When Top 10 Became a Reality

01/04/2006

Wednesday

I spent most of the day thinking I had nothing to write. So I worked this evening on something for Unsolicited Advice, and now I do have something to say. But if you don't read that article and my Top 10 list , you won't have any idea what I'm talking about.

That entire list is borne of personal experience. When I look at my list of LL characteristics, Arwyn scored 10/10 on the original list. If the other two items make the list (based a lot on your feedback) she will be 12/12.

So, looking at that list, when did these things manifest or when did I realize them?

1. No inclination towards sexual topics, items or subjects. – It took some time to see that one. When she forbade me going to a strip club for my bachelor party, that could have been a red flag. Or maybe the fact that she rarely ever wore lingerie for me. Within the first year of marriage this became pretty glaring.

2. No sexual fantasies – The only way to know this is by asking them what they are. I did ask about this before marriage and I didn’t really believe her when she said she really didn’t have any. I had so many fantasies; the concept of having none was totally foreign to me. It was impossible. Well…it isn’t impossible. Within a couple of years this, too, became pretty obvious.

3. Thinking, talking, having sex is a chore. – This built over time and it took about a year after marriage before it became so obvious and then really built up from there. It became more and more of a chore over time until it barely became tolerable.

4. Easily satiated and for longer periods of time. – Sex revs me up for more sex. Not so for Arwyn, post marriage. Before marriage, we were banging everyday, twice a day for the first couple of months. But she did not initiate very much at all. She now says more than once a week is just not physically possible for her. Early in the marriage, she had headaches, was sick and constantly tired.

5. Boundries and limitations on sexual practices – This one was obvious real early on. She begged off oral sex unless right after we had a shower. Then it was “Not right now.” Then, right after the honeymoon, it was “I don’t want you licking me and I’m sure not licking you.” There was very little exploration allowed. There was sex, but it was very straight forward.

6. No Open Mouthed Kissing – That one was obvious almost immediately. She blamed it on my smoking. When I quit for a month or so, she never opened up. Using the tongue in kissing was clearly not something she enjoyed or missed else she would have been after me. But in honesty, I accepted this limitation. If it was the only one, I would have been fine. But it was not the only one.

7. Initiating – As mention in #4, there was very little. But since she was responding to my frequent initiations I didn’t notice much. She mentioned something about all the pressure so I backed off. But it was never far enough. She might have actively initiated 2-3 times since we’ve been married. It was a year or so before I really took notice of this.

8. Talking about it as if it is something she gives up or I get. – Well, while true very, very early on in our sexual life, I did not think of it as significant. Certainly not significant enough to call off a wedding or get a divorce. Or even fight about. But it is just one more thing I could have considered before the wedding day or one more thing we could have discussed but didn’t.

9. Not worth the effort. – When we first got married, she was not working and there were no kids, but she still managed to find other things that would interfere with our sex life. Other things she had to do first, like change cat litter, do dishes, fold clothes. It was not long at all when I discovered that sex was not a high priority. This one actually did surface before the wedding as the wedding planning itself consumed massive amounts of time. I diddn’t think much of it, but just thought it was temporary stress. See #11.

10. Hostility towards discussing the topic. – That one took much longer to really fully realize because I was so embarrassed to have this problem. I finally tried to confront her on it sometime after our oldest was born, and she nearly bit my head off for it. Any attempt at approaching this, and I get attacked for being selfish and self-centered and sexually addicted and only thinking with my dick and being inconsiderate and so on and so on. Not so long ago, I was subjected to crazy monkey fits. She literally jumped up and down like a crazed monkey, screaming, yelling and crying, accusing me of the above. It was scary to see someone go that nuts. Was this really worth the trouble it obviously caused her?

11. Pressure Handled Poorly – It didn’t really get across into my head fully until just recently, and some of your blogs spelling it out for me. I read about LL spouses crying, getting sick, getting depressed and generally falling to pieces because they might have to have sex with their partners. I saw Arwyn and how she handled any impending “Alone time” or “dates” or any expectations of sex. She has improved on that score, as the previous two holidays demonstrate. She still may not be looking forward to it but she is trying.

