Sometimes Women Want it More


We always do a lot of thinking before we run gender specific posts on APW, so I did a lot of pondering on this post. Was it ok to run a post about what happens when women want sex more then their male partners and they are shamed by cultural narratives? Not everyone who reads APW is in a male/ female partnership, so I was on the fence about it. But after a lot of thought, I decided that it’s important to discuss gendered cultural narratives and take their power away. (And yes, we’re totally waiting for a post on LGBTQ focused sex issues, if you’ve got one.) But today’s post, which is written by Christy, takes some of the wind out of the sails of the idea that women just don’t like getting laid, or that good married sex has to look like the cultural norm. Let’s discuss.

Sometimes Women Want it More | A Practical Wedding

I grew up in a conservative household. By this I mean that we went to church almost every Sunday and Did Not Talk About Sex. Ever. That was left up to the California public school system and misguided, hormone-fueled girls’ locker room talk. In fact, the time my mother came home and caught my senior-year boyfriend and I making out furiously on the couch when no one was home (absolutely NO boys were allowed in the house without a parent present!) she stammered an apology and quickly retreated out the front door. Sex had a strictly don’t ask, don’t tell policy in our house, so I rebelled by becoming the most sex-positive virgin around.

Growing up I strongly identified with the feminist movement, so as a post-third wave Christian feminist, I devoured Our Bodies, Ourselves and The Guide to Getting it On like manna from heaven. I knew more about sex and how a woman’s body worked than any of my friends who were actually having sex; as a Sociology major I made it my study and my (ahem) passion. Back then, sexuality was a tool for me—a way to feel in control rather than a means of experiencing pleasure. I was waiting to do it, so sex was off the table, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be sexy. And that’s what brings all the boys to the yard, isn’t it? Didn’t I learn from age seven that all it took for wholesome Betty to steal Archie away from that rich witch Veronica was for her to don a skimpier bikini? Sexy was where it was at, so when I met a man that not only thought I was sexy but made me feel like being sexual, I thought we had it made. We were a white dress, shared vows, and a fabulous party away from the wedding night of my dreams. And it all went off without a hitch, better than I ever imagined, fireworks even. But that’s only the beginning of my story.

Before I got married some lovely friends held an intimate shower (read: sex shower) for me during which they showered me with sexy lingerie and advice on how to enjoy my upcoming role as a sexually active wife. My friends, God love them, gave me the sex advice they wished they’d gotten before their wedding day. Some was immensely practical (my nurse friend gave me the little gem to always try to pee after intercourse to avoid a UTI), but a lot of it centered around how to make time for your husband when you were, shall we say, less than in the mood. It was great advice, and as I’ve thrown my share of intimate showers over the years, I know it has come in handy for many a bride-to-be. The only problem was that all this advice, along with many other contributing factors, helped set an expectation in my mind that I was going to be fighting off my husband with a stick. I mean, it makes sense, right? Take two people who are saving themselves for marriage, add one engagement ring, sprinkle with a healthy dose of mutual attraction and bake for fourteen months until you have a bangin’ sex life, just waiting for that “I do” to pop my hot oven door open. But that’s not how it happened.

Throughout my engagement I’d been given advice on how to be excited about sex even when I was tired, but I had a husband who often came home from the office too tired and drained for sex. I’d been coached on how to help him feel attractive if I wasn’t in the mood, to say no without making him feel rejected and to set a date to make love another time, but was left feeling unattractive and rejected when he never seemed to be in the mood when I was. I was given the advice to initiate sex as often as I could—because all men loooove that—but often ended up getting back the line I was told that I should never, under any circumstances, say to my new husband: “Sorry honey, I’ve got a headache. Some other time?”

As much as we want to think there’s no double standard anymore, our culture doesn’t truly make room for women to have an active sex drive, while men are generally acknowledged and affirmed as being randy all the time. Sure, the third wave of feminism woke the world up to the fact that women actually like sex, but a woman who wants regular sex is lifted up on a pedestal as an elusive ideal. What man doesn’t want a Charlotte York in the kitchen and a Samantha Jones in the bedroom? Aren’t we told from the time we can make it into PG-13 movies that all you have to do as a woman to get a man’s attention is to flash some leg or drop your dress? Show some skin, wear a see-through top to work, and even Hugh Grant will be your puppy dog. We’re taught over and over again that men want sex—they live it, breathe it, can’t get enough of it—and we, as women, hold the keys to Eden. So when my darling husband wasn’t knocking down the door to get me between the sheets every time I flashed him while coming out of the shower, I started to think something was wrong with me.

It’s regarded as an unspoken, universal truth: all men want sex. If that’s true, then the problem had to be mine. I wasn’t pretty enough, sexy enough, attractive enough. No matter how often he assured me to the contrary, I would some back with “Well, if you’re so attracted to me, why won’t you sleep with me?” Due to relational issues growing up, I got a lot of personal validation from feeling attractive. Before I met A. I’d brokenly substituted people finding me attractive and desiring me for my own sense of self-worth. Pardon my honesty, but I was used to people wanting to get into my pants and being (grudgingly) respectful of my boundaries. Now that I had a husband who was my answer and outlet for twenty-two years of held-in sexuality, was self-admittedly attracted to me, but didn’t necessarily want to have sex, I didn’t know how to feel good about myself. I’m not used to not feeling good about myself, so I started to not feel good about him.

We fought often; I said things I shouldn’t have, and blamed him, myself, our parents, sometimes even God for our mismatched sex drives. Everything I read, everything I watched, every sex-centered conversation I had with a girlfriend led me to believe that we were freaks; A. was a freak for not wanting me more, I was a freak for not exciting my husband. I didn’t think about all of the times we did have sex—great sex. Every time the stars collided and our collective mojos were in sync, we had wonderful, loving, intimate sex. The kind of sex we both craved. We’d even go through periods where sex was regular, often even, but the joy we experienced during those times was blotted out by my utter dismay when we would hit another dry spell. I had a misguided belief that being a good wife equaled offering sex whenever I wanted it (read: all the time), and him not taking me up on my offers did not compute. I couldn’t talk about it, because all I heard from my girlfriends was how hard it was to keep their husband’s hands off of them. I could only smile and nod like I understood their eye-rolling exasperation—smugly secure in their own attractiveness to their men—while I sat mute, scared that they would unfairly judge my husband’s manhood or my credibility as a wife if I told them what was going on (or not going on) in our bedroom. Needless to say, it was not a happy time.

I am an incorrigible bookophile, so when I got fed up with asking and not receiving, I headed to my local bookseller. I looked in the Love and Sex section, the Women’s Studies section, the Christian Inspiration section. I found lots of books, all with roughly the same generic titles: How to Keep your Marriage Together Through Sex, How to Keep Your Sex Life Hot by Keeping Him Guessing, How to Have 101 Nights of Sizzling Romance. I found guides for 21-day journeys to make my husband feel loved that included a chapter on sex, thrown in as a bonus round. I found books on techniques to make his toes curl, but nothing to help me get him to want to curl around me in the first place. I was growing increasingly frustrated and wondered if I was the only woman on the planet who desired sex more than her husband, because according to TV, movies, magazines, and now the bookshelves, men always want it more. Then one day I was talking to my therapist (whom I started to see for an entirely different issue and is a total rockstar) and we started talking about my sex life. After I haltingly admitted that I felt that sometimes I wanted sex more often than my husband, the good doctor very casually said four words that totally rocked my world: “Oh yeah? Totally normal.”

After that I had about a million questions, not the least of which was that if it’s so normal, why isn’t anyone talking about it?!? It turns out that I was not the only woman whose desire for sex outpaced her husband’s, and I wasn’t the only one who felt frustrated and isolated because of it. After that session I started trying to figure out why—if woman wanting sex more than her man was so normal—people didn’t talk about it. The only answer I’ve come up with leads back to one place: cultural expectations. As I’ve said, we live in a culture that puts the male sex drive on a pedestal. As much as we don’t like to admit it, even modern day America has a bit of a virgin/whore complex and we, as women, are left to blindly navigate the minefield between acceptance and scorn as we try to find a balance between the two. And our men don’t fare any better. What does it say to a man who has a healthy desire for his wife, but doesn’t turn into a raging ball of hormones at every glimpse of her near-naked form, when that’s how “normal” men react to a woman’s body on TV? It tells them they aren’t normal. It’s a double-edged sword that has cut off the opportunity for a healthy dialogue about this issue. But sometimes women do want it more. And not only is that normal, it’s okay. As soon as I started to accept that idea, I started to see my husband differently. It wasn’t that he doesn’t desire me, he just doesn’t desire me as often as I do him (which, to be fair, is a lot). Where he feels loved and fulfilled having sex with a certain regularity, I would happily double it and probably still want the option of a bonus round. He craves intimacy with me as much as I do him, but we don’t always want to experience it in the same ways. We basically have the same problem of mismatched sex-drives that every book and every well-meaning friend offered advice on, it’s just that our roles are reversed.

Figuring this out took tremendous pressure off of us both. I no longer felt like my worth was in question every time a make-out session turned into cuddling. He no longer felt like he was failing me as a husband because he wasn’t living up to a stereotype. We’re still working on finding a balance. Sex will probably always be one of my love languages; for me it’s the perfect blend of Physical Touch and Quality Time, but it’s no longer the measure by which I judge our love. I look for ways to speak love into A.’s heart that are meaningful to him, and without the unnecessary pressure I was putting on him to perform he’s free to find his own ways to meet my need for physical intimacy. Looking back, we can both see that we never had a bad sex life. What we had was poor gender-based expectations of what our sex life would look like that ended up setting us up for a hard time. I recognize that stereotypes grow out of grain of common truth, but I also know that it’s stupid to say that everyone fits into that one vanilla mold. A. and I don’t, and that’s okay.

At the end of the day, that’s why I’m writing this. My life changed the day I started talking about wanting sex more often than my husband and a great woman said, “Oh yeah? Totally normal.” My life changed the day I almost cried when I saw a book called Is That All He Thinks About? How to Enjoy Great Sex With Your Husband while browsing through a bookstore with a girlfriend and mockingly asked, “So where are all the books for the woman who wants sex more than he does?” and she turned to me with wide eyes and said, “You too? I thought it was just me!”

