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DaisyGirl

New and trying to understand my asexual husband

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DaisyGirl

I am not even sure what I want to say. I joined so I could try to learn more about my husband who recently told me he is asexual. We've been having sex for many years and within the last few years he's been saying his desire is gone. We thought it was a testosterone problem so we went that route for a while but he finally admitted that he's been pretending for a very long time and really never had any desire. He does masturbate but as far as sex with a partner, it just doesn't make sense to him. I am trying to accept the face that it's  not me that is repulsive (which is how I felt at first) but that isn't as easy as I thought it would be. It's hard knowing that he can have sex, he just doesn't want to.

 

For now we have compromised with mutual masturbation but I was wondering how other partners of an asexual find that intimacy connection other than sex. I love my husband dearly and do not want to end this relationship, but I am not sure I live the rest of my life without that connection.

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uhtred

Welcome, many of us are in similar situation.  Its extremely difficult.  For most sexual people (myself included) sex, romance, love are all connected together.   For many (like me),  being rejected for sex feels like being told "I don't love you".

 

For asexuals it seems completely different. Sex is just an activity that they may not mind, or my find very unpleasant, but which is not connected to love and romance.   If he is asexual, then it is nothing to do with you - its no different than if he were gay and were not sexually attracted to you. 

 

Mixed relationships are difficult.  No one's fault, it seems that asexuality is as much an innate orientation as homosexuality or heterosexuality.   

 

You need to decide for yourself if you can live without sex for the rest of your life.   Don't make the mistake of hoping that things will get "better", if he is asexual, things are unlikely to change. 

 

Its possible that he is willing to have sex  to make you happy.  If so, you need to decide if that is enough, or if you need to be desired, as well as just have the physical activities of sex. Maybe he will agree to an open marriage where you can have sex with other people - but in that case you need to decide if that would really work for you. It does for some, but I think not for most people.

 

Often it ends up with the terrible choice of : Leave, Cheat,  Live like a Monk / Nun.    

 

I've picked the 3rd choice for the last 30 years.  I don't really recommend it, the mismatch is a constant source of unhappiness, at least for me, and I suspect for my wife as well. 

 

 

 

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Xenobot

Option number 4 is to explore whether having an open relationship would be a viable option for the two of you. That’s one of the nicer alternatives, but it takes strong communication skills within the relationship to establish boundaries everyone can feel comfortable with.

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DaisyGirl
2 hours ago, uhtred said:

Welcome, many of us are in similar situation.  Its extremely difficult.  For most sexual people (myself included) sex, romance, love are all connected together.   For many (like me),  being rejected for sex feels like being told "I don't love you".

This is what I am trying to sort out right now. Trying to understand how he can love me (which I don't doubt that he does) but yet make me feel so rejected at the same time.  I know I have a lot to take in and I don't want to make a choice that I will regret. I also think it is too soon to make any kind of choice.

 

Can I ask how you achieve intimacy with your spouse without sexual contact? Is there something that makes you feel "connected"?

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DaisyGirl
49 minutes ago, Xenobot said:

Option number 4 is to explore whether having an open relationship would be a viable option for the two of you. That’s one of the nicer alternatives, but it takes strong communication skills within the relationship to establish boundaries everyone can feel comfortable with.

Thank you. I don't think this is something that will work for me yet. We've talked about bringing a 3rd person into this for me, but it's him that I want the intimacy with. I won't say no to this yet, but it's not right for me at this point.

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max9701

I'm sorry, that's a tough situation. As a sexual man married to an asexual woman, I'm trying to figure it out too. It seems it's possible for asexual people to feel a romantic connection without a sexual element. For me, at least, I don't think that's possible. We'll see.

 

I'm not sure if this is right, but maybe the closest I can come to understanding asexual romance is to think back to my preteen years, before a sex drive surfaced. I recall liking certain girls and wanting to be with them all the time, and it had nothing to do with desire for sex. Perhaps your husband has a mature version of that feeling for you. Like I said, that could be completely wrong, I'm trying to make sense of it myself.

