Why Should My Partner Want to Have Sex With Me?

I have to confess, folks, the following line of argument scares the living bejeesus out of me:

The great sex therapist, David Schnarch, writes in his Passionate Marriage (the best sex advice book for couples in long-term relationships I’ve ever seen) that we do well to avoid the question “Why doesn’t my wife (or my husband, or my bf, gf, what-have-you) want to have sex with me?” The whole structure of the question, Schnarch says, misses the point. It assumes a strong libido is the default setting in any romantic relationship. Rather, we should ask “Why should my partner want to have sex with me?” And also “Why do I really want to have sex with him or her?”

I know there are huge fans of Schnarch hanging around this blog (wink, wink), but, with all due respect, seriously? To me, this entire paragraph sounds like all shades of crazy. What is this “strong libido” thing even supposed to mean?

The way I see it, the only possibility of coexisting happily, joyfully and peacefully with another person is predicated on a profound mutual sexual attraction. If that overpowering physical desire is not there, people will just eat each other alive because of their small quirks and differences. (Or will become so emotionally distanced as to turn into de facto roommates.)

I know I’m super annoying as a partner. I blab on the phone with my sister for hours every day, I’m messy, I cover every area of the apartment with cups of unfinished beverages, I overspend and go on and on about how guilty it makes me feel. Probably, one could see N. as annoying, too. He plays Call of Duty until very late at night every night and then he is cranky and exhausted on the next day.

We never get annoyed with each other, though. Everything he does looks indescribably attractive to me. And he feels the same about me, of course. The reason why we cherish every aspect of each other’s being is our boundless sexual passion for each other. There hasn’t been a single moment in our relationship when I did not passionately desire him.

Desiring a person doesn’t, of course, mean being able to perform sexually at every point. Everybody is human. People get sick, exhausted, whatever. But incapacity to perform right at this very moment does not translate into an absence of desire.

So to answer the title question of this post, “Why should my partner want to have sex with me?”: because if he doesn’t, this means he doesn’t love me. If this ever happens to me in my relationship, I will know that it’s time to move on and let him find a person he will really love.

I believe that if it comes to the point of “Why doesn’t my wife (or my husband, or my bf, gf, what-have-you) want to have sex with me?” (emphasis mine), as opposed to “Of course, he desires me passionately but just can’t perform a traditional, full-blown sex act right now because of health / exhaustion / whatever else”, this is the end of a romantic relationship as I see it.

If you want a really stupid piece of writing on the subject from one Amanda Marcotte, however, here is an excerpt:

It’s an indicator of how male-dominated our society is that the fact that women have diminishing libidos and don’t seem to care that much about it is treated as the problem, when in fact it’s merely the symptom of a larger problem–that women feel overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, understimulated, and shamed about their bodies. If we treated the actual problems that women face, higher libidos would be the happy result, I’m sure.

Got it? Women feel sexual desire in response to being paid more money and being given more help, encouragement, and compliments. From men, as far as I can gather. This is what passes for mainstream feminism this days, folks. Give her a huge cash gift, pay for a nanny and a housekeeper, praise her, and her desire for you – or for somebody – will shoot straight up. The possibility of women experiencing sexual desire as a basic human need is not even discussed. Just substitute any other basic physiological necessity for sexual desire in this paragraph (eating, sleeping, excreting, etc.) and see how much sense it makes to analyze one’s hunger or need for sleep in terms if one has been “appreciated” enough.

As I said before, I’m yet to meet a male chauvinist pig who can manage to make me feel as humiliated as some feminists do.

36 thoughts on “Why Should My Partner Want to Have Sex With Me?”

  1. Fan of Schnarch says: do you remember the following joke:
    One man: “Everybody are fans of Caruso, all I hear is Caruso this, Caruso that… What is the big deal?”
    Second man: “Have you actually heard Caruso singing?”
    First man” “No, but Rabinovitz sang me a couple of Caruso’s songs”
    🙂 🙂
    On a serious note, whoever you are citing (or maybe even you 🙂 ) took the phrase out of context. It is supposed to mean that sometimes the desire for sex comes not from the best of us, and it would be worthwhile to ask oneself, sometimes, especially if there are some problems in the relationship, sexual or otherwise, if this is the case.
    And Schnarch is gender-neutral in this respect, he does not presume women naturally have less desire than men.

