AA: Sex Conflict

[cw: sex talk (somewhat explicit), resentment/compromise talk, + brief CSA mention]

Jane wrote in:

My partner of almost two years thinks he might be asexual. Obviously this is only according to any research I’VE done. I think he’s just hoping I’ll stop talking about it and we can carry on the relationship as it is. We’ve had sex one in the last year. Every month, as my hormones go crazy, and I try to contain my anger and resentment, the situation compounds and gets worse. He isn’t willing to make any compromise and normally just lands up getting very angry when we talk about it. For the first two months of us dating, his sexual appetite was insatiable. He was an amazing and adventurous lover who spent hours making love. We initially thought it was a problem with delayed ejaculation, which in itself made me feel like crap, but hey…we were trying. He eventually managed to orgasm inside of me and I thought “yeah, we’ve hit a mile stone!” And then it all stopped.

Being asexual is fine, but being unwilling to compromise, when you’re in a relationship with a sexual, is not ok. We discussed his delayed ejaculation issue before the relationship became serious, but his history of loosing desire for sex after 3/4 months never came up.

He’s had relationships in the past where his partners have left, and then he seemed to spiral into depression. I love him and I want to be with him. I don’t want to hurt him and I want to show him that some woman will stick around through the tough stuff. But I feel like he’s being selfish.

I was sexually molested as a young child and i don’t want to feel like a predator by initiating sex with someone who obviously doesn’t want it. This in itself is a massive problem between us.

We’ve tried couples counselling. But it didn’t really get into the nitty gritty of working out this issue.

I’ve suggested he go for CBT on his own to discuss his thoughts in private and then maybe try some exercises at home and see if we can resolve this.

He also wants children and seems to think IVF is a pretty normal way to conceive. I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE CHILDREN LIKE THIS.

Before I wrote this message, I contemplated activating tinder on my phone. Maybe if I could just have sex with someone, the need will go away. But then I cried and imagined myself crying with a weird naked stranger and that made me feel even worse.

He told me once, long ago, that having sex without being able to orgasm, gave him blue ball pain. Well I’ve had ‘blue balls’ for a year.

I’m trying not to be a callous bitch…and I’m trying to be very adult about all of this, but it’s making me feel sad and depressed.

Any suggestions?

A few.

You know, I don’t know how I keep attracting requests for relationship advice, having written very little before on mixed relationships like these.  Incidentally, I wish I knew how to indicate that just because I write about some aspects of relationships doesn’t mean I’m cool with hearing the sexually explicit details.  Generally wouldn’t assume that kind of thing myself.  Still, I wish I knew of someone better suited to this question to direct you to.

Here’s what I’m hearing: you’re unhappy with the relationship.  You’re stressed.  You’re disappointed.  You’re unsatisfied.

Here’s my suggestion: you don’t need to feel obligated to stay in a relationship that does that to you.  Maybe you two were compatible before, but it sounds like you’re not anymore.  I don’t want to sound like I’m telling you what to do, mind you.  It’s always your choice.  I’m not claiming to know what’s best.  I just don’t want you to harbor any illusions of him changing.

I’m not sure recommending CBT is a good idea for him.  That practice can be good for some situations and harmful for others, and in this case, I worry that most therapists wouldn’t be very ethical about sexual conflict of this kind, viewing sex in romantic relationships as necessarily more “healthy” (i.e., laying on that pressure you said you wanted to avoid).

About IVF: I don’t think it’s all that abnormal, but what matters there is that it’s not something you want.  Obviously you deserve the final say in that.

Anyway, it’s unclear what you mean when you mention “compromise.”  If he doesn’t want sex, he doesn’t want sex.  You say you want to show him that someone will stick with him through the tough stuff, and also that you feel he’s being selfish (by… not having sex with you).  Those two feelings are at odds with each other.  First of all, he doesn’t owe you sex, just like you don’t owe it to him to continue the relationship, but second of all: it sounds like the former desire is more about proving you can overcome a challenge than anything else — and that you don’t actually want to live your life this way.  Maybe you’re not the woman who will prove this can be done, and that’s okay.  It’s not up to you alone.  It’s not your responsibility.  You wouldn’t be a lesser person for deciding this is a dealbreaker.  The only thing that would be wrong is deciding he’s a lesser person for not having sex with you.

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6 responses to “AA: Sex Conflict

  • Yoonede

    “Being asexual is fine, but being unwilling to compromise, when you’re in a relationship with a sexual, is not ok.”

    I think Jane needs to understand that this is HER relationship boundary and not a general proclamation that can be made for all people in all relationships. She doesn’t have the right to declare such a thing for all people. It sounds like “willingness to compromise” is a bottom line for her in her relationships with asexuals, but it is NOT NECESSARILY a bottom line for all people in relationships with asexuals. She has no right to feel like sex is owed to her just because she CHOOSE to stay in a relationship with an asexual.

