As soon as sex becomes something one partner must “give” to the other, intimacy goes downhill.
It usually happens in heterosexual couples like this: men want sex and believe women must “give it to them” in order for them to be happy. Men go on a quest to “get sex” from their partner, sometimes prevailing yet often complaining that she’s not relenting and has gone cold.
This is a storyline I spent years breaking free of. I still struggle with it at times, and have been all week. I want to tell you about it and how we got free.
In the “he needs to get sex from her” dynamic, men must see women as people who inherently don’t like sex (“I must convince her to have it with me.”). He stops seeing her as his equal partner and starts to see her as a of gate keeper who is thwarting him. In this way, men step into the victim role. “She has something I need in order to be happy and she won’t give it to me (throws hands up in frustration). I’m trying so hard and none of my moves are working.”
People stuck in this trap often feel extremely frustrated and helpless because their attempts to “get sex” almost always fail.
Here’s why: the victim role will never get what it wants. It’s a character that feels helpless and unfulfilled by design.
When a man (or anyone–I’m going to stick with the man/woman storyline here) acts like a victim, he leaves his partner two choices: she can play the villain and reject him, or she can play the hero, pity him, and have sex with him.
Both of these choices feel awful for both people and neither creates joy, closeness, or sexual excitement.
In one case, she swats him away not because she doesn’t like sex but because she doesn’t like whining. In the other case, she pities him and turns into his mother because he’s acting like a baby. Even though it feels icky, she has sex out of sympathy or to keep the peace
When she does this, he may seem mollified at first and leave her alone. However, this solution is VERY temporary. Within minutes, days, or years she will feel less attracted to him and start resenting him. She’ll lose interest in having sex because sex is no longer an expression of her passion and desire–it’s instead something she gives to him so he’ll stop bothering her.
Men also don’t get what they want in either of these equations. In one case, he’s constantly being rejected which feels awful. In the other, he’s being treated like a child and having sex with a reluctant partner who’s faking it for his benefit and secretly waiting for it to be over so she can get on with the rest of her day.
Miserable as this dynamic may be, I see couples stay stuck in it for YEARS and keep trying to play this “get sex from her” game in order to feel connected. It will never work because this is a hung game. There’s no way to win it.
I’ve found that what’s required is to walk away from that playing field altogether and play a new game.
The new game is: we’re equals exploring and discovering sex with each other. In the new game, sex is shared not given. In the new game, desire and pleasure emerge because real connection is occurring. And connection feels really good.
Ok, back to my relationship…
All week, Jimmy and I haven’t been having sex. This is very rare for us and I been thinking and openly asking, “What’s up?” As the days went on, he seemed to be getting mopier. He started dropping hints about how he was horny or making jokes about sex that weren’t funny. Then he’d look at me like I was supposed to get the hint, realize I’d been hiding the sex from him (in my secret stash spot?), and then spread my legs so he needn’t suffer the injustice anymore.
Naturally, I felt disgusted by this and pulled away further.
For many years, I’ve held a commitment that I never do anything I don’t want to do sexually. I keep this commitment because I’ve lived the alternative. I know firsthand it leads to more fights, loneliness, affairs, and divorce.
As a result, I sometimes feel the heat of men’s anger because I’m not “giving it up.” While not doing what I don’t want to do is a great first step, it alone also doesn’t give either of us what we want: love and connection. Yet I’ve not been sure what else to do besides stand in my knowing that I don’t do anything I don’t want to do.
The last few days I’ve been struggling with this. Day after day he was exasperated and clearly unhappy that I was “denying him” sex again, yet I knew if I had sex with him under these conditions it was game over for genuine passion, attraction, and respect.
Last night we finally broke thru and it happened because I discovered a way off the playing field of “he wants sex and she won’t give it to him.” It wasn’t dramatic. I just left that field. I turned away from literally faced a new direction—towards the unknown—and invited him to come with me. At first, I think he was offended and dug his heels in about how bad it was for him that I hadn’t given it up for 4 days.
I didn’t take the bait. I just kept going into the unknown telling myself things like, “I have no idea what’s going to happen here and I’m just going to keep opening to this new game.”
Lo and behold, the tension shifted and we could finally see each other again. I swear he grew taller and his face became thicker before my eyes. His presence filled the room. For a moment I felt scared because he was no longer acting like a boy, he was a MAN. I realized how I keep the old game going because a part of me fears grown men—and that they’ll hurt me, overpower me, etc. I breathed and revealed my fears to him.
There were tears on both sides.
I asked him if he would be my partner and ally in playing a new game and tracking the dynamic between us—if we started slipping into the old pattern, that we’d both have a nose for it, name it, and take responsibility for shifting out of it.
Then we had sex and it was like nothing we’d ever done before.
I thought, “It was SO worth not giving into that terrible game in order to have sex like that.”
If you’re stuck in the miserable “he wants sex and she doesn’t” dynamic, I want to offer you a new game. I can help you play it because I’ve been playing for a little while. I want to share what I’ve discovered so anyone who wants it can have legendary love, self respect, and sexual fulfillment. Please let me know if you want to play the new game.
Advocate for women's sexual fulfillment