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 Post subject: Boring sex
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2018 12:02 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
I feel that partner’s of porn/sex addicts get a bad rap in recovery communities, especially the old excuse that we are either unavailable or unresponsive to our partner’s sexual needs, although most partners will say they were willing and waiting whilst their husband was otherwise engaged. I gave up trying because of being turned down, or worse, trying to have sex with an unenthusiastic man who couldn’t get turned on.

I’ve really tried to work at recovering our sexual relationship but after the first 6 months of what seemed like a genuine reconnection, it became stagnant. The turning point was when I made another discovery and he went into an angry rage and refused to admit to anything. I lost my sexual confidence I don’t know what happened with him, he didn’t have much libido and he developed erectile problems that weren’t a problem until that point. I carried on working on my own sexual recovery after that. I realised that my sexuality belongs to me, not to my husband and not to the relationship. Until then, I didn’t see it that way. When my husband lost all sexual interest in me when he was in his addiction, my sexual feelings shut down completely. After d day, my sexuality was reawakened - for a while - but after that conflict my sexuality retreated. Hence the reason why I worked on it as part of my personal recovery.

I’ve tried and tried to reconnect sexually with my husband. We have sex but it’s not the sex I want not is it the sex I think we could be having. This is how it is. We set aside time for sex, and that’s important. But he expects me to turn up, undress myself as if I’m at a medical appointment and then get into bed with him. And then we go through the same repertoire, more or less. It’s boring and functional.

I’ve read a few books on ‘erotic intelligence’. I’ve tried to initiate conversations about sex. What turns him on? I don’t know. He will say “Isn’t it obvious?” And that’s it. I have beautiful lingerie and stockings, but there’s absolutely no reason to wear it because it makes no difference. He doesn’t want any sort of undressing as part of our lovemaking because he says it’s a “ritual”. I’ve suggested a few “fun” ideas and he’s nixed those. When I suggested massage he said “it sounds disgusting”. I’ve tried to open up conversations about fantasies and he claims not to have any. I’m not suggesting anything extreme or fetishistic, I just want more sensuality, more anticipation and foreplay, more romance, more seduction. Instead I get functional appointment sex. No matter how I open up the conversation, I get nothing out of him. Nothing. In one of the books, one of the early questions is how do you and your partner signal your interest in being sexual? I know that for some it might be candles or music, or with clothing, or perfume. In my relationship he shows no signs whatsoever. I don’t know if he’s interested in having sex or not until I undress myself and get into bed with him. I don’t even know if he’s going to get erect. And now I’m thinking “Is this it?” How bloody boring.

I’m a bit angry because I’ve worked at this. I’ve put the hours in. I’ve invested in myself. I’ve invested in the relationship. I’ve tried to open up the conversations. But my husband is either not that interested or he’s ridiculously inhibited. Throughout our recovery period he’s shown very little concern about my sexual needs. If he claims no libido and no interest in sex for several weeks, he never asks me about my needs. I suspect he has a regular masturbation habit and that he masturbates more frequently than we have sex. He denies he ever masturbates at all, but that’s a lie. It’s not masturbation in itself that’s the concern, it’s that he has a lifetime history of compulsive masturbation. I suspect all his fantasy sex takes place in the guise of masturbation but I’m not privy to this area of his sexuality, because he claims it doesn’t exist. I sometimes wonder if we can ever recover any semblance of a healthy sexual relationship.

I sometimes wonder if this is as good as it gets. I feel that the sexual needs of female partners is the elephant in the room. We are so often maligned as the disinterested partner, we’re either “prudes” or “ice maidens” or old/fat/boring/sexually unadventurous. I know that this is rarely the case. Besides, some of these guys should take a long hard look at themselves and question their own attractiveness as a mate before they use us and our perceived lack as a convenient excuse to act out.

 Post subject: Re: Boring sex
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 10:36 am 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
hi blue,

the topic of sex, and my relationship to it, has seasons for me. It comes and goes for me (in terms of meaning and importance). Of late I've reflected a lot on this, and will share a bit of some new things I sorted out about me, and then what I experience currently in my relationship.

On a cultural, systemic level, I think many of us as women experience very harmful messages about our bodies and sex from the ground up. We may each have different beliefs imprinted on us from our families and peers (I have a friend, for example, who was taught by her very-evangelical parents that she must stay thin to both respect herself AND as a sign of respect for her 'future husband.).

