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Thursday, February 9, 2012

SL Letter of the Day: Life Sentence

Posted by on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

I am an 20 year-old male in a serious long-distance relationship. I have been seeing this girl for over a year, and I know I love her. I can't wait to see her and feel as if the emotional connection between us will not weaken, and she feels the same way. The problem is the sex-life (or the lack there-of).

We see each other once every couple months, which isn't a problem for me. In the in-between time I have masturbation and it's enough to satisfy my high libido while we are apart. The issue is that when we do see each other, she seems a borderline prude, and feels uncomfortable with me touching her. She has a very low libido and claims not to masturbate. While I understand that everyone has their personal boundaries and sexual preferences, I have a hard time getting used to this kind of anti-sexual encouragement. I don't want to be an asshole and I also don't know what to do. I will stay with her regardless, I love her, and the love we share means more to me than anything. But I feel this issue may cause problems in the future.

Am I being selfish? Will things change?

Love Interest's Bed Issues, Desiring Orgasms

My response after the jump...

·················

Will this issue cause problems for you in the future?

Yeah, it will. And this "issue"—your girlfriend doesn't want to fuck you—is causing problems for you now. Ask your girlfriend to get her testosterone levels checked (low testosterone can tank a woman's libido); ask her to go off the pill if she's on it (hormonal birth control can tank a woman's libido); ask her to switch or adjust her meds if she's taking anti-depressants (anti-depressants can tank a woman's libido). But if she doesn't have low testosterone and isn't on birth control or taking anti-depressants, well, then either your girlfriend isn't into you or she isn't into sex, LIBIDO, and those aren't problems that typically work themselves out over time.

And if your girlfriend refuses to get her testosterone levels checked, go off hormonal birth control, or adjust her anti-depressants, LIBIDO, that's a strong indication that she doesn't regard this problem as a problem... which means you have an even bigger problem on your hands, i.e. a romantic partner who doesn't really give a shit about your sexual satisfaction and who isn't willing to make any sort of effort to satisfy you sexually.

I'm gonna urge you to reconsider your "stay with her regardless" stance, LIBIDO. However well you two get along, however strong your emotional connection might be, the sex simply isn't there and—you might want to sit down for this—sex is important.

End it, LIBIDO.

It's only been a year, you've only been in each other's presence a half a dozen times, and you two just aren't clicking sexually. Frankly, LIBIDO, it doesn't sound like you two are in love with each other. It sounds like you're in love with the idea of being in love—and that's not enough to sustain a long-term relationship.

 

Comments (96) RSS

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1
Are you sure that she thinks she's your girlfriend? You love her, but maybe she thinks you are just close friends, hence the discomfort about getting sexual.
Posted by Mr. J on February 9, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Sandiai 2
LIBIDO, you sound nice and pretty grounded for a 20 year old. But you need to be with someone who is positively itching to sleep with you. This one's pretty easy.
Nicely put, Dan
Posted by Sandiai on February 9, 2012 at 3:57 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 3
Women with whom I get along fabulously, and in some cases love very deeply, but with whom I do not have sex, are called friends.

(And, in full disclosure: during a couple of difficult dry spells, also called "wife.")

But never girlfriend.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on February 9, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 4
Yep, dump her. This one's only going to get worse.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on February 9, 2012 at 4:02 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 5
Run, LIBIDO, run very fast away from this woman. Unless you are prepared for a lifetime of masturbation only.
Posted by OutInBumF on February 9, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
6
Dan was being kind and gentle. Probably because you are still very young. The thing is, very few of us have the same wants and needs at 30 that we do at 20. Age 20 is probably too young to form a permanent relationship in any case. And to commit to a relationship that does not fill any of your sexual needs? Recipe for disaster. Take Dan's advice. Break up with her. Remain friends if you both want to. But formalize it between you both that it will be totally platonic, and that you will both be free to date/start relationships with other people. Good luck.
Posted by SeattleKim on February 9, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
seandr 8
Unless your girlfriend is motivated to change, she won't. She'll just keep putting the problem back on you - you only want her for sex, you're treating her like a sex object, maybe she'd be more interested if you weren't [insert flaw here]. Meanwhile, you'll only want her more intensely as time goes by, just like a starving man wants a cracker.

Her disinterest in you will slowly chip away your self-esteem and fill you with shame. You'll end up on prozac and gain 30 lbs. You'll be passed over for job promotions by other more virile men who had the wisdom to marry sex-positive women. Next thing you know you've got Type II diabetes and a bad case of impotence, at which point, you'll be served divorce papers and escorted from your property by a sheriff's deputy holding a bullshit restraining order that she filed, just as Rod, her love affair of 3 years, pulls up in a techno-blasting BMW and unloads a big suit case from his trunk.

Oh yes, things will change.
Posted by seandr on February 9, 2012 at 4:07 PM · Report this
metardtard 9
Have we answered this same question a 1K times??
Posted by metardtard on February 9, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Vince 10
Unless there is a medical problem, people do not change. She sounds cold.
Posted by Vince on February 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
11
@8 OMG. Have you considered setting yourself up as Dan's evil universe doppelganger (complete with mustache), giving the advice that Dan wishes he could give?
Posted by EricaP on February 9, 2012 at 4:13 PM · Report this
12
If she's the same age as the LW, she's probably too young to diagnose as asexual. She could have a hormonal imbalance, but it's just as likely that she's only had negative sexual experiences so far and doesn't see the appeal of sex yet for that reason. Before asking her to see a doctor, I think her boyfriend should just talk to her and see what's up.
Posted by Amanda on February 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
eclexia 13
Know when to walk away
and know when to run
Posted by eclexia on February 9, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
15
@14: I completely agree. Why doesn't Dan tell the letter-writer he needs to do something about HIS high sex drive? Why doesn't Dan phrase this as a problem of differing sex drives, rather than as "your girlfriend's broken, better fix her"? Why is a low sex drive abnormal? Look, women generally have lower sex drives than men. That doesn't mean that women need to throw off the chains of oppression or take testosterone supplements and it certainly doesn't mean we're broken. It doesn't mean men are broken either. If marriages couldn't survive differing sex drives, almost no marriages would survive.

LIBIDO, it would behoove you to figure out how to live with a low-libido partner now instead of discarding each one you meet until you're stuck with the only one who'll put up with your crap.
Posted by dchari on February 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
16
@8/@15
There is no issue with fault here (though, I think most people would agree that even those with a low sex drive would be interested in sex once every couple of months).

It is reasonable to expect sex with your partner every few months. If your partner is currently uninterested in sex, and comitted to the relationship, they would be willing to work with you to deal with it. It sounds as though the guy in this situation is more than willing to compromise, and he says that she "feels uncomfortable with me touching her".

A lack of physical intimacy at a very basic level is weird, and suggests some sort of problem. If she is committed, she will explore options. If he is committed, he will patiently work with her on it.

If there is resistance, they should break it off and find more compatible partners. Its not shaming people with low libidos, it is about compromising for someone you are about. If you are not willing to, you should break it off.
Posted by Revcom on February 9, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
Alicia 17
Hello from someone who has totally been the "prudish" girl in this situation, at the same age. And let me tell you, nothing can turn natural shyness or caution into "prudishness" faster than someone who tells you simultaneously that A) they love you, and B) there is something medically wrong if you do not respond the way they want you to. It's both confusing and unsexy in the extreme -- your classic immature mindfuck.

I find it seriously, seriously sketchy to recommend medical advice (going off the pill, testosterone testing) based on a subjective, secondhand account of this situation. Especially since so much of her behavior could be explained by a good old-fashioned case of the creep-outs. And I'm sorry, letter-writer, but you sure do ring my creep-alert with phrases like "anti-sexual encouragement."
Posted by Alicia http://aliciaaho.com on February 9, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
seandr 18
@14: The only person at fault here is the guy for being such a sucker.

