How to not feel like shit when you can't get no satisfaction
April 18, 2013 1:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and distance in my relationship that seem to occur when I'm not having sex?

Sorry, this will be long; but I'm posting anonymously and so I don't want to leave anything important out.

Periodically, I go through days of feeling emotional, vulnerable, bad about myself, and anxious about my relationship with my boyfriend. This seems to coincide with the periods when we don't have much sex, which are often periods when we're busy and stressed. These episodes interfere with the rest of my life and I'm really, really over them. We've been together for about a year, and I've experienced this for the last seven months or so. I've had comparable feelings in other relationships but never to this degree.

I have trouble focusing and become antsy and unproductive during these times, exacerbating my feelings of worthlessness. If I'm with him, I find myself wondering constantly when we can have sex and even unconsciously contriving situations to get us alone together (which when I look back on it and realize what I was doing, seems unfair to him). Even when I hang out with friends or work to distract myself, I find myself wondering when I can find an excuse to be with him again. I often get insomnia during these periods. I journal to try to get rid of my bad feelings, but it only seems to focus my mind more on (what I have identified) as the source of the problem--sex. I often have distinct, sorrowful feelings of being distant from my boyfriend when these periods hit, as this is difficult for me to talk to him about.

In the past I have tried to communicate during these periods--just to tell him I'm feeling anxious and down and that it seems connected to not having sex. I've done my best to be respectful and make it clear that he's not doing anything wrong and that rationally, I think our relationship is great. Still, I think it's hard for him not to feel inadequate and bad about himself if I bring up something like this. This has come up enough that I'm sick of the conversation about it (and it seems to make the problem worse) and I find myself avoiding talking to him about my feelings in these periods, or just telling him that I feel bad for no good reason and that it will go away eventually. Normally we have much more productive conversations, but this one just never works. Plus, our dry spells usually coincide with times when he has a lot of work, is stressed out and exhausted at the end of the day, and doesn't usually feel very sexy--so even when I do bring it up, it's hard to fix and I feel like it frustrates him to know about it.

I know the solution to having different sex drives is usually for one partner to masturbate more. In my case, I haven't felt satisfied with this solution. What I get from sex is an emotional connection just as much as a physical sensation, and masturbating to solve this emotional problem has made me feel even more lonely, pathetic, and distant from my boyfriend. Once when I was having insomnia and really going crazy, I masturbated in bed next to him--but, I'm ashamed to say, I did it without his consent while he was asleep (thinking I could just get the feeling over with without waking him up when he had to work early the next day). This really hurt him (and now that I'm not in that state of mind, I can certainly see why) and I don't want to repeat that.

I feel even worse about the situation because I am a woman, and the sensation of worthlessness and lack of value that I often get during these periods seems to indicate my own internalization of gender norms that force women to depend on male attention for self-worth. My boyfriend does lots of great things for me that aren't sex (compliments, massages, little favors, even the heteronormative option of flowers), but these periods of negative feelings and anxiety seem to keep recurring even though he does an awesome job making me feel loved and wanted.

My hormones feel like a teenager's when this happens and it makes me sort of disgusted with myself when I look at it from the outside. I feel not-myself, and even if the "dry spell" is only a week, it feels interminable. The only current fix is for me to ride it out until we eventually have sex. The only other time it goes away for long periods is when we're long-distance; when I know I can't see him, this pattern doesn't happen--perhaps significantly, it seems to be connected to being near him, but not having sex.

I keep searching for some etiology for these feelings that isn't "feeling sexually undesired makes you feel worthless" or "you physically need regular sex to function" because the implications of both kind of disturb me, but I'm not sure where else to look for the source of this problem. Part of me thinks the solution would simply be to explain all this to him and ask him to take an hour out of his day to have sex with me during these times, but that seems really demanding. Whenever I imagine this whole situation if we reversed genders, that (and many of the other behaviors, conscious or unconscious, that I have resorted to) seems even more unfair and kinda creepy.

So what should I do? How should I talk about this with my boyfriend, if at all? How should I try to make these crappy feelings go away without hurting anyone? Have I prematurely ruled out solutions that might actually be a good idea? Maybe the solution is just to do some exhausting exercise and/or take a cold shower?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not sure how you could get round this without talking with your partner. Is he so busy that he has no time for days and weeks and months to talk about something pretty serious which is affecting you and the relationship?

