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.

One-Sided Pleasure

My blogroll is populated with weird posts today. What is it, winter avitaminosis? See this one, for instance:

I’m willing to bet more women have felt guilted or pressured into sex acts they didn’t want, than men have felt pressured into pleasuring women without getting off themselves.

Of course, this blogger is willing to bet since this kind of statement can neither be proven or disproven. Remember, folks, when you say such things, you reveal nothing about society or gender relations. You do, however, reveal a lot about your own pathetic sex lives. Either have the honesty and the courage to write about your own experiences, or keep these useless generalizations to yourselves.

See more from the same post:

We’re still socialized to accept, to say yes, to not rock the boat so as to avoid the perennial sulking, scowling and cold shoulder from male partners that result from our setting boundaries.

Why not just say, “My male partners tend to sulk and scowl, and I have no idea how to deal with it”?

Also, why resort to this weird generalization about some mythical “we” who are socialized into accepting any form of sexual activity that men propose? Does anybody really have the experience of Mommy and Daddy lecturing her at the age of 5 (15, 25), “Sweetie, when you grow up and your boyfriend wants anal sex, oral sex, group sex, BDSM, golden shower, or any form of sex you don’t feel like engaging in, remember that, as a woman, you need to accept it to prevent the guy from sulking. Remember, honey, just say yes to any male suggestion of sex, OK?”

Can you imagine a patriarch telling his teenage daughter, “You have refused to engage in acts of coprophilia that your boyfriend suggested? How could you? Didn’t I spend my entire life teaching you to just say yes? You are no daughter of mine!”

Seriously? Women are socialized to ACCEPT sex? Where does that happen? I live in a society where young women get are endless exhortations to wait, to say no for as long as possible, only to have sex when they are absolutely, completely, totally sure that it’s time. Female sexuality is discussed in terms of a precious gift, while male sexuality is not.

When we say “no”, we are “uncool”, and this is the ultimate female sin; whereas when a man refuses a woman, the universal assumption is that once again, the woman is the one who is deficient, who fails to please, who isn’t up to snuff.

This is just too bizarre. One of the central patriarchal myths is that a healthy male sexuality is capable of performing anytime, anywhere, with any one, while female sexuality is selective and delicate. A man who refuses sex will, in all probability, be branded as impotent and ridiculed by his own buddies. In the meanwhile, a woman who does not refuse sex will be branded as a slut by hers.

As an extra bonus, I suggest that those valiant people who manage to wade through the confusing post I quoted here count the number of instances where the passive voice is used and “society” is invoked. And we all know what that kind of writing means, don’t we?

Patriarchy and Men

If you think being a man in a profoundly patriarchal society is easy, think again. I’ve been listening to the Russian radio again and I almost choked on my pomegranate juice when I heard a man announce in a very intimidating and tragic voice:

“Does it sometimes take you more than ten minutes after you’ve had sex to prepare for the next sex act?? If so, you have erectile dysfunction! And you need to take care of it now, before things get worse!”

By things getting worse, the radio host must have meant that it takes some people – oh, horror! – as much as 20 minutes to prepare for the next sex act. And those who need a couple of hours (or days) must be hopeless invalids.

Seriously, is there anybody older than 18 who never needs more than 10 minutes between sex acts?

And I’m not even starting on the issue of how many people have trouble finding any partner, let alone one who’d be willing to go again ten minutes after sex.

Even people who are extremely healthy can be bullied straight into an erectile dysfunction by such announcements if they hear them often enough.

Who Needs a Lockbox Instead of a Vagina?

A very convincing argument (albeit an unintended one) in favor of elective C-section:

 I don’t think I adequately appreciated the ways that the juggernaut of childbirth could transform a woman’s relationship with her vagina, altering her entire body’s feelings about her pelvis and genitals.

See, by Sunday afternoon I was thinking clearly enough to notice a kind of “POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS” mental block around my entire pelvis. My brain was definitely in self-protection mode, after just the small, brief trauma of having the uterus penetrated with something less than half an inch in diameter.

With childbirth, the fundamental MEANING of those body parts would change, from sexual to… well, women with different cultural backgrounds/baggage would construct different narratives to account for it, but essentially, they’d be transformed into a lockbox.

