My Belated Thoughts on Aziz Ansari and Sexual Consent

I didn’t write about the Aziz Ansari thing for a reason. There was no benefit to inserting my thoughts into a hot conversation, especially after I tried after #MeToo broke.

But I did have some thoughts that are worth a brief mention:

The story itself was about two differing views of consent.

Ansari views sexual consent as a silent contract. Man makes a move to kiss a woman, woman kisses him back. Things heat up. Man reaches for her shirt. Woman hesitates but silently lets him remove it. Later, he reaches for her belt and she motions for him to stop. He tries one more time and she stops him more firmly with a verbal “No.” That’s how things have worked for, well, forever. It’s an imperfect system, to be sure, especially when alcohol is involved, but since sex is mostly a nonverbal exchange, it’s the way most of us negotiate it. Body language works to a point, and when it fails, you rely on your words and your legs to walk out of an uncomfortable situation.

Body language works to a point, and when it fails, you rely on your words and your legs to walk out of an uncomfortable situation.

Grace, who outed Ansari on Babe.net, views sexual consent as verbal. Even though it appeared to be a normal hookup to Ansari – he picked her up at a party she went to with another guy, she went down on him, he went down on her, Grace felt uncomfortable and asked Ansari to slow down. He did, turned on the TV, and then started up again, aggressively. But Grace never said no. She never walked out of his place. She expected Ansari to pick up on her discomfort and stop even though she never clearly voiced her outrage. Grace’s standards were “affirmative consent.” In other words, if she doesn’t explicitly say “yes” to his physical advances, he should advance no further.

Without passing judgment on either, the primary problem here are the different definitions of how sex should be navigated. Should Ansari have been more attuned to Grace’s feelings without her having to say so? Probably. Should Grace have been firmer in saying no to Ansari when she felt he was being too aggressive. Probably. The question is not whether anyone is at fault, but rather, how can single people expect to find a partner in the future without destroying each others’ lives?

The question is not whether anyone is at fault, but rather, how can single people expect to find a partner in the future without destroying each others’ lives?

Grace feels traumatized, even though many women would classify her experience as a bad date.

Ansari has had his embarrassing private behavior outed and has lain low since. The first thing that pops up when you Google him is the article about his sexual exploits.

Should sex be as explicit as “May I take off your bra?” to avoid confusion? Or does asking for permission for everything ruin the sexual experience itself? Is it worth it to dampen the sexual experience in order to prevent sexual assault? Or is that like putting speedbumps on a freeway?

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated. Oh, and I originally started writing this article to alert you to an interesting piece called 45 Stories of Sex and Consent on Campus, in which people tell their first-person tales of unwanted and uncomfortable sexual situations in college.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Adrian

    This is one of the many times I really wish that “Emily the original” still commented on this blog.

    Because honestly I hear so many women say that a man who has to ask for permission about making a move is automatically disqualified in their book as someone they would date-his asking her permission causes her to lose attraction.

    And yes this next statement is something the majority of the female readers will probably never agree with me on but I have personally heard as well as read comments from many women who admit to losing instant desire/attraction for a guy if he completely stops pursuit after she rebuffs his efforts to have “consensual” sex. In other words maybe not sex but she still wants to makeout with heavy kissing, touching, and possibly oral.

    The fact that Aziz and this woman both already had oral sex makes it even more of a conundrum. Because logically I understand what Aziz was probably thinking (and it WASN’T rape) but morally I agree with the accuser, she pushed his hand away so that was a clear NO in my book.

    The problem comes in with all the women I know of who (especially on forums where they can be anonymous) have said that men who would have completely stopped trying would have been viewed as weak, soft, beta-whatever word you want to use-and she would have not given him a second chance after they parted.

    So my question would be how would a guy know when he is told by the media and his mother, grandmother, etc one thing about what is sexually attractive to a woman (verbally asking her for permission) but hear the actual type of women he wants to date admit to sexually desiring something completely different (taking charge, knowing what to do without her having to tell him)?

    Oh and just to be triple clear: I am not condoning rape, nor forcing a woman in any manner.

    1. 1.1
      Sandra

      Because many of these ( usually very young) women want college administrators, or whoever, to rectify or supervise their poor dating choices.

      I went to the “45 Stories” link and browsed a few of them.  There were some very unpleasant accounts, but many of these women went back for more and did not take full responsibility for their own actions.

      They need to start reading Camille Paglia or enroll in an all-female college so these things won’t happen.

      1. 1.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Sandra,

        Hmmm… I agree that hookup culture seems to be more of a younger generation thing and that many women may not know the difference between a man being a clueless about the opposite sex verses just being a predator.

        But I think it alludes to a bigger problem of women being taught what should attract a good woman to a good man verse what actually attracts a woman to any man.

      2. 1.1.2
        Selena

        I read the 45 Stories, and in nearly all of them both parties were drunk at the time of the sexual encounter. Some of the encounters occurred between friends. Some didn’t seem to think  it inappropriate to sleep in the same bed…especially if they were too drunk to go home.

        Consent appeared to be tacit. The regret came the next day with the realization that they had sex with someone they would not have had they been sober.

        The lesson in managing one’s alcohol consumption seemed irrelevant to the respondents.

        If one can’t trust themselves to give consent while drunk, why would they trust someone who is also drunk to not accept their consent?

    2. 1.2
      Nissa

      @ Adrian women who admit to losing instant desire/attraction for a guy if he completely stops pursuit after she rebuffs his efforts to have “consensual” sex. 

      I have never heard such a thing in my life. If a woman is not willing to be vulnerable enough to tell a man what she wants, that’s on her. Expecting a man to be a mind reader is unreasonable.

      Simple fix: if a man is unsure, he can say: I would like to X, Y, Z. If she does not make any statement about that, he can say: Would you like that (smiling and looking her in the eye)? This opens the door for a verbal or non verbal response. A smile and nod is a “proceed slowly”. A look away or down, a frown or a flinch is a “no, but I’m afraid to say it”. It changes his words from asking a question for permission that sounds unsure or lacking in confidence (which IS unattractive), to being a confident statement about his intentions and desires. The following question is about not permission, but asking what feels good to her, so he can take action based on where she is comfortable.

      That said, women aren’t always reasonable or consistent. A lot of women have a habit of disowning their own desires and genuinely do want a man to proceed without her having to make a verbal response, because then she has plausible deniability about her level of accountability for the event. She can say she was just going along with what he wanted and not have to admit she also wanted sex. Or, it seems “too blunt” if he uses words – and she loses her plausible deniability. Some women have poor boundaries (like the woman in the post) and are too busy blaming the other person to be accountable for their part. If a woman is disappointed that a man stops pursuing once she has said no, then she needs to do something about her feelings – either ask him for an action (my pants stay on, but kiss me again!), do an action (grab hand and place it on her X), tell him which part you like (you have amazing X or Y, I love how X feels against my Y) or give him a timeline (I need a minute – some time to figure out where I’m at with this).

      It’s fair to give the guy something on which to base his actions.

      1. 1.2.1
        Adrian

        Nissa I think it all boils down to desire. The more a woman desires a man the MORE he can get away with and the LESS she requires of him.

        To paraphrase Yet Another Guy “After a guy is told to by a woman he is courting that she wants to wait or go slow sexually but he learns that she allowed other guys easy quick access without any courting or obstacles; he quickly learns his place on the dating hierarchy.”

        To some women when a guy she is really sexually attracted to makes a bold sexual move without asking it is seen as him being a desirable man who knows what he wants, while a guy who she thinks is nice but her sexual attraction towards him is average, then when he makes the same move she is repulsed and feels disrespected/volated.

        Same act, same circumstance but different level of desirability, one guy she is okay with having sex with on the first date and one guy she makes court her for months. So to a great extent it all really depends on how sexually attracted to a guy a woman is to determine if she will see his actions as sexually inappropriate or not.

        1. Nissa

          I can only say, I don’t do this. I’m not having sex on the first, second, third or fourth date with anyone. Period. Any guy that makes it that far in my dating process means I’m seriously interested and attracted. But he’s still a stranger. He’s still someone I barely know.

          I find it incredibly hard to believe that I am the only woman for whom consistency is the norm, not the exception.

        2. S. (with a period)

          Nissa, I’m with you. You’re not the only one.  I think sometimes a man thinks he’ll overwhelm me with desire and I’ll do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Nope.

          Even if I did? I’d only regret it and I haven’t regretted anything sexually yet and would rather not. So it still wouldn’t work.

          A woman has sex when she wants to.  Just like a man gets into a relationship when he wants to.  Overwhelming desire rarely changes these things.

          If you’re not a person to have sex early, you’re just not.  Doesn’t matter how hot he is or how much you want him.  You made a decision long before you met him and you stick to it.  It’s just what’s best for you.

          Goodness. Sometimes on this board I feel we have the same exact conversations over and over.  It hardly ever feels like it gets anywhere. I know I have said this many times.  And I know the men who don’t believe me still won’t no matter how many times I type it. Sigh.  Just wanted to let you know it wasn’t just you, Nissa.

        3. Emily, the original

          S.,

          Goodness. Sometimes on this board I feel we have the same exact conversations over and over.  It hardly ever feels like it gets anywhere.

          Sometimes you think the topic of a post that is contentious, while not resolved, has at least died once we’ve moved on to new post. But, no! Like a bug that won’t die, the issue will resurface eight posts later — AS IF IT’S NEVER BEEN DISCUSSED– and will almost always have nothing to do with the new post!  🙂

        4. S. (with a period)

          Emily, yeah what is up with that? Different post, same comment. Over and over. Are mine just the same?  I have no idea.  I asked that once before, though. No response.  But heck if I don’t remember, I don’t expect anyone else to!

          The thing is I get it. I get the person’s point.  I hear them. I just don’t agree with them.  And the other thing is lived experience.  I believe people experiences. It’s just so vastly different than mine. I can’t believe in them both.  People are different.   I don’t feel particularly heard on this board, but that’s okay.  I hope I help others to feel heard, like Nissa.

          I love men. Always have, always will. Even though I don’t understand them.  Even if their desires and goals at times seem so opposed to my own.  Still love ’em.  Even when I understand them but wish things were different.  Why do I love men? ‘Cause I’ve known so many wonderful men. Not all romantically.  Not all that well.  But in general men have been tender, kind, generous, trustworthy, and good to me.  99.9%.

          I wish that got repeated here over and over. I wish the men on this board would hear that.  We honestly love you guys for who you are and it’s not misguided or because we don’t know ourselves.  Just accept the love!!!  Some things just . . . are, no analysis needed.

          🙂

        5. Emily, the original

          S.,
          Emily, yeah what is up with that? Different post, same comment. Over and over.
          And there’s never even the slightest hint that they’ve read other peoples’ comments and may be thought about some of those viewpoints and subsequently changed their own viewpoints, even slightly. Just a bunch of politicians pushing their own agenda. It’s like watching CSPAN!
            I don’t feel particularly heard on this board, but that’s okay.  
          Me, neither.
          Cause I’ve known so many wonderful men. Not all romantically.  Not all that well.  But in general men have been tender, kind, generous, trustworthy, and good to me.
          Me, too, but it wasn’t romantically. I think adding sex to the mix skews things. Our expectations, our wants, our needs. I don’t know. Suddenly what we expect becomes … enormous.

        6. S. (with a period)

          I don’t feel particularly heard on this board, but that’s okay.  
          Me, neither.

          I’m sorry to hear that. You comment way more than I do.  You’re trying. I hear you and try to comment back to you.  But sometimes for my peace of mind, I can’t get too far in the weeds on this blog.  I actually get further with people in real life. And that matters.

          Me, too, but it wasn’t romantically. I think adding sex to the mix skews things. Our expectations, our wants, our needs. I don’t know. Suddenly what we expect becomes … enormous.

          It’s hard for them not to. Sex is a big deal for most women. For men, I hear sometimes it is, sometimes not, they can have sex with women they don’t like–I’ve never heard a woman in real life say any of these things.

          I’ve been making some wonderful platonic friendships with men.  I’m not sure how to do that in a romantic relationship.  I simply may always have high expectations there.  And that’s okay.  They should be achievable, but it’s okay to be picky, to have standards. It just may take a really, really long time.  I probably won’t have biological kids–which I’m fine with–because a long time is a long time.

          But I’m not bitter. I still believe in love. I still believe in men. I still believe in marriage.  I wouldn’t trade that faith or that hope.   A lot can happen in almost 50 years of life.  I’m glad to have found some of the resiliency I thought I’d lost in my youth.

          I may be good with these male friends for now. I learn so much about men–men of color–that I don’t learn here.

          Some day men will hear that women really do love them as they are.  And I’ll find mine one day.  I’m absolutely sure of it.  That will be some story, I’m sure!

        7. sylvana

          S.

          I think there are a lot of influencers that determine how a woman feels about men, beginning with the father himself, and continuing through what they were told growing up, the culture they live in, and life experiences.

          A woman who has been taught to be fearful will always overreact to gestures that would otherwise feel harmless to other women.

          A woman like me (on the opposite extreme), will dismiss even some behavior (short of rape itself) that does fall under sexual assault with a shrug as being no more than totally annoying.

          But the way I was brought up, and throughout my life experiences, I have learned that I can absolutely trust men, in general, with my safety. And that, if one or a few threaten me in any way, I can always call on other men to protect me.

          Most women in the healthy middle are also not prone to “hysterics” (that’s what I like to call it). But there are always bad apples, of course, who will use them to gain something.

          I’m in the same boat as you: I absolutely love men.

          Then again, I’ve always been a tomboy. All my friends are and have always been men (except for 2), and sadly, I can’t relate to women at all.

          But my friendships with men have also given me a chance to get to know them in ways most other women won’t. And I think a lot of women would be surprised to know just how much the genders actually have in common.

          They get lonely. They are vulnerable. And a lot of them actually want to love. They are human beings with fears and feelings much like our own. Society just does not allow them to show it.

          I’m convinced that a lot of the attitude you see in women these days is straight up based in fear (fear of losing freedom, fear of losing safety, etc.). And the two qualities that I admire most about men – their willingness to fight and instinct to protect – lies at the bottom of those fears.

          Women fear what man are physically capable of, and are forgetting that a few drops of poison will fell even the strongest warrior.

          Attacking men for every little thing is not the way to empower women. It’s the mentality of victimhood. We need to teach women to use their own strengths instead.

          And to recognize that a huge number of good men are actually on our side (and a rather handy ally to have).

          Not to mention we need to start teaching some plain up common sense again.

          A simple example of misplaced outrage is the “exploitation” of women, for example. It’s easy to get mad at men for exploiting women. Yet women are the ones who make it possible. Start with your own sex (the enablers) if you want to change things so badly.

          Overall though: Yes. Men are wonderful. And there are many women who still feel that way. Just like there are many men who still love women.

          Don’t worry about trying to convince people who don’t want to listen, though. They’ve become so bitter, and have built so many walls around their emotions in order to not get hurt that there’s not much you can do to change it.

           

           

           

           

        8. sylvana

          @ Adrian,

          Reverse the genders, and you’ll find the same thing. A man will not mind a hot woman (or one he’s attracted to) rubbing up on him, or running her hands all over him, etc.

          But he’d certainly not appreciate a woman he finds unattractive doing the same. Men complain just as loudly about unattractive women coming on to them.

          This is exactly the same in both genders, only men don’t feel as physically threatened by women in general. And men do not have to worry about being considered “easy”.

          Both sexes are more likely to jump into bed quicker with a person they find more attractive. It’s only natural.

          As for making him wait…well, that comes from what is expected of women (in the US). The advice is to make him wait, so women play the darn game to please you men.

          The guy who she feels more attraction to might simply not have as many relationship qualities, so she decided to go for sex instead. Or, lord forbid, she simply let her hormones get the best of her.

          But if she does follow the dating “rules” of making a man wait, the one she actually does make wait actually ranks a heck of a lot higher on her “dating hierarchy”. He’s just lower on the “disposable sex” hierarchy.

          Don’t get upset because women are trying to adhere to these ridiculous dating rules. Overall, I think we’d have a lot easier time at dating if we’d start focusing a heck of a lot less of what women are “supposed” to do when it comes to sex. Honestly, who cares? Coming from Europe, this is something that has always baffled me, and seems to lead to nothing but confusion.

          Sex and dating for a woman is like navigating a darn minefield. Darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

           

           

           

        9. Emily, the original

          S.,
          I hear you and try to comment back to you.
          I hear you, too, and try to comment back.
          It’s hard for them not to. Sex is a big deal for most women. For men, I hear sometimes it is, sometimes not, they can have sex with women they don’t like–I’ve never heard a woman in real life say any of these things.
          I’ve had sex with men I didn’t like. I’ve had sex with men I wasn’t attracted to. The reasons are varied, but I don’t regret any experiences, just realize that a lot of them were about as memorable as a takeout pizza.
          I’ve been making some wonderful platonic friendships with men. 
          Those guy friends probably see you as a romantic possibility. I haven’t had a single male friend who didn’t think that of me. Despite the myth that men aren’t emotional, I think, for a lot of men, when they feel emotional closeness with a woman (as friends), they assume sexual closeness isn’t far behind. Of course, for women, that’s not always the case.
          And I’ll find mine one day.  I’m absolutely sure of it.  That will be some story, I’m sure!
          That’s absolutely the best attitude to have. If you believe it’s out there, you’ll find it. The people who eventually find it believe that and they don’t give up.

        10. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,
          I’m convinced that a lot of the attitude you see in women these days is straight up based in fear (fear of losing freedom, fear of losing safety, etc.). And the two qualities that I admire most about men – their willingness to fight and instinct to protect – lies at the bottom of those fears. … Women fear what man are physically capable of, and are forgetting that a few drops of poison will fell even the strongest warrior.
          I will admit that fear is a component in my attitude toward men — fear of losing my freedom, fear of having to settle, fear of being settled for, fear of letting my guard down (a big one) — but I have never feared for my physical safety. Maybe I’ve been lucky. I don’t fear men physically. I’ve seen this topic on this blog before, and unless a woman has been the victim of sexual assault, I’m baffled by it. There have been men who’ve creeped me out because they were super sleazy, but I wasn’t scared of them. I just wanted to get away. I don’t walk around worried that I’ll be harmed. Of course, I don’t court danger. I don’t invite it, but with some men, the more passive types, I think they fear me!   🙂

    3. 1.3
      Emily, the original

      Hi Adrian,

      An issue that no one is talking about is the fact that most women have had an experience like this. You’re half into the guy, you think why not?, you get in the room, and you don’t really want to be there. So you give a million mixed signals (if you read the article, the sexual “action” with Ansari started and stopped many times in the course of one night) or you do it quickly and get the hell out of there. She should never have gone back to his apartment, but no woman feels overwhelming desire at every sexual encounter, and sometimes you start getting sexual with a man  and you don’t like what he’s doing, which I think happened in the Ansari incident. She was half into him and, on top of that, his sexual technique was awful.

      1. 1.3.1
        Adrian

        Wow! Emily good to hear from you! (^_^)

        I hope everything is going well in your new town and with your new job.

        …   …   …

        You said, “You’re half into the guy, you think why not?

        I actually get this, women give a meh guy a chance to see if any sparks develop.

        you get in the room, and you don’t really want to be there.

        This I actually don’t get; why not just be verbal and tell him you want to leave? Why not just lie and make up an excuse to leave?… I am asking about women in general not specifically this woman.

        So you give a million mixed signals or you do it quickly and get the hell out of there.

        The mixed signals I get because a woman can be on the fence about your attraction for him but the oral sex and repeated making out I don’t get (again I am speaking about women in general not this specific woman).

        Why repeatedly makeout with a guy when you just want it get it over with?

        Why have any kind of sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with? I can understand a young 20 something feeling pressured or caught up in the momentum but does this happen with women over 35? Over 45? I guess the same parameters would apply to the first two questions: would situations like that happen with older women?

        1. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          This I actually don’t get; why not just be verbal and tell him you want to leave? Why not just lie and make up an excuse to leave?… I am asking about women in general not specifically this woman.

          Have you ever been to the doctor while he/she is performing an intimate, invasive test and he/she makes an off-color remark? And you want to call them on it but you are physically exposed, vulnerable, uncomfortable to the point of being clenched, and all you can think of is getting dressed and getting the hell out of there? You can’t verbalize how you feel until you process the event later on. It’s not possible. You shut down. That’s how it feels to be in one of these sexual situations.

          Why have any kind of sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with? I can understand a young 20 something feeling pressured or caught up in the momentum but does this happen with women over 35? Over 45?

          Happened to me in my 40s. I was so physically uncomfortable, I could barely move. And I didn’t handle it well when running into him later. What was I supposed to say, “That was the most awkward sexual experience of my life, and how is it that you couldn’t pick up on at least some of that and actually want to do it again? How could it not have been bad for you, too?”

        2. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,

          I hope everything is going well in your new town and with your new job.

          Hi. Thanks for asking. Hope you are good, too, with you new job. No, things are not going well. I just started applying for something else. I’m so stressed, Adrian, that my hair is shedding. It’s awful. I can’t have thinning hair. I’m a blonde!   🙂 I WANT OUT of this job.

        3. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          If I may ask what is it about the job that is so stressing?

          The people or the work?

          I remember we spoke often about how hard it is for both of us to make real friends as adults in a new town.

          You mentioned that your new co-workers were younger and not sociable; though if you’re that stressed I’m sure it’s more than just a socially cold workplace.

           

        4. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          If I may ask what is it about the job that is so stressing?

          It’s DEADLINE, DEADLINE, DEADLINE! every shift. You can’t be 1 minute late. There are times I am working so quickly, I barely know what I’m doing. And my workload is what they used to give three people.
          You mentioned that your new co-workers were younger and not sociable; though if you’re that stressed I’m sure it’s more than just a socially cold workplace.
          I have co-workers of all ages, actually. A handful I chat with but I wouldn’t call any of them friends. I’ve been there for almost 6 months, Adrian, and NOT ONE PERSON has asked me one question. Not “where are you from?” or “how do you like the area?” or “what part of town did you move into?” etc. That’s what I mean by cold.

      2. 1.3.2
        Buck25

        Emily, Adrian, Nissa, Sandra, et al,

        Whe I first heard the particulars of the “Grace”/Aziz Ansari affair. my first impulse was to laugh (and I would have, except that “Grace” really did get her feelings hurt, and Aziz got his reputation tarnished, and that side of it isn’t funny). My second impulse was to see both of them as rather pathetic. Let’s take Aziz first, since he’s the male lead in this little soap opera. Celebrity or not, if “Grace’s” account is to be believed (and there’s nothing to refute it), what we have here is a 34 year-old man exhibiting all the seduction skills of a rather unskilled and relatively inexperienced college sophomore at a frat house gang-bang. From the first rushing back to the apartment from the restaurant, to the hurried selection of wine (didn’t even ask what she preferred), he started with a nice job of making “Grace” feel really special. It’s one thing for a man’s intent to be obviously sexual (mine usually is) but quite another to send the message “Ok honey, hurry up and get your clothes off so I can screw you and get you out of here; after all, that’s what you came here for, and being a celebrity, I’m busy-my schedule and all that.” My, doesn’t that make anyone feel so warm and fuzzy? I’ll bet “Grace” really was getting the tingles after THAT warm-up! ( I wouldn’t treat an escort that way, personally).Then we go on to some mutual oral sex, on his part rather perfunctory, speaking of which, let me see, Aziz, you had her clothes off, or most of them, don’t you think you might have put just a bit more effort into going down on her, and oh, I don’t know, maybe given her an orgasm, or at least a better warm up for the main event? Nah, I guess not; too much effort for a celeb like you. By the by, nice technique for getting some lubrication, that two fingers down her throat thingie; why, any woman would surely appreciate that turn-on…NOT! Why did you need that anyway? What you did so far not get her wet? Gee, I’m so surprised! Then after you completely misread her body language, you offer to “chill on the couch”…only to start right back, before you gave her time to collect her wits? What’s the matter, kid, afraid if she had time to think she might bail? (I think most women of any sophistication would have, long before that). Then there’s all the other subsequent crude and clumsy attempts to screw her one way or another, until even a rather naive 23 year old decided you just weren’t worth it, and flat told you “No!”. To be honest, that’s about the worst seduction performance from a grown-ass man I have heard of in recent memory; you’re sure you’re thirty-four, Aziz? Tsk tsk, I could (and did ) do far better than that when I was twenty-four, and I didn’t know squat, compared to what I know now! Pathetic, and if you’re embarrassed, you should be! You think you’re a player? Stick to comedy!