My feeling is that you feel inordinately bad about feeling vulnerable, sad and isolated without sex. Therapy might help there (maybe you are feeling insecure about the lack of sexual affirmation as well as feeling cut off emotionally from you partner), but it feels like you're beating yourself up too much (or am I failing to read between the lines?). For instance your masturbation example - Why is that so very reprehensible? I mean, you are in your house, in your bed, next to your soundly sleeping partner, and you get sexual longings and attend to them. Why is that not good?

Maybe I'm missing something. I wish I could send some good energy your way. There seems to be a lot of sadness and/or worry here. Is your relationship OK otherwise?
posted by miorita at 2:08 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This isn't about sex, it's about emotional intimacy. You and your boyfriend need to find other things that foster your (very understandable) need to be close with him emotionally.

As an aside, I don't see why should feel bad about masturbating while he was sleeping. He was not available for sex, you thought it would help you sleep. Unless you were touching him while you did it, I think it's totally okay.
posted by Specklet at 2:11 PM on April 18, 2013 [20 favorites]

I think you have a very real issue of self-esteem being wrapped up in sex. While sex is great, its not, nor should it be, the center of your universe. I mean, we still have to scrub toilets and do the laundry.

I know it's a chestnut, but I think you need to talk to a therapist. What you are describing is very close to sex-addiction and it has nothing to do with sex.

I'm so disturbed that in the instances where your boyfriend isn't having sex with you, that you're obsessing over why that might be and thinking about sex, obsessing about it, etc.

It's interfering with your life and relationships. Time to see a professional.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

What you're describing sounds like a good fit for working with a therapist that utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. You might discover that "finding the source" of the feelings isn't as important as examining the thinking that's going on.
posted by HuronBob at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2013

If the problem is that you feel emotional distance, why couldn't the solution be something else that creates intimacy and emotional bonding? I'm not convinced this is a sex drive problem.

It really sounds like you're terrified of losing him, and these periods are really you just asking for his reassurance that he's in love with you, and not going to leave you, and is focused on you. And your way of getting that reassurance is sex.

Is there something in your history that would make that sense of unease make sense? You are completely emotionally dependent on him, and that's exhausting for both of you.

Metafilter cliche: counselling for you would help you break the emotional dependency you have with him. It would give you ways to talk to him about your feelings. It would help you create other coping strategies.

Good luck. This sounds like it's really tough right now, and I hope it gets easier.
posted by guster4lovers at 2:13 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your question describe something beyond a hearty sex drive - your thoughts about sex are obsessive. I recommend that you consult with a therapist who can treat obsessive disorders. I would recommend a psychiatrist, which would provide the option of pharmaceutical treatment. I am a layman in these matters but this looks to me like it might be a "pure O" variant; such intrusive thoughts are not uncommon in pure O.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:16 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The spectrum from 'masturbating in bed next to me without my consent is hurtful' to 'take an hour out of your day to have sex with me' reveals something is off with your sex life in general. Sure, masturbating in bed next to someone is kinda creepy but it isn't awful, whereas asking him to put out to assuage your emotional anxiety is. He cannot fix your emotional anxiety, whatever it is that is driving you to associate sex and emotional intimacy during very specific times.

In all seriousness, I'd say talk to him and get therapy. Because what you're doing isn't fair and is kinda manipulative. You need to back up off sex as this emotional cureall because it's obviously not actually curing anything, it's just a temporary fix.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I always post about love languages: What do you need to feel loved? What do you give to feel love? Some love languages are: Gifts, quality time, physical touch, words of encouragement, services (like dishes and such)

One thing I often see if people trying to give THEIR love language to the partner, but NOT PARTNERS love language. If both people are giving and receiving the wrong love language, everybody feels like they are pouring out lots of love but getting none in return.

That said.. sex provides a lot of good chemicals, a lot of which provide partner bonding. How much do you exercise? Eat well? Is, basically, sex your only provider for good feelings? This is.. pretty complex. Possible issues involve anxiety and hormonal imbalances, maybe depression. None of these are shameful, just something you should probably get checked.

