The Sexless Father opens up about the times when his libido finds itself in conflict with the better angels of his nature.
This post originally appeared at The Sexless Father.
I came to an important realization today.
A friend, one of the very few people who knows my identity, wrote to say how impressed he was about my healthy attitude and interactions with The Mother. He told me that, despite his own better angels, unbalanced sex drives make him act “gross and coercive.”
And I felt totally called out.
Not, I think, because my friend meant to call me out. Without realizing it, he had described a side of this problem that I’ve been keeping secret from you. I want to see myself as the hero of my own story, and I know right from wrong. I do my best to take repeated sexual rejection in the healthy and productive ways I’ve described here. In all, I think I do a pretty good job.
But I created this blog anonymously in order to afford me the opportunity to be completely honest, and complete honesty is what I want to share. As much as I try to be a good man, sometimes I am terrible.
I am lying in bed with The Family. The Kids are sleeping on the outside edges, and The Mother and I are reading books side by side in the middle. She is deeply focused on her book. I am trying to follow the story of mine, but my my mind keeps jumping over to her body.
I know that if I tell her what I’m wanting – passionate necking, erotic touch, and sex – she will say no and that will end things. My fragile ego and wishful dick compose a plan. She will, I convince myself, be more receptive to body language.
I reach over and stroke her shoulder in a gesture that I hope is suggestive enough to be unmistakable while remaining chaste enough to maintain plausible deniability. She ignores me and keeps reading. But she doesn’t say no, so I cuddle in close and keep caressing. She is still reading, offering no sign that she is enjoying my touch. I kiss her neck and reach my hand around to cup one of her breasts. She breaks her stillness to push me away.
“Not tonight, okay? I’m tired.”
I roll away from her and sullenly return to my book.
“I was liking the gentle rubbing.”
I stare at the text and studiously don’t respond. We fall into mutual silence, and she returns to her reading. I try to read again, going over the same sentence again and again until my eyes wear a rut in the page. My mind is flashing, unbidden, to images of our sex. My mouth on her breasts. Her hands on my hips. Trying to read is useless; these pictures are so strong they are like fever dreams.
Once more I reach out and touch her. I say, “Honey?” She drops her eyes from her book once more, and they meet mine. I look back with hang dog eyes and touch her hip in a way I hope she will like. “The kids are asleep.”
I know she reads a thousand levels of subtext into this. “I’m really tired. And achy.” She says. “Not tonight, okay?”
“Okay.” I say, monosyllabically trying not to sound defeated, and failing. I pout for a minute, and my lips part to utter, “never tonight.”
Without waiting for a response, I crawl over The Boy and out of bed. I close the door more forcefully than I need to. When I return in an hour or so, she will be asleep and I will be so wracked with guilt and shame that I will have to put my back to her. When I wake up, we will say nothing about this night, as we have said nothing about so many nights – and afternoons and mornings – that have come before and will most likely come again.
What It Feels Like To Be Terrible.
I know that I did everything I could to make The Mother feel bad and guilty for saying no. And although I feel terrible, although I have been terrible, I still – and this is the most terrible thing of all – I still feel angry. I feel as though I am the victim of a great injustice. I feel – as I have acted – petulant.
I do not want this.
My entitled, pouting bullshit is something I’ve tried for years to carve out of myself. I feel, today, that I have a pretty good handle on the behavior. Better, anyway, than I have had in years.
But the feelings; anger, resentment, entitlement, shame, fear of rejection, inadequacy – these are still strong with me. These feelings surface every time I suggest sex and The Mother refuses. My feelings are not her responsibility. But even knowing this, when these feelings start my mind begins playing a well worn tape loop that starts,”If only she would just…”
Maybe one day I will get to the point that I will believe the things I already know to be true. That my feelings are my responsibility. That it is okay when The Mother doesn’t want to have sex. That there is nothing wrong with me sexually. That we’re both doing the best that we can in a tricky situation. That things will get better. Maybe if I learn to believe these things enough, the demons will get out of my head. Maybe I will sluff off all the world’s ideas about what it means to be a good man, ideas about being a thoroughly irresistible sexual dynamo, ideas that echo from a subconscious cavern so deep that I can’t clean it out.
I don’t want anyone else’s ideas telling me untrue stories about who I am or what sex means.
But until I can totally expel these thoughts, I can at least be honest with The Mother about what is in my head and in my heart. I can let her know the ways that our sexual problems put my higher brain in conflict with my subconscious self. I can strive to keep control of my actions with my thinking brain, and I can be deeply sorry when my feeling heart lashes out with a hurt that none of us can fully understand.
In short, sometimes I am not a good man.
Sometimes I am terrible. I am trying to be better.
Photo—X-Ray Specs from Shutterstock