If you are reading this and thinking, “Oh Mylanta, I thought I was going crazy all this time trying to get him into bed!” I’m here to tell you that you’re not the only one. Apparently there are a lot of us out there, and we’ve either been too bogged down by cultural expectations or our own feelings of self-doubt to stand up and start the conversation. So all the ladies who truly feel me, throw your hands up at me! And repeat after me: sometimes women want it more. And that’s okay.

Photo by: Kelly Benvenuto Photography from the APW Flickr Pool

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  • http://www.thenouveauromantics.com liz

    I’m sorry, but FUCK YES.

    Your therapist’s words are brilliant to my (wanting) ears, and I am so so so happy / proud to hear that I’m not the only one. Seriously.

  • kathleen

    what a smart post, and yes, a necessary voice to the quiet crew who are in the same boat!
    I’m lucky enough to have a very vocal, very close group of girlfriends who talk frankly about everything from real sex to real money, and I have to say- what you are talking about is more common among my lady friends than any other sexual pattern or issue. It’s HUGE, and very confusing, murky, misleading water for a lot of women. Thanks for pinning it down so clearly.

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      You are very lucky in that regard Kathleen – cherish your friends.

      I have friends who have admitted never talking about love or sex with anyone outside the relationship, and some of them have seriously stagnated now they have children…

      • Kathleen

        I feel so so crazy lucky to have girlfriends that talk about this kind of stuff, and realize how rare it is. As others mentioned below, I’ve seen a number ofrelationships implode over this stuff (or just mis/non-communication about sex), and it’s a great reminder that while sex isn’t everything it’s something.
        Even just looking over the post and comments, it’s striking how closely we associate the frequency/health of our sex lives with our own beauty, wanted-ness, and really— self worth. It’s a precarious place to put our sense of our own value, but I also don’t know how not to buy into that equation. I’d tell any young girl sex doesn’t equal self worth, but it seems I sometimes need the reminder.

  • http://www.lilpets.wordpress.com Sandy

    I’m literally crying in the library as I’m reading this. (I’m supposed to be doing thesis research but I couldn’t stop reading!) Thank you!

    My husband was a virgin when we began dating and I was not. I expected that once he was ready and we had sex the first time, he would be crazy for it. Like every man I’d ever been with or known was. When this wasn’t the case, I had a real hard time dealing with it and 2.5 years and a wedding later, I’m still having a hard time.

    So thank you for your kind words and you have truly made my day. Although, APW does that a lot in a lot of different ways. What a wonderful place!

    • me

      Wait, you too? This describes our relationship starting out exactly. Thank you.

    • http://explainingitall.blogspot.com Clarissa

      My relationship is like this too – fiance was a virgin, I was not, and I was surprised by how low his sex drive is. It took me a little while to adjust to the fact that he’s just not that into sex. He enjoys it, but usually I’m the one that initiates it.

      NOBODY ever talks about this, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

    • Sharon

      and here’s why I love this blog, finding other women who have the same issues I do. He was pretty much the 40 year old virgin, while I’d been sexually active since 19. 3.5 years later, we still don’t have sex nearly as often as I’d like, and it’s kind of awkward teenager kind of sex…

  • Sarah

    As someone else who waited for marriage and discovered the exact same ‘variety’ in sex drives can I just say a HUGE thank you for this post and furiously nod in agreement at my laptop! Wise words well written!

  • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

    Thank you for writing this post!
    “Looking back, we can both see that we never had a bad sex life. What we had was poor gender-based expectations of what our sex life would look like that ended up setting us up for a hard time. ”
    I think this is the key to so many issues, not just sex. I’d like to know how you started improving your sex life: was it just the knowledge that what you were going through was normal that changed the mindset or was there something in particular that you started doing differently? My marriage doesn’t follow stereotypical gender roles and I embrace it and love my husband because of who he is… however, sometimes I still find myself hoping for certain aspects of the archetypal male to show up in the bedroom. How to change those expectations, but get everyone’s needs met?

    • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

      Hi Jules!

      Recognizing that we were different than the cultural norm definitely made a huge difference. We both had a LOT of discussions about our experiences and how they related to gender roles, and I am so lucky to be married to a man who is comfortable admitting he doesn’t fit a lot of male stereotypes. In fact, we act like our opposite genders in a lot of ways, not just sex. But that didn’t change our sex lives overnight. What it did was open us both up for an honest conversation about our needs, without the baggage of hurt or blame clouding the issue. Since we both love each other and want to meet our partner’s needs, we both work on getting closer to a common ground.

      Another thing we’re going to do is start couples counseling in a few months with my therapist. I think a lot of people think counseling is just for marriages in crisis, but we look at it as a tool for working out stubborn issues that we can’t fix ourselves so that we don’t become a crisis. We both have issues from how we grew up that we figure are contributing to our mismatched drives, and we hope that when we get them worked out it will help. While we don’t think there will ever be a magic thing that ‘fixes’ us (I’ve never heard of any couple that has the exact same needs when it comes to sex, regardless of their gender roles), we’re both willing to do the work on ourselves, to empathize with the other’s experiences, and do whatever it takes to keep our marriage healthy.

      • Leanne

        I always think couples counseling is a great idea (for everything, even if it’s not fraught with conflict or distress). However, it’s often recommended to have a separate counselor for couples work than you have for your individual work so that 1) the counselor can be an unbiased presence for both of you and 2) you can continue to have your therapist’s attention focused squarely on you.

        • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

          That’s a great point, Leanne. Most of the wisdom I’ve heard on the subject says that it is a good idea to have separate counselors for personal and marriage counseling. I offered that option to A when we talked about going; I was worried that he might feel unequal in our sessions because of the time I’d already spent building report with my counselor. However, he wanted to go with her, as he’d sat in on a few of my sessions with her over the course of my counseling and really resonated with her. Plus, as I said, she’s a rockstar. I’ve also heard strong recommendations that if you do look into couples counseling that you look for someone actually trained to counsel couples. Sounds like a no-brainer, but many of the counselors out there are only experienced in working with individuals, and it takes specific training to know how to deal with two sets of emotions and perspectives. Luckily, our counselor deals with couples and individuals, so as long as A’s happy, I’m happy. Great comment.

  • lara

    An awesome post; one that so many readers are sure to relate to. I’ve had a similar problem that’s been combined with sporadic ED, which leaves me feeling rejected as well.

    One question though, you mentioned looking for “ways to speak love into A.’s heart that are meaningful to him, and without the unnecessary pressure I was putting on him to perform” … could you give any advice on how to do this? Because, like you, I find sex a perfect combo of physical and emotional intimacy and I struggle to find other ways to connect in a similar way.

    • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

      Hi Lara!

      I mentioned my love languages in my post, but what I didn’t mention is how I figured out what they are. I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a fabulous book that takes you through what the five love languages are and how they impact our lives. For example, my #1 is Physical Touch, and #2 is Quality Time. A’s #1 is Words of Affirmation and #2 is Quality Time. Both of us have Gift Giving as #3. Knowing that we have love languages in common helps us focus on those common denominators. Knowing that A’s #1 is different than mine, I make a point of telling him often how smart he is, how much I respect him, how great I think he is at his job, how sexy he is to me, etc. He, in turn, works to meet my need for physical touch, either by making an effort to ‘be in the mood’ when he may be just as happy to watch a movie, or by giving backrubs, holding my hand, and lots of kisses and hugs and cuddling. So that’s how we speak love into each other’s hearts, by knowing the other’s love language and making sure we’re speaking it.

      If you visit The 5 Love Languages website there’s an online assessment you can take to figure out your love language, whether you’re male, female, single, or if you have children. (Kids have love languages too!)
      http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/

      Hope that helps!

      • http://twitter.com/cupcake_orgasm Red

        My boyfriend’s Mom actually recommended Chapman’s book to me. I’m not a religious person so I took those parts lightly but I think the overall message is solid regardless of what you believe. I was actually surprised with my results in the quiz, I thought I was going to be one language and I turned out to be another… though it makes sense.

        I got the audiobook for my boyfriend but he’s resisting listening to it, I’ve let it rest for a few months but plan on approaching it again. The book really does give you good talking points and I think would help open up a discussion we very much need to have about the gap that is in our relationship that will only get wider the longer we choose to pretend it’s not there.

      • Kara

        The love languages book was pretty awesome and actually helped me get -out- of the relationship I was in before I met my fiance. Yes, it’s Christian-oriented, but I think it’s helpful for a lot of people Christian or not. I’m not sure that the “quiz” is totally accurate (it doesn’t seem totally repeatable), but it’s helpful.

        • http://www.asfoodtolife.com Meredyth

          Another good one is Hendrix’s “Getting the Love You Want”. At least, I had a therapist tell me it’s the basis of all most all of his premarital counseling. I have yet to read it…

          But THANK YOU CHRISTY for sharing this. I too took to the books to find answers about this issue. But maybe not as thoroughly as you, and I haven’t started therapy yet though I think I/we should.

          But my husband and I struggle with this as well as me having a VERY. HARD. time telling him what I want in a way that is clear but makes him feel loved, not pressured. And when he didn’t get the 101 hints I’d give I felt like I was being rejected, even when he just didn’t realize that me doing X meant I wanted action. I have a hard time verbalizing and it’s been our biggest source of fights so far in our 6 mo. marriage. That also leads to problems once we actually get to the bedroom, but that’s a slightly different problem. Thank you again for putting it out there. :D

    • Jennifer

      Seconded, especially on the sporadic ED issue. It makes the whole thing so much more complicated, because there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question from my ego (“does he not want to get down tonight because he’s worried he can’t, or can he not get it up tonight because he doesn’t really want to?”). But also because it makes me more hesitant to bring the topic up for discussion, because it’s at least sometimes connected to performance anxiety (it was especially bad when we were trying to get pregnant via timed intercourse) and I don’t want to make things worse by putting undue pressure on.

