SL Letter of the Day: Mismatched

Comments

1
I have to wonder how a woman who has never had PIV sex can know that she will only want it once a month (or so). Sex negative much?
2
Can an ace person know they're asexual without ever having had PIV sex?

Hands, fingers, mouths, and toys also are sex....and if she only wants somebody touching her that way once every 3 weeks, she doesn't need to have done PIV to know.
3
I'm with @1. A lot changes for people at that age and with trying out sex a few times. It may be too early to declare sexual incompatibility.
4
All good advice, and yeah, almost certainly DTMLHA (dump the mismatched-libido haver already) for both your sakes.

With maybe one caveat: has she orgasmed / does she orgasm during your sexual activities together? If she hasn't AND she's willing to go there AND you two get can there together AND that provides a new and significant motivation for her to deal with her sex negativity, then maybe there's a chance for you two. And you'd certainly have "left her in better shape than you found her." But the chances of all those things happening are slim.

The point of dating is to (1) have a good time, and (2) discern if there is long-term compatibility. It sounds like (1) is rapidly decreasing and you've achieved (2).
5
Great advice, except if all straight men dumped their SO's because of mismatched libidos, they'd all be single. OK, 90% of them. Admittedly, once every three weeks in the early stages of a relationship is pretty bad, but whether it's once a day versus once a week instead of once a month, the imbalance is almost always there. It's a fact of life and pretty much an evolutionary imperative.
6
Centrists @5: I don't think it is as extreme as that. Yes, if there was truth-in-advertising and everyone selected for similar libidos, there'd be (among straights) excesses of single high-libido guys and single low-libido gals but they were almost certain to be annoyed themselves and to frustrate their spouses. Better maybe to have the mid- and high-range women and low- to mid-range guys be happily paired off to each other.

Regardless, what if everyone was upfront about their libido (yeah, I know, it can change), instead of leading on their partner with an excess of sex or an excess of patience pre-marriage, hoping that their partner will magically get aroused or get neutered after the wedding? Then at least it would be "paying the price of admission" knowingly, openly, to each other. "Yeah, we're different in this, and we're going to be with each other anyway." is a much better place to start given the predictable stresses and temptations ahead.
7
@5 The likelihood of finding someone perfectly compatible with you in all areas ranges from 'really unlikely' to 'impossible'. But that doesn't mean you should settle for a relationship that's making your miserable before you even been together for a year.
8
What's with the letters that were originally in the column 2 years ago? There are no new questions? Dan couldn't rewrite them to put a slightly different spin on them?

Anyway, something's off here, but I don't think it's mismatched libidos. I remember being in my late teens/early 20s. Sex scared me, but it excited me too. It's not like I woke up in the morning and knew I wanted to have sex. I had romantic notions of falling in love. I kissed a boy and didn't like it. I kissed another boy and did. In time, going slow-- we called it necking, then petting, or 2nd & 3rd base-- I got turned on to the point where I wanted more, but it would have been ridiculous to talk about my libido before that. I was confused and didn't know what I wanted. Once I got started with the right guy, I guess you could say my libido was fairly high. Even now it could plummet to nothing if I felt pressured by the wrong guy. All of which leads me to the conclusion that if Ms. Libido is anything like I was 35 years ago, something is off, but it's not necessarily her sex drive.

Maybe she's not enjoying what they have been doing. Maybe she has reservations about LIBIDO himself. Maybe she's unsure about birth control, or she's not feeling the love. Here's what I recommend for LIBIDO. With her permission, try to get her so turned on that she wants to be penetrated manually. Show her the condoms and let her put one on you with no pressure for PIV sex that particular time. At the some time you're not pressuring her, do let her know how much you desire her. That's going to be a tricky balancing act, but do your best.

While Ms. Libido didn't write (and besides this letter first appeared 2 years ago), my advice for her is to masturbate. Then masturbate with something you can insert the size of a penis. It doesn't have to be a dildo. Zucchinis come in different sizes; try them. (And they can go down a garbage disposal. No one need find one in your bedside drawer.)

