Is it Wrong to Stop Sleeping with a Man While I Figure Out How I Feel About Him?

I’ve been spending a lot of time with an attractive, interesting man these past few months (I’m 37, he’s 32). Until recently, we were just friends – dinners, cultural events, hikes, lots of long intellectual conversations and escalating sexual tension. While we were having wine at my house last week, he finally made a pass at me and we ended up sleeping together.

This was a big deal for me; I had been celibate for 3 years. In fact, I’m extremely sexually conservative – I only lost my virginity when I was 27 and in the seven years since breaking up with my ex, I’ve only had sex twice, including sleeping with my friend. I had been hoping he would make a pass at me so I was glad when he finally did, but I deeply regret having slept with him. I knew I would regret it but I pushed myself to do it because it had been three years and – goaded by my therapist – I was trying to work past my sexual hang-ups. Also, I like him. But I should have been true to my sexually neurotic self; it was too soon for me, and it was especially too soon considering that we’re not even committed to each other.

Since we slept together, he has shown no signs of losing interest in me; if anything, I’ve heard from him more often and our fun, playful, cerebral dynamic hasn’t changed. He was very affectionate and attentive to my needs during our night together. I don’t want to stop spending time with him and I’d like to keep exploring what’s developing between us, but I don’t want to sleep with him again… at least not until I figure out how I really feel about him. How can I take that step backwards… CAN I even take that step backwards? I’m afraid of offending him, and I feel guilty about changing the “rules”. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Julia

Most people who ask for advice aren’t really asking for advice; they’re asking for validation.

A shorter version of your question might read:

Most people who ask for advice aren’t really asking for advice; they’re asking for validation.

“I want to stop sleeping with the guy I’m sleeping with. Please give me your expert opinion and tell me you agree with me.”

The only good (read: satisfying) advice would be: “Yes, I agree with you.”

Unfortunately, that would be a really boring advice column.

Whatever the original poster asks, I’d agree, she’d feel better, and nobody would learn a thing.

That’s why I pretty much NEVER choose a question where I agree with the original poster.

It’s not educational. It’s not entertaining. It’s essentially worthless.

What I sacrifice in agreeableness, I make up for in valuable and sometimes controversial content.

Years ago, I had a woman write to me about not sleeping with her boyfriend because she wanted to get closer to God. I told her how I felt. Christian virgins have been excoriating me ever since.

Which brings me to your question, Julia.

My advice is never about “right and wrong” but “effective or ineffective.”

My advice is never about “right and wrong” but “effective or ineffective.

Does your behavior get you what you want or does it sabotage what you want?

In my opinion, sleeping with a guy and then claiming “I don’t do that” sabotages things.

It paints a picture of you as confused, fickle, and insecure.

It suggests that you may not have a healthy view of sexuality.

It may hint that you’re having second thoughts about him or that he’s not attractive to you.

What it does not do is make him feel encouraged or strengthen your relationship.

By the way, that’s okay!

You don’t OWE sex to a guy because you slept with him once.

You’re not OBLIGED to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

You can ABSOLUTELY tell him exactly what you told me:

“I’m sexually neurotic. I made a mistake. It was too soon. I’d like to take a step backwards and explore a friendship first before we have sex again.”

If that’s how you feel, by all means, go ahead.

Hey, for all I know, he’ll be perfectly fine with going backwards. There are exceptions to every rule. Still, my job is to give the rules:

If you’ve slept with a guy once, it feels pretty insulting if you don’t want to do it again – no matter how you frame it.

Your choice – and it is YOUR choice – to start over is well within your rights, just as it’s well within his rights to determine he wants a woman who doesn’t make such a big deal about sex.

Whatever you choose, I hope it works out for you.

Please come back and tell us what transpired.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jeremy

    I think Evan’s response was perfect.  I have nothing to add to the advice he gave you.  Instead, I have a theoretical question:

     

    Let’s say you had this conversation with the man, and let’s say he was ok with it.  So you go back to your intellectual conversations and largely non-physical relationship….but then as time goes by, you start wanting more physicality.  At that point, whose job would it be to initiate?  Why, it would be yours, of course.  You couldn’t reasonably expect that he would initiate physicality between you after getting rebuffed in this manner.  It would be your job to initiate – because that would be the only way he could be sure you actually want to do what you are doing.  And frankly, at each level of successive initiation (if you plan to gradually round the bases), you would need to be the one to initiate it.  Because if he did it, he would always have to worry that he was imposing upon you something that you are simply acquiescing to but don’t really want – like last time.   So here’s my theoretical question – Is that the dynamic you want, or would you lose respect for him if he took a passive role?  My clue that you wouldn’t like it is your description of how he “finally” made a move.

     

    Evan is right that the decision is entirely yours to make.  My point is to think through the consequences of what you’d consider success.  The implication isn’t just that he might decide not to want a relationship, but also that the roles and expectations in the relationship would need to change.

    1. 1.1
      Adrian

      Hi Emily

      Jeremy said, ” At that point, whose job would it be to initiate? … You couldn’t reasonably expect that he would initiate physicality between you after getting rebuffed in this manner… because that would be the only way he could be sure you actually want to do what you are doing.

      I just finished listening to Evan’s podcast on the men and the me too movement which sparked a question for me but I knew it would not have been appropriate to ask it there.

      And since you are a woman who repeatedly says that you lost attraction and respect for men who can’t be bold, take care of business, and go after what they want I am curious about your opinions on the men who are always afraid to act not out of fear of rejection but out of fear of being seen as too aggressive towards women?

      I know of many men who will not approach, flirt, or even make any moves with a woman on the first few dates without her having to give him a HUGE sign that it is okay or without her making the move first because of fear of being seen as possible sexual predators.

      On the one hand many women and men would call these guys betas or weak for their lack of action based on fear but others would call guys who just go for it without the woman telling him to as insensitive, selfish, aggressive and not respecting the woman’s boundaries.

      So Emily as a woman who wants a man to be bold and forward how does a man and NOT you distinguish the difference?

      What I mean is I am sure that if the woman is really into the guy and she wants to get physical than any forward behavior he does without asking her will be seen as confident and sexy but how does a guy really know if a woman is truly into him? That she will see his actions as confident and not as a sexual assault.

      The me too movemeant has shown me that what may seem as innocent (though inappropriate) flirting and boldness by some men can be seen as sexual assault by women.

      Yet women say they want a man who is confident and doesn’t ask her permission. Now I know that what women really mean is that it is okay for a man whom they WANT to make the first move physically but how is a guy to know this?

      We men DON’T want to be seen as the type who would force our own desires upon a woman and sexually assault her but we also DON’T want to be seen as weak & unsure about what to do with a woman by the very woman we desire.

      And before you say he should just know by reading her or that he should just have confidence let me remind you of a few past EMK male female debates…

      Examples from this blog:

      The post by Evan about a man just kissing a women after the first date. Many women pushed back and said that a man who just went in for the kiss would be forcing himself on her if she wasn’t ready others said that his boldness was sexy.

      The post by Evan on a man asking to pick a woman up. Many women said that a man asking to come pick a woman up was a sign of his insensitivity (he could be a murder) but on another post about the same thing many women said his boldness was seen as masculine and romantic

      The post by Evan on a man wanting oral sex from a woman if she wants to keep him as a boyfriend but after weeks or months she is still not sure about having sex with him. Again there was a lot of mixed push back on that subject from women.

      And I can’t remember which post this was but it is the one when the men advised just going up to a woman and asking her out in public-approaching a stranger. I think all but a few women pushed back on this and saw the men as only caring about their own needs and not the woman’s, it was seen as aggressive to walk up to a woman he did not know and ask her out.

      However, there was the post/letter about a woman who was upset that a man would give her his card to call him after their “nice” conversation and not ask for her number. The women commenters felt that it was a sign of a confident men who would ask for a woman’s number and a sign of a weak men who would just leave a card and hope that she would call him first (you know a man who would be afraid that his asking her for her number could be seen as him misunderstanding their conversation and being aggressive). Which is the opposite of the women who said in the other post that men asking them out in public is only caring about his desires and not hers.

      Again I know that to you women this is easy. The difference in all those examples is that if she desires the guy and wants to be physical than if he does it is okay, but how does he know?

      I am sure that there are more post that I just don’t remember. My point Emily is as a woman who wants a man to “just know how to take care of business with a woman and be bold” how does that man know the that is what she wants him to do?

      To a woman the difference between a man who is a sexual assaulter and a man who she is hoping would make a sexual move on her is her desire level for the guy and her willingness to receive such attention. But how does the guy know which he is in HER eyes?

      Isn’t the fact that so many men have given me the advice to just be bold and do it a sign that most men DON’T know when a woman is open to his sexual advances or not?

      Even now I just read an article about a lot of women defending many men who were accused of sexual assault and when President Trump was accused many women still supported him, so even women are divided on what is and what isn’t acceptable for a man to do.

      Emily my overall point is, since it seems that some things can be seen as sexual aggression and others will be seen as a man being confident what advice do you have for men in dating? Again I ask you because you say you want a man who knows how to take care of business more than any woman on here. Women seem to say they don’t want to initiate anything and the men who want women to are seen as weak but men say then if women want us to always make the first move why get upset when we make it but you didn’t want us to?… Again I know for you this answer is easy, you only want the men you desire to make those moves but as Karl R says how would a man know if a woman desired him to make a move if she says nothing unless he… you know makes a move.

       

      1. 1.1.1
        Adrian

        Yikes! Sorry Evan I did not realize this post was so long

      2. 1.1.2
        Jeremy

        Adrian, I look forward to Emily’s (and other women’s) response here, but wanted to say that I get your question.  Indeed, as much as I think the Me Too conversation is important, this is the element that is missing from the discussion.  We live in a society where men are expected to be sexual initiators.  More than that, we live in a society where male desire for women is, in general, greater and more constant than female desire for men.  How much of the problem would be fixed if women assumed the role of initiation?  After all, men are not afraid of women – so much of what women perceive as harassment is only because of their fear.  If women initiated, they would face rejection (as men do), but not harassment claims.  Because men, in general, are not afraid of women.

         

        But women will not assume this role.  And even if they did, because of their lower desire, I believe that many men would be overlooked.  And so men are locked in the double-bind you mentioned – having to initiate and pursue in a climate where the woman’s desire is the distinguishing factor between appropriate and inappropriate.  We live in a society where men are expected to be bold, yet chastised for being bold when boldness is not desired.

         

        Evan quoted Camille Paglia in one of his recent posts.  I disagree with much of what she writes (just finished one of her books), but one thing she says does resonate with me.  She says that women need to learn to speak up, to voice their pleasure and displeasure.  To say yes when they mean yes, and no when they mean no.  And that the feminist movement must stop making excuses as to why women can’t do this.  They can.  They must.  The solution to MeToo can not only be a modification of male behavior – it must include female.

         

        The other day my 5 year old daughter asked me to tickle her tummy.  When I did, she laughed and yelled “stop it.”  So I stopped it.  She then looked at me expectantly, telling me non-verbally to do it again.  I took this as an important learning opportunity and told her that when she says stop, she should mean stop.  And not to say stop when you mean go.  I did not resume the tickling and left her to (hopefully) think about what I said.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          And even if they did, because of their lower desire, I believe that many men would be overlooked.  

          I agree. It’s not just that women have lower desire but that they are attracted to fewer people. So a lot fewer men would be approached and the approaching would happen a lot less often.

        2. Persephone

          Jeremy, you stated

          We live in a society where men are expected to be sexual initiators.  More than that, we live in a society where male desire for women is, in general, greater and more constant than female desire for men.  How much of the problem would be fixed if women assumed the role of initiation?

          I have dated two different men in the past who got offended when I tried to initiate sex. They told me to never do that again, that it was the man’s job.

          Women’s lower desire? Where did that come from? I wish it were true where I wouldn’t suffer so much, LOL. Recent Studies have shown that women do not have less sexual desire than men. What the scientists are saying is that women are better at repressing it than men are. Science just didn’t ask the right questions, because we as a society weren’t ready to hear the answer.

          https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/06/turns-out-women-have-really-really-strong-sex-drives-can-men-handle-it/276598/

           

        3. Jeremy

          You do know that the article you quoted was written by a guy who admitted to telling women what they wanted to hear so he could get laid, right?

           

          I believe that many women desire sex.  I do not believe that women in general desire it as much as men, though exceptions exist.  I would be persuaded to change my mind when women start paying for sex – courting men, planning and paying for men, buying men engagement diamonds (or a male equivalent) for the pleasure of their company and fidelity.  I don’t see women blowing up buses for the promise of 70 male virgins in heaven – hope to never see it.  We can accept that women like and want sex while still keeping our eyes open to the world in which we live.

        4. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          I don’t see women blowing up buses for the promise of 70 male virgins in heaven – hope to never see it. 

          That’s because women don’t want virgins. We want men who know what they’re doing!    🙂

          I read an article about a female-to-male transgendered person and he said the first thing he noticed when he started taking testosterone was his hugely increased sex drive.

      3. 1.1.3
        KK

        Hi Adrian,

        You’re right. He won’t know unless he makes a move. If the “move” you’re talking about means asking for her number or asking her on a date, there shouldn’t be any fear of being accused of sexual harassment or assault. That’s a really huge leap. She’ll either say yes or no. If no, there’s your answer. If yes, go from there.

        Jeremy asked, “How much of the problem would be fixed if women assumed the role of initiation?”

        In my opinion, it wouldn’t help much because men are still going to be more aggressive. From the goofballs that send unsolicited dick pics to the clueless guys that try to maul you on the first date. The only men it would help, would be the “normal” guys who know better than to act that way in the first place. And guess what, those aren’t the guys we feel threatened by.

         

      4. 1.1.4
        Emily, the original

        Hi Adrian,

        Emily my overall point is, since it seems that some things can be seen as sexual aggression and others will be seen as a man being confident what advice do you have for men in dating? Again I ask you because you say you want a man who knows how to take care of business more than any woman on here.

        This is a tough one and I could understand the confusion. I think of the meetoo movement as having more to do with harassment at the workplace.

        A friend of mine told me she pursued her husband but made him think he was pursuing her. We women often do a lot of subtle manipulations to move things along or a lot of situations would never get off the ground. Oh, she just happened to be at the bar where you work. Oh, she just happened to be over her friend’s house … when she knew you’d be visiting.

        I think women drop hints that they are ready to be approached, asked out, seduced, etc., but when I have mentioned that on this site, the male commenters say women’s signals are too subtle. Here’s an example: I was dating this guy and he asked me over his house to watch a movie. Are you getting where I’m going with this? Nobody “watches” a movie.  So how much more do you need? … I’ve accepted the movie invitation, I’ve come into the apartment and closed the blinds (yes, I did that) and I’ve sat next to you on the couch. Ready and willing.

      5. 1.1.5
        Marika

        Adrian

        It is confusing and I don’t think there are any easy answers here. There are numerous countries in the world where who pays, approaches, pays etc is far more fluid than North America, but sexual harassment still occurs. Because men are more sexually aggressive, as KK says.

