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Friday, March 8, 2013

289

Sex Phases, Red Flags, and "I Just Don't Think You'd Be a Good Parent"

1. I've been conditioned by quizzes in magazines and movies to believe that it's a red flag when a man has trouble with the idea of marriage. My boyfriend of a year and a half and I talk about marriage frequently. Neither of us are in a hurry to get married. Recently, he blurted out, "I don't really like the idea of marriage."

He then went on to say that he loves me, and is committed to me. That he wants to have kids and buy a house with me. That, because he knows marriage is important to me, he'll be willing to marry me in a few years. He even set a tentative date for when he'd like to propose (after returning from a deployment). But Dude, should I still be worried? I love this guy more than anything, and we're very happy together. But need I be concerned he's happy the way we are and will never want to take the next step — or that he'll only do it begrudgingly?

So play this out in reverse. Imagine he'd said he's happy, that everything is great, but he's set a tentative future date at which he'd like to break up with you. Would you take that statement at face value?

This isn't a dude thing or a lady thing, this is a people thing — when we're in a situation where our desires clash with social pressures, we often imagine future dates at which we'll feel different. "Hey, great to see you! We should get together! Sometime!"

If he'd proposed, but set the date after his deployment, that would mean something, but what he's told you is that he doesn't want to marry you right now, and right now is the only time frame in which proposals of marriage have any weight. No amount of "I'll propose later" means a thing.

He's keeping his options open. You should do the same. 

2. So here's my situation: I'm 29 years old, my boyfriend is 32. We were friends for many years before we started dating. He joined the army and we kept in touch here and there. Two and half years ago we began dating, but due to the distance (he's stationed out of state) I broke it off a year in. We remained friends and we both dated other people. He ended up having a child with a woman he dated. From what he told me, they dated for a few months, broke up, she realized she was pregnant after the break up, and they're amicable with each other. Since we're still friends, he would call me for advice and just to talk about the pregnancy. And his family was/is very unsupportive of it all.

Six months ago, around the time of his son's birth, we became romantic with each other and began dating again. Since then, we've been very serious, spending a lot time together, talking a lot about our future. Mostly because if we want to be together seriously we have to make decisions as far as him getting out of the army or us getting married to be together.

Also around the same time of his son's birth, my brother (a single dad) hit hard on his depression, and I started helping him out with my niece more than before. I basically take care of her on the weekends and sometimes during the week, and my brother and I started talking about possibly of taking in my niece more long-term since. Last night I was on the phone with the boyfriend and I told him that my brother and I were talking about moving my niece in with me permanently. I was expressing my concerns and that I was stressed out about it, but that we were trying to figure out a way to make it smooth for my niece. He tells me, "I never thought of you as a parent." To which I say, "What?" He responds, "I just don't think you'd make a good parent." So I basically freak out, and he says "I don't mean with your niece, she's five. I mean if you were to get pregnant and have a baby, I don't think you could do that." To which I freak out A LOT MORE.

What bothers me is how he views me in his life. We have talked about marriage and family, and we've both said they're something we want. I felt that we were working to build something more long-term, so it scares me that he doesn't think I'd make a good parent. Especially when he already has a son, who if we get married I'd have to help raise. A part of me wants to break it off with him for saying that to me. Am I overreacting? Overthinking it? Does he see his baby's mother as the only mother of his children? Do guys date girls and talk about marriage and a family they think will be bad parents? Or is he getting cold feet? My friends think this is all bad, I need a dude's perspective. Please!

Here's one dude's perspective — why would your friends give you bad advice in this situation?

If he thinks you'll be a bad mother, it all but guarantees that raising a family with him would be a rough ride, and believe me, speaking as a married dude with two feisty kids, you and your partner better be as one on the parenting front, or all other forms of marital comity take a backseat.

Add in, just for laughs, a guy who gets a casual girlfriend pregnant, and whose family is unsupportive of someone bringing their grandson into the world, and it doesn't sound to me like you were freaking out. It sounds like you were reacting appropriately.

Really, why would you put up with that? Listen to your friends.

3. I have a question that might be less of a question, and more of a plea for people to share their stories with me. It's about SEX! (oooo!) and more specifically sex within marriages or long-term relationships.

I'm a woman in her 30s, who has had a few long term and lovely relationships in the past decade: 2 years, 3 years, 5 years. I'm currently a year into the best relationship ever! He's sweet, caring, hilarious, smart and energetic — he's all the good things tied up with an awesome bow. I would marry this man tomorrow. I think our life together is going to be fantastic, and I'm excited every day to wake up and see him there. Plus, he's super hot!

