Savage Love

Gay Dream Believer

Comments

1

FIRDT?

2

And for SECNOD, let me tell you about SlogBlocker, which has been polished up and now supports Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium-based browsers such as Edge. And there's a settings popup to let you configure it. All the browser support has been merged into the original project here:

https://github.com/ahoyfubar/SlogBlocker

Instructions are here:

https://github.com/ahoyfubar/SlogBlocker#slogblocker

Enjoy. And be a decent human being, or get blocked!

3

@fubar: You're FIRDT all the time, man! You must have a stixh sense.

Dear Dan,
I often dream that I am flying, yet when I wake up, I'm still grounded on Earth and in my bed. That's bad enough, but last night, I dreamed I was just starting to fly when I suddenly woke up. And to make matters worse, I was about to fly with a famous actor when I woke up; our feet never actually left the ground.

I'm so mad! Why is this? Is it because I can't really fly? Is it because I have been flying-shamed all my life?

Why am I writing this to you? Is it because I am bored and want to see if you'll print my letter? How about if I throw in a reference to a celebrity I wish I was flying with? Maybe you can get him to take my letter seriously and pretend there's a reason why I wake up before my dream is over to my satisfaction. Because I'm sure that a cute actor must know all about the psychology of dreams and dream interpretation, and also flying. Help!

4

Reading phrases like "she made love to my stiff penis with her mouth" made me through up in MY mouth a little.

5

@1 fubar: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations to fubar who once again scores this week's Savage Love: Gay Dream Believer FIRDT! honors. Well done, and savor the envied glory of leading this week's comment thread. :)
I agree with nocutename @3: You must indeed have a sixth sense---The Shining?----like Danny Torrance. Redrum...redrum....redrum....redrum.....:)
:

6

TESTES: "33 years of lovemaking!" Really? You're well overdue for a good ball busting. But as Dan said, hold off until there's ER space available, and then "go nuts". Or get a cattle prod and try testicle electrocution. That seems to be pretty safe, from the scenes I've observed.

OMO: You had a conversation (or several), and nothing changed. And then what? Did you have a conversation about having had conversations, nothing changing, and your current thoughts about leaving?

I'm surprised that Dan didn't suggest the obvious solution to this, which is, of course, outsourcing the sex your partner is not interested in having. And there's also the question of what might spark your partner's libido: perhaps she'd enjoy some ball busting!

7

OMO: “From the perspective of the person with the lower libido, there’s no problem to address. The person with the lower libido gets to have sex whenever they want.”

Not necessarily. Assuming both parties ENJOY the sex they have, and frequency is the only issue, you may be right. However, consider that some low-libido people are that way because the sex they’re having is unsatisfying to them.

8

nocute @3 and griz @5: No comment on the 6th sense, but I read L1 and concluded that the ONLY reason to publish it was for the "Gay Dream Believer" caption this week.

9

To the guy who likes having his balls hurt, you might want to consider freezing sperm if you have any long term plans for using it.

10

I'm amused at the "interrupted" dreams. I've lost count of the dreams I've had where I was about to go somewhere or do something or something has just happened or I got lost.

Most of mine are about being about to read a novel or fanfic or story that has some real reason for me to be excited about, like the next Discworld book, or a sequel to my favourite novel, or Barbara Hambly going back to writing novels with fantasy settings, or an undiscovered "cosy chiller" from my long-dead long-out-of-print favourite writer of psychological chillers, or a new horror novel from one of my favourite writers who wrote three horror novels in 1980, or unexpected fics with my favourite fandoms, tropes and pairings (including by excellent writers who have never written them), or at the moment I've just read the last book by one of my favourite romance writers (completed posthumously and with the romance plot unfinished)...Almost all my memorable "unfinished" dreams are about books I was just about to read when I woke up.

I'm not sure whether this is more or less frustrating than coitus interruptus dreams...

11

@8 fubar: Okay. I was kidding a bit about Danny Torrance. But you do have a knack for consistently being FIRDT! Kudos. :)

12

@DREAMER
OMG that was terrible dream-interpretation. And why kick to the /object/ of the dream for the interpretation?

Most importantly, who the hell /does/ have sex in dreams more than rarely?

@TESTES
I decided the letter was fake when I came to
"there was an extraordinary amount of come all over the place"

13

@3 nocute
Wow that was an infinitely more interesting way to say exactly what I tried to.

@10 Woofb
"I'm amused at the "interrupted" dreams"

Exactly; that's the deal with dreams, as anyone who has had one would know.

14

@12 & @13 curious2: I responded to your post @187 from last week's SL. Many thanks! :)

15

Ms Cute - You may have an LMB on the house. As for L1, while it could have been a nothing burger, at least Mr Savage managed to make something of it. And credit to LW1 for actually choosing a same-sexer.

My thought was similar to Mr Savage's second idea. I thought to hope LW1 not to be psychic, as it could be some sign of our presumable impending loss of rights. That Mr Savage leads with presuming shame I'll take as more of a Catholic thing than a desire to spread the idea that gays are all Wounded Birds.
xxx
As for the presence in the letter of Mr Rannells, given that almost any male celebrity same-sexer would equally serve the purpose, I wouldn't feel inclined to claim a foul if it transpired that a celebrity unknown to Mr Savage was replaced by one with whom he's friendly.
xxx
Good of Mr Savage to present it more as a question of Mr R's being taken than of celebrities' being in some hypothetical Top Drawer (to take from The Charmer the method of classifying people adopted by Joan Plumleigh Bruce) while letter writers are hoi polloi at or near the bottom.
xxx
I'm not sure about what appears to be the message of The Prom. Assimilationist gays (and likely others as well, but I shan't speak for/over them) always seem to believe that sheer persistence will get them what they think they want. It has no dignity and it does not work.

16

OMO - some smart ass above suggested that your wife may not be satisfied with your loving. Why must it always be the higher libido's fault: we have ridiculously high expectations, or we smell, or we're unskilled, selfish lovers.

It's just a no-fault mismatch, and 20 years later we realize that it really is not going to change. We still hope against hope it will, and we waffle between baffled and insulted that's it's so hard for our wives to fuck us.

And it is just so fucking frustrating and exhausting to think the same thoughts and have the same conversation for over 20 years, and to be afraid that if you'd split your be too old and encumbered to enjoy the sex life you've never had.

17

IMHO dreams 1) can be a way your mind has of processing information gleaned during the day or 2) a kind of mental masturbation, like let’s throw a bunch of crazy shit into the hopper and see what comes out or 3) eleventy dozen other explanations. So, don’t expect them to turn out the way you want them to. On the other hand, I’ve read some stuff about “lucid dreaming” where you can train yourself to realize you’re dreaming and take control of the dream thereby enabling yourself to fly or lick Marilyn Monroe’s sweaty armpit or whatever your twisted little heart desires. You might even get to fuck in your dream and wake up with your sheets glued to your stomach. Worth a shot, I say. BTW, I tried the lucid dreaming thing, but no luck. Wish it would’ve worked, there’s a Hawaiian Home-Ec teacher I had in high school I’d love to see naked, and dreams are the only way that could ever happen, ‘cause she’s probably about 87 now IRL. And, not that I COULDN’T see her naked now if I really put some effort into it, I just have a hunch it might not have that same Hawaiian Punch anymore.

18

I thought MOST sex dreams are unsatisfying and/or unfinished because most brains can't simulate (stimulate?) an actual orgasm without touch??

