I Really Love Him, But…
Sexual dissatisfaction is a common complaint of women who come to see me for sex counseling. There are many reasons for this, but the dissatisfying lover is not an uncommon one. Plenty of women accommodate this for years. But then, in their late forties or early fifties with their Bucket List in mind, what was once just an unfortunate disappointment mutates into an intolerable life-sentence; they simply cannot accept never having satisfying sex again before they die.
Great sex is characterized by the preternaturally accurate response of one lover to the unspoken longings of the other. Should one communicant need a bull horn to be heard – and even then without success – the eroticism and excitatory anticipation that is the essence of fabulous sex will vanish. Sex is body-talk, not brain talk. Expressions and hungers of the flesh are nuanced by nature and scripted in the body itself – the angle of a shoulder, the stroke of a hand, the slight swing of a hip. Not everyone gains fluency. Not all brains function responsively or satisfactorily in this realm.
Dissatisfying male partners are often men who rely on quantitative measurement and deductive reasoning for their cues about what to do. The preternatural has little to do with their responses and nuance is lost on them. For them, sex is a satisfying activity with a quantitative end point, not an art form. But for a sensually sophisticated woman coupled with such a man, his approach to sex is predictable, scripted, clumsy, and adolescent. He lacks imagination and is often silly in his come-ons – like when he grabs her too hard by the breasts in the kitchen as a way of saying “I want to have sex.” His repertoire is narrow and his well-meaning eagerness ill-fitting. Caressing is absent and kissing is intolerably indelicate with too much mouth and way too much saliva. No matter how many times and in how many different ways she’s tried to explain what she enjoys or lead him into better love-making he just doesn’t seem to get it. For the man who’s hard-wired to manage the world formulaically and who rejects the relevance of subjective reasoning, sex can rob him of his moorings and be the final frontier of his intimate relationship.
Women in relationships with men they love but don’t enjoy having sex with have three options: stay and make peace with the disappointment, leave and make peace with the disappointment, or discreetly choose a paramour – and make peace with the disappointment. Trust me when I tell you that an on-going tutorial doesn’t work and can be a cruel sucker-punch if there ever was one.
There are all sorts-of marriages. Some don’t happen to include satisfying sex or any sex at all. Whether you decide to stay or leave remember, you made a choice to continue to walk the same path when you had less than what you wanted from the beginning. There must have been a good reason for that: the desire for children, a family, loneliness, and even love. And while your good reasons may no longer apply, dissatisfaction is never all about one partner. Acknowledge your role in what’s happened – and in what hasn’t. Be as honest with yourself as possible, and above all else, be kind to your partner – especially if you decide to leave.
© E. Resh, 2014.