Why doesn't my partner want me?
June 28, 2007 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Please help my sex life... I have been with my partner for two years and I love him very much. Our sex life has never been as good as what I aspire to- but, I have hoped, until recently, that it had the potential- and I am more than willing to patiently work towards something more fulfilling- but I am at a loss here...

Some background:

He has been through a grueling divorce- the relationship ended over 4 years ago, he dated casually for a while, we met, and settled into something more serious.

He is 38 and has type 1 diabetes. But he takes pretty good care of himself and is in decent shape. He manages his sugar very well.

He is not exactly the most communicative person, especially about emotions. He is not very sexually aggressive- I usually initiate.

He has been under a lot of work stress for the past 6 months.

I am 7 months pregnant with our child.

Okay- anyway- I just can't seem to get a feel for his patterns and drive- I can't even tell if/ when he desires me. I did ask him recently if my pregnant figure was impeding his arousal (I am naturally slender, but not so while pregnant) and he said this was not the case. I'm not sure how/ if someone could say, "well, actually... you are turning me off..." but I have to believe him.

I am a giving, enthusiastic lover- into trying/ exploring pretty much anything and I can't seem to unlock this man... I wonder if he has a low libido? I have tried surfing porn with him to see if we stumble upon something that really grabs him- but it's always pretty run of the mill stuff. I know he likes hair removal-which I have done down to brazilian bareness and have discovered that I like it as well..- but even with this, things are slow and infrequent.

I am so frustrated. I have tried to gently discuss this with him without displaying my anxiety- but it seems as though he gets defensive and feels pressured/ uncomfortable. It has come to the point where I have found myself asking him more often than is healthy for reassurance that he does indeed find me basically attractive. He always answers positively.

I don't understand it and I feel stymied by how difficult it is to communicate.

I don't want to be the one to always initiate.

Help help help- I am not even sure if I've given enough info....

I am definitely open to couples therapy- but I am hoping that someone out there has insights that I can put into use now....
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

7 Months pregnant? That's a turn of, I'd think.
posted by markovich at 1:43 PM on June 28, 2007

Maybe (for some guys), but I couldn't tell from the post whether or not their sex life was better before her pregnancy. Doesn't sound like it. Poster, you should sign up for an anon gmail address and sent it to Matt, Jess or Cortex for them to post in this thread. Some people may only be able to help if they can ask you more questions.
posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on June 28, 2007

I find my wife at least as beautiful while pregnant as while not pregnant. It's likely he just has a low libido. Are you 100% sure he's not asexual or gay? (I'm being serious)
posted by krark at 1:53 PM on June 28, 2007

Honestly? I have no experience in this area, but I think this seems like a natural point in your lives together to have a plateau as far as your sex life. I think you give a couple very reasonable explanations for this as well, in your post:
- "He has been under a lot of work stress for the past 6 months."
- "I am 7 months pregnant with our child."

And again, I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine it'll get any easier for a little bit. Seems like end-of-pregnancy, early-newborn time is not really one when either parent would have enough energy or time for a lot of sex.

... and perhaps a woman would have a totally different perspective on this question. Ladies?
posted by Zephyrial at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2007

I've heard a debate between guys about whether they would want to have sex with a heavily pregnant woman. It was pretty evenly split, as I remember. One comment I remember was that the person found his wife beautiful in the late stages of pregnancy, but was a little weirded out by the idea of their baby right there with them.

Other than that, I can't get much from your question - what is 'too little' sex for you? Once a week? A month? A day? What was it like before you were pregnant? How many hours is he working? And so forth.
posted by frobozz at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2007

Lots of guys (like markovich, I guess) don't get turned on by pregnant women. And although I don't share that view, it is very widely held. So if this is just a temporary lull, caused by your pregnancy, that isn't such a big deal -- the situation will solve itself in about two months.

Similarly, work stress is a huge libido killer (well, stress in general, but work stress is really common for a lot of people, maybe because of how we tie our self-worth into our work). If that is the biggest underlying culprit, there is nothing you can do in the bedroom that will solve things -- the problem is at his work place. And normal work stress can be hugely worse with the baby coming -- if you are a single guy, you can sing "take this job and shove it!" as you walk out the door. If you are a father, the consequences of a poor performance review or any other work issue are really magnified.