        I would think in the majority of sexual harassment cases, the perp is not shocked that somehow his (or her) intentions were misread. There’s a world of difference between a nice guy like you asking someone out and they politely decline or you move in for a kiss and the woman pulls back and you immediately stop; and someone who stalks a person or keeps forcing themself on her despite her saying no.

        I know you’re always picking Emily’s brain, but honestly, I think you and she would be a not great match! Find someone who’s happy to go a bit slower and thinks your respect and kindness is charming. Someone who makes it clear they want you. Such women exist!

        Jeremy, a little off topic, but what you described is not a girl thing. My nephew does the exact same thing. So do most children I’ve worked with. I think your intentions were good, but she was playing & having fun with her Daddy. You may have inadvertently shamed and confused her. She’s a bit young for this message.

        1. Jeremy

          I agree it isn’t a girl thing, Marika.  I think it’s a child thing.  The difference is that as kids grow up, I think that girls get less encouragement/education to eliminate this tendency than boys.  At least, that seems to be the case where I live.

           

          It’s possible that my daughter felt confused (I doubt shamed).  But I don’t think it’s too soon to begin this message.  Say what you mean. Mean what you say.  The more we teach it, the more it will sink in.  IMHO.

      6. 1.1.6
        Emily, the original

        Marika and Jeremy,

        I know you’re always picking Emily’s brain, but honestly, I think you and she would be a not great match! Find someone who’s happy to go a bit slower and thinks your respect and kindness is charming. Someone who makes it clear they want you. Such women exist!

        That’s probably true. But I think some of these shier guys secretly want women to pounce on them!  🙂

      7. 1.1.7
        Emily, the original

        I meant Marika and Adrian

        Sorry.

      8. 1.1.8
        Julia (OP)

        Actually, I believe I can clarify this particular situation for you. Why did it take this guy ‘so long’ to make a pass? For the same reason it takes ALL men months to make a pass with me – I give off strong “don’t touch me” signals, sometimes even when I’m interested (this would be the terror of intimacy that I’m in therapy for). I’ve been told this many times – male friends have told me that I have the highest wall of resistance that they’ve ever seen. That it took him “so long’ was not a surprise to me, as it’s typical when I spend time with men.

        I’ve got problems, though. I think when healthy men are spending time with healthy women, they need to be atuned to body language and if they’re still unsure, just ask. I’ve had other men do this; they’ve dropped into the conversation: “I’m hoping to kiss you tonight”. It might be a bit awkward to be verbal but it’s got to be better than getting a slap in the face.

        1. Emily, the original

          Julia,

          Why did it take this guy ‘so long’ to make a pass? For the same reason it takes ALL men months to make a pass with me – I give off strong “don’t touch me” signals, sometimes even when I’m interested (this would be the terror of intimacy that I’m in therapy for). 

          I’m sorry. I’m going to have to agree with YAG on this. I’m not  minimizing the issues you’re working on in therapy, but there is something off about a guy who take months to make a pass.  And by “make a pass,” I”m assuming you mean initiate sex, not make out with. I’m assuming you had already made out with him.  Either he also has intimacy issues, is painfully shy/terrified of rejection or just isn’t that into the woman.  My cousin went out with a guy for 6 months. They never even kissed. She later found out he had a girlfriend the whole time.

          I think when healthy men are spending time with healthy women, they need to be atuned to body language and if they’re still unsure, just ask. I’ve had other men do this; they’ve dropped into the conversation: “I’m hoping to kiss you tonight”. It might be a bit awkward to be verbal but it’s got to be better than getting a slap in the face.

          Men aren’t as adept at reading body language as women are and if you are giving off “don’t touch me vibes” and yet you are going out with him on repeated dates, you can understand his confusion.

        2. Jeremy

          Julia, I have to agree with Emily on this, you can’t expect a man to initiate when your body language screams “don’t touch me.”  A man who has any empathy or sensitivity would pick up on that right away and not touch you.  A man who has no empathy would touch you, but would likely not be the sort of man you’d want in the long-term..

           

          A personal story about myself (which I hope will be helpful to you):  I’ve spoken before on this blog about a time in my marriage when my wife was disinterested in sex.  She would literally come to bed an hour after I did, hoping I would be asleep so that she would not have to decline yet another attempt at initiation.  I had no interest in pestering her, so I told her that rather than initiating, I would wait for her to initiate.  That way she could be in charge of when we have sex, and would not feel pestered.  Fascinatingly, she didn’t like that idea.  She told me that she felt it was my job as a man to initiate, and that if she declined I should try again the next day.  She did not want to be touched, yet felt validated when I expressed desire to touch her, yet felt bad about refusing, but not bad enough not to refuse.  It was a psychological mess.

           

          I shook my head and told her that being declined over and over was not good for my psychological health or our marriage, and that she had to decide which she preferred – being receptive to the majority of my advances, or taking responsibility for setting the pace of initiation.  Because her validation of being pursued was coming at the expense of my validation as a loved and desired husband, and that becomes a zero-sum game.

           

          I don’t know if you read my original response to you (it is reply #1) but it was that if you are constantly projecting an aura of rejection yet want the man to overcome it, YOU need to be the one to initiate when you are ready.  Otherwise, the chances are that when he initiates you won’t want it, and when you want it he won’t know to initiate it.  You can’t expect the fantasy of the man overcoming your walls and breaking through your emotional boundaries.  That’s something YOU need to do, not some magical man.

        3. Julia (OP)

          Emily – No, I meant any sort of pass. He had ‘shepherded’ me a bit prior to that point (what men do when they kind of lead you around with their hand on the small of your back) and one night, he hugged me for a really long time but the night we had sex was also the first time we kissed as well.

          A couple of weeks earlier, we’d had a long talk where he strongly hinted that he wasn’t interested in me – he suggested that men liked spending time with me because I’m a foreigner and also suggested that he would never try to date one of his teachers (I was his former English teacher). But then a week later came the long drawn out hug and a couple of weeks after that, he kissed me and we slept together. <insert shrugging emoticon>

        4. Julia (OP)

          Oh, and I also used to think it was ‘them’ – that something was not right with the men who took months to make a pass. But I’ve then asked the men themselves after they made the pass – what was going on? including the man I wrote about in the OP – and talked to other males who know me well and they all confirmed: at least 99% of the time, the problem is me.

        5. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          I shook my head and told her that being declined over and over was not good for my psychological health or our marriage

          I have a female friend who was always initiating (her husband had stopped initiating) but he’d still turn her down often, and it really did  a number on her self-esteem.

          I told her that rather than initiating, I would wait for her to initiate.  That way she could be in charge of when we have sex, and would not feel pestered.  Fascinatingly, she didn’t like that idea.  She told me that she felt it was my job as a man to initiate, and that if she declined I should try again the next day.  She did not want to be touched, yet felt validated when I expressed desire to touch her, yet felt bad about refusing,

          Jeremy — How do you this get better? If I were in your shoes, I would have started to feel like I was being messed with and manipulated, and I’d pull back emotionally, probably out of self-protection.

          I’d be interested to hear from the other women here, but is it always the man’s job to initiate? I’d say the woman should be initiating some of the time in an established relationship/marriage.

        6. Emily, the original

          Julia,

          Oh, and I also used to think it was ‘them’ – that something was not right with the men who took months to make a pass. But I’ve then asked the men themselves after they made the pass – what was going on? including the man I wrote about in the OP – and talked to other males who know me well and they all confirmed: at least 99% of the time, the problem is me.

          Yes, but they’re attracted to you, they’ve chosen you for some kind of interaction/friendship/relationship. A lot of guys would not hang around for months with no physical contact. So I don’t think it’s just you.

        7. Jeremy

          Emily, it took a long time to get it better.  It went on for 7 years (on and off, but mostly on).  I tried many, many different approaches and yes, I went through the 5 stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) repeatedly due to intermittent changes in the situation.  Getting her to initiate did not work.  You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do by showing them logic, unless they are a logical personality.  They’ll do the logical thing for a week or so and then regress to baseline.

           

          How did I make it better?  I’ve described it in various posts.  I read a TON of psychology books, relationship books, advice books.  I tried a lot of things, most of which failed.  And ultimately I came to understand that the way to understand the situation was not to ask why she did not want sex now (which was the question we both had been trying to answer), but rather why she DID want it before.  Meta-goals.  Understanding that led me to understand what had changed.  Understanding her personality led me to understand how she views the world and makes decisions.  Understanding the difference between arousal and comfort led me to understand why I had been failing at arousal by making her more comfortable.  Personality, comfort/arousal, meta-goals – these led to a synthesis of a solution that worked.  Reducing comfort. Increasing arousal.  Re-establishing the initial meta-goal of obtaining/maintaining a relationship.  And making it all seem like it was her idea.  Only took me most of a decade.

        8. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Thanks for the detailed explanation. I have to say, while reading your response, I thought about how much work you were doing for the relationship. Not to sound bitchy, but what work was she doing? You spent a lot of time trying to figure her out. What efforts was she making? I’m not trying to be sarcastic or snarky.

        9. Jeremy

          Emily, she was trying her very best to be a good mother.  She was guided (by her personality, which prioritizes roles – a Guardian type) to search externally for what her role should be.  And everywhere she looked, she was encouraged to prioritize her children.  So she did.  Go to a mommy chatroom and look at what the women there say to each other.  Look at what their priorities are.

           

          It’s funny, a female friend of mine recently told me about a local program for male post-partum depression, which is an issue not much discussed.  She said, “You know, no one talks about how men can have a hard time when a new baby arrives.  I mean, you’ve got this kicking, screaming THING in your house all of a sudden and you don’t know how to deal with it.”  I replied, “I totally agree.  And you’ve also got the baby.”

           

          Anyway, snark aside, apart from the sex issue I had a pretty perfect marriage.  And I made the decision not to ruin the marriage over it.  Once I decided that, it was my job to figure out how to make it work.  How could I expect her to take a role in it when she could not acknowledge that there was even a problem?  She felt that she was fulfilling the role she was supposed to, and thought I was immature for not accepting it.  I had to work within the boundaries of her personality, not expect her to become someone else.  That is too common of a mistake.

        10. KK

          Hey Emily,

          Out of curiosity, (and if it’s not too personal) how long did your longest relationship last? Just curious, because what Jeremy is describing is extremely common in marriages / long term relationships. (I realize there are probably lots of exceptions), but this was a common subject in my own marriage and also in my friend’s marriages. I understand and appreciate both sides.

        11. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          I had to work within the boundaries of her personality, not expect her to become someone else.  That is too common of a mistake.

          But why doesn’t she have to work within the boundaries of yours? Isn’t it a compromise? Were you not legitimate in some of the things you needed from her, regardless of whether she thought they were immature? I mean, if you’re happy and it worked out, that’s great. You’re the one who is of course in it and there every day. I have a friend whose ex-husband showered their daughter with attention but ignored her when they were married. You often hear it’s the other way around.

        12. Emily, the original

          Hey Emily,
          Out of curiosity, (and if it’s not too personal) how long did your longest relationship last? Just curious, because what Jeremy is describing is extremely common in marriages / long term relationships. (I realize there are probably lots of exceptions), but this was a common subject in my own marriage and also in my friend’s marriages. I understand and appreciate both sides.
          None of my situations have lasted that long. That’s why I’m on this site!  🙂   But in reading some of these marriage stories, it makes me very nervous to put my entire sexual and emotional life in someone else’s hands who can then make unilateral decisions that I may not like. That’s a lot of power.

        13. KK

          Emily,

          Gotcha! Just trying to get a feel for your perspective. 😊

          On a positive note, I don’t think you have to worry. In my opinion, the biggest changes in marriage occur after children; not realizing how much the relationship dynamics will change. If you don’t want children, you’re only concern should be finding someone that compliments, or adds to your life. I think if you meet someone you’re compatible with (including similar sex drives), that you’re also attracted to, you won’t have anything to worry about.

        14. Jeremy

          She thought she WAS compromising, Emily.  Tell me – objectively speaking – if one spouse wants something every day and the other spouse wants it never, what is the “fair” split?  Most people would respond 50-50 – every second day.  Now, rephrase the question in a more subjective way:  If a man wants SEX and a woman doesn’t, what is the fair compromise?  Answer of today’s society – whatever the lower desire spouse wants, as long as they make an effort.

           

          People re-write the past in their memories.  I’ll never forget having an argument with my wife about this subject and her asking me what my problem was.  “Don’t we have enough sex?” she asked, “Didn’t we just do it last week?”  “We had sex twice last month,” I answered, “Twice in the whole month.”  “That can’t be right,” she said.  “I’m positive it was more than that.”  “Do you think I’m lying about it?” I asked.  “Do you think I am,” she countered.

           

          You can’t argue with a person who believes the sky is pink.  I didn’t understand this phenomenon until I read Dan Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness,” where he describes how people re-write their memories based on what they want to believe.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter what is “fair” because fairness is subjective and is based on our memories which are highly flawed.

           

           

        15. Emily, the original

          KK

           I think if you meet someone you’re compatible with (including similar sex drives), that you’re also attracted to, you won’t have anything to worry about.

          True, but it’s not like these guys are hanging from trees.  🙂   My friend has a theory — she needs 3 men. One for the physical, emotional and mental realms.

        16. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          “Don’t we have enough sex?” she asked, “Didn’t we just do it last week?”  “We had sex twice last month,” I answered, “Twice in the whole month.”  “That can’t be right,” she said.  “I’m positive it was more than that.”  “Do you think I’m lying about it?” I asked.  “Do you think I am,” she countered.

          Wasn’t there a guy who somewhat recently posted an Excel document online about how often he and his wife were having sex? See, if the situation were reversed and I was married and was always asking, I’d start to feel powerless, and then I’d stop asking. I really dislike having to ask for something over and over,

        17. Evan Marc Katz

          There was. It was a spreadsheet about how they were NOT having sex, specifically. The act didn’t make him look good, but it did highlight the powerless feeling of having a spouse who has no interest in sex.

        18. Jeremy

          Yes.  Spreadsheet Guy.  He was a big topic a few years back.  I understood his mindset very well.  He had a wife who believed that she was compromising, whereas he didn’t see it that way.  He collected evidence and it wasn’t taken well – not just by his wife, but by the general societal consensus.  I even remember the wife’s words –“Our sex life HAS tapered in the last few months, but isn’t that allowed?  We are adults leading busy stressful lives.  I cook for him.  I do his laundry.  I keep our house clean and tidy.  It’s not like our sex life was going to be this way FOREVER.  It was a temporary slowdown due to extenuating circumstances.”

           

          Fascinating!  First, who is she asking when she asks “isn’t that allowed?”  Not her husband.  Society!  Second, she writes that present circumstances wouldn’t be that way forever….only as long as she wants them to be.  It was symptomatic of the problem, and of the way some people fail to take the perspective of their spouse into account.  This woman’s view on compromise is between her and society, not between her and her husband.

