At the beginning of a relationship, it’s all lovey-dovey, nothing bothers either of you. The thought that you might ever argue is as far away as the notion that you might grow old together. If you are lucky, you can’t keep your hands off each other and it’s a neverending series of kissing, cuddling, holding hands and rampant sex.
The hard work begins when the honeymoon period is over. Bickering starts and the first hints of an argument rears it head. But that’s fine, because it’s perfectly normal. Mirror Image and I have still not yet had a fight, but we have had a situation that has made us both a little unhappy, and it was all down to a breakdown in communication over something we really should have been talking about a lot more: sex.
Because we see so little of each other, we feel we have to make the most of intimacy and had already got into a chore of sex every night we are together. Both of us assumed that the other had a very high libido. Mirror Image assumed that every time I went near her, for example cuddling up to her at night and gently stroking her leg, that I wanted to have sex with her. She would then quickly remove her underwear, roll over and begin stimulating me.
I was only testing the water to see if she was in the mood on about 50% of the occasions with no expectation of sex. The other 50% of the time, I merely wanted to feel physically close to her and fall asleep wrapped up in each other’s arms. So I assumed that she wanted sex every night. Performance anxiety began bubbling under the surface and several times I failed to get going, mostly because I was not really in the mood but thought that she was.
She came to stay with me last week and for one day had the house to ourselves. We had the most amazing sex on the floor of the living room that day, seriously mind-blowing and both of us spent the rest of the day with a stupid grin. We were relaxed, happy and there was no sense of any rush – we just let whatever happened to happen. Yet the following day, it could not have been worse.
We’d been away for a family function over the weekend. It was a long day, emotionally draining (especially for her as it was the first time she was meeting many of my family members). We got back to the hotel, stuffed with food and having had too much to drink, and Saturday night was very hot. We are in early September and this week is supposed to see the hottest temperatures since July – so we opened all the windows and slept naked. I cuddled up to her, pressing myself tight against her back and put my hand on her stomach. She assumed right away that I wanted to have sex with her again – but I knew I was in no fit state to perform and I assumed that she wanted to have sex.
A few minutes later when I had failed to rise to the occasion, mostly thanks to the alcohol, we bickered. She said something that really pissed me off (something along the lines of it feeling like a chore and getting annoyed when I work her up and then it’s obvious I’m not in the mood), and I rolled over and told her to sleep well. The following morning she apologised for what she said but there was still some tension.
When we got back home, we finally had the space to talk about what had happened and we finally realised that the other does not have as high a libido as the other assumed. It was all a breakdown in communication in both assuming that the other wanted to have sex when neither of us wanted to. Yes, sex was feeling like a chore even in the situation of making the best of our time together – feeling if we didn’t, we might miss out.
So what did we do Sunday night, our last night together? We went out for a meal, returned home, poured some wine and spent the evening talking about whatever we felt like talking about – kissing, touching and affection but no sex. And it felt great despite knowing it will be a few weeks before we see each other again. Intimacy and not sex should be what we make the most of. Sex is part of intimacy, but it is not the sum total.
Unhelpful Social Attitudes
Sex should never be a chore and nobody in a relationship should feel pressured into sex. Women are told all the time that they have the right to say no, yet we as men are pressured to be always up for it, to constantly want it. If we say no, whenever and for any reason, it is seen as weird. Some radical feminists – in deciding they know men better than we mere mortals know ourselves – think men who turn them down for sex have an ulterior motive (yup, because it’s always about them, and the oppressive patriarchy will stop at nothing to maintain power). Even apparent health pages offer “solutions” to his reasons for not wanting sex, as though a man is obliged to have sex with a woman and must have something wrong – something that you must fix – if he simply does not want to sleep with you. Yes, we’re sex machines lacking feeling and with a desire level always set on maximum.
We too have our off days, we too get too tired, feel too ill and feel generally not in the mood. I know I need to get better at trusting my body when I know I am not feeling it, and will not be able to perform. At least we have overcome this barrier now and our sex life should only get better and more importantly – more relaxed.