It’s Not About The Sex


holding-hands-1

I read a number of relationship blogs, and a while back I ran across something written by a woman commenting she didn’t want to just be a “receptacle for her partners sperm”. I have to admit, it made me laugh. It was kind of crude, but funny. And it got across the point of what she felt her role had been reduced to in the relationship.

I recently read another blog by someone talking about what she wants in a man. It was something along the lines of wanting a man who will love her for who she is. For her mind and her soul, being someone who would be willing to support her and grow with her, and not just want her for sex or her body.

I agree. Any man worth being with should want her for all of her, and want to be there for all of her. But guess what? He’ll still want her physically, and he’ll still want sex. And that should never be a bad thing. Actually, she would probably be upset if he didn’t want her.

Reading other blogs, this sentiment seems fairly common. There seem to be lots of women out there feeling some variation on the receptacle idea.

Somehow, somewhere along the way sex seems to go from being this special thing a couple shares that happens to feel good to almost being something bad. It seems to have become a chore or a duty for many women.

If that’s the case, it seems clear that there is some sort of a disconnect between how men and women are expressing our sexual needs as well as our understanding each of other.

Generally I don’t buy into gender differences. I think there are a lot of guys out there with “female” traits and vice versa. But maybe this is one area where we ARE fundamentally different. After all, if you think of the very act – we experience it in a completely different way. I know how it feels as a guy, but as a woman? I have no clue, and never will.

I’ve written in the past about the benefits sex has for a relationship, so I won’t rehash them here.

But here are a few facts:

  • Sex provides many benefits to a relationship
  • Sex drives between partners vary, and are not constant over time
  • Sexual problems can spill over into the rest of the relationship
  • Sexual issues are cited among the leading causes of divorce

How is it that something that should bring us together drives us apart? Some guys may be jerks, but I think most truly do care. So how can any guy make their partner feel like a receptacle for sperm?

Speaking Different Languages

My thought, maybe we just don’t understand each other. And maybe if we can understand each other better we can start to break down these walls of resentment that take what should be a special act and turn it into a cause of conflict. I don’t pretend to represent all guys here, but these my thoughts on the subject…

Sex is not about sex.

Huh? What?

Let me explain…

Who do you have sex with? Random strangers? Unlikely. Your parents? If so, first – too much information. Second, ewww. Your buddies? Some people have “friends with benefits”, but generally that’s because they are not in a relationship and are looking for a regular outlet. In that case, yeah, I guess it’s about the act. But it still has a tendency to run into complications.

No, generally it’s reserved for a couple in a relationship. Why? And why is it that having sex with someone else while in a relationship is often defined as an affair, instead of having dinner with someone else or going for coffee with them? (Incidentally, I think it’s a huge misconception when people draw the line for affairs at sex. The line for affairs should be drawn LONG before that, and could potentially be extended to something as “simple” as dinner. But that’s a topic for another day).

No, sex is clearly different. There’s something special about it. But what?

Being Naked

Years ago one of my buddies caught me off guard when he started talking about his girlfriend and how beautiful and sexy she was when he saw her naked. There are all sorts of stereotypes of guys talking in the locker room about their “conquests”, or constantly talking about women. Maybe it’s just my peer group but we REALLY don’t do that, so it was a bit disconcerting to me when he mentioned this.

First, there’s the unwritten bro-code. You don’t look at or think about a buddies girlfriend/wife/whatever in a sexual way. That’s just not cool. So having him talk about her naked was awkward, as of course it meant my mind instantly imagined her naked.

Ahh!!! Brain what are you doing? Noooooo!!!

As my traitorous brain was processing these unwanted images, I was also thinking “dude, ummm, your girlfriend’s really not that attractive” (I didn’t say that of course). Everyone has their preferences, but for me? Even trying to be objective she didn’t do much for me.

But here’s a secret about sex and desire. Being sexy and beautiful has very little to do with your physical appearance – it’s mostly mental. Is it only young attractive people who desire each other? No (at least, it shouldn’t be).

Being naked with someone you love isn’t about admiring their “naughty bits”. It’s about vulnerability. You are being open with each other. It’s about safety, closeness and trust.