        19. KK

          Hi Jeremy,

          You stated, “Fascinating!  First, who is she asking when she asks “isn’t that allowed?”  Not her husband.  Society!”

          I don’t find it fascinating at all. Who do women turn to AFTER they’ve repeatedly tried and failed at getting their perspective validated by their husbands? Their moms, sisters, girlfriends. She wants to be validated… to be told that she has a valid point. And she does… but so does he!

        20. Emily, the original

          Jeremy and Evan,

          This woman’s view on compromise is between her and society, not between her and her husband.

          Yes. She made a unilateral decision for both of them, though releasing the Excel document made him look like an ass and probably made the situation worse.

           

        21. Jeremy

          Hmm, but here’s the thing KK.  I don’t think she does have a valid point.  One can not ask society to weigh in when a couple does not agree.  They either work it out or split.  The fact that other women agree with this woman means absolutely nothing.

           

          If she had written that she tried to take his perspective into account, that she tried to make compromises for him, but they hadn’t been able to agree on an acceptable consensus, I’d acknowledge the validity of her perspective.  But she was asking society to agree with her.  Remember that it was her, not he, that posted the spreadsheet for the world to see.

           

          You can’t be married to someone and unilaterally decide your gym membership is more important than sex.  Well, you can.  Many people do.  But not all of them have spouses like me, all false modesty aside.  It is a recipe for disaster.

        22. KK

          “One can not ask society to weigh in when a couple does not agree”.

          Okay, Jeremy, I’m confused. I thought the husband made their private life public and then she responded? Is that incorrect?

        23. KK

          Oops! Nevermind. I just re-read your comment. I didn’t realize she was the one that told the world about their sex life. I thought it was the other way around and you couldn’t see how she may have felt compelled to give her side after he did that. Anyway, nevermind. I agree. That’s messed up.

        24. Jeremy

          Ah, and now I understand your comment too, KK.  If he had posted it and she had responded, of course I’d see why she might want to respond.  But no, she was the one to post it, telling the world what a douche her husband was because he had the nerve to privately keep track of their sex life and her reasons for chronically turning him down, and then looking for validation for her perspective from society.  Yes, messed up.

           

          A lot was written about spreadsheet guy, but IMHO the most important thing is this: One can not unilaterally refuse to speak a partner’s love language and expect the marriage to last.  Imagine if a man told his wife, “Honey, I have chronic headaches so I’ve decided not to talk to you anymore.  Well, maybe twice per month we can talk.”  No one would want to know this guy’s perspective because we’d all agree he was an idiot.  You can’t refuse to talk to your spouse and expect your spouse to want to stay with you.  Yet somehow we think of sex differently, even though marriage involves vows of sexual monogamy and not conversational monogamy.  If a husband did refuse to talk to his wife, she could talk to anyone else – not so with sex.

           

          Anyway, the situation is (as you wrote) very common.  So is divorce.

        25. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          The fact that other women agree with this woman means absolutely nothing.

          I don’t see any woman on here agreeing with her. It was tacky for her to post it and tacky for him to create it in the first place. Are they still together? How do you recover from that fiasco?

        26. Jeremy

          Was it tacky for him to create it?  A lot of people think it was.  I’m not so sure.  I read the wife’s post and she sounded remarkably like my wife did during our difficult time.  Defensive, argumentative, and not remembering facts clearly.  She described their sex life as “a bit of a dip” – but what does that mean?  As I wrote before, in my own experience my wife and I couldn’t even agree on how often we had done it in the past – memory was unreliable.  I very much considered making a spreadsheet (though I didn’t) just to be sure it wasn’t MY memory that was faulty.  This guy recorded his attempts and her responses and presented her with evidence.  She considered it tacky…..because she didn’t want to see the evidence.  The truth was tacky, she preferred not to see it.  Because we all want to believe that we are good people and good partners and we will conveniently forget the truth if it proves us otherwise.

        27. Emily, the original

          Hi Jeremy,

           She considered it tacky…..because she didn’t want to see the evidence.  The truth was tacky, she preferred not to see it.  Because we all want to believe that we are good people and good partners and we will conveniently forget the truth if it proves us otherwise.

          I’m just reading your response to the Spreadsheet Guy. Here’s my question: Ok, so he kept the list, but did that help him? Something tells me the wife, after being confronted with “the evidence,” didn’t exactly want to jump into bed with him. Because there’s nothing less sexy than being pressured in to something. I had a friend last week who invited me to a party at the last minute. I said thanks, but no. And he kept asking. I didn’t want to go, but after 4 texts pressing me to go (and wanting to know my reasons for not going), there was NO WAY I was going to show up.

  2. 2
    Yet Another Guy

    For many men, it is difficult to put the genie back into the bottle. I am willing to bet that the best outcome form which the LW can hope is the slow fade.  What the LW does not realize is that this man was never truly just her friend.  He was in her orbit awaiting the opportunity to make a move.

    1. 2.1
      Yet Another Guy

      *for which

  3. 3
    GoWiththeFlow

    Julia,

    An analogy that may work here:  This is like if a man you were dating said he really liked you and felt your relationship had long term potential and wanted to be exclusive.  Then ten days later he tells you he thinks it was a mistake to ask and promise you that because he’s a commitment-phobe and in his previous serious relationships a lot more time went by before official coupledom happened.  He wants to go back to the way things were and give it more time.

    I don’t know if you have ever been involved in a situation like this before.  I have been, and I know a few other women who have, too.  These relationships wind up ending immediately or shortly thereafter.  Not only is it a hurtful ego blow, but it’s a mind-f*ck as well.  And, hey, if the guy is going to both say and demonstrate such huge commitment issues up front, I’m going to pay attention to that and take a pass.

    1. 3.1
      Clare

      Go With the Flow,

      Agree with you completely here.

      Relationships are meant to move forward. When one person tries to move it backwards, there is only one thing the other person hears: that you don’t really care about them and want to be with them. Even if they are able to be patient at first, eventually they feel disappointment and hurt. Moving a relationship backwards is often a logical but incredibly emotionally tone-deaf thing to do.

    2. 3.2
      Yet Another Guy

      @GWtF

      That is a fantastic analogy that I believe I am going to use in the future.  It really does frame things in a way a woman can understand.

  4. 4
    Clare

    You know, as I was reading this letter and Evan’s response, I was thinking that it is pretty much the female equivalent of a guy telling us he “wants space.” You’re spending time together, you’re having a great time, you’re getting closer, then all of a sudden, he brings out the “I need space to figure things out” card. No matter how you frame it, no matter how valid his reasons, this is still an insult to the woman that will hurt her deeply.

     

    In the same way, I imagine, sleeping with a guy you like, and it’s great, he is attentive to you, contacting you, showing his interest in you, and then you tell him that you want to stop sleeping with him… there’s no way he can feel good about himself in that scenario. And when we don’t feel good about ourselves in relationships, it kind of defeats the object of having them, I think.

     

    Julia, as a woman, I get why you would want to do something like this. It makes sense to me. But it won’t make sense to him. So you’re faced with a choice: stop sleeping with him and quite likely push him away. Or try not to make such a big deal out of the fact that you slept together, try to see sex for the fun, bonding experience that it is (or should be when two people like each other) and maybe slow down on the sex stuff (if you can) to buy yourself time to figure out your feelings. Not an ideal choice, but there are very few ideal scenarios in dating.

  5. 5
    Cherryblossom

    It seems to me the letter writer really wants this guy to be her boyfriend and is really just concerned that she slept with him before finding out if he also wants that level of commitment. I think the best way forward is to be direct – “I’m looking for a committed relationship— are you?” I would bet she will feel much better about physical affection with him if he confirms he wants a committed relationship with her now. If he says no or waffles about being her boyfriend, she has her answer and no more sex need be contemplated. If he says he wants commitment with her, she’ll have the secure framework she likely needs to be intimate. This is much more effective in getting her a happy relationship.

  6. 6
    Malika

    I have been on the other side a couple of times, wherein the guy freaked out after our night together and whenever a guy said this to me it was always the precursor to the not-so-slow fade of the budding relationship/friendship. They wanted to ideally retread and pretend it never happened, while i wanted more. I then stuck around waiting for more, and of course it was always a matter of time before they either faded or started to talk enthusiastically about a girl they just met that did ring their bell. It’s a reason why i nowadays avoid the friends first method that men also sometimes spring onto women.

    You are well within your rights to not want to take it any further, but if you do want to take it to the other level of potentially dating the guy i would spell that out clearly what you feel and emphasize that this doesn’t mean that sex is off the table permanently, just that you need a short breather to get used to the new situation. If it’s the case that you want the friendship to go back to the way it was indefinitely you can spell that out too, but don’t be surprised if that is not his wish at all. The friendship part may have just been a pre-dating phase for him, and not the end goal. In that case, he will not want to go back to what will feel like purgatory. I have been in that purgatory and being friendzoned doesn’t do wonders for your ego, however lovely the person zoning you may be.

    1. 6.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @Malika

      It’s a reason why i nowadays avoid the friends first method that men also sometimes spring onto women.

      That is interesting because I have never heard of a guy doing the “friend first” thing with a woman who had real potential to become more than friends.  I have known guys who had sex with female friends when they were horny and alcohol was involved.  Most regretted the decision in the morning.

      1. 6.1.1
        Malika

        Men can absolutely ‘friends first’ you, though that usually happens outside the online dating realm.  He sorta kinda flirts with you, he sorta kinda makes a half hearted move, but it all stays in a very vague unarticulated realm. You then become his emotional comfort blanket/free therapist until someone comes along that gives him the real feels and then it’s the time for the fade. Quite often there is frustatingly little sex involved and a situation arises that a friend of mine calls friends-with-next-to-no-benefits. They have may have never articulated, even to themselves, that they were using you, but they probably knew they were ‘meh’ about you, you just happened to be there.

        It’s why i strongly avoid the ‘friends first’/friendzone nowadays (which is something completely different from platonic friendships that are created when meeting due to hobbies, etc, whereby neither party express sexual interest in another). A man either wants to date me or he doesn’t, and waffling never preceded a great love story.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Malika

          That is a not “friends first.”  That is the friend-zone or a sexy-on-standby situation at best.  Men never make a woman go through a period of friendship before deciding if they want to be more than friends.  That is what “friends first” means.  As Chris Rock stated, men do not have platonic friends.  They are just women with whom he has yet to have sex.

        2. CaliforniaGirl

          @Malika

          Exact same scenario happened to me some time ago, met a guy at the party (not online), took my number to be “friends”, started to spend more and more time together and at some point he called/texted every day and we would see each other couple times a week. I introduced him to a few friends and all of them told me that the guy is in love with me. Haha, after we had sex, he disappeared for a week. He texted a week after saying that he is going to be in the area with friends (no invitation for me) and if he could swing by my place right after. I declined, then he invited me on a nice date a week after, and after I stayed a night, he disappeared for a week again. It continued for another 3-4 weeks until I told him that this arrangement doesn’t work for me anymore. And I never heard from the guy again. 🙂

  7. 7
    KK

    LW said, “I had been hoping he would make a pass at me so I was glad when he finally did, but I deeply regret having slept with him”.

    Am I the only one confused?

    1. 7.1
      Julia (OP)

      I meant that I was glad he made a pass, but I regretted that I let it go too far.

  8. 8
    Michelle H.

    Excellent post, Evan.  Thank you.

  9. 9
    Nissa

    Am I the only one thinking it’s weird that she says, “I knew I would regret it but I pushed myself to do it”? That part just sounds unfair to the guy. I’m sure if she had mentioned this beforehand he would not have chosen to let her use him in that way. Strange.

    Also, she is making this too complicated. She should just tell him directly:  I want to keep spending time with you and I’d like to keep exploring what’s developing between us. Then if she wants to have sex in the moment, she can. If she doesn’t, then she doesn’t. This would make it less about sex and more about her general confusion about whether or not she’s willing to be vulnerable by being in a relationship.

    But, this is why she never should have had sex with him in the first place. It’s just really hard to go backwards. That said, a guy that is spending that much time with her, probably has been pining for her and waiting for the right moment. That being so, I’m less worried about her being in a sexual relationship with him, and he is likely a good bet for her given their general compatibility.

    In general though, I still don’t see how sex is more important that the person with whom you are having that sex. If I like or love that person, I enjoy the time with them. If I don’t, then that time is defined by the sexual experience, which might be good or bad, but it’s entirely different. It’s the difference between sharing a meal with love, laughter, connection and heart, or eating food in a general context. One is deeply satisfying on an emotional level, the other is just meeting a physical need. I’ll take the meal every time.

  10. 10
    S.

    That was a good letter and post. Summed up in a nutshell.  🙂

    Sometimes . . . what’s effective isn’t what a person can actually do.  She’s not ready to have sex with this guy right now and in GWTF’s example that man isn’t ready to commit.  The letter writer here is in therapy.  She tried to do what her therapist suggested and is now regretting it.  She tried to do what was effective, she really did.

    I don’t think that it necessarily means the person doesn’t ring the other person’s bell.  Some people really move at different paces even with bells ringing away.  It may be ineffective when looking at folks as whole, but it’s what would work for that particular person.

    My question is, should ineffective daters . . . should they be dating at all?  Should they just work on their issues (which could take a long while)  first or should they continue dating waiting for the unicorn who understands their pace? Or as Evan sometimes says, ‘Both.” 😀

    No one said dating would be easy for everyone, I suppose.

    1. 10.1
      Lisa

      I would be curious to know why she’s in therapy.  I think she has anxiety and she’s overthinking all relationships particularly here. Here therapist likely told her that her anxiety was preventing her from finding love and she needed to go for it. I agree. The question is how long would she want to wait to have sex? I suspect she’s being unreasonable and that she’s done this before and that’s why her therapist pushed her. She’s letting fear keep her from being in relationships.

      1. 10.1.1
        S.

        You may be right.  But she tried and it’s not working for her.  Some people can be nudged toward progress and some have to get there in their own pace.  I don’t know which one Julia is, I honestly don’t.

        I think if going for her were working for her, why write to Evan?  It’s hard to know.  She could be just freaking out, or she could have a lot of deeper issues (abuse, former religious upbringing, who knows?).  She did wait a long time to first have sex and had been celibate for three years.   That may just be how she is unless she feels really secure and in a committed relationship.

        She’s in therapy so I hope her therapist can help her work it out.  I can’t do anything as a lay person but just support her where she is and wish her the best.  That’s not validating it, just if she’s not ready, she’s not ready. Just like GWTF’s example. If a man isn’t ready to commit, he’s not ready. Nothing anyone but him can do about it.  So like him, I wish Julia well with doing that internal work.

        1. Lisa

          I agree that it’s totally fine to go at your own pace but I suspect for this writer that pace is never.  That’s reflected in the fact that she was celibate for 8 years. So I guess the question for her would be how long would she ideally want to wait? I suspect her answer would be when it feels right and that turns into never . So either she’s pushed out of her comfort zone or stays single forever. There is no slow movement she’s been doing that for 8 years.