  • http://www.savingsomemoney.com Maxime

    Wow, thank you. Yes yes yes. Yes to this entire post and everything that you felt that so many of us have probably felt.

    To APW: you should not be hesitating to post something like this. Ever. You say: “Not everyone who reads APW is in a male/ female partnership”. Nor is everyone in a male/male or female/female. This means that you need to post about each of those experiences in their own unique ways. If this is something that affects male/female partnerships, therefore it is post worthy.

    If you want to be representative, then you need these kinds of posts, rather than clean everything up so it applies to everyone. Nothing will ever apply to everyone, so showing specific circumstances that affect each type of relationship is the only way to show diversity.

    It’s like multiculturalism: it doesn’t mean erasing all cultures/individually, but rather celebrating them all. Like with religious holidays: you can wish everyone merry christmas, happy hannukah, AND happy eid, rather than erase all traces with generic greetings.

    • meg

      Well, I know! I feel like I’m getting a lecture for something I already do. There is a reason we ran this post, but there is also a reason we had healthy debate. It’s important to not make one group feel excluded while another group is being included. Since this post didn’t specifically mention that not everyone is in a male/ female partnership, it was our job to debate how to fit it into the conversation in a deeply inclusive way. And sometimes it’s helpful to let you in on those debates and discussions, so you can see how we choose.

      Meg (not APW)

      • http://www.savingsomemoney.com Maxime

        Didn’t mean to lecture :)

        As you said, you *did* run the post – and that’s what makes this site fabulous.

        I just wanted to highlight that there shouldn’t be a hesitation in posting this kind of content. Having a discussion about it, yes. Making sure that you make it inclusive, yes. Mention that everyone isn’t in this type of relationship, yes. But not posting the content, no!
        Just adding fuel to the discussion :)

      • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

        I, for one, am super thankful to Meg and the APW team for their sensitivity on this topic. For the record, they sent me an email ahead of time giving me a heads-up on their introduction, and I was so grateful that they took the time to thoughtfully discuss whether posting an article that comes from a hetero-normative perspective would make people feel left out. I’m also equally grateful that they felt the conversation was an important enough one to pursue. I agree with Meg that discussing gendered cultural narratives is the best way to take away their power, and the power of gender-based stereotypes is something I feel we all struggle with to some extent, regardless of orientation. The last thing that I want is for the empowerment I feel from giving voice to what I see as a big problem to be at the expense of someone else feeling marginalized. The fact that they consider all voices and perspectives is one of the (many) reasons I love love LOVE APW.

    • Gigi59

      “Exactly” wasn’t enough. Human experience is human experience. Anyone who can’t take something away from a post like this just because it didn’t perfectly represent their relationship is trying way to hard to ignore the forest for the trees.

      • Marina

        This is getting off topic, but it’s an important subject to me… I think the question of whether someone can get something out of a post is actually beside the point. The question of diversity is more about whether someone can see themselves represented. For minority groups (like people in same sex relationships) there can be an overwhelming amount of media that barely acknowledges they exist, much less represents their experiences. I think the question is whether a post could feel like yet another instance of being ignored or marginalized, not the usefulness of the content. The burden should not only be on a minority group to find something to take away, it should also be on the media makers to find and publish content that represents minority groups.

        Which, for the record, I think APW does very well, and I’m grateful for the insight into the publishing process as well as for this awesome post. :)

        • meg

          “I think the question is whether a post could feel like yet another instance of being ignored or marginalized, not the usefulness of the content.” Yes! Totally correct. So it’s about finding a way to frame a whole variety of experiences while making it clear that we’re not trying to ignore a group that’s so often ignored.

  • M

    Our sex drives have evened out over the years, but in the beginning mine was WAY higher than his. It was my first time having sex, and really having a sexual relationship at all…and I felt like a freak! I’m glad you are talking about this, and “getting the word out” that it is NORMAL.

    Related to the cultural expectations–my fiance’s (older) co-workers always warn him that as soon as we get married, I will suddenly never want to have sex. Huh? Where do they come up with this stuff?

  • Sharon

    Somehow APW always manages to post something really relevant to my experience and get at the very heart of it. My husband and I had a deep discussion about this two days ago, and I had been feeling very similarly: that somehow I wasn’t attractive enough, that I wasn’t trying hard enough to get him interested…basically there was something wrong WITH ME.

    And what I think I’m acknowledging here, from this post and as a part of this community, is that even though we’re not conforming to societal expectations of married sex life, our intimate times are ours alone and we don’t have to answer to anybody about it. That in fact, we never did. And that’s perfectly fine with me.

  • Smallison

    I’m de-lurking to respond to this. I’m not married or engaged, but I am dealing with this, and it is SO NICE to hear other people say it out loud. My partner and I have talked about it, and even though he originally said his sex drive matched mine, the reality, after moving in together, is that our sex drives don’t match. We’ve continued to talk about it, but it’s so hard – I don’t want to make him feel bad, and I also don’t want to make him feel like he *has* to have sex. It’s tough balancing those feelings. And it’s just nice to have a space to discuss this stuff.

    • Class of 1980

      Although there is lots of advice out there for dealing with unequal sex drives, don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s easy.

      Very hard to walk the fine line between remaining hopeful and keeping your heart open, yet not adding so much pressure that it backfires.

      Anyone who says it’s a cake walk is a dirty dirty liar. ;)

  • Chelsea

    Consider this me throwing my hands up at you, and repeating after you: “Sometimes women want it more. And that’s okay.”

  • amigacara

    This is awesome and so true…I *WISH* I had people to talk to about this kind of thing.

  • http://www.spillerena.com Serena

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing this.

    I’ve been struggling with this issue for awhile, and it was so refreshing/uplifting/amazing to come across this on APW. I had been contemplating writing something similar and submitting it to APW, but lacked the guts to actually do it, so thank you again.

    I’ll say it loud and say it proud: Sometimes women want it more. And that’s okay.

  • Heather

    Thank you for posting this! While it is gender specific, I think this issue is something that any couple could experience. The concept of a healthy sex life is something that is specific and distinct to each individual couple and their current time period, unfortunately we are taught a one-size fits all model by popular media. A couple’s sex life will also change over time, and a healthy couple should be able to talk and reach an understanding.

    I have found that some people can be extremely judgmental about each other’s sex lives and also treat their own sex life as a sign of their self-worth. While I appreciate my girlfriend’s sex life, I don’t appreciate the fact that sometimes it seems like we are in a pissing contest.

    • Parsley

      As a woman in a relationship with another woman, I can totally relate to the emotional dynamics of this post. We’ve struggled at times with similar issues. Of course, in our case, there isn’t the same level of gender pressure. With that included in the mix, what a challenge! And what an important conversation to have. Thank you so much Christy for sharing this post. Sounds like someone (maybe one of the incredible Team Practical) needs to get cracking writing those books that are missing!

      • Sarabeth

        Though, there can be a different set of gender issues in lesbian relationships – the implicit assumption that, because we’re both women, we’re *obviously* going to have compatible sex drives, right? Except when we don’t.

        • Parsley

          Right! Not to mention that wanting sex is something all women are told is not a part of being a woman, and that doesn’t go away even if you happen to be with a woman.

    • Katy

      Heather, I’m going to expand on what you were saying about healthy sex lives and say that sexuality is fluid and unique to each person. We’ve discovered that it is important to understand desire changes over time. When my boy and I were first together I was totally the one who wanted sex all the time, and then it was him. We are long distance so sometimes it feels like each time we see each other the dynamic changes. I’m curious how things will be when we actually live together. But I think being aware of changes, and accepting them as they are, is something that is healthy and leads to a better relationship.

      Ugh. It’s so hard to compare friends sex lives. My friends and I talk about sex quite a bit and between the four of us and the various partners we’ve had it seems like each couple is different. That’s it. Sometimes things line up between people, sometimes there’s a huge discrepancy between the couple.. I really feel like there’s no way to generalize sexual desire. Comparing between friends can be good, “Oh! You too?” or bad, “man you guys had sex 5 times in 18 hours, we’d never be able to do that”

  • http://midwestlantern.blogspot.com/ Midwest Melissa

    This is so great to read. I also struggle about relating these sorts of things to my “worth” even though I know how messed up it is to view things like that. We are good at communicating about everything except this stuff. It weighs on me. More posts like this would be great.

  • Marina

    YES YES YES. APW team, thank you for posting this.

    My husband and I first got together as teenagers in a long distance relationship. Turns out a 29 year old with a stressful job has different sexual needs than a 19 year old who only sees his girlfriend every few months. I spent a lot of time feeling unattractive while he felt pressured and like he wasn’t enough. Okay, that should be present tense, not past tense. But we’re getting better. Remembering there’s nothing WRONG with either of us, and that just because our sex life is one way now doesn’t mean it’ll always be like this, is a big deal.

    • LBD

      Oh man, I was just reading to the end of the comments with the intentions of writing almost the exact same comment. We started having sex at 18, and were both virgins. Turns out, his desire for me makes me feel sexy and loved, even though he did have a stronger drive than I did. Being wanted felt really good, even when I wasn’t particularly feeling a need for sex. When a stressful job started to really impact his sex drive, all of a sudden I was the one with the stronger drive, and I started to feel really bad. I’m working on it, it’s just sometimes really hard to reconcile the emotional part and the rational part.

      So yes, thank you very much for this post. It gives me some things to think about, particularly the Love Languages bit. I’ve been meaning to read that book, now it looks like I really really should.

      • Class of 1980

        Keep in mind too that men can’t physically compensate for their lack of drive. Women can be not in the mood, yet still have sex a lot easier. A man usually can’t.

        In this case, it’s easier to be a woman. ;).

        • Marina

          I think that depends on how you define sex. Men’s fingers and tongues still work just fine when they’re not in the mood.

          • Class of 1980

            Oh, totally agree.

          • http://monkleycascade.com ANDREA

            EVERYONE PLEASE READ MARINA’S COMMENT.

            This has been a public service announcement.