One of the messages engrained in me at some point, mainly from my peers and school, was that only girls/women who have hot bodies are deserving of good sex. That good sex is the reward for being physically desirable. My marriage very much solidified this belief.

I can see all the problems with this belief on a logical level. Even though I can see it clearly now, seeing it does not automatically eradicate the belief.

Recently I watched a tv show about teenagers, and there is an episode where one of the main female characters (a teenager) has her first sexual experiences over the course of a summer, and they are incredibly positive. How it's portrayed, what she experiences, and how she is treated in general by her male partner. He is respectful, he is considerate of her physical needs, and they explore together. And frankly, the whole thing tore me right up.

That's never ever been my experience. Not before my husband, not in my marriage, and not now.

Through my marriage, my many attempts to grow a healthy sexual life between us were rebutted, were not met with an in-kind effort, I internalized this as me not being desirable. I shake my head at the young woman who internalized this but it is what it is, and here we are.

My husband today tends to initiate sex (or, physical sexual connection) more than I do. He is trying: he really is. Objectively I appreciate this and I recognize the growth and maturity it reflects in him. I do believe my husband is trying as best he can with the capacity he has.

But our sex life...I don't know if we'll ever have a healthy, fun, erotic and mutually satisfying sex life. My partner is out of shape and uncreative sexually.

I feel reflective and sad. And i agree with you, blue, that we partners get a terrible rap. No longer do I tolerate that, internally or otherwise: this bad rap is reflective to me of toxic patriarchy and a culture that will protect the sexual proclivities of men over everything else.

To dismiss our sexuality as partners, to label us as prudes, is an extension of that and an unwillingness to see the nuance of our experience: that we are women who very much wanted and desired a full sexual life with our partners and whose needs were consistently cast aside. That would require a mindset of empathy and culturally that's unacceptable. If we look at everything that's come up in the past couple of years on a big scale, we can see that there is a mass culture of men taking, and women being commodities. Our sexually addicted partners thrived in this mindset (thrived in the sense that all the dysfunctional behaviors were positively reinforced by a surrounding culture that never asked of them to consider the needs and desires of women).

I think changing all this, for it to get better, requires a lot of deep and reflective work by our partners. Because external systems support the status quo, they do not have an external motivator to do this work. They have motivators to stop compulsive behaviors to save their marriages, and at some point, those on the road to health do have the motivation to change for themselves, to live a values-driven life. But the motivation to explore a deeper sexuality and a creative sexual expression with their partners that focuses heavily on mutuality? I'm sorry to say I don't know or see where that would come from for many of these guys.

 Post subject: Re: Boring sex
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 9:04 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 190
meep meep, thank you so much for your very thoughtful and insightful reply. You are absolutely correct that female sexuality in the context of our present day sexualised culture is portrayed in a very distorted and unhealthy manner. In its narrow definition, it exists purely in the service of pleasing men. You are very right about this ground up brainwashing that happens too, it’s only the young hot sexy body who has “permission” to be sexual (in the service of men, of ALL ages, of ALL sizes and shapes). There are entire industries set up to serve female bodies for the pleasure of the male population — strip bars, lap dancing clubs, escort agencies, massage parlours) and its even pushed into our homes in the guise of internet pornography and webcam services. It’s not only that, it’s mainstream movies with beautiful sexy actresses in nude/sex scenes and music videos that show what was once called ‘softcore porn’. Billboards, TV ads, magazines, newspapers, wherever you look, it’s the idealised sexualised female body. When you’re married to a sex/porn addict, their drug is everywhere. When my husband couldn’t get his fix, he was on YouTube looking for risqué pop videos and movie clips featuring topless scenes.

As women, all the media aimed at us are basically instruction manuals on ‘how to be a woman’. Look like this (photoshopped images of unreality), don’t look like that (paparazzi shot of flabby celeb), don’t grow old (so use this face cream), don’t get fat (here’s the latest diet). Then there’s constricting shapewear, uncomfortable push up bras, heels that hurt your feet, false lashes, nail extensions, and on and on and on. The overwhelming message is: you can’t possibly be good enough as you are, you must constantly try and fix your flaws, and constantly try to improve yourself, your success in life and love depends on it — and if you fail, you’ll know it’s because you didn’t try hard enough. If you “let yourself go” you’ve only got yourself to blame. And we ALL fail, because we’ve been sold a big lie.