But ... ah, there's always a but ... sex is doing my head in. In every one of my relationships, after a year or so, I start feeling less and less like having sex. It's happening now with this man. We kiss and cuddle and it's great, but half the time I get very little reaction "down there." When we do have sex it's always enjoyable, but I don't understand my reticence to actually "get there" you know? I feel like I don't understand or trust my body sometimes — why isn't it reacting to this hot situation by getting all hot? Would I really rather get up and have a cup of cocoa?

Maybe this sounds like a common story, and there are a few understandable reasons for it. We live togther, we get comfortable, relationships evolve into something different. The early spark dims a little and is replaced by a companionship that might be a little different but is good too. He sees me in a face mask and old knickers. I see him squeezing his spots in the mirror. I also feel like I understand the ways to manage it or open myself up again — talk openly about sex, go slow, set aside time for each other.

I feel like I can intellectually get my head around the reasons for it and the ways to manage it, but I am still worried and stressed. If I try to work out my worry and pin it down, it goes like this: (1) Maybe all relationships lose their sexy spark after a while; (2) but that's so sad!; (3) but wait, maybe it's just ME and I have a low sex drive and I need to fix myself; (4) even if my sex drive is just a touch lower than most people, I still miss feeling lusty and sexy and connecting with him in this really deep way.

I feel like there isn't much talking about what really happens in people's bedrooms because it's so private. I also feel like the way that sex in marriage is dealt with in movies and TV is so horrible I want to cry — the woman is always frigid and cold, and the man is always horny and frustrated. That can't be how it really is! That's awful!

So here's what I'm hoping: I'm hoping people might be generous enough to share their happy stories with me in the comments section. Has anyone been with their partner for years and still lusts after their bones every day? Or do you and your partner get it on once every two months and are completely satisfied with that? Does sexiness ebb and flow with you over time? Is there something you do together to keep the spark? How on earth do people feel after having children!? I'd really love to hear how real people, in real relationships feel about sleeping with their partners after all this time together.

I'm hoping to find out it is really possible, and to be inspired by people who still feel happy, or content, or satisfied. There is so much variety in this crazy world, and I don't want the only stories I hear about this to be the ghastly couples in Hollywood films, or Liz Lemon who longs for a relationship where you just watch TV with your partner and no one tries any "funny business."

People lose sexual interest in people they are with, if they are with them long enough. It really is that simple.

I'm not saying that married people all have unsatisfying sex lives — my wife and I go in and out of phase on that score, as a lot of married couples do, and the sex is great when we're both in the mood — but I am saying that familiarity breeds contentment. It takes unfamiliarity to breed unbridled lust. (Every account of infidelity since the world began hinges on this fact.)

There are people who claim that their sex drives have remained as urgent as when they were first dating, but most of them are lying, in the same friendly way we tell old acquaintances "You haven't changed a bit." Our society has come to prize sexual attractiveness above other characteristics and sexual activity above other kinds of togetherness, to the point that the ordinary experience — after a while, there are some days you both want to fuck, but most days not — doesn't get talked about because it is embarrassing.

If you're unhappy with the sex, you should certainly do what you can to make it better or more frequent — there is, god knows, a whole shelf of books on the subject. But as with diet books, if any of that advice really worked for most people most of the time, there wouldn't be so many books about it in the first place. (Indeed, the existence of that shelf attests to the generality of the pattern.)

Whatever you do on that score, though, I'd be damn careful about staking the relationship on creating constant sexual heat despite quotidian familiarity. If that's the only way you'd stay together, you might as well start figuring out how to divide the china, given the odds.

If your primary goal is hot sex, switch partners. That always gets things revved up, for a while. But if it's long-term commitment, I'd also plan for a future where sexiness ebbs and flows over time. Because it usually does.

4. The closer I come to the possibility of getting married, the more I wonder what its value is; is it a tradition I'm taking for granted or a symbolic gesture of commitment that happens to have insane financial benefits? I love the idea of having a partner and a teammate, but I want to give marriage as an institution a good, hard look. (I'm not religious and neither is my boyfriend.) What were your reasons for getting hitched?

Why pick? It's a tradition and, like a lot of traditions, it's also a source of practical, real-world value. Society shapes itself around its traditions, after all, and not just in financial ways (though there is that) but also social and cultural ones (which is why gay marriage is worth fighting for, and 'civil partnerships' are an insult).

As for us, we got married because we wanted to have kids, and we're traditional people in that regard. What I've found since is that being married makes the obstacles to separating higher than the obstacles to staying together. That's an unromantic view of it, but it's the truth. Even when we fight, I never have what I now remember as the girlfriend worry, which is "Huh. I wonder if this is the beginning of the end?"

The other thing I'd say is that if you decide to give marriage a good, hard look, odds are you won't get married. There are too many conflicting and irrational elements bound up in that institution for it to survive gimlet-eyed scrutiny. Remember, tradition is designed to withstand time, not thought. If you decide to do something traditional, just accept that the decision is partly irrational. And if you don't want to do anything that's even partly irrational, you probably don't want to get married.

