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ryn2
26 minutes ago, uhtred said:

It would help me understand if you could describe how how ended up with views like my wife's, and what things changed or didn't change them.  I think I would be a lot happier if at least she seemed to understand the issue, rather than dismissing it as trivial.  What were / are your sources of information on typical human sexual behavior?

I grew up in a relatively conservative US community and was a teen in the 1970’s.  The prevailing message at the time - remember, no intranet or international discussion - was that men want sex and woman make sex available to attract and keep men.  Women don’t want it, and the few who do are shamed. 

 

My friends were nearly all men.  I didn’t have candid discussions with women about sex until long after I was married.

 

(Male) friends introduced me to the idea of (male) same-sex relationships.  The internet, specifically fandom spaces, introduced me to asexuality.

 

It wasn’t until I came here that I started hearing varied input from sexuals on how things look from the other end of the scale, although I have gone on to have some similar discussions with friends subsequently.

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uhtred
1 hour ago, vega57 said:

When they agreed to do this or that, was the asexuality out in the open?  Did you BOTH know about the asexuality?  Did you BOTH know what asexuality is?   I mean, it wouldn't make any sense if *you* knew what asexuality is and yet tried to get your partner to make an agreement with you to have sex more frequently, then holding it against them, if they don't.  

This is often the issue. Often the asexual is not aware that they are asexual, and at least until recently netiher of them might have even realized that asexuality existed (I didn't) 

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uhtred
2 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

I grew up in a relatively conservative US community and was a teen in the 1970’s.  The prevailing message at the time - remember, no intranet or international discussion - was that men want sex and woman make sex available to attract and keep men.  Women don’t want it, and the few who do are shamed. 

 

My friends were nearly all men.  I didn’t have candid discussions with women about sex until long after I was married.

 

(Male) friends introduced me to the idea of (male) same-sex relationships.  The internet, specifically fandom spaces, introduced me to asexuality.

 

It wasn’t until I came here that I started hearing varied input from sexuals on how things look from the other end of the scale, although I have gone on to have some similar discussions with friends subsequently.

Yes, that does sound a lot like the way I think my wife feels. She is similar age.  Meanwhile I grew up believing that frequent sex was "normal" and that when women didn't want sex it was just because they needed time to get comfortable, or the man wasn't being romantic enough, or was failing in some other way. I spent a decade trying to somehow be the person my wife would desire - not understanding that no such person existed.   

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ryn2
29 minutes ago, uhtred said:

Yes I can see that.  OTOH, didn't it seem strange that so many people would be faking their interest? Maybe its just difficult to imagine that other people are different - that seems to be pretty common for people

 

A lot of media are caricatures, distorted, and factually inaccurate.  Also, people often like watching things (e.g., crime dramas) for the shock value and would never act that way themselves.  Add to that how people comment about the romance in rom-coms being so fake and why would someone think the portrayal of sex is any different?

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uhtred
2 minutes ago, mzmolly65 said:

I'm not your wife so i can't possibly imagine her reasons for this ... I can however explain my own reasons for similar behaviour in my past.  *I* knew my relationship was suffering, I knew my husband might leave me and I loved him and did not want him to leave.  I desperately tried to initiate sex, I tried to "want" sex .. I wore the slinky stuff and bought the toys but I really, really didn't want to have sex .. what I wanted to do was save my marriage. 

 

Doing things I thought might save my marriage was completely unrelated to wanting sex.

Yes again I can see that. I can tell my wife is trying - she is just unable to do the one thing that is missing. 

 

She really does want to make things work, as do I.  There just is no solution.   In the end, I'll just continue to be a bit numb while doing through the actions of being in love.

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ryn2
13 minutes ago, uhtred said:

As a few examples of "agreeing"  / miscommunication / whatever.

 

Wife and I travel a lot. Before almost every trip she talks about the great romantic places we are staying, and talks about the schedule allowing lots of time to "cuddle" (eg sex) in the room.  Before the trip she makes sure to pack a sex toy.  We haven't had sex on a trip in the last > 10 trips, maybe more.  I stopped even hinting at it over a year ago.

 

Wife has complained that sex has become too uncomfortable. Agrees that its because it is so rare and agrees that we should try playing with small toys a couple of times a week to get her comfortable again.  Agrees that she wants intercourse again, says its her favorite thing.  Its been about a year now.  Had this discussion, she initiated it, 3 times.  Each time we had sex a few times over 2 weeks, then a variety of reasons came up and we stopped.

 

On some occasions when we are intimate, I've suggested something I'd like to do - something she had done before and claimed to enjoy.  Each time she has said ... maybe not this time, but next time.  Never happens (years).  

 

Perhaps most ridiculous, why buy lots of slinky lingerie for me to see her in, but wear it when she has no interest in having sex. ?????? why? 