@15: So, a guy who wants sex every couple of months (during the first year of a relationship no less) has a "HIGH sex drive?" And if such a man isn't feeling sexually fulfilled, he should stop pestering her and suck it up instead of searching for a woman who actually enjoys fucking him?

I guess that's one way to look at it.
Posted by seandr on February 9, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
T 19
Dude, you're too young to settle for someone that's not satisfying you sexually. I did the same thing (minus the long distance aspect) and we were together for over 10 years. But when I broke up with her, our lackluster sex life was a motivating factor (one of many) in my decision. It was something we talked about countless times over the years and she'd either make me feel bad for making her feel bad or things would temporarily get better. But there was no lasting change, and I eventually gave up on mentioning it altogether. The irony of course is that now I'm in a long distance relationship that's far more fulfilling than what I had before (sexually and emotionally), but the distance is only going to last a few more months.
Posted by T on February 9, 2012 at 4:56 PM · Report this
20
Dan, I agree with your advise with the exception of the recommendation to adjust antidepressants. If depression is being properly managed by a certain antidepressant or mixture of antidepressants you really don't want to change things and risk upsetting a balance that is keeping this woman sane. If she is on antidepressants and her doctor believes it is advantageous to adjust the meds, great, but risking a depressive spiral just to increase her libido is ill advised. I lived with a man who had his medication adjusted and when he got thrown off balance it took years to get him back on track. If the lack of libido is caused by her medication and she prefers to remain mentally healthy then I do think the LW should leave. Relationships are hard enough to maintain without dealing with differing needs for sex, but endangering your own mental health is far, far worse in the long run.
Posted by percysowner on February 9, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
21
That's what happens when the two of you only get a chance to meet up at the ___________________.

a) Asexuals of America convention
b) Furry Friends of America convention
c) Star Trek Aficionados of America convention

Try meeting on a more frequent basis, and who knows, maybe sparks will fly.
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on February 9, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
seandr 22
@11: Ha! That's a brilliant idea, and thank you for flattering me with the suggestion that I could pull it off.
Posted by seandr on February 9, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
venomlash 23
If she feels so uncomfortable about you touching her, there's always the possibility that she has some sort of deep-seated psychological issue that makes her feel guilty or dirty about sex. I'd add talking to a therapist of some sort to the list.
But yeah, I'm seeing hella red flags here.
Posted by venomlash on February 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
24
@14 and @15 - Nobody said anything about fault - the problem is that *not* having sex is easier than having sex, and the partner with the low libido usually gets what they want because of it (as she is in this case). Because that partner is getting what s/he wants, there is often an unwillingness to change.

LW, I was in your shoes 9 years ago, had all the same thoughts ("This is the woman I'm going to be with forever! Our love will never die!"), and the end was ugly ugly ugly. Talk to her about it - Dan is right, if she's unwilling to talk, run the other way. A loving partner would hear these problems and want to help resolve them. A partner who doesn't want to talk about it is cool with you being unhappy as long as she gets what she wants, and that will never stop.
Posted by ICanHazScreenName on February 9, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
25
@5: And she'll rag on him about his masturbation.

@15: Why doesn't Dan tell the LW to do something about his high sex drive? Because he's 20, fer chrissake! Of course he's horny! You're supposed to be horny at that age!

While I agree with some commenters that he may creep her out for some reason (or she may just not find him attractive), I'm going to take him at his word that she claims not to masturbate and consider the possibility or either a strict anti-sex religious upbringing and/or molestation in her past.
Posted by Jared Bascomb on February 9, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
26
I'm going to echo what 21 said. I'm engaged & in an LDR atm. We live together some months of the year, and then go weeks or months without seeing each other (currently >50% of the way until we can shack up again! Woot!).

For me (the female in our hetero relationship), being back together after a long absence (>6 weeks) is hard. It's a bit of a mindfuck, no matter how much I love him and want to screw his brains out, to be touched by somebody that you haven't seen in a while.

I force myself to get over it, but for me sex can feel awkward for the first day or two. If you're only getting together for the errant long weekend, it's possible she feels the same way.

And no, I don't have a low sex drive. When we live together, we'll have sex multiple times daily. It's just a mental disconnect.

That said, after sticking up for myself, I have to say that unless you see dynamics of the relationship changing (moving closer together?) at some point in the near future, I'm going to encourage you to think seriously about ending it. Even if she's not always like this, even if she'd fuck your brains out if you lived a little closer, the truth is you don't, and there's no point in waiting things out on only the *possibility* that the LDR is screwing with her head, and that losing the distance will make everything better.

But yeah. You might at least talk to her about it, and the fact that it's a problem for you. The skill you really need to make an LDR work is open communication, about anything and everything that's bugging you. Especially in an LDR, you can't trust your partner to read that something is wrong.
Posted by PuzzledKiwi on February 9, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
27
Yeah I agree with 21 and 26 on this one. Back when we were in our early 20s my boyfriend and I did long distance for about a year. Before the long distance thing started we'd fuck just about every day. But after not seeing him in person for a couple months he just sort of felt like a stranger to me and I'd get freaked out when he started touching me - it definitely took a few days of just relaxing and hanging out together until I got used to him again and felt comfortable jumping back into bed.

It sounds like their relationship may have always been long-distance, so I definitely think it's more likely that his girlfriend's discomfort might just be an emotional response and not some pathological problem with her libido. Plus she's only 20 so it's very possible she's just never had good sex and thus isn't really interested in it yet. But that said, I do sort of agree with Dan's advice on this one simply because there's no indication that the long-distance aspect of this relationship will change and it seems like these two really don't know each other all that well.

Also, I'm a little uncomfortable with Dan giving out medical advice like this. Especially when he recommends ditching hormonal birth control without giving any recommendations for alternative contraceptive options - a lot of people don't know about IUDs and diaphragms and all that good stuff. And yes some hormonal birth control can lower libido for some women but there are dozens of different hormonal birth control options with different forms and concentrations of estrogen and progesterone and different routes of delivery. If one type is causing side effects your doctor can work with you to find a better option. Also if someone "refuses to go off hormonal birth control" it doesn't make them a selfish partner, it probably just means they care about their own reproductive health and this is the option that they feel is best for them.
More...
Posted by margots on February 9, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
28
@17, it's clear that there is a problem in this relationship--mismatch in libido. If LW's girlfriend recognizes that this is a problem, hopefully she will work on ways to solve it. If she is creeped out by her boyfriend (or some aspect of his behavior), then she needs to tell him that. If it's a physical problem, hopefully she's up for looking into that. If she refuses to recognize that there's a problem, or to take active steps to resolve it, they need to break up. At the very least, they need to communicate better about this.

I don't understand what about the phrase 'anti-sexual encouragement' bothers you. Can you elaborate?
Posted by clashfan on February 9, 2012 at 7:15 PM · Report this
30
Let's see...

You're both young and spend copious amounts of time away from each other, yet when you *do* get together, you don't immediately jump into bed and fuck for the entire duration of your time together?

This isn't a "maybe she's not right for me" this is "run the fuck away right now, screaming at the top of your lungs". Hell, I wouldn't even waste the best years of my life (again!) in such a long-distance relationship that *did* involve fucking for every moment you *do* have together. This isn't a love life, this is at best a love life on hold most of the time.