For a sexually healthy woman who perceives her genitals as, first and foremost, a source of sexual fulfillment, the prospect of her vagina turning into a lockbox surrounded by a police line is horrifying.

Of course, the number of women who derive no enjoyment from sex and who will gladly offer up their vaginas to be shredded to bits in order to have some sensation in their genitals for once is huge. This means that vaginal childbirth will never go out of fashion.

How Often Do People Think About Sex?

Since people are writing in to ask, I will answer right here: no, I’m not planning to blog about this so-called “study” on how often people think about sex and what this means in terms of gender. I’m also not planning to link to it or analyze it. And I’m not going to do those things because the study is stupid. And the attention it’s getting from bloggers and journalists is evidence of deeply unhealthy attitudes to sexuality in this society.

I’m very interested in how people think. For years, I’ve been bugging everybody I know with questions as to how their thinking process is organized. I discovered that most people don’t think in complete sentences. Often, people’s thoughts take the form of images. Instead of telling themselves, “I need to go to work now”, they have an image of themselves going to work. Some people have a sort of a movie playing in their heads all the time.

Other people think in fragments of sentences and images. Some, like myself, think in the form of dialogues. I always choose somebody I’m speaking to in my head and orchestrate conversations with them. This can be a person I know, a character from a book, the readers of my blog, my students, etc.

There are people whose thinking is based on associations. They see something that reminds them of whatever that immediately reminds them of something else. Breaking down such a rapid process of generating associations and calculating its ingredients is next to impossible.

I’m sure there are many other ways in which people generate thoughts. However, it is really hard for me to imagine that the majority of people on this planet have complete, identifiable, easy-to-count thoughts of the “I need to have sex now” or “Sex is good” variety.

Physiological drives that this “study” attempts to quantify (food, sleep and sexual desire) are, by their very nature, not quantifiable. I couldn’t count how many times a day I think about these things because I can’t say that I have separate, concrete thoughts about these needs that could be counted. When I’m sleep-deprived (like I have been this week, for example), I can’t say that the number of “thoughts” I have about sleep increases. I slow down, my reactions are less sharp, I get irritable and drink too much coffee. I also have less thoughts about anything because my energy is low.

Only a very profound fear of sexuality would suggest to anybody that the number of sex-related thoughts is evidence of anything. An even more profound terror of sexuality is required to believe that you can quantify those thoughts and use those numbers as basis for any sort of analysis.

This obsession with quantifying the unquantifiable is really getting to me, people.

Snuff Sites

Reader el asked me to comment on the following article about people who visit snuff sites:

Some men get erotic thrills from seeing nude young women shot, stabbed, pierced by spears and arrows, or killed in a variety of other ways. And a remarkably large Internet industry has arisen to serve this craving.

All I can say is that the desire to analyze people’s sexual fantasies without being qualified as a psychoanalyst is evidence of wanting to convince the internal censor that one’s own sexuality is “good” and acceptable.

While people engage in consensual activities with other adults, why should any one care how they get off? And if you do care, please remember that, no matter how tame and mainstream your sexual fantasies are, there is a possibility that somebody might find them freaky and scary. Policing people’s fantasies and trying to assign meaning to them is a sign of one’s profound discomfort with one’s own sexuality and the attendant feelings of guilt. Such feelings get assuaged momentarily by pointing an accusatory finger at others, “Look, those folks are really messed up! Let’s concentrate on excoriating them in hopes of convincing ourselves that our sexuality is not as threatening as we perceive it to be.”

I remember how once I was eating my lunch at the office I then shared with several other people. “Wow, you must really love oral sex!” a colleague exclaimed very loudly. Of course, I almost choked on my food.

“Where on Earth did that come from?” I asked.

“Well, you always have either a cucumber or a banana in your lunch bag**,” she announced happily.

Writers of articles like the one quoted above remind me of this colleague.


** Hypertensives love cucumbers because cucumbers are watery and refreshing. They also allow us to wash excessive sodium out of our bodies. As for bananas, I’m not a huge fan. They were simply the cheapest fruit available at that time and I was skint.

Co-Sleeping as a Form of Child Abuse

I want to warn everybody that this is a sensitive topic for me. So I kindly ask people not to be jerks in their comments. If you have a burning need to share the story of how you sleep in the same bed with your child and that child totally digs it, I ask you to take this story elsewhere. Here, it will bring you no applause. 

