care for your kid when they’re sick, or take out the trash, you do it because you have to. It’s sad that sex or intimacy gets to that point…but sex isn’t the only thing people do that they don’t like. I have cuddled before after sex when I can’t stand it, I did it because she likes it meanwhile my skin is hypersensitive after orgasm and it’s very hard for me to be touched. I try to compromise.

      All of this applies to all aspects of dating too, you need to spend time and be intimate in other ways like cuddling, kissing, going out to places, etc.

      • Suzy F. Jones says:

        Archy – you have a valid and sober argument. You echo everyman’s sentiment today. One woman wants independence and control and one wants to be dominated and lead. What the hell is a man to do?

        Men want to be loved and experience love through sex, it is not a man’s fault-it’s his nature.

        Women experience love differently-it’s her nature. I authored and researched a book on this subject feel free to email me offline at menneedmore@gmail.com with concerns, gripes, anger, or simply a fed-up-with-women message, we are accustomed to it or pick up a digital copy online.

        http://www.amazon.com/Men-Need-More-Gratitude-ebook/dp/B009TTOILU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350955512&sr=8-1&keywords=men+need+more+more+sex+more+respect+more+gratitude+and+more+love

      • Jennifer J. says:

        Archy,

        To answer your question, no, I don’t try to limit his masturbation time. Sometimes I know about it just because he disappears for awhile, but that’s his business. I actually get kind of turned on by the thought of him using the stuff I’ve made for him, which makes it easier for me to get in the mood the next time we have sex together.

        He of course has the option of using professional stuff…God knows the women who do this for a living are hotter and younger than I am. But we tried that for a long time, and it only made the libido discrepancy worse, because I felt unattractive and unwanted. That made me more closed off to doing the things he enjoys, which are largely visual (sex with the lights on; giving blow jobs naked; stripping while he jerks off, etc.). He claimed that his use of images of other women had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t internalize that. I finally told him that, while I would never withhold sex completely, he had to accept that I wasn’t able to be free and playful the way he liked as long as I was thinking about his “other women.”

        I can’t say that our solution is perfect, and we’ve had some long, painful conversations, but we’re both invested in making the other person happy. He really is my best friend, and making the sex part work is important to both of us. As you say, an unsatisfying sex life leads to feelings of frustration, sadness, rejection, and low self-esteem. I think he and I each felt those things at times, and we each felt that the other person was driving it–I felt it from his porn use, and he felt it from my take-it-or-leave it attitude toward sex. We finally figured out that we were both feeding the problem.

        By the way, I don’t necessarily equate giving a blowjob with going to work. The analogy of taking care of a child is more accurate, although I’m uncomfortable with the infantilization of my husband that it implies. Maybe your example of cuddling after sex is closer, although it isn’t hard for me to be touched, it’s just not what I would choose to be doing at that moment.

        A lot of women I know seem to have given up their sexual selves. It’s like that was who they were in college, but now they’re married with kids and the kids are the only thing that matters. And a lot of their husbands contribute to that by turning to porn or strippers or whatever for their sexual needs. I’m sure it varies as to who turns away first, but it’s got to damage the relationship.

        I also agree about the need to be close in other ways. I think a lot of couples discount the importance of everyday non-sexual touching, date nights, conversations, and little signs of affection. These things can help to soften the effects of the libido discrepancy for both partners.

        • “He claimed that his use of images of other women had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t internalize that. I finally told him that, while I would never withhold sex completely, he had to accept that I wasn’t able to be free and playful the way he liked as long as I was thinking about his “other women.””
          It’s probably worth mentioning that some people can be turned on simply by the act of sex itself, not paying too much attention to the actress or actor. In my own porn viewing I superimpose myself and a person I have a crush on into the scene and imagine us having sex, so it’s quite possible he is thinking of you in there or just focusing only on the mechanics of sex ( penis slides n, penis slides out, how the labia glide over the penis, etc) in the video without really thinking of anyone. It’s hard to describe but he is probably telling the truth. But since you’re willing to make porn with him then that is a great idea and should help a lot. One thing I know of fantasy though is that it’s not always logical, and not always reflective of reality or what the person wants. I’ve fantasized about orgies but have zero desire to be in one, fantasized about being James Bond but don’t want to be him ever since that’s dangerous as hell and your loved ones get killed. It probably hasn’t got anything to do with you or how you look but he can answer that better.

          I’ve heard that very low doses of testosterone for women can help with increasing libido, that might be worth investigating. Also seems birth control, and life’s stresses have a role to play. The best advice I’ve seen is that couples need to make time for sex/intimacy, and to make their lives about them first and not their kids, as in not giving up your life just for your kids…you need a good balance I guess. Quite frankly the more I hear about marriage and families, the more afraid I am of having my own due to all the stress n lack of intimacy:P

          I have a pretty high libido, I’d love sex once a day at least. I am hoping my future partners match that libido, but reading these comments from men n women is giving me ideas how to try avoid letting life, etc affect either of us. Porn usage is one that seems to affect quite a few women so I’ll be mindful of that, though I doubt I’d want porn if I am getting real sex, and balancing work, life, family is another important thing to be mindful of.

          It sounds like you’re a great wife though as you actually try and put effort in to help the marriage along. That’s worth so much!

        • Victor Greed says:

          I wonder how many American straight dudes are willing to eat their wives out when they do not feel in the mood.. probably not too many. Heck, we all know that most don’t even enjoy eating their women out in any situation. The same goes for the low libido man willing to let her high libido wife seek hot sex worker dudes… can you women ever ask to to your men without being punched or something?

          And for the rest as well: how many men are willing to strip to their wives? How many dudes actually make themselves attractive enough to ever make their wives feel sexually turned on? When I went to America I saw how most men are very… slobbish… and how most women are totally much more appealing then the males. Like the guys who will complain shaving their bodies is “emasculating” (as in, taking away their natural manliness, that is being hairy) but still want an “efeminated” woman (not the same as “effeminates”, with two ff’s) – as in, taking away their natural femininity, that is ALSO BEING HAIRY, still believing women with shaved armpits and legs (or the rest) is the best choice. At least they never complain American women are “efeminated” and pressured to shave, but will cry like idiots when they feel they are being “emasculated” by any thing that could make them more attractive. Bizarre.

      • “You’re in a relationship which demands faithfulness, you hold power over his sexuality, you have a monopoly on it…”

        I agree that women should own their own body parts, not let anyone use it disrespectfully, but men have the monopoly on all the attention. Women want your attention, a man’s full attention is the best (not to be confused with affection). Capturing a women’s attention is what can turn her on or of. If a man wants sex consistenly, a man must actively work to keep her attention focused on him, especially these days when a woman’s attention is pulled in 15 different directions.

        Does that make sense? Archy, you have more power than you think.

        It’s not always equal and balanced, but it is a process of giving and receiving.

        • But even still what happens when the attention doesn’t work? If you give hours per day of your attention to her yet sex is once a month? I agree that it helps and men need to ensure they do what they can to turn their partners on, but it doesn’t always work. Women are still largely the gate-keepers of sex, the vast majority of commenters who say their partners libido is lower and don’t have enough sex with them are men.

          But men too have their attention pulled 15 different directions yet many still find the time, attention, energy to have/want sex. Is it that men are more easily turned on? Is their libido higher? Some will say stress affects women differently and can harm their libido whilst men often still want sex, especially as a way to relieve stress. To me there is far more evidence that the average woman’s libido is lower than that of a man, that it takes far more to turn on a woman, that they don’t want as much sex as men, as often, etc.

    • @Jennifer J….

      You are on the money. We ALL have to do things we do not feel like sometimes. It’s called sacrifice. It’s called being unselfish. It’s called doing what you have to do!

      Thanks for your realism, indeed.

  41. FlyingKal says:

    I basically agree with Archy here. A relationship should be about sharing, and not so much *requirements* about what you can do for each other.

    I’ve never been hesitant to do a fair share of domestic work.
    But if we are both working full time, and don’t have any kids, I don’t accept to be expected to do half the traditionally female household stuff *in addition to* doing *all* of the traditionally male outdoor/fixing up stuff. (Sure, if you rent an appartement, that outdoor/fixing stuff might be quite small. But I’ve been living in and taking care of a semi-old house as well as two semi-crappy cars for most of my adult life. YMMV)

    Also, I don’t mind listening to her and trying to support her. But that too has to go both ways, not to wear yourself out!
    I can understand if you are coming home stressed from work and need to vent a bit.
    But can you understand that I’m also stressed and have a headache? Do you listen if I need to vent, too? And can you respect if I don’t need to vent so much, as I might need 10 minutes to breathe and relax from my own accumulated stress before being “attacked” with your built-up frustration every! single! day!?

  42. What I would like to see is real list of what a man is willing to do for a woman, besides the common buy her a house, give her flowers, and affection, because it is related to this topic.

    • What are women willing to do for men?

    • And for me, I won’t be buying her a house. I’ll help pay for a family house but she has to help either by working, or if we have kids she or I can be the stay at home parent and the other works if we can afford it.
      What I would do is basically share my life with her, love her, care for her, try to go out of my way to make her happy, help her where I can. Trying to share out life’s stresses I think will help too, don’t let her suffer alone, try cheer her up, support her somehow. I’d expect her to do the same for me.

    • @Joan…

      I think a man should be his wife’s biggest cheerleader. Because we are partners, a man should be supportive. He should be willing to sacrifice and give of himself. Be kind, be compassionate, and be a good listener. Also, do not take her for granted. Show appreciation. Validate her. Women need this too just as we men.

      I just think people need to focus more on GIVING instead of GETTING.

      • Jules – thanks for the feedback.
        This is my personal paradigm I cannot speak for anyone else, but I look up to the man in my life as my life coach, my leader, not so much a cheerleader. I seek his guidance, leadership, and decisions…not because I can’t think for myself, but I respect his active involvement in my life. This is what I want from a man, but I cannot expect it or demand it. He must be willing to give his attention and lead.

        As an American woman, I have been criticized that makes me submissive when I look up to a man, put my trust in him, and seek his wisdom. Basically, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. For me, it links directly to my libido. It’s a turn-on when he coaches me and leads me. That way I know he has my back and we connect.

        Caveat to all: when I say coach or lead, it is not to be confused with controlling another, bossiness, or brutality.

        PS. I saw your latest post and it seems you and your family understand this concept perfectly.

  43. As a person who suffered a low libido for many years without any of the tools to deal with it, I just want to thank you, Joanna, for putting into words a lot of what my partner and I experienced during that time that I was unable to articulate at all. The flatline of desire that I could not explain. The guilt and shame, especially the sweatpants thing – the guilt over possible inciting desire when I had no desire of my own. The effects it has on both partners, feeling desirable and loved, etc. This is stuff that I can only now see in hindsight – therapy and a switch to non-hormonal BC helped bring a long-awaited end to my libido crisis after years of denial and avoidance.

    I wish I could send this column back in time and save myself and my relationship a few years of grief and trauma.

    • Sorry to hear that, it sounds terrible for the both of you. If it had continued, would you have considered letting him see a sex worker or finding a way to have sex without being turned on, or any way so his sexual needs get at least some change?

    • FlyingKal says:

      Thanks for sharing KKZ.

      The “funny” thing in our relationship was that it was always an abundance of touching, hugging and kissing. You know those things that are hailed as keeping the flame burning, as they say.
      We even slept together in quite a small bed, under the same cover, and naked(!) for all those years. Yet she was always too tired, not in the mood, or didn’t have time (in the mornings) to do more than hugging.

      • FlyingKal – thank you for sharing,
        I had a similar situation where I slowly lost interest. My partner would look at porn all the time and compare me to the “hot” girls in the images. Believe me my self-esteem went to hell, I couldn’t compete with it…I tried everything to be prettier, sexier, thinner. He told me I was just supposed to deal with it. Then he started comparing my job to all the successful girls. Not once did he lift a finger to help, just criticism.
        As soon as I left, I regained my self-esteem and my libido.

        • Joan–What you explain is the #1 libido killer for me–a man comparing me to other women, particularly in p*rn or not being supportive of my career/passions. My self-esteem would go to shit. How can you have sex with a man who does that or doesn’t want you to be happy? Why did you even try to stay in that relationship? He sounds like he was incredibly cruel to you. I hope he’s changed. I also dated a guy who brought my self-esteem down, and I had very little interest in sex with him, and when I had it, it felt like a chore because I didn’t feel sexy or desirable around him. I’d rather just masturbate. I’m glad I got out. Never had that problem with other guys, even when the relationship wasn’t going well.

          FlyingKal–I’m sorry that you had to deal with such a mismatched libido in your relationship. At least you tried, not that that’s much comfort. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. I hope you find someone who works with you and that you have more tools to deal with that kind of situation if it comes up again. Keeping the flames burning will still be important. As for morning sex, one practical thing to look at is that if you’re one of those people who lasts a very long time every time, it’s more difficult to fit it in. I love morning sex, but I have found it to happen much more frequently when it doesn’t have to be a marathon session and when there doesn’t need to be cuddling immediately after (meaning that there’s lots of cuddling and kissing outside of sex, so it doesn’t feel necessary every time after sex).

          KKZ–The #2 libido killer I’ve experienced is bad birth control. Certain types really kill your sex drive. Non-hormonal IUD is amazing, and there are certain hormonal ones that don’t seem to do as much damage. I think many men don’t understand that the pill isn’t some magic thing–it also comes with side effects, some more serious than others. It’s important for women to find the method that fits them.

          • Aya – you know how it is, two people fall in love and you try to please the other…then one day you find yourself with a self-esteem for dummies book in your lap (which I bought).
            Happens slowly overtime. You realize he’s not even trying to add value or lead.

            So, you walk away, dust yourself off, call it part of the learning curve.

            Now, I have much higher standards. I expect mutual trust and respect, no exceptions. The man I am with is awesome, he leads, he is decisive, kind, smart, fun, and he gets all the cool the sex I can dream up, but he earns my respect and I his. It’s what’s between his ears that turns me on.

        • FlyingKal says:

          Joan:
          I was always proud of her skills in her professional work, and I did not in any way compare her unfavorably to other women, real, imagined or photoshopped. 😉

          My self esteem is still shot in the romantical area (although it’s pretty good in other areas), and I haven’t had anyone look at me “that way” in ages.

          • FlyingKal,
            I’m sorry. We all have our esteem issues, I’m surprised we all don’t drink ourselves to death.
            🙂
            Personal story, the man I am with had the same crap-self-esteem and 2 failed marriages, when we met. I liked everything about him, even his quirkiness…he couldn’t see it. In no time his attitiude and confidence has completely changed. I initiate all the sex and he initiates all the attention-we literally have more sex and less talk than most couples today.

            I’ve been told I look like Cameron Diaz and he’s been told he looks like humpty-dumpty…but I think he is the hottest thing on the planet.

            It’s what’s between the man’s ears and in a man’s heart that gets a girl hot and bothered. Sounds like you got the right mind and right heart, just didn’t hear it enough.

      • @FlyingKal…

        Do you think she was getting sex elsewhere?

  44. wellokaythen says:

    In some ways, monogamy puts a lot of power over your sex life into the hands of one person. When you choose monogamy, you are choosing something that comes with a risk of involuntary celibacy. If your partner demands monogamy, but your partner will not have sex with you, then your partner is choosing celibacy for you. Usually this is not conscious or direct, but the effect is the same. All of the rewards of monogamy have to be examined in relationship to the drawbacks and the risks, just like you do with any other big decision.

    When you’re the higher-libido person this is very easy to see, but it’s harder for the lower-libido person to see it this way, because often the lower-libido person feels pretty powerless nonetheless.

  45. The primary point of the piece was encouraging use of communication to ensure that both parties understand the source of each other’s dissatisfaction with the relationship. If such communication hasn’t been tried, how could one realistically conclude that one’s partner is not “involved are invested and interested in actual change?”

    This was the comment I primarily had in mind:

    “I don’t care about you, taking care of your needs is a bother to me. I don’t love you enough for that.”

    My interpretation of the context was that Gambit’s partner had not said this literally. This was a reading of the partner’s position that seems more reflective of Gambit’s feelings than the partner’s feelings. I would not be surprised to learn that this couple had not made a serious attempt to listen to each other. This is exactly what the piece is about.

    • FlyingKal says:

      Well I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else.
      But I know I made uncountable efforts to communicate about the issue of “me feeling totally unattractive leading me to feel like crap”, and what WE could do to try and possibly come to some sort of resultion.
      And the most passionate response I’ve ever got was that “Women just have a lower sex drive than men have. It’s biological and nothing to do about it. Now just deal with it.”

      I don’t know. She might have been, under the surface, just as frustrated about the situation that I was.
      But at least I recognized the situation and made honest efforts to communicate(!) about it. And that sure as hell wasn’t mutual. I never once got the slightest hint that she in any way was unsatisfied with the situation as it was.

      • This business about women’s sex drive being lower is so much BS. In my experience (and actually Roissy/Heartiste agrees with me here), a woman’s desire, when unleashed, is far more uncontrolled and more uncontrollable than that of a man’s: it knows not reason or self-control: it is a flame that burns brighter, wilder, and has more colours.

        It might not happen so often, and it might require more complicated stimuli, but when a woman really gets into sex it’s both wonderful and terrifying to behold. I’m a crazy passionate lover myself and even I stand in awe.

        This isn’t true for all women – nothing is – but is certainly true for a hell of a lot more than is widely suspected.

        • @CmE :I think you misunderstand me, which is my fault. I am, in my own life, very aware of the “lies” of feminism, though I wouldn’t use that phrase. I truly think they are sincere, if not horribly, horribly, dysfunctional. in denial about biology when it is politically expedient, and flat out wrong on so many important issues. I would differ with also in your assessment of the relationship of the high value male to women. While it true that high value males may more frequently have more opportunities than other males, it is not that simple.
          The truth is, even for these men there can be complications.For many of these men, in good solid relationships, many even married, they are not safe. Science tells us, through the analysis of donor match testing, that married women routinely get pregnant by men other than their husbands,dupping their husbands( high value males included) into raising another man’s child . This takes Hyper gamy to whole new levels.It also calls into question much of the hype around the narrow range of circumstances women choose to have sex. The only guy jumping through hoops to have sex is the guy at home. Science also tells us that some men produce spermicide in their ejaculations. An adaptation that was a reaction a need to further guarantee his offspring would survive.

          It is speculated that this behavior is due to a desire by the female for a kind genetic Hyper gamy. The good guy at home is the functional, stable husband while the other guy, often a bad boy type, may have genetics. like looks, the mother wants to pass on to her offspring.

          • I heard that sort of thing too, ogwriter. Robert Sapolsky discusses that in his evolutionary biology lectures (elsewhere on YT), right? It’s an interesting inquiry, definitely. I personally, not knowing much of this hypergamy people speak of, have for several years entertained the idea of a polyandrous arrangement of sorts, simply because it appeals to me (and also to a couple men I remain very close to), though understand there are no kids involved in this situation and it’s purely about managing our sex and social lives among us (me and 3 men) as we see fit. Can’t recommend it to others and am not sure if or how it would even work, but it’s a thought. 🙂

      • @FlyingKal….

        Yes, I experienced the same dismissive attitude while married.

        Usually the woman is NOT equally frustrated as the man. In fact, they are rather content with it and expect you to be the same.

        Thus, I decided to leave the marriage after it being sexless for over a decade. One of the best decisions of my entire life. I am 50 and divorced a little over two years ago. Now I have a very healthy and vibrant sex life with two women as friends with benefits.

        As I have argued here on GMP, it is best to be a lover to a woman and not a husband. I stand by it!

      • Suzy F. Jones says:

        FlyingKal – it is biological and women do have different needs. As the article states, sex is not an entitlement, nor is attention. Both partners must be willing to submit to each others needs if they love each other.
        Email offline menneedmore@gmail.com if you have concerns. I researched and authored a book on this very subject.
        Suzy

        • What rot.

        • FlyingKal says:

          @Suzy F Jones:
          As the article states, sex is not an entitlement, nor is attention. Both partners must be willing to submit to each others needs if they love each other.

          I thought I was very clear in how I thought WE had a problem with mutual responsibility.

          But of course, if you (generic “you”, not you personally) don’t recognize the situation as a problem, then there is nothing to take responsibility for…

        • @Suzy F. Jones: Men can deal with the idea that women are different and that one may prefer some thing and another may prefer the opposite. The REAL problem is that far too often this these difference occur in the same woman, who either is clueless, unaware or simply enjoys the power of having a man be reactive to her emotional swings of fancy. Either way, she gets her way and she controls the flow of the relationship because he is now on guard trying to make sure he’s flexible enough to deal with her changes of mood and attitude.

          • Suzy F. Jones says:

            The book discusses this theme you mention about moods, neediness, insecurities, and controlling behaviors and teaches men how to get in front of that situation. More importantly recapture his life and the direction of the relationship.

            Too often women try to lead and men become innocent by-standers and often victims of her moods. This is when pots and pans start flying and she may empty your wallet in the process. My personal term for this situation is Tame that Shrew. I am certain I will offend someone with that comment, but Shakespeare coined it first.

            However, when men feel they are reacting to ‘the modern-day shrew’; it becomes difficult to make progress or stay sexually attracted to each other. It is a turn-off to most men, not just in the bedroom.

      • wellokaythen says:

        “Women just have a lower sex drive than men have. It’s biological and nothing to do about it. Now just deal with it.”

        Not only is that dismissive, it’s a very poor argument for a sex partner to make, because it cuts both ways. If she just blanketly accepts a biological argument as a way to end all discussion, then she ought to accept you sleeping around. After all, it’s just biological that men want to spread their seed, so she just deal with it, right?

        I suspect she was using a biology argument very selectively….

      • This is nonsense. ROFLMAO at the idea that women have lower sex drives.

        They may be more selective, they may require different and more complex stimuli, but nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the madness, the wildness, the craziness of a woman’s desire unleashed, let loose from its fetters. The male libido and response pale in comparison.

        • There is no denying that sex can be amazing, but more than 40 percent of women suffer from sexual dysfunction, those are just reported cases. This is a global trend too. 90 percent of divorces are filed by women. Plainly stated: women are not getting what they need from men.

          What is dismissive is that no one is talking about what women need. We all know men need sex, that’s a no-brainer, but women need attention or our libidos turn-off. It is painful for women to ask for attention because we are all supposed to be totally secure, porn stars, and perfect size 2s, or else.

          Most women usually do not withhold sex intentionally, women turn-off naturally when their husbands neglect her needs.

          • @Joan…

            “Most women usually do not withhold sex intentionally, women turn-off naturally when their husbands neglect her needs.”

            And you do not think we men turn-off to women who are dismissive and neglect our needs? This is just proof that too many women really do think that only how they feel truly matters. Maybe the reason he is turned off is because he feels disregarded.

            Please stop thinking that only a woman’s feelings are important.

            • I apologize if I came across too one-sided.

              You’re absolutely right, it takes two to tango. I have made my share of blunders and fiascos…too many to share with the public.

              WE – all of us – are stuck in this life-boat together. I love men and women do my best to protect and guard feelings. I do not know one women personally who withheld sex for a Prada bag. Do you? You know a handbag and a good conversation once in a while is not enough to keep a marriage together.

              • 90% or whatever of divorces could also be a sign that the average male is not enough for a woman,could be that she is too picky, too entitled, too shallow, that if her needs can’t be met then. Could also be the average male sucks, or a mix of both? Or maybe it’s a sign people marry too early? Or that it could be males realize the courts may be biased towards them thus they’re more afraid of the outcome of divorce n try to stick it out? Plenty of reasons and as you corrected yourself, it’s up to both to figure it out.