"I masturbated in bed next to him--but, I'm ashamed to say, I did it without his consent while he was asleep (thinking I could just get the feeling over with without waking him up when he had to work early the next day). This really hurt him (and now that I'm not in that state of mind, I can certainly see why) and I don't want to repeat that." Err..... what? I know theres a lot of emotional weight attached to sex in this relationship, and you... I don't know. that is just weird to me. I guess it made him feel inadequate again? But, sweetie, you've got every right to masturbate and him to not get huffy.

Therapy? Therapy. Individual first, then maybe couples.
posted by Jacen at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2013

I'm ashamed to say, I did it without his consent while he was asleep ... This really hurt him (and now that I'm not in that state of mind, I can certainly see why) and I don't want to repeat that.

You've gotten good advice already about your own state of mind but this jumped out at me:

1. You do NOT need permission from anyone else to touch your own body.
2. There is nothing wrong with (and a great deal of courtesy involved in) taking care of your own needs when the other person is asleep and needs to get up early the next day.
3. Your boyfriend should not be hurt that his girlfriend touched her own body when he was asleep.

In a healthy relationship what you've described could be interpreted by the other person as very, very hot. Not shameful at all. It's YOUR BODY.

You have a higher sex drive which means he's not having sex with you with the frequency you'd like but he's also making you feel guilty for doing it alone? Not cool.
posted by headnsouth at 2:24 PM on April 18, 2013 [26 favorites]

This really hurt him.

I don't get it. Why did it hurt him?
posted by Dansaman at 2:32 PM on April 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I don't know if I agree with the folks who are saying that this is obsessive, because I don't know how you're quantifying things. How long are your "periods in which you don't have much sex?" If it's only a couple of days, that's one thing; if it's a couple of weeks, that's another. My brain would be pretty fixated on sex after a couple of weeks, personally.

Part of me thinks the solution would simply be to explain all this to him and ask him to take an hour out of his day to have sex with me during these times, but that seems really demanding.

Again, do you mean EVERY day? That might be a bit much, but asking for that every now and then--maybe every three days, YMMV--doesn't seem out of order. Adults with busy lives and lots of commitments often have to schedule sex, as unromantic/unspontaneous as that seems, or their needs just aren't going to get met. It can give both of you something to look forward to, especially if you can explain it that way to him rather than presenting it as a chore of sorts.

Also, do you and your boyfriend live together? Are you apart periodically? You sound pretty young (apologies if I'm wrong) and I know I went through thought patterns like this when I was in college and shortly thereafter. Since my boyfriend wasn't always around, and we were apart for summers, breaks, etc., I got obsessive about sex when I knew he WAS going to be around, because I felt like I was going to miss opportunities while I had them and I'd regret that later. If this is your situation, that may change as you age and as your relationship changes, especially if you move toward living together.

Are you possibly embarrassed that you have a higher sex drive than your BF? I think that might be the source of your guilt, rather than the idea that you need male validation to be happy. I know I've struggled with this myself--women aren't "supposed to" want sex, in much of our culture--but if you can possibly present it to your BF that it's not that he's doing anything wrong, it's just that you're a little MORE woman than many, and that he's lucky to have a lady with a drive like yours, that may help too.

I hope this isn't too disjointed. I feel for you, because I think I've been there too. Good luck.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:35 PM on April 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I've been in a relationship with someone (sort of) like yourself, and what made it really hard for both of us was that my partner would not tell me in the moment that they really wanted/needed sex in those moments that those feelings were strong -- they'd tell me later, when it was too late to do something about it.

I obviously cannot speak for your boyfriend, but if he were me and you (say) woke me up because you wanted me to touch you while you masturbated (assuming I was too exhausted/not in the mood to participate more fully), I'd happily do it, and if I was awake and not in the mood but you were, I'd happily be physically (but not necessarily sexually) intimate with you, presuming I cared about and respected you. Been there, done that.

I've also been there but unable to do that, because I didn't know the needs existed. Communication in the moment is critical, and without it -- even if there is communication, but it comes later -- is really frustrating, when the communication is about needs that cannot be addressed retroactively.

