31 March 2007

The Great Divide

Well, I'm sick. With a stupid, energy-depleting cold, and it's been a struggle to concentrate long on anything. This is particularly frustrating, since a new sex toy and movie arrived in the mail on Friday, but I just haven't had the energy to check this stuff out with Amy. Hopefully you'll be hearing about that soon ... but apparently not this weekend.

Finding the time to write — or the privacy to have sex — is going to get tricky this coming week, as my mom is coming to visit. Looks like it might be a good time to spring the "100 things" list.


A few weeks ago, Dan Savage had a column that took me by surprise. The topic was what to do about differing libidos — specifically, what a high-libidoed male does when paired with a low-libidoed female. The man had recently discovered the existence of Joan Sewell's I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido, and he was understandably worried. "My spouse can now point at this book," he wrote, "and say, 'I'm normal, live with it....'"

Dan's response caught me totally off guard: He first restated the basic premise of the book — "Women have naturally lower sex drives.... [M]en are hornier—and all the Sex and the City repeats in the world aren't going to change that," he explains of her premise — and then ... he didn't refute it.

Dammit. Et tu, Dan?

The column really got my dander up, and I was fighting to write a blog entry here. But work and my natural laziness kept me from ever writing that. This was lucky, because the next week, Dan's true endgame was revealed: His "silence is assent" approach was only a setup to guarantee that lots of oversexed women would write in and unveil their unbridled lust. Really, how silly of me to not see this coming! I've been reading Dan for years — he's a sort of hero for me. Perhaps I was blinded by my empathy for the writer (though let's face it, I do significantly better than his "5-20 times a year" he gets from his wife). Nevertheless, I was happy to see the outpouring of mail that Dan received. Clearly, I was the only one not in on the joke.

An example: "... I wanted to pipe up as one woman who has never—I mean never—met a man whose libido could match mine," one wrote. "If it were up to me, I’d be having sex twice a day. I’ve never met a man who could handle sex once a day (every day) after the first flush of lust."

I'm not afraid to admit, as I read that one, that I thought: You never met me! But the truth is, I don't really know; I've never been with a woman as insatiable as some of the ladies who star in these letters. Which, I suppose, lends credence to Sewell's book's premise. These are probably the exceptions to the rule.

If I feel any sense of "hope," it's the same kind of hope that writing this blog and (especially) reading other sex blogs has given me: That I'm not the only one dealing with this problem ... that others out there dealing with it have seen improvement (at least when both partners want to change the situation) ... and that I've seen little signs for the better right here at home.

And I'm thinking that the start of blogging and the sudden somewhat-more-regular sex may not have been coincidental. Amy's and my differing libidos seemed to be a locked-in reality. But Amy had suddenly expressed a desire for desiring more sex, to be more of the "old" Amy. It's too early to tell if we've really turned a corner, but the will is there, and that's really all one could ask for, right?

If Savage is to be believed, I should be expecting more:

The one thing that hasn't changed in the wake of Sewell's book is my advice to women with low libidos: You can have strict monogamy or you can have a low libido, ladies, but you can't have both. If monogamy is a priority, you're gonna have to put out, i.e., regular vaginal intercourse and the occasional tide-him-over handjob and/or blowjob, cheerfully given.
I understand where he's coming from here, but this is not a message that I believe can be delivered as an ultimatum. This is something that needs to be realized — by both partners. There needs to be an understanding. Perhaps it's a conversation that Amy and I will have one day. The thought of a context in which such a conversation were to occur ... it frankly scares me.

But I'm thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

One of the libido-related issues that seems to keep coming up for us is the fact that simply having sex makes me want more. If Amy fucks me on a Friday night, I'm all over her all day Saturday, trying to set up another tryst for that night. For her, it seems to be more like a "We've done that already!" It's a chemical thing, I think: Energetic, passionate sex raises my testosterone levels, thus making me even hornier. But I can't possibly expect the same thing to happen to her — not as intensely, at least.

A couple of weekends ago, we had amazing sex on a Saturday night. Sunday, I knew, was going to be all about getting "domestic" things done — errands, work around the house, etc. But I woke up with one thought on my mind: If we have an incredibly productive day and get all that stuff done, we could go another round on Sunday night. Amy gently spurned my flirting and groping that morning, easily saw my goal, and warned me up front that this wasn't going to be happening.

I became a petulant child for quite a bit of the rest of that morning. And the only thing worse than acting this way is knowing that you're being an asshole. I was finally able to turn my attitude that day around, but it wasn't easy for me. As we drove to a mall, Amy called me on my pissy attitude, and I admitted that it was this "sex breeds the desire for more sex" thing that I always seem to have.

"And when I act this way," I said, "I'm afraid that you're going to think you don't want to bother having sex with me at all, because you know you're just going to be asked for more right away."