        Now “Grace” it’s your turn. I realize that whole idea of dating, maybe even screwing an celebrity, and better yet, an apparently mature and sophisticated “older man” (still young enough to be attractive to you, but old enough to be much better than the socially clueless dweebs you commonly date among your own age cohort), is a big thrill. My, you must have been flattered; no wonder you eagerly gave him your number! Quite a heady prospect for a girl of 23 in a big city full of beautiful women; a night of romance, maybe even memorable sex with a real man, and a celebrity yet; a night to brag about to your girlfriends. Of course, in all the excitement, you forgot all about your boundaries (weak and inconsistent though they were); after all who need boundaries, when you have an opportunity like this, right? Well, they didn’t matter until Mr Older Celebrity proved not to be quite the charming oh-so-romantic, experienced seducer and expert lover you imagined. Your first clue should have been the rush to get back to his apartment. That should have set your radar off right there; a real experienced seducer takes his time; he never rushes; but you, in your naiveté, or maybe the excitement of the moment, missed that one. Your next clue, as mentioned before was that he couldn’t wait to pour your wine, without even asking what you’d like. At that point you were being treated like any pump-and dump groupie. If you had some sound boundaries and self-esteem you would have picked up on that distinctly second-class treatment… Oh well…the awkward seduction, and the very brief oral he gave you in return for your own efforts (you did make a decent on, right?), and the further attempts to “get down to business”, would have made most women with real boundaries perhaps decide to feign “not feeling well” (always a good excuse) and call it a night. Not you though; you let it go until it got really really uncomfortable for you before trying to get some breathing room and figure out why this wasn’t turning out the way you hoped. The “Chill on the couch” bit was another missed opportunity to excuse yourself and ask for a ride home, but instead, hoping against hope, you ignored the red flag that came directly after. I’m sorry, “Grace”, but any self-respecting woman with solid consistent boundaries (the kind that apply no matter who the man is), would have called a screeching halt to the proceedings, then and there! You should have too, but you didn’t until things got so uncomfortable for you that you finally had to just say NO (how many times did Ansari have to miss or ignore your non-verbal signals, for you to realize you needed to directly verbalize the word, like NOW? Why not? Because he was a celebrity? Because he was a hot, older man? Because you kept hoping for that “night to remember” in spite of every bit of evidence to the contrary that started early and kept piling up? I’m sorry you were upset. I’m sorry you went home crying, I really am. But “Grace”, It could have been worse, far worse. This time you weren’t raped, or even assaulted, really; you just felt used and really bad. Next time you throw boundaries and caution to the wind, you might not be so lucky, and the worst part is, it will be at least partially your own fault. The next time you expect a grown man to ask what’s ok each step of the way, like they made the boys in college do, you may find the real world doesn’t work like that (and isn’t going to, as long as many women deny and refuse to own their own desires, and demand men initiate and push everything sexual, so those same women can tell themselves (as a sort of anti-slut-shaming defense) that “after all, HE made me do that!”) If you women want men to protect you from your own poor or non-existent boundaries, then either stop slut-shaming one another, so you won’t have to pretend you don’t want sex when you really do, or stop the damn charade of “No sometimes means maybe”, and ALL of you try actually owning your own sexuality and your own agency with regard to same. Until then, as long as many women keep rejecting men for “not taking charge” with regard to sex, your “affirmative consent” with men asking what you’re ok with each step of the way, is not going to be happening. All you ladies need to make up your minds as to which way you want it, because you can’t have it both ways, and we men aren’t mindreaders!

        Until then Gracie, Aziz is maybe a little worse than you, but only a little. I say that because he should be old enough to know better than to handle himself they way he did that evening. However you aren’t far behind him, and you brought most of the stuff you feel bad about on yourself.

        1. KK

          Agreed, Buck. They’re both idiots.

        2. Emily, the original

          Buck25,

          Agree with your assessment. He had HORRIBLE sexual technique (though I don’t agree that a man has to always take his time. Sometimes he can take TOO much time.   🙂   15 minutes of hot and sweaty can sometimes be better than 2 hours of tediously slow. )

          And Grace had a million opportunities to leave, which she should have. I don’t know why the article was even published. It was a bad sexual encounter. Chalk it up to that.

    4. 1.4
      Emily, the original

      Adrian,
      Because honestly I hear so many women say that a man who has to ask for permission about making a move is automatically disqualified in their book as someone they would date-his asking her permission causes her to lose attraction.
      Yes. But that’s me. I can’t speak for all women. I don’t want a man to ask permission and I also don’t want to talk about it ahead of time.  Some guys want to talk about sex and what they like before the first sexual encounter. I think graphic sexual talk with someone you don’t know well is a turn off. Plus, I like to be surprised.  🙂
       I have personally heard as well as read comments from many women who admit to losing instant desire/attraction for a guy if he completely stops pursuit after she rebuffs his efforts to have “consensual” sex.
      I’m not sure what you mean by this. I could see a woman saying, after some heavy making out, that she wasn’t ready to do everything but still want to do some things. But would a “I’m not ready to do everything tonight” be seen as a rebuff by a man  ?

      1. 1.4.1
        Adrian

        Emily said, “I’m not sure what you mean by this. I could see a woman saying, after some heavy making out, that she wasn’t ready to do everything but still want to do some things.

        This is exactly what I meant. Except as you see from the story and as we guys have been saying for years most women are not direct and vocal about their wants in new relationships. If she signals she is uncomfortable we think she is uncomfortable with it all.

        But would a “I’m not ready to do everything tonight” be seen as a rebuff by a man?

        This I can’t answer because it is guy specific. I will say that most guys if a woman directly says, “making out is okay but I am not ready to go all the way tonight,” the majority of us would be okay with that.

        But if a woman gives non-verbal signals that she is not okay with a guy trying to escalate the passionate make out to the sexual stage, he would take it as she is uncomfortable with everything so he would stop everything to not make her feel forced.

        Again it is about the guy’s ability to read non-verbal signals and the woman’s ability to give those signals. I’ve had women move my hand when I try to reach under their shirt but 2 seconds later pull my face in closer hard and kiss me more passionately which to me translated to okay she likes this, she likes me but she is not ready for more yet.

        1. Emily, the original

          Adrian,
          This I can’t answer because it is guy specific. I will say that most guys if a woman directly says, “making out is okay but I am not ready to go all the way tonight,” the majority of us would be okay with that.
          I’ve actually said something similar. The sex happened the next date. I just wasn’t ready to do it that night (was that time of the month and I did not want to have to explain that to someone I’d known for 2 weeks. Talk about a mood killer.  🙂   )
          But if a woman gives non-verbal signals that she is not okay with a guy trying to escalate the passionate make out to the sexual stage, he would take it as she is uncomfortable with everything so he would stop everything to not make her feel forced.
          That makes sense. I can see where the communication wires could get crossed.

        2. Adrian

          Emily said, “I’ve actually said something similar. The sex happened the next date. I just wasn’t ready to do it that night 

          As a lot of commenters have already stated it all comes down to a person’s ability to read the non-verbal cues of the other person. Unfortunately I think women OVERestimate men’s ability to read subtle cues, intentions, and gestures.

          In your opinion is it easy to differentiate the “non-verbal” cues that signal that she is not attracted to you enough to have sex though she is making out with you (like the Aziz situation) and the “non-verbal” cues that signal that she is attracted to you but just not willing to have sex now (like your situation)?

        3. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          In your opinion is it easy to differentiate the “non-verbal” cues that signal that she is not attracted to you enough to have sex though she is making out with you (like the Aziz situation) and the “non-verbal” cues that signal that she is attracted to you but just not willing to have sex now (like your situation)?

          I don’t know how attracted that woman was to Aziz Ansari, and sometimes it’s not a matter of attraction. For the guy I mentioned, I was very attracted to him. Infatuated, even. But I’d gotten it into my head that I should “date” someone instead of hopping into bed.

          Nonverbal ques that he picked up on — I was at his house late at night “watching a movie.” Sat closely next to him on the couch. Later, he told me he knew something would go down because I got up and started closing the blinds. After the movie was over, he came at me. I wanted him to.

          I honestly thought we’d just make out. As I wrote, I was “indisposed” to do everything. But then something happened I wasn’t expecting … it was extremely hot. The hottest I’d had in a decade. Some of the hottest in my life. And it went a lot further a lot faster than I expected. That level of attraction and sexual compatibility is very, very rare.

  2. 2
    Yet Another Guy

    @Evan

    This story is messed up in so ways.  Grace got what she deserved.  She disrespected her date and got disrespected in return.  Most men would have behaved the way that Aziz behaved given the situation.  Flirting with a man and giving him your telephone number while out on a date with another man demonstrates a lack of respect for oneself and others.  It is slutty behavior.

    1. 2.1
      Adrian

      Yet Another Guy said, “Grace got what she deserved.

      I disagree with this, from my understanding of what Evan said (I did not read the article) they were both just two people who sucked at reading the other person’s wants and telling the other person what they wanted.

      Plus as Emily said many women are in situations like that where they were on the fence about a guy it escalated to fast.

      1. 2.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Adrian

        I am a sorry, but a woman who flirts with and gives her number to another man while on a date with a different man does not deserve respect from any man. That move demonstrated that Grace is not above cuckolding a man. Think about how you would read that situation? To make matters worse, Grace then sent a ton of mixed signals after the two got together.  In my humble opinion, she has no right to complain about Aziz’s behavior.

        Here’s the thing.  At any time, Grace could have gotten up and left, which is what she should have done. Yet, she continued to the play the game. That is a case of wanting to have one’s cake and eat it too.  She wanted to call the shots, but knew that Aziz was not going to play by her rules.  Why? It goes back to giving him her telephone number while she was on a date with another man.   That is a “I want to fuck you badly enough that I am willing to cuckold the man I am with to do it” move, and that is how most experienced men would read it.  No self-respecting guy is going to treat a woman who makes that move as anything other than easy sex.

        1. sylvana

          As opposed to the piece of sh** man who took her away from the other man? How come you’re not attacking his behavior? Because it’s natural for him to conquer? Just like it is natural for her to go for the best male?

          Get real!

          No self-respecting man should even go for a “slut” like that. Way too easy. If he has so little self-control that he cannot resist a woman who throws herself at him, that isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

          And no self-respecting man would feel the need to keep pushing himself on a woman if she no longer seems all that into it. He would have enough respect for himself to not put himself into a possibly compromising position.

          I’m not saying I’m on her side, because I’m not (for reasons that have nothing to do with her being a “slut”). I just find it interesting that you’re all over attacking her for basically cuckolding, but he gets way free and clear, when he’s doing the same. At least attack both of them.

          Both did wrong. Neither got up and left. They’re both at fault equally here.

           

  3. 3
    Gala

    I once hooked up with a younger guy who was raised in the “affirmative conscent” era and he literally asked me if it was ok to do every single thing. As in “Can i unhook your bra”. At some point i had to stop and said “man they really fucked you up with this affirmative conscent, didn’t they?”. Total buzzkill. All i can say it – i am truly sorry for the generation of younger women. Their mothers have failed them (as they did not teach their daughters how to handle unwanted advances) and their men are more confused than ever. Oh well, at 36 i can cross this problem off my list.

    1. 3.1
      Amber

      Thank you. I am about to be 38 and am thoroughly confused about wtf is with some of these women.
      Besides situations of ACTUAL assault, rape, power imbalance/threats that could actually devastate someone’s career (Weinstein, etc–though I do take issue with SO MANY in the industry allowing his behavior for so long, when clearly he wasn’t invincible.), or the day-to-day assaults that happen outside of the public eye to women/men who need their jobs to literally survive.
      However, all that being said, as a mother raising both a boy and a girl, I fear for both of them growing up in a collective state of hysteria. Do I want my son to be accused of being a sexual predator by middle school for simply LIKING a girl (or boy 🤷‍♀️) and expressing his feelings, even without laying a hand on the other? Do I want either of my kids to grow up without the ability to recognize a bad situation and speak up for themselves? But also to understand the different nuances and behaviors that might occur (even if sometimes unwittingly crude or just sloppy) between people in a potential attraction/desire situation?
      Oh and, isn’t it funny how much $&@! we are able to forgive when WE think that person on the other side of the equation is hot and so we are game for almost anything, until suddenly they break up with us and now we’re pissed and seeking revenge, or they simply order the wrong wine and don’t live up to our unreasonable expectations, so now they’re a douche-bag sexual deviant? So let’s ruin some lives and help to discredit or dilute a cause meant to help TRUE VICTIMS, while getting our 15 min of fame at the same time. 👍

  4. 4
    Mrs Happy

    Some men are good at reading non-verbal communication.  Some men respect clear verbal communication (“no/I’m tired”) and stop.  Many aren’t good at these skills, or don’t want to act on her hesitancy or her verbal no.  And it’s not just teenage boys and young men at college.

    I was at my book club evening catch up this week.  In the room of professional married-with-kids women in their mid-40’s, every single one of them except for me, spoke of how their husbands hassle and hassle and hassle them for sex, and pout/get irritated if they don’t “get” sex, and repeatedly use verbal and non-verbal (hand-on-hip-in-bed, intrude into personal zone etc) acts to initiate sex, even when it must be clear to blind Freddy, their wife of 10+ years DOES NOT WANT SEX.  These men behave like petulant children running after a sugary treat denied to them, and are on and on and on with the tantrums.  I was so surprised.  My husband would never act like this.  God it must be awful to live with these men.

    And the lengths these women went to to avoid this pressure, pressure, pressure!  Not staying home on the days hubby is working from home on a weekday and the kids are at school.  Not hugging or touching him, ever, any more, because EVERY physical act of affection sets up in his mind the expectation/chance for sex.  Not wanting to be alone in bed together awake at night.  Distancing themselves emotionally more and more over the years.

    It’s a silent epidemic.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “God it must be awful to live with these men.”

      All I could think of was how awful it was to be married to a woman who DOES NOT WANT SEX. How did that part escape you?

      1. 4.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Evan,

        they want sex.  They don’t want to feel pressure every hour of every day.  There is a large difference.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Sorry, I missed the part where you said these woman want sex in the phrase “DOES NOT WANT SEX!”

        2. Jeremy

          Rest assured, their husbands don’t want sex every hour of every day.  They just want it more than they are getting it, which likely isn’t often if their behavior is as you describe.  So why, if these women are so frustrated with their husbands, do these women not leave?  Why don’t they walk away from these men whose behavior they find so obnoxious?  Oh, right, for the same reason the men don’t just up and leave.  Because they are married.  Because leaving is hard.  Because they don’t want to leave – they like being married.  These women want to dictate the terms of their marriage without their husbands’ input.  They are playing power games. They are not harassed, put-upon women.  They denigrate their husband’s body language, but I wonder what their own body language would be like if served divorce papers.

           

          Years ago, when I was having marital difficulties, my wife came up to bed late one evening.  I asked her why she came up so late and she replied, “It’s because I was worried that if I came up earlier, you’d want sex.”  I replied, “You worry so much about me wanting sex, it’s quite funny.  What you SHOULD worry about is what would happen if I didn’t.”

           

        3. Adrian

          Jeremy said, “Years ago, when I was having marital difficulties, my wife came up to bed late one evening.  I asked her why she came up so late and she replied, “It’s because I was worried that if I came up earlier, you’d want sex. ”

          Honestly that fact that you fought for this woman makes me feel sorry for you.

          No disrespect and you probably can’t see it but you have told so many stories about her like this and whenever someone calls her out on it you are quick to defend her and the relationship. So I know that anything anyone says will not sway you it will probably only anger you and make you feel attacked.

          So all I can do is paraphrase GoWithTheFlow when she said that a person can have 99% of the qualities that you have always wanted and are looking for and the relationship can be good 99% of the time but if that 1% is that much of a deal breaker that you just can’t get past it then the 99% doesn’t matter-you shouldn’t be with that person.

          Jeremy you talk about this ALL the time, even when it is not the subject. Clearly sex and feeling desired is very important to you. You are bending over backwards to keep this woman happy and reading every book known to man to manipulate her into wanting you equally as much sexually because she is not doing it naturally.

          Evan says all the time that healthy relationships aren’t work and definitely not hard work. I just hope that you don’t end broken down and unable to manipulate her desire for you for a couple of months from trying so hard she reverts back to her natural little to no sex with jeremy state.

        4. Emily, the original

          Jeremy/Adrian,
          Whenever someone calls her out on it you are quick to defend her and the relationship. … Jeremy you talk about this ALL the time, even when it is not the subject. … You are bending over backwards to keep this woman happy
          I agree. No disrespect meant, but you write a lot about sexual unfulfillment and the importance of understanding one’s relationship goals versus one’s sexual goals before getting into a partnership … which leads me to believe one of you (or both) may be confused about his/her own goals or his/her partner’s goals.

      2. 4.1.2
        Jeremy

        Thank you

      3. 4.1.3
        Mrs Happy

        Evan,

        No part escaped me because that part doesn’t exist, your interpretation was not what I meant.  Perhaps my explanation was in too much shorthand and I should have explicitly written, the wife ‘does not want sex at that particular point in time’.  I didn’t state in those words as it was self-evident to me they liked their husbands and wanted to have sex with them sometimes, but absolutely hated to be repeatedly pressured for it, and it caused distance in the relationship.  And I don’t know what would be worse – having sex repeatedly forced upon you, to keep the peace or make him happy, much as these college girls did, and some married women sometimes do, or not get the amount of sex you want, as a college boy or married man.

        The 45 stories you linked to above tell of college men and women sometimes being hassled for sex and feeling pressure to have sex.  Reading those made me pensive then sad.  Hearing my bookclub friends relate eerily similar experiences in their marriages also made me sad and worried.  There were tones of entitlement to someone else’s body in all, and a want-want-want neediness that isn’t being self-managed.

        If we relate this to marriage, this ties in with the historical laws re access to women’s bodies, and husband’s expectations. But I really really don’t want to start the whole ‘let’s attack Mrs Happy for bluntly stating how it is sexually in some marriages’ yet again, and I’m sure the usual commentators who weigh in, don’t either.

        Sometimes a college girl, or 22-year old woman, or 30-year old girlfriend or fiancee, or 45-year old wife, wants sex, and sometimes she doesn’t.  I do appreciate that for the randy 19 year old college boy with a college girl in his bed, or a boyfriend or husband, who wants sex, it’s frustrating and suboptimal to be told no, either verbally or non-verbally.

        There can be an unspoken expectation about what females will or should do, to provide for a man, or be polite, or not be a tease.  It’s referred to again and again in your two linked pieces above.  I am pointing out that this doesn’t end when people graduate from college.

        When I want sex I jump on my husband.  If he hassled me every minute of every day that we were alone, for sex, my affection for him would disappear, and maybe I’d become like these bookclub women – actively avoiding being with my husband.  Never voluntarily touching him.  Never jumping on him when I was randy.  I just think that would be sad – but his pressure-pressure-pressure behaviour would have caused the rift.

         

         

         

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Thanks for the longer explanation, however, we still have no context for your statement.

          There is a big difference between a man who wants sex every night, twice a week, or twice a month. The first option is too much; the others are quite fair.

          So, do you know how much the women whom you claimed DON’T WANT SEX actually have sex?

          Without that information, we have no idea if their husbands are insensitive horndogs or normal married men with sexually disinterested partners.

        2. Marika

          Mrs Happy

          And how would you feel if when you did jump on your husband he often rejected you? Then avoided you? And complained about you wanting him to other men?

          This actually may not bother you, because I’m going to go out on a limb and say you are potentially somewhat avoidant..or the avoidant side of secure..

          Anyone who is more anxious would feel constantly hurt by their partner saying no to sex (resulting in some petulant behaviour), and I would imagine anyone more healthily secure may end up leaving the marriage (or at least thinking about it) to find someone who understood the importance of regular sex in marriage.

          Middle age guys aren’t randy teenagers (often their sex drive is more affected by middle age than women), so I’m willing to bet that these men’s sexual advances are quite reasonable, and the wives are not being fair.

          Overall, I would imagine it feels far worse being rejected than it does being pursued. But then again, I’m the least avoidant person on earth in relationships 🙂

        3. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          Your post made me sad, for an entirely different reason.

          It made me think of those, admittedly few, relationships I’ve had with men who denied me sex and physical affection repeatedly. It is just the saddest and most crushing experience to be denied these basic human needs by the person (the ONLY person) you look to to give them to you.

          Your post was just so whiny and whingey, that I was forced to ask “What is preferable: to have the man you’re in a relationship with and supposedly love demonstrate his consistent desire for you? Or to have him go cold and indifferent?” I think most people with an ounce of warmth and sensitivity can answer this.

          I know your post was trying to set a completely polarized situation where the choices are between badgering for sex and cold indifference. But surely, intelligent and empathetic women can see that human beings (including men) are not always able to balance their feelings perfectly? Instead of running away from their husbands (which must be hurtful as hell), can these two adults not talk to each respectfully? Become vulnerable with each other?

          Again, Evan has a perfectly reasonable point. We don’t know how much these friends of yours are actually having sex. We don’t know how unreasonable their husbands’ requests actually are. If these couples are having sex a couple of times a week, that is pretty nice and reasonable, and I agree that badgering over and above that is uncalled for.

          However, if these women are never meeting their husbands’ needs, I am trying to imagine what that feels like. In fact, I don’t have to imagine, because, as an affectionate woman with a high sex drive, I have been in a relationship before where we didn’t have sex for months, and quite frankly, it did drive me a bit crazy and to do things I wouldn’t normally do, like pout and sulk.

          You are only as needy as your deepest unmet needs. So before you and your friends go berating these men in exasperation, why not try a bit of self-reflection and empathy and putting yourself in their shoes.

        4. Clare

          should say *was not trying to set up a polarized situation

        5. Jeremy

          You keep talking about sexual entitlement, but missing the other forms of entitlement that these women exhibit.  I really hope you can understand this, because I see you as someone who is exceptionally intelligent but has a blind spot in this one regard.  You wrote that when you want sex, you jump on your husband.  You worry that if he wanted sex too often, you’d lose your impetus to jump on him.  But what about the other side – what if, when you jumped on him, he rebuffed you.  OVer and over.  9 times out of 10.  And claimed that the 1 time out of 10 that he reluctantly allowed you to do the jumping (and likely lay there like a starfish when you did) makes him normal and makes you entitled.  How would you feel?  Now how would you feel if your sex drive was 15 times what it is now?  And finally, how would you feel if you took an oath, years ago, to have sex only with him, and knowing that should you break that oath it will cost you everything – your family, your kids, your house, your savings, and half your salary in perpetuity.  Because your spouse, who doesn’t feel that YOU are entitled to anything, certainly feels entitled to all of THOSE things.

        6. Nissa

          This strikes me as a situation in which both parties bear responsibilities. Both the man and woman should be making it overtly clear what they want. The simplest, most fair thing is to negotiate and then stick to that agreement. If the man wants X and the woman wants Y, then it’s as simple as XY/2. Both parties get more of what they want, and both sides are respected.

          In the senario above, what I’m not hearing is the women advocating for what they DO want: I only want sex on Saturdays / at home / once a month. There’s not really room for the woman’s anger if their response to requests is to offer only ‘no’ without ANY counteroffer.

          Having experienced a spouse who flat out refused to have sex, it’s no fun, but to me, it’s a symptom of another issue rather than the disease. The root cause of the lack of caring about what is important to the person you supposedly love best, is the problem. And I say that as a person who would end a relationship if my spouse wanted sex every day.

        7. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          If these couples are having sex a couple of times a week, that is pretty nice and reasonable, and I agree that badgering over and above that is uncalled for.  …. However, if these women are never meeting their husbands’ needs, I am trying to imagine what that feels like. 
          I’m guessing, of course, but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. The husbands are asking a couple of times a week and getting sex a couple of times a month.   ?   So the couples are still having sex but not as often as the husbands would like.

