I am feeling guilty and confused about sexual issues I had with my ex. Please help give me ideas about how I should have handled this, and what I can learn from it (sorry, this is long and a bit convoluted).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A few months ago I broke up with a man who I had been friends with for two years, but had been dating for only three months. He was close to finishing his PhD and moving out of the country (Canada), and I had other reasons for breaking up with him. But I'm feeling confused and guilty about some sexual problems we had, and I'd like to get some outside opinions on how I can interpret what happened.
I'm from Western Europe, he's American; I was twenty-six when I met him, he was thirty-nine. He had left a sixteen-year relationship (his first and only) several months prior to dating me. Before dating him, I had kissed several guys and one girl, and had given one guy a blowjob, two years ago. So I was very inexperienced; the reason for that was that I take a long time to trust people, and wanted to only have sex with somebody who I felt fully comfortable with (self-esteem issues haven't helped with that). But I masturbate daily and love reading erotica and books about sex, and watching some kinds of porn, and I'm used to talking openly about sex with my close friends.
Openness and silly, guilt-free joy in sex is very important to me, particularly since I feel that there's an undercurrent here in Canada of shame surrounding sexual pleasure. I slept with him on the first night we decided to be more than friends, and I told him early that I wanted us to be comfortable and open about sex. I loved being with him, and I was thrilled to be able to explore my sexuality with him, and to be able to learn about his sexuality.
He was on Wellbutrin and Citalopram, and as a result, he was unable to come. After we got together, he lowered his dose of Citalopram under his doctor's supervision, but was never able to come with me. This wasn't a problem for me; I was only sad for him, as he seemed (understandably) frustrated. I told him that. I also told him that I understood that even if the lower dose of Citalopram helped, his body might take a long time to adjust to me after being with another woman for so long, and that I would love to try anything that would give him pleasure (whether he came or not), and that I would be happy for him to finish himself off if it was easier for him to come that way.
He was good with me, gave me oral sex and fingered me often, and had vaginal sex a couple of times a week (he had problems staying erect). He seemed very happy to see me come. We cuddled all the time. I gave him oral sex often, which I loved doing and which he mostly seemed to enjoy. I'd ask him if there was anything he'd like me to do differently for him, and the response was always the same: "No, that's very nice." Sometimes as I was going down on him he would seem bored, and I would ask if there was anything I could do differently, and then he would tell me that he wasn't in the mood; I never pressed the point, and told him that he needn't feel uncomfortable telling me he wasn't in the mood.
But the more time we spent together, the more he seemed not very sexual. The first time he fingered me, he was very pleased when he found my cervix, because he thought the cervix was the G-spot. I asked if I could watch him masturbate once, and he didn't seem to understand why I would want to. I brought up sex dreams while we were snuggling, and he told me he'd never had any. I told him when I'd first started masturbating, and that I masturbated daily; he told me about his first time as a teenager, but said that he'd never really masturbated much after that. He did tell me that he'd sometimes fantasized about M/F/F threesomes. He never once referred to the sex we were having - he didn't talk about us making love, or having sex, or fucking (I switched between all three). There was no playful flirting or rude jokes or innuendo from him. At first I felt he was not yet comfortable with me; then I was puzzled by his lack of curiosity. In the last month we were together, I blatantly came onto him (whispering to him in public what I wanted him to do to me when we got home), and was completely ignored when we got home. It really started to sink in that, even though I'd told him that I loved sex with him and would be clear if I wasn't in the mood, he had initiated sex only twice in our time together. I was frustrated that while I loved having sex with him, we didn't seem to be clicking sexually - it seemed to be something that he was doing for me but wasn't into much himself.
His ex was in a new relationship, and we had remained friends. I knew that she had been happy when their relationship ended and was on friendly terms with him, so I asked her if he had been more open with her. She told me that he hadn't been interested in sex in years, which had frustrated her, and that when they'd been together he'd seemed puzzled by the concept of online porn.
I had been feeling pressured because of the pace of the relationship. He wanted deep commitment very fast, and I'd tried to slow the pace down a bit without much success; and I felt that sexual incompatibility on top of that meant that we weren't a good match. When I broke up with him I tried to be gentle, and tried to emphasize that I didn't think that either of us was wrong, just that we weren't very compatible sexually.
Now the part that I'm confused about. A week later, he sent me a long e-mail in which he told me that he didn't have a lower sex drive than mine, instead he was repressed. He said that in fact he masturbated - to orgasm, even though it took a while - first thing when he got home every day, and had over a gig of porn pics (he gave me the names of his favourite sites and even links to some of his favourite clips), but that he had never admitted this to anybody. He said that he'd been frustrated by his ex's low sex drive and unwillingness to talk about sex, but at the same time he said that he'd felt ashamed of his own sex drive because he felt like it weakened him. He said that he'd got the impressed that women weren't really into sex anyway, that it seemed to be a generally uncomfortable thing foisted onto them by men (??!!!). He said that I had changed his mind about that, and that he was ready to be sexually open.
For various reasons I didn't go back to him, but - I'm still confused. One part of me thinks that we simply didn't have similar sex drives - it happens! - and that he was lying after we broke up in order to get me back. Another part of me believes him. How can I tell the difference, and in either case, what should I have done differently? What should I do if this happens again - the standard answer seems to be to talk *more*, but by doing this am I pressuring my partner? At the time I tried not to pressure him in any way lest he feel that I was worried about him not coming, but now I feel guilty that I've now shamed him even more for his sex drive, whatever it may be like. Did I allow my own years of pent-up sexual frustration to blind me to his needs? If lots of sex is important to me, how can I balance my needs with not making the other person feel ashamed of their needs?