But all that said, it sounds like what you guys are doing in terms of communication just isn't working so well right now (and maybe never has). Continuing to do what you are doing (asking for reassurance, asking what the problem is, and the other steps you describe) won't work any better than it has to date. So I think you need a way to change the dynamic, at a fairly fundamental level, in communicating with each other. This would be an argument for couples counseling, because then you are having a mediated conversation, with very different dynamics than what you are doing at the moment. (This is also part of why people take vacations -- by going to a new place, and leaving all the things that cause you stress behind, it is sometimes possible to reconnect in a way that doesn't seem possible at home.)
posted by Forktine at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2007

Maybe the true sources of his stress are not specifically sexual. He could have anxiety about the child, what it means for your relationship, what the impact will be financially, etc. Is he up for being a dad? Maybe he's freaking out about it.

He just sounds depressed to me, not really challenged sexually. I guess I would say that if you're not sure you're compatible on this level, though, think twice before engagment/marriage.

Maybe a brass-tacks discussion about the future is in order? If you make it about plans rather than feelings, might he be more receptive?
posted by frosty_hut at 1:59 PM on June 28, 2007

No, 7 months pregnant isn't a turnoff, or at least it certainly wasn't for either of my two husbands. It sounds like you might have a basic difference in sex drive, though, and that's scarier. It's hard to say without knowing whether it's recently taken a dive or whether it's always been bad - from your question, it kind of sounds like it's never been that great. That's unfortunate and honestly I'm not sure there is a solution. But. Just because one man doesn't desire you doesn't mean you aren't sexy. I know, it can throw you off and make you feel horrible and gruesome and Mrs. Roper-esque, wandering orange haired around in a caftan begging for attention. At least, that's how I used to feel. It turns out I'm not Mrs. Roper and neither, almost certainly, are you. It also turns out, at least in my case, that sometimes the lust just dies and doesn't really come back and then, well, I don't know what you do. I moved 500 miles away but that's me.

However. Sometimes men get weird about women constantly initiating sex. They say they like it but I think that occasionally it makes them nervous. What about getting more passive? Or what about those things the magazines and books always tell you to try, like forbidding yourselves to actually have sex but instead get into lengthy massages and stuff? If he's really feeling kind of threatened and unready, that might help him relax. There are a ton of resources out there for spicing up your sex life.

The most important thing is not to start internalizing it and thinking it's all you. Because it really doesn't sound like it is you. Him not wanting to have sex really doesn't mean you are a toad, honestly.

And then, on the bright side, in about three months you'll be too tired to have sex anyway! Ha. Ha. Alas. It's funny because it's true.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:00 PM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

I once had a very good friend (male) who had diabetes. He confided to me that not only did the disease affect his sex drive more than once in awhile, but he was emotionally hung-up about the diabetes and getting serious/involved/married, because he was afraid he'd fall in love and then die young or lose his feet or eyesight and leave a wife and possibly a child behind, or worse need constant medical care and attention. For him, even just getting to the I really like you and want things between us to progress stage, let alone getting to the let's have naked fun part was a real, inhibiting hang up for him because of the diabetes. I realize you are married, and blessings on your pending arrival, but I wanted to throw it out there that his diabetes could be affecting him more than he lets on.
posted by goml at 2:13 PM on June 28, 2007

It sounds like he simply has a lower sex drive than you. I think I too would feel frustrated, especially if he's not willing to articulate his thoughts.
posted by loiseau at 2:15 PM on June 28, 2007

Leaving aside the pregnancy issue (as I have never been pregnant), don't underestimate the work stress factor in dulling a man's libido. In my experience, many men have this little voice in their heads whispering "must provide for family... must provide for family..." and when anything threatens to interfere with that, like an idiot boss, that becomes all they can think about and overshadows the rest of their life. Some men's identity is really tied to their work, so if they're not succeeding in their career, their egos are wounded. Wounded ego = low libido.