              • @ Joan: Yes, plenty. True related story many men can relate to.. I was married for a time and during that time I made clear my disdain for Valentine’s Day. To which my spouse agreed was a joke. Well, Valentine’s Day showed up and what do know, things had changed and not just a little. My wife was now upset that I hadn’t bought her some Valentine’s Day junk.

                The conversation went lo like this,” OK, I said, if I get you something for Valentine’s Day what’s in it for me?” Sensing an opportunity, she cuddled up close to me, put her hand on my thigh, and coooed this, ” Well, you know……” Unable to contain myself, I responded with, “…hmmmm…OH, you mean sex . So, I guess that means you are going to make it good this to time…” You can imagine what happened next. And no she never got that she was asking me, her husband, to pay for sex, at least special sex,whatever that means.

                The first to time I paid for sex in x exchange for a Valentines gift, which wasn’t my goal, was high school. It worked for my friends too. This is nothing new in American culture.

                • I was off work today, so I’ve been on this board all day.

                  Ogwriter, this is the advice I tell my male friends when it comes to money or gifts. Make firm decisions in advance, this money or trinket is either a gift or a loan, period. Expect nothing in return. Don’t flip flop. It kills a man’s self-respect. I don’t care how much she whines, it’s not worth it.

          • Women aren’t getting what they need from men because most men either are or become Average Frustrated Chumps over time: they know nothing of game, nothing of relationship game, nothing of the taming and feeding of hypergamy, nothing of how power, high value, and fear are the most powerful aphrodisiacs known to man: they are too often the children of broken homes and/or overbearing mothers, whence they did not learn how to lead a woman and control a relationship responsibly and with respectful authority. They have been taught to please women in bed self-consciously, not realizing that the key to so many women’s pleasure lies taking them brutally and selfishly, preferably with added spankings. They think desire can be negotiated, and institute classic “Nice Guy” covert contracts to that effect. In this they are hopelessly misguided.

            That, in a nutshell, is where it’s going wrong. Small wonder so many relationships are sexless when the grand romantic gestures your average guy thinks inspire desire do the exact opposite, small wonder so many marriages fail when so many husbands present low value at almost every opportunity.

            • Brutally and selfishly? Sounds like rape unless she’s given clear consent to rough sex but the word brutal….what do you mean by it? Violence? Light spanks or spanks hard enough to cause injury? Something seems awfully off in what you’re saying….

              Considering how many women I’ve seen comment that they aren’t overly interested in sex when it becomes selfish for the man….I question how many women truly want what you are saying. It might work for some, but for others it could fail miserably.

              • @Archy: if I mention brutality and selfishness, and your mind jumps to freakin rape, something is clearly badly wrong with your frame of dominance, submission, and power – and indeed your view of male sexuality as a whole, frankly.

                You mention consent. Do you need consent for doggy style? Do you need consent to rake her back with your nails? Do you need consent to pin her hands back above her head? Do you need consent to tug her hair? To slam her hard, spank her ass, bite her neck? Maybe for the spanking -all the rest (and more) you obviously don’t have to ask for and she’ll be turned off if you do. If she doesn’t like something she can tell you to slow down, she’s a grownass woman for heaven’s sake.

                • Apparently my last comment did not pass moderation. I just wanted to say that yes, dominance/submission power exchange can be wonderful, but it doesn’t obviate the need for consent. Different submissive women want to be dominated in different ways. One may get off on bondage but hate spanking, another may love impact play but hate having her hair pulled. The only way you know is to ASK. You can still have a hot scene after you’ve had a conversation. If your/her thing is unpredictability, you can talk about that too – once – and then do unpredictable stuff that you know your partner likes, from there on out.

                  And, although it is not the majority, there are dominant women and submissive men out there. It’s a tragedy that it’s so hard for them to find each other, in large part because male submission is stigmatized and repressed in our culture (like the comment below about “Real Men.” If you are not a fictional character, you are Real.) One size does not fit all.

                  As for brutal and selfish, a good dominant may appear brutal but is never selfish – if selfish means genuinely unconcerned about his/her partner’s pleasure and consent.

                • Let’s say my partner is a victim of rape, which is a fairly high possibility (like 1 in 5 women), if I held her down, held her back without also being mindful of her feelings on the matter there’s a good chance it might freak her out, trigger flashbacks, and be way too much. Consent is extremely important. Drag your nails over my back and I’ll be ending the sex right there, I don’t want big ass scratchs in my back.

                  Do you also flip the woman over and ram your cock in her ass with no warning too? That’s brutal and selfish right? I’m sure every woman would love that. There are some things many people like so doing without asking will probably be ok, such as turning for doggie style, but there are things where you absolutely must ask for consent. But then, I’m not a selfish lover, I give a fuck about my partners feelings, I don’t want her feeling hurt, betrayed, abused, if I want to try something new I discuss it with them because that’s the fucking decent thing to do.

                  The reason why the word Brutal means something different to me is because I’ve only heard of it described in a very violent manner, never heard of it described as just a bit of rough consenting sex. So no, there’s nothing wrong with my mind, as brutal IS violence but I don’t think you meant that.

                  Not every woman wants to be taken hard, brutallly n selfishly. Your advice can easily backfire badly.

                  • You’re right, Archy. But this assumes you’ve communicated in advance with your partner to find out about their sexual tastes. Beyond that, we women can speak up and let it be known we don’t like something. I’m not a fan of anything anal either, and yes, I have had to tell men that when they’ve aimed in that direction. It happens, but it’s no big deal to speak up, and in my experience they all respect that and move on to other things. Or they ask what sounds good to me.

                    CmE and Hank both hit on it being verbal as well, and perhaps even mostly so. Words go a long way in turning people on and framing the mood of the tryst. I didn’t envision porno mistreatment from what was typed up above, but I can see how someone might take it that way. And perhaps it is important to clarify these points since so many young people are coming up enculturated with that pornish mindset. And I say that in all seriousness, as someone affected by it as well, because it does seem like a good many young men are of that mind and behave as if they don’t know any better.

                • Hank Vandenburgh says:

                  In my experience, it’s the woman who rakes your back with HER nails.

                  • If she rakes them hard enough to draw blood without getting consent, I’d be tempted to throw her ass off or punch her. Don’t injure me without expecting a fight. Some light raking MAY be ok, but I’m not interested in pain during sex and it’s an asshole move to inflict pain without first knowing your partner or asking for consent.

            • “lead a woman and control a relationship responsibly and with respectful authority”

              Well stated, definition of a real man. Women like a man who can lead and take “ownership” and responsiblity for the relationship…make sound decisions, earn a woman’s trust, command respect, etc. This transcends into the bedroom.

              • @ Susan: I find it hard to believe that you actually used the term ‘REAL MAN.” The comment oozes with the kind of pressures and bias you hate when it is applied to women. I suppose that only “REAL” women have nice figures, you know the kind we see in porno, and in fashion magazines, etc. Wow, I’m stunned.

            • I tend to agree with you that, CmE. Emasculated men don’t appear very sexy to most women, which is such a catch-22, I know. Men who are able to assert themselves and be what I would call “gentle leaders” in the relationship will fare better romantically than their more submissive male counterparts. A touch of fear combined with respectable authority goes a long way in enticing me personally, and I’ve known that for a long while. But my man is very gentle, perhaps gentle to a fault, so I have to try extra hard to rein myself back in so as not to step on him unintentionally, me being the more naturally dominant and aggressive of the duo. Sometimes I wish (and have actually spoken to him about this) that he would take a stand in a believable fashion, flex his power a bit, but for whatever reason he’s not into that. Just a peaceful, happy-go-lucky person, and that’s okay too. But it means I have to be mindful of not steam-rolling over him in the course of being who I am. Guess the world takes all kinds, and apparently gender differences aren’t so neat and tidy, as in our case. Living and learning…

              But still, yes, I think you hit on the truth in what you stated above about the role of men in relationships and how asserting themselves could shift the dynamic potentially for the better for both involved (if it doesn’t set off a firestorm of bickering due to a sense of one-upmanship taking place).

              • This goes against everything women have taught me when growing up. Do the majority of women want to be lead? Do they want men to take them brutally n selfishly?!

                This is pretty fucking confusing and quite frankly disturbing. A touch of fear? What are men supposed to do, raise their hand to beat you and then give you a kiss??

                • Don’t conflate dominance with the threat of actual violence. Ruminate upon why “Fifty Shades” is a best seller.

                  • When the above comment talks about being brutal n selfish in sex, I do wonder where the line between violence and dominance starts and ends…

                    • Now, obviously, where you draw the line between dominance and violence, or the threat of violence, depends on how kinky and comfortable with it the woman in question is. On the most vanilla level it can be simply compared to ballroom dancing: one partner leads, the other follows. Can you imagine dancing if both were trying to follow, or both were trying to lead? To continue the analogy further: the script of the dance/sex can be choreographed consensually beforehand, but in actual performance you switch into leading and following roles.

                    • On the most kinky level lie full-blown rape scenes, but while they’re fun as hell not everyone is going to be down for that. Most women are obviously going to fall somewhere between the two: not up for rape scenes (although far more are than you would suspect), but perfectly happy to let you set the script for how things are going to go, and if something comes up they don’t like they can make adjustments at the time. The most important thing is that they feel led, dominated, owned, controlled – that they get their submissive kick. This doesn’t have to involve violence at all, although often enough it will. But words are far more effective than a spank. “You are mine” whispered in her ear is worth at least ten hits with a flogger. Something to remember.

                  • Power games and BDSM play can definitely be hot, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to get consent. One woman may love being tied up but hate being spanked, another may love impact play but feel claustrophobic when restrained. Personally, I like some things that many would consider quite rough, but I HATE having my hair pulled. It’s not one size fits all. Talk to your partner, people, it won’t kill you!

                    Similarly – while some D/s couples may want to extend the power dynamic toward everyday life, others prefer to keep that purely in the bedroom and be egalitarian when it comes to household decisions. Every couple needs to work this out for themselves.

                    Also, while more women are probably submissive than dominant, there are plenty of dominant women and submissive men out there. (Not to mention switches who like to explore both sides – and I think there are a lot more people who’d be curious about this than are willing to admit it, because male submission is so stigmatized in our culture.) You can’t assume “majority” means “everybody” or that just because most women like something, your partner automatically will.

                    Archy, I think your instincts are pretty good. A good dominant may be outwardly brutal in their behavior but never “selfish” in that they genuinely don’t care about their partner’s pleasure or consent (which may be given well in advance of the scene, or on an ongoing basis.)

                    • Yeah, I learned that dominance requires responsibility. Even in the bible it asks for men being the head of he family to love n respect that family first n foremost (Not that I am a christian but just remember that part). I have dominant tendencies but I also don’t ever want to be selfish, my partner has to enjoy and get their desires filled just as I do. A dominant person who is selfish is a tyrant, not a good lover. Hell rapists are dominant and selfish, I’d say even CME isn’t 100% selfish and cares somewhat about his partners.

            • @CmE…

              Yes, I tend to agree with you for the most part. The spanking shit is not necessary, but a man must lead and command respectful authority.

              I am not into all this emasculated male craziness in America. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I flat out despise more than these metro-sexual men who shave their bodies and want bare pussies, only. Like getting near a hairy pussy is like being shot at!!! Give me break! No wonder they cannot get laid.

              I come from a very very patriarchal family structure. The men were the leaders of their families. They took immense pride in this. My Dad “ran his house” but he was not a dictator. He showed love, comfort, and affection in the home.

              We all looked forward to him coming home from working 8, 10, 12 hours. He always had a big smile on his face when he saw his children. My mother loved him, even though he cheated on her and father another while married.

              While I too, like my Dad, have a laid back personality, I do not lack in being forceful, confident, and decisive. Women love men who are decisive. Men who take charge. “Speak softly but carry a big stick!”

              Men need to learn how to project presence with body language. This is really where it all starts. While I had a shitty sex life with ex wife, I really could sleep with lots and lots of women now single. It’s just not something I believe in at all. I love lots of sex, not lots of sex partners. Women do ask me out, especially young.

              The number one complaint I hear from young women is that young guys are really boys. They simply have not grown up! I am talking about guys in their mid 20s.

              So, I do think you are on to something.

          • FlyingKal says:

            As a side note, I think the “person filing for divorce” statistics might not say so much about who is suffering more in the marriage, but a little more about which person seemingly has less to lose/more to win from a divorce?

            More on subject, I’d be hard pressed to say that a woman regularly receiving 2-4 orgasms at every sexual encounter would suffer from any severe kind of sexual dysfunction.

  46. Talking will only temporarily cure the resentment, if at all, because the bald truth is that you cannot negotiate desire. Once genuine desire has gone – which is usually the case once a couple stop having sex – it’s possible to get it back, but really really tough.

  47. Dorine Moore says:

    Really great article. Fair. Helpful. It resonated with me deeply, and I have been on both sides of this issue at different times in my life. I also greatly appreciate the comments by Arium. Thanks to both of you for sharing such constructive ideas.

  48. I’ve seen a lot of skepticism about communications in the comments, often in the form of “What good would that do?” You might be surprised.

    My wife’s libido dropped as she reached perimenopause, at the same time as mine was seemingly as strong as ever. But we want to make our relationship work, so we communicate and brainstorm for solutions.

    Some things that we’ve tried have helped, and some not so much. The most effective approach we found was to schedule sex. It turns out that anticipation has been key to boosting her desire. This has helped her libido–sometimes she is even eager when the time comes, something that hadn’t happened in a long time.

    Of course sticking to the schedule is not an obligation. If she is too tired, or otherwise doesn’t think she will enjoy herself, we put it off until tomorrow. Sometimes she will cuddle with me while I masturbate.

    Of course there are certain factors that are important to this progress: She recognizes the importance of sex. (If we have something important to discuss that we think might distract the other person, we save it for afterword.) She actually likes sex, she just often takes some effort to get into the mood. Etc.

    • Nick, mostly says:

      Arium, that seems to be key. You need to have both partners invested in improvement for improvement to happen. Too often I hear stories of one person – the high-desire partner – trying to effect change while the the low-desire partner is content with the status quo. I believe this is also key in Joanna’s essay – partners communicating together to identify and address the root cause of the dysfunction.

    • FlyingKal says:

      @Arium:
      I’ve seen a lot of skepticism about communications in the comments, often in the form of “What good would that do?”
      You botched the actual scepticism by cutting out half the question.

      “What good does it do, if not both involved are invested and interested in actual change?”
      And you answer it yourself in your last paragraph.

    • I am young and unmarried and not consistently low-libido, but I echo Arium’s sentiments about scheduling sex – for me, the build-up and anticipation CREATES the desire, rather than just hoping I magically “feel like it” at the same time my partner does. Choosing a scented lotion for my legs, picking out sexy underwear, all of those little rituals build desire in me, immensely. I feel fluttery and anxious, no matter how well I know his moves and he knows mine.

      I also second the idea of cuddling while he masturbates. The idea that a man should be sent to the bathroom to jerk off alone in shame is ridiculous. I have really enjoyed nuzzling my partner’s neck, whispering things to him, and just touching him while he masturbates. It’s a great solution for us when he is horny and I’m not. (Of course, some of the time, just watching him masturbate gets me really aroused, so the mismatched libido problem goes away.) He returns the favor for me too, which is especially nice if we have sex or fool around, and he has an orgasm but I don’t. There is nothing embarrassing about pulling out my bullet vibrator and finishing myself off while he kisses and touches me.

      My partner has told me it means a lot to him to have me “approve” of him pleasuring himself, and to not relegate that to something gross that he does out of rejection. I think that having me there after he’s done goes a long way to making him feel safe and accepted. Those things seem to mean more to him than whether I want his penis inside me at any given time.

  49. Joanna,

    Thank you for having the courage to address this difficult subject, which logic suggests is universal. (Even if two members of some mythic couple have the same level of desire, this cannot be true over time, as desire waxes and wanes.)

    I discovered Imago theory some time ago (through Horville Hendricks.) I’ve found it very useful. For me it boils down to the notion that the essential thing in a good sexual relationship is not good technique, the spice of variety, or even gifts of flowers or doing the dishes -but good communication. Communication about sex, but also of thoughts and feelings. It’s much harder than the other stuff.

  50. Kerry Soileau says:

    So the bottom line is, marriage is a bad deal for men. A man gives up all future sex with anyone but his wife, who then thinks that giving him the sex he needs is somehow being “forced” into something. Ladies, if you don’t want to give your husband sex because he needs it, rather than because you feel like it, perhaps marriage really isn’t the best idea for you. Or for any man who makes the mistake of marrying you. After all, you expect him to do a lot for you whether he “feels like it” or not. Why won’t you do the same for him?

    • If you ate some pussy every now and then it might just wash that bitter taste out of your mouth 🙂 Look – marriage is a deal between two people and like all deals, if you don’t do your due diligence first, you could get screwed. Reading articles like this helps to enlighten people and empower them to make more informed decisions.

      • Kerry Soileau says:

        Clearly your tongue works better than your brain. 🙂

        • Carol the Long Winded says:

          You clearly didn’t even read the article. Sometimes men don’t want sex, and women do. and vice versa. Even gay men in monogamous relationships can have mismatched libidos at times. Sickness, medication changes etc all make a difference. So women should lie back and think of England when they aren’t in the mood? What is the wife supposed to do if she is in the mood and her husband isn’t? Him lying back and thinking of England isn’t going to help too much, unless he is a super Anglophile.

        • Victor Greed says:

          So you want a woman to get naked, apply KY and have a man to masturbate using her vagina and not get anything out of it, because of course she won’t, as she is not in the mood. You guys are disgusting, in all honesty.
          You guys want them to “give” and not have sex; the man takes and the woman gives. What’s in for the woman then, I see nothing. That is not a great deal for the female, to be fair. Females should stop marrying American men, seems like a bunch are sexist fuckwits who want women to serve as a masturbatory machine with no opinions.
          Will she have to fake moans and orgasm as well? Okay I see that, if a man already thinks like you bunch do, of course the female have been faking it since the beginning. What I say to these women is: you do not deserve all of this sexism and selfishness, not even because of love or kids. This type of men are not worth that much. I hope you women feel free on day to finally never accept this behavior ever again in your life.

      • I don’t know. I found the articel to be as pissed off as the women that are witholding and claiming they aren’t getting any. Confuses the Hell out of me.

    • @Kerry Soileau..

      “……perhaps marriage really isn’t the best idea for you.”

      I don’t think it is the best idea for women, at all.

      • Victor Greed says:

        At least an American man agrees women are being trated like masturbatory recipes who need to “give sex” whenever hte man wants (needs, that is what they say) it and it is not the best idea for women to marry there.

    • Oh, this comment kind of makes me sad.

      First of all, the author is *not* saying that spouses should just passively accept there will be no more sex when one partner’s libido drops (which is not always the woman, contrary to stereotype) – in fact she’s arguing against that. She specifically goes into things both people can do to make the lower-libido person more desirous of sex, rather than forcing themselves through it and creating a vicious circle of more and more negative associations. Doesn’t it sound better to have sex with someone who actually wants to, than someone who’s been guilt-tripped or bullied into it? Personally, I do not understand how anyone would prefer sex with a grudging, resentful partner to simply kicking back with a Fleshlight and some porn. If this is your preference it would be illuminating for you to explain why “lie back and think of England” is a turn on.

      Second, you are right, marriage is not a good deal for anyone who 1) thinks of it as purely transactional (“I exchange my fidelity for your putting out on demand,” “I exchange my salary for you raising my children”) AND for whom getting as much sex as possible is their highest priority. If both those things are true for you it is best for you to remain single. And there is nothing wrong with choosing to remain single!

      But many people get married for other reasons – because having children or companionship are their highest priorities, or because they genuinely feel a sense of love and partnership. If you and your spouse are on the same team, and your happiness depends on that of the other person, you’ll work *together* to creatively solve problems like mismatched libido. Bean-counting and framing everything in terms of “you owe me X because I did Y” are great ways to ruin a marriage.

      • @Erica…

        You seem to have missed the very first sentence of Joanna’s piece.

        “Let’s be honest—sex is a big deal.”

        With that stated, clearly there IS an expectation of sex in a marriage. Few people I know get married just for sex. At least I know of no such people.

        Like so many women, you seem to just have this dismissive attitude. No, I have zippy interest in having sex with a woman who does not want sex with me. If the relationship is truly about giving….then I really think both parties will have to do things at times they do not feel like doing. Yes, this means a woman having unenthusiastic sex with her husband or a husband pleasing his wife.

        So many women are just so defensive over this matter when they are primarily the culprits. My suggestion is women need to really stick to marrying men whom they really want to have sex with. This way they are happy and a lot of married men can avoid the torment and sheer mental misery of women cutting off or greatly diminishing sex to their husbands.

        Yes, Joanna’s blueprint is fine. However, I think it is way overly optimistic. In the majority of cases, her proposed solutions simply are not going to work.

        JMO.

        • I certainly don’t mean to sound dismissive. I have been the higher-libido partner more often than I’ve been the lower-libido one, so trust me, I understand that it’s a problem. And yes, both I and my partners have stepped up and had sex when we weren’t particularly in the mood, because that’s part of being in a relationship. But, it’s a lot easier to do that out of love for the person when they don’t have an attitude of “my wife OWES me (PIV) sex” and are willing to reciprocate using some of the suggestions in this article.

        • Victor Greed says:

          “I have zippy interest in having sex with a woman who does not want sex with me.”
          “Yes, this means a woman having unenthusiastic sex with her husband or a husband pleasing his wife.”

          The woman does not want to have sex with you in the moment… and you still can find it sexy when she gets naked, dry as a desert, applies KY and you just go and use her vagina to masturbate with? Will she have to fake moans as well? Of course, damned it that she won’t orgasm, but then again I believe a woman married to a man with this kind of perception have never had any orgasm with him anyway.

          “So many women are just so defensive over this matter when they are primarily the culprits.”
          Yes, women are the culprits of everything bad in this world. And men have made all the goods. We see how that is logical.
          The fucking woman is totally DRY in your presence for whatever reason, she does not want your cock, she does not want to feel as a masturbatory machine. How comes she is the one to blame? You believe women owe men sex and should just lay there and be used while they are dry and uninterested but pretending they are, just like sex workers will do. Guess what, most women do not have a sex worker mentality. But still most men in America believe women should act like unpaid sex workers only because they are their wives and feel great when “getting sex” (you guys do not even HAVE sex anymore, that is not even about sharing anymore) from an uninterested, dry and unwilling woman? Fuck that shit.

  51. I thought the article had several useful suggestions. Talking through this and reassuring each other though any stressful issue in a marriage is always best.

    I wonder, though, if the deceptively provocative title has steered this discussion away from mismatched libidos and the pain this causes for both parties in a relationship, and toward a willful disregard for another person’s needs, which is what the title suggests. Gotta generate that traffic, I guess.

  52. QuantumInc says:

    This is excellent advice from Joanna. Quite simply you cannot fix any problem without first knowing what the problem is, and relationship problems inevitably involve messy emotions.