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uhtred
57 minutes ago, DaisyGirl said:

This is what I am trying to sort out right now. Trying to understand how he can love me (which I don't doubt that he does) but yet make me feel so rejected at the same time.  I know I have a lot to take in and I don't want to make a choice that I will regret. I also think it is too soon to make any kind of choice.

 

Can I ask how you achieve intimacy with your spouse without sexual contact? Is there something that makes you feel "connected"?

The sad truth is that its been really hard.   Sometimes things are great, but I spend a lot of time unhappy. We do lots of fun things together, and much of our time together is happy - but none of it substitutes for what is missing.   She is not completely asexual, we do have sex sometimes - and it leaves me happy for days - but its rare for me to feel like that. 

 

I do not think I chose the best path from the start, but from where I am now (after 30 years of marriage) it is probably the best of the unfortunate options.

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Skywise

I can't add much to what uhtred wrote.  I am about a month into my wife of 27 years coming out asexual.  We are seeing a marriage counselor on Wednesday. (Happy Fourth of July!) I have no idea what will happen.

 

I hate the choices offered as I really don't want anyone except this amazing person I have been with through so much.

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ryn2
9 hours ago, max9701 said:

I recall liking certain girls and wanting to be with them all the time, and it had nothing to do with desire for sex.

This is not far off, at least from my somewhere-in-the-middle understanding.

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uhtred

I think one key issue is whether the asexual partner recognizes / understands that there is a shared problem.  In some cases they simply don't  / are not willing to accept that sex is very important to sexuals, and that it isn't just selfishness.  Its a very difficult think to grasp if you are asexual, what does this *one thing* matter so much. 

 

The other side of course is that sometimes the sexual doesn't understand that the asexual can't "just do it".  To a sexual person this seems so *simple*: why can't you "just have sex". 

 

If both understand the issues there may be hope - but I think it is still very rare for it to work out well. (and will only really believe it if I hear both sides....)

 

 

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ryn2
8 minutes ago, uhtred said:

Its a very difficult think to grasp if you are asexual, what does this *one thing* matter so much.

For me it’s not so much *that* that’s hard to grasp; it’s the seemingly-mutually-exclusive coexistance of “this one thing matters so much that I will end the relationship over it” and “I’m not leaving over sex.”

 

I hear people saying that it’s not the sex, it’s the desire/the bond/the intimacy... but in the end if the “right” sex was there leaving would not be on the table.  To me it still sounds like “I’m leaving over sex but I don’t want to say that because society will judge me.”

 

Kind of like leaving over money troubles but not wanting to be judged cheap or money-grubbing.

 

I’m not trying to say the judgment is fair or accurate, just that it comes with the decision.

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Traveler40
37 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

For me it’s not so much *that* that’s hard to grasp; it’s the seemingly-mutually-exclusive coexistance of “this one thing matters so much that I will end the relationship over it” and “I’m not leaving over sex.”

 

I hear people saying that it’s not the sex, it’s the desire/the bond/the intimacy... but in the end if the “right” sex was there leaving would not be on the table.  To me it still sounds like “I’m leaving over sex but I don’t want to say that because society will judge me.”

 

Kind of like leaving over money troubles but not wanting to be judged cheap or money-grubbing.

 

I’m not trying to say the judgment is fair or accurate, just that it comes with the decision.

At its core, leaving over sex is accurate, but that’s so overly simplified from the sexual’s perspective that it seems wrong.  

 

Sex is the basis and springboard for much that is fundamental in a relationship from the sexual’s perspective that without it, there’s this feeling and belief of vast personal loss.

 

Simply saying a person left due to sex cheapens the feelings experienced as fallout from this intrinsic break in the relationship.

 

Furthermore, if presenting the simplified explanation, those not in mixed relationships likely wouldn’t understand the full impact which feels unjust as the proffered explanation for the break.