For years I thought sex was about sex. But it’s not. It’s about that feeling, that sense of complete vulnerability and openness. That feeling is intoxicating, and arousing, and will likely lead to sex. But I don’t think it’s the sex that we want, it’s the sense of connection.

The physical act is just insert A into B. The emotional act is one of wanting to connect with and give pleasure to someone you love in a way that is only shared by the two of you.

Because of this I actually believe sex in a long term committed relationship can be better than any other sex. “New love” may have sex more frequently, but it’s more lust than love at that point.

love

Different Drives

Young guys may hope they will be having sex all the time. As you get a bit older, you realize that it doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be happy to be having sex more frequently, but sex is just part of the relationship and the relationship is more important.

Drives fluctuate. It may be frustrating at times, but we get that. What really matters is that we feel valued, and feel as though our needs in the relationship still matter. There has to be a middle ground where the lower drive person isn’t constantly being pressured, but the higher drive person isn’t left feeling unfulfilled.

If you say no one day, that’s fine. But when one person is consistently rejecting the other and shutting them down sexually then there is a problem.

For anyone who isn’t having sex with some regularity, I ask you this – what is the general level of non-sexual touching and affection like in the relationship. If sex isn’t happening, I’ll guess affection is at a shortage too. How about communication? How easy is it to talk to your partner? Can you tell them anything? Do you? When you are unhappy in parts of your relationship do you tell them? Or do you hold things in? Do you still tell them that you love them?

When there is limited to no sex, the affection and communication has also usually broken down. If affection and communication were still there, the lack of sex would probably be bearable. But then, if the affection and communication were there, chances are the sex would be too. They go together. Sex is simply the natural extension of that affection and communication.

As such, sex is about much more than the physical act. It is symbolic of all the closeness and affection that makes a couple a couple.

A Symbol of the Relationship

Guys see sex as symbolic of the relationship, and because of this a lack of sex can REALLY start to mess with them.

First, they start to question themselves:

  • Is there something wrong with me?
  • I desire my partner, what is wrong? Am I terrible at sex?
  • Does my partner no longer find me attractive?
  • Does my partner not desire me?

There’s a good chance that the lack of sex is at least partially because their partner isn’t feeling good about themselves. But this lack of sex results in both people feeling bad about themselves, and can start a downward spiral of negative momentum.

If the problem persists for any length of time, guys start to question the relationship itself:

  • The person I committed to won’t touch me, do they not care about me anymore?
  • Do they not love me?
  • Is our relationship failing?
  • My needs are being ignored here, what about me? Don’t my needs matter?

At this point, the sexual drought is spilling over and affecting the rest of the relationships. Chances are you got here due to poor communication. Unfortunately improved communication is what you need to get out, as over time this will do considerable damage threatening the relationship itself.

People say that they don’t want to be bothered for sex. But someone pestering you for sex isn’t a problem. It becomes a problem when they have stopped asking, because when that happens resentment has set in and they have given up hope.

All About Sex

I opened with the idea that guys seem to be making women feel like they are only wanted for their bodies, and that things are “all about sex”.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the intent. Making your partner feel that way is simply going to cause any sexual rift to deepen, and that’s not something anyone wants. So why in the world do guys do it?

Here’s my theory:

One of the biggest issues that couples face is they get to a point where they feel they have lost “the spark”. They feel like roommates, and maybe feel taken for granted. They no longer feel special when they are around their partner. And likely they ARE being taken for granted somewhat. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and let the relationship suffer, but it doesn’t mean someone loves their partner any less.

I think this is the stage where some people start to resent sex.

For guys, sex is symbolic of the relationship. They need it on a fairly regular basis (“regular” being different from person to person) in order to feel that things are alright. But without enough focus on each other, to the woman it starts to feel as though all they are wanted for is sex. After all, if you aren’t taking time to nurture the relationship (which is usually the fault of both members) but still want sex, then it does start to seem like you are roommates who happen to have sex sometime. No one wants that.

I’ve heard it said that women need connection for sex, and men need sex for connection. I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Instead, I think maybe for women sex goes along with connection while for men sex is symbolic of connection. But even for the guys it’s not actually about sex. It’s still about connection.

I think maybe men and women are both actually looking for the same thing. We both want connection, and to feel valued in the relationship. We are just speaking different languages, and becoming resentful as a result.