    It is acknowledged that women are usually the lower-libido partners. It’s tempting to say it’s innate biology, however there are plenty of social explanations why this might be so. There’s a long history where male lust is lauded in a tongue-in-cheek way, where as female lust is hated and feared. Male sexuality is often seen as a dangerous thing, but not for the man himself, where as a horny woman presumably hurts both herself and others. If a man can have sex with a woman without feeling guilty about it he’ll have no reason to feel bad about it. Meanwhile, even in a marriage the woman is given reason to suspect both her and her husband’s libido. (At least in stereotypes) a good mother is supposed to be sexless. Sex is seen as utterly toxic to children, so protecting them means limiting sex. If you believe the sensationalists, hearing one’s parents moaning through the wall would drive a toddler to madness. Even when married, women are given reason to fear being taken advantage of. Sex is often presented as a transaction, and a women is always losing if she has more sex that necessary. If she actually wants sex, she’s a slut and certainly unfit to parent. The religious right sometimes explicitly pushes these ideas, but they are subtly communicated everywhere. Not to mention the times when children and teenagers do something sexual, get caught and the parents freak out. I read that a young girl “played doctor” with a friend only for her mother to whip her with a power cord. One could easily imagine her being the low-libido partner to a man in the future.

    These sexist stereotypes could certainly get in the way of having an honest conversation as envisioned by Joanna. Both people would have to make a specific effort to move past these suspicions and stereotypes. You have to trust your partner more than you trust the stereotypes. However that can actually be pretty hard when you lived with the stereotypes your whole life.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I think upbringing can play a role, as you mentioned.

      I think sometimes it’s just the division of labor. Maybe women take on roles that are less sexually stimulating than men’s roles, or more damaging to the sex drive. There is something about childrearing that seriously undermines a lot of people’s libido, whether it’s paranoia about keeping sex and children separate or something else. If a parent with a low libido could find a way to have other people (anyone!) take on more of the load, or let go of some of the weird obsessions people have today about their children, you would probably see an increase in sex drive. Fair to say that hiring a babysitter more often will probably not HURT the libido….

      This is NOT the standard “if you want to get laid more, help her more around the house” advice. This would require BOTH people to make some changes. She would actually have to let him have more of a role and do some letting go of the outcome.

      • FlyingKal says:

        See point #2 in my post at 6.01 am…

        I had lived by myself for 7 years and was used to take care of myself and everyhing in the household. We didn’t have kids. I did roughly half of the household stuff like cooking, washing, cleaning, etc. In addition to doing everything outside on the house. And fulfilling her evey needs in bed.Didnät do me any good in the long run though.

        The blanket statement of division of burden is just a cheap and easy cop-out, IMO.

        • QuantumInc says:

          That sounds infinitely frustrating.

          It was my goal to show ways that women’s attitudes can be harmful, and why women might have those attitudes. There are male behaviors that contribute to those harmful attitudes, but ultimately women must change their own attitudes. I agree with you, men receive a disproportionate amount of the blame for sexual troubles. However women participate in the sex negative culture too! Women often mistrust sex-positive attitudes, and fail the recognize the value of a better sex life. Even if they see the value and make an honest effort, internalized guilt and shame and stereotypes make a for a heavy obstacle. Splitting chores more equitably helps since stress is a big libdo killer. Though the same applies to men who work hard and stress out at their job (since making money is the traditional male role). But it won’t be enough if the woman has psychological baggage around sex, and certain psycho-sexual baggage has become standard issue.

          There’s just so much in our lives that promotes these horrible views about sexuality that both men and women fall victim to it. Men are able to seek fulfillment through sex in different ways, but other times they are limited, and sometimes feel forced to have sex just to prove themselves. Some times men feel entitled to sexual service from women, which directly contributes to the harmful stereotype that sex is only good for men. Meanwhile women view sex with suspicion in almost all cases. A man expresses his sexual desires and gets labelled a pathetic creep. Even her own sexual desires might make her feel guilty.

          The weird thing is that these people are BOTH VICTIM AND PERPETRATOR. They both suffer under these sex-negative ideas but also end up spreading them. They think of justifications for their beliefs and actions and romanticize silly ideals. They get sentimental over behaviors that ultimately make their lives worse, and remain convinced that they will have their happily ever after if they just stay faithful to the often conflicting ideals taught to them by a variety of sources earlier in life. Even if the original message was sensible, it becomes muddled by the lack of, and irrational fear of, open discussion of sex.

          Unfortunately one of these stereotypes is that when sex is involved, men are the perpetrators and women are the victims. In extreme cases people say things to imply that sex is always good for men and always bad for women. The feminist movement has both helped and hurt in this regard. Feminist language is frequently co-opted by sex-negative ideologues. I’ve heard “sexual objectification” used to describe all pre-marital sex by a catholic author. The feminists themselves recognize that the real problem is our culture, and that both men and women contribute to this culture, though statistically it seems that most feminist discussion focuses on the ways men hurt women. I still consider myself a feminist, but this tendency is disappointing (it seems to be human nature to blame others, feminists encourage self analysis but are still human), and the ways that feminist rhetoric and ideas get co-opted by sex negative ideologues is incredibly frustrating and often goes unrecognized by feminists.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Yes, I agree, it can be an easy cop-out,for example, if I didn’t include the word “sometimes” in my message. I use the word “sometimes” to refer to something that happens occasionally, and not in the majority of cases, but does exist in some minority of cases. Am I using the word incorrectly?

          • Your usage of “sometimes” was appropriate. Kal was not interested in nuance. Kal basically declared that anyone citing this reason for low libido is hiding his/her true feelings.

            • FlyingKal says:

              Well, my partner wasn’t shy about making occasional complaints about sharing the burdens either.
              So yes, it might be difficult to see nuances about “sometimes”, when yourself “always” are the one who’s on the receiving end on the difficulties.

              Which brings us back to my point #2 above… 😉

  53. FlyingKal says:

    Again:
    “I know it’s hard that my libido is so low right now, but I want you to know that I do find you so attractive, and I’m so glad you’re my husband (or wife). I love you so much.” Just hearing those words, coupled with affectionate touch, can go a long way.

    On the other hand, repeatedly hearing the last part of those words from a loved one, without ever acknowledging the lower libido, will often go a long way in the wrong direction.

    Two things that irks me the most about the subject (but which I think are fairly addressed in the article):

    1. It seems to be more common than not, in popular opinion, that even if it’s the lower-libido person who mainly have changed from the initial state, it falls upon the higher-libido person to take on full responsibility for the situation. It seems rare to me that the lower-libido person to ever acknowledge that it might even be an issue in the relationship. (As I was once told when I confessed that I was feeling shit for being totally unattractive: “Women just don’t lust after sex as much as men do. It’s biological and there’s nothing to be done about it!”)

    2. When it is the woman being the lower-libido person in the relationship, the first reaction is always to try and pin it to something in the man’s behaviour, that he must be doing something wrong that is killing her libido.
    (Likewise if the man has lower libido, there’s clearly something wrong with him )

    • I can add the other half of that situation. When it’s the woman in the (hetero) relationship who has the higher libido, the first reaction is a) she’s a slut (for openly desiring sex, plus the assumption that a woman who likes/wants sex would do with anyone and everyone), b) she’s lying to hurt him/attack his manliness, c) something is wrong with her because “everyone knows” that women prefer cuddling and companionship to sex and want a relationship/boyfriend/husband more than they want a sexual partner, d) she’s a terrible lay, e) she’s ugly, f) she must be doing something wrong that is killing his libido/emasculating him.

      What I’m trying to say is that the mismatched libido problem is a BIG problem that goes both ways and can be very hurtful. All the outside/conventional judgement and blaming does ZERO to fix the problem. As I said before, my heart goes out to ANYONE who is dealing with this situation.

      • @Kaija..

        While I have to agree with much of what stated, there is one thing we cannot ignore: most of the time it is the woman who has cut off the sex to her man.

        Like you, I was in a sexless marriage for over a decade (once a month and we were in our 40s). My ex wife was very defensive when I tried to discuss the matter. Essentially, I was dismissed.

        The fact remains that for some odd reason, the “problem” seems to be the woman. Just a statement of facts. There is a large amount of data which tends to support my view.

        What I discovered is that it is easier, less stressful, and more fun, have lots more sex being a lover to woman than being a husband. I view that a just really sad.

        I would much rather have lots of sex in a monogamous marriage than have lots of partners. I really have a lot of disdain for having lots of sexual partners.

      • Thanks Kaija. I agree. The stereotype may be of the women as the low-libido partner, but I wonder if that partly isn’t due to low-libido men (and their partners) keeping quieter on the topic. Because as the female partner of a low-libido man, it is embarrassing to admit out loud to others. People do judge you harshly and assume there is something terribly wrong in you that must turn him off.

        Higher-libido men with low-libido female partners can find plenty of other men who share their frustrations and understand what they’re going through. But a woman in my situation, where can I turn? To sympathetic males? Good luck not having that come across as you coming on to them! (Another potentially embarrassing situation, to be sure.) The two other women I feel close to and have discussed this matter with both report having satisfying, active sex lives, so they don’t relate to my concerns expressed.

        If there are other women out there dealing with the pain of feeling sexually rejected by their lovers, they’re not speaking up about it. And I can understand why. As a woman it feels so important to exude sex appeal at least when dealing with your lover. It does involve a measure of control and power in the relationship, to be able to entice your man and drive him wild with lust from time to time. Being denied that feels like a part of me has been cut off, banished, and deemed irrelevant — but it’s a really important part of who I am and how I enjoy life and experience bonding!

        I, for one, am perpetually sore over this topic. From our experience, all the talking in the world won’t likely rectify this mismatching. If anything, the talking just puts more of a focus on the problem without bringing us any closer to a remedy. The truth is that he and I are different people with different values and expectations. We can try to compromise to an extent, but the results are leading us to boring, ho-hum, uninspired places in our intimate life. And that’s likely where we will stay until the relationship dissolves or one of us undergoes a major change.

        The question I keep asking myself is what matters more: a satisfying sex life or remaining in a comfortable, supportive, and otherwise responsive and caring relationship? Apparently in my case it does come down to accepting a trade-off, because I personally doubt any one person out there can provide everything another wants or needs over the long-haul. Perhaps expecting one person to fulfill all of our needs and desires is asking too much of someone.

        • wakemenow, I agree with you…I think there are far more high-libido women in this situation that we are aware of for the reasons you eloquently laid out. Once well free of that bad situation, I was able to talk about it more openly and have found that many women I’ve come in contact with have had a similar experience and were relieved to be able to talk about it honestly with someone who understood and would not be judgemental. Again, I think this is a general HUMAN problem but the perceived prevalence is skewed by traditional gender expectations and social roles. I can honestly understand why it’s difficult for ANYONE to be in this situation. I hope you can come to a decision on what to do about your situation and send you my full support and good vibes.

        • wakemenow, if you need or want someone to talk to, you’re welcome to email me: kaija24 at gmail dot com. 🙂

          • “Because as the female partner of a low-libido man, it is embarrassing to admit out loud to others.”

            I can see this. Because since men stereotypically want sex all the time, if they’re not wanting sex with you, you must be ugly or fat or terrible in bed or boring.

            • @Aya….

              “….if they’re not wanting sex with you, you must be ugly or fat or terrible in bed or boring.”

              Yes, but the same applies for men too. If you are constantly rejected for sex, dismissed, always must initiate sex, a man also feels badly. If you do not care, then most men will just step out and find a “jump off.”

              However, for most men who truly love their wives and family, we usually will just suffer in silence. This is often followed by some form of self destructive behavior such as drugs or alcoholism. Then the anger and resentment builds.

              For most men, the impact psychologically is much worse than for women. It can really change who you are as a man/person. This is especially the case for men with very little sexual experience and history.

        • @wakemenow…

          “The question I keep asking myself is what matters more: a satisfying sex life or remaining in a comfortable, supportive, and otherwise responsive and caring relationship?”

          The answer is what matters most to YOU.

          I made the decision to leave my marriage because of the mental torment. Torment caused by the dismal over a decade long sexless marriage. I saw no hope for any change. When there is no hope, it is all over.

          My view of marriage is that both people are obligated morally to have sex with their spouses. I know this does not set well with many people. However, this is how I see it. We have to work when we don’t like it. We have to do all kinds of things, often eating our pride, in life. So, I really do not see what the big deal is with sex. Women and men differ profoundly over this matter.

          If you are no longer sexually attracted to your partner, then it is time to move on. No longer having sexual attraction, but yet professing love, is friendship. It is not marriage. You are roommates.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Careful, everyone.

          If word gets out that there are more women than you think who are dissatisfied with their partners’ low libido, then watch out. The message will spread like wildfire to men who think maybe they should be with a woman with a higher libido. In the short term, a lot of break-ups, but maybe in the long term more longlasting relationships.

          By the same token, partners who feel pressured to have more sex can imagine maybe there’s someone else out there who better matches their libido. Perhaps there are much better possibilities than you think to find some sexual symmetry.

          I wonder how many relationships are held together by the assumption “that’s just the way women are, they want it less than men.” This might break some of those bonds.

          • I agree completely, and I think this failure to grasp how important and how good sexual compatibility can be between well matched partners is a terrible side effect of North American culture’s psychotic attitudes around sex. People are told all kinds of BS about sex (it’s dirty, it’s shallow, it’s sinful, it’s exploitative, it’s degrading, it’s uncivilized, it should only be done by X people under Y circumstances, it’s not important, it’s something you should rise above, you only deserve if ______, you should want it all the time/you shouldn’t want it at all, etc). and then people go into mate selection half-blind to what is realistically a HUGE component of a romantic relationship. Those toxic assumptions and expectations are hard to break through for many people 🙁

        • @wakemenow – I’m catching up on this comment thread a bit late (already 100+ comments when I came to it), but I want to mention I really appreciated your comments. There have been many good ones, and many that resonate with me, but yours in particular have been good for expressing a perspective that I’ve heard exists many times (i.e. women on the low end) but somehow it usually rings hollow to me, even when I’m trying really hard to just take people at their word. Somehow it made more sense to me the way you expressed it, and while I still directly relate more to the husband w/ higher libido side of things, you’ve gotten me to budge a bit from my “men have it worse” view on mismatched libidos. I still strongly suspect it’s more often men than women who find themselves on the higher end of that mismatch, but I can see how it sucks just as much when the genders are flipped, and how it might be more common than most people think since men are at least culturally expected/allowed to complain about how much sex they’re not getting.

          Among other things, you wrote:

          As a woman it feels so important to exude sex appeal at least when dealing with your lover. It does involve a measure of control and power in the relationship, to be able to entice your man and drive him wild with lust from time to time.

          I think that’s well said, but I submit that this is another of those gender role things where women are expected/allowed to feel that, but in fact is something many (I would guess most) men also feel. Put another way, the ingrained expectation is women want to feel sexy and desired, but men just want to have sex. In fact, men like to feel like they drive their partners wild with desire, too. A dutiful wife who never says “no” to sex but never initiates, or comes off as usually willing but never needful of sex, still doesn’t satisfy that need to feel desirable and sexy. It’s a problem that’s not gender-specific, but those roles make it harder or less believable to talk about when it’s the man who “doesn’t feel sexy enough”, similar to women having a harder time finding a sympathetic or helpful ear if they’re on the high end of mismatched libidos. Imagine the reaction to a man bemoaning his unsatisfying sex life because he and his wife have sex 4-5 times a week, but he always has to initiate and it feels like “duty” sex since she never seems to miss it or care if he goes a few days without initiating. Guys in sexless marriage would be like, “Dude! 4-5 times a week with your wife! Shut up already and just enjoy it.”

          • @Marcus Williams

            Thanks for the comment in reply. As for the gender differences, these conversations seem to always get so sticky there, so I try to approach it from my own perspective (as a woman, yes, and one individual among many) and aim not to speak for others since I’m not standing in their shoes. I have spoken with a lot of men over the years on intimate subjects (not as men I was personally dating, but people who felt free to open up in the safe space we’d created as friends of sorts), and I’ve grown to accept the assumption that this libido disparity negatively affects men substantially more than women. But, then again, perhaps that’s due to me not knowing enough women willing to open up as freely as the men I’ve talked with.

            It’s unfortunate, though, that so many of these discussions do wind up reduced down to gender stereotypes and people jumping to sides of the fence in defense of what they’re experiencing. I can understand it, just not what I want to see happening between all of us.

            It does make perfect sense to me that men would feel deprived and unfairly compensated in what’s supposed to be mutually-giving and intimate relationships, particularly when monogamy is expected. To be quite frank, I’m having difficulty comprehending why so many women now claim that having sex with their partners when they’re personally not revving to go would constitute feeling compromised or, worse yet, traumatized. How can that be when this is the man you love? What can be trauma-inducing about having sex with someone you’re committed to and who is treating you well? In my thinking, that’s a problematic, unforeseen consequence of feminism’s impact on women’s thinking these days, because that is the language I often hear them speak in (as being a “victim” or “subjugated” because one is expected to meet the sexual needs of another, nevermind that he’s her lover, and nevermind his perspective on the matter or the psychological pain he may endure as a result of her neglect in this area). It’s as if we (youngish) women were raised to believe that selfishly doing what we want, as we want, when we want, is what it means to be independent and “empowered,” but that says nothing about our commitments and agreements and personal responsibilities to others we claim to care about. But anyway, those are just my thoughts today. Take care.

            • “It’s as if we (youngish) women were raised to believe that selfishly doing what we want, as we want, when we want, is what it means to be independent and “empowered,” but that says nothing about our commitments and agreements and personal responsibilities to others we claim to care about.”
              Your words seem to fit with quite a few young women I know…even older women. It may be in the men as well though, could be that society itself is getting more selfish? Or maybe people are just more willing to talk about it these days.

            • @wakemenow: What you wrote was well constructed and speaks to my reactive impulses to defend, prop up, tout the contributions of men to the lives of women and their communities. The selfishness you describe in young women is something that I have dealt with for thirty years and is not simply reflected in today’s generation only.

              You are right in that feminism must shoulder much of the responsibility for creating this dynamic, though men, because they are consistently passive in dealing with these issues, are also to blame.

              For instance, Archy’s comments that maybe these issues are a sign of selfishness in broader culture, just let’s women off the hook. Which is counter intuitive considering how much he points out this chronic female selfishness in a host of contexts. I find that a lot on this site. Guys complain and get into long debates with women who don’t give a inch and care even less about actually looking inward far enough to even consider what the men are saying is true or has merit.
              An example would be how a thread on body image and it’s effects on men gets turned into a long winded discussion about how body image effects women. This kind of thing happens far too often on this site. In my experience, there are few women, you are one of them, who I believe are invested enough, honest enough, mature enough and care enough to actually hear what men have to say and who don’t have a Disney-esque view of women. Seriously, there are women who act as if they don’t act on lust, desire, etc. So that the only persons who are( EGAD!) lustful is men.
              This is no accident and affords women the opportunity to engage in sociably unacceptable behaviors and blame men, keeping prying eyes away from their own similar excesses, real or imagined. This is truly scary., fosters distrusts, and is a detriment to society as a whole.
              I feel very fortunate to have you on this site and I hope you stay.

              • wakemenow says:

                @ogwriter: Thanks so much for that comment. 🙂 I’m glad you and a few others find my contributions here worthwhile, newb that I am to this site (discovered by accident while looking up libido mismatch info, so I haven’t ventured yet to other articles and comment threads). It’s very nice of you and helps me to not feel like I’m crashing the party. Ha

                It seems to me though that what Archy is intuiting up above is correct, that people in general are growing excessively selfish, but that doesn’t absolve women or feminism from its share of responsibility, nor does it imply that the self-serving trend is equal or identical on all sides. Feminism has had a major impact on the culture as a whole, on boys and girls, women and men. So when we assess the state of our culture, feminism is one pertinent aspect that has aimed to redefine and reshape our gender relations, producing plenty of contradictory, confusing, and unfair results in the process. I’d say feminism has over time digressed into a power grab against mankind after satisfying its original intent (in terms of legislation passed decades ago). It’s in reaction to perceived wrongs but still is wrong in its own right by swinging the pendulum to a biased extreme. As a movement, it’s come to say little to nothing on the responsibilities of women to men or to greater society or to humanity stepping into a brand-new century. The emphasis isn’t on people but on women specifically and primarily (children secondly… with men being ranked farther down the list of societal concerns). This attitude has permeated our entire culture, providing women an excuse to trivialize men’s concerns and experiences, dismissing all men as coming from a place of privilege, and has given rise to the ‘battle’ mentality nearly everyone seems to be toting around these days.

                Feminism is but one form of selfishness being peddled, that is true, though it’s a biggie.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I think when a husband’s libido is lower than his wife’s, people put a lot of blame on him. He takes a lot of the flak as well. Maybe his wife is the target of rumors more than he is, but it’s not like all the hostility falls on her.

        If a man sleeps with his wife less often than she likes, he’s probably having an affair. He’s probably lost interest because men are dogs who chase after younger and younger women. He’s probably lost that manly edge and “can’t take care of business.” His wife is reasonably attractive, so he must be in the closet, addicted to porn, or a pedophile. He’s bitten off more than he can chew, out of his league, outpunted his coverage, not punching his weight, etc.

  54. Joanna, I really enjoyed your article. I found it very thoughtful and engaging, and thought it touched on some really key points in this kind of dynamic. Thanks for writing!

  55. It’s terrifying that sex can become a mode of leverage in a relationship. Feeling like a partner is compromising isn’t sexy at all, would make me feel guilty. It might be a good idea to test a partner’s natural libido before settling down just so it’s not out of whack right off the bat. Of course, libido is an ever-changing, elusive thing.

    • FlyingKal says:

      And it seems that just the “settling down” process is a very common activator to a lot of cases of diminishing libidos…

      • @flyingkal – exactly.

        There’s a reason for the old joke “how do you cure a nymphomaniac? Marry her.” Many women pull a sexual bait and switch once married.

        • @Jimbo..

          Well, I would not call it a bait and switch. That’s a bit too simple. It is a bit more complicated.

          I think a lot of women have in their mind a set of men they PREFER to have sex. Then there are men whom they wish to settle down with/marry and/or have as long term partners. These men are not viewed in such a sexual manner as those men whom they PREFER to have sex with. So, after marriage this simply reveals itself.

          I have met several married women who say they do not enjoy sex with their husbands. They say their husbands cannot give them good sex. That their husbands are bad in bed. Fine. But my question to them is always, “Didn’t you know this BEFORE you married him?” Their answer seems to be something along the lines of, “yes, but I love him, I thought he would be a great dad, a good rock of stability for the family….” There is NO discussion of HIS feelings about a shoddy sex life. As if he does not deserve sex. They (married women)simply refuse to take ANY kind of responsibility for the circumstances.

          The other factor that might be at work is female sexuality itself. It (female sexuality) thrives on novelty and variety. That novelty is best met by new partners. Hence, married women seems to just get tired and bored sexually with their husbands. They need a new partner to give them the spark and sexual stimulation they need.

          While these are unscientific and unproven perspectives, I have come to the conclusion that this must be what is really occurring. Many of the reason(s) offered up by women just do not square with reality.

          • ns sherlock says:

            And men just aren’t like that! God only knows how I crave routine and sameness. Taking another woman to bed would be torment for me. My wife is the only woman I think about.

            “It (female sexuality) thrives on novelty and variety. That novelty is best met by new partners. Hence, married women seems to just get tired and bored sexually with their husbands. They need a new partner to give them the spark and sexual stimulation they need.”

            • @ns sherlock….

              No we are not!!!!!!! Look who is complaining about the lack of sex 90% of the time – the men. You cannot put your head in the sand and ignore it. This is the problem. Male complaints routinely are dismissed.

              Btw, how many married men do you know have the “luxury” of turning their wives down for sex because of a lack of novelty and variety? Seriously. Most married men do not get enough plain vanilla sex to turn down ANY sex from their wives. If their are 100 married guys and they are having a conversation about sex, 80 of these guys are going to unhappy with the amount of sex they are getting.