I suspect this is more a case of a twitterpated "OMG! She *likes* me!" than a real boyfriend-girlfriend kind of thing.
Posted by gromm on February 9, 2012 at 7:36 PM · Report this
31
This has to be a first serious relationship. Don't worry dude, there will be others. Break it off.
Posted by hereiswheremynamegoes on February 9, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
32
These kids are 20 years old. There's any number of non-medical reasons why they might have different sex drives, so I think suggesting that she needs to head off to the doctor and start messing with medications she may or may not be taking is pretty irresponsible. She probably just has a lower libido and no good sexual experience yet, and he's probably too young to help (no offense, LW, but you don't sound very experienced, and most 20 year olds aren't the best at sex, yet). Oh, and demanding that your partner go off hormonal birth control or fuck around with her (or his) anti-depressants or you'll end the relationship is some serious asshole behavior. Don't do that.
Posted by Lmlk813 on February 9, 2012 at 8:27 PM · Report this
34
I think Dan's advice is naive. As everyone who has ever been or met as romantic 20 year old in love knows, LIBIDO won't leave the girl. There will be the usual cycle of ups and downs and, with a very high likelihood, they're going to split up in the next couple of years - few couples that young make it, even fewer that are mostly long distance.
The best advice to give him is to provide him with the language and the framework to talk and think about the issue. Then let him make his mistakes and learn from them like we all do.
When I was younger (not quite that young) and in a relationship with mis-matched sex-drives, I found Dan's language tremendously helpful - I could frame it as an issue that was just as much hers as mine, I could articulate the need to compromise (e.g. "a handjob or blowjob cheerfully given") etc. That didn't solve all problems, but I think laying things out did the relationship good and it certainly helped me to feel less crappy about the situation.
Posted by adam.smith on February 9, 2012 at 8:39 PM · Report this
nocutename 35
She may have a low libido or she may be 20 years old and not fully developed, sexually, yet. Many women take a lot longer to get there.
But the lw needn't stick around indefinitely to find out if she'll develop a greater interest in sex.

I think the most important point for this couple isn't that the gf isn't interested in sex; it's that she doesn't see this as a problem. That means she isn't motivated to change things (and if she truly doesn't want to have any sexual contact, coercing her into it for her bf's sake isn't an ideal solution), and ultimately, this will become a bigger and bigger point of contention between them. She will make him feel guilty for wanting not only sex, but sex with a willing, equally interested partner (he already wonders if he's being selfish). He will become a pest and a nag, making her feel that all he's interested in from her is sex.
They just aren't well matched.

No, LIBIDO, things won't change, if by "change" you mean, "get better." But they will worsen. Have a cry, and admit that you two weren't meant to be.
Posted by nocutename on February 9, 2012 at 9:31 PM · Report this
36
God, I started typing out a long answer, but that's not really necessary. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS WOMAN. She is 20. That is par for the course at that age for women. Any advice Dan gives should be aimed at making the guy a more competent sex partner.
Posted by iluvgays on February 10, 2012 at 12:09 AM · Report this
38
@11 Goatee, not moustache (and yeah, I just branded myself a low-level geek). Other than that, I agree.
Posted by Adacia on February 10, 2012 at 12:45 AM · Report this
39
I see some exaggerations on both sides: some, like @14-15 think Dan is bashing low-sex-drive people (where? for the love of me I can't see anything in Dan's advice where he blames the girlfriend...) and suggest high-sex-drive types have a problem (why?), others (sandr) paint the scariest possible scenario (a possibility, but a certainty?).

All in all, I agree that this relationship looks like it's not beginning well. But here's what I'd say to the LW: usually not getting enough sex is a problem, like working all the time and never taking holidays or vacations, that accumulates and generates bitterness. If you decide to stay with this girl, then you'll either have to get more sex on the side (masturbation, lovers, open marriage, etc.), or then you'll suffer, and increasingly, with time.

Talk to her. As nocutename@35 said above, if she cares about you, she should care about your sexual insatisfaction. If, say, as some people above suggested, this results from the disconnect that long times spent away from each other tends to cause, then you'll be able to plan something to change that. If she has a low libido, either naturally or because of something, you can talk about it. If you decide you want to reduce yours, you can also talk about it. If it turns out, however, that she doesn't want to do anything about it, and if she and you don't change (which, in my experience, is very likely)... the pressure in you will build up. You'll have to find out something to do with your unrequited libido. And what will that be?

If she doesn't want to work with you on that, chances are you'll be better off looking for someone else, and keeping her only as a friend. Same thing for her: if things don't change, she'll probably feel better as your friend, keeping her romantic/sexual feelings for someone more like herself.

Don't hurt yourself, or her.
More...
Posted by ankylosaur on February 10, 2012 at 2:02 AM · Report this
40
@36, as nocutename above said, this may well be true, but the fact the girlfriend is saying nothing means something, too. They have to talk about their sex life, be open to each other. If the lack of satisfaction comes from the LW's lack of sexual skills, this will emerge from open, honest conversation; and can then be tackled.

How the heck can we -- or they -- know what exactly is going on, unless they themselves talk more openly and more honestly about it?
Posted by ankylosaur on February 10, 2012 at 2:05 AM · Report this
sissoucat 41
I protest Dan's response in regard to hormonal birth control. Birth control is a deep matter, it has to be adjusted to the person, not to the relationship, and a woman should not fuck up what works for her, just in order to please a man.

Lives are at stake here : a woman can become a mother, a child can be conceived ; wheter it ends up in abject poverty for both if the child is born, or in lifelong trauma if the child is aborted, it's the woman who will suffer most if not all the consequences. A man has no right to ask a woman to put her health and her future in danger because of a relationship.

If the relationship and the meds are mutually exclusive, then the relationship must stop.
Posted by sissoucat on February 10, 2012 at 2:07 AM · Report this
42
@35 nocutename
You observe that this sexual reluctance is normal for someone that age. What does that imply for 20 year old women? Should they not be in adult relationships with men their age for whom a high level of sex drive is normal?
Posted by Mr. J on February 10, 2012 at 5:40 AM · Report this
43
I second the comments about being so cavalier with suggestions of changing medications (anti-depressants especially, but birth control as well).
Posted by Mr. J on February 10, 2012 at 5:42 AM · Report this
44
LIBIDO, sorry but LDRs are only things that work till you can be together, and you don't mention when the long distance part will end. IF she means so much to you, why aren't you planning to move closer (or vice versa)? Have you ever even been together during one get together long enough for there to have been a "thaw"?

In my first sexual relationship, which was in part an LDR, ALL we did when we got together was have sex when we met during the LDR (actually that was true for a later LDR I had as well). BUT that came after an extended period of being together every day where we established intimacy in every way. AND there was an understanding that the LDR was going to return to a plain old LTR. In summary, we had an LTR where we developed a close relationship that included an early 20s level of sex, that was interrupted by an LDR phase. You don't mention the part of your relationship where you built up the comfortable intimacy needed for a good LTR, and if you haven't then you are possibly seriously pushing the envelope in the pre-intimate phase of your relationship by demanding sex every time you meet.

My second LDR came after I graduated from college, and my girlfriend had 2 years to go. I was in the situation where I had to wait for her graduation, but then what? I was in no way ready for marriage, and was seriously hampering her collegiate experience. So I ended the relationship because it wasn't fair to her, and I really did care for her. It totally sucked at so many levels to have to go through it, but in the end it was a relief to not feel bad about missing chances to be with her and being concerned about how much the visits were going to screw up her life. (You do check to make sure you aren't messing up her schedule and commitments before you visit, right?)

LIBIDO, LDRs are things to be endured, not maintained. Consider moving closer, keeping in mind the relationship may not survive. I counseled a friend to try moving to CA with a girlfriend, despite the newness of their relationship, because he could always move back home if it didn't work out. They've been married for over 20 years now.