            :)

  • Karen

    The experience of being in a relationship where one person wants more than the other is common whether in same or opposite sex relationships. Posting this is fabulous. This was a huge issue in my last relationship and I was determined I’d never go through that again. Feeling unworthy and rejected on a regular basis did not make me happy. We broke up over other reasons but it definitely helped give me clarity so that I said it upfront in my current relationship: sex is important to me and if it’s not important to you then this won’t work out. Thankfully my partner is on board with this philosophy!

  • Lisa

    Holy crap, I wish I could have read this a year or 2 ago. While I think that things have gotten better (maybe cause my drive has gone down a bit) this was totally how I felt in the beginning of our relationship. It got to the point where I would stop initiating because I was tired of being rejected and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, despite his reassurances. It often just let to hurt and anger and resentment. Like I said I think my drive has gone down a bit, plus I learned to come to terms with it better, but this post definitely makes me feel better!

  • Maggie P.

    As is so often said here: ‘I feel like I could have written this.’
    Thanks for writing, Christy… I know people have said before that writing for APW is awesome because not only does it help people who are reading it today, it may very well help someone looking through the backlogs months or years from now. Well, sometimes it does both. I was getting on the site to look up a backlogged entry that I really felt I needed to be reminded of and lo and behold, here’s yet another one that totally resonates with me today, but I may be fishing for a few months from now when I ‘forget’ (there’s a lot of stuff in this brain, y’all!).

  • Aly

    Oh my goodness, I love this post. My husband and I had a very similar issue when we were dating. We were both virgins when we met, and discussed not waiting for sex till we were ready (not necessarily till marriage). Well, after 2 years I was more than ready, but he was not. And he remained not ready for 2 more years, until we got engaged. I spent a lot of my time during those last 2 years wondering what was wrong with me, because I had always been taught that guys want sex always, and it is our (women’s) job to hold them off. I didn’t understand how to deal with him not being ready to have sex, and actually holding ME back. We did work through our issues, but stories like these are so important to remind women that our cultural narratives about sex are full of gender stereotypes and it is perfectly ok, and normal for you and your partner not to fit into those stereotypes!

  • C.

    I really want to thank you for this post. I felt like I was reading the story of my own life here.. except without the coaching from outside sources, because my girlfriends and I don’t really share those details. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stood with my fiance in my underthings and said “am I not attractive anymore, or what?” .. and don’t think I don’t know my stating that very SENTENCE is not attractive. We’ve recently talked about changing a lot of things up.. but it honestly helps to know that other women go through this, and it’s not that he’s not attracted to me, nor is it about us failing as a couple with an intimate relationship. This really makes me feel better, and stronger, and able to resolve things. :)

    • http://www.asfoodtolife.com Meredyth

      I’ve felt and said the exact same things in the exact same circumstances and it SUCKS. It sucks for both of us because I feel like sh*t and then he feels like sh*t for making me feel that way. We’ve started talking more openly but all of the emotional aspects really cause it to be like a ticking time bomb. Add in there the fact that I cry easily and it is a tough conversation to have, making getting to the bedroom seem even more challenging.

  • Rachel

    This post resonated with me a lot as my husband and I also struggle with these issues. But, while it’s taken me awhile to come to terms with the fact that there’s nothing wrong with me, my husband still won’t really sit down and have a conversation with me about it and I don’t know how to get him to talk about it with me. I don’t need the physical act of sex so much as I need all the other stuff — sexy text messages, sexual teasing (through words or touch), lots of kissing — basically the art of seduction in the modern age. I love feeling sexy and desired, even if sex isn’t actually the culmination of that all the time. I’ve told my husband this, and that it’s really important to me, but I sometimes feel like I’m having this conversation with myself and I don’t know how to change that.

    Sometimes I also feel like it’s unfair that his lower sex drive gets to run the show, while I just have to “deal” with it. I feel like there’s a lot you can do for your partner when you’re not “in the mood” that helps them and doesn’t compromise your lack of desire.

    And one final thing I’d like to add (sorry for the long comment): I get upset sometimes when my husband gets really excited over things like watching porn (but not with me), sex scenes in movies, going to strip clubs, or when we discussed going to a swinger’s club, but then isn’t sexual with me. How do I reconcile those things for myself?

    • Marina

      Oh boy, I hear you. If it’s any comfort, everything you wrote sounds super familiar.

      For my husband, watching porn and having sex are completely different things and fulfill completely different needs. Which made sense to me when I thought about it… after all, I can’t fulfill the need I have for sex by watching porn. Dunno if that’s true for your husband, maybe he would want sex more if he watched porn less.

      The not being able to talk about it… On the one hand, me too. This is an ongoing conversation in my marriage because I don’t feel quite satisfied that my husband has heard what I have to say or that I know how he feels about it. On the other hand, I think communication about this is so important you may want to look into meeting with a therapist to mediate the conversation. Sometimes just having someone else there to mediate can really help, and also having someone who can say, “Yes, this is normal.”

    • Class of 1980

      Probably the porn thing is a whole other post waiting to be written.

    • suzanna

      Rachel, I was thinking the same thing as I read this. Excellent post, wonderful conversation–but I want to hear what the MEN are doing to improve this particular problem. We ladies feel bad about ourselves and buy books and go to counseling and talk to our guys about it. What do they do? Probably not answerable on this woman-heavy site, but it’s important to say.

      I don’t know what to tell you about the porn, etc. But in general, if he ain’t listening, he ain’t listening. Why bend over backwards (ahem!) for him?

  • Amy

    As someone in a same sex relationship I’d say that the majority of the post is still relevant, just without the societal pressure for one of us to want it more than the other.

    Unfortunately even without society pressuring you, it is still hard. Our libidos seemed evenly matched at the beginning of our relationship but now I tend to want it much more, and yes, feel extremely unattractive when I am not wanted in return. For me a large part of sex is both people being into it, so although I get what you mean Rachel, that doesn’t always work for me.

    So, I know she still finds me attractive but I feel like if a relationship/marriage is really going to work, you need to keep having sex so if we haven’t had it for a week, I feel like something is missing. It’s not helped by the fact that we currently only see each other at weekends, so I feel a pressure to have sex otherwise it’s even longer until we have the chance.

    Partly I suspect this is due to hang ups from a previous relationship where I was the one not wanting sex (because deep down I wasn’t attracted to her any more). But knowing that and knowing that my fiancee loves me, finds me attractive and wants to marry me, doesn’t help when I’m rejected for sex. I don’t know how to stop the pressure because of course, that doesn’t make her any more in the mood!

    Help!

    • Gigi59

      Exactly…

  • http://cubicalmouse.blogspot.com Stephanie

    OMG. I have spent two months – the length of our marriage – in agony because his sex drive is so much lower than mine. He thought he had a high sex drive, but he was a virgin. I knew I had a high sex drive – for I was definitely not a virgin. The thought of divorce hasn’t left my mind in weeks. I don’t know what to do. I’m a 5-6 times a week kind of girl. He’s a 1 time a week kind of guy. We have scheduled sex three times a week, because he has to know it’s coming and not overwork himself and get too tired, or overeat and get nausea, or get heavily involved in a movie or video game.

    This is NOT how I pictured married life.

    • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

      Hi Stephanie,

      As unromantic as it sounds, I think setting aside time when the two of you know you’re going to have sex is a great idea. My therapist recommended it, and it’s really helped A. and I. When we were first married I had this idea in my head (mostly from movies, I think) that sex had to be this spontaneous, wild, passionate, and definitely UNEXPECTED event. I had a real problem feeling like it was planned out – or worse, expected (gasp!) – because I felt like it would take away the spontaneity. But the reality is that movies aren’t real life, and we do come home tired, grumpy, over-worked and looking for an easy escape that often is not sex when we come home. Because sex is great, but it’s also work. You have to prepare yourself physically and mentally, which is why making time for it in our schedules helped so much. By saying “we’re going to set aside this day and this day to make love” we were also saying that we were going to give ourselves time to look forward to it and enjoy it. We started sending more sexy text messages, telling each other how much we were looking forward to it, and so on. Ironically, setting aside time to have sex meant that we enjoyed spontaneous sex more often, as it seems like (for us at least) sex is one of those things that the more you do it, the more you want to do it.

      Looking back I really feel like I cheated myself out of a lot of great experiences (potentially including building a foundation of regular sex in our relationship) early on in our marriage by wanting every encounter to be spontaneous. I know that doesn’t answer your issue with the mismatched sex-drives, but I wanted to let you know it’s ok if you have to plan things. For the mismatched drives problem, I say hang in there girl. As many other commenters have said, sex drives change over time, and I really think that honest, open communication, maybe with a third party or counselor to help, is the key to understanding each other and making your marriage all that you hoped it would be.

      • http://jeniferf.wordpress.com Jen

        There is definitely something to be said for scheduling sex. For one, it definitely gives you something to look forward to. It is something that my husband and I have done off and on. Even if it is just a text saying – sex later? Then you can set up your mind to be in the mood. I know it isn’t like “the movies” but it works.

        • Heather

          I’d also like to throw in here on Christy’s comment regarding a third-party, that sometimes even printing out things and asking that your partner read them when they get the chance can be effective.

          My partner is very anti-therapist/counselor, for reasons I still don’t totally grasp, but he is willing to read things that help articulate my point of view. So, when we are having an issue that is harder for us to work through, I turn to the internet and find articles/blogs/general information (even APW when we were in the pre-engaged state!) for us to both read and use as tools for discussion.

        • Kat

          Yes, yes, yes to the scheduling. It’s not like in the movies, but as the person with the lower sex drive the scheduling really helped me. Otherwise I feel like sex is being sprung on me after a long day when all I had in mind was sleep, and if it’s been a while since we’ve had sex I then feel guilty and tense (which makes me feel even less sexy). We’ve found husband saying something like ‘it’s been a while since we had sex, let’s plan some quality time for the two of us in the next few days’ really helped me get in the right mindset and takes of the pressure to have sex RIGHT NOW.