          For the married or divorced women on here (and married at least 10 years or divorced after being married for at least a decade), how many times a week would be the ideal number to have sex for long-term couples?

      4. 4.1.4
        Chris

        You’re onto something Jeremy. If you go to deadbedrooms forum on reddit, for instance, you’ll notice an interesting phenomenon. The low libido partner will tend to overestimate how frequently they have sex and how frequently their partner tries to initiate sex. Their memory isn’t reliable. For example, a man may be completely non-sexual with his wife for a month, then ask for sex , and she could retort “all you ever want is sex. We had sex just a couple of days ago. Give it a rest!” And in her mind, she would be correct.

        “pout/get irritated if they don’t “get” sex, and repeatedly use verbal and non-verbal (hand-on-hip-in-bed, intrude into personal zone etc) acts to initiate sex”. I agree this behavour is not acceptable. Even if the husband has been rejected a lot (a lot more than their wive’s would remember), its still not acceptable. Or helpful. Provided he actually is acting this badly that is and she isn’t just exaggerating for effect.

        1. Sandra

          A hand on hip in bed is invading personal space? Should he use cue cards?  Why share a bed then?  Why be married?

        2. Theodora

          A hand on hip in bed is invading personal space? Should he use cue cards?  Why share a bed then?  Why be married?

          Probably it can be called sexual assault. Or marital sexual assault. That would make her a survivor.

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Oh for pity’s sake, a “hand on the hip” in bed is “not acceptable”.  What do you suggest, a bundling board ?  Even on no-sex nights, some good night cuddling and snuggling is pretty normal for a content old married couple, as is a good night kiss.  If my spouse was depriving me of sex AND typical spooning, cuddling and smooching at bed time, I would leave.  A complete lack of physical affection in a marriage signals that there is a complete lack of emotional affection, so why bother to stay in a loveless marriage.  Heck, to hear some of these comments, I think most people show more physical affection to their dogs and cats, then some spouse show to each other.

        4. Adrian

          Hello Chris,

          Something like this happened (you can google it) and the husband recorded it on a excel spreadsheet to prove to his wife that they barely had sex.

          Instead of her saying “oh, okay fine I see your point” she instead lashed out at him.

          Which is why again I still can’t understand why men like this stay with women like that, to beg a woman for sex and emotional companionship is pathetic to me. There are millions of women out there find someone who will respect your needs and desires.

    2. 4.2
      Emily, the original

      Mrs. Happy,

      In the room of professional married-with-kids women in their mid-40’s, every single one of them except for me, spoke of how their husbands hassle and hassle and hassle them for sex …

      I’m not married, so help me out here, but if you (whether it’s the man or woman who asks and whether or not the reasons for denial are justified) kept getting rebuffed over and over again, wouldn’t part of you shut that factory down? Like, “That is the LAST time I’ll ever ask again!” Doesn’t the asker, over time, feel like they’ve lost all self-respect?

      1. 4.2.1
        Molly

        Total opposite in my marriage. My husband, after 18 years of marriage has now told me, “I am not a machine. I can’t do it twice a day anymore! Give me a break!”. So I can’t really relate to any of that and I think a healthy sex life is what makes marriage work. It’s not the only thing but, it is extremely important.

        1. Emily, the original

          Molly,

          I meant that the person who always has to ask gets frustrated and demoralized and then stops asking and if, on some random occasion gets asked himself, says no way out of a natural but misguided attempt at payback for being rebuffed so much.

      2. 4.2.2
        Molly

        I still initiate sex often and never say no when my husband initiates it. It really strengthens our relationship. I do have a much higher sex drive than he does but, I’m not bitter about it.

    3. 4.3
      shaukat

      Not hugging or touching him, ever, any more, because EVERY physical act of affection sets up in his mind the expectation/chance for sex.  Not wanting to be alone in bed together awake at night.

      Lol, these are clearly borderline dysfunctional marriages where those women are no longer sexually and physically attracted to their husbands (if they ever were).

      1. 4.3.1
        GoWiththeFlow

        Shaukat,

        I’m a member of an online women’s group.  About two to three times a year someone will complain and it will start a thread much like this book club.  It’s a real pile on.  When someone comments to the effect that, hey, you might be ruining your marriage here, they get shut down pretty quick.

        Several months after one of these threads popped up, one of the women who had participated in the last why-won’t-he-stop-pressuring-me threads posted a desperate plea asking for advice because her husband left and filed for divorce.  She was absolutely blindsided.  In presenting the situation she did not mention that they hardly ever had sex and she resented his advances and constantly rebuffed him.

        IMO there is a huge amount of cognitive dissonance going on in these women’s minds.  They have absolutely no idea how letting this no sex/low sex situation go on is an existential threat to their marriages.

        I have a few really good women friends who have been in very long (25+ years) satisfying marriages.  All of them have told me that if there is a drop off in frequency, that isn’t due to illness or someone being out of town, they notice it and take the initiative to remedy it.

        I suspect that the difference between the two groups of women is that the later have a higher Emotional Intelligence quotient.  No one had to tell them they should care about the frequency of sex in their marriage.  They just do.  And when it goes down, it doesn’t feel right to them so they try to fix it.

        1. Jeremy

          Thanks for posting this, GWTF.  It’s what I’ve written so often – it isn’t necessarily that the women don’t find the men attractive, nor that they don’t want to remain married.  It’s that they’ve given each other terrible advice – advice that says that because something is (or isn’t) important to them, it *should* be equally important (or unimportant) to their husbands.  Amazing, when a voice of sanity tells them that they may be ruining their marriage, they shout it down.  And instead of asking their spouses what they are ok with, they ask other groups of women!  As if whatever a group of women tells them is ok in terms of sexual frequency means anything to the specific case of their own marriages!  And when served with divorce papers, they say, “You’re leaving me over this?  You’re leaving your children over THIS? Your priorities must be even more backward than I thought!”

           

          How many people admit that the reason they ended up divorced was because they were assholes?  That in every way they felt emotionally abused, they were also emotional abusers in kind?  That by considering their rights without considering their responsibilities, they were only encouraging their husbands to do the same?

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Jeremy,

          You nailed it.  In the why-doesn’t-he-stop-pressuring-me threads, most of the supportive comments go something like “he should be more understanding” or “he’s just going to have to suck it up and deal with it!”  The contrary comments are pretty mild, usually suggesting marriage therapy or a gynecologists visit to try and get to the root causes of low libido.  Nope. They aren’t having it.  Responders to those comments often say to quit blaming the wife for her husband’s problem.

          As a single woman who sees regular sex and physical affection as one of the positives of being married, I’m just stunned that there are married women out there who are angry that their husband wants to have sex with them.  It makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and yell, “So these are the women some men choose to marry?!”  What’s a single woman who is dying to have sex on the reg supposed to think??? I think some of the other single women on this blog are just as flummoxed by this as I am.

          And I am aware that there are situations that arise that can temporarily derail a couple’s sex life, but I’m  not sure how that gets turned into a perpetual situation.  When I gave birth to my oldest son, I had a third degree episiotomy, and wound up having a lot of pain for 3-4 months.  Walking was difficult and going to the bathroom was horrible.  I was terrified that having intercourse would be more painful than losing my virginity had been.  But even in my sleep deprived, boobs leaking milk state, I still wanted to have sex, and I wanted to get better so I could.

          So if you guys don’t get, know that I don’t get it either.

          “How many people admit that the reason they ended up divorced was because they were assholes?  That in every way they felt emotionally abused, they were also emotional abusers in kind?

          This last paragraph of yours reminds me of a conversation I have had with several people lately due to current events.  They tend to default think that because one partner in a couple is a narcissist, the other partner is automatically an abused victim.  I tell them not so.

          Both can be abusers because there are a significant amount of people out there with personality disorders and mental illnesses and they have a tendency to pair up.  I explain that I had a grandfather who was an abusive clinical narcissist. People outside of the family would wonder how my grandma dealt with it.  They thought she must be a saint.  Those of us inside the family knew that she was as much of an emotional and verbal abuser as he was.  They often joined in together against someone.

          That’s an extreme example, I know, and not exactly what you are getting at.  But we would all do well to remember that we rarely have the full story, the different perspectives of the people involved.  And that just because one person did wrong, it doesn’t mean the other person is blameless.

        3. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow.

          I think some of the other single women on this blog are just as flummoxed by this as I am.

          I’m flummoxed by the “sexless” comments because sexless, in my life, means NO sex of ANY kind at all. Probably not even making out. With no possibility of it on the horizon.

          But I guess I can understand that some women, after 15 years of having sex with the same person a couple of times a week … just don’t feel like doing it anymore. I’ve read that the 3 biggest libido-killers for women are monogamy, kids and stress. Maybe after all that time, these women feel they don’t have much left to give, both physically and emotionally, particularly if children are involved. Maybe they’re spent. I’m not saying that this doesn’t doom the marriage or that it isn’t selfish. And I had a female friend who was in the same boat, only her husband didn’t want to do it. He refused to get help or do anything to change it. So of course she left. Took her a while but she finally had enough.

        4. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          Here is a good basic article on sexless marriages in Prevention Magazine:  https://www.prevention.com/sex/a20484624/myths-about-sexless-marriages/

          And a quote. . .

          “Surprisingly, sex doesn’t have to be entirely off the menu for a marriage to be considered sexless—experts actually define the term as having sex fewer than 10 times a year.”

          Yes a woman can get bored with her sex life with her husband.  It can also be boring to take care of the house, go to work, and take care of kids.  But we still muster up the motivation to do it, and/or figure out ways to change things enough so that it becomes less mundane or possibly even enjoyable again.  The men here have a point when they say that it’s unreasonable and unfair for the wife to make the unilateral decision to end both partners’ sex life.

          When it comes down to it, sex is more than just getting a physical release.  It’s also about affection, love, acceptance, and belonging.  So it’s not just cutting off having an orgasm with another person, but also cutting off a meaningful source love and affection.

          Long ago I read an article in a women’s magazine on couples resuming sexual activity after having a baby.  The author, a marriage and family therapist, told the story of how she had attended a professional conference where a panel discussed the physiological and emotional reasons why a new mother would have a low libido.  One of the panelists, a newer mom herself, said she understood personally how the hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and the demands of caring for a newborn could kill her libido.  What her overriding concern for herself was that she wanted her marriage to work.  She felt this commitment to her marriage was enough psychological motivation to override the libido killers, and she reported that she felt real desire to have sex with her husband.  Of course it wasn’t as frequent as it was pre-baby and the ratio of long sessions to quickies got reversed, but it was enough to maintain the health of the marriage through their first year as parents.

          The overriding impression I get from book club wives like this is that they think they have a healthy marriage, well, except for their husbands sex issue.  It just doesn’t connect with them that the lack of sex, and their husbands’ wanting it, is enough of a problem to make the marriage unhealthy overall.

          One of the most depressing lines in Mrs. Happy’s book club post is that the wives consciously are cutting off non-sexual physical affection, like hugs or a quick back scratch, because they don’t want to give their husbands any encouragement that sex will be happening.  I’m just going to say it:  This is f*cking cruel.

          All of my three kids and my two grandkids got/get lots of hugs from me.  Plus hand holding, pats of the back, and rumpled hair.  Every one of them has gone through phases where they can be really physically clingy to the point where it’s hard for me to get basic household tasks done.  Or they have gotten so big that I can’t pick them up without risking a back injury or when they sit on my lap my legs go numb.

          When trying to figure out how to manage both my need to get things done or not get injured, and their need for affection and physical contact, I don’t decide to withhold hugs and pats on the back because doing so “might” encourage them to think they can make a running jump into my arms or sit on my lap for the duration of a 2hr long movie.

          Would these wives consciously cut off physical affection for their kids?  I’m guessing NO.  Then why do they do it to their husbands?  Why do they think this is remotely acceptable?

        5. ScottH

          How would these book club women would feel if their husbands decided to choke or cut off their checking accounts because they just didn’t feel like sharing the money?  Now that would be cruel.

        6. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,
          Yes a woman can get bored with her sex life with her husband.  It can also be boring to take care of the house, go to work, and take care of kids.  But we still muster up the motivation to do it, and/or figure out ways to change things enough so that it becomes less mundane or possibly even enjoyable again.  
          I have never figured out a way to make housework or a job less mundane! NEVER! It’s just the fear of having to live with my family or being homeless that keeps me going to work!
          The men here have a point when they say that it’s unreasonable and unfair for the wife to make the unilateral decision to end both partners’ sex life.
          Yes, agreed.
          When it comes down to it, sex is more than just getting a physical release.  It’s also about affection
          Yes, but my point was that maybe these women feel sexually as well as emotionally drained. Maybe having to be plugged in and concerned with someone else’s feelings and emotional well-being is hard to day every day, day in and day out, for years, particularly if children are also requiring a lot of emotional care.

          One of the most depressing lines in Mrs. Happy’s book club post is that the wives consciously are cutting off non-sexual physical affection, like hugs or a quick back scratch, because they don’t want to give their husbands any encouragement that sex will be happening

          I agree with you, but I had a friend who told me her husband never touched her unless he wanted sex, so that could be the issue.

        7. GoWiththeFlow

          Emily,

          “‘When it comes down to it, sex is more than just getting a physical release.  It’s also about affection'”

          “Yes, but my point was that maybe these women feel sexually as well as emotionally drained. Maybe having to be plugged in and concerned with someone else’s feelings and emotional well-being is hard to day every day, day in and day out, for years, particularly if children are also requiring a lot of emotional care.”

          Absolutely these women may be drained.  However their reaction to it is extreme and extremely damaging to their husbands and their marriages.  It’s like cutting your leg off because you have an ingrown toenail.

          One prominent feature of the online group threads I have seen (and I’m picking up the same vibe from the book club women) is a not being able or willing to look at themselves to diagnose and solve the issue.  The thinking seems to be “I am tired and emotionally drained and don’t want sex, therefore my husband will just have to deal with it.”  No looking into it further and exploring reasons for the lack of libido or ways to get in a better place, including seeking help from a physician or therapist.

        8. Jeremy

          @GWTF, but what is their impetus to look internally?  They don’t perceive a problem!  It is their husbands who have the problem.  These women are happy in their marriages – their marriages are perfect except for their pesky husbands.  I say this with no hint of irony – what is important to them is their schedules, their laundry lists, how they are perceived by others. Their husbands are incidental, though they say and believe otherwise.  When asked what they do for their husbands, they have a long list beginning with cooking and cleaning.  But if asked whether the things on that list are what their husbands actually want, they respond with blank looks.  “Would he prefer you cook and clean, or that you order in, eat off paper, and have sex?”  “Well, if he’d prefer the latter, he’d be immature.  So that’s even MORE work for me to overcome his immaturity!”

        9. GoWiththeFlow

          Jeremy,

          That was my point.  There is just no self awareness.  It’s like they have parked their car on the train tracks, turned off the engine, put ear plugs in and then don’t see or hear the locomotive coming.  Just no awareness of the larger reality of what’s going on around them.

        10. Buck25

          @GWTF,

          I think Jeremy nailed it below. All women of this particular type think about, is what THEY think, and/or what their WOMEN FRIENDS think. That’s their entire universe. What their husbands in particular think, or what men in general think, is entirely irrelevant to them! In a word, they not only have a relatively low “Emotional Intelligence quotient” as you suggest; they have another problem, to wit, a complete and total lack of empathy for men, period. That’s not all that uncommon; recall the thread here not so long ago, when Evan asked if any of our female contributors wanted to say anything expressing some empathy for men, in the context of men having to do most all of the pursuing, and thus taking most all of the rejection in relationships. Very few of our female posters, including many regulars, could muster up even the first empathetic comment, even a tepid one. Some of us guys admitted to being rather taken aback by the extent empathy for men seemed to be lacking in most women. I don’t know that we should have been, as there is apparently a large subset of women whose capacity to empathize is confined to those who think and act exactly like they do-in other words, to other women.

        11. Kenley

          I see tons of evidence that the overwhelming majority of people — male or female — have a hard time empathizing with other people period. It’s not just the flaw of these women.  This inability to see someone else’s point of view is why white people never think anything is racist; men never think anything is sexist, black people can’t understand why  white people don’t think they have privilege or why women don’t feel sorry for men who are repeatedly rejected, or even why tidy people can’t understand how messy people can live the way they do.   It truly is a special person who can really see the world from a point of view that is vastly different their own.  So, for every wife who ignores her husband’s needs and thinks he should be fine with it because she is; there is a husband who ignores his wives’ needs and thinks she should be fine with it because he is.  Please don’t act as if women have a monopoly on that type of behavior because they don’t.  Indeed, I think this selfish attitude is reinforced in American culture because we are told to value our own individual needs above all else.

        12. Emily, the original

          GoWiththe Flow, 

          However their reaction to it is extreme and extremely damaging to their husbands and their marriages.  It’s like cutting your leg off because you have an ingrown toenail.

          Maybe deep down they don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But if they were having sex on average twice a week for, say, a decade, that’s 1,040 times. Maybe they’re just done with it. I had a friend who was married twice to men she was very much into sexually but after divorcing (not due to sex) both of them, I was surprised when she told me she’d had plenty of sex in her life.

          No looking into it further and exploring reasons for the lack of libido or ways to get in a better place, including seeking help from a physician or therapist.

          That’s exactly what my friend’s husband did. Refused to look at himself or get any kind of help.

        13. Buck25

          @ Kenley,

          I’m not attempting to imply that women have “a monopoly” on lack of empathy. I do however note, that I have seen women claiming empathy for others,(men or anyone else) without displaying any evidence of same, far more often than I have seen men claiming empathy for others (women or anyone else), without displaying evidence of same. I am of the opinion, much like you, that empathy (the real sort) is actually a rather uncommon characteristic in people generally, regardless of gender.

          Perhaps more women than men tend to claim more empathy than they really have, simply because women value being perceived as “empathetic”  considerably more than men do, (empathy being more often seen as a manifestation of feminine energy), but that’s just a guess.

        14. Theodora

          I see tons of evidence that the overwhelming majority of people — male or female — have a hard time empathizing with other people period. It’s not just the flaw of these women.  

          I think the difference is that women claim more often than men that they have empathy, like a badge of honor. Personally, right now I can remember just one man I met who claimed to have empathy, while I know quite a few women who are convinced they have some sort of moral superiority over men and over the people around them for having greater empathy. In practice, I can’t see a significant difference in empathy between men and women (heck, this very thread and others on this blog are evidence of this fact).

          I think the reason many women – and some men too – believe that women possess greater empathy comes from two major confusions/misunderstandings.

          First, people usually mistaken sensitivity for empathy. Speaking in averages, women are indeed more sensitive overall than men, but that does not necessarily mean they have greater empathy. On the contrary, sometimes when you are too focused on your own perceptions and emotions, you fail to take into account the perceptions and perspective of the people around you.

          The second major confusion comes from the fact that women are better at reading social and emotional cues than men – again, speaking in averages, that is true. But it doesn’t necessarily translate into greater empathy. Sometimes, on the contrary, it just means that you can use the information from deciphering social/emotional cues for your own benefit.

        15. GoWiththeFlow

          Buck & Emily,

          I agree this is being framed through a narrow “consent” lens.  This is really about terrible communication between two people.  Many examples of both failing to express and failing to receive information.  And, gee, maybe it’s because they are total strangers that they don’t have the necessary communication lines in place to negotiate a first time sexual experience with each other.

          This whole episode is just cringe worthy.

        16. Emily, the original

          GoWiththeFlow,

          This whole episode is just cringe worthy.

          I agree. I can’t think what her motivation was for going to the media except humiliating him. I don’t know why she had so much venom for him.

    4. 4.4
      Buck25

      Mrs Happy,

      Once again, I see that your completely woman-centric point of view is showing. Let me see, forty-something woman with kids  who “DOES NOT WANT SEX”. Now to many a man who’s been married, your friends’ complaints are a familiar if quite unwelcome litany. How often are they willing to provide their husbands with what I am sure is grudging and completely insipid sex? Would that be once a month, once every six months or once a year, (on Leap Years only, of course). Of course, YOU see nothing wrong with that. Now I don’t know about most men down under respond to that attitude, but I know how I would have responded, had any of my wives EVER tried that with me; I’d have left that marriage (and her) behind so fast, I would leave a vapor trail. Now you probably think my attitude is reprehensible. That’s your privilege, but you and your friends had better know that a man consistently denied sex at home is either (1) going to look for it (and find it) elsewhere, or (2 ) leave the marriage, and then find it elsewhere. Of course, given the apparent lack of enthusiasm if not outright disdain for sex with your husbands, you and your friends may not care, except for the unfortunate man not sticking around “for the sake of the children”, despite your selfish behavior. For what it’s worth, I think you and your friends are a fine argument for a childless marriage. I feel pretty certain you do not personally give a tinker’s damn how men feel about anything(you’ve made that rather clear before here, at least in my view), but that’s my take on the matter. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be married to any woman who hated sex with me that much!

      1. 4.4.1
        Emily, the original

        Buck25,

        but I know how I would have responded, had any of my wives EVER tried that with me; I’d have left that marriage (and her) behind so fast, I would leave a vapor trail. Now you probably think my attitude is reprehensible.

        I don’t think it’s reprehensible. You have some self-worth.

    5. 4.5
      ezamused

      I feel so sorry for these husbands. I’m so glad I’m not married anymore, sex is so much better and more fulfilling since I’ve gotten divorced.

      This is such as sad story as it is likely a number of these book club woman are having affairs and justifying with something like: “I’m nicer to my husband when I have something special going on that’s just for me”. So some other guy is feeling the love and connection while the husband feels lonely and is wondering why this woman he used to have frequent sex with no longer wants him.

      https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/cheating/why-women-cheat-on-their-husbands/

       

    6. 4.6
      Theodora

      Oh, the unthinkable chutzpah of men! They want to have sex with their wives! When will the entitlement end, really? Is there no limit to rape culture and Patriarchy?

      Man up and get the memo, sit down and listen: men should work hard, like docile work horses, to provide the desired lifestyle for their wives and to support their children (whether they want them or not). They should also do their fair share of household chores (ideally, all of them). And by the end of the day, when they want some basic respect and appreciation or – God forbid! – sex, they should respect women’s bodily autonomy. Namely, you should feel lucky that you breath the same air with us, whiney, entitled, privileged, pressuring,  pestering POS!

      Got it?

    7. 4.7
      ScottH

      You’re describing a sexless marriage and you’re right, it is an epidemic.  “God it must be awful to live with these men.”  Think about these poor guys and how awful it is for them.  I was one of them in my sexless marriage that ended 7 years ago.  It is like being starved, yet the filet mignon is siting right in front of you, inside of a reinforced and locked case.

      A quote from Steven Kalas about sexless marriages: “I would affirm that no one should ever have sex they don’t want to have; but, when you find you don’t want to have sex with your spouse, then I would say you have a responsibility to explore that reluctance, to fix it, to bring every effort to the goal of healing whatever needs to be healed so that thriving sexual courtship might resume as soon as possible.  Ten years into a marriage, it’s OK to quit your mate’s bowling team and reveal that you’ve never really liked bowling and to tell your mate he/she will henceforth have to enjoy bowling individually. But try to deliver that same speech about sex, and you’ll find it’s a little different.”

      And, “It’s wrong to wake up in the middle of a marriage, shrug your shoulders, then passively and unilaterally decide you’re no longer interested in sex. That is an egregious infidelity. And it’s just plain mean.”

      Gawd, this discussion brings back (bad) memories.  There is nothing more awful than a marriage where, as Kalas describes, one partner unilaterally decides they don’t want sex anymore.

      1. 4.7.1
        Clare

        ScottH,

        I have written on here before how, in South Africa anyway (where I’m from), in days gone by, sex and affection with your spouse was a legal requirement of marriage. In other words, spouses had a right to sex, affection and emotional support from each other. This bundle of rights was called consortium.

        And even in the days before no-fault divorces where you had to have specific grounds before you could get divorced, lack of consortium was grounds.

        To me, this shows an almost universal understanding that sex and affection is more than expected in a marriage, it is a need. It is as bad as infidelity or emotional abuse, and definitely grounds to leave.