Peace.
More...
Posted by Married in MA on February 10, 2012 at 6:03 AM · Report this
45
Sigh... come on, Dan. I'm kind of tired of something so obvious being overlooked in this exact situation. I know you're a gay guy, but jeez... you're a sex columnist so you should really get a clue. 20 year old girls quite often have not come into their sexuality yet. I am a 37 year old woman with a very high sex drive, and my libido did not kick in until I was 24 years old. Before that, this letter could have been written by my high school sweetheart, as it describes me to a T. Instead of pulling your usual - this will only get worse, dump her now, etc. - how about factoring some actual factual info into your advice and recognizing the differences between boys and girls, and between girls and women???
Posted by transient on February 10, 2012 at 6:11 AM · Report this
46
Sorry, Dan, but the advice about the birth control is spectacularly stupid.

She will be off the pill. They will, as their relationship worsens, have one charity/grudge/concession/try-to-make-it-better fuck which results in a pregnancy. These people, who are already well on their way to resenting each other, will have to deal with each other for the next quarter century. She will be angry at having her young and promising life at best delayed by being a mom, and her ability to find a guy made more difficult by her single mom status. He will be angry at having to pay child support to some kid in a different state that he barely gets to see and whose mother dislikes him, and when he does find a woman who likes to fuck him there will be endless court proceedings as the former gf tries to make sure that his first responsibility prevents him from having any other happiness.

Walk away, lad, then run away. Both you and the girl are in for a world o' mess 'n misery if you stay together. Blame is irrelevant, allocation of responsibility is pointless, so don't bother. Your current relationship is a crash waiting to happen.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 6:29 AM · Report this
47
Instead of pulling your usual - this will only get worse, dump her now, etc. - how about factoring some actual factual info into your advice and recognizing the differences between boys and girls, and between girls and women???


Shorter transient: guys are obliged to stick around for years in the hope that the girl might change.

No, lady, we're not.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 6:32 AM · Report this
48
Any advice Dan gives should be aimed at making the guy a more competent sex partner.
Okay, I understand this now: a guy whose gf won't sleep with him on those rare occasions that they're together should get better at sex.

Ummmm..... okay. How? And even if he did do so by, say, invoking the power of magic, how would that make a difference if she won't have sex with him? Answer: it won't, but that won't get in the way of the dated BS answer that it's the guy's fault for wanting to make love to the woman he loves.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 6:36 AM · Report this
nocutename 49
@42 (Mr. J): It's not that I think that all 20-year-old women are sexually reluctant, but that a lot of young women that I've seen and known are very modest and somewhat not tuned in (yet, hopefully) to their own sexuality and desires. Many have told me that they don't masturbate, or that they've never had an orgasm. While it's possible that some of these 20-year-olds will become 35-year-olds who have little interest in sex, I like to hope that many of them just aren't fully "there" yet: in my opinion, you have to have experienced some positive payoff to be interested--really interested--in sex. If you haven't felt much, there's not much incentive to want to have a lot of it. Add to that, cultural attitudes toward women's sexuality and slut-shaming, and a culture which tells them that all men want is sex and all they want her for is sex (so beware!), and a fair amount of young women are ambivalent. And I'm not even bringing religion or hormonal birth control into the mix, both of which (as well as anti-depressants) could be factors, too.

For what it's worth, I think it was irresponsible of Dan to suggest that LIBIDO's gf has a "problem" that needs to be solved. Her lack of interest in sex isn't a problem FOR HER--just for the two of them as a couple. When he starts suggesting 'culprits' such as reliable birth control, (and hormonal birth control might be used for other medical conditions, as well) or anti-depressants, he is setting up an expectation that this mis-match is "her fault" and that she should be expected to do something physical to stop it. If the girlfriend had written in, upset because she didn't like it when her boyfriend initiated sex and implying or clearly stating that she wanted to feel more desire, then I think that it would be appropriate to consider outside medical causes that are getting in her way.

From the amount of letters that Dan runs here (and for every letter he runs, there must be dozens just like it we don't read), as well as the comments they inspire in this thread (yours included), as well as from my own anecdotal evidence, I think it is fair to say that there are a significant number of women for whom sex is not that compelling. To treat this as if it is some sort of disorder she needs to combat and overcome is wrong, just as it is wrong to suggest that a 20-year-old man who seems as if he'd be content with a normal amount of sex (he's not wanting some excessive or outrageous amount from the details of his letter) learn to dampen down his libido.

The big problem is that some young women become more interested in sex as they get older, and some do not, and it seems pretty difficult to tell who will do what. And to gamble on the fact that your girlfriend will become more interested 15 years down the road is not advice I think anyone wants to give or hear, especially when it isn't a guarantee. The couple can either work out a compromise or should break up (and I think break up), but I don't like the tendency to pathologize what seems very typical behavior on her part.
I'm afraid I'm rambling incoherently this morning--time for coffee. Apologies if this makes no sense!
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Posted by nocutename on February 10, 2012 at 6:44 AM · Report this
50
Any advice Dan gives should be aimed at making the guy a more competent sex partner.
The more I think about this the more it makes me laugh. "Honey, I know that I have been clumsy and amateurish, and that has made it hard to warm up to me. So I've been practicing real hard with Sylvia and I'm ever so much better for you now!"

Do let me know how that works out, will you?
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
51
Whoa whoa whoa. At the age of 20 I was still a virgin and had very little idea of what I wanted. I might very well have thought that my libido was low, if I hadn't done some extensive reading about sexuality. I was definitely held back by my shyness and social awkwardness, plus some unpleasant experiences when I attempted sex totally freaked me out. Fast forward a few years, and I was exhausting my exceptionally virile boyfriend nightly. Fast forward 15 years, and my libido remains full-blast.

Mismatched libidos are definitely hard to overcome, but the LW should see if he can find out whether she just doesn't like sex at all or if she's not being turned on in the right way. The first guy I successfully fucked, well, the kissing was great, but everything else was ... meh. No orgasms (he was surprised that the stuff that worked in the porn flicks didn't work so well on me). Then the above-mentioned highly virile boyfriend showed up. I was very well-read on the topic of sex, and he was eager to experiment and do some reading of his own. The turnaround literally occurred overnight. At one point during the relationship I lost my voice due to the amount of screaming I was doing in the bedroom. We liked one book so much, it became our "go-to" reference, we would sometimes call out page numbers to each other ("Page 34, baby, page 34!"). But when it had all started out, I was terribly uncertain and timid and really feared that I might be just frigid.

Yeah, she could jsut be utterly uninterested in sex. Or it might be a chemical issue. Or maybe you're just not doing it right.
Posted by JrzWrld on February 10, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
Fortunate 52
Every relationship is different, and I don't want to make blanket statements about certain kinds of relationships. But I have to point out that a lot (not all, but a lot) of people who get involved with Long Distance Relationships do it because they don't really want a relationship. They want to be able to say they are in a relationship because our society makes a value judgment that unless you are in a relationship there is something wrong with you.

And what better way for a person who isn't interested in sex to be in a relationship than to be in a LDR? They only has to fend off the sexual advances of their partner on the rare occasion they are together.

I'm going to bet that the girl in this situation has no interest in sex, period, and is in the relationship because it is a good way to avoid negative attention for not being in a relationship, but still not have to deal with all the stuff that goes along with being in a non LDR.

There is a big difference in relationships when you can't just turn of skype and not have to think about your partner or their needs until your next video chat session.

My guess is that this relationship for her isn't a real relationship. It is a something that lets her tell people she is in a relationship, fend of advances from men, and not have to deal with the needs of an actual boyfriend on a regular basis.

I would simply tell her that it wasn't working out and end it. No ultimatums or asking her to change. If she wants to change she will make that offer herself. But otherwise LIBIDO needs to find a girl who is close by, and who actually looks forward to fucking him.
Posted by Fortunate on February 10, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
nocutename 53
@51 (JrzWrld): I think you are raising some valid points.

For a lot of women, 20 is a really shy age, and they are out of touch--literally--with their own sexuality.
And the boyfriend's technique/approach might not be helping. Or shes just not that into him.