Every form of emotional abuse of children comes out of the parental incapacity to see children as separate human beings. There is nothing more dangerous to a child’s psyche than a parent who sees that child as an extension of him or herself. Parents often invade the personal space of their children in ways they would have never allowed themselves to employ in respect to other adults. Putting children to sleep in the same bed with themselves is one of the most egregious invasions of a child’s personal space that a parent can come up with.

Children start exploring their bodies and masturbating early in life. Obviously, it cannot be very healthy for a person’s developing sexuality to experience his or her first instances of sexual arousal in the same bed with the parents.

At the same time, adults normally have erotic dreams. (Whether you remember them or not is, of course, completely immaterial.) It is also hardly a good thing for a child to wake up and observe a parent who is orgasming in his or her sleep.

One of the greatest challenges on the road to a healthy sexuality for both men and women is to learn to select partners exclusively on the basis of their own sexual desire. Parents who drag children into bed with them exercise their authority over the children in order to service their own tactile needs. Later on in life, such children have absolutely no idea how to reject unwanted tactile contacts.

There is a mile-long list of justifications parents who practice the so-called co-sleeping have come up with to excuse their invasion of the personal space of their miserable children. I read such lists a couple of times and they made my hair stand on end. There are people who seriously say that sleeping with children is acceptable because it allows them to save on heating. Truly, the hypocrisy of child abusers knows no bounds.

The only real reason why adults drag children into bed with them is because they are incapable of developing a relationship with another adult(s) to satisfy their tactile needs. To put it bluntly, they can’t persuade anybody to touch them as much as they need and to share personal space with them, so they use the only people who cannot refuse them, their unfortunate children. And if those children then have to spend the rest of their lives trying to deal with the emotional and sexual problems they develop as a result, who cares?

I know that this post will make many people very angry. But as long as there is a tiniest chance that I might persuade at least one person to get out of his or her child’s bed, I have to use it.

Why Do Many Older Men Chase After Much Younger Women?

Articles and blog posts that attempt to answer this question appear on a regular basis. The explanation they provide for this phenomenon is usually an exercise in inanity of major proportions. Here is the most recent example:

The obvious question is why so few men are interested in dating women their own age. . . The reasons older men chase younger women have less to do with sex and everything to do with a profound desire to reassure ourselves that we’ve still got “it.” “It” isn’t just physical attractiveness; “it” is the whole masculine package of youth, vitality, and, above all else,possibility. It’s not that women our own age are less attractive, it’s that they lack the culturally-based power to reassure our fragile, aging egos that we are still hot and hip and filled with potential.  Inspiring desire in women young enough to be our daughters becomes the most potent of all anti-aging remedies, particularly when we can show off our much younger dates to our peers.

Leave it to somebody born and raised in a Puritanical society to get into a rush to reassure everybody that relationships between men and women cannot possibly be based on anything related to human sexuality.

So let us cut through this pseudo-psychological blabber about peers and egos and look for the real reasons behind this phenomenon that Hugo Schwyzer, the author of this article, chose to ignore.

The sad truth about sexual desire is that, in terms of age, it does not develop equally in men and women. Men normally experience the peak of their sexuality in their twenties, at the latest. In the meanwhile, their 20-year-old female peers are not all that interested in sex. For a variety of cultural and physiological reasons, female sexuality awakens and reaches its peak much later. Forty and fifty-year old women are significantly more interested in sex than 20-year-olds.

Male sexuality, however, begins to fade in men’s late forties and fifties. The reasons for that are also socially constructed to a great degree, and we can discuss that later if people are interested. So where does a man go when he realizes that he cannot satisfy the sexual demands of his female peers? Obviously, he often turns to 20-year-old women who don’t need or want a lot of sex. Relationships with much younger women are simply a way for many men to conceal from themselves and women of their age the waning sexual potency they often experience as they move into their 50s and 60s.

P.S. I hope it’s clear from the post that I’m not talking about situations when a man falls in love with a woman who happens to be younger. I’m talking specifically about cases where a man chases after women (plural) and a defining criterion of his search for a partner is that the partner should be younger.