12. Control – You read all about that in my New Year’s post. I have felt my sexual space shrink more and more over the years but only now fully realized my total confinement. My kinks are definitely my way of trying to discover and explore more sexual territory and find more space.

We should have discussed these things before we got married. We should have discussed them earlier in our marriage. We should discuss them more often, now. Things that were not so good early on got much worse, and new bad habits and limitations appeared as time went on. For those struggling and not married – don’t get married until this stuff is discussed and resolved. That’s my advice. I was ignorant and made errors, not that I’m anywhere near ideal in other respects. But there was no benchmark, no list of things to look out for or guidance in this area. Yeah, there’s the advice to communicate, but communicate about what? I wasn’t the best and am still not the best communicator, myself. I’d prefer communicating through sex, but that’s not much use here…

I am curious, are there any women who don’t have any of these 12 twelve issues?

D.

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22 Responses to When Top 10 Became a Reality

  1. ding says:

    um, i don’t. then again, i’m single. and i haven’t had the strain of maintaining a relationship while being intimate with someone. in other words, i’ve managed to keep my sexual life compartmentalized from everything else. i realize that’s a function of my singleness and not everyone has that ability.

    maybe it’s a matter of age. i’m 36 and for me and the women i know, we don’t have hard and fast rules. we are comfortable talking about sex; we’re comfortable asking for what we want, except when we’re not comfortable asking for it (when we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings); we think sex is funny, hilarious, ridiculous. we’d like more of it, regularly, but not so much that it prevented us from running errands on the weekends or seeing our girlfriends.

    but again, it just may be me and my friends are outliers and women like your wife are normal. i don’t know.

  2. penitent says:

    None for me, but then again, I’m 22. My last boyfriend (of 5 1/2 years) was more HL than I was. I used to think that this alone made me a bit more LL, but in retrospect I suspect that it was more because I was losing interest in him altogether.

    My current boyfriend was depressed for a while and exhibited four or five of your top twelve LL characteristics, and even though we had only been together for about a year, we would still routinely go a month or a month and a half without sex. That changed after he started taking medication for his depression, but the mere awareness of his LL tendencies and the frustrations that I experienced has, I think, made me more HL. If that makes any sense.

    So anyway, no, I’m female and I don’t have any of those twelve issues.

  3. Satan says:

    “are there any women who don’t have any of these 12 twelve issues?”

    My goodness, I think we’ve arrived in Condescending Prick territory!

  4. Katie says:

    Ditto the three commenters above me. I don’t remotely resemble any of those 12. At the moment my husband and I are well matched in this department (that makes us ML? *shrugs*) I actually used to be the HL and he was the LL but he’s worked through the depression he was in that caused the LL(interesting that LL people often are depressed).

  5. So Gone says:

    I agree with Satan, lol. You damn well know many of us who don’t have those issues.

  6. Tajalude says:

    I may have other issues that are not on that list, but none of those apply to me. I stand with Satan. (Oh that looks wrong.. : )

  7. Yes, there are, and I think I agree with Satan about that little jab.

    Having read this and also your list over on Unsolicited Advice, I think you are mixing up issues with #11. You say that a HL person responds to “impending sex” with excitement, but then you talk about “sexual pressure.”

    There’s a huge difference between getting hot because your partner tells you what s/he is looking forward to later in the evening and resisting “pressure.” “Pressure” isn’t just an impending sexual encounter, pressure is just that – your partner trying to push you into something you don’t really want to do.

    Even HL people can be pressured to do things they don’t want to do, and I’d guess some of them don’t like it either. Someone *can* be HL and still not into kink, for instance, and feel pressured by a partner who wants to try out a non-vanilla scenario. I know there’s a faction who’d argue that unwillingness to try EVERYTHING suggested means you’re not HL or even AL (average libido), but I’d disagree.