Keeping Love Alive

The worst feeling in a relationship is the sense that you have become just roommates, and the sense of being lovers is gone. When this happens, men often seem to think that sex is the way to rebuild the connection, while women want the connection before the sex.

Both approaches are probably wrong. Sex without connection will feel devaluing for both parties. But going long periods without sex while trying to rebuild connection will undermine your ability to rebuild connection. The relationship has to be the focus, but sex needs to be included as part of that.

For any ladies out there who are feeling like they are just wanted for sex, chances are your partner is not just looking for the act (alright, maybe sometimes but not usually). Instead he’s looking for everything it means to him. He’s looking for connection, and a feeling of closeness. He doesn’t want just anyone, and he’s not looking for a repository for his sperm. He wants YOU. He’s looking for feeling loved, and valued by you.

And he sees sex as a way of expressing all of that.

I don’t know if this makes any sense, or helps anything. But to any ladies out there who are feeling used solely for their bodies, please be open to the possibility that there is a lot more to us than just that.

You may drive us crazy sometimes (just as we do to you). But we do love you for who you are. We love your personality, your quirks. The way you can make us laugh and how just thinking about you sometimes can bring a smile to our faces. We want to be there for you emotionally as best we can (which admittedly isn’t always the way you want). And we do want to grow with you and have a life with you. We just need sex to be a part of it.

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23 thoughts on “It’s Not About The Sex

  1. Yes makes perfect sense! My husband had his affair because he felt devalued and rejected because I was unable to have sexy with him due to vulvodynia I had for 4+ years that started in my last pregnancy. He had no idea how to tell me how he was feeling even though I was frustrated with my body for not behaving and working correctly. It quickly became a disaster all around in every aspect of our lives. Still though, I thought he understood and would wait for me. I still had sex with him even though it was extremely painful for me but that did more harm to us than good too! So yes I agree with your post about it not being all about the sex except it is difficult to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My theory is that even without sex, as long as affection remains and people still take time out and focus on each other, the relationship will stay strong.

      As long as a guy knows he is still valued and loved, and affection is being shown in other ways I don’t think the sex is actually that important – as long as he knows why it’s missing. A couple can be sexual without sex.

      When a couple is not having sex but one wants to and is simply being rejected because the other person doesn’t want it or feel then need it, then problems will quickly grow.

      Communication is key.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you! This is where I believe my husband started having an emotional affair by telling his co-worker friend details of my health problems that were never gets to know! My husband should have been talking to me instead but chose not to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve written a fair bit about guys and girls “just being friends”, and on the whole I think if you are in a relationship it’s a bad idea to have close friends of whatever your gender of preference happens to be.

        Sharing of intimate information is one of the biggest things that causes feelings to start to develop. Everyone who has been in a relationship knows that at some level, so when people start emotional affairs I believe they are well aware that they are crossing lines.

        Even with that, all the evidence I have seen says that when REAL problems begin is when people start sharing details of their relationship with someone else.

        They are unhappy about something, and for some reason they can’t talk to their spouse about it. Maybe they think they’ve tried and they aren’t being heard, who knows.

        So they start telling someone else intimate details about the problems in their relationship. And the other person listens, and seems to understand, and sympathize. And hey, maybe the other person has been through something similar so they seem to really GET you in a way that your partner doesn’t any more. And things go from there.

        That sharing of the intimate details of your relationship problems more than anything else seems to be the cause of affairs.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As always you seem to find a good balance in your topics. I just finished reading “why him, why her?” by Helen Fisher. Where she has done copious amounts of research about how chemicals effect us, which includes why we’re attracted to certain people. While she goes in dept about the benefits of sex on a relationship, she also talked at length about the chemicals that get released when we’re “in love” and when we have sex. One in particular is Oxytocin also known as the “bonding hormone” which when released makes us feel close and connected to the other person. One of the things you touched on is sex in a committed relationship, I believe that the “casual sex” trend, may be hurting our long term relationships. On a fundamental level, we’re built in a way that we get that bonding from sex, every time we have sex we’re bonding. If we tell ourselves mentally it doesn’t mean synching, but on a fundamental levels our bodies believe that it does, we’re now in uncharted territory. I don’t know of any research that is studying this, but I’d be curious to see the results.
    While I know we can bond with others in a non sexual way, you’re right sex definitely helps establish that connection. Not to be too crass about it, but we’re built for sex, it’s not all we have to contribute. We have our brains, our quirks, personalities and many other qualities. While sex isn’t the most important thing, it’s part of our biology, it’s hardwired into us. Somethings to think about…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Vance, good to hear from you. I’ve done a fair bit of reading on the chemical side of love as well, and am familiar with the “oxytocin effect”, but haven’t read that book. I’ll have to check it out.