      2. 4.7.2
        Emily, the original

        ScottH, 

        I was one of them in my sexless marriage that ended 7 years ago. 

        Ok, does that mean you didn’t have sex ONE time? That you were having it regularly (at least once a week) and then, for say the last 5 years of the marriage, didn’t do it ONCE? Because that’s what sexless means. Or that you had sex twice a year? Or once a month? Was it really sexless or did things slow down considerably?  I have a hard time imagining that two people who sleep in the same bed night after night, year after year, aren’t having sex at some point … ever. The access to it is too convenient. The men who are writing about a sex-starved marriage or sexless marriage have been a bit cagey … we need SPECIFICS. What does sex-starved or sexless mean to you? Does it mean that the sex was at one time hot and then became not only much less frequent but perfunctory?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Emily, your question is meritless. If Scott says it was a sexless marriage, it was a sexless marriage because there’s little difference between twice a year and no times a year. 15%-20% of marriage qualify as sexless.

        2. Emily, the original

          You asked a similar question of Mrs. Happy: “So, do you know how much the women whom you claimed DON’T WANT SEX actually have sex?”

          No one will give me specifics so the complaints are too vague. How often are the men asking? How often are the women agreeing? Has this changed over time? How much time? Some may define a marriage as sex-starved as once a month. Some may be fine with that frequency. That’s why I’m asking.

        3. ScottH

          Emily-  in the “literature,” sexless marriage is officially defined as 10 times per year or less.  In my situation, I had zero sex with my ex for the last 4 years.  The first two of those years, she came up to bed after I had gone to sleep, obviously avoiding me.  The last 2 years, she slept on the couch, every night.  The last time we had sex, it was so terrible that I never tried to initiate again (I won’t go into the details).  After 1.5 years of sexlessness (2.5 years before divorce), I found a FWB and it was an amazing relief.  I could’t tolerate being sexless anymore and felt no obligation to be “faithful” to someone who was, IMO, being remiss and emotionally abusive.  The marriage was over;  it just needed a bullet through the radiator which had to wait for reasons I won’t go into.  I figured nobody had the right to force me into unwanted celibacy, especially someone who vowed to love/honor/cherish/blahblah.  From the details I’ve provided, one might suspect that I was at fault in some way but I’m not going to explain any more.

          As the marriage deteriorated, I did a lot of reading on the internet and came across a forum on the now defunct Experience Project.  The forum was called, “I Live In a Sexless Marriage,” or ILIASM.  It was the 2nd or 3rd most active forum on that site (evidence of epidemic).  People shared their stories and it was fascinating to read them.  I spent countless hours reading them and learning from them.  These people were absolutely crushed from their sexless marriages and mind you, these were very intelligent high functioning people.  Think about what it takes for a person to find such a forum and then to post on that forum.  It was like a secret club of people united by a horrible circumstance.  People who are happy and satisfied don’t end up on sites like that.

        4. Emily, the original

          ScottH,

            In my situation, I had zero sex with my ex for the last 4 years.  

          Thank you for answering. I wasn’t trying to be snarky when I asked. This topic has come up repeatedly by the male posters but not one has ever given specifics. I’m not implying it’s not a real and painful issue, but it needs context so I appreciate your honesty.

          in the “literature,” sexless marriage is officially defined as 10 times per year or less.

          Well, to me, 10 times ain’t all that bad! I’ve had long periods of no sex and know other female friends who have as well. We’re talking yearS, but I’d rather have sex with someone I was really into 10 times a year than 10 times a month with someone I felt “meh” about, but that’s me. (That wasn’t a comment on the quality of marital sex. Just that I’m ok without a steady stream of sex if the steady stream isn’t all that great. It takes too much energy to go through the motions.)

          After 1.5 years of sexlessness (2.5 years before divorce), I found a FWB and it was an amazing relief.  I could’t tolerate being sexless anymore and felt no obligation to be “faithful” to someone who was, IMO, being remiss and emotionally abusive.

          I’m not a black and white thinker when it comes to infidelity. Everyone’s situation is different.

        5. SparklingEmerald

          Hi Emily   Judging from Mrs Happy’s comment, I tend to think the husband’s were sex starved and not the women being overly hassled.  I feel the same way when men complain about their “clingy” girlfriends.  These g/f’s are usually “clingy” because the b/f is so distant and cold.  Mrs Happy even stated that these women avoided ALL physical contact and someone else considers a hand on the hip as an invasion of personal space.  (Hellooooo, I always thought the marital bed was SUPPOSED to be shared space, otherwise, why even be married ????? )      I believe the men Mrs Happy was describing were not getting a reasonable amount of care, companionship, physical affection and yes, sex, otherwise they would not be “hassling” their wives all the time.  Of course, it is hard to tell for sure, since this is a second hand account.      As an analogy, imagine a mother complaining that their very young children were always “hassling” them for food.  These young children were always whining that they were hungry.  Would you assume that the kids were whiny brats, or perhaps they were really underfed ?  Would underfed have to mean that the kids were already dead of starvation ?  Suppose upon further investigation we found that the mother gave the kids crackers and milk every other day,  plus the occasional full meal when they had company or were a guest at someone else’s house ?  And this mother (or even father) complained ” I don’t even want to leave the box of crackers out on the kitchen table, because they might pester me for cheese or peanut butter to go with.  Heck, I leave the footstool by the kitchen sink, they can drink tap water any time, but those ungrateful brats want juice or milk, and expect me to feed them every day”  One could argue that the mother (or parent) is not “starving” the kid, because she hasn’t with held food entirely, but most people would consider this to be negligent.  She is starving those kids, just at a slower rate, and just enough to keep them barely alive.  I think keeping a spouse in a loveless marriage and expecting them to accept sex 10 times a year or less and NO hugs, touches or anything in between is entirely selfish.   I don’t think one can claim that those little cracker-crumbs of affection begrudgingly given every other month can “count” if one spouse has a more typical sex drive. Of course, if BOTH spouse are happy with sex 8-10 times a year, or even none, but are otherwise happy and affectionate, then of course, no problem.  But I don’t think a spouse can claim that sex 1-10 times a year is adequate and the the other spouse is NOT deprived but is just being a pest by “hassling” for more, or even “invading their space” with a touch on the hip.  The spouse in these cases is still being maritally negligent, and that 6 times a year of begrudging sex, just won’t cut it, for most people.If menopause is an issue (painful intercourse is a pretty common side effect right along with hot flashes) then seek medical help.  Try “outercourse” until the problem is solved, and lovingly talk with your spouse about it, and try to problem solve together.    If lack of affection is the issue, try to figure out why, and stop putting the blame on the person you vowed to love, honor and cherish, for wanting you to show your love in a physical, marital way.  If you can’t get the loving feeling back (or discover that you never really had them) then you need to let your partner go, so they can find someone to love and be loved by.  

        6. Nissa

          Emily, the original,

          I’m with you on this. In a literal sense, any number other than zero is still something. The posters here are saying that emotionally, it feels like it’s sexless – and of course their feelings are valid to them. But numerically, it’s not the same.

          Evan is saying that percentage wise, it’s close. But to me, that’s not valid. It’s like me saying, my husband only goes shopping with me 10 times a year, so we have a shopping-together-less marriage. Either he does or he doesn’t, which is entirely separate from how you feel about it. If you hated it, having something 10 times more than you wanted is an actual number of times that an event happened that you didn’t like.

        7. Emily, the original

          Nissa, 

          The posters here are saying that emotionally, it feels like it’s sexless – and of course their feelings are valid to them. But numerically, it’s not the same.

          I agree, and as I wrote to ScottH, I’d rather have 10 great times than 52 mediocre times. Hell, I’d take ONE soul-shaking time!

          SparklingEmerald,

          I responded something similar to what you posted to GoWiththeFlow. Maybe these women have checked out of the marriage both sexually and emotionally. If so, I’m not sure how you fix that, but there are men who don’t touch at all physically unless they want sex, so that could also be an issue for these women in that they are keeping up their boundaries so as to avoid what they feel are potential uncomfortable situations.

        8. Jeremy

          Nissa and Emily, I disagree with the notion that having sex occasionally is better than not at all.  I understand that sentiment when coming from a single person who is dating – you go out a lot, but only find someone you click with occasionally.  So having good sex a few times a year is better than nothing.  But that is a very different situation than being married to someone and sharing their bed every night, yet being rejected by them constantly.  As Scott wrote above, it’s like you’re starving but going to bed with a filet mignon beside you every night that you aren’t allowed to touch. It is torturous.

           

          On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, observant Jews don’t eat or drink for a 25 hour period.  Believe me, we get peckish by the 15th hour or so.  But we don’t make a habit of having food around us during that time, because being surrounded by food when you can’t eat is torture.  Far easier not to have the food around – makes starving more tolerable.

        9. KK

          Hey Emily,

          You said, “I’m not a black and white thinker when it comes to infidelity. Everyone’s situation is different”.

          So, I have a hypothetical question for you. ☺

          Let’s say there are only two available men left on earth. Both divorced. Both cheated on their wives. A tells you how miserable his marriage was and he feels absolutely no guilt at all for being an adulterer. B tells you how terrible his marriage was also, but he also tells you it was a horrible mistake, that he wished he would’ve handled ending his marriage differently and that if he ever found himself in a similar situation in the future he would leave / divorce before ever considering cheating again.

          So, how do you feel about those 2 choices in men? Would you give each of them a chance, just one of them, neither?

        10. Nissa

          Jeremy,

          Even though I’m quibbling about the definition of sexless, I get what you guys are saying: it hurts to be rejected. It hurts to have your spouse, on whom you count most of all, to not care about your hurt. It hurts to not have the physical connection that for many men is their most dependable way to feel emotional connection and intimacy. It feels like you are unwanted, unloved, unappreciated, and denied your due. It flat out hurts.

          I know this because my husband refused to have sex with me for over a year at the end of our marriage (zero times, for those counting 🙂 ). For the 2-3 years prior to that, he would not sit next to me on the couch, would jerk away and scowl at me if I touched him in any way, and most of the time, would leave the room if I entered. Yeah, good times.

          That’s why during that last year, I went to therapy – all by myself, because my husband refused to go. And why I finally got what my therapist said: You can’t work with someone who isn’t offering you anything. Which of course is why some people stay in sexless or less than you want it marriages – they feel they get something from it. And I did feel for a long time that I was getting something from it – I still loved him, he was still the man with whom I wanted to grow old. What I failed to see, was that those behaviors were really a symptom of something else – that he no longer wanted me in any way, shape or form. He just refused to verbalize it.

          When I’d ask him what he wanted to change, he’d tell me he didn’t know. Or he’d list all the things I did wrong and how I didn’t do enough to make him happy.

          So my perspective on the above, is that in a relationship where love is being shown in multiple ways, the lack of intercourse can be a non issue. But the lack of love should be a major red flag, for both parties – before it’s too late.

        11. Emily, the original

          KK,

          So, how do you feel about those 2 choices in men? Would you give each of them a chance, just one of them, neither?

          Which one is hotter?  🙂

          I don’t condone adultery. I just don’t get in the middle of other peoples’ marriages. It’s not my business to decide how other people should live. And if you read ScottH comments, I don’t think it was something he did lightly.

        12. SparklingEmerald

          Jeremy said “Nissa and Emily, I disagree with the notion that having sex occasionally is better than not at all.  I understand that sentiment when coming from a single person who is dating – you go out a lot, but only find someone you click with occasionally.  So having good sex a few times a year is better than nothing.  But that is a very different situation than being married to someone and sharing their bed every night, yet being rejected by them constantly.  As Scott wrote above, it’s like you’re starving but going to bed with a filet mignon beside you every night that you aren’t allowed to touch. It is torturous.Nissa and Emily, I disagree with the notion that having sex occasionally is better than not at all.  I understand that sentiment when coming from a single person who is dating – you go out a lot, but only find someone you click with occasionally.  So having good sex a few times a year is better than nothing.  But that is a very different situation than being married to someone and sharing their bed every night, yet being rejected by them constantly.  As Scott wrote above, it’s like you’re starving but going to bed with a filet mignon beside you every night that you aren’t allowed to touch. It is torturous.” 

          Yes, this EXACTLY.  The lonelyist kind of lonely is being married and lonely.Quibbling over “sexless” as we have NEVER had sex, vs s/he begrudgingly has sex with me 5 times a year, and only when I beg, is like arguing over weather “non-communicative” means, your spouse is a complete mute, doesn’t write notes, doesn’t point, nod or otherwise use body to language to communicate vs one who speaks very little, often gives one word answers, never initiates conversation, and a typical response to any conversation starter is “NOW is not a good time to talk about this”.  A spouse who only speaks in grunts, one word answers and eye rolling is non communicative.  Those 5 words begrudgingly spoken a day, don’t cut it.  Neither does a paltry amount of sex and cutting off ALL other physical contact count as a sexual marriage.  That is being married in name only.  That twice a year sex (or whatever) begrudgingly given I think is more tortoreous.  It’s like that song says   “A taste of honey is worse than none at all”.

        13. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          I disagree with the notion that having sex occasionally is better than not at all.  

          I didn’t say that. I said that having sex occasionally is not technically sexless. What I wrote was that I’d rather have really hot sex with a person of my choice occasionally than lots of average sex. I’d rather have none than average. Some people (men and women) have to have a steady supply of sex and have to know they have access to it or they feel anxious.

          But that is a very different situation than being married to someone and sharing their bed every night, yet being rejected by them constantly.  As Scott wrote above, it’s like you’re starving but going to bed with a filet mignon beside you every night that you aren’t allowed to touch. It is torturous.

          I’m hearing you and could understand, as Nissa wrote, the rejection would be hurtful. Again … your numbers would help with context.

          The friend I mentioned … I don’t know how often she asked, but they had sex about once every couple of months. They were healthy, in their 40s, with no kids, so there no was no reason for it and he shut down any of her suggestions to try to get help (they needed marital counseling in general as well).

        14. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

           As Scott wrote above, it’s like you’re starving but going to bed with a filet mignon beside you every night that you aren’t allowed to touch. It is torturous.

          Btw, when I read this, my first thought was: That perfectly describes being a single woman in your 40s … can’t touch anything appealing because it ain’t available.

        15. KK

          Emily, they’re equally hot, interesting etc etc…😊

          “I just don’t get in the middle of other peoples’ marriages. It’s not my business to decide how other people should live”.

          I’m not asking you to. It’s just a hypothetical question re how you would view each of these men.

           

        16. Emily, the original

          KK,

          Emily, they’re equally hot, interesting etc etc…

          HA! A woman never has two equally appealing men pursuing her. There’s always one she likes better.  🙂

          But I’m not sure what the point of your question is. I personally don’t like to know a lot about a man’s sexual past. Keep that shit in the past, unless it’s a recurring issue. I’m guessing, but I think most people who cheat feel remorse and guilt. Unless they are so inherently selfish that they just don’t think about anyone else. Which I realize describes your ex-husband, but I don’t think most people have that attitude.

        17. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          That perfectly describes being a single woman in your 40s … can’t touch anything appealing because it ain’t available.

          That pretty much describes what it is like being a fifty-something man. 🙂  However, as a man who survived a marriage that was completely devoid of any form of intimate contact for a decade, I have learned to appreciate what is available to me.  Is it exactly want I want or desire? No! Is it better than continuing to live the way that I did in my marriage? On its worst day!

          As SE mentioned, there is no loneliness that compares to being lonely in one’s marriage.  One is significantly more prepared to settle for “good enough” in a sex partner after that experience.  Intimate contact with someone over whom one may not be crazy is better than no intimate contact at all. Even bad sex feels better than no sex.  A year or two without sex is one thing.  A decade without it while being legally and morally tied to another person is an entirely different situation.

        18. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          One is significantly more prepared to settle for “good enough” in a sex partner after that experience.  Intimate contact with someone over whom one may not be crazy is better than no intimate contact at all. Even bad sex feels better than no sex. 

          I’ve tried that — settling for good enough — and I don’t agree that it’s better than none. The doorbell rings, you got your little outfit on, and for a second your excited … until you remember who’s at the door. And your heart sinks a little.

          A year or two without sex is one thing.  

          I’ve had dry spells that lasted longer than a year or two, but I’d still take a really hot one-off over 3 months of “meh.”

        19. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          I’ve tried that — settling for good enough — and I don’t agree that it’s better than none. The doorbell rings, you got your little outfit on, and for a second your excited … until you remember who’s at the door. And your heart sinks a little.

          I have heard the argument that a man who settles is prone to cheat, but that has not been my experience. Yet, I do not know a single man who married the hottest, most sexually exciting woman he dated.  Maybe, it is because guys are more amenable to settling than women because they do not control access to sex.  By settling for a less hot woman, a man gains a greater level paternity assurance. I do not know, but trust does appear to be an underlying factor a lot of times.

        20. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          Yet, I do not know a single man who married the hottest, most sexually exciting woman he dated.  

          That’s because there are a whole host of other factors that go into the decision on who to marry. As I have written about extensively, I’m not talking about appearance. A very average-looking man is quite capable of completely turning a woman out, but he has to be the right man to push her particular buttons, and most women don’t marry that guy because the rest of the relationship usually stinks. I was reading another dating coach’s site and her recommendation was … “unless the guy grosses you out or offends you on the first date, give him another chance,” that she had witnessed many of her female clients fall in love with men they thought of initially as “nice enough.” Is that possible? I’ve certainly grown fonder of some men as I’ve gotten to know them but never more attracted unless I was already attracted to begin with. But maybe that’s what you have to do in the end. Acquiesce.

    8. 4.8
      Chris

      With any group of married women, you’ll find some who’s husband pressure them for sex to the point of it being annoying, many who are more or less fine with the level of intimacy – and some, a significant minority, who are unhappy because their husband’s have a lower libido than them. It would be very unusual to find a group of women who’s husbands all fell in the first category.

      If you’re being truthful, a more likely explanation is that some of the women are being dishonest about their husbands. Perhaps to get into the spirit of fun of ragging on their husbands. Perhaps humblebragging about their husband’s virility. Perhaps because they don’t want to admit their husbands want sex less than them.

      1. 4.8.1
        Adrian

        Great point Chris, I never considered these women could be intentionally lying because ulterior motives

    9. 4.9
      Adrian

      Hi Mrs. Happy,

      I know that you said that you don’t want to reopen up this argument so if you don’t reply I understand.

      But you have talked about these women for months and I would love to know in your opinion:

      Do these men realize that their wives don’t want to have sex with them?

      Do these women realize that they are not happy in their marriages?

      Are these men happy in their marriages?

      Why don’t these men leave these women?

      Why don’t these women leave these men?

      Do these women tell their husbands how they feel?

      Would these women feel upset if their husbands cheated? Why? Is it because they feel that he is stuck with her so he should accept little to no sex?

    10. 4.10
      KK

      “For the married or divorced women on here (and married at least 10 years or divorced after being married for at least a decade), how many times a week would be the ideal number to have sex for long-term couples?”

      Hi Emily,

      I was married almost 15 years. From my perspective, between one and three times a week is perfect. If you hit a dry spell for more than two weeks, you need to reassess your priorities, ie. plan some alone time, weekend getaway, etc to reconnect.

       

      1. 4.10.1
        Emily, the original

        KK,

        I was married almost 15 years. From my perspective, between one and three times a week is perfect.

        Ah, some numbers! Thanks. Were you both ok with that frequency? (If you were, I’m assuming he didn’t ask for it excessively because he knew … more was coming!  🙂   )

        You’re divorced, right? I have several divorced friends. Some date frequently and don’t want to go to long with out sex. They may have it with a boyfriend but one about whom they may question the strength of their longterm interest. Some are willing to have sex less frequently but are very particular about who they have sex with.

         

  5. 5
    Marika

    Oh Mrs Happy, why do you keep beating this drum? Sex is a normal, necessary part of a marriage! These women should start to worry when their husbands stop asking for sex….

    1. 5.1
      Mrs Happy

      I was not going to write anything more.  But I want to point out that sexual assault and pressure brought to bear upon girls and women can be very grey areas.  Like those linked college stories show, it happens sometimes without both parties realising.  Coercion and pressure take all shapes, occur in hook ups and within long term relationships.

      Autonomy over your female body was a hard-won right. It didn’t always exist in law.  There are places in the world and some religions it still doesn’t.

      1. 5.1.1
        Jeremy

        Mrs Happy, I think I’m finally ready for our bet.  Your request of me was to avoid mentioning my 2 favourite “M’s” – motivations and meta-goals.  Fine.  Here’s my request of you: I’m not going to request that you *not* write anything.  Instead, I’ll request that you *do* write something.  I’ll request that whenever you write a post that expresses the female POV, that you take a moment and write the male one.  *Not the POV of the female as if she was a male, but rather the MALE POV.

         

        For example, while your point here is valid (IMHO) that women should exercise autonomy over their bodies, what autonomy do the men in question lack?  You wrote about the men’s sense of entitlement to female sexuality – what entitlement are these women expressing over men?  If you can’t think of it, your blindspot is larger than I thought.  And if you can think of it, I’ll take the bet.

    2. 5.2
      Jeremy

      Agreed.  It’s that they only understand entitlement when it comes from men and involves sex.  They are completely blind to their own entitlements…

    3. 5.3
      Adrian

      Hi Marika,

      You often speak of having been in situations in the past where you were neglected sexually and made to feel like you had to beg for sexual attention and sexual touch… but you got yourself out of that situation and away from that person even though you loved him.

      Could you help me understand why people like the one’s Mrs. Happy speak of or even Jeremy stay with people like this?

      I understand love, and not wanting to break up the family but at what point does self love kick in? Do they really think it is healthier for kids to be in an environment under two unhappy people versus an alternating environment under one happy person at a time?

      Is the fear of losing money more important than daily happiness, self respect, self love, and happiness?

      I honestly can not understand anyone who would stay years with someone like this. A year or two of hard trying sure but YEARS!???

      1. 5.3.1
        Marika

        Haha, Adrian, I’m not sure I ever said “often”, “situations” or “begging”..but I digress.. 😉

        As Jeremy has so eloquently explained below, there is a BIG difference between his situation and mine. From what I understand, he and his wife were a good match, she’s a good person, good partner and very good mother, but they had this one big issue to deal with. In the context of an otherwise good, well-matched partnership. And they had children together to consider.

        I’m actually a lot like Jeremy, I was determined to make my marriage work, read books, got various pieces of advice, counselling (couple and individual), online, the lot. But unlike with Jeremy, I wasn’t just dealing with feelings of sexual rejection in the context of an otherwise good match. We weren’t a good match and we never should’ve gotten married.

        In the end, my situation was untenable (he actually made that clear through his behaviour, I wouldn’t put it down to my self-love). Jeremy’s wasn’t. If I married again and it was good other than one issue to deal with, again, I would try my utmost to resolve things. NO ONE wants to get divorced. It’s messy, heartbreaking, logistically difficult etc. But sometimes (not always) there’s no other choice.

  6. 6
    Molly

    I would think any man who had oral sex preformed on him and preformed it back would be receiving mixed signals. Regretting a sex afterwards is not the same as being sexually assaulted and it’s incredibly insulting to women who have actually been sexually assaulted and raped to say you were just because you felt “pressured” and didn’t leave or say no. I myself was actually assaulted and almost raped by 2 men. If you feel pressured, then leave, say no, scream, push, hit. It really is that simple. I knew what I didn’t want. It happened more than once with men. No is an easy enough word to say. If no doesn’t work, then leave. You never have to do anything you don’t want to. Should men pressure you? Absolutely not. I have been married for a long time now and my husband didn’t ask to kiss me or do anything we did. He took physical cues, and it would take away the spark for me. If he or any man was doing something I didn’t like I would say no, push them away or leave. A simple, “Is this ok?” At the beginning of things would be fine and I have taught my son about that because consent is a very big deal now. I think it always has been but, for some reason the definition of assault has become confusing for some people. I don’t think you should go around ruining some guys life because you can’t form the word “no” or open a door. I personally had to bite a man’s hand and scream, and kick to get away from my attackers. Luckily other people came to my aid. I was assaulted another time too. Let’s not confuse actual assault with a bad date.

    1. 6.1
      AJ

      “It really is that simple”

      Not always, I told the person who date raped “can we stop now” and they didn’t. And due to my surroundings I couldn’t just “leave”. Plus he was a lot bigger and stronger than me.