Basically, I thought LW1 seemed extremely normal, and it didn't sound like a problem at all lol.

19

@18 KindnessIsKey I have sex dreams pretty regularly and have orgasms in my sleep. Usually when I'm ovulating. I thought wet dreams were pretty common? When amab people have wet dreams are they usually dreaming of sex?

20

As for LW1
Dan, it was nice of you to include Andrew Rannells in the conversation, and very thoughtful and kind of him to allow LW to masturbate while thinking of him without guilt nor anyone involved feeling threatened nor abused. As I have witnessed myself and a friend experienced recently, this isn’t always the case.
When it comes to sex dreams I am often inspired and take it a step further once I wake up, or at some point afterwards. Admittedly some sex dreams may also result in “Are you out of your mind?” or “Never go there” sentiments, which I manage to follow.
Bad dreams can also be a bonus regardless if there’s sex involved or not. Sometimes I wake up while feeling I’m in a situation I never felt comfortable in, in my past or a hypothetical one, yet few seconds later after realizing it was only a dream, I feel so relieved and appreciative.

As for LW2
While I do love cupping, some pressure and playful movement applied to my testicles, I never experienced the extreme version and wonder what the complications may be.
What I do sense though, is that LW2 and his partner have great sexual communication which may be part of a great relationship, regardless of the label.

21

The real answer to LW1 is that most likely his brain produces sexual images only at a certain stage of sleep, eg when he's becoming more conscious. Or he's having these dreams all the time, but only remembers the ones that happen just before consciousness. In both of these scenarios, the key is that he doesn't have time to consummate before he wakes up.

I have had way more wish fulfillment dreams this year than usual, and while some of them involve travelling and looking at amazing sights, others involve sex and romance. My brain is just trying to give me something nice while I'm asleep.

22

"Gay Dream Believer" is an EXCELLENT headline. And Andrew Rannells is a great sport for being a guest expert on the column. However, I think DREAMER's conundrum is obvious. He is having dreams where his desire for sex is frustrated because in life he is sexually frustrated. Perhaps masturbating before going to sleep would reduce these dreams, if they're distressing to him? Or perhaps he could learn to enjoy the dream foreplay and subsequent wank when he wakes.

Curious @12, I decided it was fake when I got to "soon she was making love to my stiff penis with her mouth." A phrase obviously typed with one hand.

OMO says, "We wound up in counseling, which got us talking, but nothing changed the fact that we have very different libidos." What makes him think that the outcome would have been any different if they'd had this conversation earlier? That talking about it would magically increase Mrs OMO's libido? Early in a relationship, if the libidos are similar (for instance, Partner 1's libido begins the natural dropping-off process after NRE while Partner 2's NRE libido is their always libido), talking could lead to an understanding that Partner 1 isn't as horny as they were but they'll make an effort while Partner 2 accepts that they're not going to get as much sex as they did in the beginning. But if the libidos are too disparate this will only lead both of them to resent that their efforts at compromise aren't enough. Unlike OMO, it looks like WHY is going to realise the sexual incompatibility problem before making the marriage-and-kids mistake, which is really the best outcome we can hope for here.

23

Nocute @3, not cynical enough! How about, Netflix wants to promote its new show, The Prom, so it contacts The Stranger and offers its famously gay star as a guest expert on Savage Love in exchange for a bunch of paid ads? (I am OK with this. Needs must when The Stranger is strapped for cash, and it was a more entertaining read than Letter 2, was it not?)

Fubar @6, that is a frequent Dan recommendation, but only when the partner does not want sex at all, not less sex. I agree that a once-a-day and a once-a-fortnight would be better off either trying to meet in the middle or breaking up.

Ens @7, good catch. For the lower libido partner, there IS a problem to address: the problem of their partner pestering them for sex all the time, making it seem like a chore, so they no longer want it even on their schedule. (I'm recalling the recently cited letter from the man who counted up the number of rejections from a wife who occasionally said yes and went through the motions, instead of just learning to ask for sex less often.)

Kitkat @9, if he's been having sex for 33 years he's about 50. Any long term plans are in his past by now.

Woofb @10, one theory is that we only remember the dreams that get interrupted. Because we're annoyed by the interruption perhaps?

Venn @15, we do not "choose" who appears in our dreams. If this were real and not product placement. I also thought it was weird that Dan threw gay guilt into his answer, and you're correct that it's probably his religious background. Or an attempt to pad out the answer. And indeed, the letter could have been written with a different name and Mr Rannells' substituted in.

Steeeeeve @16, why so defensive? Ens.Pulver said that SOME people want less sex because they're unhappy with the sex they're having; there was no need to round that up to "always," nor call him a smartass. There are a number of smartasses here, but Ens.Pulver is not one of them.

For TESTES, I'm surprised Dan didn't advise doing thorough research into how to play roughly but safely with his balls. TESTES, if you're real, get thee onto Fetlife and follow the reputable links.

24

Steeeeve @16, I'm sorry you seem to have lived OMO's life and that your wife blamed you. I hope your fears proved false and you're enjoying a great sex life in your happily divorced 40s/50s.

25

All these stressed and disappointed men with low libido wives who stay. I wonder if it has anything to do with the toxic myth that most women don’t like sex? If they find one who apparently does, maybe they think this is a rare bird. They might feel it’s better to wait and see if she returns to how she was, than throwing the relationship away and making a fruitless search elsewhere.

People should look for partners who are interested in sex to roughly the same degree as they are. You can’t judge on behaviour. If you’re high-libido you have to talk about it to make sure. Discuss whether and how much porn/fanfic you like, tell the other person when you’re thinking naughty thoughts and what about. If it turns out your partner is into sex as a personal interest, they’re more likely to make an effort when their body stops pushing them to join the party.

26

Fubar @2: nice that it’s polished, but what does it do? Please explain for the un-tech savvy non-youth.

27

Misspiggy @25, yes and no. As discussed last week, NRE leads to a libido spike that makes predicting long-term sexual frequency preference difficult. (I'm going to gender the words here although sometimes this happens the opposite way around and in same-sex relationships.) In the beginning, she is just as horny as he is, happy to have sex every day or more. Once the NRE wears off, she settles down to a default frequency that ideally, she would be able to discuss in advance with a new partner -- but if she hasn't been in a cohabiting LTR before, she may not know that under conditions of constant availability, she'd want to have sex every other day, or once a week, or once a month. Both partners learn this at the same time. While she simultaneously learns that his libido -isn't- dropping off post-NRE like she expected it to. So the mismatch only surfaces a couple of years into a relationship. (One reason it's wise to put off marriage.) As Savage Marquis described so well, after NRE wears off the man has to put in the work of seducing his partner, work that NRE rendered unnecessary. He can't expect her to just be spontaneously horny -- but he does, because she used to be, and he still is. Plus, there's the seven-year-itch phenomenon where some women simply lose attraction for their partner despite remaining interested in sex. And if you make it past that, menopause. And the reality, sorry Steeeverino, that men's actions can and do affect how attracted a woman is to that particular man. So "just pair up with someone whose libido matches your own" is easier said than done.

But I do agree that there should be some evidence up front of how interested someone is in sex, and that an expectation that women just aren't very interested is setting a relationship up to fail. Steeeeve, if you'd care to share, at what point in the relationship did your wife reveal herself to be uninterested in sex with you?

