can’t keep it up

A man’s monumental, all consuming sex drive is something that gets talked about all the time. His pre-occupation and readiness to engage in sexual activity is generally taken as a “given”. He wants sex in any form constantly, whether it be a quickie or an extended session of love making, most men do not pass up a chance to have it, see it or think about it. This is why so many men have a hard time understanding a woman saying that her husband is not interested in sex with her; especially when the woman in question is very attractive and exceptionally sensual.

It’s simply not something a man with a normal sex drive can easily understand. His male brain is awash in testosterone and it rejects the comment as something that can NOT be true. The first thing he says to me is “But you’re HOT!” As if the fact that what I look like could have prevented a man’s interest from disappearing completely. The next thing a man will say when hearing that my husband refuses sex with me, is that he is either getting it elsewhere with another woman or he is secretly gay. If I proclaim I don’t believe it’s either of those, it’s obvious to them (and they tell me) that the ONLY other reason has to be that he has undiagnosed prostate cancer and/or has been medically castrated and is suffering from low to no testosterone. That or he is a chronic masturbator who watches too much porn and is therefore unable to perform in real life.

To a man, they say it is not possible for a healthy normal, heterosexual man to not want sex with an attractive, available woman who is actively trying to seduce him. I even have male homosexual friends who are horrified when I tell them I live in an enforced state of almost virtual celibacy in my marriage and they say that while they may be gay, I would be the exception to their normal preference. Then they make delightful comments about my lips and assertive personality.

The point is, among a few other issues, I truly believe that my husband is a sexual anorexic. We have no understanding between us that sex is not something we do not want to participate in as a couple. As a matter of fact, I made the silly assumption that when I got married, sex would be included as “part of the package”, but it wasn’t. The issue with someone who is sexually anorexic is that they can conform to the basic demands of your minimum sexual needs for enough time to convince you that your sex drives are similar. Once you are married, or the longer you are together, they are no longer able to fake that level of interest and that is when the excuses start for their diminished then non existent interest in the sexual aspect of a relationship.

Sex becomes a huge issue of constant disappointments and crushed expectations. Resentment builds and countless conversations are had with promises to resolve things in the “future” and to try harder or be more aware of physical needs. And to be honest, there is normally a surge of a day or two of renewed efforts which then dissipates with the predictability of a deflating balloon. The constant and repetitive arguments about sex and intimacy are not even so much about your partner’s almost complete lack of interest in it, but their demands of concurrent fidelity.

They want you to remain faithful to them, while removing your only source of consensual and mutual pleasure. They want to take away your ability to touch and be touched. They remove access to your only socially valid source of desire. They remove not just your sexual and mental outlet but your emotional one as well because you feel lied to and manipulated.

The angrier and more stressed you get from the lack of sexual interest, the happier they seem with it. You respect them less and less when it comes to being a sexual partner while still loving who they are as a person, as a parent as a partner. This creates a huge dichotomy which many people struggle with and why so many people finally reach the point of finding someone else to meet those needs that your partner is unable to fulfil. It’s not about excitement or boredom. It’s not about inability to stay committed or having a sexual bucket list you want to work your way through.

When you are living with a partner who is sexually anorexic, it is no different than living with a partner who has any other medical condition that prevents them from participating in a normal and healthy sexual relationship. If you were no longer able to have sex, would you expect your partner to give it up because you could no longer have it? If you could no longer eat normally and needed a feeding tube, would you expect your partner to give up food to be fed the same way as you were? If you developed a degenerative eye disease and lost your vision, would you expect your partner to give up theirs as well? Or perhaps expect them to never go to an art gallery again just because you could no longer enjoy it with them?

Most couples would communicate through this. One would acknowledge the others lack of ability/interest and respect the fact that their circumstances have changed compared to what things used to be like. The other partner would acknowledge and perhaps even apologize for the inability to perform in the function they once had, even if it’s through no fault of their own. They would be sympathetic to the difference. They would acknowledge that while their circumstances have changed, their partners did not and there is now a very large gap between them. This does not have to result in a marriage failing, if people were honest about their needs and understanding of their partners.

