When I first saw Paul, he was in the best shape of his life. His pecs, abs and biceps were rock hard and in high def. I could see them clearly through his thin, and entirely insufficient wifebeater. I felt something smack its lips; perhaps it was my labia.
I had never had such an instant, visceral reaction to a man before. It was lust at first sight. I didn’t expect to see him again, but I thought and talked about him constantly afterward. Then, the universe provided -- or perhaps it was my friends, who were tired of hearing me talk about my intense attraction to this man. He came into my life.
He was smart, funny, cute, and you really could bounce a quarter off those buns. The universe had given me exactly what I asked for, but I should have also requested a whopping triple dose of raw, male virility.
The magnificent Paul turned out to have a low, low sex drive.
Of course, the only person I had to compare him to was my ex-boyfriend, a 19-year-old whose sexual appetite was insatiable, who sucked on my tits as if they were a dessert he would never taste again and who came 10 times in one memorable night. Paul was only four years older, but he didn’t want to have sex more than once a night, had absolutely no desire to wake me up in the middle of the night to do it again, and woke up the next morning and got dressed without showing any signs of wanting a quickie before work. Still, I was falling in love.
We moved in together, and our once-a-week bedtime tango dwindled quickly to once a month, two months, three. I started to hyperventilate, wondering what was wrong. Was I too fat? Was there someone else? What was wrong with me -- with us?
He gave me all sorts of reasons for his lack of desire. He wasn’t in the mood, he had a long day at work, his parents were stressing him out and he was sore after working out at the gym. He worked so hard for that beautiful body that I never got to see or touch.
I got clear shower curtains for the bathroom. I bought racy lingerie. It worked the first time, but not the second or third. I started looking eagerly forward to birthdays, holidays and vacations because they were the only times of guaranteed action.
Until our second Valentine’s Day together, when Paul came home, handed me a bunch of flowers, then collapsed into bed, saying “I’m so tired.” As he fell asleep, I realized I was alone, just like every other night.
Four years into our relationship, he proposed and I said yes. I knew it wasn’t sex itself that I wanted, it was him, and sex with him, and I figured we could work it out. But when I found myself laying in bed that night, untouched again, I had a dark moment.
“I won’t make the first move,” I promised myself as I drifted off to sleep. “Let’s see how long it takes for him to do it.”
The next time we got together, Paul’s body had lost its familiarity. I could barely remember what turned him on, or where his erogenous zones were. It was like having sex with a stranger, but without the adrenaline, the excitement or the sense of danger. There was no big sense of welcome either, like make-up sex after a big fight, or the frenzied mating people do when they’ve been forced apart for a year.
It was awkward, sweaty and did little to soothe my temper because I didn’t know whether it would take a week, month or another year before I’d reach this place again. I rolled off his naked body and started counting off the days.
“We’ve slept in the same bed every night, but this is the first time we’ve done it since we got engaged in June. It’s been six months,” I said, and to my ears the last two words sounded like death.
“I’ll do better. I’ll make a New Year’s resolution,” he promised. He fell asleep and I rapidly broke down. Aren’t resolutions for things you should do, but don’t want to? Such as diet, exercise and -- sex?
For the next two weeks, I continued to cry at every opportunity as I prepared to leave. I knew he adored me, but I was young and lusty. I was beginning to think that marriage would mean death to my sex life.
Like the excellent fiance that he was, Paul soon noticed that my eyes were always red from crying. He was further alarmed when he opened my closet and found it full of boxes instead of clothes.
“I’m never going to get what I need, so I think I should go,” I said.
“I don’t want you to leave me,” he said. “But don’t just say you want more sex. Stage a seduction, or tell me to do something. But be specific.”
“Go to the doctor,” I said. “Find out if there’s something physically wrong with you.” He did, and everything checked out. He only grumbled a little when the doctor stuck a finger up his ass to check his prostate.
Some of my resentment started to fade, because for the first time, he was doing something for our sex life. I married him, but it took a couple of days for us to consummate our marriage.
To give him due credit, there are times when he tries to make it up to me. Paul will pleasure me for what feels like hours, after which I pretend to come. I am happy to see him go through the motions, but I can't reach orgasm. I guess I'm angry. The situation feels patently unfair. I want more, he won't give it, and I'm not allowed to seek it elsewhere.
I've stopped initiating the action. It just hurts too much to hear him say no. While I know that he enjoys sex when it happens, it is also the first thing to land on the back burner when life gets in the way. I know I could complain, convince him to take some Viagra and “fix” him for a while. But he always drifts quietly, softly and inevitably away, back to our status quo.
Touching myself hasn’t done much to help curb my sexual frustration. It's the skin on skin contact, the intimacy that I want. Exercise has been a better cure. I’ve started lifting weights, running, swimming, anything to make me hurt. If I’m sore enough, I’ll fall in bed at night without wishing for something that isn’t going to happen.
I find comfort in the thought that one day, my sex drive will fade away naturally. Perhaps I’ll miss it, but I think not. Desire can be such a fragile thing, and my anger has started to kill it off completely. Already, I haven’t been able to reach orgasm through sex in what feels like years.
I’ve started to think, what’s the point of obsessing about something that I don’t even enjoy anymore? Things are working up to a climax, and I think it’s time, once again, to talk to him and find a way for him to meet me halfway, or somewhere close to it.
We’re newlyweds still. I’m sure there are people who look at us and see a young, happy couple. Perhaps one or another of them will think, “He probably can’t keep his hands off of her.” And for now, nothing could be further from the truth.