              The really shitty aspect of this is they are not asking for daily sex!! I was married, in my 40s, and was having sex once a month! Nearly one third of marriages in America are sexless!

              I wonder how many of those men in Kennebunk, Maine went to this woman because of a crappy sex life? According to Alexis Wright, most of them did. She certainly would know. If you look at the most recent list of names (now with ages and address), most are in 50s & 60s.

              Give me a freaking break!!

              • ns sherlock says:

                That was sarcasm, btw. I’m a married man. I know my complaints are routinely dismissed. I don’t get enough vanilla sex. But, it’s still boring enough to turn down from time to time.

                I don’t like the way women’s sexuality is put on a pedestal. Ohhhh, it’s complex. They need variety, have emotions, etc. And men are what? Sexual simpletons? When my wife’s not in the mood, I must mount and hump the couch. Because… friction, right?

                I feel a lot of sympathy for those guys in Kennebunk and also for the woman they were meeting.

                • Hunter @Green Detective says:

                  Another ten years, you are going to laugh at this! It’s not about who is “right”. This is not a war.

                  R O M A N C E. Stop pulling and pushing. Let it flow.

          • Women are constantly told that there are girls you want to fuck, and girls you want to marry – and you can only be in ONE of those groups. (“Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”) Don’t act like men are the sole victims of that trope.

            • There are women that fall into both catagories, just as some only fall into one or the other. Same as for women’s choices, Guy do get the “your the type I’d want to marry yet I’m not ready for that yet” it’s just much less common for women to be that honest with themselves or others about those choices.

  56. Alternate says:

    A very great article!

    Still sex and libido is a very complex issue. But one thing I know about sex and libido is that its also very dependent on your lifestyle. Environment, history and behavior has great effect on it, especially environment. In ‘ideal’ situations, it is possible to make the libidos of the couple to be the same.

    I had experimented with my sexuality and I learned a lot about it. There is a lot of situations where I loose my libido and there are also many that increase it. I believe it is also the same for everyone. If only we study our own sexuality we would have less problem with it.

  57. You can covertly build desire through relationship game. Athol Kay has written a fantastic book – and runs a fantastic blog – about exactly this.

    “While no one ever has the right to demand sex from someone” – this is dubiously true. Sex is a key part of the Christian marriage contract: “with my body I thee worship” is an important component of Anglican vows, and Corinthians 7 makes it clear that bountiful sexual activity is a spousal duty. If the sex isn’t there the partner denying sexual activity has effectively nullified the marriage.

    While you can’t demand just sex, I suppose, “sex or divorce” is a perfectly fair ultimatum.

    • Hunter @Green Detective says:

      SEX THERAPIST. You hire a Realtor to negotiate a house purchase, but you won’t let a therapist help with this highly charged /blocked subject?

  58. This topic is very personal for me. In the distant past, I was in a long-term monogamous relationship with a guy who withheld for what I believe is a variety of reasons, including low libido (which he was in denial over, but I can almost understand that given the social pressure on men that masculinity=high libido), passive-aggressive behaviour that came out in a variety of ways, and some repressed resentments or unhappiness left over from childhood and carried into romantic relationships. Unfortunately, he was either unable or unwilling to communicate about the causes of our almost nonexistent sex life, and I stayed longer than I should because he was at the bottom of it, a good guy that I cared about and I wanted to try to work things out, but in the end, I just couldn’t accept the possibility that I could go the rest of my life with little to no sex (I am a high libido woman who prefers monogamous relationships). The lack of intimacy and touch as well as frustration can be absolutely hurtful, and I sympathize with anyone who has been or is in such a situation (things are MUCH better for me now but I still get a twinge of “ouch” on this topic).

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Kaija, I’m so glad you found your way out of what sounds like a terminally toxic relationship.

      I definitely don’t think everyone should stay in sexless relationships, but I do think that before a person leaves, they need to try everything they can to repair it, and that will undoubtably require getting to the true root of the problem. Sounds like you did what you could and I wish you lots of love and sex for the future!

      • Thank you Joanna. The longterm relationship I am in now is much more healthy and my beloved partner and I are well-matched in libido, which is soooo refreshing. I wanted to add my experience/my voice to the discussion because when I was in that relationship, I felt erased by the “conventional wisdom” that it’s always the guy (in a hetero relationship) that wants more sex and that the opposite situation just didn’t exist. It made a difficult situation more difficult to deal with. The libido mismatch can go both ways.

        I agree with Dan Savage’s advice on this topic, which is that if you’ve tried to openly communicate, get medical help, compromise, etc. and one person in the relationship just has no interest in sex, then it is cruel and unfair for one person to unilaterally decide that the sexual part of the partnership is done. Either the couple should break up and seek out a different relationship or agreements should be negotiated so that the other partner is able to seek out/find sexual experiences elsewhere. A romantic partnership is assumed to include sexual intimacy, otherwise it’s a close friendship (which is no less valuable but is a much different thing). And lack of sexual compatibility IS a very important and valid reason for breaking up. Some people will say that “the sex isn’t so important” or “sex shouldn’t matter that much” but I think it DOES matter a lot for a lot of people (of any gender).

        • As a woman dating a low-libido man, I can completely relate with so many comments expressed on this thread. In our situation, the sex fell away rather suddenly, without warning or reason, and despite several attempts at communication, requests that he see a doctor to have his hormones checked (which he refuses to do), and attempts on my part to put the spark back in our relationship, it’s just dwindling away. He tells me he’s happy, he’s perfectly content, and that he does feel desire toward me. When I ask why he can’t or won’t act on this desire, he becomes vague and dismissive, mumbling an argument that sounds to me like the stars aren’t in proper alignment or the wind isn’t blowing in the right direction.

          My partner has no trouble achieving an erection, he just works at a physically-demanding job that tuckers him out. BUT, even so, on weekends and during vacation weeks he STILL lacks a sex drive. If I am not the one to initiate, sex rarely ever will take place. And since we’ve discussed this matter into the ground, it now feels as if he relents when I initiate, as if he’s just giving in to me, not enthusiastically taking part. We’re still relatively young people, and I let it be known from day one that sex and intimacy are hugely important aspects of my life and well-being. He agreed back then, but now that he’s settled in comfortably it all seems to matter less. I honestly don’t believe he understands my perspective here, even as I’ve been reduced to crying and begging him. He feels guilt, I’m sure, as do I, and this resentment threatens to undermine what bond still exists between us. This is truly a sad situation because he is such a sweet and caring man otherwise.

          In our relationship, infidelity is not acceptable. I’ve talked with my partner about me seeing someone else purely for sexual release and was denied. This frustrates me to no end, and as someone unfamiliar with being in a committed, monogamous relationship with one person, I expected him to work with me keep our sex life exciting. But no. He doesn’t see it that way. Sex matters far less to him. And because his exes never complained to him about this matter, it’s suggested that the problem ultimately lies in ME — that I must possess TOO HIGH of a sex drive. So I’ve been working on myself, consciously trying to dull down this part of who I am, sitting on my hands and avoiding stimulating touch from him because it reminds me of what I sorely miss between us. It’s positively heart-breaking, and I fear this will eventually unravel our connection entirely and end our relationship. How depressing.

          More and more I’m coming to believe that because two people make partners for day-to-day living doesn’t mean they will prove to be one another’s “end all/be all.” Sexual satisfaction may very well require a separate source than our long-term companion alone. I don’t know. These are ideas I’m struggling with and pondering. What I have found is that stepping out on my partner only brought a great deal more shame and pain and intensified the resentment I’ve been experiencing.

          • Typo correction: “More and more I’m coming to believe that because two people make IDEAL partners for day-to-day living doesn’t mean they will prove to be one another’s ‘end all/be all’.”

          • @wakemenow…

            First, i want to share my deeply felt empathy with you. I was in a similar situation with my ex wife. I truly felt tormented. I started to lose myself and become a different (nasty) person.

            If you have tried everything and there is no EFFORT on his part to change, then the writing is probably on the wall. As Joanna correctly suggested, you and your husband should seek to exhaust all efforts. But, when one person is dismissive and/or resentful it is nearly impossible.

            The real sad aspect of all of this is it just seems as if monogamy and sex are just incompatible. As a man, I have found that being a lover to a woman, instead of a husband, is better sexually. It’s a shame. But, it is my experience.

            Best of luck. I truly empathize and hope you are able to find what you are seeking in life. Life is just to short to live in misery.

            • Thank you, Jules. I read your previous comments prior to my original post and sympathized with your past situation as well. I can understand becoming a bit nasty in attitude or thoughts. Yep. I went through a few spells of that already, BUT we keep talking and I continue trying to work on myself, not just for the betterment of our relationship (important as that is to me) but also because I probably really do need to cool my jets when it comes to my sexuality.

              Maybe I’ve grown to place too much emphasis in it, which admittedly has redirected my focus from other productive uses of my time and energy. It’s been suggested to me by a handful of people now that I’d make a decent posterchild for sexual addiction. It seemed funny initially, a crazy joke, but it’s begun sinking in a bit since then and I’ve looked more closely into my past lifestyles and expectations. Hell, they might be right. Not much a person can do about it though other than train for better self-control (which is all a counselor can tell you as well), so that’s what I’m going to keep trying at, frustrating as it all is. Would be much easier if my partner wanted sex more than 1-2 times a month, but oh well! Such is life. He’s worthy trying my hardest for, so that’s what I’m aiming to do.

              Oh. but we’re not married. Long-term dating. Spend most nights at each other’s homes.

              As for the discussion on bait and switch I read elsewhere in the comments, sure, some people will consciously try that sometimes, but I think most of us just put a better foot forward earlier on, and that loosens up (or dissolves lol) over time as people grow comfortable around each other. Some people are naturally more reserved than others; some are good at sucking in their tummies for months on end. Ha ‘Tis people. Humans are a strange lot.

              To be fair, my partner has had to work longer and harder hours at his job this past year, so I’m not trying to make fun of him here, so that’s understood.

              Guess there are things people are slow to open up about, especially if they think it might disappoint you, because they love you.

              So, I guess I get to try my hand at imitating a nun for the duration of this relationship. Wish me well!
              (I find keeping a sense of humor helps, when able. In the past, I’d consider twice this amount of sex to qualify as nundom. But ah well, we choose to stick it out and see what happens. He’s a good guy, and someone like him doesn’t come around everyday.)

          • @wakemenow and unfortunately, regardless of the partner’s gender the general consensus from most is that the burden falls on the high-libido partner to change, not the low libido partner. In fact there’s rarely even a push for the low libido partner to acknowledge that it’s a problem (your guy won’t even have his hormones checked!). That’s a shame.

            Be glad that you are only dating and not married. It’s unfair that your boyfriend won’t have sex with you and is not open minded enough to give you permission for a sexual outlet.

          • wellokaythen says:

            Another way to look at it is that the lower-libido person is getting all the sex he/she wants from the other person. She has all the sex she needs but he doesn’t.

            That’s like the spouse with the smaller appetite determines the food portions for both people. If you’re still hungry, too bad, we both eat the same amount of food. I’m full, so what do I care if you’re still hungry?

            • Exactly. If the two people’s “appetites” aren’t too far apart, it’s easier to find a compromise than if they are at widely separated extremes; in the latter case, “compromise” can mean that neither person is happy or getting what they need 🙁

        • @Kaija…

          “The longterm relationship I am in now is much more healthy and my beloved partner and I are well-matched in libido, which is soooo refreshing.”

          Yes, because you are with a man whom you REALLY want to have sex with.

          Instead of marrying men whom they find attractive and/or are good providers etc…….why don’t women marry the men they REALLY like having sex with? Obviously, the men whom they choose to marry and the ones whom they really want to have sex with are different. But we just persist in denial about this fact.

          • There are many examples here in the comments of people who got together (marriage or longterm partnership) under circumstances where the sex was good and then it just…disappeared. I’m sure that some people (of either gender) don’t fully take good sex into account when they pick a partner. But many do and are then hurt, confused, frustrated, sad, angry, etc. when the good sex and the desire seem to fade.

            In hindsight, it’s easy to say “whelp, should have picked a different person!” about ANY problem in a partnership but I think the conversation here is much more nuanced.

          • Also, if you read the comments written by me and by wakemenow’s case, we both really wanted to be having sex with our male partners but they were not willing/not interested. Which is why I have said that this is a HUMAN problem and something that couples of any gender struggle with.

            • It is a human problem, but to be straight-up, I’ve heard a LOT more men complain about it than women. So I’m guessing there’s a higher ratio of high-libido men with low-libido women than high-libido women frustrated with low-libido male partners. Not that there might not be plenty of low-libido men out in society, just that they’re likely paired with relatively low-libido women, hence why we’re not hearing much about it. Sounds reasonable to me, and it fits with what human evolutionary biology research suggests.

              I read somewhere once upon a time about how more sexually-driven men produce more offspring, but then there’s this other class of males who serve as better parents (mostly because they stick around) to care for offspring not their own — step-parenting essentially), which they are willing and able to do because they lack such a high drive and are therefore more ready and willing to pair up primarily for companionship purposes. Makes me wonder, if true, how that pie chart might shake out percentage-wise. Makes me wonder also if that might not be a feature of genetic-cultural co-evolution (a.k.a. domesticating one another over time) or if it results from regular exposure to estrogenic compounds in our environment. *shrugs* Worth pondering, IMO.

    • Hunter @Green Detective says:

      Sex Therapy is a good solution vs. throwing in towel on principle.

  59. Another good take on this subject that is honest and humane to both genders (in that either of two people in a relationship can be the low-libido partner) is this post at Quizzical Pussy: http://quizzicalpussy.com/guest-post-shelf-life/
    “Sexual intimacy often serves as a mine canary, in that enthusiastic participation in what is really the most direct form of intimacy is going to be the first and most emphatic death in a relationship that is being poisoned by mistrust, contempt, power and control issues, or outright abuse. None of this will apply to any relationship whose basic problems boil down to two people who no longer really even like each other, let alone love each other.”

  60. wellokaythen says:

    Sometimes what the man wants to see is that his partner is putting a high priority on their sex life, that she shows that she cares about the fact that he wants sex more often than she does. This may be one place where men and women are much more similar than people think: showing that you’re making an effort can work wonders.

    Showing that you care about how he feels about the asymmetry goes a long way towards making him feel better, which may help you both relax and actually make intimacy more likely that way. In some cases, the attempt to boost your sex life or just to talk lovingly about your sex life may be as important as actually succeeding. When my wife merely mentions our sex life in passing, that all by itself activates the launch sequence on my side of things.

  61. I noticed that when you expressed the responsibility piece for the person with the lower-libido around finding ways to meet their partner’s needs, something deep in me relaxed. I felt, “Jeeeesh, so long as my partner is making an effort, I have tons of patience for their process.” It’s when I feel like this condition is never going to change and I’m powerless to do anything about it (short of separation) that I start to freak out.

    Thank you for that important distinction!

  62. WOW! Just wow!

    Joanna, you are a marvelous writer! You made it easy to connect to the insights you shared; it was personable, practical, and even funny. There is so much value packed in this article, I’m delightfully inspired to read more of your work!

    Here are some of the quotes that impacted me the most…

    “the husband who is an “always on” can’t help but imagine what it would mean if he begged out of sex. To him, it would mean, “I don’t like you enough to have sex with you.””

    “He’s a dude, he’s supposed to feel awesome about himself at all times. Insecurity, especially body or sexual insecurity, is for chicks.”

    “So we think our rejection of you won’t phase you. Sure, it might make you mad or frustrated, but we don’t assume it’s going to hurt you.”

    “And so that gap between two partners who once couldn’t keep their hands off one another becomes a giant chasm, and both partners are left unsatisfied. Now they’re not only not having sex, they also have lost all physical affection.”

    “The key here is to just try to understand what your partner is saying. Don’t judge and don’t defend. Just explain, listen and clarify.”

    (In my training, we call this intention “getting someone’s world”, that is to say, asking the sort of questions that allow you to geniuninely see the world the way this person does, sourced from a real desire to understand them.)

    “Once you have a really good understanding of what’s happening inside each other, you can move on to the final steps of finding ways to avoid the problem in the future by doing things differently.”

    Please keep up the good work. This is solid gold for so many of us struggling in relationship.

  63. Thank you for writing this, Joanna…! There are so many nuances to this…and you so get it!

    I would also like to add that it helps to go out as a couple and hang out with your crazy friends from HS (while your kid is at his friend’s house for a sleepover)….looking at other people’s crazy relationships makes you appreciate what you have at home!

  64. Nick, mostly says:

    Two things:
    1) The 316E will barely cut down a sapling. It’s not even made by Husqvarna – they just put their name on it to charge a higher price for a piece of junk. Now if you want to talk about the 460 Rancher…

    2) I don’t think this is an over-simplification so much as only touches on a couple types of sexless relationships, the type where couples have drifted apart. What proportion they represent among sexless relationships I don’t know.

    Do you remember Hugo’s piece about his wife’s tampon?

    Sometimes, for some people, it just turns off, as if a switch has been flipped. No more desire. They continue to love and respect their partners, and have deep affection for them; they just don’t feel a sexual desire any longer. I’ve heard this described as the spouse having been “friend zoned” but I don’t think that’s quite it. But there seems to be a turning point for some people, where they no longer see their partner sexually.

    Also, I’m not sure I agree with the language of “entitlement.” I don’t think people feel entitled to sex as much as they had a reasonable expectation that sex would be part of their monogamous, committed, sexual relationship. I don’t think people actually discuss, when making that commitment, what to do when one of them is no longer interested in sex. I certainly didn’t, and none of my friends I’ve asked did either. It just doesn’t seem fathomable that one might go from 4-6 times a week to 4-6 times a year, or less. What resolution is available for these couples? For most people the commitment to monogamy is inviolable, so the choices that remain are giving up the relationship or giving up the expectation that one will be satisfied in their sexual relationship.

    Perhaps I’m simply misunderstanding the target audience for this essay. The assumption appears to be that there is something that can be fixed, that maybe time coupled with techniques from self-help books – be it Gottman, or Schnarch, or Cloke – will help people identify what ails them and work to find that reconnection. I agree, making one’s partner feel guilty isn’t the answer, and I do believe these techniques will help alleviate that guilt the low-libido partner may have internalized. But unless guilt is the reason for the sexlessness, I don’t see how the high-libido partner’s sexual frustration and resentment is assuaged. When they realize their low-libido partner isn’t withholding, when they understand it’s not about them, that they’re still loved and still found attractive, do they just become “okay” with the new normal? I may be wrong, but I strongly suspect that is the sentiment reflected in the comment byFlyingKal.

    • @Nick,

      “Sometimes, for some people, it just turns off, as if a switch has been flipped. No more desire. They continue to love and respect their partners, and have deep affection for them; they just don’t feel a sexual desire any longer. I’ve heard this described as the spouse having been “friend zoned” but I don’t think that’s quite it. But there seems to be a turning point for some people, where they no longer see their partner sexually.”

      This is crux of the matter. It is not a lack of desire per se. It is a lack of desire for him by her. The vast majority of times, the problem is with the woman. Yes, there are women who are sexually frustrated with low libido men. But, the majority of the sexual frustration in marriages is with the men. They are not getting sex from their wives.

      Joanna has incorrectly ASSUMED that this is a fixable problem. It is not in most cases I would argue. I elected to divorce because I knew it was not fixable. No woman is going to tell her husband she loves him but not have sex with him and be credible.

      • This is an interesting point that both Nick and Jules make. What to do in a situation where there are no real blocks to a higher sex drive, the higher sex drive simply isn’t there anymore. There is no real problem other than the natural states for the two in partnership is mismatched.

        1. Situation could be temporary, as Joanna suggests in the article. May be that the libido elevates with a natural rhythm. (But I’m betting most of you are not satisfied with that answer and prolly don’t believe it will actually change).

        2. If the mismatch is truly irreconcilable, then other relationship models may need to be explored. There are a whole spectrum of relationships with varying degrees of openness. The Ethical Slut and Openness are good books for examples and guidance.

        3. If openness is off the table, then sadly the relationship may need to end or shift into a friendship (and in all likelihood, it may have ended or become a friendship already). Accepting the fact that no relationship lasts forever (we all die) and that the quality of one’s relationship is a key component to living happily is a hard truth that may need to be faced. Using the tools for intimate communication that Joanna provided here (as well as NVC and others) is a good way to facilitate that transition.

        Good points guys! Thanks for playing for keeps.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Like I’ve said in the comments here, not all relationships can be saved.

          However, better communication is the first key to determining WHAT the actual problem is… Most of the time, people go around assuming what the problem is, and internalizing the assumption and working off of that. It won’t work, it simply won’t.

          And one article cannot cover every aspect and every possibility of why there is a loss of desire. Sure, sometimes it switches off. Sometimes people fall out of love. Sometimes you have to have a surgery that makes you incapable of having sex. Sometimes you have to be on a medication, without question, that makes you incapable of having an erection and makes you lose desire. Sometimes all those things happen.

          But this article is about a certain type of loss of libido, one that is primarily caused by a cycle of miscommunication by two people who do love each other and want to be together.

          Also, I do believe strongly in ethical polyamory as an alternative to monogamy for some couples. It just has to be entered into with great care, lots of communication, and a massive load of respect for one another and anyone else you’re connecting with.

          Also, should I change the name of the chainsaw? I looked at a bunch of customer reviews to determine which one to cite. 😉

          • Nick, mostly says:

            And one article cannot cover every aspect and every possibility of why there is a loss of desire.

            Right. I’m simply curious about why things go wrong. What proportion of sexless relationships are due to a negative dynamic that feeds back onto itself, compared to relationships where one partner just isn’t into the other?
            There’s a scene in American Beauty that in 3 minutes probably sums up the entire dynamic couples find themselves in.

            Also, should I change the name of the chainsaw? I looked at a bunch of customer reviews to determine which one to cite.

            Nah, I’m just a little sad that Husqvarna, which used to be known for quality, has decided to orange-wash some of their Poulan models just to make a few more bucks on them.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I would feel that way about SubZero and Wolf. Both have become such crap. I don’t know what’s changed, but something has. I’d so stick with GE Profile for high-end appliances now and ditch those two.

              I hate when brands that once stood for quality ride that cache without thinking about how they’re damaging their brand reputation.

              My dad had a SubZero in the house he bought 20 years ago…The compressor for the freezer broke this past summer. When they came to fix it, the Sub Zero guy goes, “Do you know what year this model is from?”

              My dad goes, “I was thinking late 80s, early 90s”

              “1967.”

              First break-down – at least in the last 20 years! Our SubZero has a repair guy here once a year… At the least.

      • Hunter @Green Detective says:

        SEX THERAPISTS WORK WONDERS! Avoid prostitution AT ALL COSTS. Never work.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Sometimes there is a switch that goes off and it will never come on again. I think what Joanna’s suggesting is spending some time finding the switch and seeing if it’s in the locked position, or seeing if there are other switches to use? Maybe a little searching for the on button again before chucking the whole machine? “I dunno, I just lost it somewhere,” sounds like someone who needs to do a little sexual homework.

  65. If the partner with the reduced desire has openly and honestly communicated that fact, the partner with the higher drive should feel free to masturbate more often, with or without porn. And if the other partner has a problem with that, there’s something wrong with the relationship.

    • not a monk says:

      Sounds like there’s something wrong with it regardless. Honest communication or no. I’ve never felt anything but free about masturbation or porn… it’s not any of my partner’s concern at all until I start turning her down because I’m spent and not in the mood because of those activities.