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    1. I accept the authority of our resident specialist on Schnarch and withdraw my comments about this psychologist. It’s funny, though, that this is the quote from him that has been taken out of context and for this purpose, too.

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      1. Well, after reading Hugo’s piece I must say that it was Hugo who did “taking out of context” and you who contributed rightful indignation. 🙂 . Because it would be a mistake to assume that you and Schnarch would actually 100% agree with each other if only you would interpret him correctly, not via Hugo’s lens.
        According to Schnarch, biological part of the sex drive, the “pure chemistry without psychology”, is just a part. The desire for sex with one’s partner is also affected by individual-psychological, relationship-psychological, and cultural factors (including widely popular beliefs ranging from gender stereotypes to “sex is a natural function (and this is all there is to it)” 🙂 wink). With psychological factors being strong enough to override and inhibit otherwise biologically healthy desire.
        As far as I understand, Schnarch’s intention for introducing this kind of framework was to make people think of the interrelations of all these factors in all their complexity, not to explain why tired and overworked people do not want to have sex. To look at the actual sources of sexual problems people have, as opposed to “the chemistry is gone, therefore I do not love him any more” or “this is a medical problem, not psychological one (because I am not willing to look at it as a psychological one, I just want a pill)”. Although, of course, one could argue that partner not participating enough in household chores, and another partner being overworked and angry, is a relationship problem which can affect overall level of desire, this scenario was never Schnarch’s *focus*. So Hugo has been shifting accents somewhat (he must have been worried about his and his wife’s temporary lack of libido?), and invoking Marcotte to shift the accent further…

        By the way, if you (or someone else) are interested, there is a good book on male sexuality from a psychoanalytic perspective by Michael Bader.

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        1. “Well, after reading Hugo’s piece I must say that it was Hugo who did “taking out of context” and you who contributed rightful indignation.”

          – Indignation is what I do best. 🙂 You haven’t commented on the blog for a while and you knew that mentioning Schnarch would tease you out of hiding. 🙂

          Is the book by Bader that you recommend titled Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It-And Men Don’t Either? It sounds very interesting and is available on Kindle, so I think I will be reading it. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  2. I suspect that the problem Marcotte is addressing is that the relationship is one-way, and the woman feels used. If the man isn’t considering her needs, and expects her to perform on demand even if she has been up all night with a sick child, what do you expect? A lot of American men see it as their prerogative to sit on their duffs and watch TV while the wife works a second shift of housework and childcare. That situation is MUCH different from the situation where husband and wife both dig in to do the necessary family chores, in a team spirit. I am somewhat surprised at your response – I thought that many Slavic men refused to help with household and child care duties.

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    1. ” I thought that many Slavic men refused to help with household and child care duties.”

      – They also have to be badgered and nagged by their wives to have sex at least once a month.

      ” If the man isn’t considering her needs, and expects her to perform on demand even if she has been up all night with a sick child, what do you expect? A lot of American men see it as their prerogative to sit on their duffs and watch TV while the wife works a second shift of housework and childcare.”

      – I expect that no person in their right mind would get involved with such a creep, let alone decide to have his child. Why, on God’s green earth, would anybody want to keep such a loser around?

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  3. People keep on telling me that sex isn’t the main thing in a marriage, there are lots of reasons to be married other than sex, etc. I don’t buy it – nor do I buy living together if not for sex, either – but I am told my views are idealistic / eccentric / immature / etc.

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  4. Well I am impressed with you. I am deeply in love with my partner and find him ridiculously attractive. But he does annoy me sometimes. 😉

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  5. Well, I thought Marcotte’s point there was that libido is responsive in women as well as men, to what else is going on in their emotional/psychological and social sphere. I don’t think that’s controversial. What I’m not sure about is the wider point of whether current American societal arrangements are creating the sort of pressures specifically in women that contribute to loss of libido; both from aspect that I’m not sure there is a loss of libido problem, and if there is, that I’m not sure that this is female specific issue.

    I do actively disagree on this point though: “The way I see it, the only possibility of coexisting happily, joyfully and peacefully with another person is predicated on a profound mutual sexual attraction. If that overpowering physical desire is not there, people will just eat each other alive because of their small quirks and differences. (Or will become so emotionally distanced as to turn into de facto roommates.)”

