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The Yes-No-Maybe Dance of Long-Term Relationship Sex

·538 words·3 mins

I’m lying in bed in my pajamas. It’s bedtime. Every one of my normal bedtime routines has been done. And I’m lying there reading a book, which I do pretty much every night before I go to sleep.

It’s a good book. A funny one. But I glance over and see you lying next to me.

And you look so good wrapped up in the bed sheet. Your hair’s long because neither of us has been in for a haircut since this whole pandemic’s began. But your eyes are the same. Large, brown, deep. I’ve always loved your eyes. And your chest. Your legs.

And well, all of you. Just all of you.

You put on the TV with a sleep timer. How It’s Made, the documentary show that depicts the manufacturing of various products. Like those blessed segments on Mister Rogers when they’d make crayons or saxophones or whatever.

We’ve watched all the episodes countless times while awake. Half-memorized them. So they make a nice background when we’re trying to get to sleep.

I should be trying to sleep. But I suddenly really want you. I want to connect physically. So I tell you what I’ve been thinking. How good you look, wrapped in that bed sheet. How attracted I am to you, that I’m down.

You respond non-verbally, making a kind of gentle grunt. It’s ambiguous, maybe negative. So I ask you how you’re feeling. You say you’re doing okay and ask me why I ask.

I tell you I like to know how you’re doing. Because I care. And I do. As we talk, there’s a weariness in your voice and in those deep brown eyes. You seem exhausted.

So I don’t make a move, even though I’m incredibly attracted to  you and really feel like getting physical. I read my book, and we both go to sleep.

In the morning, I let you know that I almost made a move but didn’t. I let you know my thought process. You don’t respond to that text. You respond to other ones. I’m not sure what to think. I’ve tried to be honest and clear, while not being disgusting, but I hope I haven’t offended or annoyed you by being direct.

And I have no idea how well I’ve done.

The Yes-No-Maybe Dance of Long-Term Relationship Sex

I think a lot of people go through this dance, when they’re in long-term relationships. I hear about it from all my friends, this subtle yes-no-maybe at night. Where people have sleep to consider. Body issues. Whatever stress the day before held.

And from all accounts, the pandemic has made it worse. For all the jokes about quarantine babies, widespread reports are that homebound couples are having less sex, not more.

It’s something I never heard about when I was growing up — especially not as a woman. I was told that men would hump anything that would have them, even inanimate objects. And that when it came to sex, men were always the gas, and women were the brakes.

That men would always want to talk explicitly about sex and women would always want to be more implicit.

But real life isn’t quite as neat as that.


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