    As a sex-repulsed asexual whose partner demanded sex for years–let me just say that in MY experience, compromise created considerable trauma for me that I am now working through in therapy. I am DAMAGED by my years of compromise with my sexual partner. No means no, and if no is not acceptable to you then I think YOU need to change (by leaving the relationship).

    P.S. Therapy never came close to helping me not be asexual or tolerate sex. However, therapy is helping me heal from years of having sex I didn’t want and shouldn’t have had to have.

  • luvtheheaven

    YIKES.

    I wrote this post of mine about being a sex-averse ace who tried sex for a reason. For a few reasons, really. One of which was to maybe help increase understanding in people like this woman here.

    Obviously my situation as a cis woman with non-arousability (or low-arousability as Laura (ace-muslim) terms it, although for me “non” feels more apt as a descriptor than low) is pretty different than her situation with a (sounds like cis-male) partner who “for the first two months of us dating, his sexual appetite was insatiable. He was an amazing and adventurous lover who spent hours making love.”

    It is not “obvious”, regardless, that the only reason her partner of two years would only be thinking he might be asexual because of research SHE did. The way she starts off this whole “AA” makes me feel like she doesn’t think very highly of her partner, doesn’t respect him very much, thinks he “should’ve” done the research himself and feels like her choosing to do research on her partner and try to figure him out FOR him was like extra work she was FORCED to do – which, um, no. It wasn’t. No one made her decide to pursue that.

    One suggestion, that I’d hope she already stumbled across in her own research, if she has been this heavily considering ??cheating?? is to talk about the possibility of some kind of polyamorous arrangement for her to find sex in consensually without cheating coming into play. And if that isn’t a mutually satisfying solution, and you can’t think of an actual “compromise” that doesn’t put pressure on someone for unwanted sex, then sometimes ending the relationship needs to be put on the table, yes, exactly as Coyote said.

    I also am tempted to question why she doesn’t want IVF to conceive so vehemently. Iit sounds like she is yelling in her submitted question about the issue, when what is more likely the heart of the matter is that she really just wants to have sex, and when she brings up children as a reason they will need to have sex again in their lives, in their relationship together, her partner explains that he wouldn’t even want to have sex for children, there are other methods that work well. That is a big indicator to me that she’s probably just frustrated that her partner never wants to have sex again, and that her partner is pretty sure of his own views on the matter.

    “I’m trying not to be a callous bitch…and I’m trying to be very adult about all of this, but it’s making me feel sad and depressed.” – I am uncomfortable with people using terms like “callous bitch”, even when referring to oneself, and if you ever need to say “I’m trying not to be” such a type of person, chances are you are already aware there are aspects of your own behavior and thought-processes that do need to change. Maybe seeking therapy of some kind on your own to deal with being sad and depressed (and so angry and frustrated) is wise.

    • Coyote

      “It is not ‘obvious’, regardless, that the only reason her partner of two years would only be thinking he might be asexual because of research SHE did.”

      Yeah, that too.

      Anyway, I’m not sure therapy is a good suggestion there either, although ideally it could be helpful, since I’d be worried, again, about the therapist turning out to be sex-normative and simply encouraging her to find new ways to put pressure on her partner.

  • Klaaraa

    But, you know, IVF to conceice children is a rather invasive procedure for the person who has the ovaries, with administering hormones to ripen the eggs, and then surgically harvesting the eggs, and then preparing her for implatation with more hormones and then putting the embryos in her…
    Not wanting to go through that is a matter of pain avoidance and bodily autonomy, and a very valid thing considering that it’s his idea while she is the one who would have to bear all of it.

    While I absolutely think this couple “should” not be conceiving any children before they have worked a lot of things out, her not wanting to conceive in that invasive way is the last thing anyone should be shaming her about, especially because putting his ejaculate in her through means of low-tech artificial insemination is probably an option, that does not have to involve PIV sex. May require him to ejaculate more often than for IVF, though…

    • luvtheheaven

      I agree with that too… and I’m sorry if it seems like I’m the person “shaming her” for it.

      I just thought the way she wrote the message, it didn’t seem to me like the reason she vehemently didn’t want to conceive that way was any of those completely valid reasons, not to mention the money. She didn’t clarify any reasons or even say something non-specific but concrete like “I have reasons for not wanting to conceive that way.” It seemed like this was all about wanting to have sex, and the all caps there makes that issue stand out because it’s the only entirely capitalized sentence in the entire letter. Hopefully the lack of expanding on that issue is because children are a few steps too far away and are not what they as a couple really need to figure out first. But the most likely interpretation I can come up with is that it might be such an “all-caps” worthy point because it highlights that “Even down the line” her partner is already pretty sure sex isn’t going to be happening, not “even” as a way to conceive.

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