          And the reality is there are not going to be many men in her dating age range that are going to wait that long. This is the reality she needs to face. If she’s pushing 40 and wants kids and family she needs to move on that.  If she is 38 even presuming she is the most beautiful amazing woman who looks 25 her making men wait that long will effectively push her out of the dating market.

        2. Emily, the original

          Lisa,

          If she is 38 even presuming she is the most beautiful amazing woman who looks 25 her making men wait that long will effectively push her out of the dating market.

          But what is going on with this guy who took monthS to make a pass?

        3. Clare

          Lisa,

          I agree that the OP seems to have anxiety and fear, and as someone who myself has anxiety and fear, I can relate.

          I don’t necessarily agree that she might “never” be ready. She did actually sleep with the guy after all, and no one was forcing her, even though she says she regrets it. I see that as progress. As far as her being celibate for 8 years… that is strange, but then again, I have a theory that women’s sex drives can kind of “go to sleep.” A year goes by, two years… then you start not to miss it any more. It might not have been a conscious decision to be celibate for 8 years, more just something that just kind of happened.

          Personally, I think the answer to this anxiety and fear is an extension of what Evan suggests for women. Wait to sleep with a guy until he is your boyfriend, but even more than that, until the relationship is on a solid, stable footing and feels fairly safe and the guy is behaving consistently. This will alleviate a lot of the anxiety and fear that the OP is feeling, and that many women feel. Granted, that option is not available in the current situation because she’s already slept with him. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out with the current guy. I’d say she simply needs to slow things down and observe how he behaves. If her feelings for him grow and he continues to behave in a caring and interested way, she is set. If not… well, that’s just the risk you take when dating.

    2. 10.2
      Kitty

      My question is, should ineffective daters . . . should they be dating at all?  Should they just work on their issues (which could take a long while)  first 

      Not the best advice for women due to their biological clocks.  OTOH most women younger than around 33 aren’t interested in dating men who are 8+ years their senior, so men who want kids don’t have an infinite amount of time to forgo dating while working on their issues.

      Though this also depends on whether or not an individual wants kids and how severe their issues are.

      1. 10.2.1
        S.

        I dunno.  Evan says she’s inefficient. She tried to push past it.  He probably say she could do both.  Look for someone understanding while working on her issues.

        I guess I asked because it’s possible she could get to this point again with someone else.  She had three main choices. 1) Not have sex so soon (for her) and explain to her partner her issues and see if he wants to deal with them with her. 2) Have sex soon again and hope her issues evaporate.  3) Work on her issues, and then date.  I’m not sure which is the most efficient.

        I hadn’t even thought of kids, but I think it’s putting the cart before the horse with these two!  She said, “I don’t want to sleep with him again… at least not until I figure out how I really feel about him.”  So if she doesn’t want sex with this guy right now, kids are way off the table.

        One has to work on one’s stuff!  I believe that would make a happier and healthier mom when the time comes, rather than rushing one’s progress because of a ticking clock.  Just my two cents. 🙂

  11. 11
    Lisa

    I don’t think she moved too fast and I wonder if she’s overthinking things.  She said they have been friends for awhile now so it’s not like they just met and clearly he’s still interested.   If she says she wants to step back he’s going to likely perceive that as odd and question her as to why if he’s still interested or just ditch her totally.  I wonder does he know her history about only having a few partners? He may understand more. Ultimately I think she’s putting way too much focus on sex far more than someone else her age would because of her limited experience. Life is too short and she’s not getting any younger. She needs to let go and just go with it. Sure she may get hurt but that’s life and dating.  It’s possibly she can prevent future pain by this behavior but that also will cause her the miss out on so many life experiences and possible love.   I think she’s anxious and fearful of being hurt. She thinks she can stop this by not having sex but that’s unlikely.

  12. 12
    Karl S

    I wonder if some radical honesty might be needed from the OP if she wants to keep this guy around – tell him about your therapy and how sex is a prickly issue you’re still working your way through.

    That would at least help him to reconcile putting it on hold because it’s so difficult and confusing for the OP. Some might think that’s too much information, but anything less might lead the guy to assume she’s just not that into him.

    Keeping in mind, as she takes her time to work out how she feels, he’ll be doing the same thing. Right now she’s got him hook line and sinker.

    The alternative is that she “push on through”, which sounds unseemly but, well, it’s on the advice of a therapist. He sounds like a guy who is looking for commitment. Maybe having a conversation about exclusivity would make it all a bit easier in her mind.

    1. 12.1
      Kitty

      He sounds like a guy who is looking for commitment. 

      I don’t know anything more about this guy than you do, but sometimes a man just wants to enjoy a woman’s company (both in the bedroom and out of it) without the responsibilities of a committed relationship or the expectation of a future together.  The only way to know for sure if a man wants to be in a committed relationship with a woman is if he tells her does.

      Of course it easier to talk about it before a woman’s judgment is clouded by sexual activity and if she doesn’t get the answer she wants it’s a lot easier to walk away.  Hopefully whatever happens with this guy she’ll learn her lesson moving forward.

      1. 12.1.1
        Karl S

        He’s spent months courting her (she called it friends, but clearly he was interested) and after they slept together he wants to see her even more. They might not have had the conversation yet, but so long as she doesn’t scare him off I’d be willing to bet he’d commit.

        1. Kitty

          I’d be willing to bet he’d commit.

          You’d have to “bet” because until he states unambiguously that he wants a committed relationship you can’t be sure.

          He may have been courting her but that doesn’t mean that he necessarily wants a committed relationship with her.  Sometimes men pursue women and end up sleeping with them and spending time with them for a long time without truly committing out of boredom, loneliness or any number of reasons that have nothing to do with being in love.

          If she asks him how he feels about being in a relationship with her (in a relatively relaxed, non-accusatory way) he may end up saying that he “needs his space” or he’s “not ready for a relationship”.  Or he may end up saying that he wants to be in a committed relationship with her.

          But this sort of thing happens all the time: a man will walk, talk and act like a boyfriend yet tell his woman that he’s “not ready for a relationship”.  These guys only stick around until someone better comes along.  So you can’t assume, just based on a guy’s actions that he is committed to you unless he tells you.

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Kitty

          This man is what is referred to by other men as an orbiter.  True platonic friendship is almost as rare as hen’s teeth from the male side.  The acid test for a man’s intentions is to offer to strip down to bare flesh.  If he only desires platonic friendship, he will politely pass on the opportunity because he values your friendship and is not remotely sexually interested in you.  Men who befriend women generally do so because they are sexually interested and not masculine/confident enough to be forward and open about it, so they use the backdoor approach of friendship.  Nine times out of ten, a man who uses this approach ends up getting usurped by a more aggressive man.  That is why the phrase “friendship first” is so toxic to men.  Most men “next” women who have this phrase in their online profiles.  The men who do not move onto the the next profile are generally men women do not desire.

        3. Clare

          You make a lot of broad generalizations in your comment there, YAG. I like how firm you are in your proclamations, and do not leave any room for human beings not fitting into your templates of behaviour.

          As a woman, I’d agree that it’s rare for a man who is friends with you to have no romantic or sexual interest in you at all. But that does not mean that true platonic friendships between men and women do not exist. One person can be attracted to the other without either of you ever deciding to do anything about it. This can be for a number of reasons ranging from lack of compatibility, one or both of you being in relationships with other people, valuing the friendship too highly to risk ruining it if dating doesn’t work out, or the attraction being one-sided. Just because we feel an attraction for someone, does not mean we always act on it. Some people are just better off as friends. That also does not mean that the man is not masculine or confident enough to make a move.

           

          This whole terror men have of “the friend zone” or “friendship first” is really unwarranted, in my opinion. If a woman is interested in you, she will make it known when you make your interest known. She is not going to be held back by the “friendship” if dating you is what she wants. If the man does not want to be friends, he does not need to be friends, and if he does, he should be willing to be friends for its own sake.

          Many relationships have grown out of friendships – or I know of many, anyway. Friendship is something quite different from dating or romance, and it should be treated on its own merits. But if two people want to be together, the fact that they were friends first is not going to hinder them.

        4. Buck25

          @ Clare,

          Have to agree with YAG here; this guy is the classic description of what we call an “orbiter” ie. a man who befriends women (or pretends to) in the hope (usually quite forlorn) of eventually sleeping with them. these guys lack the confidence (and I would say the balls) to take the risk of the more bold and direct approach. I’ll grant my approach (and YAG’s, I gather), offends a certain type of woman, but so long as we (1) keep it out of the workplace, (2) don’t push taking physical liberties after being told “no”,  (3) learn to read women’s signals (it can be done, most of the time), and (4) move on politely when rejected, I think we have nothing to apologize for; it’s not a “crime”, we’re still (thankfully)  allowed to do that here in America (third wave feminism notwithstanding), and the women who are that offended by it are NOT those I care to date anyway.

          That said, there IS such a thing as a platonic male-female friendship; even I have them and have had for years. Case in point, (and the reason for my departure a few months back), a long time platonic friendship with a young woman who had been battling systemic lupus for years. The common denominator? We were both former First Responders. When I left here last, I had just gotten a call from her a few days before; her doctors had just informed her that there was nothing more they could do beyond keeping her as comfortable as possible; she had, they told her, a few months at best. Needless to say, it was a rather emotional conversation. It also turned out to be our last. She lapsed into a coma and died peacefully in her sleep on 7 September. The idea that a man cannot love a woman in a completely non-sexual way, is, frankly speaking, horse dung. In the few years I knew her, she had become like a little sister to me, and the grieving process was pretty much like losing a family member; it took a while, and I’m only just now feeling like getting back in the dating scene again. It’s been a rough few months. I tell you that story because it illustrates just how deep some totally platonic male-female friendships can become. Not the norm, perhaps, but it can and does happen.

  13. 13
    Kitty

    I don’t think she has to make a full confession about her therapy and her anxiety about sex.  She needs to talk about it but lighten up the subject a little.  Say something like:

    “I’ve never slept with a man before he and I agreed to be in a committed relationship but none of those guys were as sexy as you (with a smile).  But I feel that things are going a little fast right now and I don’t really know how I feel about being in a relationship with you.  How do you feel?”

    And see what he says.

  14. 14
    Chris

    Perhaps she is asexual, or close to it? Perhaps she should consider just dialling the relationship back to a platonic friendship, and encouraging him to pursue other women romantically.

  15. 15
    Julia (OP)

    Hi, everyone. I’m Julia, the Original Poster. Evan, thank you so much for answering my question – I’ve been a loyal reader for the past 7 years and am grateful for this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your column. It isn’t quite true that for me, the most satisfying response would be just to have you agree with me; as I said, I’ve been reading your site for 7 years now and I know that’s not what you do. I’ve always appreciated your “snap out of it, sister!” approach, and I especially appreciate it now. We are indeed free to do what we want, but we have to be aware of the consequences. Shouldn’t have had sex with someone I wasn’t committed to in the first place. This is a mistake I won’t be making again.

    I wrote this email 6 months ago so it’s a bit strange to relive this situation, especially considering that by now it’s all over. As Kitty and others keenly predicted, the man in question was simply using me for emotional comfort/stimulation + sex, why not!? until he found someone better and slow faded out of my life. His slow fade involved the cheeky twist of outright lying to me for 3 months to cover up the fact that he was seeing someone – to what end, I don’t know. I learned he had a new girlfriend through Facebook, and there were over 60 likes on the photos, suggesting that all of his real friends had known all along – everyone except dumb schmuck me who had actually believed him when he whined that he couldn’t see me because he was so stressed over his final year med school exams that he was waking up in tears every morning (“but soon!” he always promised). I never bothered to respond to his last “sooooo sorry I haven’t been in touch lifeisreallystressful!” line o’ crap text. (maybe he ought to be in therapy himself for compulsive lying). We weren’t together and we weren’t in love so of course he can date whoever he wants; that wasn’t what bothered me. What bothered me was him using me out of boredom and lying to me for months. NEXT.

    There were a couple of things I left out of my original post which might have helped give a clearer view of the situation, but when I wrote it, I tried to stick to my actual question as strictly as possible. I didn’t want the OP to devolve into an “is he into me?” panel. Some people asked why I’m in therapy: in a nutshell, child abuse + severe gaslighting = crippling intimacy issues. Yes, I do run from intimacy. Yes, I do tend to overthink relationships. Should I be dating? As someone in the peanut gallery so generously pointed out, I’m no spring chicken. And I didn’t date for 6 years. I actually liked spending time with this guy. It was nice to get to say “yes”.

    What I also left out of the OP was that my ex-friend had just broken up with his girlfriend of 3 years and I had just started dating again after a 6 year-long torturous unrequited love disaster. Neither of us were emotionally ready, I suppose, but we got very close quickly and were very emotionally/physically attracted to each other. I also left out that on the night we had sex, he left pretty much immediately after, which I think is what really set off my panic spiral. He didn’t seem to care when I told him that I had been celibate for the past 3 years. In short, having sex with him was a big deal for me, but it was not a big deal for him. We had been so emotionally intimate for months by that point that I had assumed he would at least understand what having sex meant to me. I know that I have a lot of sexual hangups so I anticipated Evan’s response and never had the “let’s take a step back” talk with him; I figured my hangups weren’t his problem and he’d just think I was insane so I swallowed my resentment and continued being “friends.” We eventually slept together again and then he told me he didn’t want me to fall in love with him and as a “good friend” it was my “duty” to find him a girlfriend. That was when I understood that he was just using me out of loneliness, so sex was permanently off the table. Our fake close friendship continued, however… until the slow fade.

    I’m not asexual. I just tend to equate sex with emotional intimacy, which is why I waited so long to lose my virginity, why I do it so seldom and why it’s such a big deal for me when it actually happens. He led me to believe I was special to him and I trusted him enough to sleep with him. Blah blah. That old chestnut.

    Anyway… thank you all for the time you took to think about my issue. It was interesting being on the other side of the fence in one of Evan’s letters! I emphatically echo Evan’s message from a long-ago post: if you’re not a casual sex kind of person, don’t have casual sex.

    1. 15.1
      S.

      Thanks so much for writing in and clarifying many of the questions here.  And you did anticipate Evan’s advice!  This guy wasn’t a good guy.  But I hope the next one for you is.

      if you’re not a casual sex kind of person, don’t have casual sex.

      Absolutely!  And I wish you the best in your journey.

    2. 15.2
      Emily, the original

      Julia,

      We eventually slept together again and then he told me he didn’t want me to fall in love with him and as a “good friend” it was my “duty” to find him a girlfriend. 

      Wow. That is so emotionally tone deaf. Given the amount of time you spent together and that you had sex, even if he did legitimately think you were just friends, someone who wasn’t so selfish would know that would be a hurtful thing to hear.