Somehow I made it through adolescence with a positive body image and an ability to enjoy my sexuality through masturbation. When I became sexually active, my own sexual pleasure was definitely on the agenda although it took some time to experience orgasm through partnered sex. I started off doing pretty well in that respect. I enjoyed developing a sexual language with my husband. For many years I thought we had a very positive sexual relationship. Looking back, I think I had a healthy sexuality but my husband developed that ‘splitting off’ of himself into who he was with me and the secret self around about the time we met. The early manifestations were going to watch strippers and going to see adult movies. I don’t know what else went on, not really. The truth is, he had a bit of a porn habit and he had a sort of compulsion to go to strip bars but it all had to be paid for, and it meant having to go some place. It was all kept hidden from me, but even at that time I believed we had great sex and I had a body that turned him on. At that point I still felt good about myself and my sexuality, but I had no clue about what else he was doing.

My husband offered his version of events after d day. He said he was sexually frustrated. It didn’t happen as often as he wanted. So he turned to porn. And then he said that life was difficult for us then. He had a lot of responsibility. He felt lonely and depressed. So he went to a strip bar. I accept some of this is true, but whatever he was feeling at the time he never said anything to me. I was obviously living in a state of blissful ignorance. We saw a marriage counsellor after we both went through a difficult life event, but he said nothing about the porn or the strippers all the time we went. I didn’t know at the time but if I did I would definitely have brought it up. He said he didn’t think it was relevant. Obviously I was never meant to find out and I only discovered about the strippers entirely by chance after d day. I think that was when I suddenly began to pull focus on the situation and see what a fucking mess this “addiction” thing really was. All the years it had been going on, and then seeing this side to him that I didn’t know was there.

Once he was online he couldn’t help himself but go straight to the porn sites, and after that he never really wanted to have sex with me. Yes, I blamed myself. I was by then older than the typical porn woman, so that was the way I internalised it. My body was older and although I knew I was in good shape, I didn’t believe I was good enough any more. That was the beginning of my unraveling. Where were the compliments? There were none. What was happening to our sex life? He was never interested. I’d get up early and he’d be behind closed doors, on the computer. I’d make an effort to make time for sex (and romance), he was always “too tired”. None of this made me feel good about myself. I felt sexless and undesirable. I waited to see if things improved but the situation only became worse. And worse. Failed attempts at sex. It was horrible. There was no connection there, neither physical or emotional. So my libido switched itself off. So… at last… he finally could say I was never interested. Yes, after 10 years of him having sex with a computer screen I gave up. But it wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried. He never initiated AT ALL as soon as he could have internet porn whenever he could, and even before then I did almost all the initiating.

It’s true to say that I didn’t feel entitled to own my sexuality by that point, and that the cultural messages reinforced that belief. My husband’s behaviour did the most damage. He effectively told me that I wasn’t needed for sex any more. Whatever he was doing, I wasn’t included. I wasn’t invited. I was quite literally shut out.

It’s been a long journey back from there. I readily admit the damage that my husband’s behaviour caused me but I’m making sure that I reclaim my sexuality. For myself first and foremost, and to bring to my relationship. It’s a delicate thing. It needs to be treated with respect. My husband remains a law unto himself. I don’t think he sees his sexuality as something that needs to be nurtured and enriched within the context of our relationship. For him it’s just a selfish process of finding a way to ejaculate if he finds himself alone with an erection and an opportunity to masturbate. We don’t really talk about sex. He won’t. I’ve tried. In truth, I don’t believe my husband respects my sexuality. Nor do I believe he acknowledges the vulnerability and trust that is required for me to share my sexuality with him. I would go as far as to say that this splitting of himself occurs with partnered sex, that he is either his authentic self and is fully present during sex, or he is his “other” self who sees sex as means of pleasing himself whilst remaining emotionally detached. I feel at timed that when I'm trying to communicate with him about sex, or connect sexually with him, it’s this “other” part of him that’s present. Ultimately it’s a cul-de-sac that leads nowhere. So here I am. Unsure about whether to keep trying and keep hoping (feels a lot like when he was in his addiction) or just accept that this is how it is (as I did when I believed there was no return from the behaviour he’d chosen for himself). So I don’t know what’s next. I’m beginning to give up on the idea that things will get “better”. We went as far as we did in recovery and we couldn’t sustain it, let alone get any further. I guess sex is a bit like a thermometer for checking the health of a relationship. I know it’s not that good. Not really. I’m sad because I think I’ve really tried, and even if there were times I wasn’t quite getting it right, I’ve just felt left alone without any help or feedback, or any clue as to where I might have gone wrong. For all our attempts at improving our communication it’s as if he’s only got better at non-communication.

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