      • Alia

        Okay, this whole post resonated on a major level, but this comment specifically almost had me in tears of relief that someone said what I needed to hear. This whole bit: “I had this idea in my head (mostly from movies, I think) that sex had to be this spontaneous, wild, passionate, and definitely UNEXPECTED event. I had a real problem feeling like it was planned out – or worse, expected (gasp!) – because I felt like it would take away the spontaneity.” – is exactly, 100% what I went through. Thank you. Thank you for addressing this topic in the first place and sharing your experiences and letting us know that we are NOT the only ones out there who want sex more than their husbands. And thank you for all the helpful advice you’ve left in the comments too. It’s really fantastic.

      • Agape

        I’m the lower libido partner in my marriage (anti-anxiety meds aren’t helping the sitch…that’s a whole other post) and I’m thinking scheduling sex might help me gear up too. Part of the “problem” is just that I have such a slooooow burn now to get going, so perhaps scheduling would give me a bit longer run at it.

        Hmmmmmm. May need to have a sex schedule chat this weekend.

    • Rachel

      Have you talked to him about it? What is his reaction?

      I completely hear you — I’m an almost-every-day kind of girl and he’s a once-every-few weeks kind of guy and it kills me.

      I know this puts a lot of pressure on him, but I also feel a lot of pressure. It happens so infrequently (minus a few spells where we have sex regularly) that I feel like it has to be fabulous and I have to perfect. And I worry about not being in the mood on those rare occasions he is — I can’t pass it up!

      • Marina

        “And I worry about not being in the mood on those rare occasions he is — I can’t pass it up!”

        Yes! Argh! Which leads to more not-so-fantastic sex and both of us feeling even more awkward about the whole thing.

        • http://caulkandcrinonlines.wordpress.com AJ

          I’m in the same boat! I think I struggle with the feeling that he’s the one with the “power” in this situation. He can say no whenever he wants because I’ll always be in the mood, but I never can for fear that I’ll miss the one time this week that HE is.

          • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

            I had to click it and say it…EXACTLY.

  • Victwa

    I think another piece of this is growing older and having a billion other responsibilities (like kids and just not being as able to stay up until all hours as one might have been able to as a younger version of oneself). I am currently engaged to a man with 2 kids (50% custody), who works a job that requires him to be at work by 6:00 am several days a week. While I think our sex drives are probably reasonably matched when we’re both well-rested, he’s also just TIRED a lot of the time, and I think that a lot of the expectation we learn and then incorporate into our versions of what our sex lives are supposed to be don’t really take into account that we do leave our early 20s and turn into people who really need sleep to function well on a daily basis. I could definitely have lots more sex than my fiancé (I don’t need to be at work at 6:00 am so much), but he’s freaking tired! I think that a part of growing up (which is a lifelong process, in my opinion) is trying to strip away, little by little, all the expectations that we have all grown up with that tell us how we’re SUPPOSED to be doing ANYTHING, and find the path that is right for us and our partners. Which may be the longest process EVER, by the way.

    • Class of 1980

      I really truly believe that couples in general have less sex now than they did in earlier generations. Schedules used to be easier. Until the nineties, I never saw a commercial for a drug that helps women who are just plain exhausted want to have sex.

      On the same note, I just read that plastic surgeons have noticed a change in their patients. They used to admonish their patients not to have sex for a few weeks after plastic surgery. The patients were not happy about it. Now, plastic surgeons are noticing most of their patients are thrilled to have an excuse not to have sex, and even ask them to put it in writing! But the patients are really pissed off if they are told they can’t go back to work immediately.

      Priorities have shifted.

      • Beth

        1980 it’s interesting you mention that– I just watched the documentary Orgasm, Inc. and it was about the way that drug companies try to convince people that something that is normal (i.e. their sex drive, or (in)ability to have a ‘vaginal’ orgasm) is actually a disorder/disease so they can sell them a drug. The movie is all about the creation of female sexual dysfunction. They wanted to cash in on women the way they did with Viagra.

  • efletch

    This is such a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing! My FH and I have been together for 5+ years and this has been a big issue for us (okay mostly me). He has a really laid back attitude towards sex and I too had often used it as a tool to determine self worth/attractiveness. At the end of the day sex is just one part of the relationship and it shouldn’t define it or either one of you. Again thank you, I am so grateful that there are people willing to talk about this!

  • Class of 1980

    I do recall a book in the 1990s about the sex lives of women and how their desires don’t match up to the cultural narrative of being less interested in sex. It’s probably out of print now. And there has been the occasional news or magazine article on this subject, but those are few and far between.

    As Christy said, the Christian community tries hard to promote a good sex life in marriage, but falls into the trap of presenting male and female sex roles as written in stone. Couples are given a template instead of experiencing it as it happens. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    I knew a girl in the 1980s who had been married a couple of years. She was super cute, cute, cute, but her husband was not interested in sex AT ALL. Later, after their divorce, she said she used to stare at herself in the mirror with no clothes on and ask “What’s wrong with me?” After the divorce, she and her new boyfriend hardly got out of bed. ;)

    Her story and variations of it are so common that I’ve LOST TRACK of how many times I’ve heard it. The culture says women are supposed to be interested enough in sex to always be available, but not so interested that they want it more. What an impossible balancing act.

    Not sure why this keeps happening when male sex drive is dependent on so many variables. They are not robots. In addition to emotional issues, individual male sex drive is determined by genetics and health. In the health category alone, there are lots of things that can go wrong. How many people know that smoking is implicated in impotence for instance?

    It can take time to determine if a lower sex drive is just natural to that person, or is the result of emotional or physical issues. From my own life experience, believe me, men are extremely variable from each other.

    Christy, it does sound as if your husband doesn’t have a super high sex drive, but it’s not nonexistent either. There are lots of guys like him and they do find their mate attractive. Plus, some people really need more time to recoup from the work world! Your initiation into sex would have gone a lot smoother absent all the cultural narrative and “advice” you were given.

    So glad you have thrown out the fake one-size-fits-all template!.

    • Class of 1980

      Also …

      I heard from someone who went with their husband to a doctor that dealt with sexual issues. They were told they were not alone. The doctor said he was treating a husband with a stunningly beautiful wife. The wife said she could have taken off her clothes and danced around the living room without the slightest reaction from her husband.

      There’s some perspective. ;)

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      The “whats wrong with me” thing is something I am starting to hear from some of my friends who have kids. They stopped having sex because they were too tired after the arrival of the little one, and then never let their husbands know that they were thinking they might be ready again, while he assumed they would them him know.
      What do you know, but nearly two years down the track, some of them have had sex once in a year. And some of them now assume their husband does not see them as sexy any more after vigorous sex lives before baby. But none of them have asked him what he thinks, as if talking to your husband about sex is a no-no.

      Anyway, all this is basically saying, I think we should all talk to our partners more about sex, how we want it, how often we want it and how it makes us feel about ourselves.

      • Denzi

        Yes, yes, yes. T. and I are nerds, so we first started talking about sex looooooong before we had sex (like a year before), and we discussed the potential for mismatched libidos along with everything else. I think it was good practice, both for telling each other what we need “in the moment” (e.g. “OW! You’re hitting my cervix!”) as well as discussing and compromising around when we have sex at all.

        This blog post is what we used to first start our discussion, and I think it’s really useful: http://www.alternet.org/sex/147587/6_things_to_try_if_you_want_sex_more_than_your_partner_does

  • http://jeniferf.wordpress.com Jen

    YES! TO THIS! I struggled with this during the first… 3ish years of marriage. I assumed – he’s a young man. Why doesn’t he want it ALL THE TIME?!?! What is wrong with me? We actually saw a therapist about it and it was the same, Oh, yep. Totally normal. For me it wasn’t even that I wanted it all the time and he didn’t. It was that I was almost… offended? that he didn’t want it all the time. Society told me that is how it is supposed to be! Finally, it clicked. He is just one person, not this giant stereotype of a man that I had been brought up to expect. When I finally was able to take that out of my thought process I realized that yes, we do have a good sex life, even if I am not constantly beating him off with a stick.

  • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

    Is it totally inappropriate to confess that I giggled at the picture accompanying this post? Subversive picture pairing FTW!

    In seriousness though, Christy, thank you for this post – I can already tell that it’s helping a lot of people!

    • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

      The first thing I thought when I saw it was “come on baby, light my fire…”

  • Dana

    Thank you to all who have been courageous enough to share. I’m engaged to a great guy, compatible in every way BUT this one. Sometimes I question marrying someone whose sex drive is so much lower than mine, but again we are perfect in every other way together. I’m glad to see there are lots of other women in my shoes who have gone ahead and gotten married, either knowingly or unknowingly, to someone with a much lower drive, as well, and who have still managed to make it work. Thanks for giving me hope! And as one poster said- just because it’s this way now, doesn’t mean it will always be that way. I’m hoping with the marriage some of the issues will go away (religious guilt, parental guilt) and that we can eventually move closer to our jobs so he isn’t exhausted from 14 hour days everyday.

    • Class of 1980

      My advice is to delve deeper before getting married. Try to figure out if it’s the number of hours he works or just the way he is naturally. 14 hours is a lot though.

      More importantly, ask yourself this question – IF it stays this way forever, would you still want to be married? If the answer is “yes”, then good. If the answer is “no”, then you are setting yourself up for sorrow. Too many people get married hoping something they find intolerable will change. (I did that.)

      Just take it slowly until you know more.

  • http://twitter.com/cupcake_orgasm Red

    Not only is my hand raised, but I’m frantically waving it around while yelling (in my head, I’m at work), “me too! me too!”

    On many levels I don’t believe there is anything worse that can shock your self-esteem to the core than being rejected by the person who says they love you and want to be with you. If you love me, why don’t you want to rip my clothes off all the time? If you love me you MUST be attracted to me.

    And it’s something I’m still very much working through. I keep telling myself that B loves me and thinks I’m beautiful even if I’ve gained a couple of pounds and that my appearance has nothing to do with the horrifically low number of times we’ve had sex each month (if at all). He’s very affectionate, we’re always hugging and kissing, we cuddle on the couch to watch TV, and curl up against each other at night when we go to bed. It’s just that the R-rated part goes on hiatus a lot.