  8. Emily says:

    Yes, I don’t have any of those characteristics. My LL male partner has most of them, though. In our case, he has a number of health problems, including a hormonal disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome, both of which have low sex drive as symptoms. As a result, I have done your 100 days many, many times. We have sex around 2-3 times a year on average. So I hear your pain. It is very, VERY frustrating and can cause a lot of resentment, humiliation and sadness, and is a major issue between us. I do think you are getting a little patronising about your wife and other women, however I also understand that you are feeling angry and rejected, and that can make a person feel very hostile.
    One thing, though, I think is worth highlighting. When people encounter large differences between themselves and the person they’re with, they tend to get polarised. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in other contexts, eg, race relations, where people of different races or cultures are confronted by cultural differences, and start to behave more and more differently from one another, more and more true to stereotype. And because sex is so intense and so personal, I think this is even more so with sex.
    When I was first with my LL partner, I got so frustrated and depressed, and so obsessed with the problem, constantly fantasising about sex. And I would have estimated that I wanted sex just about every day and considered myself someone with a very high sex drive and therefore deeply, deeply deprived.
    Then I broke up with my partner, and for a while, I was with someone with a very high sex drive. As you can probably imagine, I was delighted at first. It was fantastic to be with someone who wanted me so much, and never having to question their enthusiasm and pleasure. But interestingly, after about two to three weeks, I was astonished to find that I had started to get tired of it. I realized that, in a context of sex being available all the time, instead of a scarcity environment, I was more of a 2-3 times a week girl, which I guess is average sex drive. Within three weeks, I was starting to turn off, make excuses, trade sex for things I wanted (like a back massage or help with errands), and began feeling increasingly beseiged. As time went on, I started to feel downright hostile towards the whole subject and increasingly to him. Nothing I could do was ever enough. Sex started to become, in my mind, not something we shared, but something I “gave”. And it started to be robbed of all pleasure. Towards the end of the relationship, I would feel a kind of chill come over me when he touched me, a real “fight or flight” stress response as if I was being invaded. I was surprised by my feelings of hostility and coldness towards him and his apparently never-ending needs.
    I think it might be sort of like food. When people are starving, they constantly fantasise about food. They dream about food, think constantly about food, and trade recipes which become increasingly elaborate. That’s what I was like with my LL partner.
    When I was with my HL partner, it was like constantly being asked to eat a huge meal when I wasn’t hungry. A little snack anyone can manage when they are not that hungry, just for the pleasure of it. But if someone is constantly standing by you asking if you are hungry, are you hungry yet, are you even a little hungry yet, can’t you eat something just for me, and being stuffed to the brim all the time, you will seriously go off food. The very sight of it will make you feel sick, nd you feel like you are being forcefed over and over again, which in its way is just as bad as being starving.
    Now here I am, back with my LL partner, frustrated, but recognising that being LL with an even average libido partner is not so great, either. The pressure you feel can be tremendous, even when they don’t say anything. They don’t need to say anything, because you already know.
    Plus, I have a personal theory about your wife. From what you have said about her, I wonder if she is depressed. Not so much because of her low sex drive, as her general lack of engagement with you. Its like she just doesn’t have the emotional energy. It is not at all unusual for women with children, especially those home with children all day, to be somewhat, and even very, depressed. It can be a very meaningful role, but is also very restricting. When a person has to routinely put others needs before their own, they start to suppress their desires for all sorts of things, because otherwise feeling their personal needs and desires when they can’t be met can become too painful. But suppression is a very blunt instrument. You can’t suppress some strong feelings without basically suppressing others, and that is where a lot of women’s sex drives go. And they give out so much energy to the kids that they lose energy for themselves and their own desires, and the demands of their partner start to seem apiece with the demands of their children – just one more thing you apparently have to do! A family’s need is a bottomless well, and you can feel like you can never do enough. You end up either running yourself ragged, or having to carve space for yourself somewhere. In that context, a constant demand for you to surrender your body, for intimacy, can feel overwhelmingly like a threat to take your final bastion of privacy and personal space.
    I do wonder if, if you are your wife discussed her unhappiness (which you mentioned in a previous post) more, and tried to address it together, somewhat apart from the issue of sex, if things might go better. I know a therapist friend of mine says that she finds a lot of women’s depression, which can seem very complex and entrenched, can melt away very quickly with a part-time job (even if her salary is basically eaten up with childcare) and a drivers licence. A woman who has some space to recharge her emotional energies may have more to give you. You may or may not get more sex, but you might get more intimacy, and that can make quite a big difference to the quality of the relationship and your own happiness in it.