This should instigate a conversation on how to “fix” the disparity and provide some alternatives to what they once had and what one partner hoped to continue. In the case of sexual anorexia, rather than suggesting or offering a sexual surrogate, which would make the most sense, most partners demand sexual fidelity and this is what creates the largest source of frustration to the partner who has had their sex life removed from them without their consent.

Most normal people, with no addiction or mental health issues, do not want to replace the connection of a relationship that includes sexuality with pornography and masturbation. The need to touch and be touched is so powerful that it alters the morals we believed in and had faith that worked for us. It’s why people start an affair which begins with the intent of sex with limited emotional involvement. We need BOTH because we wanted and expected to have both when we chose our partners. We were not prepared to have the physical aspect removed with a large majority of the mental and emotional connection along with it.

This is also one of the biggest fears of one spouse if they DID give permission for their partners to have a sexual surrogate. They fear that the connection will grow beyond one of friendship and care to one where love occurs. Then they are at risk of losing their primary relationship if their spouse decides that they like having a sexually dynamic relationship with another person. The fear is that they invited them into the marriage and that action will result in destroying it. It is why many people pretend to “not know” their spouse is having an affair, when they clearly do, so they have plausible deniability if things go wrong. Then they can pretend to be the outraged and wronged spouse who was cheated on and save their public face.

This is why most people who have been pushed into an affair, after enduring this type of situation, have no guilt about it, whether they are caught or not. It’s because we are the ones who feel like the injured party. We feel tricked and betrayed; we feel pushed into making a choice to be with someone else when all we ever wanted was that kind of relationship WITH our partner. At the very least, we expected our partner to work with us when we voiced our needs and concerns and help us come to a mutual understanding on how to handle things. We did not expect to be met with an attitude of casual dismissal and having our problem with the lack of sex and intimacy ignored, as if they didn’t matter.

We feel like we are dying inside from the lack of physical touch and there comes a point where we accept we can no longer live in our marriage as it is. Do we divorce our partner who we love, who is a good person, who manages the life and job balance well, who is smart and an amazing friend? Do we place our private need for sex above the public stable and secure family that functions beautifully and who everyone else views as how a family should work? Living a celibate life when you are a sexually viable adult and do not want to, while being in the presence of someone whom you want sexually, gives a whole new meaning to the word “frustration”.

Or can we accept the fact our spouse has a medical condition and is suffering from sexual anorexia. For the most part, they do not want to change or get help as they see it as something that adds no value to their life and do not understand how it impacts yours. They expect you to live in that unhealthy state as well. You can try and force them to change; get counselling and therapy or try medication, but you are forcing them. They do not want to do it because THIS is their “normal” baseline. If you make it an issue and state they have to have sex or attend counselling in order for the marriage to function, in order for you to stay faithful, then you are seen as the parent figure; as the bad guy for creating an issue where none existed, in their mind.

They have to want to want the change in order for any investment of time and counselling to work. Otherwise, they revert back to their normal state of being; which is someone who has a low to non existent libido. Forcing someone to perform sexually, when they don’t want to, is VERY dangerous both ethically and mentally. Many couples have had partners who submit to letting their partners use them to get off and it is not enjoyable for either party, even if orgasm is achieved. Sex is not about penetration to orgasm in 7 minutes but the bond the sexual experience creates and maintains. No man wants a woman to just lay there and spread their legs, while looking at the clock and saying “fine, hurry up, you have 10 minutes”.

So after months of fights about sex and then months of reflection on if they can continue to live this way or not, many people make a conscious choice to have an affair to replace the pieces of their marriage their spouse took away without discussion or permission. They decide on an affair as opposed to divorce as they do not want to impact their children’s lives because of their missing sex life, when everything else about the marriage and relationship is good. It is seen as the lesser of two evils and one they are resentful at having to choose in the first place because by nature, these are faithful people who did not ever expect to be placed in this position.