      Masturbation takes the edge off, but who seriously considers masturbation and porn a substitute for an enthusiastic partner and a satisfying sex life?

      • Masturbation is in no way a legitimate substitute for physical intimacy with another human being. not a monk hits it right on the nose.

      • Would you suggest seeing a sex worker?
        If a partner hasn’t got the libido to share with their mate, should they give them the nod to seek out legal prostitution with safe sex?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Sure, but only with 100% agreement from their partner.

          • I think it’s a good option, especially if the libido is dead in the other partner. Lower risk of them falling for the sex worker too. If for some reason my libido died I’d probably let my partner go see a sex worker, maybe let them have a bf/gf, but I hope my libido doesn’t die:P I value it way too much for that to happen, I’ll fight tooth n nail for it!

        • not a monk says:

          No, but only because of the risk (I perceive) of catching something. Maybe it’s not that risky? But I kind of doubt it.

        • Hunter @Green Detective says:

          See a Dr. first for physical panel for both of you, or you’ll be see an Attorney.

  66. Good advice. I have a high libido and would hate to have a partner that can’t match it.

  67. Women’s problem is that they continue to equate sex with love when sex is really just the physical expression of attraction. Sex with an attractive person regardless of how I feel about them is going to feel good regardless. True _love_ is cooking someone dinner, taking out the trash, paying the bills, taking care of someone who’s sick, forgiving someone’s faults, and celebrating their strengths. Since sex is important to peoples’ physical and mental well being, let’s remember that in a monogamous marriage the wife is the husband’s only opportunity for sex so when it’s not happening it’s a bad and frustrating thing. So having sex with the one you love is a product of monogamy.

    Marriage is about all of this, sharing the good and bad parts of ourselves and the physical connection (monogamy). Today’s women after forty years of women’s magazines and awful Hollywood romance movies are too often expecting every time they have sex to be a huge production with every romantic stop pulled out. Many times the “low libido” excuse is really “he didn’t take me to dinner, cover the bed with rose petals, and set out candles.” Not only is this not realistic it’s stupid, childish thinking. Interesting that it’s never “he goes to a job he hates every day to support the family, he took out the trash so I didn’t have to, he mowed the yard so I didn’t have to worry about it, and I couldn’t wait to express my love for him in the bedroom as soon as he finished doing all that!”

    We only get so many days on this Earth as it is, and we’re only going to get so many days on this Earth married and together. As sad as it is one of us will die before the other. Every day you tell your husband you’re too tired or just not into it is another opportunity for sex that you will never get back. You’ll really be able to appreciate all the times you “weren’t in the mood” and your husband went to bed angry and frustrated when you are old and alone after he’s passed away.

    • What I’ve heard from my friends about low libido isn’t “He isn’t making a hollywood production out of it” but “he doesn’t even want to kiss or make out, and then he leaves the kitchen a mess and the kids have homework.” It’s less about expense and more about actual connection and romantic attention and the soul sucking mundanities of every day life and then feeling like you are an outlet for his sexual tension rather than a partner in a seduction duo. That would kill my libido too.

      Which is why I think affairs are so easy to fall into or seem to be, from what I hear.

      Dating and falling in love sex is easy. There are a bazillion hormones going on and usually there aren’t the everyday domestics of marriage and kids. I agree that life is short and every day you say no you are too tired may be a regrettable thing. But every day he doesn’t put in the effort too to turn you on (or you him) is also a regrettable thing.

      Sex should be as mutual as possible.

      • Interesting how most men will still want to have sex with their wives when she leaves the kitchen a mess, doesn’t pick up or put away her clothes, or stays out at happy hour later than the said she would even though the kids need her help with homework.

        BTW I believe affairs are the ultimate fool’s gold of sex.

        • It is interesting. I think desire and sex drive are very different things. I’ve noticed that the women feel this particular responsibility for the house (thus wanting it all kept up prior to relaxing) and often the men won’t, as you said, and then a conflict and lack of understanding is born.

          I myself have had to learn to let go of the house in lieu of a lot of other things that are important to me and while I can do it, and it becomes easier to do, it’s still a resentment I feel that my spouse doesn’t have the same desire for the home to be a particular way.

          So in that case it doesn’t affect our sex life more like me wanting the house clean before I start creative work, but it does sometimes cause a resentment to build up (which I think is what is causing the sex lives mentioned to become affected). She may have a sex drive, but if she is feeling resentful, why would she want to have sex? To get closer when she doesn’t feel close to begin with? Would he be more willing to talk and listen and resolve the conflict after sex? Maybe, but then it could seem like a “payment” one is making to get the emotional resolve. Then again, he might feel the same way about talking first.

          Early sex hormones are like coke-the rush over all the other bullshit. I don’t like affairs myself, but I do understand why people fall into them.

          I think, personally, that people in close proximity for long periods of time wind up becoming desexualized to each other. Mating In Captivity is a good book on that. As for your comments to Joanna, yeah there are lot of things we do for each other in marriage we might not be in the mood for and I do include sex in that, but I also am aware that sex can be a different beast altogether. If you really really really don’t want to talk, me making you talk is probably gonna wind up as a one sided not fun possible angry conversation. Same thing with sex. Not in the mood? I can probably get in the mood. Really really really don’t want to share intimacy/ill/mad? Yeah, not so much. For either gender I think.

          • wellokaythen says:

            Affairs can be the “fool’s gold of sex.” That depends on what the gold you’re looking for really is.

            And, you can have an affair relationship without having sex with that person. Men do have emotional affairs sometimes, not “just””sexual” ones.

          • I second the recommendation for the book Mating In Captivity. I thought it was a very honest and humane approach to the stark reality that people of either gender have ups and downs in their sex lives and libidos, which are especially visible in a long term relationship…but that these are NORMAL. Also, I liked that the author addressed the possibility that there are people for whom novelty is BIG factor and also those for whom it is not. Therefore, partners who are on the extreme ends of a general libido mismatch or a need for novelty mismatch or both are going to have extra challenges. Throughout the book, the focus is not on pathology or gender essentialism but on the sheer complexity and variability of human behaviour and how we can avoid making it worse.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I will second Jimbo that affairs are fool’s gold for sex. In fact, I like that term so much, I may steal it, but I’ll give you credit ;).

          Novelty is erotic. We know this about our species. Some will put an evolutionary biology spin on it, but I’m hesitant to do so. The fact is, if we followed our every whim and desire, most of us would jump from mate to mate to mate, while also longing for something more profound. And the truth is, your new and exciting person will son become tiresome and leave socks around and bug the shit out of you and nag you and grow body hair in weird places and take on a strange odor just like your current partner. That doesn’t mean everyone should stay in every marriage, or that we shouldn’t want for more, but as Jules says, all that glitters isn’t gold.

          It’s one of those terrible conundrums of being human. Monogamy is hard – for everyone. Whether it’s hard because they want to have sex with others, or simply because ALL long-term relationships have challenges that cause a person to want to quit, monogamy is rough.

          I’m a huge fan of ethical polyamory for some people, though I don’t get into it in this article. But it is not like going out and having an affair that’s a-okay with your mate. Polyamory requires time and commitment to each and every person that you’re connecting with, as well as what is probably twice as much communication, honesty, respect and sensitivity to your spouse or primary partner. It’s not a catch-all for a relationship where someone isn’t getting enough sex.

          I think our society would be better off if we made ethical polyamory more of an accepted choice for relationships, and also offered more support and tools to people who choose monogamy. Both are hard for different reasons, and poly is hard for the reasons that many couples who are poly have to keep it a secret in their professional lives or from their families.

          It must be stated here that I am in a long-term, monogamous cis het marriage, and so as far as personal experience, I can only speak to that.

          • 2 married couples can always meet up for some fun? Might keep the spice in the relationship as long as clear boundaries exist.

          • Dolores Haze says:

            I thank my lucky stars that I started exploring polyamory in the context of my committed partnership at a fairly young age. (I am 26.) Not only has it made staying together possible, especially when we have to be an ocean apart for months at a time, but it has given us the tools to communicate about really difficult things. I can’t envision ever again adhering to monogamy as a philosophy and way of living – polyamory has changed my life that much for the better.

            I had the benefit of not being in, say, a 10-year marriage and then trying to broach the topic of “Hey, let’s consider opening up our relationship.” Getting in on the ground level of a relationship is an entirely different ballgame.

            • @Delores Haze…

              Are you married? Or in a long term relationship?

              My faith and confidence in monogamy, marriage, women and sex, sex and marriage was shattered after a 15 year failed sexless marriage. While I know very little of polyamory, I have recently began to hear more and more people discussing it.

              Is it the same as an open marriage?

        • …”most men will still want to have sex with their wives when she leaves the kitchen a mess, doesn’t pick up or put away her clothes, or stays out at happy hour later than the said she would even though the kids need her help with homework.”

          I doubt that would be the case if this behavior pattern was routine. Sure, one night if my wife goes out with a friend and comes home late, I’m thinking, great, she might be a little tipsy and up for some fun! But if that happens 2 or 3 nights a week, or she routinely ignores simple courtesies like picking up after herself and our kids, yeah, I think I might get a little annoyed and probably not feel all that ready to jump her bones on command. When women point to things like this, they do so to point out a pattern of behavior that indicates a certain degree of disregard for others who share a living space. If you feel your partner disrespects you and your house by ignoring requests to clean or be accountable as to their whereabouts, you are not going to feel all that excited about having intimate sex. It’s about unmet emotional needs as opposed to a failure to check off items on the honey-do list.

      • @Julie,

        “But every day he doesn’t put in the effort too to turn you on (or you him) is also a regrettable thing.”

        The majority of the time, it is the woman who is complaining…Why does he have always turn her on? Does not she want sex? Why can’t she initiate sex or the seduction.

        Unless a woman’s libido is dead, she is going to get horny. It’s just that she is turned off to the husband but would not mind shtupping someone else. So, is it really about desire? Or is it about desire for someone else?

        Since being single the past two years, I have discovered it is much better, easier, and fun to be a lover to a woman than a husband. And that is very very sad indeed. It’s shameful a man cannot be both and be happy.

        • Nick, mostly says:

          Consider the Australian bower bird. The male has to seduce a mate by building her a house, fully furnished and decorated at that.

          I think humans are in this weird place where our instinctual mating behaviors often clash with our socialized big brains. Perhaps that accounts for the curious case of the feminist female who expects her suitor to at the very least pay for the first three dates.

          Would you prefer to be ideologically consistent, and hold others to that same standard, or to have a lower-conflict relationship, with more sex? The male bower bird is out right now collecting blue pebbles. I wonder, would they complain if they could?

          • wellokaythen says:

            From what I understand, there are some bird species where the same species has different mating patterns in different environments. Humans live in a wide variety of circumstances, so maybe we naturally have multiple “natural” forms of mating. Maybe with humans there is one predominant biological tendency, but then again maybe there are multiple behaviors that are all just as “natural.”

            The bower bird is at least a cute example. If the relationship model is the praying mantis, then I don’t wanna play this game anymore…..

        • Hunter @Green Detective says:

          You will meet the right person if you ASK for respect.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Jimbo, that’s an impressive heap of guilt to load on someone.

      What I’m asking both partners to do in this article is have empathy for one another.

      If a wife doesn’t feel desire, but feels pressured to, or forced to have sex, that’s a day of HER life she can’t get back. She may feel violated, dehumanized or maybe dirty and ashamed. Sex should be enthusiastically mutual.

      That being said, I don’t disagree with your premise, that sex is important. But the solution isn’t making a woman feel bad for when her husband dies and she didn’t give it to him. As I said in the article, a person who doesn’t feel desire simply DOES NOT have sex to give. They may have a vagina (or a penis) on their body in which a person could engage in intercourse, but that’s not really sex, is it?

      The problems need to be solved from the very root of the issue, not from the “just do it” angle.

      And ultimately, do you really want sex from someone who feels guilted into it?

      I don’t.

      • Well said.

      • I hear you that guilt is anathema to desire. The problem is desire cannot be negotiated, it’s more structural than we might think. Any of the communication exercises or efforts one might undertake (and before the NAWALT crowd chimes in, enough women are like this to make a generalization) are sex by proxy. That is to say, if you formalize and routinize action or communication to create sexy-time conditions…it’s STILL the case that the woman in this situtation would say “He’s just doing this so he can have sex”. Happens much more frequently in supposedly empowered relationships than we can imagine.

        So what we’re left with is this, ultimately.

        Keep in mind that you and your husband made an agreement that neither can go outside the marriage for sex. So if you won’t have sex with him, you are telling him (not really you, but the hypothetical sex-refusing or denying wife in the discussion):

        “I don’t care about you, taking care of your needs is a bother to me. I don’t love you enough for that.”

        Now, consider the quality of the “companionship” in that marriage. How much is he going to enjoy spending time with a woman who sends him that message loud and clear every day?

        But why can’t he just love her for her?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Gambit, I hear what you’re saying and I can imagine that’s how it feels. That she doesn’t care about his needs and doesn’t love him enough.

          But doesn’t love him enough for what? To force herself to have sex when she’s not aroused?

          Couldn’t it also be turned around for a woman to say, “Why don’t you love me enough to not make me feel like I’m being forced into sex?” Or, “Why don’t you love me enough to not want to make me feel ashamed, uncomfortable, resentful and/or dirty about sex?”

          As I said, sex in long-term relationships is massively important for a myriad of reasons. However, the exercises I give for communication about sex are NOT designed to get her in the mood or even to “fix” the problem. Those exercises are solely for determining the problem. Once it’s determined, you can figure out how to solve it. I could never cover all the reasons a man or a woman feels low desire enough to recommend ways to counter it. A sexy bath, a dirty book, sure those are good ideas, but those ignore a thousand other things. And, as you said, they end with sex as the goal and sometimes even that pressure is too much for the partner struggling with desire.

          Sex therapy is HUGELY helpful for many people, and one thing they do in sex therapy is remove the expectation of sex. They set exercises and timelines wherein no PIV sex is allowed. Oftentimes that creates a place for the low-desire partner to feel like the activity is truly for enjoyment not an end-product and can be helpful.

          And you’re ultimately missing my entire point – she’s most likely NOT saying “I don’t care about you, taking care of your needs is a bother to me. I don’t love you enough for that.” but that is your assumption. That’s why the couple in question needs to sit down and discuss all of the nuances, feelings and truths here. But it won’t work if you’re as angry as you are in these comments. It will only work if you go into it with the intent to truly UNDERSTAND your partner. So you can explain, listen, and clarify and not defend.

          • “Couldn’t it also be turned around for a woman to say, “Why don’t you love me enough to not make me feel like I’m being forced into sex?” Or, “Why don’t you love me enough to not want to make me feel ashamed, uncomfortable, resentful and/or dirty about sex?”

            Right and this is why actual honest work on what love is, where lines are and etc needs to happen, even if it hurts. I wouldn’t really want my partner to spend time talking with me if I knew he hated it, nor would I want to feel as if I’d pushed him into sexual intimacy if it made him feel used. I’d wind up feeling like well, I was using him.

            • Considering this is a website for and about “good men” it would be nice if we could leave out these discussions of women being made to feel “ashamed, uncomfortable, dirty, dehumanized, and violated”. If a woman is with a _truly_ good man and she feels this way, that’s a problem that she has with herself, and has nothing to do with her mate.

              • That’s not actually the point. If she feels that way, they both should take a look at why. If he’s a good man and she feels that way, then of course she’s got work to do. But they are in a partnership thus he’s in this with her. Not that it’s “his stuff” but her work will affect him.

                • Joanna Schroeder says:

                  Beyond that, he very much could be a good man and still contributing to her feeling that way.

                  Your goodness doesn’t absolve you of doing stuff that hurts people. You’d have to be the lone perfect person on earth to be exempted from that.

                • What about the issue that a large percentage of women in long term relationship have “reactive” Desire. In that she needs to see/feel “his” desire before hers grows? If “he” is shotdown before he even starts…..it’ll never happen.

            • FlyingKal says:

              @Julie Gillis:
              I wouldn’t really want my partner to spend time talking with me if I knew he hated it, nor would I want to feel as if I’d pushed him into sexual intimacy if it made him feel used. I’d wind up feeling like well, I was using him
              Maybe you wouldn’t really want that, but not all people are like you.
              What to do with a person who routinely does similar things, all the while knowing and even joking about the spouse/partners’ frustration about it?

          • wellokaythen says:

            I think what gets overlooked sometimes is the middle ground, in a lot of ways. I think that’s one of the important parts of this article – mismatched libido is not an either/or prospect. There can be negotiation and problem solving and collaboration on making the situation better. It’s not just one side demands and the other complies.

            Like, if she has a lower libido than he does currently, she has more choices than 1) do nothing or 2) force herself to have sex with him. There’s a whole lot in between. I think the higher-libido partner has the right to make a request (not a demand or a ‘if you really loved me’ barb) that the lower libido partner take some steps to figure out what might help her be in the mood more often.

            Or, at the very least, the lower-sexed person should brainstorm about what makes sex more likely to happen and what makes it less likely to happen. Do more of the things on the “sex more likely” list and do less of the things on the “sex less likely” list. If you know that talking to your mother on the phone makes you upset every single time and destroys any chance of being in the mood for sex that night, maybe you could try to call her a little less often? I don’t think that’s too much for a husband to ask. (No, this is not autobiographical….)

            Again, this has no guarantees, but there may be things she can do to make herself feel more amorous or more likely to be amorous. If two partners can’t make respectful, loving requests of each other, then it’s impossible to pull out of the tailspin.

            What is very unfair is for the low-libido person to have a double standard about how important sex is. When he wants sex with her, he’s too focused on something that’s not all that important, and sex is just sex, so what’s the big deal? At the same time, demanding that he be monogamous, because sex with someone else would be absolutely devastating and a total betrayal, and how can he be so cavalier about something so important as sex? Sex can’t be unimportant and important. You can’t demand that he be monogamous AND say that sex is unimportant.

            • “Sex can’t be unimportant and important. You can’t demand that he be monogamous AND say that sex is unimportant.”

              This. One of the great things about where we’ve evolved is that we’ve pretty much made a decision that sex and consent are important, that everyone should be able to say no, and that one person’s desire for sex does not trump another’s desire to say no.

              But perhaps a fallout of that is that we’ve made it into a situation where the idea of having sex “for your partner” even when you don’t want to, falls outside the idea of consent, something I’ve seen argued about on other blogs.

              Is sex so sacrosanct that sex without absolutely enthusiastic consent is not ok? Is sex so unimportant that it’s like eating or peeing and should be done even if you don’t want it because one partner has sexual tension they need to release?

              It’s probably both and none and all. And we are in an odd time right now and I think erring on the side of consent (for men and for women) is important, but I do think this tailspin you are talking about of asking and getting rejected and dreading being asked and dreading asking and so forth is a big big problem. And yeah, both partners need to be really honest like…the woman (if she really isn’t attracted to him) should maybe pony up and say, I need to feel more attracted to you and here’s some ways that can happen. Or he needs to say the same. Or they both need to deal with a therapist or something.

              But that’s a great point about importance.

            • Let me start this by saying that from what I can gather from my other married friends I have _a lot_ more sex than them, and I can tell you that I don’t have nearly enough.

              Thank you wellokthen for bringing up something important which is “there’s a whole lot inbetween”.

              In my case I can think of about four other things my wife can do for me that will satisfy what I need. When she doesn’t want to have sex I bring up that there are other things she can do, but almost always this still doesn’t result in me getting any relief. Once again the low libido female is the winner. She gets what she wants (to do nothing) and because of that the man is ultimately frustrated again. That’s the problem with this whole thing, because of consent, women call all the shots in the bedroom and no amount of “empathy” will change that.

              • You aren’t suggesting that consent is a bad thing? Because I know women who have had low libido husbands and those guys called the shots too. Should they have gotten her off even when they really really didn’t want to?

                Which by the way, I’m kind of appalled that this whole discussion is turning into a control argument, but that makes me think that what’s driving the desire issues but some kind of unresolved control issues in the marriage proper and sex is getting used (as so many things do) as a weapon.

                Which is not fair at all.

                • And that being said, I’m pretty sure that if I come home and my fella is asleep and I try to make him have a personal moment with me and he says no? Then me pushing him past his consent is a bad thing.

                • Look I’m not going to be like a politician who has to say “I support the troops” every time he makes a speech so that someone won’t yell “OMG he doesn’t support the troops!” So I’m not going to put a disclaimer about the need for consent in every one of my posts.

                  No where in my post did I say anything about control in the marriage, but unless a “good man” is willing to assault his wife (no consent!) then please tell me in a situation where the wife has a low libido and constantly says “no” how can a man ever decide when he has sex on his terms?

                  And like I said before if a woman feels sad or used or “violated” because when she turned her “good man” husband down for sex he asked for something “in between” than that’s a problem that _she_ has and she needs to work on.

                  A couple of weeks ago for once my wife wanted to have sex and I was exhausted. We had sex anyway even though I wasn’t into it. The next day I sure didn’t regret it. Now I’m wondering how I didn’t wind up feeling ashamed and used the next day.

                  • QuantumInc says:

                    That last paragraph is very telling. For you Jimbo, having sex without enthusiasm is possible. It’s not good but it doesn’t come with any bad feelings either. Perhaps it’s different for your wife, perhaps she does feel violated unless the sexual experience meets some exacting standards of enthusiastic consent.

                  • Hunter @Green Detective says:

                    Did you tell her this? You can’t be married w/o communicating about sex. If you negotiate your needs, and plan ahead, could be fun. Don’t stress out today dear, tonight is our night. See if she can get into new routine. Don’t leave it up to chance.

              • Joanna Schroeder says:

                I hope you will notice that what you are saying here about the low-libido person being the “winner” is precisely NOT what the article I wrote is saying.

                • “Winner” was a poor choice of words because you’re right that’s not what the article is about. But since a woman holds all the consent cards when it comes to sex that means that ultimately she decides what happens. She can not have sex, which is what she wants, or she can “give in” and have sex with her husband which from what I’ve been reading here sounds like some kind of horrible burden.

                  My wife and I talk and communicate about anything and everything (the point of your article) every night. It hasn’t increased the amount of sex we have nor her libido.

                  • and let me add I can’t even imagine how bad things are for couples who don’t share their true feelings with each other.

                • Hunter @Green Detective says:

                  Nobody wins with stalemate.

              • “women are the gatekeepers of male sexuality”

                • @Salvice…

                  “women are the gatekeepers of male sexuality”

                  No. It’s more like, “wives are the gatekeepers of husbands sexuality.” Otherwise, we men are free to whatever we wish with whomever we wish.

                • wellokaythen says:

                  If you define male sexuality in terms of consensual sex with a woman, then that is often true.

                  But, if you’re depending on a woman for permission to masturbate or to fantasize at all, then you are what the kids call “not doing it right.”

            • Well said!

          • Joanna, I hear what you are saying with respect to identifying the problem and appreciate what you’re attempting to do here in bridging gaps (honestly I do!).
            However when I see these two quotes in your response:

            “Couldn’t it also be turned around for a woman to say, “Why don’t you love me enough to not make me feel like I’m being forced into sex?” Or, “Why don’t you love me enough to not want to make me feel ashamed, uncomfortable, resentful and/or dirty about sex?””
            and
            “Sex therapy is HUGELY helpful for many people, and one thing they do in sex therapy is remove the expectation of sex. They set exercises and timelines wherein no PIV sex is allowed. Oftentimes that creates a place for the low-desire partner to feel like the activity is truly for enjoyment not an end-product and can be helpful.”

