Great Sexpectations

11/05/2014 4:00 AM |

Dear Audrey,

I (a man) have a newish girlfriend who I am really into. Things are going great and I love spending time with her. In fact, we spend nearly every night together. I think I might be falling in love! There’s just one problem, and I can’t figure out how to fix it. Most nights that we spend together we also have sex. The first time we didn’t, she got really upset. It was late after a show and we were both tired, so I just went to sleep, but the next day we had a big fight about it. It turned into a thing where if we don’t have sex when she sleeps over, she gets mad. I thought, “okay, this girl just has a voracious sexual appetite, that’s cool, I can try harder.” Except sometimes she also seemed not into it. So when I finally asked if she really enjoyed having sex every night she said no, that sometimes she’s not feeling it, but that it’s important to her to do it anyway, because that’s how you keep your sex life healthy, and that if I don’t have sex with her every day it makes her feel unwanted. I think it’s the opposite, that if you make sex a chore then you’ll stop enjoying it. So now I’ve just stopped seeing her nights I don’t feel like sex, but it makes me sad because I could see a future together but not if I have to have sad sex every night.

Well, I must say, this one’s a bit of a puzzler. A world where not feeling like having sex at that very moment is seen as a deficit of desire, or of her desirability, or a flaw in your sex life—that’s not a very comfortable world to be in. I agree with you that that seems like a recipe for unexciting sexual drudgery.

I think it’s certainly true that sometimes in long-term relationships one partner agrees to sex when they might not be 100% in the mood to make their partner happy, especially if they have kind of mismatched sex drives. But this is not that.

Sex definitely isn’t at its best when it’s a pre-bed box to be checked off, like flossing or taking out the trash. All you have to do is think of how deliciously lazy it feels when you once in a while decide to say fuck it and not floss (that’s not just me, right?) to imagine how this doesn’t work.
If you’re celebrating a night of not having to fuck your partner, that’s not really ideal.

But as far as how to fix it, I’m not sure. It sounds like you’ve gone as far as you can in terms of talking to her about it and telling her that you don’t agree. Could couples counseling be appropriate? I know it’s early in your relationship, but if you’re thinking this could be something serious, then maybe that’s not so strange.

It also sounds like something she might want to talk to individually with a therapist. I’m obviously not one, but it seems like she’s got some issues to work through in terms of sex and self-esteem. That is also a hard thing to suggest, though, this early in knowing someone. I hope that you can find a respectful way to ask her to work through it with you, though. You two kids sound really nice for each other!