    I think it’s possible to have a deeply felt and overpowering love that is essentially asexual without it being emotionally detached – but I’d agree strong sexual attraction makes it easier to compromise/ignore the flaws in a relationship. I also doubt the viability in a relationship where the parties are not evenly matched in this matter – either both should be asexual or neither, although I suppose a poly-amorous relationship could help to balance the relationship. Again though, I think polyamory is likely to be emotionally harder work to sustain.

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    1. “I think it’s possible to have a deeply felt and overpowering love that is essentially asexual without it being emotionally detached”

      – Here is the thing, though. I have such love for my sister. We are so emotionally plugged into each other that when I hurt my knee in St. Louis, she gets a bruise on hers in Montreal. When living together, however, as we both grew up and became full-fledged adults, we first turned into an endlessly bickering duo and then started to withdraw emotionally. Until I finally moved out.

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      1. I never said that sex doesn’t matter at all nor do I feel sex is evil. It’s just not a chronic focus. If you enjoy another activity together–such as hiking or sports and spend a day enjoying each other’s company and sexual intimacy is a natural result of that interaction–I feel that is a lot more fulfulling than I’m upset about this or mad about that and I’m entitled to a fuck…I’m going to throw a hissy fit if I don’t get a fuck or please allow me to fuck away my feelings–a comment Hugo once made on his blog.

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        1. If people are routinely sexually unfulfilled, they will become hopeless, miserable hysterics who will make everybody’s lives hell. Let’s not pretend like there is somebody who doesn’t know this.

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    2. “I think it’s possible to have a deeply felt and overpowering love that is essentially asexual without it being emotionally detached – but I’d agree strong sexual attraction makes it easier to compromise/ignore the flaws in a relationship.”

      I agree with this statement. It’s where relationships tend to sour and go south, especially when the attachment’s people form are superficially focused–people’s strong sexual attraction and ignoring relationship issues. When the relationship grows and issues start to arise–it starts to become difficult to ignore some of those issues and then the relationship can no longer be sustained by just sexual attractivity. In my experience people’s relationships tend to crash and burn. If they have a poor attachment style and communication skill set, then their relationships tend to die quickly–sexual attractivity cannot survive such flaws in a relationship.

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      1. There are couples who bicker for year about such super profound thing as who squeezes the toothpaste tube the right way and who leaves the toilet seat up. That’s because they stopped concentrating on the superficial sex part, I guess, and have arrived at the really profound focus of their attachment. And which superficial sexual attraction can survive such a huge flaw as the wrong way to use toothpaste?

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      2. They get into such arguments because of other issues that they are avoiding and it isn’t because of sex. It could be about money or in-laws or other issues that they are not talking about or are avoiding.

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        1. “They get into such arguments because of other issues that they are avoiding and it isn’t because of sex. It could be about money or in-laws or other issues that they are not talking about or are avoiding.”

          – Not necessarily. It just might be that people bug each other. Living in close proximity to someone is hard because they have their own way of doing things and that might start getting on one’s nerves. The only way of smoothing those natural differences is through sexual passion.

          I should get used, though, to how every time I mention something along the lines of “sexual fulfillment is crucial”, there will be endless crowds of people passionately arguing that sex doesn’t matter at all.

          I just need to repeat to myself 20 times every morning “Legacy of the puritans, legacy of the puritans” or I tend to forget that on this continent, sex is evil and wanting sex is even more evil. It has all been explained long before me by one of the greatest American writers. Highly recommended to anybody who is still perplexed by the knee-jerk negative reaction to sex one so often observes among Americans.

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  6. @ David Bellamy. I won’t speak for all women. But I can say with assurance that plenty of women passionately desire the men they live with.

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  7. I think there is at least 3 different kinds of sex. Which seems to fit the question of why your partner wants sex. In my view of experience there is nurturing sex which I think of as romantic sex, playful expectant quirky that can include fantasy and fetish which I think is what most people want and pursue. Natural biological sex, I found over years that my libido was highest when my partner was ovulating, and maintenance sex which is just tension release from aggression. But hey thats me, I’ve never enjoyed monetized puritan ethical sex based on trade sanctions amd blockades. It always left me wondering whether sex included libido or just liability.

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    1. “and maintenance sex which is just tension release from aggression.”