    We try to talk about it, but feelings get hurt too quickly. Part of it I know is that he’s working full time, and also going to school, so most days he’s exhausted by the time he gets home, and his alarm goes off before dawn at an hour I wouldn’t even be able to formulate a coherent sentence let alone accomplish anything that requires some rhythm and focus.

    So thank you for sharing Christy. It’s nice to know I’m not alone – I didn’t really think I was, but reading through your post and all the comments on here has made me realize I’m in good company. It doesn’t fix the problem, but it does give me the sense that I’m not the only one going through this, that it is more common than I believe, and that’s heartening.

  • Anonymous

    Christy, THANK YOU!! It is a relief to know I’m not alone in this. My FH doesn’t want sex often either – we maybe have it once a week, sometimes less often than that, though I’d be up for more (barring my time of the month and a really bad week at work that is). Part of the reason in our case is that he takes an anti-depressant that affects his sex drive. He also noted recently that he enjoys sex more without condoms, so hopefully when we start trying to expand our family after the wedding, things will “improve” (for lack of a better word).

    Fortunately, we’re intimate and playful with each other in other ways so I know he loves me and finds me attractive. Still, every once in awhile, when I’ve asked him about having sex and he says no, it hurts. I do start to question whether I’m sexy enough or desirable enough. In my case, I get to blame medication (job-related stress too), but it still sucks. It is good to be reminded that it isn’t me and that we can find other ways to express our love for each other.

    Stupid social norms!!!

    • Jessica

      This is totally me. My husband and I, when we were dating, had sex 6-7 times a week. When he started anti-depressants, it dropped to once a week or less- then he started a new, super stressful job. Since our wedding, I’ve been mostly insisting on at least once a week, trying for more. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I know personally I tend to forget that he’s got his own stressors and chemical reactions in his brain that completely kill his sex drive, but I’m working to keep that in mind when he doesn’t feel like it. My friends and I don’t talk about sex really, so it’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one (and not the only one who has to deal with anti-depressants!)

      Also, we stopped using condoms when we got married… personally, natural feels better for me too ;-)

  • Bee

    OMG this post!! Is exactly what I’ve needed for months. I’m late for a meeting but had to finish reading and say THANK YOU for writing this post!! I felt very alone in this same situation.

  • Lys

    Great post, thank you, Christy! Having experienced both sides in different relationships, I just wanted to point out that the cultural assumptions around men wanting it more than women don’t actually make it (much?) easier to be in that situation. Mismatched sex drives still hurt. And either way, if there’s a woman involved, you’re caught up in the morass of conflicting gendered expectations.

    Since getting married, I’ve had trouble transitioning from sex being against the rules to it being socially sanctioned. From puberty until three months ago, I was a slut if I wanted it, and now I’m a bad wife if I don’t? That discordance makes it harder to get in the mood.

    • Class of 1980

      Cognitive dissonance at it’s finest. ;) You are not the first person I’ve heard say that.

  • Bethany

    Um, yes!!! Christy, you are amazing and who knew there was one more great reason for us to be friends? Having the same set of (wonderful) friends and getting married a month after you, I had the same experience. I also felt that hurt when friends talked about how their husbands always wanted sex and they couldn’t keep his hands off. That was not my story, but I felt like it wasn’t okay to say so, and wondered what was wrong with me, or him. Thank you so much for sharing this! Big hugs to you and A.

  • Susan

    I suppose I’m in the majority being the woman with less of a sex drive, but I got a lot out of reading this post, mostly an understanding of what my fiance may be thinking when I reject him. I have thought the whole concept of having it even though I don’t want it is awful, but to think that every time I reject him he feels bad about himself is also awful :( I’m good having it every few months… and he wants it all the time. I always tell him that he comes on too strong, and isn’t romantic enough, and he has been trying… this past weekend he bought me flowers and planned to cook me a fancy meal… well life got in the way and the meal ended up being on Sunday not Friday or Saturday and we were exhausted and busy all weekend.. so as sweet as he was, we still didn’t have sex. And then during the week, he’s a morning person who works late, and I don’t do mornings, so when I want it he’s tired and when he wants it I’m tired… but I have issues with the thought of scheduling sex because I feel like if I’m supposed to do something, it’s going to make me want to do it even less. I get frustrated with him for trying all the time and I feel super guilty about turning him down, so we both just end up feeling lousy.

    • Sharon

      Thank you for commenting as someone that is in the “majority”. I think this post is valuable for the fact that this stereotype DOES exist and it is just as harmful to couples in which the stereotype is TRUE. Just like you said, I feel bad that I have a lesser sex drive than he does and I’m concerned about what it does to our relationship when I turn him down. I have tried ways to increase both my drive and just the frequency of sex.

      Actually, realizing that sex is good for my personal health as well as for our relationship has helped tremendously in giving me incentive to prioritize sex even when I am not in the mood. It has taken some conversations in which I have to talk about how I am open to having sex, but not actually in the mood, so he should initiate if he is interested (which he always is) and I will do my best. The good news is that the biology of sex works in our favor, with happy endorphins released that create a positive reinforcement cycle.

      • Class of 1980

        Check your birth control pills also, if you take them. Some of them reduce the sex drive.

        • Susan

          That’s true :)

          I swapped from the NuvaRing to a copper IUD during my previous relationship in hopes that it would increase my sex drive… but it was just lack of attraction to him in combination with a lower sex drive. So it didn’t really help. But I know it does help some people. Depression, and anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds can also play a part. I know a lot of my issues are mental.

      • Susan

        It is interesting, after we have it, I think, why don’t I want to do this more often? And then enough time passes and I’m just like BLAH, it’s too much EFFORT.

        • anonym

          THIS.^

          I am in the same boat, except my sex drive has actually changed to this lower point, and every time we have sex I go “Why don’t I remember how AWESOME this is?”

          • Agape

            THIS x 2 million

            I’ve been focusing on taking a “mental snapshot” following some fabulous times between the sheets and reviewing that memory later to try and get that groove worn back into my brain.

            Weird brains.

  • Candice

    Thank you. I have spent the first year of my marriage struggling with exactly this. I can’t tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep because I had been rejected again. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t good enough. Sure we had sex but not nearly as often as I deemed normal. We talked about what he needed from me and what I needed from him and that seemed to only make matters worse. Given that we both needed the other to initiate more and felt like we started things ourselves every time. (Isn’t it wonderful when two people can see exact opposite happenings in the same situation…no) It sucked. For a long time. And then I got a job and was actually tired and turned him down for the first time. That was a magical night. I realized it wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough for him and we were able to talk more honestly now that we had both been on the rejecting and rejected sides. It is still taking time to come to terms with the fact that things will always be uneven in our relationship, but it feels so much better knowing I’m not alone. And just last night he spoke those magical words: “I’ll stop saying no.”

  • Amanda M.

    You are not alone. Similar to Lara, our issues were really brought to light through an ED episode. It took 2 years of crying myself to sleep, and then 6 months of my fiance seeing a therapist (I had already been going for awhile). We still have issues, but it is a lot easier not to think those damaging thoughts about not being attractive enough. Thank you APW for another spot-on post!

    • Class of 1980

      Honestly, more often than not, it has nothing to do with attractiveness. And if the guy reassures you that he thinks you are attractive, believe him.

      A guy who isn’t attracted is likely to see the question as an opportunity to suggest some change in your appearance. ;) Most men are pretty honest about the subject of attractiveness, I think.

  • Lturtle

    Wow, thought provoking and feelingly written. Thank you for the post! My husband and I are in a similar situation with totally different circumstances. My drive is much higher than his but it isn’t much of a problem anymore, and here is why;

    He hates to talk about sex or emotions because it makes him so uncomfortable but we talked about it anyway. Though he doesn’t like talking, he is really good at listening and at showing how he feels. I shared how it made me feel unattractive and unwanted when he didn’t have sex with me, and also that I like being touched and kissed even when it doesn’t lead to sex. And he really heard me. Now we sneak touches and kisses when the kid isn’t looking, and even though we still don’t have sex as much as I might like I feel wanted, loved and attractive. It’s also important for me to let him know (very obviously) that I find him attractive still, because he has self esteem issues. And to understand that he prefers to make the first move, that one is difficult for me still but I try.
    All of this is compounded by the difficulty of finding time when we both have energy. He works a crazy night shift schedule, I have a disability and we have a kid in the house. So sometimes even when we both want to, we can’t. And we have had to forgive each other and ourselves for that.

    • Class of 1980

      I sympathize that it feels weird that your husband prefers to initiate. There are a surprising number of men who prefer to make the first move, at least most of the time.

      One guy I know explained it. He said men know if they are capable of physically performing at that moment, so they approach in confidence. If it’s not his idea, he may be caught at a time that he can’t … and it’s embarrassing and deflating (no pun intended) for them.

      That doesn’t make it okay if it becomes a rigid rule, but it explains where some men are coming from. Of course, as someone said way above, it’s not like they can’t still do other things.

  • Katie

    Thank you for posting this. What you wrote really resonates with my situation right now and it is such a relief to know that I’m not the only one who deals with this. I too am a “bookaphile,” but didn’t know where to turn to find out more about what to do/if this is normal. I appreciate you creating a space to openly discuss real life issues like this!

  • HeatherM

    This is definitely something my husband and I have always struggled with. For me, part of accepting the “dry spells” was learning about how every relationship has it’s seasons- seasons of sex, seasons of talking, seasons of road trips and belting out the same song in the car, seasons of stress, and of hunkering down and chugging throughthe hard times together. And it took me YEARS to get this, and even then, it wasn’t completely better for me. What finally did the trick? Oddly enough, I went back to school. He works 80+ hours/ week, and honestly, with me only working 40 hrs/ wk, I had a ton of time to fret and hyper-focus on our “problems” and brainstorm ways to “fix” them. Really, we were just living at such mismatched paces- him breakneck, and me a steady jog. Once I became busier, we could relate to each other better, and I didn’t have time to worry anymore. And THAT is when things finally are at a place where we are both really happy with things. I think as women we can feel this need to worry and hyper-focus on an issue and we have this need to FIX it- looking back, I think that is why we had such a hard time. I think I needed to learn to learn to trust, and in the words of John Lennon, “Let it be”

    • Class of 1980

      80. Hours. A. Week. ??????

      And he’s still alive? ;) Whoa.