      I’m sorry you had to go through what you went through, and am glad that people came to your aid. Plus I agree a “bad date” shouldn’t constitute as sexual assault. But it really isn’t always that simple. That sounds dismissive to survivors who didn’t or couldn’t resist more, which is heartbreaking to hear from another survivor.  Survivors have enough guilt and shame on their plate, we don’t need anymore. We just want to heal and move on with our lives.

      When you’re in that moment, you just do whatever you gonna do to survive no matter how intimidated you are. Every situation and circumstance is different and unique to that individual.

      1. 6.1.1
        Sandra

        I do not think that anyone would deny that what you just described as anything less than bona fide date rape. Pure and simple.  You asked him to stop – he didn’t.  You attempted to leave – you couldn’t.  You were unambiguously not at fault.

         

      2. 6.1.2
        Molly

        Of course it wouldn’t be that simple in your situation! That sounds horrible! But, the occurance here is a woman who was not being held down or physically forced. She had every option to leave. Is Aziz Ansari a dirt bag? I don’t know. He just might be.

    2. 6.2
      Adrian

      Hello Molly and AJ,

      It appears to me that we are taught that sexual assault is black and white, it is or it is not.

      But from reading your two comments I am now thinking that it is on a scale. An incident that would rate a 3 and an incident that would rate a 8 are both sexual assault it’s just that perhaps the severity of the circumstances are different.

      It also appears that people who see rape as a woman being held down and punched struggle to see rape as a woman being mentally and emotionally held down.

    3. 6.3
      Nissa

      Having been in a situation where someone unexpectedly came up behind me and put their hands on me, I can unequivocally say, no is NOT always an easy word to say. I know, because on the inside, all I could feel was: “oh, no. What is happening, why are they touching me, please just stop”. But I couldn’t get the words out. What I did manage to squeak out, was “today is not a touching day”. The person didn’t know what that meant so she left her hands where they were and talked right over me. I could only get to about half the volume of normal, and my body was frozen into a half-ball. When she finally did back up a little, I lost my mind. I could feel my body getting ready to attack while my mind took a little fiesta. This coworker doesn’t know how lucky she is that my heavy stapler was on the other side of the desk when she came up…and how I was reaching for it when she finally walked away. I told her later about this, and she dismissed my upset, saying: oh, you wouldn’t do that.

      And people are surprised when those who feel attacked finally lose it.

  7. 7
    Joshua

    I was in such a marriage. Literally every advance I made on my wife was rebuffed. And we’re not talking me harassing her for sex. I would figure out beforehand if she was in a place where she wasn’t exhausted from her day, was feeling mentally okay, etc, before even bringing the topic up. And even then, a “no” was respected and I didn’t pursue it further. When we did have sex, I did everything I could to make sure it was an experience she would enjoy, and made sure to get her off before me. Nevertheless, things dwindled. The hand on the hip thing being rebuffed hit home to me. The rejections over time savaged my self confidence, and eventually my infrequent advances went to zero.

    A while after that, I started my affair. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It saved my sanity. Years on, I’m divorced and with the woman I had the affair with. We don’t have sex an awful lot, but she lets me know that she desires me and cares about our romantic life (of which sex is a part, not the whole thing). My ED and post traumatic stress from the marriage is mostly gone.

    What I’m trying to illustrate here is that it was about finding someone who respects me, not about finding someone who’ll have sex on demand. I think too many people miss this important aspect of a relationship once the ring goes on.

  8. 8
    M.C.

    I think that there is a missing piece in your description of silent vs. verbal consent. I completely agree that these two had differing ideas about consent, but I think that’s better captured by your use of the word “affirmative” than any other description. When, without verbal communication, a man is presented with a lukewarm partner…he should not consider lack of refusal to be consent. If she is shy, or reserved, or unsure, or maybe even a little confused, then verbal consent is important. Because you can learn complex feelings much better from words than body language. It is 100% entirely possible to give affirmative consent without speaking. Its generally evidenced by excitement, passion, being actively engaged. For all these women saying that “verbal” consent is a turn-off, that’s because it is if you feel like you are already giving someone physical affirmation. And yes, there are exceptions for women who want a man to “make a move” before they’ve demonstrated their interest, but basically, if a man has any question (and he should be questioning) he should really be seeking confirmation either physically or verbally that the woman is actually interested in going further.

  9. 9
    Theodora

    My take on this story is:

    1) Woman goes on a date with a man and she quickly forgets about him when she realizes she has a chance to hook up with a celebrity.

    2) Behind her date’s/boyfriend’s back, she pursues the said “celeb”, she is first rejected, but finally the famous man agrees to exchange phone numbers.

    3) The celeb asks her out on a date. She already has dreams about becoming the girlfriend or at least a steady side piece of the celeb.

    4) The whole date evening is about her gradually realizing that for the celeb she’s just a ONS, a groupie. Besides, the woke, feminist, “ally” celeb has terrible game and subpar sexual skills.

    5) She proceeds to confess her revenge porn story to a horrible site with terrible “journalists”, destroying the career of the woke celeb in the process.

    6) “You guys are all like this”, she keeps repeating during her failed encounter with Ansari and during her confession for babe.net Which means men are horrible and she encountered quite a lot of them. No introspection and self-awareness about why she keeps attracting this type of man and how shallow and selfish it is to leave your date or boyfriend as soon as a man with some fame, status and money is around. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ansari put her in the pump&dump category after he had seen her behavior the night they met. After all, even woke, feminist allies can recognize loose morals, disrespect for the people around you and no conscience. Too bad he couldn’t foresee how it would affect him.

  10. 10
    Kenley

    I would like to remind people that in scenarios of potential harm, we often forget that freeze is a common response as well as fight or flight.  So, I wish people would stop expecting that everyone can just leave…some people freeze.

    The only thing I would like to add to this discussion is if a guy has so much to lose from a false accusation, why isn’t there just as much onus on him to show a lady the door as it is for women to leave if they aren’t feeling the guy?  I read tons of articles on the Aziz incident and only two people said that perhaps as soon as the girl said no, he should have sent her home.  I am curious as to why so few people see that as a viable option.  And by the way, it’s not framed in a way that it is a man protecting a woman from herself.  It is framed in a way that he is in fact looking out for his own interest.   I think so view people think of that option because we do in fact believe that men are entitled to sex by any means and it is solely on the woman to say no.

    @YAG, I hope you are not suggesting that because a woman got a man’s number even when she was with another man that she deserves to raped.   I really hope that is what you were saying.

     

     

    1. 10.1
      Theodora

      only two people said that perhaps as soon as the girl said no, he should have sent her home. 

      This is exactly what happened: as soon as she said no, he called a cab and sent her home.

      But she actually didn’t want the evening to end up like this. She expected some sort of romance.

      And no one says she deserved to be “raped” because what happened wasn’t rape by any stretch of imagination. Even “the victim” questions if it was some sort or form of sexual assault or not (no, it wasn’t for any sane person).

    2. 10.2
      sylvana

      This!

      I fully agree. I absolutely do think that she was at fault as well, but no one stopped him from removing either himself or her from the situation when it crossed into “wishy-washy” territory.

      When in doubt, end the situation. That simple. Since, in a way, he’s the one who has way more to lose, one would think he’d be a little more cautious.

    3. 10.3
      Molly

      She WAS NOT raped. She had already had oral sex with him. She did not have a “freeze” response, or a freak out response and if she said no and wanted to leave, she could have left. She is not a minor or a child who does not know how to take responsibility for herself. The problem with stories like these, is IT DOES completely invalidate women who have truly been abused. I have 8 sisters and 4 daughters. Only one of my sisters has not been SEROUSLY sexually assaulted. So I really don’t give a crap who judges my opinion harshly. She’s a grown up! Yes, there are horrible stories of molestation, date rape and assault on here. That didn’t happen to her. She agrred to oral sex, started to get into sex, said no, felt pressured and did it anyway. If you felt pressured to try a cigarette or alchohol at one point, said no, then gave in, would you blame the alchohol or the person who offered it to you? No, you made that choice. If he blocked the door, held her back  body blocked her, or said she couldn’t leave, we’d have a different story.

  11. 11
    Kenley

    I meant to type that I really hope that YAG isn’t saying that she deserved to be raped.

  12. 12
    Alexandra Myers

    Uh, duh, you can continue doing anything she didn’t say no to if she seemed interested up to that point, but not in going further. If her energy changes, the only way that you can ask her if she’s changed her mind is out loud,  And the only way you can try that again is if she says yes. In some  way that’s unmistakably obvious.

  13. 13
    Emily, the original

    Molly,

    I meant that the person who always has to ask gets frustrated and demoralized and then stops asking and if, on some random occasion gets asked himself, says no way out of a natural but misguided attempt at payback for being rebuffed so much.

  14. 14
    Tron Swanson

    For those of us who aren’t socially gifted, interacting with women…well, it can be like a blind person wandering through highway traffic. For all the talk about biology and how all men/women are a certain way, individuality is still the order of the day. Half of women want me to do or say something, while the other half will be outraged (or even scared) if I do or say that same thing. Approaching them in public? Either they’re okay with it, or they’ll call the cops. Holding the door? Some women have given me a dirty look when I’ve done that, others give me dirty looks if I don’t. Asking about sex? As others have mentioned, it’s either necessary or a completely turnoff.

    With all due respect to my own gender, I feel that men are generally more socially clueless than women. I also think that there’s a hard ceiling in terms of how much most of us can improve in this area. In my opinion, we’ll never be able to pick up on subtle social cues like women can. So, expecting us to be borderline mind-readers, let alone in a danger-filled, politically-charged environment…I don’t see that being a viable long-term strategy.

    1. 14.1
      sylvana

      you need to just let the bitchiness roll off your back. I’m a woman, and I’ve had issues with people making snide remarks when I hold the door open for another woman, or lifted something heavy out of a cart for an older person, etc.

      Guess what…just because they don’t have any manners to speak of doesn’t mean I’ll get all intimidated by it. I simply walk away. Who cares what they think?

      It’s a matter of self-confidence. No matter what you do or how you act, they’ll always be people criticizing you. Stop letting it bother you, and be the best person you can be.

      1. 14.1.1
        Tron Swanson

        If I’m alone with a woman, and there’s a misunderstanding (on my part, her part, or both), “self-confidence” isn’t going to keep me out of employment danger or legal danger.

  15. 15
    sylvana

    I’d have to say that as a woman, if you’re not ready to clearly state “no” or “stop” if things get to uncomfortable, you’re simply not ready to engage in any sort of sexual behavior. End of story.

    That being said, for all you guys who seem so worried about yay or nay on pushing the boundaries a little:

    When in doubt, simply stop!

    It’ll save you a ton of headaches later on. Especially in a case like this, where he was obviously only interested in sex. If you don’t have enough self-control to stop when she pushes your hand away repeatedly, or you feel like she might not be all the way into it, then you have no business engaging in any sort of sexual behavior.

    And if you wonder if she might just be playing coy or hard to get…do you truly need to get laid that badly??? Just LET IT GO.

    With other words try, then maybe push a little if she just seems shy (especially if you’re in a relationship), but if she gives you too much trouble, just move on. Any woman who doesn’t think you pushed enough after that isn’t worth the trouble of keeping for a relationship anyway. She’ll just continue to play games later.

    And for a one-time lay…is it truly worth risking so much?

  16. 16
    Clare

    God,

    This Aziz Ansari case just once again highlights the difference for me between living in a first world country (like America) where political correctness has got completely out of control, and living in a mostly third world country (like South Africa) where we have much bigger things to worry about than whether a guy is allowed to unhook your bra if you are making out with him and you haven’t specifically said “you may unhook my bra.”

    Where the threat of being a victim of crime is a very real daily reality, I assure you you will not consider yourself as having been assaulted in Grace’s situation. You wouldn’t even give it a second thought beyond a bit of gossip with your friends the next morning.

    This is not the first time that I really, really wish people would try to maintain a healthy dose of perspective rather than dissecting life to this extent.

  17. 17
    Jeremy

    Adrian, regarding your questions above:

     

    I understand where you are coming from with your questions, and I’m neither angry about it nor defensive – I get it.  But this problem is ubiquitous.  If you advocate that men leave women when this happens, the overwhelming majority of marriages would break down.  And I don’t think that needs to happen, nor do I think that it will ultimately make anyone happier – not the man, not the woman, not the kids.  If the spouses both still love each other, the marriage can be salvaged.  If not, not.  But there’s just so much bad advice out there.  Advice to women that going off sex is ok.  Advice to men that the way to recapture desire is to focus on comfort.  Advice to men that the way to recapture desire is to hit the gym and act alpha.  Advice to women that as long as you tell a man that you love him with words, that should be enough to compensate for a lack of action.  This shit advice is EVERYWHERE.  You can possibly save your marriage, but not that way.

     

    IMHO, there are 2 things any young man should understand before he gets married – no matter how much the couple loves each other, and no matter how much they desire each other at the time:  First, that the way it is during the courtship is not the way it will continue to be.  Her priorities will change, change predictably, and his place in that hierarchy of priorities will slide downward significantly.  Her losing her libido is not only possible, it is likely.  He will be tempted to check out, to distance himself – and his overcoming these temptations will not result in any more desire from his wife, contrary to what she might say or believe.  And that, Adrian, is the part that should make you sad.  But the part that should make you hopeful is that the problem often  has a solution – but not by following the shitty advice I referenced above, and that is why I write about it over and over – because you just won’t find it elsewhere.

     

     

    The first step is to understand that while a woman might behave a certain way, that doesn’t necessarily mean she understands what she is doing.  So distinguish whether she still loves you and is simply unaware of how to express that properly, or whether she does not still love you.  The second step is to understand the difference between comfort and arousal, and understand that if her problem is lack of arousal then you should ignore her advice that comfort is what she needs.  And the third step is to stop asking why she has stopped wanting sex and instead ask why she used to want it in the first place – and to try to recreate those conditions.  If this fails, leave.  But don’t leave before you’ve tried it.

    1. 17.1
      Jeremy

      Actually, on second thought, Adrian, please ignore my comment above.  Not that what I wrote there isn’t useful, but it’s basically what I’ve written a thousand times on this site, and it obviously hasn’t spoken to you.  So I’ll put it differently.  Back when I was having trouble, I might have appreciated the fact that you felt sorry for me.  And moreover, I might have appreciated your advice.  You see, I was looking for advice because all the various forms of advice I tried weren’t helping me.  But here’s the problem – your advice, to leave a marriage where one spouse isn’t meeting the sexual needs of the other – it’s bad advice.  As bad as any of the other forms of advice I’ve criticized before.  It’s bad advice because if you can fix the problem, you’ll be much happier than if you tanked your marriage and your family.  I can speak to that from personal experience, based on the happiness I have enjoyed for the past few years, which is in stark contrast to how I felt before.

       

      And before you get up in arms and accuse me of denigrating any advice but my own, it’s not that my advice is anything special or that I want to take credit for anything.  If you forget about motivations, meta-goals, or any of that other crap, just remember this – before you can treat something, you have to diagnose what it is.  Any advice that offers suggestions without a diagnosis is, by definition, bad advice.  Whether that advice is to leave, to up the alpha, to offer comfort, or whatever, it’s all crap unless you understand the why of the situation.  Be careful, before you jump to conclusions.

  18. 18
    S. (with a period)

    Wow. I hadn’t read the details of this before.  It sounds like it was a terrible experience for both of them.  Neither seemed quite ready to deal in the moment.

    Or does asking for permission for everything ruin the sexual experience itself? Is it worth it to dampen the sexual experience in order to prevent sexual assault? Or is that like putting speedbumps on a freeway?

    I feel for both of them.  We in this society have made things so unclear, especially for some men.  They really are clueless.  So maybe we do need speedbumps.  It’s better than someone feeling violated.  I’m not as worried about his career because people can bounce back, and I honestly don’t think he meant to make her feel that way.
    She told babe that at first, she was happy with how he reacted. “He said, ‘Oh, of course, it’s only fun if we’re both having fun.’ The response was technically very sweet and acknowledging the fact that I was very uncomfortable. Verbally, in that moment, he acknowledged that I needed to take it slow. Then he said, ‘Let’s just chill over here on the couch.’”
    This moment is particularly significant for Grace, because she thought that would be the end of the sexual encounter — her remark about not wanting to feel “forced” had added a verbal component to the cues she was trying to give him about her discomfort. When she sat down on the floor next to Ansari, who sat on the couch, she thought he might rub her back, or play with her hair — something to calm her down.
    This part is key here.  She didn’t want to leave. She just didn’t want to have sex with him.  She really was trying to like him and would have been okay with non-sexual touch.  I think that’s the disconnect.  It should be okay for her to want that after what had occurred earlier.   She could have said that in words, but she was upset and just wanted non-sexual comfort.  She could have said, “could we just sit here a while and not have sex”.  I’m not sure how he might have responded.  It’s too bad, though.  Like if he had just known to rub her back and make her feel safe this might have all gone so differently.

    Sigh. So the only thing for her to have done is not hope for that and just leave his apartment where her presence to him meant intercourse was on the agenda that night.  It seems clear to people now on the outside what to do but in the moment with a lot of hormones and people being socialized certain ways–a lot of women want to please and not really have a confrontation, a lot of men are conditioned to pursue–things can be as clear as mud.

    1. 18.1
      Sandra

      She wanted to get with a celebrity and she wanted him to see her as “special” which, obviously, she was not.  It’s not like they went out on a couple of dinner dates before she decided to come up to his place.

      She knew what was up, but she became disappointed when she realized her celebrity moment was going to be nothing to brag about.

      1. 18.1.1
        Buck25

        @Sandra,

        I think you have this about right: what “Grace” saw in the encounter was a “special” date with a celebrity, and as I said in an earlier post, an older guy who she expected had the finesse so many guys in her own age group lack.

        Aziz, on the other hand, apparently saw this as a one night stand with a groupie, just another easy lay, otherwise inconsequential and nothing special, at least not to him. Now as S. points out below, he wasn’t deliberately cruel, or mean to “Grace”; but he might have done a lot better too. So maybe there’s a sort of teachable moment here; a lesson about how it matters, even when it’s just hookup sex, that we remember to treat that person we’re with as a human being instead of a thing. We all know what actually happened, but how different might that evening have been, if Aziz had considered how “Grace” was looking at that date, and responded accordingly?

        What would it really have cost him, to not rush dinner so much before taking her back to his apartment? Not much, he had the whole evening. How hard would it have been, to ask her what kind of wine she preferred, before pouring her a glass? How difficult would it have been to take his time getting her clothes off, with some really decent foreplay, and if she got uncomfortable with the pace, would it have been all that difficult to take a little more time to make her comfortable, to reassure her with some less overtly sexual petting? Would it have been all that difficult to treat her in a way that left her feeling just a little bit “special”? It’s not unreasonable to think that a man in his mid thirties  (and certainly one whose situation provides him an abundance of opportunities) would possess enough experience with women to take the time to read her responses, and know how to react accordingly; this is not exactly rocket science, after all.

        In essence, even though this was nothing special to Aziz, why would he not recognize that this might very well be special for “Grace”, and make even a half-hearted effort to treat her accordingly? It really wouldn’t have been difficult, or even inconvenient for him…and yet one wonders if just his doing those few simple things would have completely altered “Grace’s” reactions, and how she ended up feeling about the evening. It might even have gotten him laid too; she seems to have been quite willing, at least in the beginning…

        There’s plenty of stupidity and mistakes on both sides to go around here…and yet, an experienced guy more than ten years older than “Grace”, could quite easily have avoided this whole mess, and left her with a memorable evening she might have recalled with pleasure, instead of tears. He might have, but he didn’t. Maybe it’s asking too much for a man to care, when he’s a celebrity, with no shortage of star-struck young women throwing themselves at his feet (and into his bed); maybe it’s harder than it looks, when we get what we want that easily. I don’t honestly know; it’s not an experience most of us guys have ever had or ever will. If there’s a lesson here for the rest of us, it’s that we need to remember that the woman we’re about to have sex with, (yes, even if it’s “just a one-night-stand”), is a real human being, with real emotions and real feelings, not a disposable plaything.

         

  19. 19
    S. (with a period)

    It’s not like they went out on a couple of dinner dates before she decided to come up to his place.

    Doesn’t matter.  He was actually pretty nice to her afterward.  He might not have saw her as special, but I don’t think he was deliberately trying to be mean or traumatize her.  He did, and that does matter.  But I don’t think he cared why she was with him.  She was a woman in his room and I honestly don’t think he knew how else to be.  I think this was his genuine attempt at seduction.

    she became disappointed when she realized her celebrity moment was going to be nothing to brag about.

    I give her more benefit of the doubt than that. I think she was genuinely upset.

    A year ago there was an opportunity to win a date with Idris Elba on Omaze.  It was for charity and many women participated in attempting to win, including myself.  It’s not terrible to want to go on a date with a celebrity.  And sure it’s disappointing if he’s not as gallant or sensitive as you would have hoped.

  20. 20
    ScottH

    I get a weekly email from the 5 Love Languages people.  This week’s message seemed pertinent to this discussion:

    “Arguments reveal the heart. Almost always, arguments grow out of unmet emotional needs. One wife said, “Little things like getting the old newspapers out to the garage for recycling is not a big deal to him, but it is to me because I hate clutter. It’s kind of a visual thing.” What is she saying? One of her emotional needs is to have order in the house. Clutter is emotionally upsetting to her.
    The wise person will look for the emotional need behind the argument. Why is my spouse so upset over what seems trivial to me? Why is my coworker always trying to pick a fight? The answer to those questions will help you understand the other person. Meeting emotional needs is one way to create a positive climate for communication.”

    1. 20.1
      Jeremy

      I think the conversation has come full circle, and wanted to take the thoughts of the sexless marriage conversation back to the Aziz Ansari issue.

       

      How many articles supported Grace, saying that it is often hard for women to say no or to leave, that women often have conflicting feelings? How many have written that it is therefore the responsibility of men to read the body language of women or, as one of my favourite comments above wrote, feel if her energy changes? What these commenters fail to realize is that men’s heads are ALSO full of conflicting things during sexual situations. Our minds are a whirlwind of desires and anxieties – and dealing with those takes up all our resources. We are adults who are expected to deal with all these feelings  but we can’t add the burden of intuiting women’s desires or lack thereof while we do so.  If women sometimes find it hard to say no or leave because their emotions are confusing, men find it hard to pay attention to the covert emotions of women because our own emotions are confusing. To many women don’t realize this  They believe that men should be responsible for these situations because women bear with a disproportion emotional burden that men don’t have. But this is a failure of empathy – the emotions we deal with are different, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have emotional burdens.

       

      So be responsible for your emotions, and we will be responsible for ours. And when you communicate your emotions to us  we will be responsible to respond. But we can’t hear your unexpressed emotions, no matter how hard you think them at us.

      1. 20.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Jeremy,

        How many articles supported Grace, saying that it is often hard for women to say no or to leave, that women often have conflicting feelings?

        Most of what I read or broadcast interviews I saw that were done with women all thought the article was an unnecessary smear job against Ansari, that it was bad journalism in that the writer didn’t even bother to get a comment from him, and thought it was a bad sexual encounter based on bad communication and that every woman probably had had one of those evenings. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to convey your feelings or even process them in the moment. It doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for yourself.

        1. Selena

          Emily,

          That sums up what I’ve read/watched about the babe piece also. Along with, if this incident had been about anyone who wasn’t a celebrity – it wouldn’t have been written, let alone published.

          I agree, but I’m thinking this “bad date” story as well as the 45 stories about consent EMK linked to may have merit in helping women.

          For decades I’ve seen campaigns about publicly increasing date rape awareness. Commercials, billboards, memes: “No means no!” “No doesn’t mean maybe.” “No doesn’t mean “convince me”. Slogans targeted to males.

          After reading the campus stories especially, I think it’s time we start a campaign to target our females. Commercials, billboards, memes stressing the simplicity of using the word “No.”

          “Saying No doesn’t make anyone a prude”, “Saying No doesn’t make anyone a tease”, “Blue balls can be cured in minutes with a guy’s own hand. The memory of unwanted sex can last a lifetime. #No.

