AA: Questioning a Change

[cw: relationship conflict, explicit sex talk]

Mary wrote in:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost three years. The first 6-9 months were filled with sex, as a relationship may in the beginning. It slowly started dropping off, with many fights of me feeling rejected again and again. I believe my boyfriend to be anorgasmic, which has come out in the past year He has told me he doesn’t feel anything when he orgasms. I’ve asked him before if he thinks he may be asexual, because I can tell he only wants to have sex for me; to please me, which obviously feels kind of awful. Unfortunately I can’t get him to be very open about his feelings or anything regarding sex – just that we start to try and have sex, and then suddenly he doesn’t want to, even though he is usually erect. And when I ask why or get upset, it brings such negative feelings around our whole sex life.

I’m just really sad and confused. If he was more open, I feel we could reach an understanding about his orientation or if maybe he just is sex repulsed. But with such an active sex life in the beginning, I feel that maybe he isn’t asexual? I don’t know. But without much discussion, I’ve turned to the Internet for help. I know I’m not really asking a question here, but if you have any guidance, I’m open.

Here are some thoughts, from reading your message:

It sounds like you’re very hurt by the thought of not being wanted in that particular way.  You’ve said that it’s led to fights, you feel rejected, and it makes you feel awful that, you can tell, his reasons for wanting sex are more about pleasing you than himself.  One thing I would recommend is some further introspection about why this bothers you (besides not getting the sex you want, of course).  What may be the case for you is, I believe, the case for many people — taking others’ degree of sexual desire for them as a reflection of their worth, their level of attractiveness, etc.

But it doesn’t have to work like that.  Please remind yourself that everyone has their own predilections (or perhaps, none at all, in this department) and that that individuality says nothing about you.  If measuring yourself this way is what’s hurting you, then you may want to practice thinking in a different way and devising a new metric for how to assess yourself, your relationship, etc.

That said, it sounds like your boyfriend has a reason to be closed off about this subject.  You’ve said that you two have fought about it multiple times, changing his mind about trying to have sex makes you upset, and you feel awful about what you can tell about him.  All those factors could reasonably make it a touchy subject for him too.  Maybe he wants to avoid the conflict, or maybe he doesn’t know how to explain what he feels, or maybe he just doesn’t want to hurt you.  If you want him to open up and talk more about it, then you may want to mitigate some of those factors, depending on what you think is most likely at play and what’s the most doable for you.

For example, if he’s afraid that talking more about it will only hurt you, you may need to deemphasize your negative feelings or find another way to work through them.  That may not be possible for you, and that’s fine.  Another thought is that you could bring to the table more terms and points of reference and a show of understanding, which could build his trust as well.  The kind of man you’ve described does sound like he wants to make it work between you; that’s something to appreciate.  He may feel awful about all this too, so try to put yourself in his shoes.  In the end, if you choose to stay together, you may have to accept that your relationship may not ever look the way you’d first envisioned.

A couple last things.  You mentioned anorgasmia as a possibility.  That could be, but I don’t know much about that.  You also mentioned that the frequent sex early on makes you doubt the possibility of him being asexual.  As a technicality, that doesn’t necessarily preclude anything.  I’m not saying he is or he isn’t — that’s something only he can know — but it doesn’t rule it out, either.  On that note, you two may be interested in this post by Talia about living as a sex-favourable asexual.

That’s what comes to mind for now.  You can comment below if you have any more specific questions.  Readers, feel free to weigh in.

 

 

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3 responses to “AA: Questioning a Change

  • queenieofaces

    Anecdata, but I know I’ve read a lot of accounts on AVEN (or talked to aces who have similar stories) of aces who are interested in or enjoy sex at the beginning of a relationship (even if they’re not attracted to their partner), but then their interest in it declines over time or they start thinking that it’s really boring or repetitive. I’ve seen people talk about it in relation to New Relationship Energy. That might be something worth considering here?

  • luvtheheaven

    Another thought I had is if boyfriend has confided within the past year that “he doesn’t feel anything when he orgasms” and if there is a chance he never has felt anything when he does…. well, then the beginning of the relationship being “filled with sex” might’ve been because he wanted to keep testing to see if he could enjoy orgasm, because he knew it was expected that he’d want sex, because he knew you were enjoying it and didn’t feel truly free to admit that he was potential NEVER fully into the sex the way you were…

    This post from your archives, Coyote, could be relevant: https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/what-is-knowing-no/

    For what it’s worth, even though I didn’t like kissing the first guy I tried dating, I was excited to try kissing a second person, because I had convinced myself I would have a chance of liking it that time. In the moment when I realized I didn’t like kissing this second person too (and by kissing, I mean open-mouth, making-out kind of kissing), I already had the terminology of being ace as an option to fall back on, but if I hadn’t, I might’ve felt obligated/compelled to pretend to be into it because the truth might’ve been too embarrassing or made me feel too broken. My story is more complicated than that but even I had thoughts such as: “After all, if I really like the person I’m kissing why don’t I like the kissing part?” It feels like there has to be a reason to not like it. Sex can easily be a similar thing for some people, where they feel like they “Should” enjoy the sex since there’s no one else they find MORE sexually attractive, since other people in their social circle think they’re lucky to be in a sexual relationship, etc.

    Another thing to mention is, in response to:

    …we start to try and have sex, and then suddenly he doesn’t want to, even though he is usually erect.

    I’d like to explicitly mention that erection itself is not “proof” that he wants to have sex, and even though he may not be asexua-spectrum at all, and this post is targeted toward asexual people, reading this: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/an-asexuals-guide-to-arousal/ Might help a bit with understanding the differences between arousal and… essentially, sexual desire.

  • Klaaraa

    “he only wants to have sex for me; to please me, which obviously feels kind of awful” :The “obviously” is the Thing to be questioned, here. Why would it feel awful if he is fully consenting to something that you want and find pleasant. Why is it neccessary to dictate his Feelings, for you to enjoy his Actions…

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