So, without denying some excellent advice offered by others above, have you tried simply asking for what you need? Make a pass at him, politely. If he doesn't bite, just tell him (in a cuddly, warm, respectful way) that you are really in the mood to crawl inside his skin and live inside, but since that isn't possible, could he hold you and caress you while you masturbate? And who knows, perhaps it will lead to sex more often as well.

Oh, and the GUILT about it is bad, full stop. Everything above presumes he cares about and respects you, and treats you accordingly. That doesn't mean he's always ready to roll in bed, just that he's usually (not always, obviously) willing to express his feelings toward you through physical (but not necessarily sexual) intimacy.
posted by davejay at 2:36 PM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Gah, are you me? This has happened to me in the past, and boy howdy do I feel for you, lady.

In my totally non-professional opinion, it's especially hurtful due to the gender norm aspect--the culture has expended a LOT of effort carving the "sex from man ---> love, no sex from man --> he's leaving" pathways into our brains, and overwriting them is not a simple task. Plus, we are ALSO told at klaxon volume that all a woman needs to be happy is some flowers and a foot massage. And needing more than that is selfish, bad, bad, dirty dirty bad.

So in addition to not getting your needs met, you also have a little voice in your head saying you're kind of a failure as a woman.

Flowers and backrubs are nice and all but to me, read as exactly what you call them: "heteronormative options." And yet, that is how the person I was dating expressed his affections much of the time: non-sexual touch, little thoughtful gifts.

What I did was consciously work to recognize and appreciate the impulse behind the gestures, and I am slowly, slowly learning to internalize that impulse so that I can find them satisfying/reassuring. But it's hard work! CBT might be faster than trying on your own, I don't know.

Good luck!
posted by like_a_friend at 2:38 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

My ex had sex with me regularly but was not emotionally available. I thought I needed more sex. With divorcing him and having relationships to other men, I learned it wasn't lack of sex that was the problem. The real problem: Sex was the only time he ever gave me his undivided attention or met any of my emotional needs.

Endless attempts to get his attention outside of bed got me nothing. I tried. And tried. And tried. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Shortly after he moved out, my "bottomless" hunger for sex stopped being an issue for me. I concluded my marriage was like emotional vampirism and wanting sex was my attempt to get a transfusion after being bled dry. For me, a better solution was to get out.

Like Specklet said, your problem sounds like lack of emotional intimacy, not lack of sex. If you want to stay, you need to address that issue. (My personal bias suggests you shouldn't bother and should just leave but that's my scars talking.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:40 PM on April 18, 2013 [26 favorites]

Him being freaked out *because you masturbated* is very, very weird. Him freaking out that you masturbated while he was asleep is nowhere near that weird.

Do you give yourself any other form of self love than masturbation during these periods? Indeed, loving oneself in a variety of ways, even while in a relationship with someone else, is a good idea. It will help reinforce the idea that you don't need someone else to perform specific actions for you to feel good about yourself.
posted by Solomon at 2:41 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I should make it clear that I'm talking about being in bed with him while he's asleep and masturbating, not that he happened to be asleep while you were doing it.
posted by Solomon at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2013

Masturbating in bed next to your sleeping partner is nothing to be ashamed of. I think a lot of your feelings of shame and issues with your own sex drive might come from having a boyfriend who has a very repressive attitude about your sexuality.

Unless you were touching him or otherwise involving him in your masturbation while he was asleep, I don't think what you're doing is any of his damn business.

I had a boyfriend who made fun of me for doing just that, and his shitty attitude about women touching their bodies was one of the things that played into our breakup.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

This isn't about sex, it's about emotional intimacy.

posted by nickrussell at 4:08 PM on April 18, 2013

As someone who could have written this word for word once, while I realize that therapy is the easy answer, you really need to consider the possibility that you two are fundamentally incompatible and that your "feeling like shit", obsessive thinking etc is an effect rather than a cause of the bad situation. It's easy to say that self-esteem shouldn't be tied to sex (it shouldn't) but in practice, getting rejected every night eventually starts to take a toll on you. Therapy might help with that, sure, but what helps a lot more is fixing the root cause and dating someone with a more compatible sex drive.