28

I never finish my sex dreams. Most of them are opposite sex. (I’m bi.) I suspect it’s just a lack of confidence.
I can be confident in a relationship. But in real life I’d never sleep with a stranger and some part of my brain knows it.

29

A dream is not random, Dan. It’s the mind unwinding from the day, and sorting stuff out. Freud wrote a solid book on the subject. Dreams are not random to the person dreaming.
Best the dreamer find associations to the content. What I get is that he’s not connecting to people. Sexually/ intimacy wise. Something is not gelling, maybe it’s about shame, as you suggest Dan.

30

@16 Steeeeverino. On the off chance that I was the “smart-ass” you referred to; I was actually not assuming that the higher-libido person's inadequacy was the cause of the lower-libido person’s dissatisfaction. Many low-libido partners suffer from repressive upbringings, sex-negative cultural backgrounds, or conservative religious traditions that cultivate shame. This can make the low-libido person unaware of what truly satisfies them sexually.

Or sometimes their partner is a jerk.

31

Ens @30, or sometimes they're just not that horny and that's okay. Nothing is necessarily wrong with a lower libido person, who enthusiastically enjoys the sex they have less frequently. Or even with an asexual person who's not into sex at all. They should not be presumed to be suffering from "shame" that prevents them from being the raging horndogs they would be otherwise. There are plenty of perfectly healthy people who understand what satisfies them sexually and only want that once a month. (There is also, of course, nothing wrong with being a raging horndog! We just have to hope the perfectly healthy horndogs and the perfectly healthy once-a-monthers don't end up coupled that often, and grant either of them licence to end it when they do.)

32

@15 venn
I like the
xxx
separators; they remind me of what a beloved local columnist once called "three-dot journalism".

Hey, any interest in an avatar, venn? Someone smarter than me suggested Quinten Crisp's IMDb photo, which I trimmed a bit to better fit the little avatar boxes here:
https://i.imgur.com/RrUxAHs.jpg

If you don't wish to use it yourself, with your permission I would like to use fubar's browser addon to see it myself. I think it looks good!

@23 BDF
"one theory is that we only remember the dreams that get interrupted"

For me, even within dreams they are characterized by interruption, as one storyline and dream-reality transmogrifies into another. Linearity is just not normal for dreams, so the letter writer is expecting the untenable.

I have had a few lucid dreams by accident. In one, I'd been having a great time flying around in the sky above a dream-city at night; I decided to visit the house of a woman I loved, and at that instant my position in the sky became fixed and I could not fly anywhere. I wondered if maybe that was because the real-world destination I intended didn't exist in the dream-city.

I've also had sex dreams by accident. If people could have them whenever they wanted, a lot of us would sleep a lot more.

33

Speaking of dreams, I think time passes very quickly in them. I recall a dream in which a sound (I don't remember what) intruded on the dream, as the dream progressed over maybe twenty minutes of dream-time. Then I awoke and discovered that (again, sorry, I forget) the sound had only been going on for like six seconds. So I guess I dream for like a week every night!

35

@BiDanFan 31: Yes, absolutely. In my zeal to defend the lower-libido partner in this scenario I realize I might have inadvertently pathologized them with the labels I used. It is perfectly possible to be lower-libido and not be in any way damaged or sex-negative. Thanks for the correction/addition.

Also interesting was this recent study that found, among other things, that lower-libido partners were LEAST sexually satisfied in relationships with other low-libido people. Counterintuitive, perhaps, since you'd figure two such people would be a match made in sexless heaven.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550620926770?journalCode=sppa

36

Andrew Rannells' lame attempt to "get to the root of the problem" is pathetically opaque. Meanwhile I continue to have dreams where I'm naked in public and no one even seems to notice; I wake up both relieved and disappointed.

37

Ens @35, perhaps that's because lower-libido people are so used to the other person initiating sex that it's like lesbian sheep syndrome within the relationship, where they're both expecting the other person to make a move and feeling undesired when that person doesn't?
I can't access the text of the article without subscribing/paying so I will take your word for it.

38

Lower libido, remember, does not mean no libido. For a low (not no) libido person, a sexless relationship does sound very unsatisfying.

39

@3 NoCuteName

BWAAHAAHAAH! Thank you, I desperately needed that!

LMAOROTFPIMP 🤣

40

RE: @39, lmaorotfPIMP

PIMP = peeing in my pants

41

Sometimes a cigar that you don't actually get to smoke is just a cigar that you don't actually get to smoke.

42

@39: Thanks, SNJ-RN; I'm glad someone appreciated it.
@40: And thank you for explaining PIMP!

@41: I heard that in a fake-Freudian accent and I thank you for it.

43

We all want there to be a nice solution like "just make your needs clear at the start" or "just find someone with a libido like yours," but so far as I can tell, the truth is that neither option is even vaguely easy for your typical straight couple. Libidos change over time, especially women's; everything Bi says @27 is true, and I'd say even stronger statements can be made. I'd go so far as to say many women, if not most, experience a serious libido drop a few years into a relationship--not too long after everyone is seriously in love. I don't think it's malicious or planned but I think for a lot of people it's real. I think there are things that can help, but they are emotionally complicated and require a lot of self awareness and a lot of hard work. In other words, good luck.

44

Advise to DREAMER: try lucid dreaming, immediately after you wake up. It allowed me to finish my dream with Scarlett Johansson, and many more!

45

E.P. @35 Heh. Perhaps it works something like this?

Low-libido person feels like sex once a month. If married to a high-libido person, very probably their high-libido partner will also feel like sex at that time. So low-libido person can have sex anytime they want, roughly speaking.
But if that low-libido person is married to another once-a-month low-libido person, the chance that both partners feel like sex at the same time may be small. Those once-a-months libidos need to overlap, or both are unsatisfied.

46

Ciods @43, it makes perfect sense when you remember that the whole purpose of sex, biologically speaking, is to make babies. At the beginning of a relationship, a woman's body wants to take every possible opportunity to make a baby with this man who's in love with her and pledging to stay with her forever, or at least as long as it takes to jointly raise the child. A year and a half or two in, the woman's body presumes that she has succeeded in making a baby and is in far less of a rush to make more, while she is presumably caring for a toddler. Or perhaps it presumes that if she hasn't had a baby by now, the man will leave her for someone who will provide him with offspring. Either way, substitute "making a baby" for "having sex" and the pattern of desire becomes a lot more obvious. And this seems compounded when there is an actual baby, and the woman is also tired from the work of mothering.

So the why is explicable; the trickier question is what to do about it, which may never have an easy answer. Good luck indeed.

47

Squidgie @26: Details are here:

https://github.com/ahoyfubar/SlogBlocker#slogblocker

48

I'm really digging the hyperlinking of mentions, new in v1.3, which lets you click on @26 to read what's being replied to, and then hit the browser back button to return to where you were. It's not just about blocking the meanies!

49

@2 fubar: Yoiks---Griz is amiss! WA-HOOOOOOO!! And congrats on snagging the SECNOD honors this week, as well. :)

@3 nocutename LOL Thanks for making my week! Agreed and thirded with SNJ-RN @39. Meanwhile, I keep having vividly sexual dreams involving Brad Pitt, and celebrate his birthday every year (he turns 57 on Friday, December 18th).

50

@47 & @48 fubar: Thank you for sharing your tech savvy, and offering helpful links on comment blocking, and browsers. :)

51

Alright. Who's hungry for the luscious Lucky @69 Award honors this week? Tick...tick...tick...