          A picture of an alcohol bottle with a label: “Warning: excessive use of these product may lead to regretful hook-ups. Drink Responsibly!

           

           

        2. Emily, the original

          Selena,

          The memory of unwanted sex can last a lifetime. #No.

          I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It was a night bad sex that was publicized because of his celebrity. I’ve been in sexual situations in which I felt so uncomfortable, I was clenched and couldn’t voice that I wanted to leave a lot earlier than I did, but I never saw it as a consent issue. I’d given my consent. I can’t believe there aren’t men who have experienced similar nights of bad sex. Don’t they ever get in the room with a woman and in the middle of it wish they weren’t there? Wish they hadn’t agreed to do it? Haven’t they had sex they’d rather forget?

        3. Selena

          Hi Emily.

          When I wrote about slogans targeting women about how it’s okay to say “No” I was thinking more about the college women in the 45 stories piece who had inebriated hookups.

          As far as “Grace” in the Ansari situation and how/ how long it will effect her – no clue. She was able to publicly humiliate him, did that feel good? She also caught backlash for doing so – how did that feel?

          I’ve had consensual sex with men whom, had I know them a little bit longer, wouldn’t have bothered. I realized not long after, I wasn’t interested or very attracted to them. “I was intimate with that guy? Ugh. What was I thinking???!!” And mentally cringe. My girlfriends and I when we were younger, sometimes referred to brief encounter dudes as “cringers” – a humorous way to describe an error in judgement.

          I’ve never had “ambiguous consent” sex.

        4. Emily, the original

          Selena,
          I was intimate with that guy? Ugh. What was I thinking???!!” And mentally cringe. My girlfriends and I when we were younger, sometimes referred to brief encounter dudes as “cringers” – a humorous way to describe an error in judgement.
          Yeah, we’ve all had them, those cringe-worthy sexual sessions. I call them “scrubbers.” As in … you get home and run for the shower, scrubbing down every inch of your body!
          I’ve never had “ambiguous consent” sex.
          Me, neither. But I’ve never been so drunk that I didn’t fully know what was happening. Who wants to go to bed with someone if they have anesthetize themselves to get through it?

        5. Buck25

          @Emily,

          I tend to agree with you here. With the heightened awareness and discussion of consent in the wake of #MeToo, I think there’s a tendency to frame any “bad date” experience a woman has as an issue of consent. In this case I think that’s inaccurate. There was no lack of consent; “Grace” could have said no at any time, and in fact when she did say the word, the action stopped. She didn’t stop the action earlier either because she she wasn’t sure how into the encounter she was, or more likely because, as Theodora suggests, she knew that as soon as she said the word, the encounter would end, along with any hope she had that it still might turn out as she had hoped. No, I think this is the story of a star-struck woman of 23, who like many her age, still has some growing up to do, and an older guy who (celebrity or not) in this instance exhibited both wretchedly poor seduction/sexual skills, and a rather callous disregard for the feelings of the considerably younger woman he was attempting to bed.

          I don’t suppose “Grace” is the first woman to find that the experienced, skilled, and considerate lover she thought she was about to have sex with turned out to be an over-eager, immature, self-centered cad, and she likely won’t be the last, just as more than a few men have encountered the occasional woman who was an equally bad date, and selfish, incompetent lover to boot. Bad dates and bad sex happen, and to both genders; but let’s call it what it is, not label it as what it clearly isn’t, i.e. sexual assault.

        6. Emily, the original

          Buck25,
          Theodora suggests, she knew that as soon as she said the word, the encounter would end, along with any hope she had that it still might turn out as she had hoped.
          Or, as I’ve written on this post, she was so uncomfortable, she didn’t know how to say, “Hey, this isn’t working. I’m going to leave.” No man has ever said that to me mid-encounter, even when it was pretty clear neither of us was having a good time. It’s hard to do. Their encounter was consensual. Just not successful.
          and an older guy who (celebrity or not) in this instance exhibited both wretchedly poor seduction/sexual skills, and a rather callous disregard for the feelings of the considerably younger woman he was attempting to bed.
          I don’t agree. He texted her the next day to say he had a good time. I think he was genuinely surprised to find out that she didn’t. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. Just maybe a bit clueless.

          I don’t suppose “Grace” is the first woman to find that the experienced, skilled, and considerate lover she thought she was about to have sex with turned out to be an over-eager, immature, self-centered cad, 

          Ah … she thought she was going to have sex with a celebrity, no more or no less. Had nothing to do with some fantasy of a skilled lover. Ansari doesn’t have that kind of persona. Plus, what does “skilled” even mean? Sexual tastes are so individualistic.

      2. 20.1.2
        sylvana

        I stick to my claim that if a woman isn’t mature enough to say “no” or “stop”, she has no business getting involved in any sort of sexual encounter. End of story.

        Especially, since those type of women tend to also be the ones who will not be able to give any sort of physical clue that they do not want the encounter to continue, even so much as a subtle hint, let alone a clear clue.

        Obvious struggles or discomfort can be read, no doubt. But if a woman is insecure enough to not be able to choke out a “no”, she’s likely insecure enough to hide physical signs as well. Meaning: She’ll come across as more shy than opposed.

        At that point, she would be straight up expecting the man to be a mind-reader.

        Still, I say in case of doubt, walk away men! Save yourselves the headache. The conquest simply isn’t worth the price you might end up paying for it.

        1. Theodora

          I don’t think she was insecure at all. She was the one who pursued Ansari – initially he rejected her, then he agreed to exchange contact infomation. Insecure women don’t aggressively pursue men, and least of all famous men.

          The reason she delayed so much to say a clear “no” is that she realized that as soon as she would have uttered that word, he would have sent her home, because he wasn’t interested in more than sex. And indeed, when the first “no” was heard loud and clear, the evening was over and he sent her home.

          So she delayed that moment as much as possible, while giving mixed signals and hoping that he would “rub her neck or play with her hair” – the kind of behavior men exhibit when they care about a woman. But the writing was on the wall and it was clear at some point that moment won’t come.

          I think many women experience this kind of thing – it’s not freezing, discomfort or insecurity, but the absurd hope that it should be something more when the writing is on the wall.

  21. 21
    Marika

    Kenley

    While that’s a very wise and even handed point you make, for me the problem is this: people here (certainly not restricted to this individual or this issue) will make the exact same point over and over. It isn’t received well, it opens old wounds for people, it’s written from a one-sided point of view. But they make it anyway. Then either fight their perspective to the death or put it out there as a ‘truth bomb’ (their truth) and then go silent.

    Okay…soo..

    To what end? To convince the world/whole male population (in this case) that they are right? Certainly not to seek understanding or consensus or to broaden their own minds. So then why do it? To shit-stir?

    1. 21.1
      Jeremy

      Our beliefs and our perceptions are heavily coloured by our fears.  If a child grows up feeling powerless, feeling like her own opinion doesn’t matter, like older males are constantly trying to use her or exert dominance over her, and that other females are enabling this behavior, such an experience can lead to a particular form of confirmation bias.  The sense that men everywhere are exerting dominance over women, and women are allowing it.  And that can lead to anger.

       

      The men who go to the manosphere and the women who go to the hard feminist sites are the same, as Evan likes to say.  They are guided by the confirmation biases that their fears and their experiences ignite.  If such a person writes about his or her beliefs, it is not to shit-stir, it is because they wonder how everyone doesn’t share their beliefs when the evidence is all around them.

       

      It’s funny how we talk about empathy here, myself included.  But Steven Pinker makes an excellent point about empathy – that it is limited by the imagination of the individual. After all, we can’t truly feel what others feel, we can only feel what we imagine they feel.  And if our imagination is faulty, so is our empathy.  When we empathize with the starving African child who we see on the commercial and give all our charity to her, where is our empathy for the millions of others we don’t see and so didn’t give to?  When we empathize with the women in the book group, where is our empathy for their husbands?  It’s not that we lack empathy, it’s that empathy itself is so imperfect of a tool…..Empathy isn’t what these women lack, it’s imagination.

      1. 21.1.1
        kenley

        If you want to be generous then perhaps they lack imagination.  But if you are willing to Or, perhaps they just don’t want to see the other person’s point of view — especially if it means they might lose something or they might have to do something they really don’t want to do. Or, even worse, perhaps they do in fact see the other person’s point of view, but they just don’t care.

         

      2. 21.1.2
        Marika

        I think you’re right, Jeremy. Imagination is quite important in being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Probably a ‘medium’ amount is the best – too much imagination and you get all caught up in seeing all sides (analysis paralysis) or spend more time in your imagination than reality. I’m certainly guilty of that 🙂

      3. 21.1.3
        Mrs Happy

        I prefer not to be too judgemental about empathy, excess or lack thereof.  Current theory postulates 3 different types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionateCognitive is understanding another’s situation, emotional is imagining yourself in the other’s situation and feeling their emotions, and compassionate is feeling concern but keeping some emotional distance.

        Empathy burnout is real. We know this from research findings, and occupational caretaker burnout rates.

        Providing emotional empathy sees people become more stressed, with inflammatory responses, heart rate and blood pressure changes, increased cortisol.  And research aside, in the real world one can observe this often – people only have so much care in their tank, and once that’s gone, they just cannot muster up much empathy anymore.  Their own emotional responses are flatter.  It doesn’t make them bad or selfish people.  It means they’ve given away their empathy.

        It’s early days in research, but providing compassionate empathy looks like it invigorates, and activates brain areas of motivation and reward.

        We have some control over the type and amount of empathy we give before we burnout – if we are cognizant of all this.  But I would say, don’t judge people, because sometimes you’re chancing to catch them when their tank is empty and they just have nothing left to give.

         

        1. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          I was thinking about the women you mentioned who feel pestered by their husbands for sex. Maybe the wives need the space to actually want sex again. If you know something is not only always there but tapping you on the shoulder to remind you it’s there, maybe it’s just human nature to not desire it  ??  Just a theory because Jeremy writes about comfort and arousal. The men need to create arousal, which may take some backing off. Of course, that takes self-control, but they want what works.

        2. Jeremy

          Emily, backing off doesn’t help in restoring desire.  It helps with comfort, but if comfort isn’t the problem then backing off won’t help.  Just about every man who ever had this problem has tried backing off, as it is usually the first thing their wives suggest.  Doesn’t work, other than to make the wives happier, more comfortable, and more willing to begrudgingly offer occasional transactional sex in exchange for the backing off.  No desire involved.  Esther Perel discusses reestablishing distance to allow desire to be rekindled, by allowing the wife to see the husband in a new situation or environment, so as to make him seem a different man than the one she knows so well.  But you can’t keep doing that, though it might work once or twice.  The wife who needs that to feel desire in the long-term is not one who is suited for marriage.

        3. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, when I was about 10 years old, I went on vacation with my parents.  My father gave me 10 dollars as spending money for the entire vacation, which was to last a week.  That first night, I cashed in the entire sum for quarters and blew it playing Ms Packman at the hotel arcade.  When my dad found out about this, he was furious.  But he said it would be a valuable lesson to me, not having any more spending money for the trip.  It would teach me not to spend limited resources unwisely.

           

          Your comment about empathy reminded me of that story.  Because while I totally agree with you that many of these women have depleted their empathy reserves and are unable to muster more, how many of them have squandered it on things that don’t really matter?  How important is the micromanagement of the kids, the folding of the laundry just so, the social media, the PTA……the neuroticism?  If asked directly whether any of these things is more important than their marriages, these women would reply that it is not.  Yet they live as though it is.  They squander their empathy reserves like I squandered my 10 bucks on Ms. Packman.  If you have no reserve of empathy for your spouse, you’ve got to ask yourself whether or not you’ve spent it unwisely elsewhere.

           

          Finally, you wrote “don’t judge people because sometimes you’re chancing to catch them when their tank is empty.”  This reminds me of an old saying (which applies equally to men and women, in spite of the language).  What’s the difference between someone who is being bitchy and someone who is a bitch?  Frequency.  Judge accordingly.

        4. Marika

          Mrs Happy 

          I agree that empathy burnout is real. Speaking specifically of the book club ladies and the woman in your social circle you’ve spoken of previously though..I can’t help wondering if their problems (eg husband hassling for sex) are uniquely or predominantly upper middle class issues? And therefore at least partially self-created.

          I think the job of a wife/mother is an important and difficult one. Clothing, feeding your family, shelter etc all necessary. But, making the perfect 3 course meal, going to the gym 5 times a week, book clubs, bitching with friends about husbands..these are all choices. Plenty of people find the time & energy for sex and it’s a non-issue. Sex actually relieves stress.

          So, not to judge, but there is another take on this. And losing interest in sex is not necessarily unavoidable. And there can be ways around it with some reshuffling of priorities. FWIW, YMMV

        5. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Well, if pestering someone doesn’t work and backing off doesn’t work, what other options does a man have? I’ve only talked to one female friend about this topic and her situation was flipped — her husband was the one who rarely wanted to have sex. This went on for yearS. Here’s what I don’t get: The few times he did want sex, she always said yes. Now, after being denied and dismissed and told this was an issue he wasn’t willing to work on, why did she still want to do it? Why didn’t part of her say — forget it? (They did divorce but it took years of her feeling bad before she finally walked.)

        6. Clare

          Emily,

          I have lots of opportunity to think about independence and space in a relationship. And I wholeheartedly believe it’s a good thing for many reasons.

          However, the conclusion I have come to is that a relationship with much independence and space (distance, as you would put it) only works if that’s the way the partners naturally are. No behaviour is sustainable if it is not natural and desired to a certain degree. In other words, I think a relationship can greatly benefit from some space between the partners if they both enjoy that. Some men and women are just more independent, and I think for these partners, creating distance can have all kinds of benefits… enthusiastic sex, appreciation, affection, quality time when you are together. This is because the distance is not resented. They both actually enjoy having time apart AND having time together.

          But if distance is just a “game” that you’re playing or a tool to get you what you want, I just don’t think it is a good idea. Eventually, you’re going to resent having to behave in an unnatural manner.

        7. Selena

          Emily:
          I was thinking about the women you mentioned who feel pestered by their husbands for sex. Maybe the wives need the space to actually want sex again.
          I was in a relationship at one time where our normal rhythm was sex every 2-3 days. I was almost always the initiator. One week my drive dropped. When we hadn’t had sex for 3 days, my partner initiated. I said I just wasn’t feeling it that day, sorry. He asked again the next day – I still wasn’t feeling it. He said, “What’s wrong with you? You were like clockwork. I could set my watch by you.” I said I honestly didn’t know. I know my drive had dipped, but I expected it to return shortly.

          After that he began a campaign to bring up sex periodically throughout the day. Every hour. Sometimes every 20 min. Sometimes every 10 min. His mentions of sex became progressively more snipey, snotty, unpleasant. At that point in time, we were both home together all day, every day and I can’t tell you how maddening this relentlessness on his part felt to me. This went on for several days.

          At one point we were in the kitchen and at his latest sexual remark I’d had it. I dropped what I was doing and said, “You want sex? Okay, let’s go.” I went and laid down on the bed. He started to kiss me. I said, “No, no foreplay. You know I don’t want to do it, but you won’t quit until I do, so just get it done.”

          He stopped and looked at me and said, “No, I don’t want it like this” and left the bedroom.

          Back in the living room I said, “Do you realize you keep bringing up sex every 10 -20 minutes? Not only does that not make me want to do it, I’m starting to dislike you.” He didn’t say anything.

          The next day he told me I was right. It wasn’t until he made a conscious effort NOT to bring up sex, he realized that he was about to every 10 to 20 min. He stopped pressuring me and my drive returned within a few days.

          I’m not convinced ALL the wives in Mrs. Happy’s book club are deliberately withholding sex from their husbands. I suspect some of these couples have regular sex lives and the husband sometimes hassles the wife for sex when he wants it and she doesn’t because he’s found that sometimes it works. She will give in just to get him to shut up.

           

           

        8. Emily, the original

          Clare,

          However, the conclusion I have come to is that a relationship with much independence and space (distance, as you would put it) only works if that’s the way the partners naturally are.

          I meant sexual distance so the woman could want sex again. I meant that the man could back off and stop asking. Desire, on some level, is about distance, wanting to get at something you don’t have. The women may feel little desire because they know the husband is good to go any time. Or the women may not be open to hearing the husband’s concerns about little sex because they know the men aren’t going to leave. You ever notice how your family members may treat strangers better than they treat you? It’s the same idea.

        9. Emily, the original

          Selena,

          I’m not convinced ALL the wives in Mrs. Happy’s book club are deliberately withholding sex from their husbands. I suspect some of these couples have regular sex lives and the husband sometimes hassles the wife for sex when he wants it and she doesn’t because he’s found that sometimes it works. She will give in just to get him to shut up.

          I’m guessing, but I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, the sex has fallen off from what it was at the beginning of the relationship or before children, but there is still some sex happening and the wives are getting badgered for more, which, as you described in your example, actually makes the women want to do it even less. I don’t have the answers to solve this issue. The husbands feel dismissed and disregarded. Personally, I would resent having to ask for something over and over and start to feel trapped that another person had that much control.

           

        10. Jeremy

          Selena, I appreciated your post here in giving the female perspective.  It seems (and I’m guessing here) that in your story, your partner’s attachment mechanism was activated when you declined sex, and so his unconscious protest behavior was to badger you – much like a child badgers his parent when anxiety is activated, and hence your perception of his childishness.  He wanted sex, but for him the ultimate goal of the sex was to re-establish his closeness with you.  When you offered sex without closeness, he declined it and resolved not to pester you.

           

          Now, if this episode was a one-and-done, I’m not really sure of its teaching value.  You didn’t need to introspect as to why you lost your desire (and even here, you just write that you “lost that feeling”, no explanation).  He didn’t need to compensate in the long-term for his activated attachment.  So although it seems to apply to Mrs Happy’s story, I’m not sure it’s apples to apples.

           

          In a way, I can sort of feel Mrs Happy’s frustration with the conversation as it has unfolded here.  We’ve talked about sexless marriages, and she has taken pains to write that these women do indeed want sex sometimes.  I think that if these book club women were having sex 10x/yr or less, Mrs Happy likely wouldn’t take the tone she does.  In such cases, everyone -male or female – agrees that there’s a problem.  IME, the sweet spot for the issue is sex 2-4 times per month.  That’s just enough for the low-desire spouse to still feel like she’s making an effort, but little enough for the high-desire spouse to feel like he is starving – not just sexually, but also emotionally.  Therein lies the disparity.  Imagine if, in Selena’s story, she’d lost that loving feeling, taught her partner the lesson, and then never regained the loving feeling.  Instead of initiating sex every 2-3 days, she begrudgingly accepted his initiation once every 9 days on average, and refused him the other 8.  Long-term.  Whether he pesters her or whether he gives her space.  In such a case, do you think the lesson learned should be the same?

        11. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          “It seems (and I’m guessing here) that in your story, your partner’s attachment mechanism was activated when you declined sex, and so his unconscious protest behavior was to badger you – much like a child badgers his parent when anxiety is activated, and hence your perception of his childishness.”

          But if this behavior is repeated over and over for years, is it not possible that the wife may see her husband as childish and start to lose respect for him as a man? Attraction and respect go hand in hand for a lot of women.

        12. Jeremy

          No doubt many such women view their husbands as childish.  But that isn’t the source of their loss of attraction, it’s their excuse for its continuation.  The “childish behavior” is due to protest behavior from an activated attachment system.  The attachment system was activated (often) due to neglect from their partners in the long-term which preceded the viewing as “childish”.  So the whole childish thing propagates the cycle, but doesn’t initiate it.  Nor does the husband acting otherwise break the cycle.  It’s an excuse, albeit a common one.  When a woman begins to view her husband as a child, the problem is more often her attitude than his behavior.  She should consider all the various ways he contributes to their marriage and not just what she herself does.  One of my favourite studies showed that if you poll husbands and wives, they each think they contribute more than 50% to their marriages, which is a statistical impossibility.  It’s the availability bias, and it’s what leads to this whole “childish” notion.

        13. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          When a woman begins to view her husband as a child, the problem is more often her attitude than his behavior.

          I don’t think so. I think most people would consider pestering someone childish. I remember doing it as a kid, not because my “attachment system was activated,” but because a parent had said no to something I wanted (a toy, to go somewhere), and I thought needling them to death would make them change their minds. But the reasons why the husband pesters the wife don’t matter–even if justified. Or who started it or who’s to blame. That’s a childish attitude right there. All that matters is what’s effective, as we have learned on this site. No one thus far has offered a solution. Only blaming the other side.

        14. Jeremy

          I don’t understand your post here at all, Emily.  I have, indeed made suggestions as to how to resolve the problem.  Over and over on this blog.  Reaching the solution involves understanding the reasons for the behavior, so of course the reasons are important.  The reasons for the woman’s frigidity, the reasons for the man’s pestering.  Her shrugging off his desires as “childish” is not compatible with marriage.  His repeated “pestering” of her is annoying to her, but what’s his alternative?  To shut up and accept it?

           

          Ahh, I can guess what you think the alternative is.  You wrote it in your post below about confidence, and Adrian has suggested it several times in this post as well.  To walk.  To be the man who knows what he wants and goes after it.  And when rejected, moves on like a dude with self-worth.  Excellent advice for a single man. Terrible advice for a married man.  I mean seriously – let me lay it out for you:  Wife loses interest in sex, tells husband to suck it up.  Husband shrugs and files for divorce.  And fucks up his whole life.  His relationship and time with his kids, his social life, his financial status.  Completely tanks it.  Because the dude has confidence and self-worth…..and is an IDIOT.

           

          Fixing the problem does not involve confidence (or at least, does not necessarily involve confidence).  It involves using your head.  It involves understanding yourself and your partner, understanding the reason why her attitude has changed and how to go about changing it back. And believing that confidence will be the thing to do it is idiotic, as the etiology of the problem in so many cases is the woman thinking the man is too self-centered.

           

          The same women who advise men to be confident and have self-worth are the ones who later divorce those men when they are too selfish.  Because as their calculus of priorities change, the things to which they are attracted change.  Confidence becomes arrogance.  Self-worth becomes selfishness.  The best quality a married person, male or female can have, is not confidence or self-worth (though they should have some of those).  It is self-deprecation.  The ability to NOT get what they want sometimes, and still be ok with it because they value the relationship.  The ability and desire to give to their spouse in spite of not necessarily being so interested at the time, ins spite of not necessarily getting anything back for the self.

        15. Buck25

          Jeremy,
          I had to go way back up to where this started, but hopefully this will end up in the right place.

          “Because the dude has confidence and set-worth…and is an idiot”

          I still think you’re wrong. First of all, while it worked in your instance, there’s no guarantee it always will, and most guys wouldn’t want to waste that much effort . Second, there are other means which do work, and don’t require you to give up anything or feel like you let a woman take you for granted and treat you badly, because you allowed her to.

          Ever play poker, or get in high-stakes business negotiations, Jeremy? I’ve done both. Where you miss the point is, in this context (wife takes you for granted, denies you sex), you don’t necessarily have to leave, so long as she knows (or at least seriously believes) that you can and will leave. So how do you do that?

          Leaving would have screwed you over financially but you could have avoided that, at least in most of the U.S. (I don’t know about your laws in Canada). For all the other guys who haven’t gotten themselves hooked yet in “the alimony trap”, NEVER, EVER, marry any woman unless and until you have an airtight prenup. It will cost you some money, to get an attorney who knows how to craft one of these, in such a way that It will stick, but guys, trust me, you’ll be glad you did. That piece of paper is literally priceless in a situation like this, so that’s Rule Number One.

          Rule Number Two; NEVER, EVER, reward a woman for negative behavior (taking you for granted. not giving you any, etc.) No matter how much you love her, JUST DON’T DO THAT! Not with your girlfriend, not with your wife. You remember the movie Gremlins? Remember the things NOT to do with a Mogwai? Especially the last; “No matter how much he cries and begs, NEVER EVER feed him after midnight!” You remember the consequences of that? Well, rewarding your wife or girlfriend for her negative behavior towards you is even worse! Hear it and believe it! You did this one(took you a lot longer than it would have taken me). Punish that behavior instead. Don’t complain, just subtly take away some comfort factor she likes (but is doing nothing to earn). Keep gradually depriving her of little things she likes. Don’t say anything, just do it. Make HER ask why, then matter of factly explain, with as little emotional reaction as possible. She’s the one in the wrong, so make her figure it out. (For the ladies here, sorry, but it’s women who invented the idea of weaponizing sex, in and out of marriage, and you can’t blame us men for both resenting that particular female behavior, and trying to find ways to discourage it).