And if LIBIDO is out there reading this, give us an update. What happened? Did the two of you break up? Have either of you found people you're more suited for?
9
Jesus, sometimes I'm glad I'm gay. When I was in my 20s, my partner and I were having sex multiple times a day, every day, for years. (I'm not saying that to brag; I think that's not uncommon among gay men.) We've slowed down now that we're in our 50s, but in my 20s I can't imagine being partnered with someone who only wanted sex once a month. That would have been a deal-breaker for me. I'd have gone bonkers.
10
Vab @1: Um, you don't need to have had any particular style of sex to know how often you feel horny.

Beccoid @3: At what age? Libido doesn't say how old his girlfriend is.

Centrist @5: SNORE to the "evolutionary imperative." There are bell curves of libido, and while it's true that men's bell curve generally tends toward higher frequency than women's, that does not mean that every potential M-F match will be higher-libido-M, lower-libido-F. Does probability mean a mismatch is likely? Yes, but a twice-a-week vs three-times-a-week mismatch is workable. The nature of the bell curves means that most of us can find an OS partner whose libido is at least workably close to our own.

Crinoline @8: Dan's on holiday, hence the reruns.

LIBIDO: Just FYI, "at least once a week" is totally normal. There are millions of women out there who desire sex this often. Go find one.
11
Any reason is a good reason to break up; you don't need anyone's permission to do so.
12
@3: You really need to take her at her word, though. Will she change her mind? Maybe, but probably not with this particular partner.
13
@11: Fuck yes!
14
I think Mr Savage was exaggerating: highly mismatched sex-drives have at times made me sad in my relationship, but hardly 'miserable', and other sorts of incompatibility which cannot be at least partially remedied by so simple and innocuous a remedy as masturbation would be much more serious. In practice no relationship is perfectly pain-free, and one must decide what were tolerable and what would in fact make one miserable.

Freud got an awful lot wrong, but modulo some trans-human hacks, I think he was spot-on in proposing that some level of unhappiness, as opposed to misery, were 'ordinary'.

(Perhaps I am under-sexed, or don't value sex as much as I ought; if so, I'm glad, as I would not wish to be less net-incompatible with the woman I love.)
15
Dan's not on holidays, he's in bloody NZ.. The country that just beat us in the Rugby World Cup final a few hours ago..
as Key Note Speaker and Panel member at a Uni conference.
Tell me Fan, do you ever have an opinion about these letters? Or do you just critique others' comments.
16
@14:
Freudian slip? :
'less net-incompatible'—>'more net-incompatible'

17
@14: "(Perhaps I am under-sexed, or don't value sex as much as I ought; if so, I'm glad, as I would not wish to be less net-incompatible with the woman I love.)"

Soooo your sex drive is matches with the woman you love. Not the same scenario as the LW.
18
It is amazing that LW knew to send his question to Dan Savage, apparently without having read any Savage Love whatsoever.
19
@17:
I added that proviso at the end because I realise that there are some whose notion of the normally-sexed male doesn't include 'cares about some other things more than sex', but to be honest I strongly doubt that I am under-sexed. Now I wish I hadn't included that at all, as it distracts from my basic objection to the implicit claim that sexual incompatability were necessarily a deal-breaker...much as I have objected in the past to Mr Savage's contention that monogamy were unnatural to everyone, as it has always seemed so to me

I seem to want sex much more than does she; in that basic sense our drives are not well-matched at all...but they are compatible in that my need for more sex with her is not so great that it supervenes other ways in which we are extremely well-matched.

If I could wave a magic wand [you make the joke]... but autistic romantic that I am, I have never believed in magic wands.
20
This notion, passed along by a previous poster, that men are inherently more libidinous than women is wrong, in my experience. When I was in my mid-40s, I had one woman, a decade older, tell me that men all said they liked sex, and she was happy that I REALLY liked sex. I'm pretty high libido, but all but one of the women I've had serious long-term relationships with have been evenly matched with me. There was one woman who appeared to have much lower libido than I do, and I eventually figured out--after it was over--that she hadn't liked my scent. (She bought me a tooth scraper, had me scrub myself before intimacy, stuff like that, that no-one else had ever asked of me, but it took dating someone whose ex-husband had done similar for me to realize what had been going on.