When someone has lied about their level of sex drive in order to secure a partnership, then that relationship was secured by fraudulent means and as such the contract of a monogamous marriage is null and void. At this point in time, a new contract has to be openly negotiated between the married couple or a de-facto one is created by the injured partner actively seeking recourse to have their needs met by an alternate partner. This could potentially lead to divorce if those bonds strengthen beyond what was originally negotiated and they make the decision to leave the original spouse in favour of the surrogate.

This is the chance you take. Love is not predictable. It does not follow a plan or a schedule or a timeline. The biggest issue is lack of communication and the necessity to lie in order to have a basic need met. If you did not have to lie to your partner and could be honest, then there would be less chance of the surrogate being idealized as a potential replacement to what they have. But fear keeps us from accepting what seems like a reasonable solution to a problem we have no control over. Jealousy lives inside of fear and when you feel threatened, then you become combative.

It is not your spouse’s fault that they are sexually anorexic; it is not their fault they have no sex drive. You have to accept it, just like they have to accept the fact that you have a normal sex drive that needs to be expressed. If you have to accept the fact that they do not want their bodies used for sexual purposes, then they have to accept the fact you are going to use yours in the pursuit of natural carnal pleasure that involves another person. They do not get to unilaterally impose celibacy onto you just like you do not get to force an unwilling person to have sex with you.

If you did force someone to have sex, that it is considered rape. Yet there is no term coined for the purposeful withholding of sexual intercourse and intimacy through deceptive acquisition of a relationship, by lying about your sexual interest level. How about a Sexual Anorexic Antagonist? Sexual Anorexic Antagonist Female (SAAF) and Sexual Anorexic Antagonist Male (SAAM). There can be a whole new Psychological classification based on a marriage where one person removes their intimacy and sexual self from their partner.

Then it would be possible for the Doctor to prescribe a sexual surrogate to the partner with the normal sex drive while working in conjunction with the other one on their low libido and sexual dysfunction. This way BOTH people get their needs met and the marriage gets to stay intact while the issues are being worked on. I am tired of people blaming a cheating partner for straying when the issue was the inability of their partner to be sexually viable. Remember, I am not talking about people who have addictions or other mental health issues.

I am tired of men making women fall in love with them, when they have no intention of loving them back. I am tired of married people falling in love with people who they have no right to, promising a future together, yet who have no real intention of leaving a spouse; who then internalize a message of self hate and blame. I am tired of spouses who have been cheated on, after refusing a normal and healthy sexual relationship with their spouses, act like a surprised injured party after the fact of discovery. I am tired of people understanding that rape is unacceptable and not understanding that withholding sex and intimacy from your partner, is just as psychologically damaging.

It’s time that our partner’s demand for fidelity, after extended refusal of sexual intimacy, be met with acknowledgement that it is an unreasonable request and you are no longer willing to comply with it. It’s time that we stop feeling guilty for the psychological condition of our partner. They are the ones suffering with a chronic condition called Sexual Anorexia Antagonism and much like any other type of Psychological disorder; the people intimately involved with them experience the condition in every single way except in perception. The person with no libido or sex drive see’s their partner as the Antagonist while the person who wants intimacy with another person see’s their spouse as being dysfunctional. What is considered “normal” will vary between couples. Some will be well matched at once a month while others will be well matched at once a day.

But if you weren’t honest or if you aren’t honest when asked about your real sexual needs then why do you expect honesty from the partner you are lying to?

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30 Responses to can’t keep it up

  1. rgonaut says:

    This is so complicated. I think I understand that your affair was driven by sexual needs more than emotional needs but I think it’s very hard to separate the two at least in my case…. Maybe I just had/have both needs and others may have one or the other.
    But your H sounds so devious and using of his ability to deny you what you need.

  2. I think you’re framing the issue incorrectly. If your partner can’t fulfil a basic need, be it sexual or otherwise, and it is something you can’t live without, then the solution isn’t getting another person on the side. It should be leaving them and finding a better suited partner.

    • I think it depends on the person. I know I need both an emotional and sexual connection and as I cannot have that while I am still married, this means I have to leave my husband. Others may just need a sexual connection while they maintain an emotional connection with their current partner. Everyone is different and has different needs. It is a very complicated and distressing situation to be in…

      • Just as you cannot force someone to have sex or not have sex, you also cannot force someone to accept a non-monogamous relationship if that is contrary to their beliefs, needs, and morals. It is just as much a violation if them as a person.