    Emily

  9. Wow, Emily — that was very insightful!

    You’ve got comparative experience from both sides of this issue, which is really fascinating.

  10. kj says:

    TO Emily. WOW. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great note.

    I’ve had both great, and lousy relationships, and everything in between even within the same relationship.

    Until I read these 12 things with Arwen, I’d have said such a thing as “LL” didn’t exist. I’d chalk it up to depression. It’s like she doesn’t even want to allow herself pleasure. Like she’s completely walled herself in, and you unfortunately OUT.

    I do think she particularly and you too, would do wonders with a whole lot of counseling, yours in how to reach her, and she in opening up to herself and others and not just to “things” and busyness and kids…. It’s like she’s emotionally drained, and even cracking up sometimes. No excuse for ranting and raving. No excuse at all. That’s out of control and a sure sign of needing HELP of some form or other.
    Not wanting sex at all is just a sign of what’s happening in her head.

    I wonder, and I know the answer actually…(yes) if I had access to my b/f 24/7 (which I didn’t even have when we were dating back in college years ago) that I’d actually not be interested and turn him down. I do think I want it more when I can’t have it, or it’s a bit hard to get anyway.

    I’m not particularly interested in sex in my marriage, I could have it every day or so, if I wanted it. But I so rarely get anything out of it, it’s not worth the bother. I’ve grown to hate him having all the fun whilst I feel next to nothing. And doing “other” things, doesn’t always satisfy the deeper need for a GOOD OLE FASHIONED FUCK once in awhile.

    So my husband would probably think that much of the time I have LL. So much to do before finding time for SEX. But given the right circumstances, right guy, I’d drive 300 miles to get it. Luckily, it’s only about 20 miles.

  11. ArtfulDodger says:

    I agree, thanks for sharing that Emily. Very insightful.

    I think you need to work on this list more Dig, you are close to some issues but you are allowing your situation to influence your perspective too much. Not every woman is your wife, and your wife isn’t every woman. There might be universal constants in this department for both men and women, but I personally think you need to allow for a work in progress when it comes to this issue.

    There are a lot of wonderful, loving, compassionate, caring, sexual women in this world.

    Plus, I don’t necessarily believe that talking about these issues beforehand would have solved anything. How many people do you know that are THAT into their own heads and could actually have a rational discussion regarding the technical details of what they want in a relationship? Especially in the heat of the pre-nuptial romance? Why do we thnk so many marriages fail in the first place, people are generally not very good communicators.

    And this probably wouldn’t include any bloggers, cause we wouldn’t be blogging if we were bad communicators.

  12. Emily says:

    Thanks, I feel better for having got some of that off my chest!

    One thing I have found helpful with my partner. We have a regular date each week, usually on the weekend, to come to bed naked, cuddle up and just talk for an hour or so. We don’t often talk about anything profound, although sometimes we do, it is more about just being together as a couple without our kid and showing affection. In the absence of sex, just enjoying the nakedness, the intimacy and the fact that my partner is making an effort to meet at least some of my needs does help quite a lot, mainly because it addresses some of the resentment and emotional hunger arising from our situation.

    I dunno if something similar would help, or if it would just make things more tantalising and therefore more difficult. But personally, I think one of the biggest problems of the CL couple is its effect on general intimacy. After all, one can always give oneself an orgasm. But being sexually deprived is not just frustrating, its lonely.

    Emily.

  13. Satan says:

    Emily, what a beautiful, touching post.
    I’ve always held the belief that CL problems so often stem from the synergy within the relationship.

  14. I don’t. Not a one.

    But my husband has all of them.

    Go figure.