The issue didn't get resolved, but at least it was out on the table. I'm sure it'll get revisited sometime.

I had to laugh, though, when I noticed this letter among the responses to Savage's column:
I love my husband. I love fucking him. I also know that I do say no more often than yes. I’m working on this. I wish he would cut down on the sulking. He’d get fucked a lot more “if only” he would.
Hey! I think Amy wrote in!


AmyElle said...

I tend to want more sex the more I get. There are many reasons I say no. It happens even when I do want to have sex.

My drive is actually very high. I just don't get to indulge it as often as I would like.

A Pervert Looks at 40 said...

OMG. How absolutely straight on with much of my life.

First, I have met a couple women who's sex drive could match mine. In my early twenties, I was with a woman where we sat down and figured we were having 10+ hours of sex a week, and would have had more, if we'd had time.

But ultimately, I had to choose between my Wife, with a lower libido, who fits me perfectly in all other ways, or to keep looking. I'm old enough to know that sex doesn't trump all and to take the Life, and then try to improve the libido mismatch.

I have learned that the sulking and showing disappointment accomplishes little. She has to feel relaxed (the hard one), desired (something I can work on, honestly), and connected with me (again, solveable from my end). Most importantly, she has to feel loved.

At least you're talking. Best of luck.

Gillette said...

I am keenly interested in this topic of mixed libidos and especially the topic of women's libidos who go down and why.

I found a great book called "When Your Sex Drives Don't Match" by Sandra Pertot when I was getting to do some Sex Coaching for a couple with this challenge. I read the book the day before seeing them (very short and easy read) and they were almost textbook.

Basically Pertot divides libidos into ten types, talks about the potential issues that can arise with different couplings, then gives exercises for the couple to do to deal with the situation.

While I don't agree with all of it, I did find it had lots and lots to offer regarding this topic.

It still does not answer my questions about women. I have my own ideas and am doing more research here, and will post on it, but I found this book a really good starting point for couples in this situation.

Happy Adventures. Like your blog, by the way.

la fille mariée said...

Well, colour me horny.

Certainly, my libido has changed in many ways over the years, but I can't think of a time when it wasn't greater than my husband's. Currently, I would very much like to be having more sex than I am currently having -- the quality of what I'm having (not at home) is phenomenal, but logistics get in the way of quantity and frequency. In the short term, during individual evenings or nights or weekends spent with lovers, I am completely insatiable. Who knows how that would translate into a long term relationship where I actually had someone willing to try to satiate me.

I assume Savage would be saying the same thing about monogamy and men with low libidos? A man who wants monogamy should be putting out, cheerfully (and, I hope, creatively)?

Alex said...

Thanks for the great post! This issue has been a stumbling point in my marriage for some time now, along with some other sex/relationship issues.

Getting this out in the open is an important first step, and I look forward to us working to find a solution to our sex-drive mismatch.

Best regards,



probitionate said...

Am really enjoying your blog as I trawl through it...and this topic is fascinating, having read the original Savage column...and followup. Good stuff. `

Bekah said...

Bekah said...
I am, for the first time ever (in my life), dating a man that has the sex drive of an old married woman. I gotta tell ya, it's not very flattering to me, it makes me think I don't 'do it' for him. I know that is not the case, but in the heat of the moment, the moment in which I hear 'no', it still feels that way. I'm not too sure what to do about it, still thinking on that one. I'm going to try to resolve it before trying to understand it because I can't ever bring myself to understand why it is what it is. Strange....

AnotherSexBlogger said...

I know this is kind of pimping my own blog, but I wrote a post about that column, too!

Cool to see a guy's P.O.V. on the column(s).

la fille mariée said...

Oh, and hey... since you're feeling so great, and have nothing to do with your time, Denis... I've tagged you again. :)

Anonymous said...

I thought Dan Savage was a GAY writer, writing about predominantly heterosexual issues(?)


"Daniel Keenan Savage (born October 7, 1964[1] near Chicago, Illinois, USA) is an openly gay American sex advice columnist, author, media pundit, journalist, and newspaper editor."

"He...and his boyfriend, Terry Miller, is a "stay-at-home dad" for the couple's adopted son, Daryl Jude "DJ" Pierce (born 1998). However he has also expressed skepticism of simplistic views of monogamy."

So I'm confused about the line you write, "though let's face it, I do significantly better than his "5-20 times a year" he gets from his wife)."

Wife? You mean, partner?

The only reason I know this was that I happened to catch an interview with him on Comedy Central's, Colbert Report.

Denis Connor said...

ALL of your comments -- and the private email I received on this entry -- mean that I clearly need a follow-up on this post. Watch for it soon, now that I'm feeling well again.