Previously: Affection, Gift Returns, and Professors on Facebook

A Married Dude is one of several rotating married dudes. Do you have a question for A Married Dude?

Photo via Flickr/boynton

289 Comments / Post A Comment

funfetti

YESSSS ADVICE COLUMNS 4EVA

funfetti

@funfetti And I don't mean that in a cynical #omgshitshow kind of way, just that I think the columnists and commentariat here have a lot of smart things to say about tough (and not so tough) topics... plus it's kind of turned into a great community-building thing where I just want to give everyone hugs and snaps and sometimes a judgey RuPaul gif.

par_parenthese

@funfetti ADVICE COLUMNS 5EVA

packedsuitcase

AMD! I've missed you.

Love the answer on marriage. I've been trying to articulate why it's important to me lately (Dudefriend doesn't see it as a must-do, I do, time will tell how it will all work out), but part of it is just that...it just does. It's tradition, and one steeped in lots of sexist things, but one that's changed with time and I think has a lot of value to me. But I can't for the life of me say why it's any better than just being with somebody long term (except that I like that it would be a solid way for us to be recognized by the government of whatever country we settle down in and tie ourselves together as a unit).

Sorry for the rambling. I liked these answers.

Kitty

Maybe because it is a really public way of declaring your love to your family and friends? One that says, "We are willing to risk all the legal messiness and facebook status changes because we love each other."

What do I know though? I do want to get married, that's about all I know.

swirrlygrrl

@packedsuitcase Annnnd I did not. Likely because marriage isn't important to me at all. One shouldn't need to justify that it is important to your partner (same as: one shou;dn't have to justify that it is important that you cuddle or spend time together, or clen the bathroom more than once a month. It just is. This is an immutable part of you, and that's okay - can you accept it, or not?)

After reading this, I feel like dude thinks no one is committed if not married. And having bought a house with someone and then broken up with them, separating a major asset and disentangling finances in your 30s far more complicated than a friend who divorced in his 20s when neither had any money.

packedsuitcase

@swirrlygrrl I can definitely see that perspective - I mentioned downthread that I put it out there to Dudefriend early on that marriage was a dealbreaker. I think that not being married works out very well for many people, and that it's 100% possible to believe in commitment or monogamy or whatever a long term relationship looks like to people without it involving marriage. But because it is important to me, I think his answers resonated fairly well.

@Kitty - I think that's a big part of it. It's important to me to stand up in front of people I value to commit myself to him and, in a way, ask my friends and family to hold me accountable. To have them there and hear us say that we are creating a family, that we are standing together. I think it's totally possible to do all of those things without getting married, but I wouldn't feel secure without that. I also want it because I want a chance to sit down and think through all of it and think about jumping into something huge and terrifying and decide that it's still worth it and that I'm committing to him.

H.E. Ladypants

@packedsuitcase It's the asking the friends and family to hold you accountable is a big thing. I went a friend's wedding several years ago where the pastor made a point of emphasizing that the people were invited because they were the people they loved and wanted to support them and that by attending the wedding we were agreeing to support them in the endeavor of their lives together. It kind of blew my hair back and I thought, "yeah, that's exactly why we're here."

I think a big part of marriage (the ceremony) isn't just affirming the commitment as a couple, it's affirming the community's commitment to the couple and the couple (rather than just the two individuals) as a part of the community. And while this runs a little contrary to the hyper-individualistic outlook our current culture has on life, I think it's actually not a bad thing to want to affirm. (Not saying marriage is right for everyone, just saying that a wedding isn't just about the dynamics of that one relationship but rather the dynamics of a lot of relationships.)

Better to Eat You With

@packedsuitcase This was a part of my wedding ceremony, and not even really by our own choosing. It was just a part of the ceremony that this particular pastor generally performed. (The fact that most of the people in attendance have made the marriage more difficult, not less, is another story entirely.)

annev6

@packedsuitcase Maybe marriage is like a bachelor's degree? You don't need one any more, but if you can get one, why not? Couldn't hurt.

WaityKatie

@swirrlygrrl I agree, I thought Dude's answer was very dismissive of people who don't believe in marriage. I interpreted the guy in the letter as being, like, "I don't believe in marriage, BUT I know it is so important to you that I would be willing to do it anyway." Which, to me, says he's super committed, so committed in fact that he would compromise his personal beliefs to be with the LW. Not that he's "keeping his options open." Am I crazy?

WaityKatie

@annev6 Because you don't believe in it? Why is that not a valid reason for not doing something?

annev6

@WaityKatie I don't think I said it wasn't. I was making a joke. I am but a lowly commenter on the internet, I have no authority to tell people what they can and cannot do.