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ryn2
20 minutes ago, Traveler40 said:

Furthermore, if presenting the simplified explanation, those not in mixed relationships likely wouldn’t understand the full impact which feels unjust as the proffered explanation for the break.

I’d personally expand this out to anyone in a mismatched relationship, whether that be sexual/asexual or “just” sexual/sexual but with significantly different needs.

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ryn2
22 minutes ago, Traveler40 said:

At its core, leaving over sex is accurate, but that’s so overly simplified from the sexual’s perspective that it seems wrong.  

 

Sex is the basis and springboard for much that is fundamental in a relationship from the sexual’s perspective that without it, there’s this feeling and belief of vast personal loss.

 

Simply saying a person left due to sex cheapens the feelings experienced as fallout from this intrinsic break in the relationship.

 

Furthermore, if presenting the simplified explanation, those not in mixed relationships likely wouldn’t understand the full impact which feels unjust as the proffered explanation for the break.

This is an excellent explanation.  From (mostly) on the other side of the fence not recognizing the accuracy of the statement (without going on to provide the long, excellent explanation), though, leaves the asexual feeling unheard and perhaps a bit gaslighted.

 

I have a friend who is leaving his wife over (sexual mismatch and) money issues.  Similar (I think?) to what you are describing he is factually leaving over money... but it’s really about breached trust and mismatched goals/values and a host of other things.

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Traveler40
25 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

From (mostly) on the other side of the fence not recognizing the accuracy of the statement (without going on to provide the long, excellent explanation), though, leaves the asexual feeling unheard and perhaps a bit gaslighted.

Thus public figures put out joint, benign statements upon a breakup.  Each party has their perspective and reasons which gets too involved and shouldn’t need to be explained.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if friends and family would respect a joint, benign explanation and accept such?

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ryn2
10 minutes ago, Traveler40 said:

Thus public figures put out joint, benign statements upon a breakup.  Each party has their perspective and reasons which gets too involved and shouldn’t need to be explained.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if friends and family would respect a joint, benign explanation and accept such?

That’s what I always gave family, coworkers, and all but the closest friends (the friends I chose to tell because I needed their perspective and support).

 

It’s what I’ll do this time, too, if my partner chooses to leave.

 

People may not like it but they have to accept it when one refuses to provide anything further.

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uhtred

Its complicated because sex means such different things to sexuals and asexuals.

 

To the asexual it can look like the sexual is leaving "just because of sex", as if that is all that matters.

 

To the sexual it can look like the asexual is selfishly "refusing sex" when that is all it would take to fix the relationship.

 

The problem is that to many sexuals, sex is a basic, expected part of a romantic relationship.  Lack of sex seems an indication that there is no romance, no love, that the couple are just roommates, or friends. For many sexuals sex *is* the difference between friendship and romantic love.  They can't understand how someone can love them but not want sex. 

 

To many asexuals, sex is something separate from love and romance.  Just a thing that people do. They can't understand why their partner would put so much weight on this one activity. 

 

On top of that is the ever present "necessary but not sufficient" problem.  Sex is only one of many "necessary" things in a relationship. If we were in a different discussion group we might hear people complaining that their partners were leaving "just because of money".   Its a similar situation, for some, enough money for a healthy comfortable life is fine.  Others want the things that can only be obtained with large extra income.  "What is wrong with living in a trailer park if you are with the person you love?".  or  "Why aren't you willing to hold up your end of the family and work a real job".

 

House chores are another classic split. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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uhtred
6 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

That’s what I always gave family, coworkers, and all but the closest friends (the friends I chose to tell because I needed their perspective and support).

 

It’s what I’ll do this time, too, if my partner chooses to leave.

 

People may not like it but they have to accept it when one refuses to provide anything further.

That works if both parties agree that the problem is a "mismatch".  Where it gets ugly is if one partner thinks that the other is *wrong*.  Sadly in mismatches, this often happens. 