I am not you, and maybe the details make your situation different from mine (feel free to me-mail me if you like), but again, everything you've written here, I could have. I didn't fully realize how very miserable I was until I left, after 3 years of getting my self-esteem ground into the ground. I was instantly far happier but it took me a long time to recover and I'm still a little over-sensitive to rejection years later. If I had left earlier, I suspect it would have been easier to recover my bruised self-esteem.

Just consider that things really might not ever get better than they are now, and consider how you would feel if that is the case.
posted by randomnity at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am a woman, and the sensation of worthlessness and lack of value that I often get during these periods seems to indicate my own internalization of gender norms that force women to depend on male attention for self-worth.

it sounds like this is the crux of the issue for you. from what you've written i do think you are depending on sex & male attention for your self-worth. i'm sure there is a reason why you feel this way and it would probably be really helpful to explore it in therapy. as a woman i don't feel this way at all. sure male attention and sex are great but my own self-worth is not tied to it. it sounds like you've absorbed some really unhealthy messages about women and sex/male attention and getting some help with that would probably improve things greatly. it may not happen over night though. you may also want to check out some of the literature from sex & love addicts anonymous especially the self-diagnosistic quiz. also, it's hard to tell from what you've written how the emotional intimacy is in your relationship. that may be rather lacking if you are overly focused on sex.
posted by wildflower at 5:12 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is it possible that this is cyclical, related to your hormonal state? Periodically I go through phases (several months long) during which a 3-4 day part of my cycle puts me in a frantic need for sex. Like, during that time I'd fuck Dwight Schrute. I don't have the accompanying emotional needs that you do, but I can totally sympathize with your physical needs. And we all react to our hormonal levels very personally, so perhaps what you're experiencing could be addressed medically, e.g. by taking birth control pills. If this is bothering you enough, that might be worth a discussion with your doctor.
posted by Capri at 9:06 PM on April 18, 2013

I have a really different perspective on this. I don't think you're obsessive, need therapy, need emotional intimacy or any of that.

I just think you're freaking horny and need to get laid.

It doesn't have to be anything more complicated than that. A cigar is a cigar, and you want one!

So... why exactly can't you have sex? What's his problem? Has he always wanted less than you? What compromises will he make? How often do you want it? How often does he want it?

I mean, there's all this psychologizing and blaming yourself and shame above -- but it's not complicated and there's no reason at all to be ashamed. You guys need to communicate about what you each want sexually, and then find a way to get it... together. If you can't, then you should masturbate happily and not feel bad about it. But also you should reconsider a relationship in which you can't find a compromise on these basic issues.
posted by 3491again at 9:21 PM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I could have written this question, too. I have similar issues, and I know it has to do with a long history of rejection, including by my parents and my ex; my partner and I don't have sex and I start to feel increasingly worthless, insecure, lonely, ugly, and unlovable. It really, really hurts, and I wish I knew what to tell you to fix it. One thing that I've found really helps is just to get some quality time together. He's too tired and stressed to have sex, okay, but we can snuggle together in bed and watch a TV show or something. It helps me a lot to just feel like he's THERE with me for a little while, not distracted by work or the internet or whatever, but there touching me and watching some silly mindless show together.

And I don't think this is necessarily a male-female thing (depending on the attention of a man for self-worth), because I know in my case it has a lot to do with growing up with a traumatized, neglectful mother who couldn't express love and didn't have the coping skills to deal with children. When my partner is stressed and distracted and withdraws into himself, it triggers that and I feel unloved and not good enough, just like I did as a child. One Freudian idea that's useful to think about here is this: emotional responses that are inappropriate or out of proportion to the situation indicate the presence of an unresolved issue (nowadays we'd call it a trigger). If you have a good, solid relationship, but not having sex for a week causes you to feel like it's in trouble or that it proves you're worthless, that's a disproportionate response and maybe something you should examine more closely, in therapy or by yourself.

Hugs to you. Hang in there.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:45 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to bet this is NOT a self-esteem or anxiety problem, just good old biochemistry!!

His physical proximity is triggering a host of chemical responses in you that go unanswered when you don't do as nature designed - have sex (and at least attempt) to procreate!

If you are taking any sort of hormonal birth control, I bet this is part of the problem, too.