What can you do? Don't make his home life equally stressful, or he'll equate you with the evil boss. Do things that reduce his stress level, without adding to yours. (For example, if you have time, iron his shirts so he doesn't have to.) Little things can mean a lot, and actions speak louder than words. I'll exit this thread before I spout off any more cliches.
posted by desjardins at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2007

Have you ever tried smacking him on the ass and telling him he's a naughty, naughty boy? Try it. Gauge reaction. If it's positive, he might be into some things he's too ashamed to talk about.
posted by vito90 at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2007

Reduced sex due to pregnancy is not unusual.
posted by Manjusri at 2:22 PM on June 28, 2007

This a fail safe trick:
In the middle of the night wake up, slip down and start giving him a blowjob. He'll wake up and can't help but a have a stiffy and feel a bit at your wonderful mercy. When the time it right jump up and join the fun. Throw off your night gown and make him feel like this was all his idea!

I find random night sex very romantic and mysterious. Think up some sexy clauses to wisper at him in the act. Every guy I know loves it when the lady plays narrator.
posted by Viomeda at 2:22 PM on June 28, 2007

heck with all the touchy feely stuff, take the bull by the horns.
posted by Viomeda at 2:27 PM on June 28, 2007

It doesn't sound like your partner doesn't find you desirable and is turning elsewhere for his sexual needs, and it doesn't sound like your pregnancy has turned him off. It sounds like his libido is much lower than yours. Whether is is naturally lower or just currently low because of medical or psychological reasons is something no one here can answer. It's a rare person, male or female, who doesn't get defensive about sex problems, no matter how diplomatically stated, and it's not going to be easy to get past his walls without help. Get counseling.

As for current help, all I can offer is this: It's not you. You're still desirable. You're still sexy. Don't let it destroy your self esteem. Maybe it's a medical problem that can be easily fixed, and maybe his libido is always going to be this low and you'll have to find a way to deal with that, but IT'S NOT YOU!
posted by happyturtle at 2:31 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Viomeda: that sounds fabulous for most marriages, but would have been a disaster in my former low-libido marriage. If he's already feeling threatened, this will make him feel even more so.
posted by happyturtle at 2:36 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

why?how? just skip the low-libido excuse, we are humans sex makes history. If he is sensitive don't over indulge him give him what you know is good for him.

I went to a way nerdy coellge where asexual men were a dime a dozen. What I learned is it's all a lame facade there is just never a women is red thigh high boots so shut their brains off and remind them what pleasure is and living well. Men can sabatoge themselves too.

But please, I don't understand why this would only make things worse for the sensitive new age man?
posted by Viomeda at 2:56 PM on June 28, 2007

This isn't about sensitive new-age-ness.
posted by zebra3 at 2:57 PM on June 28, 2007

posted by Viomeda at 2:57 PM on June 28, 2007

ok, low-libido-ness, better?
posted by Viomeda at 2:58 PM on June 28, 2007

If the guy already has a wounded ego, and that sounds like a good bet and is frequently part of that deal, then you're talking about someone that is already excruciatingly sensitive to the issue to begin with, and the fact that he is judged to be inadequate.

So going balls-out crazy on the guy out of nowhere may well make him feel nothing but self-conscious, then bad, etc. etc.
posted by zebra3 at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2007

ok, that's not what I consider balls-out crazy but that's me. I would say it cleaverly romantic and can be quite sweet.
If it's a question of inagequacy, make him feel adequate and do it gently (slowly). I didn't always understand being direct but my experience is most people respond well to it if you give them a chance.

All I'm saying is if he won't iniciate sex then the ball is in your court but men can be dense and won't take small bate.
posted by Viomeda at 3:09 PM on June 28, 2007

i think diabetes can wreck your libido, so that's worth exploring.

also, the divorce plus impending fatherhood may be freaking him out. even though he's healthy, type 1 diabetes is nothing to laugh off. his good management of his disease is an indicator that he knows just how serious it can be if it gets out of control.

and on that note, with diabetes, you do have to stay in control. he might be really uncomfortable right now with two huge life events taking place simultaneously that he can't completely control. even if he's not a controlling person, this is probably really hard for him.

so, i would suggest counseling.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:40 PM on June 28, 2007

Um...are you sure he's unhappy with your sex life? He may have a naturally low libido and be fine with it. While I've never met a guy who hated sex, some need it more often than others.

Also, it's pretty clear you're unhappy, but are you unhappy because you're not having enough sex, or are you unhappy because you think he's not content? Because he might be just fine with what's going on in your bedroom.