52

fubar @48: Just got it installed, and yes, the hyperlinks are great! Nice job, thanks.

53

@48 fubar
"I'm really digging the hyperlinking of mentions...which lets you click on @26"

I'm totally digging them too and I haven't even clicked on one yet. I like just that as links they're in a different color than the text in the rest of the Comment, which helps my eye focus on one or the other as I want to.

Honestly I didn't know how much I'd like actually using the addon. I just looked forward to knowing that the trolls couldn't expect we'd have to see their worthless ravings. As great as that will be, actually not having my view polluted with their toxic ravings will be a joy too.

I /really/ want to see this addon plugged on the Comment pages; otherwise we're burdened with repeatedly doing so; perhaps the right member of staff to lobby would be webmaster@thestranger.com ? I found him very responsive when I inquired about some site bugs.

54

The response to DREAMER assumes Andrew Rannells is pretty heteronormative. He's "taken"? WTF.

Monogamous, great, not interested in internet anonymous writers, of course not! But "taken" = assumes a default setting of monogamous, patriarchal notions of ownership and narrow definitions of commitment that would be more befitting a romcom than Savage Love.

55

@4 nocute - I'm with you, TESTES was one weirdly worded less than fully appetizing letter.

56

If anyone's read Emily Nagoski's Come as You Are, it's mostly about the parts of sex science that are more applicable to women (or possibly people who aren't cishet men considering themselves as normative, but it was written before the higher visibility of different gender/sexual minorities so aimed at cishet women). Anyway, she did a lot of work on "arousal noncompliance" and found that women have an unusual pattern of sexual behaviour where it's common for them to get into sex while doing it. Woman doesn't (consciously) want sex, perhaps partly because she doesn't want to make the effort. She goes along with it in a GGG spirit, and is surprised to get into it. Now, obviously, this is all kinds of awful advice for a bad relationship or a starting relationship or abuse/consent issues. I think she's describing something that may be helpful in a good relationship that stalled due to mismatched libido. If the "unwilling" partner isn't given something framed as a demand (a demand for her body, a demand for her response) but an offer, a seduction, something they both might enjoy but the other party will back out of if it doesn't work, she may be surprised by her own response, because trying it out playfully is more useful than "need to respond, why isn't it happening?"

57

Oh, if only we could predict how we're going to be/feel/think/react or what we're going to want/need/hate/resent in 5/10/20/40 years' time when we first meet.

Disclaimer: this is going to be very heteronormative because so often these problems are between different-sex couples, and I'm going to default to gendered stereotypes, if only because those stereotypes are often grounded in at least a tiny bit of reality. Feel free to adjust the genders, if applicable.

The whole "make sure your libidos match before you make a commitment" advice/scolding is really infuriating to me. For one thing, it suggests that people's libidos are static, unaffected by life, by disappointments, health or illness/ability, anger, trust (or the lack thereof), children, finances, body image or body changes, stress, boredom, the acquisition of for repudiation of religion, family obligations, work/school pressure, familiarity, irritation, medication, or resentment. But the reality is that all these things, and many more have an effect on libido, and most of us can't possibly predict at, say, 23, how we'll be in a hundred different ways, of which sexual desire, interest, and response are just a few, in the future. Add to that the fact that being part of a couple means that not one, but two people will be changing, and I don't think it's very helpful advice.

It also serves to throw the problems back upon either the couple, or one half of it (who that person is depends on who has written the letter, or on whose side we feel more sympathy with). It's a bit victim-blamey, and it makes the rest of us feel better because we were smart enough to vet our partners at the outset, making sure that our libidos were aligned.

I've said this before, but since Dan beats the same drums over and over, I may as well do so too, and now that there are all those blocker-things that fubar and RegEur have created, you can just skip over my post if the repetition bugs you--or you can see my avatar and blip past me. I think we come up with these rules or guidelines and cling to them as if they were magical talismans because we like to believe that if we (and our friends, relatives, lovers) do the "right" things, we will be spared the pain of falling out of love or being forced to confront and admit to a mismatch or incompatibility that isn't reconcilable. It strikes me as being very similar to the advice to women to dress in a certain way--or, more accurately, to NOT dress in a bunch of specific ways, to vary their routes, to not drink too much (actually, that's a good idea for all sorts of reasons), to carry their car keys sticking out like little spears between the fingers of a fist. All those rules promise to keep women safe from rape or sexual assault and therefore it's women who are the most rigid enforcers of them on others and who judge and blame most harshly when a woman who wasn't following them is assaulted.

It's such a comforting fantasy that all will be well if you just make sure to do this one thing or these specific things.

But as anyone who's ever followed the "rules" and was assaulted knows, there is no magic charm that ensures you'll be protected if you just do everything "right," and I think that luck plays a far greater role in our lives and our happiness or unhappiness than we believers in self-determination would like to believe.

Unless there is a very clear and huge sexual incompatibility that is obvious to both people at the outset, the excitement and newness of a relationship can cloud a looming misalignment, not to mention all the various and unpredictable ways that life affects the dynamic between two people over time. For every woman that used to love sex with her partner until his constant irresponsibility or nagging about sex turned her off to him, there is one who never stops wanting to bone her partner, despite his irresponsibility; for every man who loses desire for his wife when she gains 40 pounds over the years, there's a man who doesn't mind the weight gain and for whom it doesn't dampen his desire.

It does seem to be true that many women lose a significant attraction to their long-term partner after several years (this could be due to a change in hormonal birth control methods--I believe that hormonal shifts play a far more significant role in libido and also in attraction than we typically think), but the reasons for this, not to mention the ways to address that loss, are not set in stone and are far from one-size-fits-all or even one-size-fits-most.

It's also true that what looks like a low or lower libido can be either that or can simply be a person losing attraction to and desire for their partner--hence the cliché of the cold, frigid wife who has no libido turning into a raging sex monster post divorce. Which of course, reinforces the spurned partner's sense of her as a bitch. And it's particularly frustrating for BOTH PARTIES when this loss of attraction and desire happens for a partner who hasn't changed in any significant ways from when she couldn't keep her hands off him. Believe me, it is baffling and depressing for the woman who experiences this as well, especially if she can't blame it on her partner's being an asshole.

This is why these kinds of letters are so depressing to me: because the pain behind them is real and profound and because there often is no solution, or certainly no one solution that works for all couples or in all circumstances. And the attempts to offer an easy fix or worse, to blame the couple or the dissatisfied member of the couple for not having done his due diligence at the outset of the relationship, enrage me.

I think all we can do sometimes is to listen and to bear witness and to say, I hear you; that sucks.

58

@57 nocutename: Bravo and well said! I can relate (as you, Dan, and so many others have read many of my past comments and my stories before):. Agreed and seconded.
Indeed. I hear you.That sucks.

59

@57 nocutename: What you just summarized is reason #1 as to why my full bilateral hysterectomy----a long time coming after 43 years, mainly from the monthly misery of a tipped uterus---has since been such a blessing and a relief. I am no longer pressured to have children, and don't have to worry if men find me attractive or not, anymore. My reproductive years really did suck.