            I can’t help but have two responses;

            (1) On the cynical and crass side (and before the NAMALT brigade chimes in, enough men are like that to make a reasonable generalization), men need to cum. All the time. For decades. The time to decide you didn’t want to meet this perfectly reasonable and natural male desire at reasonable intervals in what is a sexual relationship was before you made a monogamous lifelong commitment. It doesn’t mean PIV sex on demand, but it does mean reasonable allowances and accommodation for a perfectly normal male desire. You can have a low libido or strict monogamy, but you can’t have both. Any communication effort must recognize, sympathize, and accommodate this.

            (2) In the interest of empathy and communication, I have to implore folks seeking therapy to find a therapist who doesn’t reflexively assume “it’s the man’s fault for the issue”. Again, NATALT, but enough are that it’s a reasonable generalization to make. Joanna, men simply don’t get enough credit for going well beyond meeting their partners half way by the mere fact that so many couples go for such absurdly long dry spells. Think about how good at monogamy those guys are, and how little credit they get, and how little empathy there is for that plight. If therapy could unveil that sentiment, and a woman could truly recognize how good most guys are at monogamy, then more power to you.

            Finally, when you add this in:

            “That’s why the couple in question needs to sit down and discuss all of the nuances, feelings and truths here. But it won’t work if you’re as angry as you are in these comments.”

            It actually does make me angry where I wasn’t before. Stating a difficult truth does not an angry man make, and whether consciously or not it amounts to an attempt to shame or silence an opinion you find uncomfortable. You’ve done it repeatedly in other threads as well. It’s the same thing as that absurd gaslighting concept. It’s not acceptable.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Listen, if you’re not angry, then I apologize fully.

              But this, to me, sounds angry:

              “I don’t care about you, taking care of your needs is a bother to me. I don’t love you enough for that.”

              Now, consider the quality of the “companionship” in that marriage. How much is he going to enjoy spending time with a woman who sends him that message loud and clear every day?

              But why can’t he just love her for her?

              I mean, isn’t that last line sarcastic?

              Again, if you’re not angry, then I apologize. I could have misread what section. My “anger” meter tends to go off when I read sarcasm… especially related to love.

              And I stand by what I said before, that presumption about it being about how much she loves you is EXACTLY what my article is about. The fact is, it’s most likely NOT about how much she loves you. She can love you SO MUCH and still have little to no libido. Sometimes it’s hormonal and a little supplement applied to the skin can change everything, but no one will know that until they try.

              Assuming it’s about love only will make *some* people hurt, angry and resentful. And why wouldn’t it? If you’re assuming it’s about how much she loves you, that’s gotta be terrible. But you know what they say about assumptions…

          • Something that I wonder is do people have the right to expect their partner to only have sex with them, when they aren’t giving them much sex? If you go half a year, a year without sex, at what point does it become a monopoly on their sex life without actually meeting their sexual needs? Does anyone have the right to expect their partner not to look at porn, or cheat, or goto a sex worker if they’re not giving them sex?

            I think if you’re in a relationship and aren’t having sex at least once a month, hell maybe a week and your partner wants it far more often….unless you’re ill then it’s pretty fucking selfish. Either be the person that can meet their needs, or get out. This can be extended to other needs of intimacy too. I don’t like the idea of people having a monopoly over a sex life, especially if they still expect to be cuddled, etc and have THEIR needs met without really trying to meet the needs of the partner.

            Imagine wantign sex, being in a relationship, but still not getting it? To me that would be absolutely dehumanizing, I’d feel like I wasn’t worth shit, I’d feel completely rejected, frustrated that I can’t even get sex IN A RELATIONSHIP especially if I am expected to still cuddle n kiss n do stuff for her. I doubt I’d want to stay, if my partner can’t have sex with me at least once a damn week (ignoring illness n pregnancy which are acceptable to go without sex) then wtf point is there in staying around? It’s just a friendship after that point, maybe a friendship with kisses (which tbh don’t do all that much without sex), cuddles that will feel empty and still hold that feeling of rejection, bitterness n resentment.

            I can’t imagine how trapping it’d feel if I was married and at major risk of losing a lot from divorce, trying to stay together for the kids and basically sacrificing my own happiness n legitimate desires to seek a real loving partner. I can totally see why some people cheat when their needs are met, it’s not justified however but I do see why they do it especially if divorce is such a tough decision when you have kids, a house, etc. I’m all for couples working it out but if i doesn’t work then maybe they should agree to see others? A relationship like that is one of my biggest fears especially as I have a high sex-drive, to me a sexless relationship is called a friendship.

            • @Archy..

              One third of all marriages in America are sexless (defined as being sex fewer than 10 times per year).

            • “I doubt I’d want to stay, if my partner can’t have sex with me at least once a damn week (ignoring illness n pregnancy which are acceptable to go without sex) then wtf point is there in staying around? It’s just a friendship after that point”

              Speaking from experience, a sexless relationship is not necessarily a friendship. For the simple reason that with enough resentment, there may not be much friendship going on either.

          • FlyingKal says:

            @Joanna:
            Couldn’t it also be turned around for a woman to say, “Why don’t you love me enough to not make me feel like I’m being forced into sex?” Or, “Why don’t you love me enough to not want to make me feel ashamed, uncomfortable, resentful and/or dirty about sex?”

            It sure can!
            But then she’ll have to be able to answer the question about what she needs and how to properly display that love for her…

      • What I said isn’t intended for some type of guilt trip. It’s a statement of cold, hard fact. It is intended to get the other person to wake up and realize the time they are wasting on looking for some perfect moment that doesn’t exist in the name of “I’m not in the mood” or “I’m tired”. When I realized this for myself it wasn’t out of any guilt for something I hadn’t done. It was me realizing I was wasting time on insignificant things when I should be enjoying the time I have with my wife.

        you say:
        If a wife doesn’t feel desire, but feels pressured to, or forced to have sex, that’s a day of HER life she can’t get back. She may feel violated, dehumanized or maybe dirty and ashamed. Sex should be enthusiastically mutual.

        So once again a man has to sit and twiddle his thumbs and wait for the woman to be ready to have sex. How is this in any way constructive or helpful? No one is talking about being pressured or forced. This is about putting aside a some of your own self-interest (selfishness?) for the good of the other person. There’s a lot of things I don’t want to do in my marriage, but I do them anyway because my wife needs/wants me to do them. Sorry, but “empathy” doesn’t get the job done.

        • Jimbo,

          I hear in your shares what sounds like a lot of frustration (sadness and anger) and feelings of being unappreciated and powerlessness to change anything. Empathy is how I sensed that. In hearing your share, I feel all of those things I mentioned inside of me. I want you to feel understood, supported, and inspired to be the bedroom superhero you probably are.

          I notice that when I read Joanna’s bit about the low-libido person needing to take responsibility and look for ways to improve the situation and meet their partner’s needs, I relaxed.
          I felt, “Jeeeesh, so long as my partner is making an effort, I have tons of patience for their process.” It’s when I feel like this condition is never going to change and I’m powerless to do anything about it (short of separation) that I start to freak out.
          My point is, empathy is the way through to getting your needs understood. When you seek to understand your partner, she will do the same for you. I think that if you can get over your hurting a little bit and truly let what this article has to share sink in, you have a real chance of creating some healing in your relationship. But you have to be willing to stop whining about it and take a stand to understand.
          I truly wish you ease and grace in your journey ahead. I like your understanding of the preciousness of the time we have in life. Now turn that talk into walk and don’t settle for anything less than what you want from your relationships.

          • @Booster….

            “When you seek to understand your partner, she will do the same for you.”

            Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We have to accept the fact that some things just are not fixable. If the woman is just indifferent to you, then how is empathy going to solve anything?

            • You’re right Jules, I’m coming from the assumption of “positive intent”. That is to say, I’m coming to the problem with the assumption that the other person values my happiness. I’ve learned over time that this approach often creates the best chances for success (sometimes quite surprisingly when I didn’t think that was the case).

              If this person truly doesn’t care at all, then why would I choose to be in a relationship with them? If I was convinced this was the case, I’d prolly choose to end the relationship. If kids are involved and the impact to the “ecosystem” from separating was severe, I’d get us both to therapy.

              Unfortunately, real therapy is often unaffordable to most of us. If I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t afford to separate (kids, job, etc.) then I would accept the fact that the universe and I have created a very powerful place for me to do some deep internal spiritual work and I’d monk it for as long as it took for circumstances to shift. I have all the things I need within myself to connect with happiness. There is sex in feeling the sun on my face, the wind across my skin, the beauty in the dawn. Many people live quite contently, even prefer, celibacy.

              One thing I will not do, is accept that I cannot be happy. Happiness is my birthright. I will not give another the power to take it from me. It’s what I was created to express. Anything less is simply a road-sign pointing me back to where I need to look in order to find it again.

              • not a monk says:

                Some prefer celibacy, but I’d wager most don’t. I have a lot of sympathy for men who find themselves in the sort of hopeless situations you describe. For most of us, there’s no sex in the sun, wind or dawn.

                Frankly, most of the time, exactly those sort of situations leave me feeling worse for being there alone.

                “Unfortunately, real therapy is often unaffordable to most of us. If I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t afford to separate (kids, job, etc.) then I would accept the fact that the universe and I have created a very powerful place for me to do some deep internal spiritual work and I’d monk it for as long as it took for circumstances to shift. I have all the things I need within myself to connect with happiness. There is sex in feeling the sun on my face, the wind across my skin, the beauty in the dawn. Many people live quite contently, even prefer, celibacy.”

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Yes, Jules, some things are not fixable. I do not think all couples should stay together and certainly NOT if you truly believe she doesn’t have your happiness at the core of her hopes.

              That being said, you have to try. You gotta try to understand, and try lots of methods, and try to make it work.

              But if she or he doesn’t care about your happiness? No, that won’t work.

              But the vast, vast majority of couples in this scenario do care very deeply for one another and do want happiness above all else for each other. They just need tools to help resolve.

          • @Booster:
            My point is, empathy is the way through to getting your needs understood. When you seek to understand your partner, she will do the same for you.
            Yes, empathy is the way through. But the empathy has to go both ways, otherwise it’s pretty useless!

            Not all women are magical creatures of goodness, as you seem to imply. She can be just as unwilling as anyone to see and understand you.

      • Hunter @Green Detective says:

        Could be her diet or lack of protein. She needs a physical, a blood panel, and most importantly to tell the Dr she has no Zip.

        Once health (annual physicals recommended) is on track, proceed to step two. What if she had Diabetes Type II, and no one knew? What if she had symptoms of menopause, and no one knew? Ya gotta know!

        Look before you leap to conclusions. Investigate!

      • Hunter @Green Detective says:

        Foreplay is listening, ears and heart. Try it, and come back to tell us if it works. We’re here to support, either way.

  68. wellokaythen says:

    I think this is excellent advice. That may be my own bias from my past experience in he-wants-it-more relationships.

    It’s good to note that there are common misperceptions about men and women that both have about themselves and each other. Even people who know each other really intimately may still be way off about what really motivates the other. Very key for women to realize that men can actually feel real hurt from feeling rejected, and it’s not just “male ego,” it’s actually a real emotion.

    What I appreciate most is the part where you say the lower-libido person still has some responsibility for the sexual relationship. Being the less interested party doesn’t give you dictatorial power over the sex life.

  69. When there is a libido disparity, there can be a temptation to over-complicate the situation. New couples tend to be more generally physical. Sure, they know they’re likely going to have sex, but it’s a positive feedback loop. Couples with kids can talk about it. Or they can try making out again. Make out in the morning when sex isn’t an option because you have to get to work. Send flirty but not overtly sexual texts and emails. You’re still communicating your needs, but in a way that stokes the flames. Duty sex is rarely hot.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Ulysses, I think you’re EXACTLY right here. There is a normal ebb and flow to sex in marriage, and it’ll most likely never be like it was when you first start sleeping together. However, the long lapses in marriage can be very damaging, and I really like your ideas for how to stoke the fire again.

      Soon I’ll write a practical guide to reigniting the libido and will totally include that advice!

  70. Thanks.
    I guess.

    “I know it’s hard that my libido is so low right now, but I want you to know that I do find you so attractive, and I’m so glad you’re my husband (or wife). I love you so much.” Just hearing those words, coupled with affectionate touch, can go a long way.

  71. The lower libido person is far more likely to be the wife, and women are far more likely to be indifferent about sex more of the time. Certain triggers can excite their libido, but this usually comes too infrequently for the husband in a long marriage. In these cases the wife should consider the long term value of having sex more often than she would on her own accord. Women often enjoy sex far more than they expect to and the effort required is not so great that it should be a deterrent. Given that men often agree to activities that take far more time and effort than sex, it just seems absurd that women would use the excuse that they are too tired or just don’t feel like it.

    Of course all of this applies to men with low libido as well, but they are in the minority. And those men may need some additional help getting an erection when the wife is in the mood since men can’t perform intercourse until they are aroused. But then there’s always oral sex and men shouldn’t be reluctant to provide that when there’s no alternative.

    So there are two simple solutions to these similar problems. For women, there’s K-Y jelly and for men there’s Viagra. Use them.

  72. Tom as woman, KY is the worst advice to turn on a woman.

    If she’s is dry, there is a reason. If she’s not wet, he’s not making her wet. Lubing her up with KY is subtle form of taking sex from your wife when she’s not ready. Think about it.

    Men may want work to get her in the mood. How about more compliments, how about helping her with her self-esteem, how about making her feel important, how about helping her feel secure. Help her with her goals, add some adventure to her life.

    Men are misguided. KY is not a solution to a dry wife.

  73. @ Tom
    men can’t perform intercourse until they are aroused… and neither can women

  74. Victor Greed says:

    “And those men may need some additional help getting an erection when the wife is in the mood since men can’t perform intercourse until they are aroused.”

    Women also do not get wet and expanded when not aroused.
    Anyways, the though that many American men believe masturbating using another person’s body while their partner just lays there is something sexy is scary as fuck. Do you guys really feel comfortable to fucking penetrate someone not aroused enough? Or to fucking drug them – give them viagra – so you can use their dick (I see, at least the guy could also feel pleasure here or even orgasm, but still)? Haven’t you guys thought not even for a moment that not everyone has such “sex worker” tendencies?
    What about masturbating? You masturbating while the other kisses you, or the other helping you in the masturbation? Even oral sex, I agree. But the rest seems way too much.

  75. @cm…..

    “Men may want work to get her in the mood.”

    “If she’s not wet, he’s not making her wet.”

    And just what responsibility does the woman bear for her own sexuality? This is just a red herring. Either you feel sexual towards your partner or you do not. It’ really that simply.

    Women just do not wish to take ANY responsibility for the sexual status of the marriage. If they do, it is as rare as hell! Yes, there are things that we can do to stimulate libido. However, there must be a desire for the partner.

    Many of these wives are just turned off and done with their husbands, for whatever reason(s). Why they (the married women) just don’t fess up and be honest about it is absurd. Instead we get all kinds of BS like what your saying….

    Don’t you get horny for sex? I am sure you do. It’s just that you don’t want it with your husband. Or if you do want it from him, you demand he do all the crazy nonsense…But, if you had a lover on the side, none of these demands would be necessary. This is what this man finds utterly offensive.

  76. Nick, mostly says:

    As with everything, it depends…

    It depends on why she might have vaginal dryness. If it’s because of hormones, some type of lubricant may be appropriate. However if it’s because she’s not turned on, then lubing up and just sticking it in may help with chafing but it’s still going to be an unpleasant and likely painful experience.

    I would recommend finding something other than KY though, and unless she asks for it I’d avoid the warming or tingling (aka burning and numbing) varieties.

  77. Do women ever get dry for medical reasons unrelated to arrousal?

  78. Curious One says:

    Thank You cm. I could only wish that my husband understood that! Thank again, he is an intelligent man, but yet, you could say we live in a sexless marriage…not by my choice Great article. KY is definitely not the answer. Thanks again for giving me this information, (all of it)

  79. wakemenow says:

    Personally, I completely disagree with the cm’s advice here. Lubricants have proven very useful for me since even before I ever began having sex. If it weren’t for lubricants, condoms would’ve been a bigger pain to contend with (and would’ve been more prone to break due to friction), but even with condoms taken out of the picture, I remain a fan of using good quality lubricants regularly (which I wouldn’t include KY among). This is one of those matters that totally comes down to the individual, because not all women lubricate naturally as quickly or as thoroughly as the next. Sometimes we want to get down to playing spontaneously without taking much time for foreplay in advance, but in the absence of extended foreplay dryness can make it uncomfortable. Beyond that, I enjoy the easy gliding sensation, the slip, it provides. It’s totally beneficial when playing with toys. Just an all-around useful tool IMO.

    But I will say I’m picky about the particular ones I care to use. Try one that goes sticky after a few minutes and it will turn a person off if that’s their only experience with lubricants. Personally I’m not a fan of KY or Astroglide and will never again purchase either brand. My personal favorite these days is Liquid Silk (even comes in a convenient pump bottle). Another lubricant I used for years and found especially compatible with condoms is ForPlay DeLuxe Gel Plus. In case that tip may be of use to anyone.

  80. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    R O M A N C E more successful approach than H O R N Y S E X. Message? Oil? Shower? Soft Music?
    Ease into the moment. It could last longer.

    Ask directions! Do I turn right or left? What is the cross street? Don’t assume she is not attracted to you. Unlikely.

  81. In all fairness there are comments by women detailing their guilt, etc over their low libido so I do think quite a lot of women take responsibility for it. I can understand that you probably mean some women and yes I find it offensive when people dodge responsibility, it takes two to tango.

    “Men may want work to get her in the mood.”
    “If she’s not wet, he’s not making her wet.”
    These only apply in some cases though, it could be things like depression, work stress, etc making it impossible for him to do anything. He could be the best lover in the world but still fail, just as for some men they cannot get or maintain an erection due to a myriad of reasons. Doesn’t mean every time the partner is at fault, the partner of course should try their best but there are other reasons such as medical issues that need to be addressed.

  82. Jules,
    I respect your frustration, but you’re a man, you understand women are different.

    Women need attention and help to get us in the mood. We give sex and intimacy as a response to what men give us. Sort of a give-receive process. It’s not always equal, sometimes we give first. When men give us positive attention, we are grateful and aroused. When they give us negative attention or none, we feel he does not care and we are not aroused.

    For example, recently, my man helped me with my resume and career direction, I went primal on him and the arousal lasted about 3 separate times, but then it fades. He needs to routinely help me and give attention to keep my interest up.

    Here’s a past example of ‘neglect’ from a different guy. There was a period of about 6 months before he even gave me a compliment. He was stingy with his attention. This is what he harshly said to me, “I told months ago you were pretty, what more do you want from me? I’m here aren’t I?” I felt like I had to beg for a stupid compliment, I felt pathetic and certainly not aroused.

    Not all men are created equal when it comes to giving good attention or helping women. Especially these days, we can’t ask for a man’s praise, help, or guidance, because that makes us ‘weaklings’, but that’s exactly what turns us on.

    Some men think cocktails and KY is the best way to get a woman in the mood. No amount of KY will make me desire him or make me want to share my most vulnerable and intimate self with him.

  83. Booster Blake says:

    Thx “CM”. This is exactly the sort of feedback that men need to hear. You rock!

  84. @cm: Well, there isn’t anything you have written here that isn’t abundantly clear for most men. if he’s had more than two relationships. You confirm what men have been writing in this post. Essentially the sexual relationship between some men and women is mercenary at it’s roots.It’s quid quo, pro, sort of. Additionally, you speak of one kind of contextual arrangement.

    This context is consistent with the expectations that a woman has in a monogamous relationship. She then uses the leverage available in that circumstance to keep him tethered to that system. Why wouldn’t she. Who doesn’t want constant attention and support? The question for men is who would you rather be the woman’s sexual surrogate or her primary intimate partner? A woman turned me on to lubricant and she had no problem using it as a foreplay aid.

    The truth is, like Aya, who had sex surrogates stand in for her low libido boyfriend (with his approval), women are sexually fluid and don’t necessarily need cons
    tant attention and ego stroking to get put in the mood. This is an expectation they only have for certain kinds of conditions and relationships.The same can be said of wakemenow who would like to have alternative sex partners because her boyfriend is low libido and she likes variety.

  85. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Consistent positive relationship essential for consistent sex life. Roller coaster doesn’t cut it. Again, perhaps a written contract will help couples stay focused. From these comments, it couldn’t hurt.

    Dismally negative generalizations about women. Suggest sharing specifics, and we may be able to help. Did someone die? Still grieving? Lose a job? Struggle with kids? Health problems? You can’t hit a re-set button for daily dose of mojo. Ignore the red flags, and you’ll break up for good. Trying to help.

  86. @cm

    “Women need attention and help to get us in the mood.”

    Some women. I have two FWBs who love sex like I do. They like my sexual attention and are always in the mood for sex. I have an easy job and it’s very rewarding. I like it too!

    Only when women get in these long-term relationships and/or marries does this attention and getting them in the mood stuff come up. Otherwise, women have sex all the time with men who give them hardly any attention except for sex.

    Just saying.

  87. @cm…

    “Women need attention and help to get us in the mood. We give sex and intimacy as a response to what men give us. Sort of a give-receive process.”

    This is just not true. If married men knew all they had to do was to give their wives some attention to get sex, it is a “no brainer.” But, for those of us who have been married or are married and sexually frustrated, we know it is not this simple, at all.

    So many married men have been beaten down psychologically by these wives who refuse to have sex with them and always conjure up loads of bs reasons. Many of these same women are cheating on their husbands at the same time.

    If she does not want to have sex with her husband anymore, then why doesn’t she just tell him? That all 90% of married men want to know. Just be honest and allow the guy to go.

    The thing with me is the realization that most of what I lived and believed about marriage, women, and sex turned out to lies. So, for 30 years of my adult life, I believed in falsehoods which ended up wasting so much of my life on one woman.

  88. Booster
    Examples…
    Flattery…such as You’re hot! You look great in blue!
    Praise….Honey, that was an awesome idea, I’m lucky to have a sharp girl like you.
    Help…Let me take a look at your resume and I’ll see if I can fine tune it for you.
    Guidance…Have you thought about going into this field?

    Too easy, good together time, no cost, only attention. Help with her concerns and be creative. See if she lights up and smiles for you.

  89. Ogwriter, With all due respect, I do not consider giving and receiving love as mercenary act or quid pro quo exchange. Each day it’s a choice. Women feel loved through acts of attention and are turned on by it. Men feel loved through acts of sex. When a man gives of himself and attends to my well-being, he shares a part of himself with me and he adds long-term value to my life. I will remember it forever.

    I certainly do not view working on my resume, career direction, or compliments as ego stroking or leverage, it’s for our well-being. I’m not required to bake his favorite treats, send him jokes to cheer him up when he’s feeling blue, show gratitude, or stand by him when he lost his mom. I do it for his well-being. He’s more than just a penis…there’s a whole man’s life attached that stick…I don’t take it casually. And there is whole woman’s life attached to our vaginas…we are not just holes to stick it in at random.

  90. @ogwriter..

    “The question for men is who would you rather be the woman’s sexual surrogate or her primary intimate partner?”

    I would much rather be the woman’s sexual surrogate. The primary intimate partner is NOT going to get as much sex.

  91. @cm: I didn’t write that you exemplified any of the points I made. If, in my opinion, I have to give my sexual partner anything other my full participation in the act, besides meeting her needs in the act, is a mercenary arrangement. In our culture, we just attempt to clean it up in deference to social constructs like love, religion and so forth. Something in exchange for consistent sexual gratification, it doesn’t have to be money, is a mercenary arrangement. Nor did I suggest in any way that women are just holes to stick in at random.