The thing is that even when the sex starts off as fantastic and the couple is fucking around the clock for marathon sessions at the beginning, as life goes on, for most couples the frequency and maybe the creativity of sex tapers down. So starting off at a low point is not a good idea.

If LIBIDO's gf wants to have a better sex life, if she is moved to explore her own desires and responses, then I'd encourage him to help her do this and hope that things improve. But if she doesn't want to do this, if she's satisfied with her libido and response as it is, I think they should break up and look for partners better suited to them.
Posted by nocutename on February 10, 2012 at 8:02 AM · Report this
John Horstman 54
Who are all of you people who consider not having sex in a sexual relationship ("girlfriend") to be normal? Read #3: people who you love dearly and don't have sex with are friends, not romantic partners (to the asexual crowd: it TOTALLY FINE if you don't want sex and still want companionship with someone, to live with someone, etc.; this is not called "dating" though, it's called "roommates" or "close friends"). There's nothing 'wrong' with the girl because she's not into the guy; there's something wrong with dating someone for an entire year if you cringe when they touch you. It's fine to not be into sex, with a particular individual or anyone. It's not fine to not be into sex and also seek out sexually-exclusive relationships with people who are.

The girl IS a 'problem' for the guy; the guy might also be a problem for the girl, but she's not the one writing in, so Dan's response is not framed from her perspective. All of you talking about how this guy needs to give up a sex life for this girl are creepy as hell - she has no more right to force him to never have sex than he has a right to force her to have sex. He should be dating someone who shares his interest in a sex life, and she should be dating someone with whom she wants a sex life or who shares her interest in a lack of a sex life. End of story. DT(not really MF)A.
Posted by John Horstman on February 10, 2012 at 8:06 AM · Report this
John Horstman 55
@45: But if you're not interested in sex at 20, why are you dating people who are? It's fine to not "come into [one's] sexuality" yet at that point; Dan himself frequently points out that, as a group, on average, women tend to hit their peak libidos later than men. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's completely unreasonable to expect a romantic partner to suspend one's sex life in the hopes that you might become interested in sex one day. People who are not interested in sex do not have a right to date people who are any more than people who are interested in sex have a right to have sex with people who aren't.
Posted by John Horstman on February 10, 2012 at 8:16 AM · Report this
BEG 56
Look, there's any number of issues to unpack here, and LW will have to decide for himself (and hopefully also with talking with his girlfriend) what seems appropriate.

The points about her being only 20 and very likely *not* yet completely into sex are quite valid. The points about the length of time that could take (couple years? a decade) are *also* considerations to make. But again, not for us to dictate, but LW to think about.

I think the part about the meds advice is iffy (at the very least, pair the suggestion to go off hormonal b/c with the suggestion of going onto non hormonal b/c o.O) in terms of having the LW go to his gf and say "Hey....", but potentially useful in pointing out to relatively inexperienced people (who probably take more prescribed meds than many of us older uns did at their age) the side effects of said meds which many people (of any age) don't know about.

HOWEVER. I can tell you that as a 20 year old, a bf coming to me and suggesting all those med changes in order to get more sex would have pissed me off or creeped me out, depending on delivery. I'd table actual discussion of that until and unless she indicates she *wants* to change things and is looking for things to try.

Some have keyed in on her perception that nothing's wrong as being important, and I agree to some extent -- if she doesn't see anythign wrong, then bringing up meds and all this stuff is goign to backfire. But whether her POV is because she a cold bitch & doesn't really care, or because their libidos are truly mismatched with no blame either way, or because she's too inexperienced as yet with her own sexuality is unclear to me.

Without knowing more about their particulars (why the LDR, are they at college, have they actually talked about this issue explicitly, etc) it's difficult to make more practical suggestions.

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Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on February 10, 2012 at 8:29 AM · Report this
nocutename 58
@55: While I agree with you for the most part, I think it's ridiculous to suggest (as Dan and so many of his readers often do) that people take themselves off the dating market if they don't have a high enough libido. For one thing, such an act speaks of a much higher degree of self-knowledge than most people have. This woman has the "right" as you put it, to date and seek emotional and romantic fulfillment. Men she dates equally have the right to break up with her if she's not fulfilling their needs or desires. But to say to 20-year-old: "don't date until you want what I want you to want" is sort of silly.

And again, if the problem is that she doesn't know what she likes or what she's missing, she won't ever be able to understand the difference between her response and that of someone with a high libido. In her eyes, the problem is her boyfriend's nagging one-track mind. So if she thinks her libido level is normal or fine (for her), how can she be expected to see herself as someone unworthy of being on the dating market?
Posted by nocutename on February 10, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this
59
I think that some of the letter writers here who point out that a girl at 20 may be shy and insecure and uncertain (etc., etc.) about her sexuality are compassionate, and right to point out that maybe we should have more patience than we do.

I also note that they inferentially expect the 20 year old boy to have it completely together and be ready to correctly adapt in all manners and at the correct times, and he must be the one who adapts to her. And that's sexist and shitty and unrealistic.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 8:41 AM · Report this
60
I was in something almost identical to this relationship when I was 20. I married the person when I was 24 and we divorced when I was 26 (am luckily with someone pretty great now). Don't be in this relationship; you can do better.
Posted by jcm on February 10, 2012 at 8:46 AM · Report this
Moderate 61
Seems to me Dan's advice is aimed at getting him to ask her for totally unreasonable things so that SHE'LL dump HIM. This "match" is hideous. And reminds me of, hm, EVERY 20 YEAR OLD socially awkward man. He doesn't love her. He is infatuated with her. She doesn't love him, and doesn't have the guts to tell him to fuck off.

But you know what, the pain will be good for both of you, you'll learn, and life will be better for it. Toodleoo.
Posted by Moderate on February 10, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
shurenka 62
@8/15: I agree, I find it distasteful that some people demonize the low-libido'ed among us. Some people just have, in general, less interest in sex. Many tend to be women, and who knows whether this has to do with generally worse experiences with regular, penis-in-vagina sex, or hormones. Either way, unless it's a problem for the low sex drive partner, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with not wanting sex. And I don't support the advocation of asking her to stop birth control, unless they've both had a talk about what options he and she would be willing to consider in the event of an unplanned pregnancy -- with the knowledge that ultimately, only she gets to make that choice (so if he's uncomfortable with the options she'd consider, he shouldn't have sex with her). She could consider switching to a lower dose type, although they are less reliable / they require you to take them consistently at one time a day within an hour (which can be a pain).

I do not think, as some have implied, that those with low libidos try to string along higher libido partners. I do not think it's the norm, either, that people will blame their partner for their low libido unless it is for a real, identifiable reason, like weight gain. I think it is more common that the low libido partner pretends to like sex, but not be interested in it more often because of X,Y, and Z, out of politeness. We all feign mild interest in that TV show or sports team our love likes to talk about, right, and we may even be willing to participate occasionally when we have nothing better to do, or as a labor of love. And for those with low sex drives, I think that's how they see sex: like some sort of hobby of moderate interest, but not something hugely exciting. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just important to have an honest, non judgmental conversation at the start of a sexual relationship, about how you view sex: as a need or an occasional passtime.

Full disclosure: as a woman, I tend to have a higher libido than most men normally, and virtually no libido when chronically stressed or depressed, so I've seen both sides of the coin in my relationships.
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Posted by shurenka on February 10, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
63
I do not think, as some have implied, that those with low libidos try to string along higher libido partners. I do not think it's the norm, either, that people will blame their partner for their low libido unless it is for a real, identifiable reason,...
And as a former divorce lawyer I think that you're living in fantasyland. There's asexuals or lowsexuals who aren't like that, maybe most of them. But they are startlingly common on the ground and your denial is naive.