60

Skr Curious - If I had to have an avatar, Mr Crisp would be an excellent choice of one. I've rather thought, though, that I need an avatar about as much as the person Mr Crisp always called Miss Madonna needed a surname. Many thanks for your being so gracious as to ask permission, although I don't entirely understand the request. If my surmise is correct that you would see my posts with an avatar of Mr Crisp, then I see no harm in it.
xxx
Ms Cute - I was thinking as I caught up on the thread of evoking your prior statements about libido loss or imbalance only to see you'd posted again. I suspect most people would yield to the temptation to assume cause and effect and conclude libido loss to "prove" that the spouse in question truly deserved that particular scarlet A. Your post also made me think of Charlotte Lucas' views that happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. She speaks of the dispositions of the parties being ever so well known to each other or so similar to each other's before as being of no great use due to how they will change afterwards; one could easily substitute "libidos" for "dispositions". The trick is how to start down your road without reaching her conclusion that it is as well to know as little as possible of the defects of the persone with whom one is to share one's life.

61

Woofb @56, I too will apologise for the gender essentialism in this generalisation I'm about to make. But you're correct, men's and women's libidos don't work in the same way. Men's libidos tend to be like a binary switch, 0 is off and 1 is horny, and pretty much any stimulus can flip that switch, immediately, from 0 to 1 and they are ready for sex. Women's libidos are like a dial. Normally set on 0, they have to be gradually turned all the way up to horny. A stimulus like the suggestion of sex might turn the dial up a tenth of the way, but that still leaves a long way to go. As someone with a higher-drive partner, I agree with Ms Nagosi's description of what happens in what Dan has termed maintenance sex. I'm not really in the mood (my dial is set to 0), but he's horny and if I have no particular reason to NOT have sex, saying yes and taking things at my pace (that's key, dudes out there) allows my dial to turn up far enough that I end up enjoying myself and glad I had sex for "his" sake. I think this is a better way of viewing things than the classic "wifely duty" or "lie back and think of England" catchphrases -- and not pushing to instant PIV is key -- but since we do have what seems to be a near-universal biological mismatch problem, "round 'meh' up to yes" is an attitude that could be helpful for women and "round sex down to foreplay" for men.

Nocute @57, I take your point about there not being easy answers here. In many cases, not even difficult answers. But I do think in retrospect many couples miss red flags. If there's a big mismatch in the beginning, that's not going to improve; best to walk away. Sure, that won't solve the problem of changes in libido due to ageing, health, circumstances, etc. But perhaps people could have a talk up front about, if one of us were to lose our libido, how would we feel about opening the relationship? This is not to say that we should "blame victims" if they didn't do this, but to offer some suggestions on how maybe a few of these cases could be avoided or dealt with. Otherwise, there's no "advice" other than "too bad, so sad" and Dan and the marriage counsellors are all out of a job.

I disagree that the "don't drink too much, don't walk alone at night" advice carries an implicit promise of "and you won't get raped." These tips REDUCE the likelihood of getting raped, but you could still do everything right and get raped. Talking about your sexuality REDUCES the likelihood of ending up with someone highly mismatched, it doesn't eliminate it. Surely reduction is worth pursuing?

Yes, no matter whether people have done everything "right" or nothing right, if they end up in this situation, the pain is real and they deserve sympathy. Just as a smoker who got cancer and a jogger who got cancer would both deserve sympathy. But it's worth advising people to not smoke.

I think you're conflating advice and blame -- indeed, you even state "The whole 'make sure your libidos match before you make a commitment' advice/scolding is really infuriating to me." Advice is for the people who aren't yet in this situation, to help them avoid it. Scolding, as you term it, is directed toward people who are already in the situation. I agree shouldas/couldas/wouldas aren't useful for these people. But I think discussing pitfalls and best practice is useful for the people who aren't yet in that situation; isn't fewer unhappily mismatched couples a good goal to have, if one's mission is to help people have better sex lives? I understand this is a hot button for you because of your own experience, and it's really not possible for you to view it dispassionately. That probably does apply to everyone in this situation and I appreciate that. But I don't think the potential that someone who's already there could see such advice as "scolding" means the advice should not be discussed, just as young women should indeed be warned that walking on their own late at night is risky. One woman who avoids getting raped, one young man like WHY who avoids getting trapped in a sexless marriage, is worth having this conversation.

62

@60 venn
"you would see my posts with an avatar of Mr Crisp, then I see no harm in it"

Exactly! Thank you very much, I am delighted by seeing your posts with an avatar of Mr. Crisp.

63

Ms Fan - Perhaps some resistance to the "just do it and you'll often get into it" line stems from its being one of the major tenets of the dreaded Dr Schlessinger.

64

I can’t tell which side of the Nocute/BiDan debate I come down on. On the one hand, the advice to talk about desire openly, address any misalignments early, and avoid rushing into sexually incompatible relationships is commonsensical. However, these pages (and many others) are nonetheless full of stories of people who followed that advice and yet were blindsided by the decline and fall of libido later on.

The “red flags at the beginning” issue at seems more straightforward. Clearly, couples are advised to quickly confront early evidence of mismatches, aversions, shaming, kinks, etc., and if solutions don’t arise, end or re-negotiate the relationship. I would think problems like this would be easier to fix early in a relationship, when lovey-doveyness is high and so is motivation. However, at this stage couples might also be wary of doing anything to “spoil” the relationship, and therefore will keep mum about things they shouldn’t. So, ironically, the stage at which these problems might be most effectively managed might also be the stage at which couples are most loathe to address them for fear of putting the other partner off.

Now what about the situation Nocute describes, where red flags were tightly furled at the beginning, only to flutter free later? Or where libido tanks for no reason, despite early evidence of compatibility? How many letters does Dan get that open with: “At the beginning everything was great”? That’s much tougher, and that’s where the advice to “talk about this stuff early in the relationship” doesn’t seem as relevant. I think BiDan’s suggestion to have a talk up front about, “if one of us were to lose our libido, how would we feel about opening the relationship” is solid. However, I wonder if people in love/lust will really credit that possibility and take it seriously when everything is going fine early on? Perhaps you could talk about it, but it would be the same as talking about what do to about future children, or our wills (when we get around to writing them) – something that seems so remote a possibility that we don’t really confront it until it is happening for real, at which time those early plans and assurances and options seem inadequate to the crisis at hand.

Like I said, I don’t know which way to jump on this question. But I do know that every couple, throuple, and polycule in the world would benefit from reading Dan and you wise folks before, during, and after getting sexually involved with others.

65

Ens @64, I'm in no way claiming "take these steps and you will avoid all problems." Of course Nocute is correct that often there is just no fault here, no flags to be seen, things just change, people just change. But if people could put more thought into their relationships -- if Savage Love were required reading -- then -some- of the people who would otherwise fall into this unfortunate situation might avoid it. Whatever percentage that "some" may be, it's worth the effort to save that heartache. You and Nocute are correct that human nature can get in the way of these sensible suggestions. I hope I never implied that this wasn't the case; again, I agree, if a once-a-month person falls hard for a once-a-day person, that NRE is going to lead them to think that they're the couple who will buck the trend, find a solution, make it work. And they might. But probably not. And they'll have to get to that conclusion the hard way, just like so many others before them. But if even a few once-a-months and once-a-days can have those realistic conversations and realise that NRE or true luurrve isn't enough, and end those relationships after a few months or years rather than decades, that's something to strive for.

66

Ens.Pulver @64 "ironically, the stage at which these problems might be most effectively managed might also be the stage at which couples are most loathe to address them for fear of putting the other partner off."