    As far I am concerned, the idea that giving a woman constant attention in order to turn her on is ego stroking and pedestal pushing, which most men don’t mind doing sometimes. At the same time many men don’t like playing that game because they get trapped in a never ending cycle of co dependency because women are taught to internalize what others think of them. I’ve had it done to me too many times too,mention.

    When that happens and she doesn’t what to have sex with him it’s his not the fault of her depressed ego of her insecurities or her mood swings etc. If men had the same needs, their women would drop them for acting too female. So when you say she would called a weakling for asking for help it’s men who really suffers that fate.

  92. Clarity helps. I’m not certain what your point of view is. It appears you have strong feelings towards many things.

    Personally, I refuse money or material items in exchange for sex. I do not like put a man in position to buy me something to love him. It makes him feel like a John and me like a ‘purchasable item’, it’s icky. I would rather have his guidance, help, encouragement, and support any day: the stuff money can’t buy.

    FYI. Women are not taught to internalize, there is no class every woman on this planet took to internalize. Just as there is no class every man took to be insensitive or visual. Our natures are slightly different. Women are extrinsically motivated, while men are intrinsically motivated. In other words, women evaluate ourselves in relation to others. That’s why it’s a running joke, “do these jeans make me look fat?” We evaluate ourselves based on the outside world…thus it affects our esteem. If I could shut that female voice off, I would. Believe me, every woman would.

    Also, men and women compete differently, we need different motivation. Check out Coaching-Women on the net. It’s helped me in my relationship. My man knows what I need, instead of making him guess or play a game…that’s when relationships get painful–the guessing games. Clarity helps. There is research on this stuff.

    I’m not a ‘weakling’ or some frail girl. I’ve been in the military, combat vet, served as cultural liaison in the Middle East, traveled the world on my own, MBA, yada, yada, yada. I simply understand men and women are different, I’ve accepted my female nature, we need positive attention to get us turned on, negative comments, or neglect turns us off.

    Money and KY do not make me desire HIM…his attention.

  93. @cm: These two points you raise,”women are “extrinsically motivated” and women evaluate ourselves in relation to others.’ exemplify my point. My experience has taught me that these kinds of desires far too frequently, lead to co dependency. The man becomes expected to be the caretaker of her self esteem in myriad ways. This is a societal expectation.

    This is an un-fulfilling role for men that has been made worse by feminist logic which tells women that they are simultaneously independent of men but reliant on him for helping her to feel good about herself. Perhaps, worse of all is the fact that men have been doing this thankless job for generations while scant respect and appreciation. However, there are few women how would not criticize his so-called natural male selfishness, or his lack of sensitivity and empathic response as compared to women.

  94. Oh so true…….In years past women were supposed to take emotional care of her husband. That now is seen as sexist for a man to expect, yet he is the responsable party in her emotional health. Cake-eaters

  95. Jules–what about finding a woman who would let you stray a little if her libido did go down? Or someone who you’d let stray a little if things got stale? You’d still have a primary partner (or partners) with the connection and all the benefits of partnership–but if sex got infrequent for whatever reason, there would be options.

  96. @Aya..

    No. Not interested in such an arrangement.

  97. Just a guy says:

    I think the “benefits of partnership” are overstated for a lot of men, myself included. As in, “nice to have but not worth the sacrifice and trouble.”

  98. @Aya: The solution you recommend for Jules, for the overwhelming vast majority of men, finding a woman who will allow him to be serviced by another woman when his primary isn’t into it is almost impossible. Which I think is one of the reasons many men sneak around to get their sexual needs met. Go on Craigslist and you will find that putting an ad up for a casual sexual relationship for a man is a largely fruitless endeavor. While for women it’s offers a gold mine of possibilities. Just another sexual advantage in being female.

  99. Precisely.

    The so-called “benefits of partnership” are lousy and a poor value for most men. Simply not worth the aggravation, torment, and mental anguish.

    Until women get honest about sex and marriage (not holding my breath), I really think they (women) should stick to marrying the men whom they want to have sex. Women need to stop subjecting perfectly decent men to humiliation and torment for purely selfish motives.

    Aya’s comment above reflects the most honest perspective on how women really think. I note her use of the word “stale” when referencing the issue with the man. While she uses the words “low libido” to character the the female issue. In essence it is a variety/novelty issue with women and a quantity issue with men. I happen to agree with her assessment. Just do not care for her solution.

  100. Jules,
    I understand your pain, the man I am with right now is awesome, but he had growing pains with the “crazy-beotch” for his first wife during his youth. Then he had a friendship in his second marriage. Now he has love and mutual respect with me, without the carelessness of our youth. It takes a long time to figure out that relationships are about GIVING and SERVING and adding value to another.

    I think we’ve all said it, focus on GIVING, rather than what’s in it for ME attitude. If a man or a woman is not willing to GIVE to the other routinely, then we are in a relationship just to GET something, or we just grow complacent. At that point, we may as well avoid the opposite sex and keep life simple.

  101. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    Jules, I think the benefits of partnership include getting emotional needs met (a lover will meet emotional needs for a while, then move on,) doubling income (necessary today,) having a way to have children, and so on. I’d like to be able to play around, but I have an agreement with my partner that I won’t. Age has probably saved me. At 67, I’m much less interested in doing this than I used to be.

  102. sorry, i read all your comments, but I think most of your comments are just so wrong. You just stating basic stereotypes that men and women are different. Its not, we are not really different. Many women don’t really need to get their ego stroked to get aroused for sex. If yes, why would many women masturbated? Many women masturbated since teens even before having any relationship. Why? Because they have sexual urges, for the sake of pleasure, not because bullshit like men giving them attention and because of that attention women get aroused. LOL Many young women get wet and aroused simply fantasized about hot men ( or women ) and SEX. for the sake of sex, not giving and receiving. Well not so different from men???? LOL BECAUSE ITS NOT!!!!

    If women need to receive attention and love before get aroused, why would any women masturbate? Maybe you are just women with low sex drive who are never masturbate ( i know many women like you ). But most women can get aroused simply because they find a man is hot and want to have sex for the sake of sex.

    Women get their sex drive up and down because of hormonal response and menstrual cycle, but their sex drive is not different from men. Most women who are aroused want to have sex just because they want sex, simple.

    And all those giving and receving attention, men and women AGAIN is not different. Women want compliment and affection. So Men dont??? WRONG!!!! Men also need compliment and affection. Sometimes we can lost sex drive if we dont get affection from our women.

    AGAIN, we men and women are not really different

  103. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Yes the anti-KY business here is as stupid as the anti-Viagra stuff that also used to pop up here. My wife has always been an eager beaver, but since her late 50s, we’ve used KY. Works good. I have also known far younger women who ran a little dry, even when they were orgasming like crazy. They were also usually the “do me harder and faster” women, as opposed to wanting slow. Some of these women (usually astrological fire signs, if you care) were also impatient with foreplay.

  104. Nick, mostly says:

    Yes. There are many non-arousal-related reasons for vaginal dryness, from menopause to OTC and prescription medications. Mucinex doesn’t just dry out your nasal mucous membranes.

  105. Apparently dryness is a major problem for many women around menopause, due to reduced estrogen. There are estrogen creams that can help, or so I’ve read. I’m not menopausal yet but it is close. Personally I’ve never had a problem with lubrication if I am aroused but sometimes the arousal circuit in the brain is glitchy. Fortunately I still have a healthy sex drive most of the time!

  106. Yes, dryness or wetness can be unrelated arousal in women – it can be related to hormones or other factors.

  107. Hi Archy
    Yes some do ,both before menopause, during and after.

  108. Curious One
    I cannot speak for some of these other women, because their life experiences are different. One girl was a sex worker in her youth and her current partner was turned off sexually. There may be reasons he turned off that we do not know here. He may be threatened by her past or maybe she made comments that he wasn’t good enough. There is no judgment, but consider the sources carefully. I know many women use sex appeal as a means to get some attention.

    I know when I am not in a relationship I do not ‘need’ sex. I do not find myself craving sex like a man; it just shuts off naturally, until a man tries to get my attention. I ‘need’ attention when I am not seeing someone (help, guidance, someone to watch my back) but I can live without sex.

    Most married women I’ve talked to over the years, say the same. Arousal naturally shuts off when a man does not keep our attention and my female friends are not freaking out wondering why we are not aroused like a man. It is because we are not men, we have different needs.

    Despite what the advertisers claim today, sex is still an intimate bond between two people who care about each other’s well-being, not a simple physical transaction that cocktails can fix. Men and women have not changed that much over the millennia. The word ‘duty’ often gets taken out of context from the Bible. Back when that was written, it was also an honor and a man’s duty to attend to his wife’s life. They didn’t have to explain ‘his duty’ to men. Men took responsibility for her well-being. It is still a man’s honor in many parts of the world.

  109. @cm:

    Sex can mean a lot of different things to different people. Not everyone seeks an intimate bonded experience each time they desire sex. It’s more complicated than that, for men and yes, even for plenty of women. Women don’t just “naturally” tune out and cease desiring sexual fulfillment unless a man is vying for their attention. That may be your personal experience, and that’s fine, but none of us are in a position to speak for all of womankind.

    Besides that, please don’t insult me. My partner is not turned off by me or what I did for work years ago. I understand that plenty of women feel threatened by sex workers and can’t seem to control their snarls, but please try. I would never tell my man that he isn’t good enough or compare him against past clients. Why do that? Why would I intentionally harm my lover like that? And why would you, a stranger, suggest as much?

    There is a big divide created between real intimacy and dedicated partnership and lesser involvements of a casual nature tethered to transactions directly. I realize from what I learn from men that a number of married women do treat sex transactionally within their own marriages, and that strikes me as a pity and a recipe for problems. Certainly isn’t a way to maintain true intimacy and closeness. But apparently it can and does come about when one partner strongly desires more contact and physical attention than the other.

    I have been clear here that my partner and I get along well, that our relationship is otherwise strong, and that his workload is very draining on him since taking this new position, and that I am simply far more driven than he is sexually. Our conversations over time have brought to light that he was never a super sexual person to begin with, despite being excited and playful earlier on in our relationship. As he says it, sex just isn’t that important to him. And his views strike me as kinda similar to what we might expect of a woman rather than a man; in turn, my own views and drive probably leans more toward the male end of the sexual appetite spectrum. It’s a criss-cross situation where the roles wound up being reversed due to our natures and differences in socialization, hence why I opened up to discussion here among men about this problem, thinking we might be able to relate to one another. Arium’s story fits most closely with where I’m coming from. It’s a tangled mystery to make sense of, human sexuality is, and I, for one, believe this conversation extends beyond gender assumptions.

    So, yes, consider the sources carefully, as you say. As I’m sure we all are already.

  110. @cm..

    “Most married women I’ve talked to over the years, say the same. Arousal naturally shuts off when a man does not keep our attention and my female friends are not freaking out wondering why we are not aroused like a man.”

    I realy think this is a red herring. I’m sorry.

    Many of these married women have lost interest in their husbands, period. Even if he were to give them attention (and he probably still is giving them attention) they still have little interest in sex with HIM. Half of all married women cheat. Is it for attention? I think it is just plain old lust. It’s just that women just cannot seem to bring themselves to admit as much.

    You putting all the blame of the men for failure to give a woman sufficient attention….The woman is blameless in your world. I respectfully disagree. There are many women who marry the wrong man for the wrong reason(s). How is attention (more) going to solve that problem. It will not. Why? She does not love him. She never did. Or, she just does not like him…

    Please look outside the box. I just think you are too narrow in your analysis.

  111. @cm

    “The word ‘duty’ often gets taken out of context from the Bible.”

    You know King Solomon had several hundred wives and concubines. Do you think he attended to all their needs? If you go back to Biblical times you are going to find all of this type of stuff as well as harems.

    I do understand where you’re coming from on this. However, I am proof that sex is not an intimate bond. Yes, I do care about my friends/lovers and their well being. But, our relationship is primarily sexual and not intimate or emotional.

    This is a very interesting perspective from a woman who was very much into casual sex:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/casual-sex-kitten-confessions_n_1921180.html?utm_hp_ref=own-relationships

  112. @Aya: I know what the benefits of a relationship are and I have experienced them before in my life. I enjoy having those benefits as much as anyone else. However, it isn’t as easy for me, because I am a man, to simply spice up my stale sex life with my primary partner by getting an outside lover.

    How many women do you know would go for that arrangement when for them it is unnecessary because if they want there are always readily available men. Women who withholding sex, for whatever reason, are not usually amenable to that kind of arrangement.

  113. @wakemenow: First of all, where have you been? I do trust that you have been well.
    I agree with your premise that cynicism, in general, is a problem in some quarters. As solid as your premise is … there is a concern. If we lived in a culture that understood and was supportive of the fundamental idea that a mans emotional self and well being is as important as a woman’s, putting your premise in play makes sense. We don’t as yet, no matter what the neo intersectionalists feminists say, live in that culture.

    Since we don’t, men have to find alternatives ways to cope with what they face in the quest to find a good relationship.Who are we to say that for those who make that alternative choice,that they should not in order to pursue some elusive, literally, unexplainable phenomenon called love. What men like myself are trying to do is have some calm,consistency and predictability in our relationships, That desire, judged on its own merits,doesn’t demonstrate an avoidance of or condemnation of love.

    On the matter of whether or not said behavior is malicious or not, at some point, it doesn’t matter. Just because someone didn’t mean to hurt you doesn’t mean it’s ok or should be tolerated. Too often people use this frame of reference, “but I didn’t do it on purpose”, to shield themselves from righteous anger at their behavior and to blind themselves with denial.
    Given that so attention has been paid to the importance of men validating whatever feelings a woman may have at any given time, this denial by women is unbearable and controlling.
    I would agree that men and women both contribute to the good function or dysfunction of a relationship but that doesn’t mean that the blame is equally weighted, which seems to be the assumption. As I have written before, I will take a good functioning relationship over one steeped in the romantic gobbledygook of love.

    For me, having FWB, while not ideal, clobbers being in love with someone who hasn’t ever taken the time to even learn what a male issue is but demands a as condition of engagement that I be fluent in womanese. It just doesn’t add up.

  114. @ogwriter: Hello. Been busy tending to other matters lately. Actually not been the best of weeks, but what can we do? Had some stuff going on that has had me reflecting some on life and living and failures in love and whatnot, so please pardon me if my tone winds up being a bit sentimental or short. Just trying to make some sense out of this thing called life…

    Good comment btw, ogwriter. Your argument makes a lot of sense and I can understand the conundrum we find ourselves in. No, we do not live in a society that values men and women fairly — hell, we live in a society that doesn’t value much of anyone properly (overvaluing a few claiming the most power and encouraging us working peons to fight out the pecking order from there on down). And that leads back to the main argument I’m trying to make, which is that using one another won’t likely lead us toward greater appreciation and respect, and thereby undermines the objective if it is to heal these horrific societal wounds. But you’re right, when it comes to practical considerations in daily life it’s tough to get one’s needs met. Can’t all hole up and live as celibates, and who would want to? I respect that Jules is upfront with the women he sees as FWBs, and of course it’s ultimately his own decision on how he arranges his life. I do get that, but call me a hopeless romantic — it troubles me to know how many of us are coming to view sex and having needs met as pure transactions increasingly devoid of deeper significance and closeness. Women are using sex (and kids) to gain access to money and status; so then men turn around and use women for sex on their own conditions. I wonder where this strategy will eventually wind us all up. Toward less competition and deception? Probably not.. So then I wonder what might prove fruitful.

    Personally I consider it a very good idea for people to cease having all these kids since that seems to be dragging down couples more than nearly anything else, what with the stress and financial demands that entails. Would give us more time to learn and look more deeply into life while taking away a major form of leverage being wielded unfairly, at the ultimate cost to the children raised up in such unhappy circumstances and the greater society being shaped by this flood of discontented people. That’s my numero uno concern, though no, it’s not directly related to Jules’ story. Just needed to set that out as something I care deeply about, since slowing the flow of people entering this clusterfuck we have going on in modern times surely would be an improvement.

    Now, I can understand your desire for calm and predictable relationships, and I don’t really take issue with that. Not all unions are based on romantic love, or don’t start out that way necessarily, and it works for plenty of people. I see how a functional arrangement is preferable to a dysfunctional one where one partner wields an unfair advantage, absolutely, and yeah, as it stands today there probably isn’t much reason for people to marry under the current conditions. Won’t get an argument out of me on that. More women do need to take into consideration men’s perspectives and help in restoring their rights. At the end of the day, this should be about humans and not merely categories thereof.

    I do get all of that. *sigh* Just getting weary of all the fighting I see out in society, the cruelty so many are showing one another, the unwillingness to lay down our arms and check our own egos and try to imagine a way of living beyond the tit-for-tat game that’s become all the rage. Maybe I’m just a sentimentalist — guilty as charged. And maybe my arguments do seem abstract taken in light of the bullshit going on on the ground. I just wish for us all not to lose sight of one another through all of this or grow so cold that we come to see one another in terms of utility and little more. I know that’s not what Jules was trying to promote necessarily, and I’m not directing all I’ve been writing at him specifically. Just a prayer I’m putting out into the universe, I guess.

    As for womanese…that shit’s impossible to be fluent in. I’ve nearly given up trying with other women. There is a code of sorts a lot of women adhere to, apparently learned early on in life, but they won’t explain it, yet expect others to read their minds in order to figure it out. That truly is a pain in the rear, and women can be more clear if we try.

    Oh, and not to forget to respond to your point about personal responsibility. That is true, and it’s at the core of what I’m coming to think about in terms of life philosophy and all that jazz. It is true that we women do need to take more responsibility for our life choices and their consequences, I do agree. Because the system can be corrupted and used to one’s advantage is no reason to go ahead and do that and risk everyone’s well-being and sanity. No disagreement from me there either, though I would extend this to include men as well, my experience having shown them not to be the most responsible lot either, generally speaking. Sure, plenty hold down jobs and generate income and pay taxes, but responsibility of course goes much farther than that. When it comes to attitudes, I’d say assholes abound nearly everywhere, in all races and creeds and sexes. (So cheery today, I am. 😛 ) I guess another point I’m trying to make is that we all could stand to be better, and ultimately it does come down to the individual deciding in him or herself, because no one can be forced to follow a higher path if their heart isn’t into it.

    So anyway, sorry to ramble all over that one. I debated jumping back into the conversation since I am feeling rather blue lately. It is depressing what we all have going on today. Heart-breaking really. But the only power I have is to work on me, to do what I believe I need to do, so I guess I’ll go back to doing that now. Take care and I hope you are well also.

  115. Gonna generalize a bit here on males n females so take this as a very basic guide to stereotypical males n females. “Womanese” from what I understand it relies more on body language than verbal so try to pay more attention to vocal tone and her body language. Women also tend to exaggerate their emotions in speech whilst men tend to focus highly on the spoken word at a very literal level too. She says “You always do this to me” and it is a common argument and taken literally he might think “no, I don’t always do that, you’re lying” when she may not even mean it to be that often.

    Apparently women have 5 vocal tones and men only have 3 which seems to cause more confusion. My personal observation is a lot of men expect women to think/act like men and a lot of women expect men to think/act like women and that causes a SHIIITLOADDD of fights. The books of men are from mars, women are from venus explain this better.

    ht tp://www.professorshouse.com/Relationships/Marriage-Advice/Articles/Exaggerating-and-Ad-Libbing-When-Arguing-with-your-Spouse/ – This talks about it a bit.

    I’ve found that since reading the men are from mars, women from venus books n stuff like that I have found communication a bit easier with women I know. Now these are just generalizations of how men n women speak n act but I do think there is validity in them as a guide, not a rule. Whether or not is it learned behaviour or instinct…who knows, probably a bit of both. Basically the problem comes down to 2 genders having slightly different communication methods and not much emphasis in society for them to actually learn how to decode each other. Expecting someone of the opposite sex to act like your sex is a hugeee problem.

  116. Most men don’t realize that even women can find it difficult to deal with other women — I can’t tell you how many crazy misunderstandings, emotional meltdowns and bizarre behavior I’ve experienced with female friends, co-workers and roommates over the years. Any social group of women is likely teeming with often unspoken jealousies and grudges. Don’t get me wrong, female friendships can also be deeply loyal and supportive. But there is always a subtext going on whenever 2 or more women are communicating. I am a bit socially awkward and geeky, and I always had difficulty with my female peer groups. I tended to be friends with geeky guys or with just 1 or 2 similarly misfit girls. In college and later in the workplace, I had to learn by observation and trial & error how to interact effectively in female social groups. I learned the hard way, often getting on someone’s bad side for reasons I never fully understood. Men have my complete sympathy in this area. The thing to keep in mind is that women communicate on multiple levels and words are only the top level.

  117. Some of my best female friends absolutely HATE most other women, they can’t stand the stereotypical cattyness, it makes me laugh but feel sad taht they haven’t found decent female friends. I get annoyed around certain kinds of guys, macho behaviour, super-competiveness n aggression get tiring quick.

    Body language can be harder to understand than the spoken word I think, you can read into body language in multiple ways. A woman who is touching you may be friendly, or be showing sexual interest for instance whereas saying “take me to dinner” is a pretty damn clear intention.

  118. @Sarah: Not that you are religious or anything,but BLESS YOU! The point you bring up about difficulties in reading and therefore communication with women THAT even women have is exactly why so many men are eschewing singular loving monogamous relationships.It too complicated, too energy draining, too fussy and entirely co dependent. Once a man goes there with his girl, he is trapped in a never ending cycle of frustration that she isn’t held accountable for.

    It is interesting that men deal with this bizarreness and seldom get credit for it, yet there is never ending stream; of men don’t listen to women, men don’t care about what women think, men don’t validate women’s feelings, men don’t stroke women enough,etc. I think women don’t truly know how good they have it. They have the space necessary to behave in ways that cause people around them to be minimized, in deference to their needs. Men are so tired of this. More importantly, men are tired of women denying they sometimes behave irrationally. This is also why men attribute qualities like deception, and unpredictability to women; behavior, which, of course, women deny.

    What you say about women communicating on multiple levels is true of all humans.The difference is that men are acculturated to suppress that side of themselves so that women can occupy that space,freely.

  119. @Sarah:One question.If what you wrote is true, why should any man deal with this kind of bizzarre behavior in women?

  120. On the topic of the “bizarre behavior” of women… What if much of this points to something in us women that really is different in men, and not that we’re all just trying to be difficult to live with? Yeah, I get irrational sometimes, I know that. Most men I’ve known do as well (maybe not in the same ways or as loudly, but…), though their guyfriends may not be aware since the dynamics behind closed doors in the presence of one’s partner is a whole separate matter usually than how we behave out in public or even around friends. The majority of our emotionality, for both sexes, winds up being crammed up in our personal/private lives, probably because that’s the only place we feel free to be our full selves. Through that are we are putting too much pressure on one another to have our needs met that won’t (or can’t) be met outside of the comfort of our homes and bonded relationships? Does that not point to problems within the greater society that are damaging and draining us as individuals, to where we’re then taking out the resulting frustration on those closest to us?

    That’s not an excuse for women to misbehave horribly and mistreat their partners (or men either for that matter), but the talk tends to revolve around women behaving the worst in relationships, and I don’t know if it’s fair to expect women to behave and think and communicate as men commonly do. Or, fairness aside, it isn’t a practical expectation because real differences do exist between all of us, and obviously not only because of our sexes, important as that is. When I come home, I take off the public mask and try to heal so as to be able to go back out and do it all again the next day, and I’m sure plenty of men feel this way also. The strain of modern living could make anyone batty, and perhaps especially the most emotional among us (which would include a lot of women). It’s a thought.