 

The mismatched sexual dynamic can easily produce this sort of hostility.  To each, the other's behavior can easily be interpreted as extremely selfish.  "he is always demanding sex and wants all sorts of disgusting things".  "She is selfish, sex is only what and when she wants with no regard for my interests". 

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ryn2
7 minutes ago, uhtred said:

That works if both parties agree that the problem is a "mismatch".  Where it gets ugly is if one partner thinks that the other is *wrong*.  Sadly in mismatches, this often happens. 

 

The mismatched sexual dynamic can easily produce this sort of hostility.  To each, the other's behavior can easily be interpreted as extremely selfish.  "he is always demanding sex and wants all sorts of disgusting things".  "She is selfish, sex is only what and when she wants with no regard for my interests". 

It’s what I do regardless of who is right or wrong and regardless of what angry, ugly things get said between my partner and I during the split.  I don’t want my relatives, colleagues, and non-close friends all up in my business.

 

Sure, a partner could be vindictive, but that can happen regardless of the actual truth.  All I can hope in those cases is that my true friends will remain my friends despite what my ex-partner might say.

 

No one ever looks bad taking the high road...

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ryn2

(I’ve only ever had one breakup where a partner and I agreed that it was in our mutual best interest to go back to being friends; the rest have all been full of vitriol and drama)

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uhtred
42 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

It’s what I do regardless of who is right or wrong and regardless of what angry, ugly things get said between my partner and I during the split.  I don’t want my relatives, colleagues, and non-close friends all up in my business.

 

Sure, a partner could be vindictive, but that can happen regardless of the actual truth.  All I can hope in those cases is that my true friends will remain my friends despite what my ex-partner might say.

 

No one ever looks bad taking the high road...

Think how it plays out:

 

Me: wife, I'm divorcing you. 

Wife: What? why?

Me: not enough sex [try to find some way to word this]

Wife:  [some combination of: but its always been like this.  All you think about is sex.  We are having lots of sex.  OK, I'll have sex more often, its just that I'm tired / sick...  ]

Me: We've already tried that many times...

Wife: but you never told me...

(on and on). 

 

OK imagine that I do divorce. then

 

Friend: My god, I heard you were divorcing Wife.

Me:  Yes.

Friend: But you were prefect together, what happened. 

Me:  Its private

Friend: Did she cheat on you?  What happened? This is horrible?

[Live with rumors for the rest of my life]

 

Or 

Me: Our sex life was bad

Friend: But - shouldn't you see a therapist? Why didn't she want sex? What was *wrong*.  You ere always so close so affectionate. What about all those romantic trips.  Is it because she is old and you have lost interest? Have you seen a doctor? 

[live with rumors for the rest of my life]

 

These sorts of conversations are really unlikely to go well.  

 

BTW, I don't actually want to divorce my wife.  What I want is what we have but with a good sex life, but I can't have that, so I try to accept what I have. 

 

sorry for griping - bad mood today.  Back form another perfect "romantic" vacation..... all my friends are jealous. 

 

 

 

 

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ryn2

Sorry you had a sad vacation!

 

I don’t say “it’s private.”  I go with something neutral like “*shrug* things just didn’t work out” or (if I’m the dumpee) “*shrug* I guess he didn’t want to be together anymore.”  When people push I say “I wish things had worked out differently but it is what it is/sometimes we don’t get what we wish for, do we?” and then I change the subject.

 

There’s nothing I can do about rumors and gossip.  No matter what I say or don’t say - and regardless of how fully and honestly I explain - people will have their theories.  Whatever.  That’s on them.

 

Within the partnership, I totally get it.  In my experience both parties feel and act wronged by an impending breakup, regardless of whether or not either actually is, and I’m for sure no exception.  Your example is actually very mild.  I just share very little of that with people I don’t actually want to discuss it with.