 

 

I think you’ll have to ask her on those as most of them aren’t similar to things I do (except the first one and Introvert Problems, where it sounds fun out in the future but looms increasingly uncomfortably as the time nears)...

 

Re: the lingerie, did you or someone tell her that’s what you like, or that’s what men like, or that she should wear it more?

 

Years ago a then-famous madam announced that men leave women who don’t wear nice, matching lingerie for those who do...

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vega57
53 minutes ago, mzmolly65 said:

If sex is supposed to be an emotional/spiritual bonding how can it possibly be whittled down to a contractual agreement on a calendar? 

BINGO!  

 

Quote

It reminds me of hearing a father at Disney Land yelling at his kid, "Your going to have fun whether you like it or not!"  It's simply creating trauma for any human. 

Yup!  Once again, sex is something we're supposed to do, whether we want to/like it or not.  

 

Quote

If you did not want to eat liver but I continuously asked you to eat liver for my sake because *I* really like liver, you might agree to do this often enough to make me happy, but there will come a time when you will really, really start to hate liver and me, just for asking you to eat it.   So while you might have been willing to eat liver weekly or maybe monthly, over time you will have a harder and harder time making yourself eat that liver and you will get to a point where you just say, "You know what, I'm sick of liver and I'm never eating it again."

Exactly!  

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ryn2
16 minutes ago, uhtred said:

But doesn't sex sell because most people are very interested in it?   I agree that its more common in the US than some places, though less than in others.

 

Maybe it seems like a small percentage of people are responsible for consuming most sexual media?

There used to be a lot of stats pre/early intranet about how 98% of porn consumers are men, and traditonally men had more buying power...

 

...but also the connection between wanting to look good for men and wanting sex is not always inherently obvious to older aces.

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Pan Ficto. (on hiatus?)
1 hour ago, SusannaC said:

I see that back rub/cooking are poor analogies for sex in this situation.  I was just thinking if sex is a neutral activity- not terribly offensive- to the asexual.   Sorry but it’s still just so so so difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that sex could be so very UNPLEASANT and therefore emotionally draining.  Cooking and back rubs certainly aren’t repulsive to me- though I can get annoyed sometimes and consequently drained because I’m already tired before I begin. I just have to conclude from reading all of these comments, that this is an unworkable situation for the most part.  Sorry everybody, but I see no resolution that will be happy for both parties.

Well to look at it from a different perspective, while I don't actually ID as asexual anymore, I have been functionally 100% asexual physically* all my life (long before I knew there was a word to describe it). I knew I didn't enjoy or desire sex, despite feeling all the other emotions involved in being attracted to someone, but I blamed myself for that and didn't think my partner should have to suffer for my inability to love him physically in the way any other woman would. So I gave him sex, twice a day every day, even when it hurt so much I had trouble physically walking after without painkillers and a lot of alcohol. Despite all the sex HE was getting, it obviously couldn't work, and after 5 years and 2 kids I had to leave because I just couldn't keep doing what he needed for him to be even marginally happy. There are other asexuals on AVEN who have put up with the sort of thing I did, sometimes for a lot longer (even decades), but both partners almost always still end up unhappy in the end because the ace is suffering even if they're neutral about the act of sex itself, and the sexual (sometimes) starts feeling a bit like they're using their partner because they know their ace partner is just going through the motions and doesn't actually want the sex (I've known sexuals here who have actually become completely turned off sex when their ace partner gives it to them because it's so unnatural having to have it with someone who doesn't want it). So what I'm saying is that is isn't always an aces inability to compromise that's the issue. Often all the sex in the world won't actually make the relationship better if it's a mixed one because the ace ends up utterly miserable and the sexual isn't actually getting what they want: They can see their partner cares enough to suffer for them.. but anyone who truly cares for their partner doesn't want to see them suffer. (and yes, that's why asexuals who do compromise have sex - they don't want to see their partner suffering)

 

So it's lose/lose whichever way you look at it in almost all cases, in the same way that a lesbian woman and a gay man will have an almost impossible time making a relationship work - they're utterly sexually incompatible, even if they're best friends and work great together in every other way.

 

 

 

footnote *by physically I mean that in my actual in-person relationships, I have never wanted or enjoyed sex. I can enjoy and desire sexual intimacy in online and, er, fictional relationships though, with the 'right person', hence why I no longer ID as ace)

 

 

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ryn2
14 minutes ago, mzmolly65 said:

I'm not your wife so i can't possibly imagine her reasons for this ... I can however explain my own reasons for similar behaviour in my past.  *I* knew my relationship was suffering, I knew my husband might leave me and I loved him and did not want him to leave.  I desperately tried to initiate sex, I tried to "want" sex .. I wore the slinky stuff and bought the toys but I really, really didn't want to have sex .. what I wanted to do was save my marriage. 