    Another thought: In conversations I’ve had with men in the past, two of whom come to mind were clients at the time, where we weren’t arguing or experiencing any drama, just chatting about gender differences and the like, the topic of respect came up. Both men I had known and worked with for years, who clearly liked seeing me and other women, directly stated that they do not respect women and don’t believe other men do either, or that men even are able to. That befuddled me, and it hurt me, having come to see these men as friends of sort over time. They weren’t talking about escorts exclusively, didn’t reference feminism, and one was even married with a daughter — this is simply how they (and they claimed other men they knew) feel about womankind as a whole.

    Can anyone else shed any light on this? How many men really feel that honest mutual respect is impossible between men and women? I assume their underlying arguments had to do with women existing on a different plane than men (in terms of agendas, utility, intellectual capacity?), but even with that I struggle to comprehend their views. If indeed many men do feel this way toward women, and vice versa, then, well, why would we expect our relations to become anything other than transactionary or, worse, hostile one-upmanship? This contradicts the totality of my personal experiences, but perhaps others do see it this way, and I wonder how prevalent such attitudes are.

  121. I’d say they’re talking a load of shit. I respect women just as I respect men. I know many men that respect women and some who don’t (who funnily enough are always dating women and not single). Many of us do feel women act different to men but we still respect them, some behavior I’ve seen females do has confused me but I’m sure they get confused at some stuff I do.

    I think what confuses men is quite a lot of women show more of the emotional spectrum to men and we aren’t used to it, some women focus solely on emotions to the point their arguments don’t make logical sense (cue the “you always do this” stuff), but if you look at their emotions alone it does make sense but not all of us men are trained to see that. “It’s a disaster”, “It’s the worst thing in the world!”, stuff like that said over some pretty trivial shit that we see, maybe her clothes she wanted to wear aren’t washed, and her speech sounds like she is over-reacting but really she’s just venting frustration n anger like I would if my fav clothes weren’t ready when I wanted to go out (and I have done this, but I say more like “F this, F that, F’ing clothes aren’t ready”). The exaggeration of words really throws me off when women say it because I hear one thing, but she’s trying to say another. I’m not meant to hear it as really the worst thing in the world, but as something that is upsetting n annoying. That’s just an example that some women do and in my experience far more women do that particular thing than men, men do other annoying stuff that I’m sure women find confusing.

    Something women probably would hate with me is my sheer love of breaking shit that annoys me, I lose my temper sometimes when tired n hungry and if an object annoys me I sometimes break it such as when I put a cabinet door on and it fucked up badly I threw that piece of shit 10m into the backyard n busted the hell out of it with a hammer. Felt GREAT, and no I don’t hit people just stuff I can fix that I own. I need to buy a wrecking yard:P. I’ve seen other men do this too and I laugh my ass off when it happens, it’s at the point you give up caring about that object n destruction takes away frustration. I’ve never seen a woman do this though I’m sure some do it.

  122. @wakemenow…

    I would not say I do not respect women.

    It is more of a feeling of distrust and disgust when it comes to sexuality. This is the only area where I harbor real feeling of disgust. As for intellectual, professional, and human respect, I have no beef with women. Women are my equal. I am not superior in any regard.

    My only gripe with women has been what I perceive to be a lack of honesty about sex, sex and marriage etc….As a former husband I just cannot understand why a woman who said she loved her husband AND loved making love to him would not have sex with him. That simply told me she was a liar. In essence she was dishonest.

    As ogwriter stated: the central problem is our society and culture does not take men’s emotional and psychological well being as seriously as women’s. A man’s hurt and pain are frequently dismissed by a wife, our society and culture. When a man realizes this either he goes nuts, becomes depressed, or something worse. The bottom line is unless he develops a coping mechanism, he is bound to become emotionally damaged.

  123. @Archy: Ha! I hurled my jewelry box against the wall several months ago. Broke it, stuff scattered everywhere had me on my hands and knees searching for probably an hour to re-collect it all. Surprised the heck out of my boyfriend. But it did make me feel better in that instant, so yeah, I get that. Haha Frustration happens and we each handle it as we do, some more productively than others, but dammit — sometimes breaking shit really is called for, however irrational it may appear to onlookers. 🙂 Liked your comment, Archy!

    And that’s pointing back to what I’m wondering about pertaining to all of us. We’re frustrated for a variety of reasons, some having to do with our partners directly, plenty not yet we may at times lay the heavy on them when we shouldn’t. Men and women do this, so it’s not as if men are pillars of rationality and reasoning putting up with female nonsense. Ha. No. Maybe that’s true for some couples, perhaps serving as evidence of them being mismatched if it proves unsatisfactory overall. But that’s simply not the whole picture or even a realistic caricature, not in my experience. But then again, I’ve known far more men than women.

    Wicked people do exist, but more often I think it’s a matter of people being misguided, whether by feminism or some other “ism” or our stupefying American culture or modeling our lives in accordance with economic theory even where it doesn’t fit, etc. And where does the common person today receive worthwhile guidance from? Quality parents and mentors, if you’re blessed. Otherwise virtually nowhere, so a lot of it is on the individual to make sense out of life and living for him/herself. We are making mistakes all across the board through our acceptance of conventional “wisdom” without knowing or imagining anything better to compare ourselves and this life up against. A lack of role models, one could say. And that’s real, and it affects us all, albeit in different ways.

    Life’s journey has taught me a lot, and it hasn’t always been rosy and there are probably a number of people out there who think pretty poorly of me or some past experience we had. I’ve mistreated men and been mistreated. Life choices made a decade or more ago came to haunt me in ways I never would’ve imagined. I actively contributed to the destruction of my first and so far only marriage (with help) because I was young and relatively dumb and naive and mistook dominance and aggression with “empowerment.” Made poor financial decisions I continue to live with. Threw fits that leave me embarrassed to ever return to certain bars again. Cheated for the first time on someone who absolutely didn’t deserve that, and now live with the shame of my selfishness (relating to my long-time craving for sexual distractions when times are tough). With luck and introspection, we learn as we go. Because I met men and women along my journey who fared no better doesn’t provide any comfort — it’s rather sad actually, and it causes me to wonder why life seems out of sorts for so many of us, why we’re doing what we’re doing to one another, and what crazy-making factors contribute to this chaos. Being male and female and managing the differences that entails can be difficult enough, but that’s not the full scope of what’s eating at us. That is, however, most readily identifiable as a concern, because it’s closest to us and impacts us intimately.

    I don’t know. It just seems to me we people are casting a lot of blame at one another for problems that affect us all and yet aren’t completely within any one person’s control to change. We can learn to open our eyes and examine life more closely, and some days I think that’s about the best we can hope for from one another. My apologies for rambling up a storm.

  124. Yeah I’ve put my fist through a wall in anger before, but I stopped doing that since it takes a while to patch it up, repaint it, etc. Anything I throw out though is fair game.

    No one is perfect, there is shit I regret. My first relationship ended badly as we rushed sex, I freaked, and ended it there as I knew my feelings weren’t the same as her’s. I always told her we’d see how things went but still I regret that I didn’t know my feelings better, though I’m not sure I could really know my feelings until I went through it. I had thought I liked her a lot but during a few days we met that all disappeared (met her online). It broke her heart and I felt like a real jerk, I also went from very little physical contact to full on sex in a day or 2 which freaked me out more with anxiety as it was all new and basically just too much to handle so fast. It’s pretty bad when you’re half way through sex n feeling like you need to stop but push through it hoping it gets better and then after you feel like not being touched because it’s all too much.

  125. @Jules:

    I agree that our culture and society is growing hostile toward men and shows little concern about your/their psychological pain. Couldn’t agree more, and it’s tragic. We see it in men being treated as disposable bodies behind a weapon in our military, and we see it in the endless reel of sitcoms ridiculing men as dumb apes pleased by sex and food who serve the primary purpose of going out to a job and bringing home bacon they have little say in its use. I saw it in my grandfather’s frustration working hard and receiving little respect and in the anguish he covered for decades with alcohol. But I also see how what we have going on doesn’t benefit all or even most women either, regardless of what some women themselves might like to think. I think the way things are becoming is dangerous for everybody, even as women appear to be afforded higher standing in the new game. None of us are better off present time, and it’s being reflected in our collective unhappiness.

    So what do you think we can do beyond arranging our own personal setups to minimize the harm we personally experience? Legislation can only take us so far, so how else might we enhance the trust and work toward society-wide improvements? In case you have any ideas you’d care to offer.

  126. @wakemenow : As I read your response post I thought you were recanting what you had said before. I realize it was my interruption of it and obviously was not be what you intended. I have read it probably ten times and each to time I walk away with the same feeling. Sorry about that.

  127. @ogwriter: Perhaps I don’t explain myself well. And perhaps we read into things what we want to see rather than what’s actually being said.

    In reference to your reply to the question I posed to Jules, you stated that people must come to value men’s emotional needs before you feel they can change. But I wonder if this is true, considering how important empathy is to this dilemma. By vocalizing and demonstrating your needs out loud and without reservation, might that not bring around women to a deeper appreciation for men’s struggle in all of this? Help them see what they share in common with men inside? It seems to me keeping silent on the matter hasn’t served men’s interests well at all, but rather than lashing out angrily or turning cold, why not instead try bringing your emotions to the table and laying out the truth for others to see and feel? Maybe they have remained ignorantly blind because your suffering has been kept so quiet. It is a thought.

    I don’t hold out much hope for change either. But when you speak of how society treats men, I think it’s important to note that many of those members of society giving men a hard time are other men. It is often men who hold standards they expect other “real men” to adhere to prove their worth, and it is often other men who enforce the code that tells men they shouldn’t cry or show signs of weakness. I know this is true because I hear it from men, and I’ve witnessed many men willing to cry and show pain around women because they feel we will be more sympathetic to what they’re going through. Perhaps this depends on the men in question, be that differences in class or race or fraternal bonds that allow or disallow displays of male vulnerability. But from what I read on MRM sites, I see men are very willing to cut down their brothers and shame them for behaving too effeminately or for siding with women on issues. The society we speak of is comprised of men AND women doing this to other men AND women, not just one sex attacking and mistreating the other while bonding with members of their own sex. Like Sarah and Archy pointed out, women aren’t exactly getting along with one another, and I’ve just noted that plenty of men are choosing to avoid one another as well for similar reasons.

    You continue bringing up feminism to me despite me repeatedly stating that’s something I do not support. This appears to be your fixation, and important as it is to check the influence is having on legislation and our culture, it’s not the root cause of all that ails us, IMO. Feminism has become a shallow attempt to make sense of the world, framing all problems in terms of gender inequalities, and it has come to outlive its purpose in recent times, as many movements eventually do. I wouldn’t suggest feminism as a means to solving our problems when it too has become one of the major problems we as a society are contending with.

    As for your comments to Hank on other-directedness…I can’t help but be taken aback a bit by this focus on women’s “craziness.” Perhaps modern life has a more profound effect on the most emotional among us, namely women, and I think this is demonstrated through droves of women seeing doctors for depression and anxiety problems. No, I don’t think we’re coping too well, for reasons I’m not completely clear on. Though I do agree that women evolved totally differently than men in terms of social bonding, which had a lot to do with shared parenting and care-taking among groups of women, whereas men have historically been pitted against one another in competition.

    Perhaps women becoming involved in more competitive arenas of life hasn’t served us well psychologically. Maybe we’re many of us simply aren’t geared for what our business world has come to ask of us, but I doubt men are all that much happier with the conditions themselves. Personally, I do blame modern economics claiming dominance over all considerations is harming human life, and it’s further complicated by having men and women compete as we now do. But I see no way to roll back the clock and I’m not sure what to envision going forward that could reinstate a greater sense of balance between the sexes. Probably will require more women accepting our natural limitations and realizing what it’s doing to us and our families when we give money supreme importance in our lives, but I think it we need men too to come to grips with this.

    And no, I’m not a communist or a socialist or even a liberal — just noting what seems so obvious to me, which is that most of what people are fighting over and manipulating others for is money. Money in return for status and power. It’s a take on the age-old domination game, except now money is needed for everything, and we spend so much of our lives chasing it.. To generalize, men are better at acquiring it through jobs, and women aim for access to it, in part, through men, not merely because we women are evil and cruel but rather because what we’re best at is actively being devalued. So then women turn toward preying on men instead, and that’s the tragic twist of fate that bothers me most about the modern economic frontier. I don’t think it’s an issue that can be resolved without rectifying that end as well, seeing as how our social realm seems to follow suit and closely mirror whatever economics asks of us.

    And of course, that’s not all of it. What I was trying to saying in the last two long posts pertained to our individual moral responsibilities not only to others and the wider collective but to our own selves. It’s an unpopular topic I’m finding out, but important nevertheless. There is truth in the notion of change beginning with oneself, despite how limited and powerless one can feel to do much to affect the larger problems facing us. And granted, “crazy” feelings and depression certainly don’t help with feeling motivated. The more bogged down someone gets, the easier it is to blame another rather than see one’s own contributions to the problem. I do understand that, and I don’t have an answer. Life strikes me as bewildering despite all the creature comforts we now have to ease our suffering.

    I seem unable to write brief posts. Sorry about that.

  128. @wakemenow: To be clear, I am not saying that all women are cruel or should be vilified as worse than men. In fact that kind of rhetoric, from either side angers me to no end. I am sick of the divisions.And I too want peace and calm.

    I want to know exactly what is expected of me as man in society, not 50 million different versions. I also know that I am a part of problem and am not perfect. However, 43 years ago ago when it occurred to that men had to change, as a 14 year old growing up in San Francisco, I started that process for myself. The only problem was the people saying I needed to change hadn’t figured everything out.
    They thought of themselves as perfect and as the embodiment of all that was good and right. Men were comparative knuckling neanderthals. These people blissfully and with arrogance, ignored biology and its influence on the behavior of men and women. I blindly followed their idiocy before, I shall not do it again. Their influence in so deeply intertwined into American culture culture as to be almost indistinguishable.

  129. @ogwriter: Your latest explanations clarifies a good bit for me. I can only imagine how wacky the situation must have been in San Fransisco in the ’60s and ’70s with all the social experimenting of that era taking place. I’ve always assumed California was the birthplace of the feminist movement…and I can only grasp that period in time through what I read since it was long before I was born. But you have my sympathy for getting caught up in all of that, frustrating as I’m sure it turned out to be.

    I’m glad that your goal isn’t to seek divisions or to cast blame, and in my last post I was referring to a “general you” in a few places where I should have made that clear. Sorry about that. Wasn’t trying to preach, at least not to others, just that I’ve been reading elsewhere online where lots of blame is cast and people seem so up in arms toward one another, to where they seem blinded to their doings and choices. But it helps me knowing others do take seriously the need to better know and take control of themselves and their situations, since that’s what I personally keep returning to in my own life. Being a good bit younger than you, please pardon my naivete on so many topics. I am still learning and trying to find my voice.

    Though I’m not sure going forward that society will be able to offer concrete expectations for us based on the sex we belong to. I think perhaps those days may be over and that from here on out we will have to decide who to be on our own, according to standards we set, since the greater society is so diverse to the point of becoming a project of trying to herd cats. Could be wrong, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure there will remain 50 million expectations launched about pertaining to women within this schizoid, contradictory culture. It is frustrating not knowing who to be or what is best to aim to live up to, and I’m struggling with these questions inside.

    Anyway, don’t want to take up anymore of your time today, having written a book this week on here already. Just wanted to say mainly that I appreciated the extra information to help me know who I’m talking to and how feminism factors into your views. Take care.

  130. @wakemenow: You should know that I am not saying or trying to imply that you have intentionally trued to shut me out of the dialogue. My point is that, too often, women think that simply asking men to open up as women do, and share their feelings, and fears and insecurities, that those feelings will be well received. Or that women will gladly get out of the way and accept men in this context by sharing this space. This is simply not true. As has been noted many to times, one of biggest failures of feminism was its decision to ignore the role of biology in gender relations.

    The truth is, women are just as reluctant to share what has been their power base as men have been to share their traditional power spaces.
    Secondarily, though I am shaped by my early experiences as a youth I am not bound to them. Life moves forward at an ever increasing rate of speed. And as such so must I. You, my dear, are an important voice in this discussion that needs to be heard and felt by others. You are one of the few female voices that I admire and respect in this debate genre.Why? Because, i know you listen and care. And perhaps, more importantly, I know I matter as a man to you. I can’t say that about many women in my life, who just don’t see the ways in which the lives of men and women are inextricably linked. Women don’t understand that making unilateral decisions about how the masculine or how the feminine is to be defined causes chaos. You do, and that’s big! and rare.

  131. @ogwriter: Still making my way through the comments I’ve missed. I really appreciate what you said here and it very much helps me to feel more comfortable conversing on this thread. My talkativity turns me into a prolific writer (as this post will confirm), so I do worry about coming across as not allowing others the room they need to express themselves in kind. That you appreciate my contributions here makes me happy, as I haven’t found many welcoming forums to discuss these sorts of matters and so wind up writing more for myself in private instead.

    “one of biggest failures of feminism was its decision to ignore the role of biology in gender relations. The truth is, women are just as reluctant to share what has been their power base as men have been to share their traditional power spaces.”

    Very true. While I can understand women wanting to be recognized more so in the public domain and to influence politics through our voting power, things wound up getting seriously out of hand during the second-wave of feminism you grew up with. Not sure how or why exactly that disconnect got started, the notion of men and women being essentially the same and biology playing no important role, but time has proven the assumption false. Unfortunately for us our society has come to be predicated on this erroneous logic. I get how women feel uncomfortable with the idea of us being deemed separate but equal (especially considering how such language was used to justify racial discrimination), there being concern we will automatically be relegated to a secondary role, or at least that’s how the role is perceived as being. And undoubtedly this fear stems from historically feeling undervalued for our contributions to society, which I can understand since we still observe flashes of the skeleton of painful inequity (made all the more pronounced by Abrahamic religions in their heyday).

    Something that comes to my mind is this. To lead, one needs to gain the respect of others. Yet instead so many people all up through history aim to rule by dominance, by eliminating choice, in other words by dictatorship. When we look back at history we see more men behaving in this way because leaders often tended to be male, and women can make the mistake of assuming mishandling power is a uniquely male trait, brought about by a “man’s world,” and thereby less likely to occur when the supposedly gentler sex assumes positions of power. And that is a lie, a horrible lie, made all the worse because biological differences do tend to favor men for leadership roles (whether benevolently or malevolently handled).

    While there remain exceptions worth noting, those female exceptions tend to not behave and think as typical women either. What I mean by that is we womenfolk, generally speaking, tend to be more conformity-driven and peer-oriented (hence references to us being especially prone toward other-directedness). This way of being is illustrated in women being more groupish than men, and in groups conformity is prized as aiding in keeping the peace and holding people in line to protect the mores of a given community. The problem here is that conformist groupishness stands in stark contrast with the will of the individual and those qualities needed to honestly assess and critique the group and its members, as well as lead with characteristic integrity. This is something I think women struggle with accepting about ourselves, because it implies we are lacking when compared against the male standard. But I don’t see it as lacking, just a big difference between types of people and how we’ve evolved over time. History didn’t typically serve women who broke from the herd and rabble-roused and fought authorities perceived as unjust, because this jeopardized the life of her dependent offspring. Men, however, weren’t shackled in the same sort of way and therefore could serve in the role of protector and hunter and warrior and whatnot. One could say that this is not a luxury mankind possessed, but a responsibility and a duty that was necessary to fulfill. And I think that’s what women have trouble coming to terms with, especially now as we live in concrete jungles of our own making and are free from many of the threats that plagued our ancestors. It’s a short leap to assuming the past is the past and that all can be level and equal now, but that’s not reality.

    We can’t help but come to the table colored by the ends of the spectrum our sex shows a propensity toward, and it seems to me fewer people today are demonstrating a willingness to respectably rule their own selves (that goes for men and women alike), yet women are increasingly demanding the perks of rising in rank and being recognized while expediting the process required for them to get there, leaving aside concerns for qualifying merit. In other words, we seem to think we belong everywhere by virtue of being women, the common argument being the we women are underrepresented in various aspects of society previously. But then there’s little talk of what we bring to the table aside from a female perspective, as if that alone is so valuable as to warrant entry. (Nevermind that men aren’t automatically valued for showing up with their male perspectives if that’s all they brought.)

    And I could go on and on (and did, and moved it to my personal writing log). That was my attempt to touch on the problem with the feminist agenda. A nap is in order before heading to work. Take care.

  132. @wakemenow: I always read every word you write…twice.

  133. @ogwriter: Just took a look at a couple other pages on this site finally. Wooh…some heated arguments on here. Perhaps I’d better just make this thread my home and not venture out. haha

    Read the commenting rules too and it says we’re not supposed to get off-topic. Hmm. Drats. Surprised I haven’t been flagged yet. Such tough topics to stay in one vein with.

    So, in the interest of remaining on topic, I’ll say there’s still very little sex taking place over here. Decent amount of cuddling. A little porn watching by me in the wee hours of the night. Thankfully I have an awesome toy, and beer, or else what would life be? We managed to not have sex for a whole month (hence our Thanksgiving feud). That duration set a new record. But then again, it was a dumb month.

    So how’s everyone else doing in the sex department right about now? Any improvements or changes?

    @Arium: Figured anything new out with your situation? Has the counseling helped any, if I might ask?

  134. @wakemenow: I haven’t had any counseling yet. I am a terrible procrastinator. This is one situation in which my procrastination doesn’t hurt anyone else.

    The counselor my psychiatrist recommended is out-of-network. Since I have had no expenses applied to my out-of-network deductible this year, I may as well wait until January, when the deductible would start over anyway. In the meantime, I found a counselor in-network who might be worth trying instead, in order to save money.

    I’m also taking some time to think through how I would want to proceed if given the chance. Do I really want to put my relationship through the strain of asking to open it, only to realize that I have no reasonable prospects for finding other partners? GMP recently had a post regarding casual sex, but the advice wasn’t targeted toward someone in his late 40’s.

    J has been making an effort toward more frequent sex. She doesn’t like sessions 24 hrs apart because she fears she will become sore. Recently we tried 36 hr intervals and that is working out OK. She even suggested morning sex before she left on a business trip this week!

    As for you a month is a very long time. I don’t know if I ever went a month with my ex. My libido was lower then, but even 2 week droughts contributed to the demise of the relationship due to the loss of feelings toward each other. (It didn’t help that she was insecure about my porn use, which did not include videos from the Internet back then.)

    I recall you saying you were trying to adjust to a conventional sex life, but often not getting one’s needs met often leads to feelings of resentment.

  135. wakemenow says:

    @Arium: I often wonder what a counselor can really do to help people in this sort of situation. Encourage people to change the way they behave, in hope that this will eventually alter our thinking (going the cognitive therapy route)? Or…?

    I am curious to eventually learn how the counseling goes once you’ve decided on a counselor. From what little past experience I’ve had with visiting counselors (for other matters), it seemed all they want to do is listen, not offer up much advice, and I can’t see how talking out the frustration would wind up alleviating it in this sort of case.

  136. @wakemenow: I’ve left out details regarding my reasons for seeking counseling.

    I don’t want to continue the conversation here, so if you’ll comment on my blog, I can keep you posted there.

  137. Victor Greed says:

    Nah, dry vaginas seem okay for these guys. It is not going to hurt… the male, so that is okay I guess.

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