          Rule Number Three:make sure she remembers that you have options (you better have) and you can and will walk away from her, if the negative behavior on her part continues. You don’t have to actually threaten do so, just hint at it, and make her wonder. This is every bit as important when you’re married as when you’re single (If you wouldn’t take that kind of Sh*t from a girlfriend, why tolerate it from your wife? Commitment is, after all, a two way street!). This is where the aforementioned prenup comes in handy; the implied threat that you just might leave her is far more credible to a woman who KNOWS she emphatically does NOT have you by the balls, financially. This is also why correcting her bad behavior is far easier with a girlfriend than a wife (one more reason not to get married EXCEPT for the express purpose of raising children together, IMHO). In PUA this implied threat that her bad behavior may cost her the relationship with you is known as “dread game”. Some will debate the morality of this, but it’s damned effective, and women know it. In situations like this, however, I have zero problem with using the strategy, as using sex as a weapon is (at least to my way of thinking), one of the most reprehensible of female behaviors, especially in marriage. If it’s not as bad as cheating, it’s damn close, and I remind everyone that once upon a not so distant time, it was grounds for divorce (and in my book it damn well should still be!) Unless they have already arrived at a feeling of total contempt for you (In which case you need to leave, anyway), few woman will continue that behavior, IF they think you really might leave them. If your wife is one of the exceptions, ask yourself which is worse, being single and alone, or living with a wife who no longer values you, finds you worthless from a sexual attraction standpoint, and has gone to the point of throwing both in your face(which is precisely what her behavior amounts to)? If you have even an ounce of self respect as a man, that’s a very easy choice. If you can’t fix the situation at that point, leave the B*tch!

        16. Evan Marc Katz

          Marry well and you won’t have to do any of this mindgame bullshit that Buck is advocating to play with your spouse. You’re a bright guy, man, but relationships aren’t warfare and the second you treat it like that – a very literal tit for tat – everyone has already lost.

        17. Jeremy

          Buck, my problem with what you wrote is my problem with a lot of the stuff I used to read on the manosphere. I have no doubt that the strategies you mentioned would, indeed, result in improved desire in anxiously-attached women.  But they would also result in an attitude toward women in general (and one’s wife in particular) that is so negative that it poisons the relationship.  Poisons respect.  Poisons self-respect.  Ask me how I know.  I prefer solutions that both work and allow preservation of respect – respect for others, respect for the self.  Otherwise what’s the point?

           

          Evan, I’d respectfully take issue with the statement that if you marry well, none of the games will be necessary, though I know you were referring to Buck’s tit-for-tat games. I don’t think that marrying well precludes any of this.  Shit happens, as I know you know. It’s not controversial to say that conflict resolution skills are important even in the best of marriages – because even the best of marriages are not conflict-free.  Nor are they free of the risk of loss of desire.

        18. Evan Marc Katz

          You’re correct, Jeremy. My point – poorly made – was that Buck’s methods didn’t seem to be about understanding, listening, validating, trusting or leading with kindness – they were all forms of gaslighting to inflame the situation and show her who’s boss. That’s what I was speaking up against. In my defense, marrying well should severely minimize the amount and intensity of the inevitable conflict between two people and I do believe there is value in choosing more wisely than most people do.

        19. Jeremy

          I agree whole-heartedly.

        20. Chance

          Hello Jeremy, you said:

           

          “But they would also result in an attitude toward women in general (and one’s wife in particular) that is so negative that it poisons the relationship.  Poisons respect.  Poisons self-respect.”

           

          I’d like to discuss this statement above depending on your answer to my questions (if you don’t mind my asking, of course):

           

          1.) I believe you’ve described it before, but I cannot remember the specifics.  Could you please explain what you did to restore your wife’s sexual desire for you?

           

          2.) Do you believe that she always respected you (in that very specific sense that almost universally inspires arousal in women, that is), but that your actions over time caused her to lose the incentive to prioritize what matters to you?  And when you made these changes, you believe that it provided her with the incentive to make you a priority again?

           

          Or do you believe that your actions over time caused her to lose desire/respect for you, and when you made these changes, it caused her to desire/respect you again?

           

          You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, and I’ll get to it if your answer is what I think it is.  Short version is that it relates to something I’ve been struggling with for a while, but I’m trying to improve…. the internal pain that we feel when we must understand something as a prerequisite for acceptance clashes with the reality that we often can only respect (in the context where you mentioned how respect can be poisoned) what we can accept.

        21. shaukat

          Desire, on some level, is about distance, wanting to get at something you don’t have. The women may feel little desire because they know the husband is good to go any time. Or the women may not be open to hearing the husband’s concerns about little sex because they know the men aren’t going to leave.

           

          I think you might be overdosing on Doc Love/PUA advice, Emily. While those tactics might sometimes stoke desire in the initial stages of dating, if you’re still resorting to them in any kind of an LTR, it’s a lost cause imo.

        22. Emily, the original

          Buck25,

          Where you miss the point is, in this context (wife takes you for granted, denies you sex), you don’t necessarily have to leave, so long as she knows (or at least seriously believes) that you can and will leave.

          Yes, I agree. If she knows the man is suffering and makes little or no effort to change her behavior, it’s because she knows he’s not going anywhere. He is emotionally and financially tethered to her. There’s no incentive for her to change. He doesn’t threaten her with leaving or hold it over her head, but she knows he’ll walk if things go into the crapper. Just as he knows she would walk if she was unhappy. It’s like that with any non-familial relationship. A friend blows you off, isn’t there for you, etc., you walk. A boss is a moron. You look for another job. Of course, you make a substantive and concerted effort to improve the situation, but if after yearS it hasn’t gotten better, you walk.

        23. Clare

          Buck,

          I had quite a lot of respect for your point of view until I read this poisonous nonsense that you wrote here.

          The kind of relationship you are advocating, where you think it is your role and your right to PUNISH your spouse is not one I would ever want to be in, this side of eternity.

          To me, this kind of advice (and pretty much everything I have ever read which comes from the manosphere types) has everything to do with winning and nothing whatsoever with fostering love, connection and understanding. I honestly felt my blood run cold as I read about your subtle threats to leave her, deprive her of things etc… all mind games. All despicable. Who could honestly bear to live like this? Who could honestly bear to see their spouse (whom you are supposed to love and be bonded to) in this light?

          Your justification is that she is weaponizing sex. I would stake my life on the fact that she is not doing this, but even so, how is this justification for treating her in this way? What on earth would possess you to want this kind of dark, malicious, manipulative kind of relationship? Who is actually winning here?

        24. Tom10

          @ Shaukat
          I think you might be overdosing on Doc Love/PUA advice, Emily. While those tactics might sometimes stoke desire in the initial stages of dating, if you’re still resorting to them in any kind of an LTR, it’s a lost cause imo.”

          I agree 100% Shaukat; I’ve tried to stay out of this discussion but just can’t.

          In my opinion the inherent problem with Mrs Happy’s friends’ relationships is as you’ve pointed out already; the women simply aren’t attracted enough at a visceral deep-seated level to their husbands; they married those guys for perfunctory reasons such as the desire to get married/have a family/follow the script of society blah blah blah rather than for “love”.

          Once these needs were filled they predictably lost interest in their husbands; throwing them enough scraps to keep them around for a few more years until, finally, one of them calls it a day when the kids are fully independent and thus their reason for staying together is moot. How depressing.

          Women who are deeply attracted to a man rarely lose interest in having sex with him; in fact they will want it more. And more. And more.

          But this doesn’t solve the dilemma; what’s a guy considering marriage to do?

          Firstly, he could choose to marry a woman who is much more attracted to him on a more instinctive visceral level; the problem with this approach is that he probably won’t be attracted enough to her to want to marry her. Or, even if he marries her we’re just flipping the problem and he’ll likely lose interest in having sex with her/cheat/leave at some point.

          Alternatively, he could choose to marry a woman he’s deeply attracted to and then spend the next 20 years trying to intellectualize ways to artificially manufacture her interest once her real reasons for being with him no longer apply. The problem with this approach is, well, it’s a lot of work isn’t it?

          Ultimately, in my opinion, the roots of these issues lie in the inherent dichotomies and fripperies of our nature and our society; how to square the circle of our biological animal desires conflicting with the perfunctory pressures and mundanities of life.

          Balance is the key; ideally, we get it just right and both parties have the requisite attraction, healthy motivations and then the intellectual awareness to overcome the curveballs that life inevitably throws in our way.

          Not many, it seems, can get it just right. 🙁

        25. Buck25

          Once again, I hope this ends up in the right place.

           

          Evan and Jeremy,

          First of all, respect, kindness and understanding, like commitment is a two way street, especially within marriage (which, along with divorce law attendant to same, has become a deck so completely and totally stacked in a woman’s favor, that in times when women so proudly and often angrily brandish their new-found economic power like a warhammer, they have little legitimate need for an institution originally intended to keep them from being unduly disadvantaged). The female tactic of weaponizing sex, in a context where she already has her spouse economically trapped in a situation that is likely severely economically damaging to him while likely considerably advantageous to her if he leaves, is nothing but extortion, and a cheap form of it at that. Respect, kindness and understanding?? Really?? Because the woman’s part of ANY of the above in that situation is already MIA! I have exactly zero respect, for any woman so doing; she deserves none. In such a context, it’s not a matter of me or any other man turning a relationship to a war; the woman who uses sex as a weapon, or otherwise demands that a man honor his commitment while conveniently ignoring her own, has already done that, already de facto declared that war on the man she supposedly committed to. THAT’S ON HER! I’m not one to start a fight, but I believe in treating other as they treat me, and anyone, anywhere, anytime who chooses to start a war with me, I will deal with using every art and artifice of war. Besides, a relationship with a woman who has no more respect than that for me, is not one I care to maintain for so much as one second beyond that point; it’s not worth a bucket of warm spit!

          That’s not “gaslighting”, that’s an uncomfortable truth that neither married men nor your predominately female readership care to hear.

        26. Jeremy

          Tom, I knew you couldn’t resist a good philosophical discussion 🙂  You wrote, “Alternatively, he could choose to marry a woman he’s deeply attracted to and then spend the next 20 years trying to intellectualize ways to artificially manufacture her interest once her real reasons for being with him no longer apply. The problem with this approach is, well, it’s a lot of work isn’t it?

           

          Hmmm, let’s talk about that for a minute.  Let’s say a woman marries a man because she is deeply, viscerally attracted to his appearance.  Would it be reasonable to say that years down the road her reasons for being with him no longer apply, given that we all age, and some better than others?  In such a case, if the man spends several days each week at the gym working out so as to improve his appearance, is he being artificially manipulative?  You betcha.  But I’d hope we could agree that this sort of manipulation is not sinister – it is to the benefit of both spouses, in spite of it’s being “a lot of hard work.”

           

          In essence, there’s no real difference between what I’ve advocated on this blog and what I described in this post.  The only difference is the reason the woman finds the man attractive.  Whatever that reason, the man would be wise to know it and maintain it (as would she, in kind).  No matter how viscerally attracted the two people are in the beginning, this will become necessary as time goes on if passion is to be maintained.

        27. Tom10

          Hi Jeremy,
          Hmmm, let’s talk about that for a minute.  Let’s say a woman marries a man because she is deeply, viscerally attracted to his appearance.  Would it be reasonable to say that years down the road her reasons for being with him no longer apply, given that we all age, and some better than others?”

          This is one of the instances where I’ll side with Emily and state that attraction isn’t based on just his appearance; rather him as a package: his manner/status/intelligence/power/attitude etc.

          True his appearance will likely deteriorate with age, however, his status/intelligence/wealth likely won’t and might even increase in time, thus increasing his overall desirability.

          In such a case, if the man spends several days each week at the gym working out so as to improve his appearance, is he being artificially manipulative?  You betcha.  But I’d hope we could agree that this sort of manipulation is not sinister – it is to the benefit of both spouses, in spite of it’s being “a lot of hard work.”

          Good point. Agreed; in fact, I’d argue that both parties have an obligation to maintain their attractiveness to their spouse.

          So we agree in principle; it is on both parties to analyze their spouse’s attraction triggers and work to maintain this attraction. Where we disagree then is on the threshold of effort required; somewhere between a “lot of work” and “relationships should be easy”; I guess that’s for every man/woman to answer for themselves.

          It’s funny; due to my work (I mostly design homes) I work with couples intimately for months and months and am fascinated by the dynamics of how each of one operates. I need to understand how, and by whom, the fundamental decisions will be made (i.e. who calls the shots) in order to successfully realize the process. My natural instinct, somewhat like Buck, is to call the shots no matter the price. However, I’m acutely aware this mindset is anathema to partnership/marriage/long-term sustainability and so truly appreciate your comments re learning to negotiate. Threatening to walk just doesn’t cut it really.

        28. Jeremy

          Buck, I think that so many battles can be avoided if we learn to take perspective.  I’ve written before that before I could solve my problems, I had to understand one basic thing:  That although my wife was behaving badly, there was no malice behind it.  She literally did not understand what she was doing.  She did not believe she was weaponizing sex.  She thought that I was.

           

          The availability bias – we see what we see, and don’t see what we don’t.  The new mother who is at home all day with a screaming baby, whose life has been disrupted, body disrupted, sleep disrupted, career disrupted – she feels that she is at a deep power disadvantage compared to her husband.  After all, his body is intact, his career is intact, he can leave the house to his perceived freedom every day while she is in chains.  And he wants SEX?  He wants something else from her exhausted body and mind?  She doesn’t already have enough others sucking her body and mind dry?  His pestering her for sex is using sex as a weapon – to further deprive her of even more power in her power-reduced state.

           

          What isn’t she seeing?  That far from living a carefree, power-enriched life, her husband is slaving away at a job to earn an income which he then surrenders to his wife and kids at the end of the day, rather than spending on himself.  That while she perceives his ability to be away from the house as his freedom, he perceives it as exile from love and family – loneliness to pay for the income that his family needs.  He will miss his child’s first step, first word, first food.  The things his wife takes for granted are the things he lacks.  And after his exile away from love and affection, he returns to his home to find….no love or affection.  Because the woman who should love him loves only her child, has no empathy left for him.  He is at a terrible power disadvantage, but she doesn’t see it.  She sees only her own.  And is encouraged to see only her own by her friends, who all think the same way, and by the fact that men don’t talk about this because we’d rather clam up than complain.

           

          So who is weaponizing sex?  Who is at a power disadvantage?  Which one is in the wrong?  Ideally the problem would be solved by both partners acknowledging the reality of the other….but that doesn’t often happen – so we need other strategies.  But those other strategies need to be without anger and self-righteousness, because our perspective of who is weaponizing sex isn’t the only one.

        29. Shaukat

          Agree completely Tom; nice to know we think alike on this issue! Would also be interested to know when you manage to strike that balance;)

        30. Emily, the original

          Mr. Tom,

          This is one of the instances where I’ll side with Emily and state that attraction isn’t based on just his appearance; rather him as a package: his manner/status/intelligence/power/attitude etc.

          Yep, if she’s into the guy, she’s into the guy. A few years — or even a few decades — don’t diminish his fundamental appeal to her.

          But, Mr. Tom, how many women do you think marry a man they are viscerally attracted to? AND who is compatible with them, AND who has similar life goals, AND who wants to marry them? Do you see how tall of an order that is? NO ONE gets all of that. Something has to be compromised on. Most people (and this includes men) have to ratchet down the attraction to land someone who is compatible with them and who wants a permanent relationship with them, because, at the end of the day, even a really strong attraction won’t be what it was 10 years and a 1,000 sex sessions in. (Lord, that’s a lot of sex!   :))

        31. Jeremy

          Tom and Emily, Tom wrote, “True his appearance will likely deteriorate with age, however, his status/intelligence/wealth likely won’t and might even increase in time, thus increasing his overall desirability.”  I disagree with this.  The woman who was attracted to the man because of his status will become hedonically adapted to his status.  Ask women who were impressed by their doctor boyfriends how impressed they remain by their doctor-hood 15 years later.  Ask women who were attracted to a man’s alpha confidence during courtship how attracted they remain to it 15 years later.  This is difficult for people who haven’t experienced long-term relationships to appreciate.  The man who yells at the butcher because he isn’t moving fast enough at the counter is perceived as getting shit done by his girlfriend, but as abusive by his wife, who sees how the behavior negatively influences other aspects of their lives.  The qualities a woman finds attractive depend on the calculus of her priorities, and those priorities change predictably (except perhaps for very dopaminergic women).

        32. Buck25

          Jeremy,

          Let me see if  have this straight. According to you, no woman ever denies her husband sex, unless she feels like a prisoner at home with one or more screaming infants/toddlers. Alright then, how about the woman with teen to college age or even adult children who uses the tactic? Gonna give her the same free pass, for the same reason? Sorry, I’m not buying it. That behavior may be simply selfish, or it may be deliberate manipulation, but one thing it isn’t is completely involuntary and beyond her control, and it is pretty telling as to the value she puts on both her husband and her marriage. Look, I’ve raised kids, five of them, three of whom were infants or preschoolers in the beginning. Are they a lot of work? Yes. Did my wives get so exhausted (past the first year with a new baby) from dealing with same that they couldn’t manage sex at least a couple of times a week? Not hardly. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, how about the women who openly brag about using control of sex to extort material and other concessions from their husbands (who are in fact closer to being their economic slaves)? “Example: “I’ll let you have sex twice a month, as long as I get a (fill in expensive material demand) every year!” How about the women who openly encourage other women to do the same? I suppose these are a figment of my personal imagination? In my book there’s a word for a woman who does that,  (i.e. having sex for money or goods), whether in or outside of marriage. I think we both know what that word is.

          My contention is that the artificial (and very one-sided) security that marriage today offers an already economically empowered woman, is simply too much temptation for many women to not abuse, when the consequences to herself (if any, short of losing her wage slave, meal ticket, and privileged position) of said abuse are not likely anything she actually cares much about. I believe the whole problem arises in trying to make something permanent (marriage) out of something quite impermanent (romantic love, as defined by Western society). The best relationships I’ve ever had, or seen, were those where either party was completely free to walk away whenever they chose, without advantage or disadvantage. That strongly tends to keep anyone who values a relationship working at it, and quickly ends a relationship which is not valued, or has simply run its course. Just what would you suggest is wrong with that?

           

        33. Evan Marc Katz

          Buck, I have just about the best relationship I can imagine and I am FAR from free to walk away whenever I choose. That’s what happens when you merge lives with someone. You become co-dependent in a GOOD way. I get the idea about both parties working on it; I just think that kindness and compassion encourages more work than keeping score and punishing your spouse for bad behavior. Everyone’s a little selfish, but the vitriol you use to describe women means you’ve had some bad eggs that should be thrown out, not saved. However, if, like most of us you have a selfish partner who is a little clueless about her selfishness, the best way to salvage your relationship is doing what Jeremy did

        34. Tom10

          @ Emily, the Original
          “how many women do you think marry a man they are viscerally attracted to? AND who is compatible with them, AND who has similar life goals, AND who wants to marry them?
           
          Lol. Off the top of my head I reckon about 20-30% of married/engaged women I know managed to do just that. Time will tell how many of those remain married for the long-haul.
           
          “Do you see how tall of an order that is? NO ONE gets all of that”
           
          Agreed.
           
          I was merely thinking that there are alternative solutions for men who fear being locked sexless marriages other than opting out altogether or setting out on a life-long journey of mental gymnastics and researching theses on how to generate desire and attraction.
           
          Also, as Marika and Clare pointed out, many men lose interest in sex with their partners too; women face the same dilemmas. I’ve never experienced women using sex as a weapon so can’t relate to Jeremy and Buck’s comments on such.
           
          Ultimately, we all have to make our choices, anticipate the consequences down the road with the person we’re with and live with said consequences when/if they materialize.
           
          PS. How’re ya getting on with your a.i.p plan btw? 😉
           
          @ Jeremy
          “The woman who was attracted to the man because of his status will become hedonically adapted to his status.  Ask women who were impressed by their doctor boyfriends how impressed they remain by their doctor-hood 15 years later.”  
           
          There is some truth to this; however, it’s predicated on the assumption that said quality is static, however, often it’s not. What about a the woman who was attracted to a man’s status because he’s a doctor and said man subsequently becomes a consultant, then head of the oncology department, then head of the hospital, then minister for health etc. etc.? Likely she’ll still be impressed with his status 15 years later and indeed her visceral attraction will commensurately increase with each step in progress.
           
          Now, even if that’s beyond most guys most of us will still have some manner to be continuously improving in our respective fields. Although, admittedly, that’s just as much, if not more, hard work than researching theses on how to generate desire 🙁
           
          The broader point, however, is that when women are deeply attracted to a guy it’s for more than a singular quality such as his appearance or status alone; rather a panoply of his qualities overall. And likely she’ll still be viscerally attracted to that panoply 15 years later.
           
          Admittedly, as you point out, I’m in a weak position to pontificate on this having no experience of a long-term marriage.
           
          @ Shaukat
          “Would also be interested to know when you manage to strike that balance;)”
           
          Lol. Point taken.
           
          It’s so much easier to theorize “balance” than to actually realize it in practice. Talk is cheap eh…

        35. Buck25

          “…you’ve had some bad eggs that should be thrown out, not saved”

          Evan,

          Unfortunately, that is what I’ve experienced (and too often observed, I’m sorry to say). My admittedly anecdotal observations and personal experiences have shown that too many of the women we’re discussing here, are anything but clueless; unlike Jeremy’s wife, they know all too well exactly what they’re doing; they simply do not care at best, or are deliberate extortionists at worst. They have a situation (marriage) where the worst consequence for the behavior in question, however selfish, lazy, misguided, or simply manipulative to the nth degree, is loss of the marriage, but at considerable financial gain to themselves in the process. To the more mercenary among them (there are many, especially among the deliberate manipulators) this is not an entirely undesirable result. In fact, they may even prefer it, in the end.

          The sad reality is, I’ve seen more than enough in my seventy years on this planet, to convince me that women like Jeremy’s wife, who was really simply clueless about why she was acting as she was, or why  it was hurtful to Jeremy, are the minority.  Often there’s a rather high probability that one is dealing with one of those “bad eggs”, as you put it. Alas, spotting one of those beforehand is about as difficult as it is for a woman to spot some of the equally rotten men some women find themselves unhappily attached to. It’s almost enough, honestly, to make a man wish women really did occupy the moral high ground most of them believe they do, and we guys had the monopoly on rotten, exploitative, cruel and sometimes downright vicious behavior women imagine we do. Unfortunately neither of those is true.

          If you and others have found marriage to be heaven on earth, good for you, but that just hasn’t been my experience in three tries, so I’ll be damned if I’ll put the noose around my own neck again at any woman’s behest. Long term relationship? Sure. Marriage?No way; I’ve had enough.

        36. Emily, the original

           Hi Tom, 

          “Likely she’ll still be impressed with his status 15 years later and indeed her visceral attraction will commensurately increase with each step in progress.”

          If she continues to like and respect him. Nothing kills an attraction over time, strong or otherwise, faster than realizing you don’t even like the person. I’m all for riding the visceral chemistry heat wave if you can get your hands on it, but just realize that you usually wake up from it and realize, “Oh, is that all it was?” Granted, it’s a hell of ride but it doesn’t last  … 🙁

          PS. How’re ya getting on with your a.i.p plan btw? 😉

          HA! I’m getting there. I had made some real progress and then hit a plateau. But it’s not really an issue as no one is seeing it    🙂 

        37. Emily, the original

          Buck25,

          The best relationships I’ve ever had, or seen, were those where either party was completely free to walk away whenever they chose, without advantage or disadvantage. That strongly tends to keep anyone who values a relationship working at it, and quickly ends a relationship which is not valued, or has simply run its course. Just what would you suggest is wrong with that?