 

Doing things I thought might save my marriage was completely unrelated to wanting sex.

Good point and (different examples but) same.

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ryn2
13 minutes ago, uhtred said:

Yes, that does sound a lot like the way I think my wife feels. She is similar age.  Meanwhile I grew up believing that frequent sex was "normal" and that when women didn't want sex it was just because they needed time to get comfortable, or the man wasn't being romantic enough, or was failing in some other way. I spent a decade trying to somehow be the person my wife would desire - not understanding that no such person existed.   

I can see how that would be very confusing for both of you.

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vega57
27 minutes ago, uhtred said:

Perhaps most ridiculous, why buy lots of slinky lingerie for me to see her in, but wear it when she has no interest in having sex. ?????? why? 

Is she buying it because she knows you like to see her in it, or because she likes it or both?  

 

And, since when does wearing 'slinky lingerie' automatically mean that one is interested in having sex?  Sometimes, the stuff is comfortable and attractive.  You feel GOOD wearing it.  

 

Sex may not even be on the radar.  

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ryn2
5 minutes ago, FictoVore. said:

So it's lose/lose whichever way you look at it in almost all cases, in the same way that a lesbian woman and a gay man will have an almost impossible time making a relationship work - they're utterly sexually incompatible, even if they're best friends and work great together in every other way.

The question at that point - and I know the answer varies, and the full spectrum of opinion is probably not represented here due to self-selection - becomes “are this specific couple also relationship-incompatible?”

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vega57
21 minutes ago, uhtred said:

I spent a decade trying to somehow be the person my wife would desire - 

See, I think this is a serious issue.  Why not simply be the person who you are?  I mean, if you're trying to change for someone, either you're with the wrong person or you *are* the wrong person for them.  

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Pan Ficto. (on hiatus?)
4 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

The question at that point - and I know the answer varies, and the full spectrum of opinion is probably not represented here due to self-selection - becomes “are this specific couple also relationship-incompatible?”

If one person has to suffer deeply (be that the sexual forced into celibacy or the ace forced into sex) then whether or not you're 'relationship-compatible' (as the opposite of being relationship incompatible I mean) becomes irrelevant. May as well just break up and be friends while both moving into new relationships where you don't have to go through agony as the cost for being with the person you love.

 

There is no 'relationship compatibility' if the cost of that compatibility is endless suffering for one partner or the other (which will in the end lead to them both suffering regardless).

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ryn2
1 minute ago, vega57 said:

See, I think this is a serious issue.  Why not simply be the person who you are?  I mean, if you're trying to change for someone, either you're with the wrong person or you *are* the wrong person for them.  

Without the benefit of hindsight, in my experience it’s hard when everything else is working well, the topic is taboo, and/or the couple avoids tough convos to spare feelings.

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ryn2
4 minutes ago, FictoVore. said:

If one person has to suffer deeply (be that the sexual forced into celibacy or the ace forced into sex) then whether or not you're 'relationship-compatible' (as the opposite of being relationship incompatible I mean) becomes irrelevant. May as well just break up and be friends while both moving into new relationships where you don't have to go through agony as the cost for being with the person you love.

 

There is no 'relationship compatibility' if the cost of that compatibility is endless suffering for one partner or the other (which will in the end lead to them both suffering regardless).

Agreed - that’s the choice the couple needs to evaluate and make: is either party suffering unacceptably?  The answer to that is going to vary from person to person depending on expectations, libido, preferences,  priorities, tolerance level, and probably tons of other things.

 

If one person is suffering unacceptable that would be a relationship incompatibility.

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Pan Ficto. (on hiatus?)
Just now, ryn2 said:

 it’s hard when everything else is working well, the topic is taboo, and/or the couple avoids tough convos to spare feelings.

If the couple is avoiding tough convos to spare feelings then in my mind, nothing is truly 'working well'. It might appear 'good enough' on the surface, but underneath at least one of the people involved will be miserable in which case, that's not actually a happy couple (because a happy couple involves both partners being happy, which requires active and open communication about topics which may be causing one partner undue suffering so those issues can be resolved).

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max9701
6 minutes ago, vega57 said:

See, I think this is a serious issue.  Why not simply be the person who you are?  I mean, if you're trying to change for someone, either you're with the wrong person or you *are* the wrong person for them.  

Or they make you want to be better for their sake. That might mean better sexually, harder-working, taking more care for your appearance, whatever.

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ryn2
1 minute ago, FictoVore. said:

If the couple is avoiding tough convos to spare feelings then in my mind, nothing is truly 'working well'. It might appear 'good enough' on the surface, but underneath at least one of the people involved will be miserable in which case, that's not actually a happy couple (because a happy couple involves both partners being happy, which requires active and open communication about topics which may be causing one partner undue suffering so those issues can be resolved).

Agreed but those are skills not everyone comes into relationships with.