Frequently, between the lovey-dovey stage and the sexually incompatible stage, there's an intermediate step where the two people get married. Many traditions encourage or insist that the couple get premarital counseling to make sure they've discussed their feelings about children, finances, and other touchy issues.

That seems like a good time for people to be warned about high rates of sexual problems down the line, and encouraged to compare their approaches to such problems ahead of time. And if a person decides not to get married at that stage, they should be supported in that decision rather than shamed.

67

Much love to nocute @57, who always does such a nice job of articulating things I was thinking myself. Yes, this, all of this.

I also agree with Bi's comment:
"But perhaps people could have a talk up front about, if one of us were to lose our libido, how would we feel about opening the relationship?"
which may not solve the issue, but is certainly a good firs step. I'd submit a slight alteration, like so:
"Perhaps people could agree to have regular discussions about it--yearly, say--in which they talk about all the options, even ones they aren't sure they'll ever want, so that there's a habit of checking in that might head issues off at the pass."
Or something.

I completely understand the current view that you should never ever have to have sex when you don't want to--and I understand the propagation of this view--but my experience agrees with what WoofB said @56, and I think it's worth rounding up "meh" to "yes," as Bi phrased it, whenever possible.

I have a slight suspicious than men's libidos are more regular/predictable, and therefore from the gay man's point of view, ensuring an initial libido-match-up should probably fix the issue, and that's part of why it's so often brought up here. Maybe I'm wrong.

I'd like to jump on my usual bandwagon one more time and say how damaging I think two things are:
a) (many forms of) birth control, as nocute mentions, mess with your hormones, and we too rarely have frank discussions about that with women before they go on it.
b) we continue to perpetuate the stereotype that men want variety and women don't. Whereas I've read several studies (and my personal history agrees) that in fact men are often more likely to maintain a consistent desire for their partner (maybe also for variety, but hey) whereas women are likely to have their desire for that partner wane over time. It's not a dead libido; it's a libido that really wants to fuck someone else for a while.

If we admitted both these things from the get-go, maybe people would be less devastated when things changed, and more likely to think creatively about how to address it.

68

I have never been more certain that a letter was fake than LW2.

I do want to echo some of what BDF and @57 have said. I have certainly never thought (or at least tried not to think) that a sudden drop in libido was maliciously hidden, but I have been the higher libido partner a number of times (still am), and I have had that conversation at the beginning of EVERY relationship (after the first one); even to the point of specifically asking women to think past the initial honeymoon phase and think about how frequently they want/enjoy sex when they are well into a relationship.

I have also on multiple occasions (after being told that the amount at the beginning of a relationship was normal for them,, and after a significant decrease in libido has occurred) been told something along the lines of "well, yes, this has always happened before, but I didn't think it would happen with you". This is normally followed by some discussion about how everything is so different with me that they didn't think past experiences would apply, etc.

I have chosen to take these conversations at face value and not assume that anyone was being intentionally deceptive, but I will say that having someone tell you in the beginning of a relationship that they are going to maintain a certain level of libido, in my experience at least, has roughly zero bearing on how things will turn out.

As stated by others, there are an enormous number of factors than can affect this, from hormones and medication all the way down to simply feeling as though they are being taken for granted; but there is also always the short-sighted (but seemingly genuine) option that this person they care about might leave them if they are honest and maybe it will actually be different this time.

Despite all of that, I agree with BDF that this conversation is not futile as it may actually help someone avoid future problems, and if it does not it can establish a baseline communication that you can return to for discussing sexual priorities. I will say though that it is far from a panacea.

69

Nice column, Dan. I appreciate that you still bring the creativity on a weekly basis. Consulting the object of an erotic dream as a guest expert was inspired. I also enjoyed the headline and the testicle-themed puns.

70

@BiDanFan and Ens.Pulver (#61, 64, 65): While I mostly agree with Ens.Pulver and his much clearer post than I made @57, I agree with BiDanFan that it's worth at least trying to get the idea of discussions of compatibility across for people entering into future relationships.

The problem, as Ens.P points out, is that most of the time, I don't think those incompatibilities reveal themselves until later--after the couple is in love or sometimes even longer, after years of marriage or cohabitation (or even just coupledom while maintaining separate residences). At that point, not only are there feelings involved, but there may be fully intertwined lives; there well may be children. It's not called "the two month itch;" it's called "the seven year itch" for a reason, and seven years is a long time in which to build a life together. I doubt that Dan or BDF means couples to date casually for up to a decade before deciding they are well-suited and making it more formal.

People who love each other or who have build a shared life, who may have children and own property or a business, or have many couple-friends, or who have really made their partner's family their own are highly motivated to Make Things Work. This often includes going to couple's counseling or having the man be counseled to step up his efforts at running the household. Don't misunderstand: I think that both of these things are good, and that virtually all partnerships would benefit from them, even if the relationship doesn't seem to be on rocky footing. But all the counseling in the world and all the gratitude for having someone help with unpleasant chores, rather than expect the other person to do them all, doesn't change libido as we all have seen, and our culture tends to dismiss sexual satisfaction and compatibility (I just had a new acquaintance remark on the friendship between me and my ex-husband and question why we divorced. When I said "sexual incompatibility," she brushed that off and implied it was a foolish reason and suggest my priorities were out of whack) as being all that important if a couple loves each other.

And that's if it's really simply a libido mismatch or what only SEEMS to be a mismatch, like a difference in internal set points, as opposed to the issue of one person losing desire for the other person. That's such a painful thing to say or to hear that I think the "I have a low libido" can be a cover for that situation, though sometimes the person really thinks she does have a low libido and is as surprised as anyone else when, single and dating, she discovers differently.

One is not going to get the sense that there is a mismatch in libidos when the both of you are (to use Mr. Ven's term) boinking every chance you get. If that level of new-relationship sex drops off early (say within 2 or 3 months) and drastic differences are revealed (person A wants sex about 4-5 times per week, while person B wants sex about once a month), I would hope that people, perhaps through being familiar with Dan and his column or podcast, would realize that this is huge incompatibility and that it is unlikely to get better, only worse over time (not that person A will want sex even more frequently, but that the resentment will build on both sides) and break up.

But I think it's far more common that the differences reveal themselves after more time has passed and that the disconnect is often less dramatic and thus harder to see for the really big issue it is or can be. Add to that, many people's discomfort about talking honestly about sex, sunk-cost thinking, and the cultural attitude that True Love Conquers All, plus our tendency to try to change and shape or mold our beloveds into a closer image of ourselves, and I don't think the advice to discuss what will happen in the eventuality of sexual incompatibility is especially useful, ideal as it might be.

71

While I was composing my screed @70, EricaP, ciods, and SavageMarquis posted really good comments @ 66, 67, 68. You all made really good points.

SavageMarquis, I guess I agree that in theory it's a good idea to vet potential partners as to expectations of future levels of libido, but I just don't think it's going to get you very far. I think people are going to have that "I thought it would be different this time because I like/love you so much" response you talked about.

Plus, one thing we HAVE been told in our society is that that early phase where we fuck every chance we get naturally slows down and something warmer and deeper takes its place. Now, on one hand, that's true to a certain extent, and it is unreasonable to expect the constant-fucking stage enduring in perpetuity--something some people really do need to hear. But everyone has their own ideas about what that slowing down looks like, when it occurs, and what it slows down to, based partly upon past experience, and if we could be self-aware enough to know that about ourselves and honest enough to share that with someone we REALLY want a long-term future with without worry that it will drive them away, that could be helpful.