The comparison to hobbies is startling. If your partner pretends to like Lost it isn't going to be a big deal when they Reveal. When the Reveal is that your partner isn't that interested in touching you it can result in deep depression, rage, self-loathing and bitter resentment.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
64
Adacia@38, thanks for the catch -- can't believe I screwed that up.

sissoucat@41 "in lifelong trauma if the child is aborted" I don't think it's common for abortion to lead to lifelong trauma for the woman. Or did you mean that the child's short "life" would be traumatic? An odd way to phrase it.

Mr. J@42, many 20 year old women are horny as hell and happy to fuck. I find the explanations @ 26/27 very helpful – it isn't always easy to restart the hot sex right away after weeks or months apart. And I agree with those saying that this doesn't seem like a long-distance relationship built on a solid foundation of communication and good sex. Probably better for them to agree to see other people until/unless they can figure out a way to live near each other.

Married in MA @44 – great advice

nocute@49, if one partner is eager and ready for sex, and the other partner is enthusiastic but inexperienced, they can start with days or weeks of non-penetrative play, to see what kinds of touch on what parts of her body get her to respond with pleasure. But the LW says she doesn't even feel comfortable with him touching her. That's an insurmountable obstacle for this relationship, in my opinion.

JrzWrld@51 – what's the name of that book? I so want to try whatever's on p. 34 :-)
Posted by EricaP on February 10, 2012 at 9:18 AM · Report this
seandr 65
@nocutane and others on 20-year old women:
I think your observation that some women aren't in touch with their sexuality at this young age is spot on.

It seems that some of these same women also lack the self-insight to understand whether they really care about a given man. @17, for example, implies that she's stayed in long term relationships with men who she finds creepy, which totally blows my mind. If you don't love or even like a man, you shouldn't be in a relationship with him. Stringing him along is abusive.

And, well, um, I personally know a couple of women who married before they knew who they were, came to realize their mistake sometime after they had kids, and are now biding their time pretending to love a man they don't while exploring their new-found sexuality with another man until a divorce becomes financially/logistically feasible. My post @8 was exaggerated for comic effect, but there is truth in it.

I'm not judging or faulting these women, but when I see a guy like LW who doesn't seem to realize he's in such a potentially life-ruining relationship, I do feel obliged to warn him away.

As for women in this situation - when you finally find a man you really connect with emotionally and sexually, you will know it and there won't be any uncertainty. In the mean time, don't settle - be kind and set the other guys free after a few months.
Posted by seandr on February 10, 2012 at 9:21 AM · Report this
66
And can we please stop with the crybaby stuff about "demonizing" lowsexers or asexuals? Nobody here does that. We just say that they shouldn't match up with those of us who love and need sex. It's not the low libido that drives us sexuals insane, it's the notion that we are obliged to adapt to you in a relationship. Seriously, sexuals should date sexuals, lowsexuals should date lowsexuals and asexuals should date asexuals. None of us are the guy at the end of "Some Like it Hot": we aren't just going to shrug and say, "nobody's perfect!" when we find out that you're not what you said / implied that you were.

We decline to be miserable to keep your dating pool large enough for you. That's not demonizing you, that's asking that you not make us miserable. Asking that others adapt to what you want and demand and then whining about victimization when they won't is just a secular/sexual version of the victim dance done by Christianists, so stop it the hell now.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 9:23 AM · Report this
Nutsy 67
When I was 20 and in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend, I couldn't keep my hands off him when I saw him, about once every 1-2 months. Maybe she's not feeling sexual (yet), maybe he's doing it wrong, maybe she's uncomfortable with sex with someone she never sees, but all these reasons seem like great ones to break up. They don't seem like problems to try and work out in a long distance relationship, especially since they each probably haven't had many relationships. They're both too young to waste their time like this. Find someone to date that you can actually *see* on a near daily basis to figure out your sexual needs with.
Posted by Nutsy on February 10, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
68
I had an experience like this one once, and I must confess to wondering about one thing: what's their communication on romance and sexuality like while they're apart? It's one thing for there to be consistent ambivalence and romantic/sexual reluctance. It is cruel to be warm long distance then be cold and/or reject once the partner is in the same town.
Posted by seeker6079 on February 10, 2012 at 9:50 AM · Report this
STJA 69
It may be perfectly valid to point out that the GF just hasn't gotten there yet. But it seems like everyone who's pointing that out (she's just like me when I was with that one guy...) found that out only when there was a change of guy, and perhaps a maturing of girl.

So the advice stands. The LW should leave. If it's going to be years for for this person to figure out their sexual issues, and that's going to cause serious problems for them, what's keeping him there? If she's in all other ways that awesome, she'd realize this was an issue, but at 20, probably neither of them are going to figure that out with each other.

I think Dan could have started things out with telling the guy to be a better lover, but if that doesn't pretty quickly throw the switch, so to speak, then he should just move on.
Posted by STJA on February 10, 2012 at 9:58 AM · Report this
70
@49 nocutename
I'm not disputing your observations about 20 year old women and sex. I agree with you. That was my experience with the women I dated at that age. What I'm asking is how shall we advise these two given these observations? If we agree that she is perfectly normal in needing more time and experience, and we agree that he is normal in already having a high sex drive, then maybe she should be up front about how slow she needs to take it, and he should look for someone already on his sexual interest level, possibly women older than he is. Perhaps we can expect to catch up to each other at 25 or 30 and not demand synchronization earlier, with no judgements on either sex.
Posted by Mr. J on February 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
71
@EricaP, it's a book by somebody named Paget, and I think it's called "The Big O" - very basic stuff, but helpful to "beginners." I've loaned it out to friends. No idea if page 34 was the magic page though:) We would often have it propped up on the bed or on each other while we were going at it. It was pretty funny, in retrospect. Actually, the thing that got us started off was Dr. Ruth's "Sex For Dummies," believe it or not.
Posted by JrzWrld on February 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM · Report this
72
I think Dan, in mentioning the anti-depressants and hormonal birth control, was trying to be generous in coming up with sensible explanations for a low libido in a young woman. However, the point is that these people are still so young. Do they have a lot of sexual experience and self-understanding yet? Have they practiced communicating about difficult subjects in serious relationships? Have they dealt with the usual assortment of life-issues that can affect sexuality and personal relationships? My advice would be, don't rush into any conclusions or make any insistent demands yet. Just start talking and see if communication in this relationship is really as good as the strong emotional connection suggests that it should be. If you can't communicate well, you're doomed. If you can communicate well, then you can start finding out what the other person really wants and needs sexually, or whether other issues are interfering, and so on. My advice to almost anyone young in a long-distance relationship is to consider dating other people, too, but without breaking up. If your passion for each other is real and strong, you'll keep coming back together regardless. This is the one area in which I really appreciate Dan's cheerleading for monogamishness, because it seems like "kids nowadays" either get tied down much too tightly to one person before they're ready, or they float around having meaningless hookups. Is there no happy medium between random fucking and mated-for-life serial monogamy?
Posted by Suzy on February 10, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
BEG 73
@59 is a perfectly good point. If she is in fact insecure/still working on her sexuality, it's perfectly okay for him to move along. The point I was trying to make is that such a scenario should not demonize either party -- it's not her fault and she is not in the wrong for being where she is, and neither is it his fault for wanting more sex. And if they're not in a position or able to work that out, that's fine -- I just hope they figure this out without things going horribly bad -- as so many have testified can.
Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on February 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
74
@71 Thanks! It looks like people also really like her book, How to Be a Great Lover: Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend Totally Explicit Techniques that Will Blow His Mind.
Posted by EricaP on February 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
75
@74, oh God that sounds like a Cosmo article! LOL
Posted by JrzWrld on February 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
nocutename 76
@66, 69, 70 and others:
I am not suggesting that LIBIDO just stay and either put up with it or that the fault lies with him and he needs to be a better lover. I just don't like the demonizing on either side.