      1. 15.2.1
        Julia (OP)

        Ha – that’s nothing. A few months later, he asked me to buy him a sex guide – ostensibly to be used with his new girlfriend who, at the time, I still had no idea existed.

        No, I didn’t buy it for him.

        1. Emily, the original

          Julia,

          A few months later, he asked me to buy him a sex guide – ostensibly to be used with his new girlfriend who, at the time, I still had no idea existed.

          I think Jennifer Aniston said that Brad Pitt has a sensitivity chip missing. This guy does, too. He’s an emotional clod, an elephant trying to do the ballet.

        2. Kitty

          Julia I’m so sorry that happened to you.  You didn’t deserve that.  I’m glad that you’re no longer communicating with him.  I hope you can stay strong and keep him out of your life,

        3. Julia (OP)

          Thanks, everyone. I’m over it for the most part but now and then I feel a gust of anger. I have no problem staying away from him – it’s pretty clear that he used me for sex and emotional comfort and dropped me as soon as someone better came along so I have no lingering positive feelings or questions. And I agree with what Marika and Emily said about his motives for lying to me. This was a guy who desperately needs to be liked by everyone; I’m sure the idea of coming off as the “Bad guy” was really unpleasant. He also felt he had to cover it up because while it might not have been an “official” relationship between us, there was something, and that something was inconvenient for him.

          I just feel a bit sad today because it’s his birthday – thanks, Facebook! Part of me thought I should be the bigger person and put an impersonal “happy birthday” on his facebook wall but I just ask myself, what for… we’re not friends (his not even bothering to invite me to his birthday celebration is further proof of that). I’m sure he’d love to believe that he got his cake and to eat it too – us being on good terms after him being such a dick – but I don’t feel the need to give that to him any more than I already did when I kept quiet after I learned about his girlfriend. Besides, I feel like if I reach out he might reach back and I really have no desire to hear from him.

          It’s just kind of sad is all. I never fell for him, but I guess I did fall for the illusion that we were close.

    3. 15.3
      Clare

      Julia,

      Thank you for coming back to tell us how things turned out. It’s always so fascinating to hear from the original poster.

      I’m really sorry about what happened. I truly feel for you that after opening yourself up after so long, you were treated like that. I am glad that you seem to have a healthy attitude towards him and disdain for his lies and deceit.

      What I am interested in, if you don’t mind indulging me, is this part of your original letter:

      “Since we slept together, he has shown no signs of losing interest in me; if anything, I’ve heard from him more often and our fun, playful, cerebral dynamic hasn’t changed. He was very affectionate and attentive to my needs during our night together.”

      At what point did he start doing the “slow fade” and giving you the “life is so stressful” “I’m so busy, but soon, I promise” nonsense? Was it days or weeks after? And was it an immediate shift in his behavior, or gradual?

      1. 15.3.1
        Julia (OP)

        Thanks for your support, Clare. It was pretty disappointing.

        He started doing the slow fade about a month after we first slept together; until he started doing the slow fade we were in touch every day and I saw him more often than I saw my friends. He was always intense, saying things like “you’re one of the most important things that’s happened to me this year” and “I’ve come to be very fond of you” but I always responded only minimally considering that not only a few days before he’d told me not to fall in love with him and that now and then he’d tell me it was my ‘duty’ to find him a girlfriend.

        I imagine the slow fade started when he met the girl he is currently seeing, but he didn’t tell me about her for months. Just kept telling me how stressed out he was from medical school and his exams.

        1. Emily, the original

          Julia, 

          He was always intense, saying things like “you’re one of the most important things that’s happened to me this year” and “I’ve come to be very fond of you” but I always responded only minimally considering that not only a few days before he’d told me not to fall in love with him and that now and then he’d tell me it was my ‘duty’ to find him a girlfriend.

          When someone gives mixed signals like this, it’s usually a warning sign that he’s not all in or he’s not all there mentally.

        2. Julia (OP)

          Exactly, Emily – that’s why I permanently removed sex from the equation. I was glad to stay friends, though, and I thought we actually were. I was very worried about him when he claimed to be so stressed over exams that he couldn’t sleep. I’d have been happy for him and his girlfriend, too, had he only been honest with me. I still don’t really understand why he took such pains to deceive me about his relationship. If any men could weigh in on that, I’d appreciate it…

        3. Emily, the original

          Julia,

          I was glad to stay friends, though, and I thought we actually were. I was very worried about him when he claimed to be so stressed over exams that he couldn’t sleep.

          I don’t mean to be negative, but this guy wasn’t your friend. He treated you badly, and if he reappears at some point if it doesn’t work out with the girlfriend, I would not respond.

        4. Marika

          Emily & Julia

          I agree with Emily. This is not a friend. As hard as it is, I think you need to cut him (and people like this) completely out of your life.

          I saw a guy a few months back for about three months who I was friends with for over a year beforehand. At first it was great as we had that history and it was a pleasant change from meeting strangers online. I posted on here about some of his behaviours that weren’t working for me and pretty much everyone who commented said they were red flags. We ended up breaking up when he went almost 2 weeks without seeing me and 4 days without responding to a text (claiming he was ‘busy’). I don’t care how busy you are, that’s not how you treat someone you like & respect – if you’re emotionally healthy.

          We were friends beforehand so I considered going back to being friends. All it took was one more unanswered text for me to realise – this guy is not my friend. I don’t need someone like him in my life when I have dozens of friends who love hearing from me. I deleted all his messages and unfriended him from FB. I now only think about him when someone specifically asks about him or in a situation like this. I actively stop myself wondering ‘what happened’ or analysing what he was thinking.

          Who cares? He’s not right for me.

          I see it happening the other way around with guys from my past who I wasn’t into. They keep popping back up to send me a random message or contact me on some online site (FB/LinkedIn). I’m polite to them, but their ongoing interest is, frankly, borderline annoying, when I’ve made it clear I’m not interested. They may be wondering what happened or analysing what went wrong or trying to stay in my thoughts. But it doesn’t work. We broke up for a reason. It would be better for them if they just made a clean break and moved on.

          I would think there’s a strong chance he will contact you again to use you for your loveliness and kindness when he’s lonely. But don’t let him. Move on. Give your love, support and friendship to someone who returns it.

        5. Kitty

          I still don’t really understand why he took such pains to deceive me about his relationship.

          I thought about mincing words as I composed this response, because I know it sounds harsh, but I hope it will help.  It sounds to me like he was putting you on the back burner in his life, i.e. as plan b in case his new relationship didn’t work out.  I don’t blame you for not suspecting that; most guys don’t put that level of effort into courting a woman as a backup plan.  More often people just get drunk, hook up and once sober the guy realized that the girl is more into him than he is into her and a back burner scenario.  Though to be fair girls to this to guys as well.  Anyway the fact that this guy pursued you so ardently and was eager to meet your parents and then lied to you about developing another relationship makes him sound like a very skilled manipulator.  I second Emily the Original’s suggestion: this guy isn’t a friend worth having.

        6. Clare

          Julia,

          “I still don’t really understand why he took such pains to deceive me about his relationship. If any men could weigh in on that, I’d appreciate it…”

          I’m not a man, obviously, but this has happened to me before with an ex-boyfriend a couple of years ago. We got involved and got into a relationship very fast (mostly driven by him, but I went with it), and we were seeing each other nearly every day for a month. Then for the last two weeks of our relationship, he was suddenly very “busy” with work, had no time to see me, even though he lived 5 minutes down the road, and the texting slowed down a lot as well. After trying to be patient, 2 weeks of this drove me mad and we had an argument and broke up. A couple of weeks later, he was in a new relationship with a girl on Facebook and appearing in pictures with her everywhere. I can’t prove it, but I think him becoming distant with me coincided with him meeting her.

           

          I, too, would have let him go without too much fuss if he had just been honest with me that he had met someone. I have thought about it though, and discussed it with my guy friends, and these are the reasons I think he didn’t tell me (and guys like him don’t come clean):

          * I think the biggest reason is that he didn’t want to come off as the bad guy. A man’s image in the eyes of others is very important to him. If he doesn’t actually admit it, and gives you different reasons as to why he is fading, I think he is hoping you will believe it and he can still be the good guy.

          * I think the next biggest reason is that he is hoping to keep the back door open with you. In the case of your guy, you two slept together, and I’m guessing he is hoping to keep that option open for the future. If he tells you he met someone else, it is less likely you will be willing to sleep with him in the future. In the case of my ex-boyfriend, I got a text from him out of the blue a couple of months ago, which I ignored, and I’m fairly sure he was putting feelers out.

          * Another reason is that guys hate confrontation with women. They don’t expect us to be mature and understanding if they tell us they’ve met someone else. They think we’ll get all pissed off and emotional. I have come up against this belief in men many times, and, in my case at least, it is erroneous. They hide the truth from you for fear of a confrontation and drama. Personally, I become quite calm and respectful when someone tells me the truth because I admire the courage it takes to do so. It also helps me to move forward with clarity. Obscuring the truth is actually what causes more confrontation, but I think guys like this friend of yours and my ex have trouble distinguishing that.

          * Finally, I think these guys are actually quite indecisive. As demonstrated by the mixed messages your friend gave you, and the fact that my ex wouldn’t just break up with me so that he could pursue someone else. They’re not really able to end things with you until they find themselves slap bang in the middle of another relationship. It’s kind of a commitment-phobic characteristic.

           

          This is what I think. If the guys could weigh in, that would be great too.

        7. Jeremy

          @Clare, I think your points are 100% correct.  They are, IMHO, very plausible in this case.  Men generally do hate confrontation, don’t believe women will react well, don’t want to be the bad guy, and do want to keep the door open.

        8. Emily, the original

          Hi Marika,

          I see it happening the other way around with guys from my past who I wasn’t into. They keep popping back up to send me a random message or contact me on some online site (FB/LinkedIn). I’m polite to them, but their ongoing interest is, frankly, borderline annoying, when I’ve made it clear I’m not interested. 

          While I  was reading your message, it made me wonder if other women have experienced this — the guys who reappear are never the guys you want to hear from. There are usually guys I would actually pay money to hear from but those aren’t the guys who show back up.

        9. Clare

          Emily,

          “While I  was reading your message, it made me wonder if other women have experienced this — the guys who reappear are never the guys you want to hear from. There are usually guys I would actually pay money to hear from but those aren’t the guys who show back up.”

          Like Marika, I have experienced this numerous times, and continue to experience it to this day. It happened to me just yesterday, actually. A guy I went out with 3 times – I called it off because he still lived with this mother, and, frankly, I could see signs that he was not mature enough for me emotionally. This guy texts me about once a month, and yesterday he claimed to be “in my neighbourhood” and wanted to come for “coffee,” but I suspect he wanted something physical out of it. Um, no thanks. I gave him a polite pass, but I will no doubt hear from him again. Eventually, I suppose, I will have to just stop replying or unfriend him.

           

          I have had it the other way, too, though. As in, there is a guy who also texts me every couple of months whom I am definitely still interested in. He’s tall, dark and handsome, intelligent, and just my type. He’s a game ranger though, and we went out a few times before realising that it would never work because he travels constantly for his job. It would be like being a military wife/girlfriend. There is some emotional unavailability on his side as well. Every single time he is back home, however, he texts me. I actually had to be firm with him the last time though, and tell him that if he was not going to make any effort beyond texting that I’d rather not hear from him at all.

           

          Anyway, my point is, I’ve had a few examples of both kinds of guys popping back up: guys I did want to hear from, and guys I didn’t want to hear from.

        10. Emily, the original

          Anyway, my point is, I’ve had a few examples of both kinds of guys popping back up: guys I did want to hear from, and guys I didn’t want to hear from.

          It’s good to hear there are examples of both. I posted my response to Marika, and  —I kid you not–a few hours later a male acquaintance texted me to tell me he was really into me and wanted to go out with me. To be honest, he is so odd, I’d rather have heard that from a woman! I’m starting to think that what you put out into the universe comes back to you. I put out something negative … and it showed up. So I’m trying now to put out POSITIVE vibes!

  16. 16
    Karl S

    Well that’s tragic. Also completely and utterly annihilates my theory. The devil is in the details though and some of these red flags were BIG red flags.

    1. 16.1
      Kitty

      Karl S , I think it’s very cool that you admitted that you were mistaken.

      1. 16.1.1
        Julia (OP)

        It’s okay, Karl. My friends and parents thought the guy was crazy about me from how intense he acted – he made a huge deal of coming to my birthday party and practically courted my parents when he met them. He really made an effort to act like he cared about me. That’s why it was so shocking when he just left after sex. He really didn’t seem like the type. I think he’s just the kind of guy who needs everyone to like him and thus makes huge yet ultimately empty overtures.

        Fortunately, I wasn’t in love with the guy so this won’t annihilate my spirit! It has left me feeling totally “off” sex, though… and I’m already nun-like enough as it is.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Julia

          Thanks for coming back and giving us an update.

          I would be curious to hear what you have learned now that you have the power of 20/20 hindsight.

          What red flags besides having sex outside of a committed relationship?

      2. 16.1.2
        Karl S

        The fact that he’d just broken up with his 3 year girlfriend and that he left the OP straight after sex turns it into a classic rebound scenario.

  17. 17
    John

    I think the rule of “no sex until monogamy” applies here. Sex is so emotionally blinding, it is hard to see the true intentions of the other person.

    Men who just want sex will not pursue a woman who says no to sex until a commitment is attained. It is an automatic filtration system.

    The sexual behavior of Americans in general has gone from “no sex until marriage” to “sex as soon as possible.” I think there is a happy medium.You have to find it for yourself.

    I dated my ex-girlfriend for 6 months without sex. I know. I am weird. It turned out she was lying about some important issues and because I wasn’t hooked into her sexually, so I could let go of the relationship easier.

    That was the first relationship I delayed sex beyond the third date. It works better for me.

    1. 17.1
      Tron Swanson

      I disagree, John. I think that many (most?) men will lie about intending to be monogamous in order to acquire sex. I’m not one of them…but I’ve had many opportunities to be. All I would’ve had to do was say, “Sure, I think this is serious,” and boom, sex.

      Meanwhile, genuine relationship-seeking guys may be put off by the idea of committing before sex. So it’s basically a wash: some players will lie and stick around, and some genuine guys will say “forget this” and leave.

  18. 18
    Marika

    Jeremy

    I know this is a sore point for you and I could be wrong, but I think the perspective KK was referring to was the wife waiting on her husband hand and foot all night then him being surprised she wasn’t in the mood. I know that wasn’t the case in your marriage, but if spreadsheet guy was a lazy slob, spent all night watching TV and relaxing while his wife cooked and cleaned and put the kids to bed or whatever, then him wanting sex after that makes her feel more like a prostitute than a loving wife.

    She wasn’t tired from shopping with her pals (or watching rom-coms..hehe), but from cooking & cleaning. Is that not a fair point?