I also had had a relationship in my 20s, where my own libido seemed to flag. I realized later that her scent hadn't done anything for me.
21
@19: If her wanting it less doesn't bother you, you're not mismatched.

"Autistic romantic that I am"

What the heck does anything you said have to do with ASD?
22
Lava: Oh dear, it's just a game -- don't take it so personally!
What do you call this:

"LIBIDO: Just FYI, "at least once a week" is totally normal. There are millions of women out there who desire sex this often. Go find one."

The comments section is for interaction, I thought. Generally, I take less exception to Dan's advice than to commenters' reactions. This is why I'm an avid reader.
23
Gerald @19: But for some people, sexual mismatch would be a dealbreaker. It obviously is for this LW. Just because you find ways around it doesn't mean these ways are acceptable for everyone. Personally, I find masturbation when horny about as satisfying as eating a stale crust of bread when hungry, so for me, that wouldn't be a viable solution if a partner had a much lower sex drive.
24
I'm with @20. It's not always the men who want sex more. I am female, and at 18, I was told on multiple occasions by my boyfriend to "quit pestering him for sex." I learned to stop attempting to initiate sex with my ex-husband, because he would turn me down - he said it made him feel like less of a man. I have never met a man who wanted to / would have sex as often as I would prefer to have it, though my current husband is the closest match I have found.
25
One thing that I would like to add that rarely gets touched on is that PIV sex doesn't have to be painful the first time. Most women don't have an unbroken hymen by the time they're adults anyway. It can break from horse-back riding, bicycle-riding, etc. But because we as a culture are so poorly educated on sex, it often ends up hurting because the receiving partner isn't relaxed enough and/or the giving partner isn't going slowly enough.

So for someone who's never had penetrative sex, they may have a low libido because they are afraid of going further or simply haven't found something that works for them yet (in a heterosexual relationship like this, it's strongly likely that the physical intimacy he's referring to is her giving him oral sex but not the reverse). Before being penetrated for the first time, I would have considered myself a once a month kind of a person, but I found through experimentation that I strongly enjoy penetrative sex and it increased my libido significantly.

So I would agree with some of what @4 has said. Has she orgasmed? Because of course she's not going to want to have sex very frequently if only one of you is getting off.
26
I'm often confused by the fact that this is a problem. Unless the "lows" actively dislike sex - and here we even have a broad definition of "sex" right in the letter that doesn't necessarily include one or the other party getting fucked every time, which I understand might give one pause - why can they simply not enjoy the pleasure their "high" partners get from sex and put out more? Unless the "high" partner takes a long time to get off, it's not that big of an investment of time or effort to get them off a few times a week - or even daily.

We need to stop lumping people who don't actively desire sex all that frequently in with people who wish to avoid sex for periods of time - as these are two very different situations that both presently are labeled "low libido". The first situation should pose no more of a problem than going to sporting events or watching bands play (perhaps of the partner's preference, perhaps in which the partner is directly participating) where one partner is really into the activity specifically and the other isn't but also doesn't object and enjoys spending time with/supporting the partner who is. The second situation - one partner wants more frequent sex, the other specifically wishes to avoid frequent sex - is a much bigger problem, frequently a(n eventual) deal-breaker, as Dan notes.
27
Anyway, what I'm suggesting is that the problem of mismatched libidos rarely seems to me to actually be a problem of mismatched libidos, because in a healthy, supportive relationship where both people care for each other, mismatched libidos themselves are not as likely to be a problem. The problem seems more to be sexual hangups (especially religious/spiritual/otherwise essentialist views of sex that position it as only for a particular purpose that precludes having sex because it's a shared activity your partner enjoys or for inexperienced people - and I'd include having a lot of sex that follows only a single normative script to be a near-total lack of experience - who may not actually have a very good sense of what they're talking about, but may think they do based on normative constructions of sexuality that are mostly just plain wrong), bad relationship dynamics, a lack of consideration for the supposedly-low-libido partner's sexual pleasure, stuff like that.
28
Lava, sorry but Australia is shite. I watched them last Saturday(23rd October) and was baffled how they bloody won that one! Didn't watch the finals on Sunday but my bruder said the same thing: Australia is shite. Would you have preferred a walloping from the Springbok?