I understand the frustration in terms of advice--I think the fact that many women don't come into their sexuality until later in life, often long after they've married, is one of nature's crueler jokes, and there's no easy "fix"for it. Many women do have strong libidos by 20, and some who don't will grow into theirs, while others will not. There doesn't seem to be any way of knowing what will happen, so blanket advice to pair people up at mis-matched ages to allow for the discrepancy won't work, especially as people date and fall in love most frequently with others close to them in age and life experience. Waiting to catch up sounds chancy--there's a good chance that all the other factors that contribute to a lackluster sex life will have kicked in over time, even if the woman does catch up, libido-wise, and as Seandr pointed out, she may well prefer to explore her sexuality with someone other than her husband or long-term partner, someone new and exciting to tap into her new and exciting sense of her sexual self.

I think in cases of mis-match, it's better to break up and look for someone who is a better match. As time goes on, and formerly-uninterested women grow into their sexuality, the future relationships are likely to improve. Locking yourself into lifelong monogamy at age 20 just seems like a poor idea for most people.

I can't reiterate enough how to someone who has experienced little to no sexual pleasure and has a yet-to-be realized libido, there is just no real understanding of what all the "fuss" is about. (I speak from my own experience, that of many of my friends, and from information I've gotten from women aged 18-22 that I work with and with whom I have talked about issues of sexuality; I don't pretend to speak for or about all women.) It's like trying to understand chocolate if you've never tasted it, or a person who's been blind since birth trying to really appreciate the color blue. You can try to approximate or understand by analogy, but ultimately, you don't get it. If that's the case, it is very difficult to understand its importance to someone else. I'm not saying that the partner with the higher libido (generally the man) just understand this, accept it, and settle for it, I'm just explaining why I think that this is a difficult problem to "solve."

In the case of this letter, the couple should break up. They are badly mis-matched, sexually, and that will lead to insecurity (feeling or being rejected over and over takes a toll), bitterness, and resentment--on *both* parts.
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Posted by nocutename on February 10, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
77
LIBIDO,

Now would be a great time to follow up on your letter, because the holes in your story just make most of our responses speculation.

I for one will always recommend terminating an LDR without a definite endpoint. Unless you want an emotional crutch of the "far beloved", and potentially large communications bills, it is a waste of time to not find someone near you. Maybe you can rekindle something later when you can actually spend most of your time together.

Peace.
Posted by Married in MA on February 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
78
@15: "Why doesn't Dan tell the letter-writer he needs to do something about HIS high sex drive? "

Because that would be stupid.

There are precious few actual medical conditions (or pharmaceutical side effects) that result in an overactive sex drive that needs to be suppressed -- not that the libido that he describes is anything like abnormally high in the first place -- while there are plenty of genuine medical conditions and pharmaceutical side effects that suppress the natural libido. You seem to think that she shouldn't even consider exploring the possibility that just maybe her medications are hurting her.

Indeed, you seem to be basically suggesting that maybe Letter Writer should look into chemical castration. Why on earth you think that would be appropriate -- deliberately fucking with his libido, as opposed to looking into removing something that is unintentionally fucking with hers -- is beyond absurd.
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
79
Anyone remember that 15-minutes-er Greg Behrendt? The former Sex and the City writer who tried to turn his single clever line, "He's just not that into you" into a media franchise (books, talk show, romantic comedy, etc.)? Personally, I found him a self-serving douche.

However, one point he made that I think is relevant here was about NOT dissecting mixed signals, but accepting instead that mixed signals are all you really need to know, i.e. that the person really isn't interested/the relationship isn't going to last. What's the underlying cause of the ambivalence really is beside the point.

I think this is similar. Whether it's that she simply doesn't like fucking this particular guy, or whether she's suffering low libido from a hormonal problem or birth control or anti-depressants, or whether she's frigid/young/asexual/inexperienced, none of that really matters. What matters is that they don't have a real relationship, the LW is unhappy, and the woman in question doesn't seem concerned. Which means, game over. I mean, someone doesn't want you to touch them after weeks apart? What difference does it make where that aversion originates? Their relationship is doomed, if it can even be called that to begin with.

And, let me just add, accusations that he has "too high" a sex drive or, worse, that she doesn't have sex because he's a lousy lover strike me as plain bizarre. If he doesn't satisfy her, it's still HER problem that she's not dealing with their mutual dissatisfaction in any sort of way that would be required to improve or salvage the relationship.

I also feel sorry for Dan, cuz it seems to me that in previous letters like this he got reamed for not mentioning possible medical issues contributing to low libido in a female partner, and, so, this round he opens with that and gets reamed for it as some kind of unfair over-read. Boy, ya really can't please everybody.
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Posted by maddy811 on February 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
80
By the way, it's worth remembering that the letter doesn't mention antidepressants or birth control AT ALL. Maybe the problem is that she isn't on birth control in the first place? And is scared of breaking condoms? (You better be using condoms, dude.)
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
81
@62: "I do not think, as some have implied, that those with low libidos try to string along higher libido partners. ... I think it is more common that the low libido partner pretends to like sex, but not be interested in it more often because of X,Y, and Z, out of politeness."

Um... That's what "stringing along" IS.
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
82
"Yeah, she could jsut be utterly uninterested in sex. Or it might be a chemical issue. Or maybe you're just not doing it right."

There have been several variations on the topic. I'll agree with maddy above: the point is not the cause itself, but whether or not this relationship is such that they're going to want to work on this. If she doesn't want to, for whatever reason -- any of the above, or even some other reason nobody has thought of yet -- then I'm afraid it's not going to work.

Also, let's not forget that the girl is not the only young person involved: the LW himself is also very young, probably unexperienced and full of doubts and misconceptions himself. He also needs help to overcome his difficulties. Ideally, she would be the person to give him this help, but again, if she's not interested -- whatever the reason -- then maybe he should look elsewhere.

As many have said, it may be that she'll be a high-libido woman in another 4, 5, or 10 years. But it's not fair to simply tell him to wait and see. Either they work on this, or then they don't; in which case, probably, they'd better part ways.
Posted by ankylosaur on February 10, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 83
@26: "And no, I don't have a low sex drive. When we live together, we'll have sex multiple times daily. It's just a mental disconnect."

Hearing from the "other side" is appreciated. Do you seriously think that this is going to happen? It's quite possible that there's some self-deception going on in your case as well. Plenty of people think that they'll "get over" their hesitations and hangups before marriage as well.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2012 at 2:33 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 84
@82: "If she doesn't want to, for whatever reason -- any of the above, or even some other reason nobody has thought of yet -- then I'm afraid it's not going to work."

Right. The libido isn't so much the "problem" as the inability to honestly address the imbalance on both sides.

@81: Hah!
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
85
Getting away from the theoreticals and back to LIBIDO's situation:

I think that the long-distance relationship is putting a mask on the problem, in that you are inclined to cut more slack because of the long intervals where it is simply impossible, due to physical separation. If you two were physically together, the same excuses and explanations wouldn't wash, and the feeling of being rejected would be that much more intense and painful.

Okay, so it's possible that she is suffering from that awkward "like a stranger all over again" feeling with you, as others described. However, from my perspective, the whole "she never masturbates" thing is a HUGE red flag, telling me it isn't going to get better when you two finally move to the same location.

If she was into the idea of sex with you, there are plenty of technological solutions (chat, video chat) for you to take advantage of while you are separated; the proverbial "next best thing to being there." Are you doing any of that? It sounds like no; if she doesn't masturbate at all, she hardly can be masturbating in front of a webcam with you.

The fact that you two could be having more long-distance sex, but aren't, and you could be having more face-to-face-sex when you are together, but aren"t, tells me she just isn't into the idea of sex with you.
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 86
@85: "Okay, so it's possible that she is suffering from that awkward "like a stranger all over again" feeling with you, as others described."

