Like most people, I grew up being told that when it comes to sex that men are the gas, women are the brakes.
However, when I entered my first long-term monogamous relationship, I discovered the hard way that not everyone follows this pattern. In fact, my boyfriend wanted sex way less often than I did.
Here are some things that surprised me when I found myself in this situation:
1. He wanted to wait a full year before we had sex together.
I’d never dated a guy who wanted to do this, and I initially took this as a good sign, that he respected me and wanted to invest in me and build up our relationship before going all the way. In hindsight, it turned out to be a sign that he wasn’t very interested in sex or sexual activity.
2. He basically never initiated sex.
Once we started having sex after the initial waiting period, I always had to be the one to ask. And when I say I always had to ask for sex, I mean it.
I started out asking for sex about as often as I wanted to have it, which at that point was every few days or so. Then my boyfriend got upset and said it was pressuring to ask so often, so I cut it back to once a week. Sometimes he still felt like that was too often for me to ask. That the frequency of those requests all by itself could be considered pressuring him.
3. Asking so much and being rejected nearly every time made me feel pathetic, like I was begging.
I couldn’t believe that I was getting turned down by the person I loved the most in the world. I thought he was sexy as hell and wanted to jump his bones. And yet he didn’t seem to feel the same way, judging by his actions. I wondered why.
As a result, my confidence was shot.
4. After a while, I stopped even asking.
I got tired of asking. We went from having very infrequent sex to no sex at all. This dry spell lasted for about a year. Masturbation helped with the physical needs but not the emotional ones. I felt unattractive and unwanted and like there was something wrong with me.
5. I started to suspect he was having an affair.
I began to wonder how my boyfriend was going so long without sex. How was he not climbing the walls by now? I sure as heck was. But then again, I knew I was staying monogamous.
It occurred to me that maybe my boyfriend had another sexual outlet that wasn’t me. I became intensely jealous and scrutinized every interaction he had with other women, which as you would suspect was not a good look for me and stressed me out almost as much as not getting laid did. Almost.
6. I developed feelings for someone else, which made me feel guilty even though I didn’t act on them.
During the year-long hiatus, I was hit on by multiple guys who really laid it on thick. They told me how cute, funny, and sexy they found me and propositioned me.
I managed to stay faithful to my boyfriend and kept them at arm’s length but developed a large crush on one of them. And as the months wore on, I began to carry on this emotional affair in my head, daydreaming about having sex with him, what it would be like to share a bed with someone who desired me.
I never did more than fantasize, but I felt terrible about this mental betrayal anyway. This wasn’t the way that good people acted, I told myself. Love matters more than sex. What am I doing?
7. Some of the people I confided in told me that there must be something medically wrong with my boyfriend.
A healthy young guy in his 20s should be screwing anything on two legs, my friends all told me. They suggested that I take him to a doctor, have his hormones and circulation checked. When I gently put some feelers out to him about his possibly doing this, it really didn’t go well.
8. Other people I told about the dry spell assumed I was boring or bad in bed.
I can’t tell you how many times a friend would say “Have you tried XYZ?” and offer up what they thought was the latest and greatest sex move. The implication here was that maybe I wasn’t so great in bed and if I just added a few sex tips to my arsenal that I’d be on my way to Pound Town in no time.
9. Some of my friends even insisted my boyfriend had to be gay.
Some people I confided in told me that the only reasonable explanation for my boyfriend’s lack of sexual interest was that he had to be gay. However, I never saw any evidence of this. We were in a very gay-friendly social group who would have accepted him easily as bisexual or gay (I’m bisexual myself and have dated bi men in the past).
Besides that, all of his porn was of women. That was the other thing: Even during the long dry spell, he still looked at porn and presumably would use it to get off. This was one of the most difficult parts: Knowing that he’d rather look at porn than have sex with me, an actual person.
10. I came to realize that none of this was what I wanted, that I have physical needs in relationships, and that those needs matter.
These days not only am I polyamorous, but I also live with a partner whose libido matches mine, and it’s great. I’ll never go back to thinking that the quality or quantity of physical intimacy in my life doesn’t matter. While that may be true for some others, it isn’t for me. I need to get those needs met somewhere.