      This would be a turn-off to me and I wouldn’t call this a relationship–not something that would meet my needs. It would a huge red flag. I would resent someone trying to pound on me for sex so that they could release tension. I believe that there are other healthier forms of “releasing tension” than utilizing another person to provide that release.

      It would definitely cause a lot of anxiety for me, tend to make me feel used, devalued and exploited, if I allowed it. I would feel a definite decrease in desire, even if I had a pre-existing desire for them, towards anyone who would ever attempt to treat me in that way.

      As far as fantasy and fetish goes–that can be a massive libido destroyer too. If people were up front about their expectations and demands–that would be helpful. I find that never tends to happen. People tend to deceive others about their desires, wants and needs and that is why so many people get into trouble.

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      1. I can understand your position on maintenance sex, I put it about equal to fake orgasms and dutiful sex. As far as fan/fet I think most relationships never achieve that level of intimacy. As a man I would say that just about all the women I’ve been with do sex like some kind of gender obligation. I don’t consider obsessing over the first three inches to be an intimate relationship.And yes it would be great if partners could be more forthcoming

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  8. As an asexual (meaning I don’t experience sexual attraction) that line about how it’s the “only way” for a relationship to last really hurts. My partner (not asexual) and I intend to be with each other until the day we die; in fact, at times when I’ve been really depressed (about various things, not necessarily the relationship) and wondering about the future, he has been a wreck thinking I won’t be with him. It can work.

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  9. I should get used, though, to how every time I mention something along the lines of “sexual fulfillment is crucial”, there will be endless crowds of people passionately arguing that sex doesn’t matter at all.

    I’m not passionately arguing that sex doesn’t matter.

    I just need to repeat to myself 20 times every morning “Legacy of the puritans, legacy of the puritans” or I tend to forget that on this continent, sex is evil and wanting sex is even more evil.

    I don’t think sex is evil or wanting sex is even more evil either. I rather enjoy it myself as I’m just so evil. Ha! I have no idea where you would get that idea. Sigh! Obligation sex is not very enjoyable and people pounding on you for sex wouldn’t exactly produce an enthusiastic response either.

    I do agree that I’ve encountered a lot of miserable hysterics, but I’m not so certain their malady is all related to sexual frustration. Just a thought…..Have a very nice evening.

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    1. All relationships have power issues if you take them to bed with you might as well just go to sleep and forget sex. I think when it comes to sex everyone wants to feel like they are chocolate and not broccoli. Strangely even men. As far as Marcotte I don’t think she has a libido more like trade sanctions and embargoes. Its monetized as nothing for nothing.

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  10. I have had a few live-in relationships (including my husband) and I can tell you that what dampens the desire for the live-in companion in my case is always resentment — I feel he is not pulling his weight at home (doing chores etc), or that he is doing something I consider idiotic but cannot make him change (like my husband playing WoW all night and going to work groggy on 2 hours of sleep and snapping at me and the kids due to exhaustion).

    While I may love my live-in partner passionately, sometimes I would just be so pissed at him for the day-to-day thing(s) he does, that anger definitely trumps desire. If this persists long-term, the romantic relationship dies, I believe, and you either bicker or become sexless roommates.

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    1. The above was actually supposed to be a response to David Bellamy’s comment above (about women not desiring who they live with). Not sure why it posted here…

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  11. I hate to say this but this blog is one of the worst ones I have ever read. I could be wrong but Clasissa-you sound like a sheltered young woman from a small town. Am I right? I have been reading your entries from your blog and I can honestly say that you are a male-identified woman. Yes you seem to hate women. Espacially strong,opinionated ones such as feminists. Why can’t you write something positive about us? I have gone to many conventions in large cities and I must say that you are putting down the wrong women. What kind of music do you listen to? Ke$ha? Rap? How do you feel when you watch mtv and a really sexist music video pops up and your bf is sitting there watching it too? Or how about a rape scene on tv? Maybe a cocky male tells you he’d love to fuck your best friend? Or you realize your check is lower than your male friend at work? Think about it..We are the ones defending you!!

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    1. I don’t watch MTV. Or any television at all. Maybe you should stop watching all these rape scenes and try to read a book or two. It’s shameful to be as stupid as you are. Don’t you realize that your love of rape scenes makes their makers and peddlers rich? Just think about it for a moment.

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