I find that fascinating. If nothing "sticks" enough that they want you to be intimate with them, why keep trying? Why try to pretend that things are more than just long-distance friends? I can understand being a bit shy about camming and phone sex, but if there's nothing else in person either...
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
87
When sexual dissatisfaction is a symptom this early in the relationship, but the dissatisfied partner is committed to staying no matter what, the result ( in the many many instances that I have been privy to) is the eventual errosion of that person's self esteem. Not sexually desired yields to a sense of not physically desired, and then to not emotionally desired or appreciated. It starts as something perceived as completely surmontable (since sex isn't, you know, a ncessity or anything) and chips away at that person's sense of personal value. What I don't get is why we (culturally) convey this message that the person who craves more physical contact is insensitive to the other person's needs/little better than an animal for not being able to control his or her baser desires/objectifying the other person/etc.

I also think that Dan's suggestions were very thoughtful and responsible. Many people don't understand the impact of certain medications on libido. There are countless methods of birth control that are non hormonal, Dan suggests trying one of those, rather than foregoing birth control entirely. Similarly with antidepressants (if she's on them)--medications can be adjusted, often for the better. (Every time I see a commercial for antidepressants that lists possible sexual side effects, I do think that this would make me more depressed, and be totally counter productive. Just sayin')

If she isn't willing to even acknowledge that there is an issue here, it's not going to get any better.
Posted by catballou on February 10, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
88
@83, I think you're misinterpreting @26. They currently live together during some months, and live apart other months. So I think she's not predicting the future, she's speaking about the present with a less common verb usage.

She wrote: "When we live together, we'll have sex multiple times daily."
I read that as "When we do live together, we do have sex multiple times daily."

Just as I might say "When I post, I'll often try to spark an interesting discussion." Not meaning that as a prediction of the future, but as a general description of my habits.

Posted by EricaP on February 10, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 89
@88: Yeah, it's certainly possible. I took it as a future plan different from the now.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 10, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
90
@86: I agree, it's an interesting phenomenon.

I can imagine getting all shy at their first big reunion, (for maybe about 30 seconds, before things ignite, but that's me) and maybe even a little bit at their second, but if it keeps on happening, time after time, somebody clearly just isn't into the idea. For myself, I would expect the relationship to develop such that eventually the prolonged distance worked to increase desire, rather than inhibit it.

In other words, after two months of deprivation I would expect us to want to practically tear each others' clothes off in the airport, not get all squicked when we were alone together. If that kept happening I would seriously question our physical compatibility, because if I keep coming up under the heading of "stranger," I start to believe that is my true status.
Posted by avast2006 on February 10, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
91
Ms Erica @74 - It's just possible that the Totally Explicit might just rescue it from LMB territory, but that is a ghastly title. I'll see in half an hour or so whether I have to invoke LMB after all.
Posted by vennominon on February 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
92
@91, a book that might make you barf might still be helpful to a wide range of readers. The pages I could read free on Amazon offered a dozen different hand-job and blow-job techniques, which isn't a terrible thing for someone inexperienced to read about...
Posted by EricaP on February 10, 2012 at 7:56 PM · Report this
93
No one who's pointed out that 20 year-old women often haven't come into their own sexuality yet or had an orgasm/positive sexual experience before have suggested that the LW should resign himself to a chaste relationship with this girl and hope that she warms up to him eventually. People are just saying there are obvious possible reasons for her disinterest in sex with this guy that have nothing to do with asexuality of a hormonal imbalance.
Posted by Amanda on February 10, 2012 at 10:54 PM · Report this
94
@93
He's already doing that and it's enough of a problem for him that he wrote to Dan for help. Do you have some suggestion for him that is more constructive than "resign yourself to chastity?"
Posted by Mr. J on February 11, 2012 at 5:29 AM · Report this
96
@ 94, Again, I didn't suggest that he should resign himself to chastity, that was my whole point. I think people are jumping to conclusions by characterizing this girlfriend as a withholding, manipulative ice queen who's going to trap him in a miserable marriage. She's 20! I didn't have an orgasm with a man or really didn't start seeing the appeal of sex until I was a bit older than that, which isn't at all uncommon for women. I've already said that he should just talk to his girlfriend and see what's up before demanding that she go to a doctor. They'll probably end up breaking up, since there are plenty of libidinal 20-year old women out there who he'd probably be better suited to dating right now. But I don't necessarily see this girl as a villain who he should "run away from" as other have suggested.
Posted by Amanda on February 11, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
97
@96(Amanda), maybe some people here are jumping to conclusion about the girlfriend being an ice queen, but then again some (I daresay most) aren't. If you read all the advice given above, you'll see many comments that point to the difference in libido levels between them as the problem: not her 'low libido' or his 'high libido', but the imbalance.

I do get your point, namely, that we shouldn't think low-sex-drive people are automatically manipulators or enjoy torturing high-sex-drive people. And I agree: she's 20, so there's a whole lot she doesn't know about herself, and there are things that will still change in her. She is not obviously a mustache-twirling villain.

But unless she wants to address his suffering in this relationship, then I think they should break up. (And if she doesn't want to address his problem, or even talk about it, then how much does she like him actually?)

If she does want to address the problem and think together with him about how to find solutions, then maybe their relationship can still evolve in a direction that is good for both of them. Or maybe not. But at least they won't be double-guessing each other, which, for the time being, seems to be what's happening, at least as far as sex is concerned.
Posted by ankylosaur on February 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
98
97 -- Yeah, they should talk. The letter doesn't say anything about her not being willing to talk or address the problem. They just sound like two clueless 20 year-old's, neither one knowing how to initiate a real conversation about this. I also disagree with Dan's idea that a woman who's not willing to experiment with going off birth control "doesn't really give a shit" about her partner or his sexual satisfaction. This advice just seems short-sighted to me.
Posted by Amanda on February 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
100
I agree 99. I think Dan's right and LIBIDO is in love with being in love and his girlfriend just isn't into him and lacks the guts to break things off.
Posted by msanonymous on February 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM · Report this
102
@98(Amanda), I think I'll agree with 99 above. Yes, maybe Dan didn't quite point out that going off meds is one option among many, and often not a good one (there's a reason why someone is taking the meds s/he is taking, and it can actually be a damn good one, so you can't assume people can go off their meds just on a whim like that).

But it is true that lack of interest in sex can be a consequence of the kind of meds one is taking, and therefore wondering about whether changing said meds to get some sexual interest back is or isn't a good idea is not so horrible. It's just asking a question.

I think a lot depends on your emphasis. If people try to force or manipulate others (in)to do(ing) something, they're probably quite wrong. If they suggest, discuss, debate, etc. -- they're simply throwing ideas. A lot depends on the specific dynamics -- who's afraid of what, who's nervous, who's not...

Indeed, they're probably both clueless 20-year-olds who both don't know how to handle the sex thing very well yet. Maybe all both of them need is growing up a little. :-)
Posted by ankylosaur on February 12, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
nocutename 103
Just wanted to point out that the original letter doesn't mention either hormonal birth control or any other kind od medication. Dan introduced the idea out of the blue unless he edited something relevant out.
Posted by nocutename on February 12, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
104
True 101. I think this is a situation caused more by immaturity and lack of experience. Not maliciousness.
Posted by msanonymous on February 12, 2012 at 7:03 PM · Report this
106
Sex is important, but those of us who believe in sexual freedom should be careful not to make valuing it normative. Sex is generally important, but it might not be important enough to this young man to make breaking-off the relationship the best idea.

As to whether they're 'in love' or 'in love with being in love' I think that the two are generally compatible and often inseparable, and I'm not about to rate one as being superior to the other.

I hope that things will work out as well as possible for these two people, together or apart, but I reject the notion of telling them what that would constitute.

Posted by Gerald Fnord on February 26, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this

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