      • rougedmount says:

        i agree…i think what bothers me most, once again, is the failure to communicate. that the person who is kept from sex keeps trying to discuss the issue and bring up solutions, but the happy partner, the one who does not want sex and is refusing sex, sees no point in talking about anything, because as they see it, nothing is wrong

      • That is frustrating. It’s not just a failure to communicate, but a failure to prioritize something that is important to your partner. I know that everyone has a base level of sex that feels “normal” and comfortable and right. Two people who are mismatched in that department have a tough road that requires flexibility and understanding from both. Or (ideally) honesty up-front about what those needs are. I think it’s probably difficult and embarrassing and absolutely socially misunderstood for a man to be the one with a lower sex drive, so I understand to a point not bringing it up immediately due to shame. I was in a similar (though not as extreme) situation in my marriage. A lot of assumptions were made on my part that weren’t accurate. Communication goes both ways, and I wasn’t clear that my sexual needs are ideally to have sex at least once per day (some exceptions allowed of course). At what point in your relationship/marriage did it become clear that your drives are completely different?

      • rougedmount says:

        for my spouse and I, there are many many issues between us. sexual frequency is just one. it could have started as a stem from many other things. however, after 6 years together, things between us changed permanently once i got pregnant with our first child. he was completely and totally finished with me sexually.

      • rougedmount says:

        i agree. i just feel like assigning blame today. because someone lied to get a relationship and then failed to keep their end of the sexual bargain. its not fair and it means that eventually the unhappy person will file for divorce to find what they need and deserve elsewhere all because they were manipulated into getting married in the first place. yet the “blame” for the breakup doesn’t go to where it belongs.

    • rougedmount says:

      well, in theory i agree. but it means that you have prioritized your sexual needs above that of your families emotional needs and economic needs and that just doesn’t feel right, either.

  3. Lost for words – you summed it up perfectly! A+

  4. tispersonal says:

    I couldn’t agree more, every single word – perfect!

    • rougedmount says:

      well perfect for “us” as we can see things from the exact same vantage point. I am frustrated with people who pretend to stay in ignorance to their partners needs when the partner tries repeatedly to tell them there is an issue that needs to be fixed.

  5. loneyheart says:

    thank you for putting it so eloquently into words. People who do not live with a sexual anorexic can not grasp. It is emotionally devastating. You love them, want them, crave them, need them. And they repeatedly tell you NO. It is soul crushing, devastating. It begins to eat away at you as a person. You realize that there are physical or medical reasons for their behavior. But you find it hard to grasp that they know you have a need and if they loved you half as much as you love them they would step up and fill some of that need. It is more than the sex. It is the intimate connection, the emotional connection. And at some point when it is no longer getting fed you begin to break down. You start searching for it somewhere, anywhere, because you become broken. That is when the extra partners come into play. It messes with your head. And yet somehow you still desperately love this person who has pushed you into a corner and incited in you behavior you never imagined possible from yourself. Until one day you break. NO… one day they break you. And maybe you find the strength to leave or you just shut down inside and live like the walking dead.

    I support your courageous choices. They were not easy, But they were part of your path. It is your life and your happiness. No one has right to pass judgment. They have not walked in your shoes. You have children and a home and your own emotional damages to deal with. You will get to your place of happiness in your own time in your own way.

    Loving Support from a sister in the Sexual Anorexic Club

    • rougedmount says:

      i think my biggest problem right now is after years of anorexia, i feasted to the point of gluttony and so now i truly understand what i am missing, where before i had an idea just not an accurate one.

      • loneyheart says:

        oh I understand. I did the same thing. and it hurts. To sit back and see what was missing for all of those years and how it really affected you in so many ways

  6. rougedmount says:

    (shared and posted at the private request of a friend)

    I am at a point of thinking that feasting to the point of gluttony is the way to go, but there is also the added frustration of coming to understand what one has been missing. You can’t go back.