          I completely agree. I personally think both parties can pool their incomes for a nicer lifestyle but both should be economically able to support themselves if one walks and offers no assistance. Even if there are kids involved. You never know what will happen. So if that means a woman has only one child because that’s all she can support on her own, that’s what she does. I realize this will not be a view everyone shares, but neither party feels trapped this way. They are there because they want to be.

  22. 22
    SSJ4Gogeta

    Seems like, in this day and age, you can’t really rely on non-verbal consent if one want to avoid a situation like this. People are going to have to deal with whatever “ruining of the mood” (the amount of times I have read that a man asking for consent is a turn-off to some women but oh well) and ask for permission or just speak up if the sexual advances are unwanted (might be awkward but hey, no risk).

    If less sex happens because of what I mentioned, then so be it.

  23. 23
    Selena

    Reading the Babe.net article, my impression was *Grace* was very disappointed with Ansari’s lack of finesse. She agreed to go home with him after (to her) a rushed dinner. She allowed him to undress her immediately after arriving. She stays naked for 30 min. enduring what sounds like crappy foreplay. At one point she tells him she doesn’t want to “feel forced”. He stops and suggests they chill out on the couch.

    This would have been a good time to get dressed, but Grace doesn’t. She sits (still naked) in front of him hoping he will rub her back, or play with her hair. WTF??!! Instead he points to his penis and she obligingly goes down on him. It’s only when he has her bent over a mirror, asking yet again how she wants to be f***ed she decides she doesn’t want to at all. Again he stops. And it is HE who suggests they chill out again, this time with their clothes on.

    Again, this would have been a good time to call it a night and go home, but Grace opts to sit an watch Seinfeld instead. It’s only when he starts kissing her again she decides to leave. Guess she finally had enough of his “style”.

    I can understand her being upset that Ansari was such a lousy date, but I’m not buying that he deliberately ignored her non-verbal / verbal cues. They look consensual to me.

    1. 23.1
      sylvana

      If that is the true story, it is an absolutely false claim on her part to state that he was forceful in any sort of way.

      1. 23.1.1
        Selena

        sylvana,

        EMK linked to the story in his article. I think you should read it for yourself.

        If the recounting of the evening is accurate, IMO Ansari was very sexually aggressive, but didn’t cross the line to assault or non-consent.

  24. 24
    Paloma George

    Aziz Ansari doesn’t deserve the media slamming that he’s gotten in recent months. However, I had a very similar experience to the Babe.com writer about 6 months ago. I went out on three dates with this guy I met online… he lived very close to me and after each encounter, he walked me home and attempted to enter my building. He had made it very clear that he was expecting significant contact within a very short amount of time, and I felt that if I didn’t give into that, then it would make me a cold and ungenerous person. (It also didn’t help that he was clearly not attracted to me that much. He never even tried to kiss me during any of our dates, yet tried to come into my building afterwards. It seemed like he just wanted to have sex just to do it, and not because he actually wanted me) Obviously I can’t describe the third encounter as rape or assault because technically speaking, yes, I did allow it. My people-pleasing tendencies got to a point where I felt it was very difficult to say no. I felt immensely violated and the incident contributed significantly to my anxiety this year.

    Though this guy is not a bad person and I’ve no wish to shame him publicly online, I don’t think that this horrible experience would’ve happened if he had been thinking about anything other than himself and what he wanted….. however, I think that this kind of selfishness is a huge problem in a lot of guys. The absurd level of importance that so many men place on sex is such that they often don’t have enough consideration for the other person. Our society needs to start telling them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their cocks.

    1. 24.1
      Jeremy

      I sympathize with your story and don’t mean to belittle it in any way.  But I’d reach a very different conclusion than the one you did at the end of your post.  You wrote that you gave in because of your tendency to be a people pleaser – that there’s the problem IMHO.  Society needs to teach women that when their answer is no, they need to say no.  And accept the consequences of saying no, which might include no more dates with a particular man (if all he wants is sex).

       

      Aziz Ansari pursued sex with Grace because he wanted it.  She acquiesced in spite of not wanting it.  So who made the error, the one who pursued what he wanted or the one who allowed what she didn’t? My whole problem with the Ansari story is the way he was blamed for her lack of agency.  If a man seems selfish and only wants sex and that isn’t what the woman wants, she needs to walk.  And not make excuses as to why walking is hard.

      1. 24.1.1
        Paloma George

        I certainly agree with you in that Aziz shouldn’t be villainized because of her lack of agency. The level of public shame he has received is completely ridiculous and out-of-proportion. However, I think selfishness is definitely worse than being a people pleaser within a sexual context…. people pleasing doesn’t really have the potential to hurt anyone. Saying no and walking away is not always as easy as you seem to think it is. It requires a level of self-esteem that can take a very long time to develop, and if you’ve never struggled with that, God bless you

        I think a good rule of thumb is that if you’re in the middle of sex with someone and you aren’t really sure if they’re enjoying themselves, end the encounter. Not everybody is adept at speaking up for themselves in these situations, and it’s shockingly easy to provide an experince that could leave someone crying in the shower (even if that wasn’t your intention)

        1. Jeremy

          People pleasing doesn’t really have the potential to hurt anyone.”  I very much disagree with that.  It has the potential to hurt the person doing the pleasing, and also to hurt the person who is being pleased, thinking he is also being a pleaser (mistakenly).

           

          Saying no and walking away is not always as easy as you think it is.  It requires a level of self-esteem that can take a very long time to develop.”  Yes, being an adult is hard, and there is a reason it takes time to mature.  As a man, I deal with things that are emotionally difficult all the time – it isn’t just women who do.  I learned to deal with them because I had no choice, not because it was easy or pleasant.  I could not make up the excuse that because making decisions is difficult I have to pass the responsibility onto others and be vulnerable to their selfish whims – to teach others to be more cognizant of me because I can’t be more cognizant of myself.  We need to stop making excuses as to why women can’t behave like adults when it comes to sex.

           

          If you are in the middle of a sexual encounter and are not enjoying it, it is on YOU to stop it, not to expect the man you are with to somehow intuit your unspoken discomfort.  He is dealing with the whirlwind of emotions in his own head just as you are dealing with yours.  And, of course, if you do say something, then the onus is on him.

        2. Sandra

          So, in your estimation, it is easier and more reasonable for the person enjoying it (or at least seems to be) to “check in” about your level of enjoyment than it is for you, who is not enjoying it, to speak up?

          I have been in your shoes, and am not claiming it is easy or natural to speak up by any means: but it certainly is not up to the other person either.

    2. 24.2
      Yet Another Guy

      @Paloma George

      Our society needs to start telling them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their cocks.

      However, men will never stop thinking about pursuing women for sex.  It is primal instinct.  In fact, it is the very thing that drives men to couple with women.  If you take that instinctive behavior away, men will stop pursuing women. If you do not believe me, watch what happens when a man’s libido drops to nothing or he develops erectile dysfunction.

      As Jeremy mentioned, it is time to grow up and take responsibility for being an adult.  The onus is on you to set boundaries.  Most guys stop when a women says, “no.”  Caving to a guy’s desires and then complaining about it is your fault.  Why in the world would a woman agree to have sex with a man who never demonstrated any genuine passion for her?  Why in the world would a man want a woman who had that little self-worth for anything other than sex? If I were you, it would have been one and done.  You may not have gotten him to change his ways, but you would have garnered his respect.

       

      1. 24.2.1
        Paloma

        I definitely don’t deny that it is natural for men pursue women because they want sex, however the notion that “primal instincts” are so all-important that the other person’s humanity no longer matters is deeply problematic. You seem to have a pretty low opinion of the male species if you believe that the most they should ever be expected to be is non-rapists. Like everything is just fine and dandy as long as he isn’t doing anything that he could get arrested for. Even if it doesn’t fulfill the legal definition of assault, shouldn’t the experience of the person you’re having sex with be of any value at all? Isn’t sex supposed to be about giving pleasure/fulfillment to your partner as well as receiving it? Aziz Ansari may not have committed rape, but every description of his behavior in that article shows a complete disregard for her humanity and her experience. If he was thinking about anything other than his cock at the time, he would have definitely noticed that, at the very least, she was not having a fun time. I said it earlier, and I will say it again: Walking away is hard for a lot of people. Showing consideration isn’t. Failure to show that minimal amount of concern for her wellbeing during the act is at best selfish and disrespectful, and at worst destructive and traumatizing. I’d like to live in a world where we can hold men to higher standards than simply not being one of the bad guys in the #MeToo movement.

        If I were you, it would have been one and done. The thing is, you’re not me. You evidently haven’t had the same set of personal struggles that I have, and a lot of these commenters who believe that self-worth isn’t something that adults are supposed to deal with don’t seem capable of comprehending the enormity of toxic shame that so many of us battle on a daily basis. Well, here’s the truth. When you know from the very bottom of your soul that nobody would ever give you the time of day from a clock if you didn’t agree to be their cum dumpster, it is extremely hard to tell that person to leave your apartment. If you’ve led the kind of wonderful life that you never experienced this aspect of the human condition, thank your lucky stars. And if you seriously believe that children are the only folks who suffer from poor boundaries, I suggest that you take a closer look at the people in your world and perhaps re-examine the adults who may appear “self-possessed” and “mature” to you. I think you’d be extremely surprised by how many individuals you admire and respect who might have trouble with speaking up for themselves in certain contexts.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Paloma

          When you know from the very bottom of your soul that nobody would ever give you the time of day from a clock if you didn’t agree to be their cum dumpster, it is extremely hard to tell that person to leave your apartment.

          I am sorry, but that is absolutely not true. Whenever I hear this argument, the thing that comes to mind is that a woman is attempting to date up SMV-wise.  If that is what you are attempting to do, then, yes, you will be little more than semen receptacle because men absolutely will date down for sex, as it is usually an order of magnitude easier for a man to get laid when he dates down.

          There is a lid for every pot.  Dating is an exercise in assortative pairing (i.e., like seeks like).  If you do not believe that you are worthy of being treated well by your male equal, then you need adopt a more objective view of yourself.  There is a guy who will treat you well, but you need to establish boundaries.  If you do not want a man to come on to you sexually, thank him for the date, but do not allow him to enter your home under any circumstance until he has earned your trust and respect.  If does not stick around, you have your answer and your dignity remains intact. You will be surprised how differently men treat you when you adopt this mindset.  You may feel rejected, but I assure you that you will cause a major blow to the ego of any man who is dating down for easy sex.  It is one thing for a man to have his advances rejected by a woman of equal or higher SMV and an entirely different thing to have it happen with a women he feels has a lower SMV.  A man wants to share his life with a woman he values; therefore, you need to start by valuing yourself.  No woman or man is unworthy of being loved.

  25. 25
    Paloma

    I disagree with your view that confidence and self-worth are automatically equivalent to “being a grownup.” There are lots of adults at all different levels of maturity who struggle with very deep feelings of shame and low self-esteem which can make it hard to say no. It isn’t an experience that lives solely within the realm of childhood. Bottom line is, walking away is extremely hard at times. Showing a little bit of consideration isn’t. It is true that Grace could’ve prevented the incident by just saying no (though since we don’t know her personally, we can’t know how difficult it may or may not have been for her to defend her boundaries). However, if a man is so self-involved that he doesn’t care whether his partner is enjoying herself, that’s a significantly worse problem in my opinion. Sex involves responsibility, regardless of whether guys want to acknowledge it or not. And not only should paying a minimal amount of attention to the other person’s behavior be included in that responsibility, but it costs literally nothing. I don’t think that the Babe.com article was really a great way to get people talking about this (why the hell should Aziz be roasted for everyday douchey behavior? Just because he’s famous?) but I do wish that people could be more aware of the ways in which their carelessness can hurt others around them.

  26. 26
    John

    There were some comments about sexless marriages earlier in this thread. I think this happens in long-term relationships that don’t turn into marriage.

    I think one reason why women lose interest in their husbands is that men become weak and fearful after they been married or cohabitating for a while.

    I haven’t had this problem, but I’ve seen it in most relationships with my guy friends.

    I have married male friends that I see every 6 months because they are terrified of leaving their wives for a guy’s night out. I’ve actually had my friend’s wives beg me to take my buddy out target shooting, camping, or horseback riding for a day to get him out of the house.

    No woman respects a man who fears her or kisses her ass.

    Most of my married friends are like sycophants to their wives. I’m sure that has to be a turn off sexually to their wives.

    I’m not saying this is always the case, but I think there are definitely cases where this is true.

    I’ve noticed a trend in our American culture of men becoming weaker and overly emotional.

    I think this is a tragedy for men and women. It kills the polarity between men and women if the man is acting like a wimp.

    Studies have shown that in reality, women are not turned on by seeing men vacuuming the floor washing the dishes. They’re turned on by men fixing the garage door, mowing the lawn or fixing a car.

    Women are usually attracted to manly men over wimpy guys who try to please them 24/7.

     

    1. 26.1
      Emily, the original

      John,
      No woman respects a man who fears her or kisses her ass. … I think this is a tragedy for men and women. It kills the polarity between men and women if the man is acting like a wimp. … Women are usually attracted to manly men over wimpy guys who try to please them 24/7.
      Your post pretty much sums up something I read that was written by a man about what women want in a partner. In a word, it was confidence. The underlining was done by the author.
      Yes, the elusive quality that every woman says they’re looking for in a man. Guys think that it equates to being aloof, emotionally distant, and kind of an asshole – but those are just insecurities posing as confidence.
      What a woman really values is a guy who values himself.
      A guy who has standards and specific qualities he looks for in a partner. A guy who wants someone who will genuinely respect him and will be excited to invest back in him.
      A guy that isn’t going to settle for just anyone.
      Women want men who have options. They want to feel like they actually have to earn your approval (not that they just got it because they’re hot and/or you’re lonely.) They have to feel like they could lose you if you’re not getting the connection you desire.
      A woman wants a man who’s a catch.  
      It comes down to how you’re presenting yourself – are you showing her that you WANT her, or that you NEED her?
      When you’re needy and seeking validation, you will never be her first choice. You can’t hide your neediness by memorizing lines or playing games – the truth will always reveal itself.
      You have to lead with behaviors that show that you value you. You have to act congruent with who you really are and what you want. You have to prioritize YOUR happiness first.
      That’s the only way to develop a mindset of true self-confidence and never be the guy women settle for again.

      1. 26.1.1
        Nissa

        I really like what you said here. Do you have a link to that article you mention?

  27. 27
    Marika

    Jeremy

    You raised an interesting ‘sub’ point. The skills required for dating are not quite the same as the skills needed to build & sustain a marriage. I noticed this, in hindsight, going from a marriage and serial monogamy leading up to my marriage, to prolific dating in the new world order of apps and dating multiple people (not the norm in Australia pre-online dating). I had to learn a whole new skill set.

    I’ve seen it in men I date, and I’m actually starting to see it in myself – becoming ‘too good’ at dating (or maybe too comfortable?), like it’s some sort of competition or prize. The grass is greener mentality, playing it cool to the extreme, keeping options open etc.. It’s a bit worrying really, as I can see how people would stay on the dating merry-go-round forever. Particularly those who don’t reach out for help & advice.

    I see it too here, and in the quotes/terminology employed from the manosphere or the feminist sites. It’s like it’s this huge battle: for pride, to be the one to care less, to ensure you never get taken for granted, to protect your assets, your heart, to set up a bunch of ‘rules’ that your date is apparently supposed to follow…you get ‘rewarded’ for that in the dating world as it creates a lot of interest and people vying for your attention – but none of that will result in true love or a happy partnership.

    So I think you’re often talking at cross purposes to the dating people. Particularly those who have been burned before by relationships (then again, who hasn’t 😉 ). Your advice works for me because, while I haven’t quite experienced the love-bliss you’ve managed to find/create, I like the ideal of it, and the tips you give on getting there. But I can also see that once you get caught up in the dating game, it can be hard to change tack, open your heart and stop playing.

    1. 27.1
      Jeremy

      Marika, “The skills required for dating are not quite the same as the skills needed to build & sustain a marriage.”  No, they aren’t the same at all 🙁  And the crazy thing is how few people seem to realize this…Start with the goal and work backwards.

  28. 28
    Jeremy

    Hi Chance, I thought I’d answer you in a new thread because the old one was too long.

     

    I think that what happened in my marriage was a combination of things that are both common and insidious.  As time progressed in our marriage, my wife went from seeing me as an “other” to seeing me as an extension of herself.  When I was an other, I was a man – I had qualities she respected that I brought to the table, qualities that she desired.  She wanted a man like me, after all.  But when I became an extension of herself, the qualities she desired were simply hers, taken for granted, and so that respect was lost.  I saw it as my duty to fulfil her every desire, thinking that was my job as a husband.  But the more she got, the more she took for granted – despite her best intentions.  Because when you buy a woman flowers occasionally, she appreciates them.  But when you buy them every week, it’s just something that you do.  If a woman’s ultimate sexual goal – the reason she wants sex – is in order to cultivate a relationship/marriage, and you give her that marriage with a sense of security so strong that she knows it’s not going anywhere, what then is her motivation to continue to want sex?  She might still have it, but won’t want it – if the base sexual goal in her psyche is to secure a relationship.

     

    How did I resolve it?  By doing a slightly kinder version of what Buck suggested – stop rewarding bad behavior, slight distancing and applying insecurity.  So why am I trashing Buck’s advice?  Because doing what I did will only work in the specific case of the wife who loves her husband, wants to be married, and has lost sexual desire specifically because she has too much security.  And lots of women lose desire for other reasons, and in those cases the solution must be tailored to the problem.  Do this with a woman who has lost desire because of feeling condescended to (as Clare once described) and it will fail totally.  And also because deliberately causing insecurity and distancing from someone you love is painful, and because when doing so leads to more attraction (when you think it *should* lead to less) it causes a loss of respect.  Because how things are conflicts with how we believe they should be.  So you’ve got to do it in a way that allows you to preserve your respect for your partner – and yes, there is some cognitive dissonance involved.

    1. 28.1
      Chance

      @Jeremy – thanks for your response.  I can empathize as I had the same problem with losing respect for women in general as I learned more about what triggers desire in them.  The challenge I had was that what you prescribed (shown below) wasn’t making me happy:

       

      “So you’ve got to do it in a way that allows you to preserve your respect for your partner – and yes, there is some cognitive dissonance involved.”

       

      For me, this temporarily suppressed the feelings associated with the loss of respect, but those feelings always nagged at me in the back of my mind….and came into more urgent focus whenever I was confronted with evidence that challenged the veneer that I had applied to make for a “reality” that was more palatable to my sensibilities.  So, FWIW, I can share what has helped me deal with this without the cognitive dissonance.  Because, really, as you know, there’s more to it than the loss of respect.  It’s the sadness.

       

      At some point, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to confront and accept this reality, or be dogged by it in perpetuity.  Because, generally, for me (and I think for the most of us), with acceptance comes respect.  The problem I ran into is that, in order to accept it, I felt that I had to understand it (I think this is the case for most of us as well).  Well, the problem with that is I eventually concluded it was almost impossible to understand why women’s arousal cues were what they were due to our hard-wired differences.  I mean, seriously, how is a man ever going to truly understand how “not being able to figure someone out” triggers arousal?  That simply doesn’t register with us.  We can only go so far as to understand that it does trigger arousal in women.  However, in certain contexts, such as this, it is next to impossible to be able to actually see things from a woman’s perspective.  Somehow, the solution would have to be acceptance without understanding.

       

      The way I was able to accept without understanding was by reminding myself of how women have the same problem when they think of men’s constant, and almost limitless, green-light appetite for sexual variety.  How we can be sexually attracted to so many women, and the fact that we so often think about sex with them as they walk by, for instance.  The disgust they feel, the sadness, and eventually, the loss of respect.  That’s when I’m reminded of how they can’t see how we reign in those desires, how we still can see their value-added beyond the sexual, and how we can’t understand how they don’t recognize the innocuity in our desires.  Then, I realize that their feelings, and lack of understanding, are rooted in those same hard-wired differences coupled with what I figure are similar feelings they have about what they understand that we can’t see that would reduce or eliminate our erosion of respect for them.

       

      As self-aware as you are, this may seem obvious to you, but this has helped me arrive at a place of peace with this reality, and with no cognitive dissonance to combat.

       

      Again, for what it’s worth…

  29. 29
    Paloma

    If you do not want a man to come on to you sexually, thank him for the date, but do not allow him to enter your home under any circumstance until he has earned your trust and respect.

    That is a nice idea, but far more difficult to execute in the moment than you are acknowledging. Even if you set self-worth issues aside, there are a zillion reasons why women struggle in saying no to someone who is expecting sex from them. Have you ever had a coworker offer you a slice of haggis and had trouble refusing it? Or what about a friend who wanted you to sit down for hours and listen to them read their extremely boring novel out loud, and then engage in a feedback discussion afterward? In a sexual situation, men should care about their partner’s wellbeing. That’s just part of being a nice person. If you’re treating a woman like she’s a box of cracker jacks, rummaging through her to get to the prize at the bottom, that’s really not cool at all. Even if she’s putting up with it….. the goal of sex shouldn’t be to do as much as you can to her before she gets up and walks away. Just because it isn’t sexual misconduct doesn’t mean it isn’t douchey.

    1. 29.1
      Marika

      Paloma

      I understand what you are saying, I really do. The point being made, though, I think, is that as adults we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our personal struggles. If we lack boundaries, it’s our job to find a way to improve them, or to be aware of it and choose men with strong morals and good empathy levels, or something else…not expect other people to look after us.

      Yes, men (people) should be kind and considerate to others. But a one-night stand with his pants down: I don’t think you can expect that person to show you more consideration and respect than you are showing yourself.

      I’m not advocating assault or giving men a free pass to do whatever they want with a woman, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to give power over your self-esteem and self-protection to someone else. Particularly a stranger.

      Have rules for yourself. Respect and uphold them regardless of the situation. Meet men in public until you trust them. Or accept that sometimes you will get caught up in the moment and may go further than you like, and be kind to yourself. That’s what you can control, not how other people behave.

      1. 29.1.1
        Paloma

        Well, my point is that we should expect better behavior from men overall if we want to put an end to the kind of rape culture that allowed the real creeps like Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes to flourish. Even if you set aside the whole does-it-count-as-rape-or-not argument, I find it baffling that so many people are quick to blame the woman and not him in a situation where he is undeniably treating her poorly. Because he’s a guy he doesn’t have to take ANY responsibility whatsoever for his bad behavior! After all, that’s just the way men are, right?! Primal impulses! It’s not fair to hold him to any standard of decency when he’s got his dick out! I don’t understand how this is any different from telling women in abusive relationships that they just need to “grow up” and it’s their fault for receiving the abuse and not leaving sooner, rather than his fault for being abusive. Like it’s easy to just walk away.

        Suppose Aziz Ansari went to a restaurant, spent thousands of dollars on a 9-course meal and didn’t leave the waiter a tip. Sure, it’s not a criminal act. But would everyone on here be debating about it?

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Paloma

          Look, I understand how women struggle with men.  I have all sisters, and I have all daughters. However, my ex and I taught our daughters to set boundaries.  My girls know the dangers encountered when attempting to reach up when dating. They date guys who are their equals from intelligence and looks points of view.  If a guy is too good to be true, then he probably only wants to have sex with you.

          The cold hard reality is that guys have to pursue.  Guys are usually going to pursue women with whom they believe that they can have sex.  You cannot blame guys for pushing things because even in healthy relationships, guys have to escalate touch or women lose sexual interest.  It is up to you to establish boundaries, period, end of story.  You will get treated as well as you demand to get treated. Chastising men for being men will result in you spending the rest of your life alone.

          One last thing, there is a difference between rape and a woman giving in to sexual escalation. Rape is a forceful act that occurs when a man refuses to stop after being told “no.”  I wish women would stop attempting to redefine the meaning of the word because it cheapens the experiences of women who are truly raped.

  30. 30
    Marika

    Buck

    If you knew a woman who had a really bad impression of men: lots of distrust, negative perceptions & experiences, found it hard to see the good in them or empathise with them..to see them as fellow humans who make mistakes rather than as a group hell-bent on destroying women’s lives..what would you advise this woman to do?

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