I'm pretty sure this problem will go away as you get older, FWIW.

If I were you, I'd probably exercise a lot and get a bunch of massages the next time I found myself in one of these "moods." Therapeutic touch (massage) definitely affects your biochemistry in favorable ways (look it up!) and ditto exercise.

I hope this helps you stop beating yourself up. What's going on is totally natural. You don't sound in the least bit messed up or weird IMO.
posted by jbenben at 11:08 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

3491again I just think you're freaking horny and need to get laid.

It doesn't have to be anything more complicated than that. A cigar is a cigar, and you want one!

and jbenben

I'm willing to bet this is NOT a self-esteem or anxiety problem, just good old biochemistry!!

These are really tone-deaf things to say when the OP stated very clearly that no sex stirs up profound feelings of worthlessness and that she is conflicted and disturbed by how she connects sex and self-worth. Complicated? No. Difficult and painful? Yes. If she is saying this is a problem for her, I don't see how it's helpful to blow off her concerns and say it's not a problem.

OP, you're wise pay attention to feeling anxious, vulnerable and worthless. You're right to be circumspect about asking for more sex to solve this problem. It's not a problem sex can or should solve. Feeling disconnected in the relationship is one thing. Feeling deeply insecure and uncertain about yourself is deeper issue - especially if these feelings interfere with your ability to function in your life.

Folks who are secure in themselves and have a sturdy sense of self-worth don't fall apart when they're not having as much sex as they'd like (even when they have really high sex drives) or when they don't feel connected to their partner. That you do fall apart strongly suggests that your instincts that something's up with how you feel about yourself are dead on. Keep going with that.
posted by space_cookie at 11:35 AM on April 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

"These are really tone-deaf things to say when the OP stated very clearly that no sex stirs up profound feelings of worthlessness and that she is conflicted and disturbed by how she connects sex and self-worth. Complicated? No. Difficult and painful? Yes. If she is saying this is a problem for her, I don't see how it's helpful to blow off her concerns and say it's not a problem."

OP, I don't know how old anyone else that answered is, but I know that now I am older and look back, SO MANY of my weird moods and feelings were due to hormones. It was a WONDER when I started to understand the patterns nuances of my body. I started understanding these "weird" feelings and started having a saner life.

OP you wrote:

"The only other time it goes away for long periods is when we're long-distance"

Yeah. Because your body communicates with his body whenever you are both in the same room (or bed) even if you are not touching. Your body's reaction is driving you wild.

This is solvable without feeling like you are emotionally broken. You're not.

Address (at least initially) this from a different perspective that doesn't include putting yourself down.
posted by jbenben at 10:46 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Exercise, definitely. Maybe aerobic cardio or something that really gets your blood pumping. But also consider yoga and meditation. If you can focus with the intensity you currently have for sex on meditation, it might help you to remove yourself from the equation and see what is truly going on in your head and heart.

I don't think this has anything to do with boyfriend. Maybe he prefers sex when he is the one who is initiating it more of the time. If you don't approach him, he can't reject you and the cycle is broken and maybe you can get off that torturous hamster wheel of emotional pain.

However, this means finding the emotional strength to "let him off the hook" and for both of you to "charge" up emotionally and physically so you can feel sexually renewed.

Right now the issue is allowing both of yourselves the time to let sex not be ONE HUGE THING. Everyone feels uncomfortable with an elephant in the room and this is one huge pink one.

Definitely consider the love languages and find other ones for that emotional intimacy to flourish because I think you're equating the physical act with the emotional center and no matter how much it may hurt you, consider that it hurts him that he can't give you what you need because you're not his loving gf right now but a demanding presence. Maybe he's feeling like when you get like this that that's all you want from him and everything else he does to show his love isn't good enough? Maybe to him sex is the cherry on the delicious sundae of your relationship and to you it's an entire pie. I think this is where some of the disconnect is.

You needing to masturbate might to him just signal and amplifies that he can't satisfy you physically, when both of you should be in agreement that it's healthy and natural. Maybe try opening up the conversation from this angle. When you touch yourself it shouldn't be to fill the void he's left unfilled but to relish the sensation you get from stimulating yourself in ways only you know how. I'm under the notion that if you are unable to make love to yourself, it becomes more difficult for your partner to attain that same level of satisfaction and puts more pressure on the table for them to perform.