How can I develop a healthy, happy, exuberant sexuality?

A reader asks:

How can I develop a healthy, happy, exuberant sexuality?

Here is a very brief (because I’ve been working for 12 hours straight today and I’m exhausted) set of suggestions for people who have the same question:

The first step is look at the things that have prevented you from developing in the direction of sexual health. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you learn about sexuality?
  • Were there any early traumatic experiences?
  • What words were used in your family to discuss sex?
  • When did you realize you were a boy / girl? How did it make you feel? What set of characteristics was associated with this gender in your family? With gender relations in general?
  • What early images do you associate with sexuality?
  • How comfortable are you with your body? How happy are you with your body?
  •  Looking at yourself in the mirror naked, does that give you pleasure or not?
  • Were there any traumatic sexual experiences in adulthood? Sexual rejection, sexual failure, etc.
  • Do you have religious conditioning that makes you see sex as dirty, etc.?
  • Health issues?

Obviously, I’m not suggesting you tell me all these things. This is for your own personal consideration. This is crucial process because without understanding the causes of the problem, one can’t hope to address it.

Then the next step is to learn to feel comfortable with your body. Here are some of the things you can start doing on a regular basis:

  • Walking around the house (if you live alone) naked for 1 hour each day does wonders for people. I’ve seen it happen: completely anorgasmic people turn into wildly sexual creatures.
  • Explore sensual experiences. Dedicate an entire night once a week to enjoying every sensual experience you can imagine on your own.
  • Make a list of bodily pleasures you can enjoy (alone is fine at this stage) and enjoy at least one of them once a day.
  • Spend some time each day caressing your face gently while looking in the mirror. If you feel weird doing all those things, you have found the root of the problem: it’s discomfort with your body. Start proceeding in smaller steps to reduce the feelings of weirdness. Five, ten minutes per day. Then, when the feelings of embarrassment diminish, it can be done for longer stretches of time.

A healthy self-esteem is crucial for sexual success. If you have low self-esteem:

  • Analyze when and how it originated. Who made you feel like you were not good enough since early childhood?
  • Remove as many sources as possible of low self-esteem from your life. If, say, you have a friend who likes to put your down or make little criticisms of your appearance, intelligence, etc., the best thing to do would be to stop seeing them, at least for a while. If you have many friends like this, ask yourself what makes you seek reinforcement of your low self-image.
  • Find activities that make you feel good about yourself and in which you excel. If there are people who criticize you for enjoying these activities, try to avoid these people, at least for now.
  • I know it will be difficult at first (believe me, I really, really know) but whenever somebody is critical of you and tries to put you down, you need to stop listening. It’s like medication that is bitter but you have to take it.

Of course, this is just a beginning but it’s a good beginning.

Maybe I’ll write more about this when I’m less tired.

Paying for Lack of Sex

Here is an article I just found:

The 51-year-old man was fined under article 215 of France’s civil code, which states married couples must agree to a “shared communal life”.

A judge has now ruled that this law implies that “sexual relations must form part of a marriage”.

The rare legal decision came after the wife filed for divorce two years ago, blaming the break-up on her husband’s lack of activity in the bedroom.

A judge in Nice, southern France, then granted the divorce and ruled the husband named only as Jean-Louis B. was solely responsible for the split.

But the 47-year-old ex-wife then took him back to court demanding 10,000 euros in compensation for “lack of sex over 21 years of marriage”

All I can say is ONLY 10,000 euros?? For 21 horrible years of sexual nothingness? The damage that has been done to this woman’s health and psychological well-being by this travesty of a marriage can’t even remotely be addressed by this puny sum.

Of course, it isn’t the husband who needs to be sued, though. The ex-wife in question should find people who raised her in the belief that staying in a sexless relationship for convenience-sake and then demanding money for lack of sexual fulfillment is a normal approach to one’s sexuality. She also needs to ask herself whose fault it is that she never tried to work on her severe sexual and psychological issues and, instead, made a business out of selling her sexual life or lack thereof. If even at the age of 47 she can’t take responsibility for her own weird choices and wants somebody to pay her for their consequences, what future does she have?

What is positive, however, is that the idea that a healthy sex life is crucial to one’s well-being is gaining ground.