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vega57
2 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

Without the benefit of hindsight, in my experience it’s hard when everything else is working well, the topic is taboo, and/or the couple avoids tough convos to spare feelings.

Yes, but doesn't that all smack of desperation?  I mean, how does the other person know that "everything else is working well", unless they have a guarantee that their partner has been honest with them from the beginning?  

 

A relationship could be going great simply because ONE person is more agreeable than the other.  They don't want to 'make waves' and/or they want to spare the others feelings.  

 

I would rather not have a relationship at all than to have one that's fake.  

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max9701
44 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

This is why I circled back around to Tele.  Compromising may make sense if sex without desire is sufficient.  Some posters have said that - for them, at least - it isn’t sufficient... that there must be desire.

 

No amount of asking for desire, asking for commitments to get in the mood, etc., is going to get results.

That is certainly true. I'm trying to figure it out myself now. I'd much rather have sex with a woman who desires it than one who does it only for my benefit; but I'd be willing to try the latter, to see if it might be enough to save my marriage. 

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SusannaC

MsMolly65-        Ugh..... that is a truly an awful 

way to feel and i am sorry.  The depth of difference in our feelings and attitudes is amazingly huge.  Obviously you appear to be repulsed at the idea of intercourse and it would be very unfair of anyone to expect that from you- especially and most of all, a person who loves you.  I get this! if only all people could be so very direct and blunt, life would be simpler, don’t you think?

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vega57
3 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

Agreed but those are skills not everyone comes into relationships with.

Very true...which is WHY I've said before that I believe that MOST people have no idea how to be in a relationship...which is why so many of them fail.  

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vega57
3 minutes ago, max9701 said:

 I'd much rather have sex with a woman who desires it than one who does it only for my benefit; but I'd be willing to try the latter, to see if it might be enough to save my marriage. 

How would having sex with someone who has no desire for sex 'save your marriage'?  

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anisotrophic
3 hours ago, ryn2 said:

So this would be more like someone disabled by a mental health issue, or by an injury stemming from something socially unacceptable (failed suicide attempt, OD, alcohol abuse, etc.)?

No, it's worse in my experience. I have a history of mental health issues and suicidal ideation. I experience those as far more socially acceptable. In some ways it's "cool" to confess to being depressive, or share one's struggle with suicidal thoughts. There's almost a social obligation to be affirming about it. Such sad, very struggle, much deep.

My partner says he would currently say I was unintentionally misled by his behavior during our first couple years, before we got married, when we were dating remotely. Unfortunately it's a bit late. At this point, it seems clear that we'll stick it out.

But that also means looking ahead to living with this indefinitely, as a private pain, and that's not much fun to contemplate. Sometimes I feel a lot of resentment, and I tell him how isolating this unhappiness is.

 

2 hours ago, ryn2 said:

What would the point be if it’s not adequate without desire?

 

2 hours ago, ryn2 said:

Again, if just going through the motions without desire is insufficient, what would the point be?  Spreading the dissatisfaction so both parties are equally miserable?

I don't know. I don't know. This question makes me cry. I think sometimes I can't help myself, I still feel desire and expressing this is my habit. He's not unhappy, he agrees to it. It's not making me happier. It seems like this should be better than being outright rejected. I'm not sure.

He says he's worried about what it would mean to lose the intimacy. Like, he wants it as some sort of abstract thing. That's upsetting to hear (do you want me or not?). I've asked him to go to therapy. It seems he will. I wonder if it will help.

Perhaps there is some very muted desire in him, perhaps not. He is afraid to express any attraction now, for fear of misleading me. Asexuality is consistent with his lack of fantasies and desires, and his history of bisexual behavior (it seems sexes were interchangeable because he had so little attraction to either). I wish he were gay. I joke that he might realize he's gay after I get hormones... Often we can laugh about it, I hope it becomes more and more like that.

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ryn2
2 minutes ago, vega57 said:

Yes, but doesn't that all smack of desperation?  I mean, how does the other person know that "everything else is working well", unless they have a guarantee that their partner has been honest with them from the beginning?  

 

A relationship could be going great simply because ONE person is more agreeable than the other.  They don't want to 'make waves' and/or they want to spare the others feelings.  

 

I would rather not have a relationship at all than to have one that's fake.  

Again, those are skills not everyone comes into relationships with.

 

Two people who have been taught to “keep others happy” will not go at life this way naturally.

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ryn2
2 minutes ago, anisotropic said:

No, it's worse in my experience. I have a history of mental health issues and suicidal ideation. I experience those as far more socially acceptable. In some ways it's "cool" to confess to being depressive, or share one's struggle with suicidal thoughts. There's almost a social obligation to be affirming about it. Such sad, very struggle, much deep.

Not that I wish it on you in any way, but I do wish this was the prevailing attitude towards these subjects here!!

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