If you want to communicate with him more, I'd ask him what he likes about your sex life and then capitalize on that. Maybe talking about what you two are already doing well would be less threatening than having him come up with new stuff he likes.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 4:02 PM on June 28, 2007

I'm not an expert here (not married, never been with a pregnant woman etc.), but I will say that Viomeda's approach would be worth a shot, at least once. Especially if you've never done it before. It's a quick fix thing, but doing something different is usually a pretty good way to increase arousal. The problem is that it's impossible to do something new and exciting every time. Still, it might open his mind a bit to the notion that you really are willing to try new things (saying it is one thing, doing is another).
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:54 PM on June 28, 2007

Oof. One of the worst things I ever experienced in a long-term relationship was not unlike what Viomeda is describing. In relationships that are sexually healthy, happy, trusting, and generally GGG, I'm sure that suprise middle-of-the-night oral sex is awesome. But in a relationship where there are already problems, it's really not something I'd try, at least not without getting consent in advance. And here, you've got enough-sleep-for-stressful-job issues on top of the already extant consent issues. Tread very, very carefully with this one.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:21 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a Type I diabetic, when my blood sugar is low I have difficulty sustaining an erection. It's not a big deal psychologically for me, because I know it'll come back as soon as my blood sugar is okay, and because my libido is generally high. However, if I were the type to freak out about such things, it'd probably kill my desire to initiate anything because of performance anxiety.

Also, stress way lowers my libido, and I initiate sex about 1/4 as often when I'm stressed. If you are in a situation where you are initiating sex more often than your partner feels libidinous, he won't be initiating anything because you are satiating his needs before they come up.

You could try being a bit of a cock tease but not following through to get his libido up, or you could just masturbate a lot until he initiates something.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:10 AM on June 29, 2007

For the record, surprise middle-of-the-night sex doesn't seem that balls-out-crazy to me either, but when you're talking about a partner who internalizes and may be sensitive to the issue, you have to tread carefully.

I've been in the same position before with an uncommunicative man (without the diabetes or pregnancy involved) and that approach got me physically pushed away with the unforgettable words, "don't fucking touch me." It can be hard to know in that situation when you've pushed it too far.
posted by zebra3 at 6:30 AM on June 29, 2007

OP here...

thanks for all of the posts.

some more details:

Our sex life up until around January 07 (conception) was decent in terms of frequency- a few times a week- but was still lacking for me in terms of kink/ experimentation/ passion/ expressiveness- but this is something I am more than willing to be patient about and possibly even forego- b/c I really love this man. Also- he does not initiate in what I would consider an outgoing way- we have different styles in this respect.

Our differences have, at times, caused me to wonder if the attraction strength is mutual- and I've asked him about this- but, like I said before- he always responds positively... and seems maybe, a little hurt- that I doubt his level of attraction.

Up until Jan. I had thought that he does have hidden desires but perhaps isn't comfortable enough to share them- this is why I started looking at porn with him- to see if there were scenarios that intrigued him...

Anyway- I am gathering that job stress can really kill drive. (we are down to once a month or something...) I don't think it's the baby on the way b/c we have children already... I don't know for sure that it's not related to my pregnant state- but he would really have to be deceiving me if this were so... I don't think he would lie to me...

I am also gathering that diabetes could be a partial culprit- but he has lived with this disease for so many years and manages pretty well...
posted by ohdeanna at 8:19 AM on June 29, 2007

I'm going to venture a guess and say that there is nothing wrong with your partner. From the sound of it he doesn't have a low libido-you simply have a very high one. A few times a week is absolutely normal, if not even slightly above.

And I really don't think your pregnancy is a turnoff for him. It sounds like you are self-conscious about your figure and your attractiveness to him and are very sensitive to your perception of his attraction toward you. You also might have an underlying feeling that because he is not as enthusastic about sex as you are, that it is an indication of an imbalance of attraction between the two of you.

My advice to you is to simply trust him when he says that he is still attracted to you and not to try so hard to find something wrong in him. You're about to have a child together. Take that as a very strong expression of his love for you.
posted by tjvis at 8:55 AM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you were to graph it - what would it look like?

If you were to then put a timeline under it - does anything correlate?

But if it's always been an issue and he's never been able to talk about it...?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2007

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