Feel free to me-mail me. Sex is one of those things that the predominant culture has twisted into a labyrinth of clusterfudge that really skews and alters the perception of people even with the healthiest attitudes towards sex. I wish you the best, but know if he is the right one for you, he will be willing to work through this actively and compassionately. Yes he may be tired at the end of the day but sometimes you have to put your partner's emotional wellbeing ahead of your own if they're in crisis mode. If you're secure in your relationship and in yourself like others have mentioned, it would be easier to weather these dry spells. Which means now you know what you must do for yourself to be happy and healthy outside of this relationship. Best of luck!
posted by lunastellasol at 9:29 AM on April 20, 2013

Ms sexy sexy here: I think everyone has different needs in a relationship from emotional, physical, verbal desires. I think for you in an ideal relationship involves more physical attention and that makes you feel desired. Everyone wants to feel loved.

In my first relationship I felt much the same as you. I sometimes cried about it. I always thought it was my fault for wanting sex and that I should not want sex so much and chalked it up to low selfesteem and i just generally felt bad about any pressure I put on my boyfriend. I ended up breaking up with that boyfriend after 2.5 years of dating (for other plutonic moving after college reasons). I was very broken up about breaking up with him since he was such a nice guy. Now fast forward to a few years later with my current boyfriend (sexy, sexy anonymity). I do not feel this way at all with him! There is no pressure about wanting sex or begging for it. I feel good about myself and I feel sexy and loved and respected. I think the big difference is that the way I am connecting emotionally with him is better and possibly more satisfying sex. I have a higher sexual drive than previous boyfriend but now I match my current boyfriend, but I find that it is more than just the sex that I need and maybe you need that too. I like getting my butt slapped and boobs groped randomly throughout the day and I also like kissing and cuddling and being verbally told that I look sexy and great. Maybe there is more than just sex that you and your boyfriend can do and those things might be smaller and easier to manage than sexy during busy or stressful times.

It might mean that you should have a new boyfriend who matches what you need or maybe just talk to your current boyfriend about small things that you two can do every day that is easy. You should never feel bad about being able to talk and communicate about your feelings. It will only become worse if you hide things and try to hold it in.

TLDR: Full on sex takes time and sometimes causes sex not to happen if someone just wants to relax. Figure out small daily things that you can do that are sexual but not sex. It might help if ultimately you just want to feel sexy and emotionally connected.
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity at 12:17 PM on April 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I could have written this last year. Please, please take these feelings of anxiety and depression that you are having seriously!

I was anxious and depressed, and my partner was the only aspect of life that I recognized as being rewarding (NOT GOOD!), and sex was one of my favorite things to do with him so I completely fixated on it. I convinced myself that I had an insatiable libido, and would get so worked up and try SO HARD to "crack the code" and get him to have sex with me. It got to a point where I would start crying as soon as he laid down next to me at the end of the day because I would already be convinced I was going to "fail"at getting him to give me attention.

This started happening in small ways when we were moving out of the fuck-everyday-for-the-first-2-months-of-a-relationship period. The really tragic part of this is that we still had a lot of good sex (usually 2-3 times a week), but me breaking down in tears and being so anxious about it on the off-weeks would add so much more stress to our relationship. The kind of stress that makes those once-a-week periods much more common, and eventually to the point where neither person can really remember how to be relaxed and have sex naturally and normally.

My advice is to stop thinking of this as a sex problem. If you aren't into therapy, that's fine, but do something. I wish I had tried medication/therapy when the problems began, but I ended up fixing it by moving out of our shared apartment and spending two months living alone. Not being around my partner is what made me realize my own personality and interests had pretty much evaporated in the face of my anxiety which was sort of arbitrarily manifesting through fear of sexual rejection, but someone probably could have told me that sooner and I wouldn't have dug myself and my relationship into such a deep hole.

You shouldn't feel worthless and ashamed; you deserve to feel good about yourself. In this case, sex isn't really the problem, so you can't solve it and you are going to frustrate yourself AND your partner more by trying to address it. Give yourself some very focused positive attention instead.
posted by supernaturelle at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

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