Help me accept my sex drive and become okay with fulfilling my sexual needs outside my sexless (and open) relationship.
posted by chameleon to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've written a few AskMe's about my relationship in the past -- the first time was more than three years ago -- and despite insightful advice from several people, I'm kind of ashamed and embarrassed that I have not been able to make any changes in my life.
I'm a 37-year-old gay man. My partner and I have been together for eight years, and we have a good deal of love, but zero sex life. It’s not that we started out with great sex and it petered out; we just have never been sexually compatible. He has no sex drive. We’ve fooled around maybe once a year on average and on those occasions the sex has never been more than adequate.
My question is not about how to make us sexually compatible; after eight years it’s never gonna happen.
In almost every other way, we’re compatible. We “click,” we have similar interests, we make each other laugh, we enjoy being with each other, we love each other. But he has zero libido. Always has. We've tried several years of couples therapy (still ongoing); he’s on treatment for low testosterone; I’ve even tried taking the pressure off, and letting our sex life develop on its own. Nothing has worked. It’s just never going to happen with us sexually. And even if he did get horny, he’s not good in bed and I have no real desire to have sex with him.
Bottom line: he is cute from the neck up. But there is no sexual compatibility.
I know some of you might say, “You guys sound like best friends, so why not leave it there and break up.” The thing is, I have tried several times over the years to do that. My partner has even said that although he is very content with our relationship and would be sad if I broke up with him, he would understand my reasons for doing so. But even though I sometimes fixate on the idea of breaking up with him, I just can’t seem to actually go through with it. I love him too much, and the fear of what happens after the breakup is overpowering. How could I live without my best friend in my life?
On top of that, his job comes with an apartment, so we currently pay no rent and we live in an expensive city. If we broke up, I'd have to move out and pay rent again. I know, cry me a river. But this is a big deal to me. How could I be so stupid as to give up something like this - great substantive relationship, sweet guy, free apartment -- when the only problem is sex?
These are all the reasons why I want to see if I can maintain our relationship while having my own sex life.
Now for the meat of the issue:
I have a big inner conflict when it comes to sex. On the one hand, I really enjoy sex, and I have a pretty high sex drive. I’ve had lots of sex in the past. I notice hot guys ALL THE TIME. Faces, eyes, hair, jawlines, stubble, neck muscles, arms, backs, legs, feet, all turn me on. I actually think I have some mild sexual compulsive tendencies, although I’m generally able to keep it under control.
On the other hand, there’s this big part of me that sees sex as shameful. This part of me is very cautious. This part of me is very afraid to break any rules. This part of me hears certain messages American society drums into our heads about how sex is bad and sex is shallow. It seems like talk shows and advice columns are filled with people who have terrible relationships because they thought sexual attraction was the be-all and end-all of a relationship. I never wanted to be one of those people. I feel like your dick is a horrible judge of substantive relationship compatibility. So I have found someone who is substantively wonderful and will never cheat on me because he isn't interested in sex.
The other thing about my sex drive is that even though it's so powerful, it's also fleeting. Once I ejaculate, my sex drive just disappears, and I think, what was I driving myself crazy for, and how stupid would it be to leave my partner and give up FREE RENT IN AN EXPENSIVE CITY when I can just satisfy this occasional need without him?
Also, sex isn’t like food and water. Without food and water, you’ll die, but sex is not a requirement for physical survival.
Being gay makes it even more difficult. There’s a large portion of the country who thinks gay sex is immoral and disgusting. I’m ashamed to say that even though I’ve been out of the closet for years, I’m afraid of the religious right. I know that sounds ridiculous. Why should I care what the religious right thinks? I’m not even Christian! But for some reason, these “authority figures” have a big hold over my thinking. Maybe on some level I’m scared of getting gay-bashed or treated like a second-class citizen. There’s also STDs. And even condoms can’t prevent things like crabs. It took me a long time to come out of the closet because I was so ashamed of being gay and worried about the consequences. I think part of me still feels some of that shame and I don’t know how to make it go away completely.
My partner and I have an open relationship, which means I get to play around. It’s a don’t ask/don’t tell situation; he prefers not to know what I do. The thing is, in trying to fulfill my sexual needs over the years, I eventually got to a point where I was repeatedly having unfulfilling sex with strangers, feeling bad about myself, doing it again, etc., and not being able to stop myself. I finally got scared and disgusted with all of this last spring, so I went to a Sexual Compulsives Anonymous meeting, but it didn’t seem right for me. Instead, I’ve managed to successfully refrain on my own. It’s been more than six months since I’ve had regret-worthy sex.
But now I’ve gone from being a sex addict to being pretty much celibate, and it’s no fun. Don’t get me wrong, the celibacy is working much better for me than the sex addiction. I’m not disgusted with myself anymore, I feel like I'm in the driver's seat of my own life again, I’m more aware of my desires, and I am making more deliberate choices instead of impulsively drowning in empty sex. So it’s definitely an improvement.
But now I just jerk off a few times a week and it's getting old.
How do I find a middle ground?
My partner said that if I need to fulfill my needs and don’t want to do it with strangers, he would be okay with me going on “dates” with people instead of having sex with strangers off the internet.
How do I find people to do this while being honest with them about my relationship status?
And how do I do this without feeling guilty about it?
Before you ask, I do have a therapist, and we discuss my sexual attitudes a lot. But I can't seem to get past these hangups. So I want to get an outside perspective.
I know that happiness is a choice. I just don't know whether I would be happy in the long run if I broke up.
Why is it so hard for me to accept my own sexual needs? Why do I think sex is so shameful when at the same time I love it? How do I change this attitude?
How do I see sex as a legitimate factor in a successful relationship instead of just something that distorts a person’s judgment?
How do I accept that an absolute, utter lack of sexual compatibility is a legitimate reason for breaking up? How do I accept that I have the right to choose a good sex life?
(I realize these might all be aspects of the same question. I also realize that these questions might seem jaw-droppingly stupid or the answers blindingly obvious to some of you reading. But I just can't seem to get there.)