  15. I have none of those twelve characterisitcs you describe and I am a woman.

  16. I’m not sure if talking about it before hand would make a difference in some cases. Summer and I were having sex on a dily basis, most of the time 2x a day. That was from before we got engaged till we got married. Then I started basic training. We were apart for the first 5 1/2 months of our marriage. Then when I came home it was like it was before I left. For quite a while.
    Now we’re not close to what we were before. Once maybe twice a week. Would I like more? Yes. But I’m happy with what I have.
    i also have noticed that since I have started back into my funk (thats what I’m calling my depression at the moment) I’m not wanting sex as much. I’m more content to just lie in bed naked and hold each other.
    CH

  17. ding says:

    when i read about your situation i can’t help but think about my own parents. my mom was not a very *intimate* person and there was a significant period of time when she slept in a different bedroom from my dad. he felt very isolated, frustrated, ignored. (it also didn’t help that he had a profession that took him out of the house often.)

    my mother didn’t touch my dad, didn’t initiate displays of affection, often shrugged off his touch. at first we just thought, ‘wow, mom’s mean.’ but the older i became i realized there was probably a few different things at work: illness, menopause, depression, fatigue – not to mention my mom deeply resented my father’s job and didn’t know how to express her anger. it wasn’t that my parents had no sex life, but it was probably well below what you’d think it’d be.

    it became better once we got married or moved away, but i can’t help thinking that they could have saved a decade of their marriage if they’d had counseling. (ironic, since my dad was a counselor!)

  18. C-Marie says:

    Nope – don’t have of those issues…but JM has quite a few. Ugh.

  19. FTN says:

    I’d say my wife probably fits about 9-10 of those 12. We ended up having an argument about sex just last night — see numbers 1, 3, 10, and 11. She can get VERY upset and defensive when I just want to have an open and honest discussion about it.

    I like Emily’s idea of having an hour of naked time on the bed each week, just talking — without having sex. I’m still trying to get my wife to see that we can be sexual without having sex. I think she would still feel pressure, lying naked in bed, even if I insisted that there would be no sex.

    Regarding some other issues in Emily’s comment, it sounds as if she was really being pressured a lot in her previous relationship. However, if LL partners claim that the pressure is there even when it is unspoken… That is unfair. I shouldn’t be blamed for causing pressure on my wife when I don’t even do anything. I would then argue that HL have just as much pressure on them to not have sex.

    I do think that mothers of young children can be prone to depression, and a number of things can help. Counseling, medication, part-time jobs, hobbies with other adults, or just getting out of the house during the day.

  20. Square1 says:

    I don’t have them now, but used to suffer from number five. That had less to do with being prudish and more to do with certain traumatic events in my life.

    Now however I seem to be free and clear from such limitations.

  21. I really have nothing better to say than what Emily did.
    But I will say that I realized that I have some of those things you named (2,10,11). The thing is that some of those come together and become one issue, not 12.
    On #2, I have never really had any fantasies. We did a lot of things before because he wanted to. And now I feel like we can grow and move on, but he wants to continue to do those things….and I don’t. Which really goes along with #5. I was willing to try those things, and now I don’t care to and that causes problems.
    On #10, I would get this way when I felt like it was just too much. I felt like I was a horrible person, in turn making him feel neglected, and it just was never enough. When we did, I would remind him of it, and then we would go weeks without it. I just felt like it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal for us to have continuous arguements over it.
    On #11, well, that goes along with #10. Same feelings. Same things.
    I think that 3,8,and 9 go together as well. They are all similar, and would get the same reaction from me. Hard to explain.
    I have been working on getting rid of the feelings that I have had in the past, working through understanding my depression, but the unfortunate thing now is that he doesn’t really care.
    I do agree with Emily, in that, you need to talk with Arwyn about her, not sex. She sounds very depressed, and she probably doesn’t even realize it. She needs help, for herself. Once she can get herself better, she will become the person you fell in love with and it will be easier to communicate and work on the issues that you have.
    I know that I was not quite as articulate at others, but I hope that all made sense.

  22. No, I don’t have any of these issues. But that doesn’t mean I want to have sex every night, either. Also, keep in mind that women looking at this blog and answering your question are a self-selecting group of women with a greater-than-average interest in sex.

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