    “We”, meaning those of us with low libido spouses in sex starved marriages seem to do a lot of thinking and discussing and exchanging of various laments (pissing and moaning), when we really should just reach out and touch someone.

    If one’s partner was at home suffering chronic lack of appetite would they stop for a burger on the way home – sure, would they suffer guilt over it – not likely, would they conceal it from the spouse – possibly, would the spouse be aware – probably not initially. Its a good analogy, and can go on. The burger eating might eventually be discovered – revealing ketchup or grease stains, etc left by a careless burger eater, or through maintenance or increase of body mass. Many other possible reasons might bring it to light (or with due care it can remain concealed). The spouse might chose to be willfully blind to it and let it slide, or they might confront the burger eating partner and allege wrongdoing (unhealthy and unauthorized eating).

    There are a lot of comments about acknowledging the issues and leaving a relationship rather than cheating. I can appreciate the wisdom and clarity of these – in a perfect world perhaps one could leave an unhappy marriage without the economic and social devastation currently faced by divorcing parties in our culture.

    I can see that having an affair is merely treating a symptom, rather than addressing the underlying issue. What needs to be acknowledged is that sometimes that’s all one can reasonably do. Treat the symptom, relieve the pressure or pain, reduce the acute stress and fulfill the urgent need. Maybe the patient survives. Maybe the treatment is palliative.

    Its lunch time. I feel like having a burger.

    Further musings:
    People enter into relationships when they are young without full knowledge of things, or of themselves. I don’t think low libido partners really appreciate it at the time the relationships are forming, nor do the high libido partners appreciate the importance sex and intimacy will have in the future. They are young and blind to it.

    I think it can be summed up as:
    -someone with no libido should not have the right to demand fidelity from their partner
    -If a partner can’t fulfill a basic need for sex and intimacy the best solution is leaving them and finding a better suited partner
    -for various reasons leaving and finding another partner may be unacceptable, either generally or during a period of time, in which case an alternate provider of sex and intimacy should be considered a valid option
    -our culture does not allow for such an opened approach and therefore it is, and will continue to be driven underground to illegitimate outlets such as affairs and prostitution. A healthier and more opened approach would be better.

    We should also legalize marijuana.

  7. kdaddy23 says:

    There are a lot of reasons why a man’s libido might be at zero and in the absence of a diagnosed cause, it’s hard to say what’s going on in a man’s mind about why he wouldn’t have sex with his woman. Yeah, I would suppose that some women may think that the reason why she’s not getting any is because he’s cheating or has discovered he’s gay… but the real answer might be a bit more complicated than that, like medications that have a negative effect on libido, high levels of stress, depression, and so on.

    My lady and I have talked about this and I told her that if the day ever comes when I didn’t want to have sex with her, she should check my pulse to make sure I’m still alive – then check my ID to make sure I am who I say I am. I can think of a couple of reasons why I would say no to sex, like I’m really too tired or I’m not feeling well. Otherwise, girl, take those panties off and let me handle some business, okay? But…

    I’m learning that ‘enforced celibacy’ is a terrible thing to have to deal with; one the one hand, you’re trying to figure out what, if anything, can be done about this while also understanding that if the other person isn’t interested in finding a solution (if one exists) then you’re pretty much hosed. In a relationship, the fidelity issue is a given – it’s a part of the rules of being together and, in the minds of many, cannot be violated for any reason and, no, a lack of sex isn’t seen as a special reason to step outside of the box for sexual – and, really, emotional – satisfactions.

    So unless you’re willing to dissolve your current relationship in favor of someone who will be more willing to jump your bones just because they can, you’re stuck trying to deal with a problem that may not be resolvable. I know that in men, low testosterone is often the culprit in the lack of a sex drive – and that can be corrected via medications. In women, well, ladies with low libido issues are unpleasantly screwed because what a doctor could do to help this has side effects that would probably make any woman think that they’re not worth the risk to their very lives.