Alas. Human beings and all that.

Emotions, fears, expectations, shame--all of those play into our discomfort with that discussion. Not to mention that most people are not that self-aware and what do you do with someone who honestly doesn't know what their set point is or how long they typically take to reach it once the NRE has worn off, because this is the first or best or most serious or long-lasting relationship they've ever been in?

I dated a man who seemed to have a slightly lower libido than I did, but initially that didn't seem to be too much of a problem. We saw each other about 2-3 times a week and only ever had sex once daily even in the beginning, but that was okay and it was satisfying sex and he was older so I wasn't sure what he was capable of. But at about 6 months, the sex (or at least his interest) dwindled markedly. When I brought the subject up, he brushed it off, eventually saying, "well, it's six months now. Things slow down." While I know that things slow down, I've had relationships where the sex was still going strong at 6 months, and I realized that we had different experiences behind us on which we based our expectations.

Of course that could have been an attempt at a tactful cover for the fact that he wasn't as attracted to me as I was to him, and once the newness wore off, it was that that was revealed, not so much his internal libido set point.

72

tl;dr (this isn't really shorter, but I tried to make it more bullet-pointy):

Some people have different libido levels, recognizable at the outset of a relationship.
Some people have an internal libido set point, which isn't revealed for some time, ranging from a few months to several years, depending on other factors.
Hormones play a greater role in (at least) female desire and libido than is commonly thought or discussed. Hormonal birth control (not just The Pill, but the more popular IUD, as well as the patch or the upper-arm insert) can have a dampening effect on libido or can mask a woman's natural response to what I can only think of as pheromones.
SSRIs frequently affect libido in both men and women and often also affect men's ability to achieve or sustain an erection. Again, this is rarely talked about, particularly when doctors prescribe them for depression or anxiety. As virtually everyone seems to be either depressed or anxious, this has the potential to be a real problem.
Low libido presents indistinguishably from lack of attraction to a specific person.
There are a multitude of reasons that one might lose their attraction as well as a multitude of circumstances which would lead to a person's dismissal of that as a problem.

There is also the possibility that the person who loses attraction to their partner doesn't want to hurt the partner's feelings, and so uses the excuse of a naturally lower libido.
Sometimes the person themself doesn't know if the lack of interest in sex is a result of a naturally low libido, an artificially-lowered libido, or indicates a genuine low attraction to the partner.

73

I seem to recall, perhaps in this very publication, the story of a woman who, after the birth of her second child, mysteriously lost her libido completely. (A hormonal problem, I suppose.) She loved her husband and children and home, etc., and didn't want to break up their marriage, so she substituted oral sex for PIV while waiting hopefully for a recovery. In fact she studied the practice and got very good at it, or so her husband said. While she didn't get orgasm-type pleasure out of it, she did have a craftswoman's satisfaction of a job well done, and something of vicarious erotic enjoyment. Maybe couples who like each other a lot but have differing physical libidos could use their imaginations and discover passable alternatives.

74

if you want to have a satisfying sex life throughout a long term monogamous relationship, you should focus on 1 of 2 things in your relationship... being great communicators or having a great body-to-body vibe. the first is probably easier; the second is certainly funner.

also, you must be in tune with your own body. none of the rest of it matters if you aren't.

good luck!!

75

Damnit: the Stranger's formatting took away my asterisks that I used in attempt to create bullet points and also closed up all the extra lines of space I had inserted to make my points @72 stand alone.

76

Great discussion filled with incisive posts.

@65 BiDanFan: Not for a second did I think you were proposing early and frank conversation about sex as some sort of cure-all. If pressed I’d come down on your side of the debate because striving for open communication is worth the effort, even if it doesn’t always work.

@66 EricaP: Oh, how I wish a discussions like this one were a mandatory component of pre-commitment counseling.

@ 71 Nocute: “most people are not that self-aware and what do you do with someone who honestly doesn't know what their set point is or how long they typically take to reach it once the NRE has worn off, because this is the first or best or most serious or long-lasting relationship they've ever been in?” I think this is really the toughest nut to crack. Self-awareness, or the lack thereof. How can you communicate with a partner when you yourself don’t know your own desires? Perhaps, at the very least, having the kind of conversations BiDan suggests early on could force us to think about, realize and articulate things about ourselves that we hadn’t before?

Thanks to all.

77

@75 nocute
"the Stranger's formatting took away my asterisks"

Good to know; I forgot and used an asterisk as a footnote recently, and they didn't get messed with.

Maybe I'll do some testing. Or maybe I'll just remember to use different characters.

78

p.s. If we /really/ wanted asterisks, fubar could give them to us whenever we typed some secret code. Just kidding, I can do without asterisks and I'm sure fubar can do without me thinking up work for him.

79

80

Hmph. @79 was three asterisks in case anyone was wondering.

81

Remember the good old days when we could make italics and boldface and use asterisks? Why does The Stranger want to punish us?

82

I mean, I do think it would be optimal if we all knew our bodies and how we react in long term relationships and if we could be honest with ourselves and each other, and I hope that, in part thanks to Dan and the awareness campaign he's been leading all this time, people are beginning to think about these things. I think a truly honest conversation like that BDF proposes might be useful, and I like ciods' idea about checking in honestly every so often as a matter of course.

I just don't know that we're going to achieve universal movement in this area any time soon.

83

Pregnancy/ childbirth/ breastfeeding, these can change a woman’s attitude to sex and her desires.
Good point nocute, nobody does much talk about effects of meds on desire.
My experience points to some men seeming to have sex in a lane all by itself, and at least once a day sex is preferable. Like a tension release.
For me it was more wait a few days for desire to build again, and if any personal issues going on in the relationship that are not being addressed, then sex became a chore.

84

Agree, ciods, regular honest check ins with each other re sex, and all others aspects of an intimacy could be included. Sex isn’t out there on its own, it doesn’t have a separate lane from the other ways couples share their lives. Paying bills, keeping house, cooking meals, looking after children, these are integral parts of a relationship too, and any issues with them will effect sexual behaviour. Who wants to have sex with someone not pulling their weight?

85

I’m not on any meds, except for statins. Never been on birth control because who knows what those meds do to the body, past stopping pregnancy. Now @69, my desire is still alive and well. And takes two seconds into self pleasuring to get into it, must be the wrist action. Or the compliant men in my head.

87

Mr. Venn @60: I would love to see you adopt that avatar. You're the only person I know who ever interacted with the incredible Mr. Crisp, who informed my teenage perspective on what it takes to be a man.

88

Anarcissie @73 - your story is so odd to me, because PIV has never led to orgasm for me (I get mine from direct stimulation, usually with a vibrator), and yet when I'm feeling less interested, it's way easier to receive PIV than to give a blow job.

I wonder if the person in your story had pain with PIV, and whether she tried lube or estrogen estrogen suppositories before giving up.

That said, I'm in complete agreement with your suggestion (which is also Dan's suggestion) that people expand their definitions of sex in hopes of finding activities which are manageable for the low libido partner and still scratch the sexual itch of the high libido partner. Just like non-het couples find non-PIV sex to be satisfying, I think many het couples would benefit from learning similar strategies before years of resentment and physical estrangement set in.

89

Ms Ods - I shouldn't want to answer for the DS male libido, which could be as predictable as a French Open final or semifinal contested by Sr Nadal.