  • A

    Wow – thank you!! Like everyone else (and whoa, there are a lot of us!), I thought I was the only one, too!

    When we moved in together 3 years ago, I thought “this will be awesome – we can have sex whenever we want, and not have to worry about whether parents are home, etc.” And then…he never wanted to have sex (well ok, not never, but not nearly as much as I wanted to). In the 6 years we’ve been together, the number of times I have said no to him can be counted on one hand. When we do have sex, it’s fantastic, but being rejected time and time again made me wonder what I was doing wrong. Especially when my friends would talk about how often they did it with their guys – I felt like there was something wrong with us. It’s so refreshing to know that I’m not alone, and that there’s nothing wrong with wanting it more than he does. It took me a while to be ok with the dry spells and the no’s, and I still get frustrated sometimes, but thank you again for posting this! Sometimes, knowing you aren’t the only one who’s struggling with a problem makes all the difference in the world.

  • L

    I can definitely relate to this post… My fiance and I have similarly unbalanced sex drives and for a while, in the beginning, it truly was a problem in our relationship. We have worked things out now and I have gotten over the self-doubt that I felt, but I never really thought about how gender roles were playing into our issues. Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I understand my fiance’s frustration a lot better. I am going to send him the link so he can read it too.

    Honestly, thank heaven for APW. I would be lost without the advice and insight this community provides.

  • Dollie

    Loved this post. Eloquite and well writen. I know exactly where you are coming from! Unless we are married to 14 years olds, they just don’t have the sex drive that Hollywood would like us to believe they do! I’m so much happier knowing its not me, I mean, I’m super hot and great in bed, but sometimes they are just tired like we are!

  • Caitlin

    I was so happy to read this post! I have been dealing with the same thing – wondering why my husband, as you said, “doesn’t turn into a raging ball of hormones at every glimpse of [my] near-naked form,” and the little fights when he may not be in the mood for sex and I contend that I seem to want it more than he does and why is that, when it’s contrary to everything I’d always heard? Glad to know I’m not alone. Thank you for talking about this. :)

  • Anonymous

    I hate to be the downer here, but I got divorced over pretty much this very issue. My exhusband and I had a totally ‘normal’ and acceptable to both of us sex life prior to getting married, but once the wedding was over, he just…shut down sexually. And we tried therapy, and he tried finding a medical reason, and we talked about gendered expectations, and he assured me he was attracted, etc, etc, until eventually it just devolved. He grew increasingly critical, lashing out at me and eventually became verbally abusive, which really helped my downward spiral of self esteem, let me tell you.

    He also eventually admitted to being fine never having sex again, except to have kids (which, what if we had trouble conceiving? But that concern never made sense to him–we’d just have unprotected sex once, and bam, out would come a kid–which was a whole other issue), and I decided I’d rather start over, and with someone who didn’t shut down and turn on me in times of relationship stress, then to stay with what I had.

    Wish I had some words of wisdom to end with, but mainly, I am just glad that someone out there is talking about this. I knew I wasn’t alone, and that helped, so hopefully this post/conversation will help someone else. Good luck.

    • Class of 1980

      I have heard your story before too.

      My business partner told me about his former in laws. His FIL was an obstetrician and he and the MIL had four children. Once the fourth child was born, he announced to his wife that he was never having sex with her again.

      He was also so verbally abusive to everyone that one son tried to kill himself. One daughter ended up in therapy later. The MIL became an alcoholic just to cope with the fact that she felt stuck with him after having four children.

      If someone isn’t willing to work with you, then it’s not a marriage anyway. I want to congratulate you for getting out.

  • http://www.gaguitamia.blogspot.com Angela

    thanks for posting this…you are a bunch of smart ladies there!!
    for this kind of posts, i love you to the moon and back…

  • Claire

    Oh my gosh yes! Thank you for posting this! My friend and I have the same problem and I was just googling for something like this the other week. Yey I’m not a complete sex fiend!

  • Anon

    My sistuiation is slightly different in that my fiance and I BOTH have relatively low sex drives. While neither of us feels frustrated or guilty, we do sometimes wonder if there’s something “wrong” with us becuase we don’t fit the conceived norm. When we do have sex, we enjoy it, so I try to focus on that – and be glad that our libidos are compatible – and not worry so much about how often the media tells us we should be doing/wanting it. But it’s sometimes hard.

  • http://www.carouselgirl.co.uk Simone Carousel Girl

    I feel like I wrote the first half of this, catholic up bringing, family never talked about sex. Caught making out by my Dad who just walked out after saying sorry?! Then using sex as a means to rebel.

    The same thing is happening in my relationship. I have a very high sex drive and my future husbands is very low and this is honestly the first time I’ve ever herd someone else having the same issues! Thank you so much. Then to go on to read the comments and see so many other women saying the same. I love APW!

    I felt rejected, unattractive and odd but also completely alone. All other women and media talk about is how much men think about and want sex. Which is something I saw from past relationships but I was never prepared to be the one asking for and wanting sex more than my other half.

  • Elsie

    In addition to everything else that’s great about this post, thank you for validating the idea that saving sex for marriage is a legitimate choice. I’ve gotten used to assuming that everyone will think I’m weird for doing so myself, and it’s nice to hear from you and other APW ladies that I’m not alone.

  • Melissa

    It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I had a larger sex drive than my husband, but I’m not ashamed anymore. Sex is wonderful and I want it – so what?

  • Kristy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you!
    This has been an issue on which I have felt absolutely alone on.
    Thank you Christie and APW!!!

  • http://twitter.com/fergus30 Fergus

    I am SO glad you posted this. I am lucky enough to be in a relationship now with a man who shares my sex drive, but I’ve been in a couple before where I often felt shamed and disgusted by my drive for sex. Actually, at the time, one of the worst offenders in reinforcing my shame were my closest girlfriends, who seemed genuinely shocked and scandalized that I actually enjoyed having sex, even to the point where I seemed to be “begging for it” from the men I was seeing.

    Another issue that can come out of this is the idea of women wielding power through sex. The idea that if you give it up too early or ask for it too much, you’re losing a certain power over your man. I find this to be absolutely infuriating, but I still get too much advice like: “how do I tell him I am upset about this? Just stop having sex with him!” to really ignore it. I think this acceptance of the fact that it is perfectly normal and healthy to want sex more than your male partner can also be used to talk about this sexual “power” concept that women have and maybe try to change the narrative? Just a thought.

  • LMS

    Just wanted to finally come out of lurker status to say that this post resonated with me so much and made me feel less alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Christy, APW, and all you fabulous commenters.

  • Elaine

    Christy, thanks for writing this, APW, thanks for publishing it!

    So glad to see the comments of so many women going through the same thing! This has been a huge issue in our marriage…. and C and I have gone through the gauntlet of emotions… what’s wrong with me? what’s wrong with him? etc. etc. I don’t have a super-high sex drive, but it’s higher than his, and I really crave the closeness that is such an inseparable part of real, healthy, sex. Because of my past, I was really looking forward to sex finally being right. It was a shock when our honeymoon did not go as I envisioned with this new activity now added to our relationship. He and I waited for marriage which should leave us unencumbered now? Right? Wasn’t he supposed to be chasing after sex with my and pushing for it?!

    Christy, so thankful we had that “ah-ha!” moment of “Wait… you too?!” because I really did feel very alone in this and like it was something that I felt I couldn’t even talk about. I even remember seeing how happy you and A. seemed to be, and thinking, “*They* don’t have to deal with this.” So glad to be able to talk about this, and do so without impugning C’s masculinity. So what if we don’t fit the societal norm?

    It’s complicated, but we’re starting to work through it (with help), and beginning to really understand each other, and I’m starting to see the light up ahead. Which looks like it may be a sexier light than the past few years.

    • http://biggerinreallife.com/ Christy A.

      I’ve had two of my Real Life friends post a comment on this board now, one I knew struggled with this and one I didn’t. We could have gone our whole lives not knowing that there were others in our church, heck, in our small circles of friends that are on the same page, feeling alone because ‘no one’s going through what I’m going through.’ (Well, maybe not our whole lives. I am a notorious oversharer, after all.) Thanks APW, the outpouring of thanks and support in the comments has been overwhelming and humbling. And thank you on a very personal level; since this article was posted, I now have a dinner date with a my girlfriend who got married one month after I did to get together and have a honest conversation about how this has affected both of us. Never would have happened without APW.

  • Meredith

    Such a needed post. Wow.

    It seems like these comments should all be boxed up and made into a book, right? Some words of comfort and solidarity for women who are looking for some reassurance that they are beautifully normal.

  • J
    • zico

      thanks for the introduction to this column :)

      From what I’ve read so far, I don’t agree with what he says about mismatched libidos, but there seem to be lots of other topics for interesting reading.

  • http://hannahjanehelms.wordpress.com Hannah

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you. Reading this was like reading about myself, and this is the first article I have found in my four months of marriage that addresses the role-reversal in libidos. I was almost in tears reading this, just for the simple joy of finally finding some solidarity. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • http://blingirishpirate.blogspot.com blind irish pirate

    I have absolutely no problem pointing out that America has had and continues to have a very prevalent virgin/whore complex with the “standards” of women, and a subtle but just as prevalent good guy/stud muffin “standard” for men. Which is completely along the heterosexual norm – go figure.

    But this: “Looking back, we can both see that we never had a bad sex life. What we had was poor gender-based expectations of what our sex life would look like that ended up setting us up for a hard time.”

    Dear GOD… but isn’t that how the freaking rush of a hyper-informed society works?

  • Moz

    Amazing post. THANK YOU.

  • http://www.soulwanderings.com/ one soul

    More APW brilliance.