    That being said, I find this hard to relate to as I think sex is a good barometer for the health of a relationship and was always acutely aware when it was dying off in my marriage. I also had no problem being the one to get things going. But sometimes he was tired. From a long day. I get that. When he was particularly stressed out at work and busy I didn’t even try as I understand when people feel pushed to the limit they aren’t necessarily in a sexy frame of mind. Of course there was a lot more going on for us, but with spreadsheet, I think she was looking for some understanding from her husband. Not for him to make a spreadsheet.

    And yes, you’re right, not everyone is like you. You do seem to be a fantastic husband.

    1. 18.1
      Jeremy

      It is a sore point for me, Marika, but I do understand situations of resentment when resentment is merited.  Situations where a person is stressed, or ill, or the power balance in the relationship is wildly askew.  It’s a fine balance – meeting our own needs while considering those of a spouse.

       

      I wrote this before, but I think it bears repeating – it is a good strategy to make a list of the things we each do for our spouse every day.  Then to make a separate list of the things we think our partner WANTS us to do for them every day.  And observe the difference between the lists.  How many women would include cooking and cleaning in the first list?  How many in the second?  If there’s a difference between the lists, we should consider why that is.

  19. 19
    Adrian

    Hi Jeremy,

    You stated, ” Imagine if a man told his wife, “Honey, I have chronic headaches so I’ve decided not to talk to you anymore.  Well, maybe twice per month we can talk.”  No one would want to know this guy’s perspective because we’d all agree he was an idiot.  You can’t refuse to talk to your spouse and expect your spouse to want to stay with you.  Yet somehow we think of sex differently, even though marriage involves vows of sexual monogamy and not conversational monogamy.

     

    My question based off the saying (which I first heard on this blog) that women are the gatekeepers to sex and men are the gatekeepers to relationships is does this power dynamic change for one gender but not the other once they become a couple or are married?

    I mean it sounds like if a man is the gatekeeper of relationships then once they become a couple or get married then they BOTH have the power to end the relationship once he lets her in the gate he no longer has all the power they now share the power to end it.

    But it seems like even in marriage a woman still controls the distribution of sex; there are cases like Emily’s male friends not wanting sex as much as his wife sure but the majority of the stories seem to imply that it is men and not women who want more and the women feel that as long as they are giving him sex then he is NOT justified in being unhappy with the amount/frequency of the sex they have together.

    I’m I close or completely off the mark on this?

    …   …   …

    On a side note I want to hear your argument about what KK and Marika said concerning the woman who cooks, cleans, takes care of the kids, and works not being in the mood to have sex often…

    I mean why don’t these men see how tired these women are?

    On the flip side of that from your experience what is the reason women who don’t do all those things have for not wanting sex as much as their boyfriends or husbands? There was a post once on here from a woman who wanted to dump her boyfriend because he wanted sex all the time (they were young I think) but she did not give a reason why she did not want sex as much as he did.

    Again I could be way off on this but from my understanding BOTH men and women enjoy having sex-it’s equally pleasurable to both genders. However men actually CRAVE sex while women just really like sex. This misunderstanding is why women get so upset and push back about wanting sex as much as men. To them this is not a valid excuse because in their minds they really love having sex too so men are not justified in complaining about not getting enough or about watching porn, or about having to wait until commitment or etc…

    Again am I close or completely off the mark on this?

    1. 19.1
      Jeremy

      Lots to unpack in your questions, Adrian.  First of all, forget about what men or women are the gatekeepers of.  The gatekeeper of anything is the person who wants it less.  And while women as sexual gatekeepers and men as commitment gatekeepers might generally apply early in relationships, it does not necessarily apply once marriage occurs.  Case in point, women are the overwhelming initiators of divorce…so who is the gatekeeper of marriage once the man has committed?

       

      The gatekeeper is the one who wants it less.  So why is it, if women like sex as much as men, that the trend is for husbands to be the high drive partners and wives to be the low drive partner (and while exceptions do exist, this IS the trend)?  Several reasons.  One is that women have lower testosterone levels and truly don’t want sex as much as men.  At least, not once the dopamine has died down.  If conflict or tension continues to exist into a marriage, dopamine levels can remain high and thus sex drive can remain high.  But when a marriage is comfortable and dopamine dies down, you’re left with testosterone as the motivator for sex – and you either have it or you don’t.

       

      Further, one can not forget the balance of POWER in relationships as a motivator or de-motivator for sex.  A woman might like sex, but if she perceives her husband as liking it more than she does, she will feel that the power balance is askew unless she receives something in exchange for the sex she provides.  The more she feels the power balance out of whack between herself and her husband, the more she will try to deny him power to try to even the balance.

       

      Finally, when a new child arrives, a woman’s hormonal system is totally out of whack compared to pre-pregnancy levels.  After she gives birth, she has a tremendous surge of oxytocin and noradrenaline and bonds with the baby in much the same way as a new lover.  This is not to say that women feel sexual love for babies, but rather obsessive love, exclusionary love.  They are often in love with their children in a way that excludes their husbands, and often see their husbands as pests who exist to serve their needs but whose needs need not be served.  This also relates back to the power paragraph.

       

      Anyway, it’s often a mess of power, hormones, and psychology.  And it is almost always up to the high desire partner to solve the problem, because the low desire partner doesn’t see it as a problem.  Or at least, not their problem.

      1. 19.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Jeremy and Adrian at 19.1 and 19,

        Jeremy is basically correct, but it’s more about low sexual desire than some power or psychological struggle for women.  And sexual desire changes a lot for women in relation to their age and life circumstances, whereas for men, it just seemingly stays highish.  Every one of my married female friends who speaks frankly about this topic – women in their late 30’s to mid 40’s, all with a few children under 10 – would be happy to have no sex at all for a year, or more.  I’m not kidding.  Once they’ve had their kids and are within 10-15 years of menopause, female sex drive plummets.  Pre marriage and pre kids they were all up for frequent sex like any normal sexually-interested female.  Now they only have sex for their husbands (i.e. as a favour or gift) as infrequently as possible.  When someone is giving a gift over and over again, they want something in return, and/or they become resentful.  The only exception to this rule is my one 44 year old married friend who doesn’t have children.  She has sex 3 times a week with her husband and wants to.  He didn’t want children because he wanted her to prioritise only him.

        For me, sex is like sailing.  Sailing on Sydney harbour, sun shining, wind in your hair, it’s phenomenal, and every single time I (infrequently) do it, I think, ‘wow, this is great, I should do this more often’.  I think the same about sex – ‘oh I remember now, it’s great, though I’m tired and emotionally spent giving to my young kids and/or working all day, and I didn’t want to have sex, now I’m doing it, it feels good’.  But most of the time – and this is important Adrian because after birthing and raising kids, women are chronically severely exhausted – I just cannot be bothered to rig up the boat.  Men’s boats rig fast and with little work.  Ours don’t, and the desire to get out the rigging isn’t there.

        I’m amazed Jeremy solved the problem. If he indeed did; maybe his wife should give her point of view.  Because nobody else I know, has been able to.

         

         

        1. Jeremy

          Yes, Mrs. Happy, I think our comments dovetail into each other – testosterone (desire/ease to rig the sails), power (desire for something in return) and hormone balance (young kids, age changes).  These are the reasons women give for the phenomenon.  And yet…..and yet if they were to get a divorce, they would find their sex drives return with the next new guy.  Both anecdotal evidence and research shows this.  But WHY?  Why the desire with the new guy and not the old one?  Is it a desire for novelty?  Is it the using of sex as a told to obtain a desired relationship?  Is it the validation of being with a more attractive partner?  And whichever the case may be, could not the former partner have re-activated sexual desire by triggering these sexual goals in their wives?  Short answer – YES.  Longer answer – Yes, but with LOTS of effort.

          Did I “solve” the problem?  Depends on your definition of “solve.”  I did not equalize our desire levels.  That would have been impossible.  But I created a situation where my wife began to see the importance of frequent, more passionate sex as a pathway to get what SHE wants rather than just what I want.  Why don’t others do this?  Because it takes a shit-ton of effort and frankly, using porn or getting a mistress (I’d imagine) would be easier.  Still, I like being married and I like solving puzzles.  This was the most complex puzzle I’ve ever solved.

        2. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          The only exception to this rule is my one 44 year old married friend who doesn’t have children.  She has sex 3 times a week with her husband and wants to.

          All of my female friends are in their 40s and 50s. All single and either never married or divorced. One has a school-age child, one has a grown son and the others have no children. All are roarin and ready to go. Even the one with the young daughter. The issue is finding an appealing partner. The one who was married said it was hard to find the time for sex when she was married. The marriage didn’t end well, so it may also have been a lack of interest in doing it with someone she wasn’t getting along with.

        3. Adrian

          Hi Emily and Jeremy

          Emily I think you just proved Mrs Happy’s and Jeremy’s point.

          All your friends are single and therefore are not having the same thing everyday with the same man nor do they have easy access to a clean, known, already vetted source/supply of sex daily. So of course they are all raring and ready to go (^_^).

          You know… having a plain hamburger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday for 10 years vs having one maybe once every few years; The latter’s will crave it more for the sake of curiosity than for the actual love of burgers, while the formal will began to loath it.

          So Emily here is my question to you, what do you think a man that has been with the same woman for years should do to keep her desiring sex with him?

          …   …   …

          Jeremy Emily’s example of her friends sparks a question in me.

          Why are her single friends that take care of all their children’s needs alone, do all the household chores alone, work full time jobs, and have time for their own busy social lives so eager to have sex but married women use all those very same excuses as for reasons why they DON’T want to or can not have sex more than twice a month?

          Is this another example of Emily (and by proxy her friends) being outliers from the norm?

          I am not talking about using sex as bait to attract a mate and therefore the single woman’s meta-goals are not being fulfilled like the married woman’s is… From Emily’s example all these busy women are horny and crave sex IN SPITE OF of all the factors that married women use to say are causing them to have no desire for sex.

          How can you have 2 sets of women both having the same “energy draining/mood killing” responsibilities but each having different effects when it comes to craving sex?

        4. Jeremy

          Because, Adrian, the excuse that housework and kids kills sex drive is total bullshit.  I have work and kids and yet my sex drive is fine.  It is an excuse.  Hormonal changes can kill a sex drive.  But as I’ve written so many times, in order to want to have sex, you have to want something from the sex.  The women Mrs. Happy describes either have what they want already or else don’t feel that they “get” anything out of having sex.  And please note – what they want isn’t necessarily pleasure and orgasms.  Note Mrs. Happy’s language – she (like so many women) finds that she enjoys the sex once she’s having it, she just doesn’t crave it or feel it’s worth the effort when she isn’t.  It’s not that it isn’t pleasurable, it’s that pleasure is not the goal (for them).  So what is?

           

          It’s funny, when the time came to try to conceive a child, my wife went from someone who wanted sex as little as possible (as Mrs. Happy describes) to someone insatiable.  It’s not that she went through the mechanical motions of sex to achieve what she wanted (a child), it’s that once the goal of having a child was established, it made her both horny and extremely orgasmic.  She didn’t distinguish the wanting of a child from the wanting of sex – it was one and the same.  And once conception occurred, desire returned to low baseline – no more goal.

           

          When examining this issue, you need to cut away the bullshit that people tell you – including the people involved.  People make up all sorts of excuses and rationales – and one must look carefully to see if the behavior matches the talk.  Because if it doesn’t, the talk is BS.  If the reason for low drive was exhaustion, hiring a full-time maid/nanny should make a woman horny.  Try it and see what happens.  I know I did.

        5. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,
          All your friends are single and therefore are not having the same thing everyday with the same man nor do they have easy access to a clean, known, already vetted source/supply of sex daily. 
          They just don’t have access to a “hot” option. I never wrote anything about vetted. The options they do have don’t appeal to them. One does have a boyfriend but she keeps breaking up with him because I get the feeling (though I haven’t asked) she’s not super jazzed about him.
          And, Adrian, I didn’t write that they didn’t want sex with their husbands when they were married. The one said it was hard to find the time.
          So Emily here is my question to you, what do you think a man that has been with the same woman for years should do to keep her desiring sex with him?
          Don’t be so accessible. The man should say no every now and then, too. Keep her guessing. If she knows it’s always there and always going to say yes ….

        6. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          I agree with you about women and excuses for not having sex.

          So let me ask you this, what are your thoughts on doing something similar to what Evan does having a mandatory sex night? Having a day where you have both have sex regardless? What are the pros and cons of doing that in your opinion?

          Also in your opinion what are ways for a man to get around losing interest sexually with his wife if they have been having sex regularly for years? Especially a handsome guy who works around a lot of young hot women that he knows wants him?

          One of my professors is a very handsome but older guy. His wife came to the university one day and unlike him she did not age well (grey hairs, wrinkles) and she has gained a noticeable amount of weight, plus she seems to dress so boring. Whereas the young college girls that openly flirt with our teacher have very attractive faces, sexy bodies, and dress to impress. I am not saying that he is cheating (he seems to not notice these girls as they are dry humping his leg) but I always wonder what I would do in that situation.

          Being with a woman who is obviously not trying to look hot for him and has physically diminished in her appeal while at the same time receiving constant offers from better looking women. Even if the guy is getting sex regularly from his wife what besides his own horniness keeps him excited about having sex with a wife that after years doesn’t try to be sex? What besides his own morality keeps him from straying? Guys like my professor don’t need porn when they have the lots of real options.

          What are your thoughts Jeremy?

        7. Alex

          @Jeremy, may I offer a perspective?

           

          We live in a culture where sex is part of one’s “marital duty”. Before marriage, it’s somehing you do because you want to, after marriage it’s just a thing you have to do. I think for many women a man’s desire shifts from something driven by his desire for HER specifically to something he can now ONLY get from her. This makes it seem like something she has to “take care of” much like chores. Only she can clean her house, only she can deal with her husbands desires.

           

          UNfortunately for him, this shift probably didn’t happen. It’s not always that women are trying to make excuses, it’s that our culture has very specific ideas about sex. I think if people understood this, if might make it easier for women to separate duty from desire and for men to make a special effort to make his wife feel desired for her own uniqueness and not because she is the only one he can turn to.

        8. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

           Guys like my professor don’t need porn when they have the lots of real options.

          I know this will floor you, but his wife has options, too. Anybody can cheat. If you want it, it’s out there. Everyone has options.

        9. Jeremy

          Adrian, you asked, “what are ways for a man to get around losing interest sexually with his wife if they have been having sex regularly for years? Especially a handsome guy who works around a lot of young hot women that he knows wants him?

           

          Here’s where understanding yourself really comes into play.  You’ve got to ask yourself a couple of tough questions: First, what is your sexual meta-goal?  If it is validation, what gives you validation?  Is it being desired and known by a person you consider attractive?  If so, you need a wife who is more attractive than you are.  If it is being found intelligent by someone whose intelligence you admire, you need a wife smarter than you are.  Validation flows downhill – from higher to lower – if that makes sense to you.  And if you are very attractive and in high demand from attractive women, you will experience perhaps more temptation than any except perhaps someone with the goal of novelty.