      You made a comment about the casual sex trend. It’s interesting that the feelings people associate with “love” are usually actually lust and driven by hormones. My understanding of love is much different, and it’s not something that can happen at first sight.

      At first sight you may have a sense of attraction and interest in a person, but you can only really have lust at first sight. Love needs to develop over time.

      That’s why I think the most fulfilling sex can only come with my version of love. The most exciting may happen with lust, but in order to really be open and vulnerable with someone you need to know them very well.

      Sadly familiarity can also lead to people taking each other for granted and if they don’t understand love, they sometimes follow the next thrill, thinking that it is love.

      It’s really sad when sex becomes an area of conflict for couples. It’s an area of their lives that should be able to bring them closer and bring them joy, but due to poor communication (and expectations) it often goes wrong.

      Like

    • When I put this post out there I wasn’t sure how it would be received.

      As a guy, it truly does seem like women sometimes see us as these hormone driven people who are only interested in sex.

      I’m glad to see that my ideas here seem to be understood.

      Thanks for reading

      Like

      • Well, women generalize men and as a part of the group, I can affirm your idea to be actually true. I just don’t know what the other women would think about it, but I am sure that they would just be in denial if they refuse to accept this idea.

        Liked by 1 person

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    • For some couples that works, while for other couples it doesn’t.

      One of the things I was attempting to say is that sex isn’t really about sex, it’s about closeness and connection. And it’s that closeness and connection that is the truly important part.

      Thanks for reading.

      Like

  4. dont know if you knew this but men peak sexually at a younger age then women. women tend to be at peak on the mid to late 30s….sometimes into their 40s. funny….but i feel like i have a man’s sex drive….but women do have a pleasure spot that is only intended for pleasuring….so technically, i jave the sex drive of a woman! great post, btw.

    Like

    • I did know that actually. I think that societally there is this notion that men are all about sex, and that is all they think about (as compared to women).
      Sex does provide pleasure, but in a committed relationship I think that value that it provides goes much deeper than that. And I think the emotional connection it is symbolic of is actually much more important than the pleasure side of it.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. This is a great article. I am a sexual health and pleasure writer and owner of a sex toy company. Doing what I do can make it difficult for people to talk to me as they seem to think I’m going to delve into their sex lives even though I’m not interested. Mentioning the word sex in conversation sends some people into a mad panic or starts them on a tirade about how awful their partner is!
    What I write about on our websiteoffers practicla advice and help to many people, some who may have illnesses, diseases or disabilities which impact upon their sexula pleasure and relationships, to maintain sexual intimacy and pleasure whatever that may be.
    I also write for the Independent, a UK broad sheet paper to promote being sex positive. I wrote this article in response to all the negative articles about perimenopausal and menopausal women as I am 47, they never recommend ways in which to overcome symptoms or problems you may faced but just paint a gloomy picture of older sex which some women comform to because they see this information daily.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/why-sex-is-better-in-my-late-forties-than-when-i-was-in-my-twenties-10339783.html

    There is so much poor written sex advice in the media which sends conflicting messages to people, no wonder people, both young and old are confused.
    This is a great site with excellent articles and blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I think the messaging we receive about sex is so wrong. We start out with sex being exciting due to hormones and the fact that it’s taboo.

      We get to be naked – yay!!!

      In early relationships often sex is all the relationships is about, and it’s the end goal.

      Unless views about sex mature, it becomes a major struggle point for couples.

      I don’t have a lot of data to back me up here, but I truly believe that sex in a long term committed relationship can and should be better than sex in new love.

      It may not have the same “need to rip your clothes off right now” sense of urgency, but it’s based on so much more. It’s a much deeper connection than just “hey, lets screw cause you’re hot and it feels good”.

      Thanks for reading.

      Like

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