Nothing to contribute to the discussion although I'd like to point out that it took me a long time and a lot of fumbling to figure out that I am asexual. I can still have sex and all but I'm more 'once a year is perfect thx'. I'd say that came after a lot of PIV sex and finding that i'm not a fan of anything other than tampons and a speculum being shoved in there. Before I started having sex, I just thought I was a Catholic raised prude who had been scared into waiting for marriage. So, maybe some people do need the experience to determine they're asexual or somewhere on the spectrum.
29
@6 I'd disagree... I'm fairly high-libido (I could go 7-days a week without much fretting, although I think my enjoyment is maximized around 3-4, 2-5 times a week) and have more often than not been the the lower-libido person, multiple partners who described themselves as "breakfast, support and dessert kind of girl[s].", and the people with whom i've heard talk the most frankly and openly about their sexual desires are all women. YMMV.
30
*supper, I typed.
31
What is up with people calling her sex negative?! If not wanting sex often or not wanting PIV sex is sex negative, that makes aces and lesbians and a lot of other normal, healthy, sex-positive-because-they-fully-support-YOU-dummy! People are anti-sex. But as my hyphenated adverb suggests, me not wanting dick doesn't make me sex negative, having a chip on my shoulder about YOU wanting dick does, so stop being so damn judgey about people with low libidos and/or less interest in being penetrated.
32
@25 wins this thread.
33
I agree that @25 wins this thread. You don't sound very Steel Hearted! You sound nice.

@26 Enjoy the High their partner gets and put out more?? I tried that for years and got more and more hurt and pissed off. How come I do the work and you get the fun??? He'd say "Sex is like pizza. It may not be good pizza but at least it's PIZZA." or he'd say "sometimes sex is a gourmet meal and sometimes it's just a ham sandwich." Nope. You get a nice sandwich and I'm left hungry. I finally said NO. I'll have sex if I get off too. Yeah it takes me a lot longer than you. Deal with it. After many years we both have gotten a whole lot better at sex and our marriage has gotten a whole lot better. We're 60 and enjoying each other more than we ever did. I never expected this. Thanks a lot, Dan. You really have helped us both reach a lot of fulfillment.
34
John @26: I disagree too. One really effective way of changing someone who likes sex, just not that often, into someone who actively dislikes sex is by obligating them to do it far more than they actually want to. I'm a higher-than-average libido -- less than twice a week and I'm crawling the walls -- but if I had a partner who insisted that I fuck them every. single. day no matter how I was feeling, I would quickly want to run off and join a convent. So while "a few times a week or even daily" may seem reasonable for someone who wants sex daily, I can only imagine what a horrifying thought that would be for someone who was happy with once a fortnight. "The lower-libido partner (LLP) should just put out more often" is no more a solution than "The HLP should just masturbate."

MegM, glad you managed to solve your problem!
35
John Horstman @26,

1) Getting fucked takes a lot more mental energy than fucking someone. (Dan wrote about this a long time ago but I can’t find the article.) Imagine if your life partner was going to fuck/peg you every day for the rest of your life whether you liked it or not, and you didn’t like, and you were expected to enjoy the satisfaction your partner got from plowing your unwilling ass.

2) If I have sex but don’t get off, it’s painful. Like blue balls, y’know?

3) To manage getting fucked when I’m not going to get off, I need to mentally put myself in a spot where I am wet and relaxed enough that getting fucked does't damage me but I don’t get aroused to the point where not coming is going to be a problem, all the while focusing on all the nice non-sexual things my partner does for me and avoiding the questions “Why am I doing this again?” and “What kind of monster enjoys fucking someone who isn’t into it?”

The compromise Dan suggests is snuggling your higher-libido partner while they get themselves off. Not lying back and thinking of England.