    The ‘obvious’ alternatives do exist and they are even becoming a little more acceptable in the sense that a lot of people are not going to let society dictate their sexual pleasure and satisfaction so having an open relationship, swinging, and even polyamory, while appearing to be quite seedy and all that, are viable options… IF the people involved can agree… and that’s not very damned likely. That leaves going on the down low and cheating… and most people would rather not cheat but in the face of not having one of your primary needs taken care of, it puts them between a rock and a hard place.

    I know that in marriage, you vow to stay together for better or for worse… but not having sex is just a cruel way to treat the person who does want and need to have sex, not only for the bonding of the relationship but for their own well being. A partner who puts fidelity before their partner’s overall well being, in my opinion, needs to have their heads examined because if you’re not going to be part of the solution, stop being part of the problem.

  8. mala says:

    I agree with rgonaut, your husband sounds so devious and passive aggressive, and your “sexual anorexic” Dx is very clever. I hope you find a way out of your hell *hugs*

  9. I’ve been watching all of these comments through email, and wondering if I could add something.
    What is sad to me to see is that nothing is mentioned about the spiritual/emotional aspect. I have seen the question of emotional deficeits, but in my experience, this does beyond that to a very deep disconnect with the authentic self.

    What I have seen and experienced, in both my life and energy practice, is that the one who has withdrawn sexually has inner child issues with the parent of the opposite sex. The partner who has been alienated has deep inner issues with the parent of the same sex. I could explain this in detail if anyone has an interest, but the bottom line is that the one alienated will continue to draw the same energetic partners until that person heals the issues with the same sex parent.

    The one who has withdrawn must go inside his or her self and do the same grief work with the parent of the opposite sex. The actual parent does not have to be involved physically, but the grieving, then the healing has to occur before the person affected can make changes to have an improved life. The one who has withdrawn usually has completely lost touch with authenticity, and lives a very false, damaged life. He or she most likely is not truly aware of what he or she is doing. This can commonly present as split personality, narcissism, or borderline personality disorder, for example. It may seem that the parnter is lying or delusional or even cruel, but due to the condition, the person is so split from the authentic, whole self that they don’t understand it themselves.

    Very, very damaging for the one alienated, and the children, as most likely the children will then continue the energetic pattern, as they know no other alternative, which is why it is crucial to separate from the relationship and get deep psychological therapy. It is no easy path.

    Luckily I got away from my first husband before any children were involved. The work can be done, and is powerful, and liberating to grieve all that one has lost. My heart goes out to each and every one of these comments as they post. There is hope, if one is willing to make change. Love, FE

    • rougedmount says:

      Your points are valid and accurate. In my particular case, kids were involved and more specifically, one with special needs. There was no way I could leave and allow him to have 50% access, which would have meant his mother would have had them 50% of the time. The damage she would have caused would have been far more damaging than what she even did to her own children. I would not allow that and so I sacrificed myself to ensure that I could mitigate any damage she did, or any their father created, by understanding everything you said, and pro-actively guarding against it.
      It’s not been easy and I have not been perfect but when I make a mistake I ensure I own it, apologize for it and immediately move forward from it. But I continue to beat myself up for it mentally. And when I do have battles I have to stand firm for, it brings up the childhood traumas you speak about. There is acceptance there, forgiveness of a sort but I shall never forget. And when I am in turmoil, it brings back the childhood I left long ago and it leaves me struggling to let go of the past while dealing with the present. Often it does not go well and I end up being more responsive than I would have been, had I been in a more stable place.
      I know that what I am currently doing is ultimately the best choice. I am confidant that I have absorbed and shielded most of the damaging aspects the kids would have been exposed to otherwise. Much like a very old and dirty filter, my job and usefulness is almost done in this role and it is almost time for me to pull out, get rinsed off and be re-purposed. That day is almost here and I am just trying to get by these last 2 years the best I can.
      You have been very astute and I thank you for that.

      • Just remember that you are loved, and that everything is in perfect order. Keep loving yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can in this moment.

        We are always hardest on ourselves, but my understanding is that we came here to suffer to learn empathy for others, as well as to experience and enjoy love.

        No one has the right to judge you, dear.
        Love, FE

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