My fiancé, J, has recently told me that he may not be in the mood for sex in the near future. He’s dealing with a lot of emotional issues right now, and just isn’t feeling it. Intellectually, I am perfectly fine with this. I’ve talked with him about how touch and sex are an important way of communicating how I feel about him, and how obviously I can’t make him be sexual with me, but it’s important that this be temporary. Intellectually speaking, I’m confident that it will be.
Emotionally, however, it’s a completely different matter. After just a few days of him saying “not right now” whenever things start to head in that direction, it starts to feel like he’s rejecting me as a person. Even though he still is loving and caring towards me – maybe more than otherwise, because he seems to be making an effort to express it in ways that aren’t sexual – my heart just kind of drops to my feet. He can tell I feel this way, and makes a point of saying things to counteract it (I love my man!). But while “I still love you, even when I’m tired and grouchy” helps a bit, nothing will make me feel better until we’re being sexual again.
I think that fact says more about me and about the society we live in than anything else. We live in a world where women (and to a fair extent men as well) are told that unless someone wants to have sex with them, they aren’t worthwhile. A look at any women’s magazine will illustrate this. The headlines tend to fall into one of two categories. The first is “How to attract a man” (and by implication, get him to have sex with you). Makeup tips, weight loss advice, and fashion articles all fall into this category. The second is “How to keep the man you’ve got”. This is accomplished, of course, by giving him the best sex he’s ever had, with a little relationship development on the side to fill the times when you actually have to, you know, talk to each other.
But by obsessing over getting and keeping a sexual partner, we rush past the crucial point. Your value as a human being is not determined by whether or not someone is attracted to you sexually. Or as Erin at dressaday.com says,
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
I also about what this says about how we think of men. I doubt many straight men out there would feel the same way as I do about a few nights of “not tonight, I’m just not in the mood” from their partners. As a society, we tend to think of men as mindless sex machines who are always ‘on’ and ready to go, given the opportunity. This obviously is a skewed view of men. I can’t think of many guys who would get naked and have sex in a busy intersection, for example. But I don’t think we’ve allowed men the space to just not want sex. And that hurts women too, because we’re supposedly the ones responsible for men’s libidos. If our partner doesn’t want sex, we think, it’s because we’re doing something wrong.
I think the only thing we’re doing wrong is assuming that men never don’t want sex. And hey, this blog is all about doing things wrong. Even though I drive my fiancé crazy because I keep mindlessly touching him when he doesn’t want it, he still loves me, because whether or not we currently being sexual with each other has nothing to do with whether I’m a lovable person.
I’m still horny, though.