    And yes, so totally normal. My sex drive massively exceeds that of my husband’s in the first couple weeks of my cycle (am I allowed to talk about menstrual cycles here? I hope so, cause hormones are totally fucking relevant, excuse the pun), and then switches to being way less in the second half. And that’s just one of the million permutations of ‘normal’ sex drive differences.

    God, I love this site.

  • NotMyName

    I am almost in tears over this. I’ve never never never discussed this with anyone, and have been dealing with it for several years now. My husband and I have talked about it, and he has always blamed it on the pressures of work and school (we’re both finishing grad school, super stressful, blah blah blah). It’s gotten to the point where we haven’t had sex in months, and I don’t expect it will happen until after we finish school at least (months away). I know that he loves me, and I love him, but when I think about this, it just rips me up. I can’t even touch a lot of these issues because I’m at my desk, and crying doesn’t go over well at work. But I wanted to hit “Exactly” on almost every comment because, well, it was exactly what I was thinking. Christy, thanks for writing about this, and thanks everyone else for sharing.

  • e

    thank you for this. I am starting to feel better already.

  • Holly

    Could have written this myself! took many years for me to realise there was nothing wrong with me (or him!)
    in fact a couple of months ago a friend from a very traditional and conservative country was talking to me about starting a family – she confessed that she had stopped bothering with sexy lingerie that her girlfriends and female relatives pushed on her because her husband was so weary from work that he just wanted to sleep. She confessed that she didn’t know what to do and felt like a failure as a wife. Society really does make us feel like there is something wrong if our men don’t want to sleep with us at every given opportunity

  • HayKeen

    Totally me as well! A few other things (besides all the wonderful things said already in the Comments) I thought of when reading this post and all the comments:

    1 – No one ever really talks about the “dry spells” that are NORMAL in a relationship, especially including post-childbirth. If we were brought up to see these as NORMAL, I don’t think we’d stress out so much about them. My daughter is 2.5 yo and I think we’ve had sex maybe a handful of times since she was born. I wish it were more but I’m killing myself with worry over it either.

    2 – Based on my knowledge (gleaned from friends) a lot of women are still anti-masturbation, or afraid of it, or whatever. I think we have come a long way in terms of making it more acceptable for woment to do, talk about, etc., but I think we still have a long way to go.

    If some of you don’t mind responding, I’m just curious with all of those who are frustrated with the lack of sex, do you masturbate? I’ve found that in my relationship, where my husband is one of those whose sex drive is lower, I take care of myself during some of the dry spells and that reduces some of the stress I feel in our relationship re: sex frequency.

    • Michelle

      I guess you’re right – it is uncomfortable to talk about! :)

      In short, yes. And he’s fine with it.

  • Michelle

    Your post made me want to send a hug your way! I grew up in a similar environment but more or less “walked away” from the prescribed dating practices in my early 20s, so I could relate 100% to all of the expectations and process you mention!

    I have to say, though, that between that time 10 years ago, and my recent wedding this year, I had the pleasure of being close friends with so many wonderful women who got married and then expressed the exact same thing that you do here. But always quietly, in whispers, after long talks and shopping days with just the two of us, and with the insistance that it stay between us. I guess, because I was single and dating, I was safer to tell, maybe? Back in our group, in front of the other married girls, they were talking again about how their husbands just couldn’t control themselves. I think there’s an element of competition between us ladies that we keep alive with these types of things – and I think you’re an absolute HERO for addressing it here.

    My completely informal feedback over the past decade would indicate that this is a perfeclty normal and common concern for every – or almost every- couple during the 1st 3 years post-wedding.

    Also? Now that I’m married, I’m noticing that being on the pill makes a HUGE difference in his interest levels, too. There are studies out there about its effects on our pheremones and attractiveness to the opposite sex. Some experts refer to it as the “divorce pill.” So that might be something to consider as well.

    Now on to the last holdout of married-women-bragging: their guy’s “size.” Seriously, save it for your private time with him. No other woman on the planet cares – and you definitely don’t need to exaggerate at a bridal shower when your audience is all female and all uninterested in your husband (and a couple of the women there dated him before he met you and know…). I just do not understand this one! :)

  • http://www.bonafideamor.com Katie

    Does anyone know of any good books that address this topic? I feel like most all of the marriage books I’ve read assume that men always want sex more than women and this is a problem in marriages. I’d love to know of some books that provide a different viewpoint!

  • K

    I know I am late to the discussion but THANK YOU!!! All of you, the original blogger, the commenters, everyone. This discussion is incredibly pertinent to my current situation, and this post is helping me emotionally reframe what I had already known intellectually. I already planned on having a conversation with my fiance about it this evening, but now I think I might be able to get through it without dissolving into tears.

  • Anna

    You have put my mind at ease. Thank you so much! I am a virgin who is going to get married soon :) Coming from a conservative home my parents never talked to me about sex and I never learned about it in school either (I was kept at home those days); the only time I ever heard people talking about sex was from hormone crazy teenage girls; that’s it!
    I have been looking for answers on the web about my upcoming wedding night (since there is no one I feel comfortable to talk about it with) and all I could find was the stereo type. ‘He is going to want sex all the time and I will just have to bear through it’ and the such. Reading so many things like that I actually have gotten a small-ish fear of sex. I was frightened thinking of my upcoming wedding night! Your post has helped me a lot. While I obviously don’t know if I want sex more than him or not (hence my being a virgin) It makes me feel better that it could be both ways.
    Now I can comfortably go into my wedding night and just figure things out one step at a time. I’m glad to know he might not be someone who will just want sex from me all the time
    Thank you very much
    —Anna

  • Alyssa M

    This post is exactly what I’ve needed to read for years. My FH and I have

  • Rebecca

    thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you.
    this so puts my mind AND heart at ease. i also grew up in a very conservative household, as did my FH, and ever since i’ve lost my v-card i’ve had a really high sex drive. chalk it up to repressing said urges growing up, being a really passionate person or whatever. i’ve always felt broken or messed up or just not right. my ex fiance wanted me to see a therapist, telling me there was something wrong with me. this broke my heart and i’ve always struggled feeling the way i feel.
    then along came my mr. right.
    one of the first things he told me when we started dating was “i have a lower sex drive than some guys. is that ok?”
    i felt deflated at first. i wasn’t sure if he would be ok with my higher than normal sex drive. i’m definitely not the “sorry sweetheart, not tonight.” conveniently headache prone, june cleaver, missionary style, love me tender type. i can be in the mood at the drop of the hat, throw around the “that’s what she said” line every chance i get, like things on the kinkier side and will never, ever say no if he wants to get it on.
    but he’s mr. right. in every way. including our business in bed.
    sure, sometimes it bothers me that he’d rather cuddle and go to sleep than get all crazy on me. and yeah, sometimes i wonder if he’s really attracted to me (being a plus size girl doesn’t help this either) or if he even enjoys sex with me.
    what he IS is understanding. and loving. he loves me “just as i am” (huzzah for bridget jones!) and i know that he is attracted to me, in the bed and out. ours is a give and take relationship. we cuddle some nights and other nights he tugs my hair when i ask him to.
    but this article has really help settle those fears and nagging bits and wondering “am i ok? am i normal”
    again, for your words and support and reassurance: thank you.

  • Unknown

    WOW exactly what I needed! My now husband and I have had trouble with this from the start. And he claims he’s never had a low libido (burn to my ego) before. But the more pressure I put on it and talked and talked and talked about it the worse things got. He felt like if we didn’t have sex, or it wasn’t great, or there was no finish I was disappointed. I was and couldn’t hide it and would get emotional and talk about it some more.
    I put so much pressure on the damn thing we stopped having sex. It’s taken a huge toll on my confidence and every time he rejects me I feel those nasty thoughts saying “you just not be pretty enough” “You’re awful in bed” “if you wore heels, or did your hair, or wore sexier clothes…” and I have to reassure myself I am pretty and sexy. If only I’d accepted our difference in the beginning I could have enjoyed the small steps we did take. Now we’re really struggling to rebuild things and not talk about it and try again.
    Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone and ladies, PLEASE try to accept it and the small steps and not badger your men until they feel like such a let down that you’re both trying to build each other back up. Good luck everyone!

  • Laetitia

    While I can totally relate to the issue and have not figured out a way
    to really deal with it yet, I am astonished to read that it is
    apparently viewed as a taboo one. I get the gender biased expectation
    that men’s libido be generally more pronounced and think it can be safe
    to say it applies to the European countries where I’ve lived, too. But I
    have never experienced any of the hiding and hushing described here on
    the women’s side. Not in my soon-to-be-30-generation, at least. In fact,
    I can remember discussing this problem with other troubled girls (and
    troubled boys, of course) as far as my early twenties – those guys not
    necessarily being the closest of my friends. Could it be a cultural
    matter?

    So this post is very interesting for me – if not causing
    for so much refreshing relief as in so many other readers, since I’ve
    never felt abnormal or alone with this one – but it does leave the
    question open: how do you cope? Just as for Christy, for me too sex is
    MY love dialect, which brings together exactly the two love languages
    she talks about, Physical Touch and Quality Time. So it’s not exactly
    the same as dealing with any other thing that bothers you but is not
    crucial to making you feel loved. Like, say, dirty dishes might bother
    me, but basically who cares. When he picks doing the dishes over having
    sex here and now however, I do not feel bothered, I feel unloved even
    though I know he doesn’t mean it that way. And I do feel bad bad bad
    about the discomfort I feel because sex with my partner IS amazing – I
    just seem to want it more often, and it’s frustrating when he rejects me
    or goes days and days without apparently thinking about it. Someone in a
    comment has written how it’s gotten better for her after she started
    working more. I can relate to this too, because it’s true that since
    I’ve been more focused on my career I’ve had less time for sex and less
    time to worry. But I feel this only shifts the attention, not changing
    the problem. The problem not being the difficulty to have sex due to
    lack of time, but the use we make of the time we do have.

  • swc

    Thank you so much for this post! My hand is raised along with yours! I found this post after mulling over this exact issue and looking up this site. We definitely need to talk about this reversal of cultural gender expectation and I would love to hear more about the process of working through it with our spouses.