           

          Which leads me to question 2: How strong is your superego relative to your ego?  How much to you prioritize what you *should* want over what your gut tells you to want?  Which is stronger, your guilt or your frustration?  Because we feel guilty when thwarted over what we SHOULD want, but we feel frustration when we are thwarted over what we DO want.  In the depths of my marital problems, for example, I was sorely tempted to cheat.  I did not.  Not for lack of opportunity or ability, but because I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror if I had.  It would destroy the narrative of who I believe myself to be. That was stronger than any urges I might have felt to cheat, or anger I felt toward my spouse. But then, I’m not very dopaminergic and I tend to think through my actions before doing them.  Someone who likes to jump off a cliff with no pants on (to choose a random metaphor) would have greater difficulty with this.

           

          Consider your goals, consider the narrative of the life you want to live and the person you want to be, and examine the strength of your superego relative to your ego.  And there will be the answer of whether marriage is for you or not.

        10. Jeremy

          @Alex, that is fair, but ultimately just another excuse 🙂

           

          An excuse is a reason a person gives for not doing something they don’t want to do.  The woman (or man) who routinely turns down sex in marriage does so because they don’t want to.  Why don’t they want to?  They can think of any reason under the sun, and the more obscure the reason, the easier it will be for the low-desire spouse to explain when addressing the reason doesn’t work.  The spouse who blames low desire on lack of help with housework is almost never turned on by help with housework.  The spouse who blames low desire on lack of special efforts is almost never turned on by her husband’s special efforts – at least, not in the long-term because the more common special efforts are, the less special they are.  Ask me how I know.

           

          We all have excuses for things we don’t want to do.  They rarely matter to anyone but us.  One can not expect to have a precipitous drop in sex-drive and remain happily married.  The advice women give each other in this regard is highly flawed.

        11. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          Have I ever mentioned how much I LOOOVE talking to you! (^_^)

          Of course I know she has options!

          But Emily since you are a very visual person who always speaks about hotness like we men do you know how facial attractiveness and a sexy body matters with initial attraction.

          I don’t know how they both looked when they were in their 20’s or 30’s but now she is easily a 3 or a 4 on the SMV rating scale and he would be an easy 8 or 8.5 on the SMV rating scale. She looks 50ish he looks late 30 early 40ish. She is slightly but very noticeably overweight (protruding belly and love handles) with definite mother hips, he looks like he daily goes to the gym. She dresses like she works in a library or some old church lady, he dresses like he shops out of GQ catalogs. Her face is very average with a few wrinkles and lots of grays hairs mixed in with her original hair color, he looks like some kind of actor who could easily play the older hot guy or model for a magazine.

          So yes she has options but as YOU always say, those options are probably men that she would not be attracted to. Or at least I don’t think his and her options are equal as far as quality.

          I guess their relationship just fascinates me so much because you always hear about women needing to be the better looking one in the relationship (there was even a Ted talk about that) and this guy literally has young ridiculously hot girls coming on to him all the time. So I thought he must be married to some kind of model, but seeing his wife really shocked and confused me and the fact that he seems so faithful is really what surprises and motivates me.

          I guess I just really want to know what keeps him going back to his wife when he clearly has such hot options. But who knows as you say his wife could have models stopping her on the street to ask for her number all the time.

           

        12. Alex

          @Jeremy I see your reasoning, but I think you and I have a different definition of excuse.

           

          For me, an excuse is a bullshit reason. Whereas a reason is an actual Reason that can be addressed and overcome. I don’t quite get what your point is in this discussion. Are you saying there’s nothing women can do about this because we all have different meta goals and the best we can do is hope men who choose us will understand? What can a woman do in this case to have a good relationship? It sounds like you’re saying “not a whole lot”.

           

          I genuinely think that our cultural perceptions sometimes harm our relationships. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I also have a hard time understanding your idea of “meta goals” . Have I never actually wanted sex from any of my boyfriends, just something else? I can’t possibly know what that is. Maybe it was closeness? A healthy relationship? I have no idea, it just truly boggles my mind because I thought I wanted sex with a guy that I liked at the time. So I wanted to jump in and let you know I think you’re missing a piece. Or maybe I am. I sure know I understand men less than ever.

        13. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          But Emily since you are a very visual person who always speaks about hotness like we men do you know how facial attractiveness and a sexy body matters with initial attraction.

          I have written a lot about physical attraction, but I don’t equate it with physical attractiveness as you do. I have been wildly attracted to men who were 5s and mildly attracted to men who were 9s. Attraction is a hormonal, physiological response. It’s not something you decide based on someone’s level of attractiveness or if she’d make you look cool in front of your friends. You FEEL it … in your drawers. It’s not mental response. It’s not something you dissect and discuss in LONG paragraphs.

          So yes she has options but as YOU always say, those options are probably men that she would not be attracted to. Or at least I don’t think his and her options are equal as far as quality.

          That’s exclusively your opinion. Obviously, she’s doing something right in that she landed (and keeps) your professor. Maybe her other options would be attractive to her. I have a friend who talks about how cute her husband is. To me, he is a very average-looking older man. But who cares what I think? She’s not compromising or bemoaning in the mirror every morning, “Oh, I’m only a 5 and my husband is a 4. This is the best I could do.” She truly believes he’s hot.

        14. Jeremy

          Alex, I think you are misunderstanding my comments.  People are often slaves to their meta-goals, but don’t necessarily have to be.  A man who subconsciously craves novelty might consciously think he wants marriage and yet bail at any sight of intimacy.  He is a slave to his meta-goal because he refuses to own it.  If he introspected to realize that he doesn’t just want sex, he wants NOVELTY, then he could decide what sort of relationship he wants to pursue in light of that fact.

           

          Similarly, a woman who introspects and realizes that what she wants from sex is a relationship and kids should realize that once she gets the relationship and kids her desire will tank unless she takes steps to maintain it.  And those steps will be to not get too secure in the relationship and not to take it for granted.  Yet…the problem in those cases is that once these women get what they want, they value the relationship much less and don’t miss the sex once it’s gone.  Hence all the discussion of “duty sex.”  No woman wants to have duty sex.  No man wants to have sex with a woman who is just doing her duty.  But how many things in marriage do we do, not because we necessarily want to do them but because we love our spouses?  Such things are both a duty and a pleasure!  The women Mrs. Happy describes have both lost the sense of duty and the sense of pleasure.  They like being married in the sense of what they GET, but not what they GIVE.  That attitude is the problem, and it is common.  If that attitude is overcome, the meta-goal issue can also be overcome.

           

          My discussion of meta-goals has mostly been from the perspective of the higher-drive spouse trying to understand and alter the behavior of the lower drive spouse – and the higher-drive spouse’s options are pretty limited.  But if the lower-drive spouse were to take some introspective initiative – that person would not be powerless at all.

  20. 20
    Adrian

    Hi Julia and Emily,

    Emily said, “I don’t mean to be negative, but this guy wasn’t your friend. He treated you badly

    As much as it sucks what he did Emily I am not sure if him not being her friend is true or at least it is not completely true that he did not care for her.

    The impression that I am getting is of a man who did not know how to break the heart of a good woman, so he unintentionally became a jerk towards her…

    Hmmm… maybe a jerk and a coward.

    Julia said, “I still don’t really understand why he took such pains to deceive me about his relationship. If any men could weigh in on that, I’d appreciate it…

    Julia to answer your question I would need to ask you a few questions to get a better picture/profile of this guy’s character-would you mind that?

    Because right now I am getting the impression that he was a good guy who did care for you (just not as much as you cared for him) but many factors (including things you yourself admitted to doing) that keep his attraction/desire for you from increasing.

    However I will also say that it was mostly overwhelmingly more his issues than something you did, in fact I would hazard to say it was 98% his fault.

    But the quick answer is that he had internal conflict between his logical and emotional image of you and in the end he chose to follow his emotions/desires.

    1. 20.1
      Emily, the original

      Adrian,
      As much as it sucks what he did Emily I am not sure if him not being her friend is true or at least it is not completely true that he did not care for her.
      The impression that I am getting is of a man who did not know how to break the heart of a good woman, so he unintentionally became a jerk towards her…
      Hmmm… maybe a jerk and a coward.

      From the way I understood it, from Julia’s subsequent postings, is that he came on to her very intensely, acted extremely interested, then played hot and cold with her, telling her she needed to find him a girlfriend–who does that?– then kept her on the backburner while the other women was presumably in his life. No, he wasn’t her friend. He acted completely out of self interest. Jerk, yes. Coward, who cares? You don’t get to hide behind the “coward” justification. The reasons why don’t matter. The only thing that matters is what he did. Being passive and not taking action is as cruel as, well, being cruel. And, yes, before this is brought up, she herself should have walked.

      1. 20.1.1
        Marika

        Couldn’t agree more, Emily.

        Adrian, hopefully you can see from this how wanting to be ‘nice’ and not hurt someone’s feelings by dicking them around, not being honest and being all wishy-washy/a jerk on purpose messes with a woman’s (person’s?) head far more than just saying ‘this isn’t working’. The best break ups or non-continuation of dating experiences I’ve had, one or both of us just honestly expressed that it wasn’t working for us (preferably using Evan’s ‘sandwich’ rule). It stings, but then you move on.

        This kind of crappy behaviour hurts far more and gets replayed in your mind trying to figure out the nuances of all the mixed messages.

        I’m not a direct person generally, but in dating it’s the kindest way to go.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          hopefully you can see from this how wanting to be ‘nice’ and not hurt someone’s feelings by dicking them around, not being honest and being all wishy-washy/a jerk on purpose messes with a woman’s (person’s?) head far more than just saying ‘this isn’t working’  

          Yes. Sack up and be direct. It’s not easy to do, but have the decency to leave the situation with some dignity and concern for the other person. Don’t just let it drag on or slither away because you don’t want to deal with it. That’s weasel beahvior. This goes for men and women.

        2. Adrian

          Hi Marika,

          What is Evan’s sandwich rule?

          …   …   …

          Ah kind of off subject but what is the weirdest sandwich that you have heard of? Or are there any foods/meals that we Americans have that is weird to Australians?

          I ask because I just overheard someone talking today about a peanut butter and bacon sandwich… Sounds like Yuck!

        3. Clare

          Emily & Marika,

          Absolutely. The kindest beak ups, and the easiest ones to process and move on from, are the ones with a clear and consistently communicated message. People who are confused when they break it off with someone just end up inflicting a lot of pain. The pain of feeling like someone isn’t being direct with you is almost worse than the break up itself.

          Clarity allows us to be our best selves because it enables us to make decisions based on the facts. When we get half-truths from the other person, it is very difficult to determine what course of action is in our best interests. Aah… dating would be a much kinder place if only everyone behaved with integrity and responsibility!

      2. 20.1.2
        Emily, the original

        Hi Clare,

        The kindest beak ups, and the easiest ones to process and move on from, are the ones with a clear and consistently communicated message

        I agree. Now, I have been in situations in which I was clear. I told the guy I wanted to be over and I cut off all contact … and he wouldn’t go away. That’s equally as obnoxious as not being clear with someone. You have to accept someone’s decision, whether it’s what you want or not.

        1. Clare

          Emily,

          True! I have been in that situation too a couple of times. I was crystal clear about my lack of interest in the guy, and he just would not accept it. In a case like that, at least you can be sure you have done everything from your end, and if the guy keeps harassing you, you can take more extreme measures.

          Unfortunately, in my twenties, I have been on the other side of this too 🙁 unwilling to accept the decision of a guy who has told me he doesn’t want to go out with me any more. I learned a lot from this the painful, hard way, and these days, I have the strength and maturity to move on cleanly when a guy ends it.

        2. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          at least you can be sure you have done everything from your end, and if the guy keeps harassing you, you can take more extreme measures.
          I was thinking of one I worked with who I had to threaten with HR. He would not go away, and he was getting off on it. It’s like he was punishing me. So one day I tried a different tactic and just completely ignored him. He’d speak to me, even show up in my office, and I wouldn’t show any emotion on acknowledgement on my face. I’d just act as if he wasn’t there.
          Unfortunately, in my twenties, I have been on the other side of this too 🙁 unwilling to accept the decision of a guy who has told me he doesn’t want to go out with me any more. 
          Me, too. I did that in my 20s. I look back at it now and think … What was I doing? It was kind of pathetic.

    2. 20.2
      Adrian

      Hi Marika and Emily

      I agree what he did was wrong, he is a bad guy that wants to appear good.  I think Clare pretty accurately summed up why he did what he did.

      Since no one else has said it I guess I will be the bad guy and say it. I don’t think he was really physically attracted to Julia like she believes he was. She said they both had high chemistry but I think she had high desire for him and projected an equal desire herself from him. Or maybe I just can’t fathom a man being very attracted to a woman but not wanting make her his official girlfriend.

      I want to throw some hypotheses out there and see what you two think.

      I think that he overvalued his SMV and undervalued hers.

      1. Because he was in school to be a doctor so he knew he had status and therefore could attract a better looking women.

      2. Even though they were only 5 years apart he (like most of our American society) sees himself at 32 as young because he is so close to the 20’s and he sees her at 37 as old because she is close to 40. This also caused him to view her as being a lower value (at least if what I always read on here about older women being less desirable to men is true).

      3. He just got out of a relationship so she was a rebound for him… my guess based off his personality and some of the things YAG says is that he saw her as easy. Not easy as in having sex but easy as in his effort to get her compared to a more attractive woman. It also sounds like he used her as a rebound therapist and friend to help him get over his ex.

      What I disagree with is the notion floating around the comments that he started to distance himself because he found the other girl, I think he probably started to distance himself long before he met his new girlfriend. He was never attracted to Julia she was just something to distract him from his ex and rebuild his broken ego but once he saw she was a good hearted person he felt guilty for leading her on.

      Anyway here is my question for you two… I can’t understand why did he come on so strong in the beginning if he wasn’t really physically attracted to her or he wasn’t excited about  her looks?

      I ask this because since I have been on this blog this has popped up countless time… And I do mean countless!  A man comes on really strong and then fades, months later he is in a committed relationship with another woman. I don’t pursue women I am not “very” attracted to and if I am attracted to her I want to date her, but it seems that there are guys who strongly chase women they are not attracted to or who they are just “meh” about.

      Why?

      And Evan’s hypothesis about men looking for sex and finding love must have minimum conditions since it seems that many guys get the sex but still don’t want the woman, the relationship with her, or her love. What are those conditions? 99% of the stories involve women like Julia who made men wait for months or who were very guarded in the beginning so could it be that these men did desire these women but after having to work so hard they lost interest emotionally but physically still wanted the reward of sex for all the hard work they put into courting someone that gave so little back emotionally?

      I am just throwing out guesses because I don’t know…

      Again it seems weird to me for a guy to pursue a woman so hard and not really want her.