I've found the gay libido to be about as unpredictable as the performance of Hr Wawrinka, though I suppose others will have had different experiences.
xxx
Ms Cute - Add that what one thinks one will want to do under condition X well beforehand and what one wants once X is real will often vastly differ.

This thread is making me think of David Rees' last novel, but I want to reflect on it overnight.

90

Mr Bar - Quite a kind thought, though the idea seems to hold shades of Icarus.

91

@90 venn
"the idea seems to hold shades of Icarus"

I think this is different than what Icarus did precisely because you're not unilaterally choosing the avatar for yourself, you'd be just agreeing to let us say we think you deserve to, and we want you, to use it.

While the one could be arrogance, the other could simply be gracefully accepting our esteem and the compliment.

92

Too busy today to do this discussion justice. But just wanted to endorse ciods's recommendation of regular conversations, not just up-front ones. I recently had to tell my partner that perimenopause is wreaking havoc on my hormones and I just wasn't feeling it, and he was sympathetic and understanding. Whereas if I hadn't brought it up, he might have thought I was experiencing seven year itch, wasn't attracted to him, etc. And I told him that what he previously considered flirtatious was now coming across as pressure, so please lay off. And he did, and surprise surprise, I'm more predisposed to round "meh" up than I would have been if it felt like a "wifely duty." My mojo may not be at 100% but it's much higher than it would have been if I'd kept this to myself. Thanks to years of SL for giving me the tools to have that conversation.

Also, no, of course it's not practical to avoid commitment for 7+ years in case the seven year itch happens. The seven year itch is a thing, but it's relatively rare. Whereas NRE is nearly universal and therefore predictable. Avoiding marriage in the first -two- years is far more workable, and wise from a non-sexual perspective too, since two years isn't really long enough to get to know someone well enough to commit the rest of one's life. IMO.

Marquis, sorry you tried to do everything right re having the conversation, and wishful thinking got in the way! I do think this self-knowledge gets much easier with age. Which does not help the 20- and 30-somethings trying to figure this out. Perhaps we just have to add libido changes to death and taxes on the list of things that are unfortunate but inevitable.

93

Fubar, "I'm surprised that Dan didn't suggest the obvious solution to this, which is, of course, outsourcing the sex your partner is not interested in having."
He did try a hookup. Cheating didn't work, now he's the "bad guy". If he would have talked about the problem before cheating, really complained and let his wife know exactly how frustrated he felt, told her what she could do to help, asked really nicely for this help, "had that difficult conversation".. an open relationship may have been a feasible negotiation especially if she refused to help otherwise. Or maybe not, he'll never know now.

BDF, "What makes him think that the outcome would have been any different if they'd had this conversation earlier?"
Because his wife would have more motivation to address marital difficulties before he had broken faith. It's harder to try to satisfy a needy partner after they have deeply hurt you. Now he is asking for forgiveness as well as for increased sex. He missed the opportunity to ask for or demand more sexual initiation or responsiveness from the moral high ground. He might not be getting any sex anymore, and his wife has reason to feel that is just revenge, or a natural prelude to divorce, rather than unreasonable or mean. If he tries to make it up to her and she is stuck in resentment, yes that's her weakness, as cheating was his weakness.. Not ideal but somewhat understandable.. Affairs, abuse, and addiction are the modern socially sanctioned reasons for divorce..

I'm just not sure why he thinks this problem won't appear in his next relationship. I think he should try to keep listening to her problems and asking if he can help, and keep telling her that he wants help with their sex problems, at least for a couple years, before deciding to give up. If he still thinks he's in love with her.

And I do agree with Dan that people should be more forgiving of affairs. And protect themselves from abuse without divorcing, even if they have to live apart. And help a partner with addiction or poor mental or physical health without divorcing (even if they have to live apart). Because I don't think people should divorce as long as they love each other. But lots of people still divorce anyway, and for other "lesser" reasons like boredom, that is our reality.. But I still see divorce as "falling out of love", and filing for divorce as a sign of an intolerant heart.

People who claim to be in love with their spouse but still file for divorce seem insane to me. Or like they can't protect themselves from their spouse well enough, if they feel they have to divorce to survive..

Cheating is the last resort to protect yourself against a spouse who won't consent to sex but demands monogamy.. But I think usually people fall out of love while trying everything else first, and might as well divorce by that point.. unless they are staying for some altruistic way of caring for a spouse or kids in a sexless marriage..

This was an interesting letter for Dan to publish, about how cheating can backfire.. I hope he's thought twice about advising spouses to cheat before asking for an honest open marriage, or before the marriage becomes sexless..

94

"So maybe give your BALLS A BREAK until after the pandemic is over and then GO NUTS."

Mr. Savage, I see what you did there. Well played, sir! Well played!

95

Philophile @93 "People who claim to be in love with their spouse but still file for divorce seem insane to me."

Love doesn't fix incompatibilities. I think it's quite reasonable to divorce someone you love if you want to be disentangled from their debts, or their addiction issues, or their kink proclivities, or whatever. Also if you're monogamous and want to be free to marry someone more compatible.

96

It seems to me that if people had a good sex life at the beginning, that is proof they can create a good sex life if they both try. If one insists on cheating, or that their partner be celibate (if they are unwilling to have sex and unwilling to open the relationship), that person has stopped trying and it is hopeless.

Why be angry about libido changes, health problems, or any other unfortunate part of reality? These are not good reasons to give up trying to get what we want, simply obstacles. Maybe you have to massage a partner for an hour before you can get sex. So? Someone else has to massage their partner for two hours to get sex. Or wear a bunny costume or diapers or worse.

The LWs who have cheated and got caught and aren't dealing with the divorce well seem like cake eaters. Sex wasn't important enough to keep trying different things to woo their partner until they were ready to divorce, but it was important enough to cheat and make a messier divorce?

OMO seems to regret cheating and realize that horniness wasn't a great excuse to cheat rather than divorce.. Maybe they can work through the betrayal and the sex conflict before he is comfortable leaving, it doesn't sound completely hopeless to me.

97

Erica, it's fine to divorce for whatever reason you want! But I don't think anyone has to get a divorce if they are still in love with their spouse, even if their is an affair, or abuse, or addiction.

I don't understand people who act like they have to get a divorce even though they are in love with their spouse, who try to blame their spouse for the fact they've given up. I respect people who have gotten divorced because "I made a premature commitment" or because "we grew apart", who take responsibility for giving up on their marriage and divorcing. "I couldn't survive with this marriage" sounds like someone who can't protect themselves well enough, it scares me when they act like that's OK. "Because spouse was a jerk" is a similar evasion of responsibility.

98

@BDF Thanks for articulating how "arousal noncompliance" can work out in a non-creepy way! As I was trying to explain Ms Nagoski's book, I thought I'd hate it if it sounded like "women put up with sex for teh menz". I don't think that was what she was saying, and both parties get something from this sort of sexual negotiation.

The bloke trying not to demand her response is key, though.

99

Woofb: I like Nagoski's practical and science-based approach. She's also hilarious.

100

curious @78: we could come up with a plugin convention for emphasis that would bypass the regular SLOG input filters. For example YOWZA to underline things.

101

Well, it stripped away my underscores, so that won't work.

102

Whoops. I landed on the hunsky.So I bequeath the honours to whoever is next, unless it's you-know-whi.