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anisotrophic
17 hours ago, DaisyGirl said:

For now we have compromised with mutual masturbation but I was wondering how other partners of an asexual find that intimacy connection other than sex.

Watching sunsets together, laughing at our children... Also, maybe we've gotten oddly comfortable about it, but for me my partner's lack of desire has become a source of humor. There's a type of comfortable intimacy in acceptance. I asked for a side-hug while we watched that sunset. "Is that a special hug for aces?" he says. "Oh," I respond, "I can make a side-hug sexual..." ;) 

 

But I'm not sure you should try to give up sex too wholeheartedly! If you can compromise with mutual masturbation, I'd recommend to keep exploring and communicating!

 

He might not realize how meaningful sex is to you, and you might find ways to tell him how much it means to you. I try to communicate a lot of thankfulness and vulnerability. I also try to give a lot of respect for any lack of desire on my partner's part -- checking in a lot, apologizing for any stress caused by my own desire.

 

It depends on the person, but it might mean a lot for your husband to feel relieved to be understood better, and to feel relieved of any "need" to experience and express desire. He might be willing to engage in sexual intimacy out of love, because it means so much to you... and you might come to feel like something given to you out of love, if not sexual desire, provides the intimate connection you need.
 

15 hours ago, DaisyGirl said:

Thank you. I don't think this is something that will work for me yet. We've talked about bringing a 3rd person into this for me, but it's him that I want the intimacy with. I won't say no to this yet, but it's not right for me at this point.

I agree it's unwise to jump towards this solution right away... it's nice to have this option offered (and maybe someday you can try it), but I think it's best to focus on finding a new stability for yourselves, first, now that you're communicating about this.

 

And I try to remind myself that marital problems are often isolating. It's not just because this is about sex -- for example, imagine dealing a spouse that's struggling with substance abuse (and a need to keep it private to protect their career). I like @ryn2's point that these things end up being a tangle of things... if someone does end up breaking up, I think it'd be narrow-minded to say it's "just sex" but probably a mix of other breaches or incompatibilities around "trust", "love", and "communication".

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Lara Black

Hello, @DaisyGirl

I’ve been with my ace partner for almost 2 years now (counting the days till our anniversary!) and we’ve never had traditional sex because he came out to me before we got together.

We’ve had some problems with intimacy, and this is how we’re solving them. We do things to/with each other, that are exclusive – no one touches me the way he does (no one is allowed to), and I’m the only one who can touch him the way I do. And so on. It’s not really sexual – people here often call it cuddling, but I don’t much like this term… I prefer to think that it’s the most sexual he likes to be. So we are intimate – as much so, as he can and would like to be, and I’ve learned to appreciate this – it’s like training your ear to hear quiet sounds. It’s not easy, true, but I feel that it’s much better than lamenting the loss of sex or intimacy.

Mixed relationships take a whole lot of work – maybe even more than relationships between two sexuals – but people can be very happy together.

So, good luck to you.

If you want to know something else, feel free to PM me – we’ll chat.

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uhtred
51 minutes ago, Lara Black said:

Hello, @DaisyGirl

I’ve been with my ace partner for almost 2 years now (counting the days till our anniversary!) and we’ve never had traditional sex because he came out to me before we got together.

We’ve had some problems with intimacy, and this is how we’re solving them. We do things to/with each other, that are exclusive – no one touches me the way he does (no one is allowed to), and I’m the only one who can touch him the way I do. And so on. It’s not really sexual – people here often call it cuddling, but I don’t much like this term… I prefer to think that it’s the most sexual he likes to be. So we are intimate – as much so, as he can and would like to be, and I’ve learned to appreciate this – it’s like training your ear to hear quiet sounds. It’s not easy, true, but I feel that it’s much better than lamenting the loss of sex or intimacy.

Mixed relationships take a whole lot of work – maybe even more than relationships between two sexuals – but people can be very happy together.

So, good luck to you.