      1. 20.2.1
        Emily, the original

        Adrian,
        I am not “very” attracted to and if I am attracted to her I want to date her, but it seems that there are guys who strongly chase women they are not attracted to or who they are just “meh” about. Why?
        The same reason women say yes to dates and sex with men they feel “meh” about: That’s the option they have at the moment and they can’t stand having unclaimed nether regions.
        Adrian, at some point, I’d like to see you write about how there are OTHER reasons than just a woman’s appearance that a man could want to date her or chose her over another woman.

      2. 20.2.2
        Marika

        Adrian 

        You’re asking women why guys do the come-on-strong-then back off thing?? If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here!

        I also agree with Emily that you’re very hung up on looks. Have you never lost attraction to a hot person because they were bland/tedious/selfish? I know I have. A hot, fit woman does not necessarily a good partner make! I’m currently seeing a guy with a 6-pack. I actually like him in spite of the 6-pack. When I first saw that at the beach last weekend I thought ‘oh no, another gym obsessed meat-head’. He actually has a lot of depth and kindness, though, luckily, and is smart and musical. There is still some self absorbtion there I’m keeping my eye on, but we’ll see. I’d personally much rather be with a kind, giving, interesting guy with some flab than a selfish show pony with abs. Maybe some men care more about substance too 🙂

        I think many of us don’t know what we want. We think we want x, try it on for size, but it doesn’t necessarily work. That’s fine. That’s human. What isn’t fine is dragging things out and using people.

        The sandwich is you say something nice-then deliver bad news-then something nice after it. Yes, American food cops a lot of crap internationally. The oversized drinks, orange cheese, sandwich combinations like peanut butter and ‘jelly’ (jam).., up sizing everything

  21. 21
    Stacy

    To Jeremy,

    Having kids can and usually kills a woman’s sex drive and it is justifiable actually. However, it should only be for a short period.

    Imagine carrying around a kid for 9 (actually 10 months), you’re swollen, uncomfortable, have aversions to food (sometimes), feel pain half the time. Afterward, you have said kid and he/she gets up at least 4 times to suck the milk from your breasts and like most of us, you still have to wake up in the morning to get to work.  Add to that the overwhelming time it takes to raise a kid (unless you have a full time nanny). For  most women, it’s EXHAUSTING. And maybe you were an anomaly, but it is very difficult to feel hot when you can barely get sleep and your life is consumed with the kid. Shucks, even when they turned two or so, we couldn’t even get it on without being interrupted or there were nightmares or something or the other. And let’s not forget that most women still do the bulk of the housework, cooking, etc.

    So yeah, for women, having sex is the last thing your body or mind wants. However, it all gets better when they turn 5 or so.

    1. 21.1
      Jeremy

      Hi Stacy.  A couple of thoughts about your comment:

      1)  Of course I understand and agree that when a woman is acutely post-partum her sex drive would decrease for all sorts of hormonal and physical reasons.  I think most men understand this.  The question at the post-partum stage is, IMHO, more about her attitude than her actions.  There’s “honey I’m really tired but I love you and promise to do something nice for you later this week,” and then there’s “WTF is the matter with you?”

      2)  Once the child is no longer breastfeeding, the couple really needs to find time to resume sexual activity, whether or not either of them “feels hot”.  The result of not doing so can be the dissolution of the marriage.   When one of my kids was about 12 weeks old, my wife noticed that I looked a bit grumpy and asked me what was wrong.  I told her frankly, that I was feeling sexually frustrated.  She looked incredulous and said, “I’m only 12 weeks post-partum – I’ve never felt less sexual in my whole life –  and you’re horny?  How could you possibly be?”  And I replied (equally shocked) that “Just because YOU are feeling unwell doesn’t mean that I am.  I do my best to keep your needs and wants in mind, since they are so different from my own.  But you’d do well to understand that my needs are not the same as yours, and that while you understandably prioritize yourself and the baby right now, that doesn’t mean that my needs cease to exist.”  The solution is not for the man to watch porn and the woman to become asexual for years on end.  There are plenty of things a couple can do to keep the spark alive, even at that stage – and doing so is good advice.

       

      3) No matter how exhausted any of us is, we find the time to do the things we want to do.  So many of the women I’ve heard complain about their chronic fatigue somehow find the time to work out at the gym 2-3 times per week, go on Facebook, talk on the phone with friends – do the things that they enjoy doing.  If a person who is able to do the above things declines sex, it isn’t because they are tired.  It’s because they don’t want to.

       

      4) Finally, I really have a problem with the notion that “it all gets better when they turn 5 or so.”  There’s no evidence for that.  It *might* get better when they turn 5 and it might not.  Because a woman who has ignored her husband’s sexual needs for 5-6 years (as well as her own) will not suddenly want to jump his bones.  Her attitude will establish precedent, and there will likely be all sorts of resentment and compensatory behaviors in the marriage by then.   One should not let it reach that stage.

      1. 21.1.1
        Stacy

        Jeremy,

        Of course a woman should not ignore her husband sexually for 5 or 6 years (or even for a month).  Of course a couple should still try to have sex regardless of the kid(s). I am just saying though that the reality is, it is very difficult to have a natural sex drive (or feel sexy) when raising a kid post partum. Let’s not forget that breast feeding alone can last over a year for some.  I remember when I had my son, I literally did not get more than 2 hours of sleep for one entire year (not kidding).

        So the REALITY is, a woman’s sex drive DOES change. Now she has to decide what to do about it.  I am just presenting to you that it is difficult. And you have to understand that she may not WANT to have sex and that makes it difficult. Yet, as a woman, you are supposed to persevere and understand that you have a husband who has sexual desires so yeah, you still are supposed to do ‘it’. But speaking from experience, it’s tough to get into something when your body feels like shutting down.

        A GOOD husband should bear the load of raising the child and the housework. You want more sex?  Contribute more. And no, I am not blaming men or pointing fingers, I am simply outlining what will work.  I am in my late 30s and grew up with a father who only worked, didnt lift a finger around the house while my mother cooked, cleaned and raised three kids. It’s hard to want to face a penis at the end of the day when all you want is 2 minutes to yourself. It may sound old fashioned but I still meet many men who has this idea that woman should bear most of the responsibilities of raising the kid (AND hold a job).

        So, you want her to WANT it, then help out more instead of deciding that she should still DO it regardless of how she feels.

        1. Jeremy

          I assume you are using the generic “You” and not referring to me.  I agree with everything you just wrote except for the assumption that having a husband who DOES “raise a finger” (and more) to help with home and childcare will necessarily change anything about desire.  It does not.  And that fact does not change the responsibility of the man to help out in any way he can.

        2. Mrs Happy

          Reading all this makes me remember old-fashioned advice about marriage and duty sex.  I think those oldies had attitudes different to modern people’s.  I’ve books from the 1800’s talking about a wife’s sexual duties being the”price” she pays for a home and children (which the husband provides).  Three big cultural shifts later – the idea women should enjoy sex, women are now socially accepted as single parents raising kids outside the nuclear family structure thus don’t need the husband, and women earn money thus can run the house without a husband – and in 2017 there seem to be legions of sexually dissatisfied married men who aren’t having sex anywhere near as often as they want to.  Taking away the idea of duty sex, means wives do not think they have to have sex when they don’t want to.  I don’t know any women outside my staunchly Catholic friends who believe it is their duty to consent to unwanted marital sex.  It’s a huge cultural shift.

      2. 21.1.2
        Buck25

        Jeremy, et al,

        My first marriage aside, (and that particular woman was mentally ill,) I never encountered that despite raising young children (from their prior marriages) with both my second and third wives. Both their libidos were quite intact, and I can’t say I was ever deprived of sex with either. Evidently, I must have been lucky; perhaps this problem (if as prevalent and severe as most here indicate), accounts for a lot of men either cheating, leaving, or eventually both. I don’t think I would have cheated in your situation,  Jeremy, but I probably would have left, and then sought other women; I suppose you’re more patient than I am. If it’s that bad for most of you, makes me glad I’m not young anymore.

        I am curious on one other thing. Julia, the OP, remarked in her follow up that the guy in question left almost immediately after having first-time sex with her, in spite of knowing that this was the first sex for her in several years. Is this common (and perhaps expected male behavior in the younger generations  these days? I ask, because I’ve always felt it normal  and customary to stay the night with a woman after having sex, especially the first time, and most especially if I knew she had not recently been sexually active (something that is pretty common in the 50+ age group of women I usually date; many have not had sex in five years or more , following either divorce or loss of a husband). For a man to leave immediately after sex in those circumstances strikes me as especially rude and uncaring (at least, it used to be considered that). Has there been a generational  shift in mores on this point? Anyone who wants to enlighten me, feel free to chime in. Like YAG, I find this place often leaves me with more questions, than answers

        1. Mrs Happy

          Buck,

          I’m not in the younger generation, I’m 44, but I was dating until a decade ago, and if a man had needlessly got up and left straight after our 1st sexual encounter, I would break up with him.  It’s appalling behaviour, but wonderful information, i.e. this guy is selfish and not at all in tune with my needs.  But I’ve always preferred men who treat me nicely, and not put up with anything less; I know women who would make excuses for such behaviour and put up with it. Then 12 months/years later they’re complaining that their partner is selfish.  Duh!  Screen better initially ladies.  Sometimes I think I should run workshops.

  22. 22
    Kitty

    Mrs. Happy,

    It was also more socially acceptable in those days for men, whether single or married, to visit prostitutes when if they couldn’t find a less expensive, low-hassle alternative.

    As for the whole childbirth recovery thing I’ve never had a baby so I can’t directly relate to what it feels like down there afterwards but unless the wife is recovering from a c-section isn’t a blow job a viable option?

    1. 22.1
      Mrs Happy

      Kitty,

      I don’t know whether it was once-upon-a-time more socially acceptable to visit prostitutes, than it is now.  I’ve never seen statistics on that.  I think prostitution is legal in more places now than it used to be.

      I do think that until 2 generations ago, a heterosexual man’s most reliable source of regular sex, was from a wife; there wasn’t easy access to dating/one-night stand/girlfriend sex.  Regular sex, and someone to bring up the kids and keep house, were I suspect the main reasons a man married.

      Regarding your blow job idea, the women in question don’t want to have regular sex, they don’t want to perform oral (which is more effort than regular), or any other sexual activity variation.  They are over sex.  They do not want to have sex at all, or maybe just every now and then.  They have sex when they feel they must, begrudgingly and rarely, to keep their husbands from leaving the marriage, because they want their children’s father around, and their life is a realistically better and easier with 2 incomes and 2 parents, or just his high income if they don’t work.

      Last weekend a few girlfriends were telling me that their fantasy is living in a commune with other women and all the kids, they have so little in common with their husbands, so little connection, such non-existent sex drives. (They won’t really live in a commune, they’re all wealthy and wouldn’t last a day in any commune without their cleaners, nannies, etc.)

      Note, this is not my inner world, it is that of some friends, but it’s not that unusual to have divergent sex lives and divergent priorities in marriage.  Honestly Kitty when there is this degree of disconnection, a blow job is the last thing on a wife’s list of things she wants to do.   Stacy’s comments above indicate how tired, how overwhelmed, a mother is; she does not want sex, she wants sleep, a shower, a massage, a few minutes to herself, to not be answerable to someone for just a moment.  She really, really doesn’t want to give blow jobs.

      As soon as children arrive, the focus for each adult, isn’t on the other adult and themselves any more.  This is something many men cannot cope with; they want their wife’s time and love and energy and care, and they hardly get any of this for the 1st 12+ months. It is a difficult 12+ months for new mothers and fathers and it sows the seeds for much marital dissatisfaction.  I think most couples’ sex lives never return to what they were pre children.

    2. 22.2
      Emily, the original

      Mrs. Happy

      Regarding your blow job idea, the women in question don’t want to have regular sex, they don’t want to perform oral (which is more effort than regular), or any other sexual activity variation.  They are over sex.  They do not want to have sex at all, or maybe just every now and then.  They have sex when they feel they must, begrudgingly and rarely, to keep their husbands from leaving the marriage, because they want their children’s father around, and their life is a realistically better and easier with 2 incomes and 2 parents, or just his high income if they don’t work.

      It’s interesting to read this because the conversation I have with my female friends is so different. We talk about the hot sex we’ve had, and, OMG, are we ever going to have it again before we get off this planet? Are we ever going to meet available men we want to have sex with, etc.?

  23. 23
    Kitty

    I don’t know whether it was once-upon-a-time more socially acceptable to visit prostitutes, than it is now.  I’ve never seen statistics on that.  I think prostitution is legal in more places now than it used to be.

    You might be interested in the history of legal red light districts such as Storyville in New Orleans and Yoshiwara in Tokyo.  Or legal brothels in the Old West.  Visiting prostitutes was often a shameful topic that people didn’t like to talk about, sort of like porn is today, but everyone but the most naive knew that it was  a part of many men’s lives though the extent of it depended on the individual.  True, wives were cheaper than whores, and there were also more cultural incentives for men to get married and stay married.

  24. 24
    Chris

    @Mrs Happy, its common knowledge that a woman’s libido is probably going to decrease markedly after a few years of marriage, especially after having children, and its very hard to being it back. Yet so many men continue to get married. The power of love I suppose.

    1. 24.1
      Stacy

      @Chris,

      Well, I can’t relate to this. My sex drive came back TENFOLD after my kids got a tat older. Eh…

      Then again, I do think that exercising regularly, eating right, and taking care of myself plays a big part. It’s all about accepting that you aren’t ONLY a mom.

      But to be honest, sex drives for the spouse tends to go down in general anyway over time in long term relationships (which would of course include marriage).

      1. 24.1.1
        Jeremy

        Stacy, your drive went up 10x after your kids got older, but was that with your former partner or just in general (no need to answer if it is too personal, I don’t mean to be intrusive)?  I have no doubt that sex drive can return once kids get older, but there’s a huge difference between a person’s capacity for sex-drive and their sex-drive with one particular person.  Based on my limited observations and reading, there’s no reason to believe that once a spouse loses sex drive for the other spouse, that that attraction for the specific person will ever return.  Hence my advice to women to not let the attraction to the spouse decrease and to ignore the advice that women give them about what is “normal”.  And hence my advice to men to ignore any promises of how their sex life will return to normal once the child is 5 or so.

        1. Stacy

          @Jeremy

          Not intrusive at all. I must admit that my sex drive went up in general and not specifically for my ex husband. But I think that has more to do with him ending up being unsavory in certain ways that led to our divorce.

          The reason my sex drive changed after having kids had nothing to do with the man imo, but rather, just the process of having the kids and raising them soon after was incredibly EXHAUSTING. Ask the average mom and I believe she will echo my sentiment. I don’t think many men understand because frankly, they don’t share the ‘burden’ equally. And there is no way one’s sex drive will be existent if exhaustion is part of the equation. When I was married, I had to fake it till I made it because I knew it wasn’t fair to him but still…

  25. 25
    Stacy

    should be, ‘the sex drive for a significant other…’

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