If you want to know something else, feel free to PM me – we’ll chat.

Are you able to feel happy this way without resentment for what you cannot have?   Were you sexually active with anyone before marriage?  I ask because my wife and I have lots of casual "cuddling", but little sex - but its never really worked for me. I'm always left feeling a little cheated by life.  (which is completely stupid because most of my life is really good - I just can't seem to get over this issue).  Were you able to feel content right away, or did you have to work on your feelings?

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anisotrophic
On 7/2/2018 at 8:45 PM, Skywise said:

We are seeing a marriage counselor on Wednesday. (Happy Fourth of July!) I have no idea what will happen.

Good luck with this today! Communication seems to be generally a good thing (the lack is when things really go south), fingers crossed for you.

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Lara Black
1 hour ago, uhtred said:

Are you able to feel happy this way without resentment for what you cannot have?   Were you sexually active with anyone before marriage?  I ask because my wife and I have lots of casual "cuddling", but little sex - but its never really worked for me. I'm always left feeling a little cheated by life.  (which is completely stupid because most of my life is really good - I just can't seem to get over this issue).  Were you able to feel content right away, or did you have to work on your feelings?

I’d been married and divorced before I met my partner. And my ex was very sexually active. So yeah, I know how great sex is.

Now that I’m thinking about it, it might be that I’ve never felt cheated because I knew what I was getting into from the very start (he came out to me). It was an informed choice, and I didn’t expect any sex in our relationships… I knew I was trading it for being with the person I love.

Sure, I could close my eyes and start wishing, “If only we had the same sexual orientation!”, but what’s the point? We do what we can with what we have, or we leave – that’s my philosophy.)

I’ve been very happy in these relationships from the start. It did, however, take me a whole lot of time and work to learn how to appreciate what I have and not pine over what I don’t.

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vega57
On 7/3/2018 at 7:27 AM, uhtred said:

I think one key issue is whether the asexual partner recognizes / understands that there is a shared problem.  In some cases they simply don't  / are not willing to accept that sex is very important to sexuals, and that it isn't just selfishness.  Its a very difficult think to grasp if you are asexual, what does this *one thing* matter so much. 

 

The other side of course is that sometimes the sexual doesn't understand that the asexual can't "just do it".  To a sexual person this seems so *simple*: why can't you "just have sex". 

 

If both understand the issues there may be hope - but I think it is still very rare for it to work out well. (and will only really believe it if I hear both sides....)

 

 

M ycc Rxany times over, the asexual HAS been " just having sex" in some cases, for decades.  The mechanical aspect of sex is like anything else.  If you're a woman, "just" spread your legs. If you're a man, "just" get it up.  The physical ability to have sex is there.  It's the emotional aspect that gets in the way.  

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Philip027
On 7/3/2018 at 10:42 AM, ryn2 said:

I hear people saying that it’s not the sex, it’s the desire/the bond/the intimacy... but in the end if the “right” sex was there leaving would not be on the table.  To me it still sounds like “I’m leaving over sex but I don’t want to say that because society will judge me.”

Yep.  I see this all the time even here, and it just sounds lame after a while because of how dishonest it is.

 

Like, I get you aren't happy and you have every right to feel that way, but at least be fuckin straight about why.  Don't try to say shit like "sex/money/kids/etc isn't everything to me" and then back out of the relationship only because that one thing isn't going as well as you'd like.

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Lara Black
49 minutes ago, Philip027 said:

Yep.  I see this all the time even here, and it just sounds lame after a while because of how dishonest it is.

 

Like, I get you aren't happy and you have every right to feel that way, but at least be fuckin straight about why.  Don't try to say shit like "sex/money/kids/etc isn't everything to me" and then back out of the relationship only because that one thing isn't going as well as you'd like.

But sex/money/kids isn't everything. Meaning that if sex is good and everything else sucks, relationships will not work.  Sex alone can't make us happy. Its absence, however, can make us miserable.

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