Sierra

@WaityKatie you're definitely not crazy. I interpreted it that way as well. This "Married Dude" was actually kind of a douche in my opinion

WaityKatie
I agree, I thought Dude's answer was very dismissive of people who don't believe in marriage. I interpreted the guy in the letter as being, like, "I don't believe in marriage, BUT I know it is so important to you that I would be willing to do it anyway." Which, to me, says he's super committed, so committed in fact that he would compromise his personal beliefs to be with the LW. Not that he's "keeping his options open." Am I crazy?

Emby

Skipping down to answer #1: I also don't want to to get married. Personal opinion only, but I don't like the institution. I'd do it for the financial benefits, and I'd do it if my life-partner really wanted it for her own personal reasons, but given my druthers, I wouldn't.

And I'm perfectly 100% cool with the idea of sharing my life with someone and being in a fully committed, lifelong relationship. I actually like that idea quite a bit. But marriage in and of itself is something I don't particularly like the thought of.

So if LW#1's partner is anything like me, I disagree with A Dude. I suggest she flesh out why her partner feels this way, and maybe why he decided to express it now. She may find the answer more satisfactory than she thinks.

packedsuitcase

@Emby True. It definitely needs a pretty in-depth discussion with open minds on both sides.

hallelujah

@Emby Yep. Marriage ambivalence is not an indication of commitment-phobia. I didn't really want to get married, ever, despite having no aversion to monogamy, but then I got knocked up and it became very important to my partner, and also financially beneficial, so I did. Sometimes there are not scary things lurking beneath the surface - marriage is a loaded institution with lots of negative historical connotations. Maybe just listen to your partner.

MilesofMountains

@Emby My mother also hated the idea of marriage, and married my father because she had promised she would if she got knocked up, and then she did. It had nothing to do with commitment, they just celebrated their 41st anniversary last month, although they count their anniversary from the date they moved in and became a committed couple, not their marriage date.

anachronistique

@MilesofMountains My parents celebrate both anniversaries. And they were giant hippies who basically only got married once they started considering kids because of all the legal junk.

frigwiggin

@Emby I was coming down here to say this--just because one doesn't like marriage doesn't mean one is stereotypically afraid of commitment. My boyfriend and I have absolutely no plans to get married or have children, but we've been together for five and a half years and also have absolutely no plans of breaking up anytime soon. I mean, it still works better if you can find someone equally disinterested in marriage to be with, otherwise there's bound to be strife about it, but one shouldn't jump to the conclusion that he doesn't want to because he wants to sow his seed or whatever gross euphemism.

swirrlygrrl

@Emby Ugh - exactly. I don't want to get married. I don't believe in marriage. I am still plenty capable of committing to a single person when I want to. And I would even get married if it was important to that person who I was committed to/make legal sense (and if with US army personnel, it makes a lot of sense). But I still don't want to get married.

TheBelleWitch

@Emby I'd be interested to hear more about this from you and other monogamy-but-not-marriage types. I admit my knee-jerk reaction to "I want commitment & kids with you, but no marriage" is that they're saying, "I want you around, but not enough to sign a piece of paper that will legally benefit you and our offspring." It strikes me as sort of a hollow stand - kids tie you to a person much more than any marriage certificate, so why eschew the institution, especially now that it can be as egalitarian as you'd like?

But that's my judgmental side and you all are thoughtful people, so what am I missing?

swirrlygrrl

@TheBelleWitch I think where one lives also plays a role in this - I have no romantic attachment to marriage, I am not religious, and it's just a piece of paper for me (and the cost of a wedding of whatever shape and size), given I live in Canada, where the legal benfits to common law partnership are pretty much the same as for marriage (there are exceptions: women in Quebec with children - get married for your legal protection!!) Talking to a friend in the US, who is in the army, I was shocked at how differently his partner would be treated if they were married.

But it irks me pretty badly to have had peopel tell me my 8 year relationship that involved mingled finances anda jointly purchased house and multiple cats gotten together wasn't legitimate since we weren't married. Because Kim Kardashian, etcs relationships were so much more valid with a dress and piece of paper than mine!!

frigwiggin

@TheBelleWitch Part of my thing is that neither of us do want kids. That may change in the future, but in the meantime, both of us have good jobs and insurance and all that, and we're in our mid-twenties, and it's just not very important to either of us? Part of this may stem from the fact that both our parents are divorced (neither of his parents remarried, my mom has, and my dad recently separated from his third wife), and that may have affected our views of the importance of marriage as a thing. It's not of religious importance to us and neither of us are into the whole wedding thing so we'd probably just do a city hall thing if we decided it's a good idea. But--and this may be my immaturity showing--I don't really know about what legal benefits there are for married folks in the state of California and how that might be better than the setup we have now. We haven't really been motivated to look into it, which may strike you (or others) as unromantic, but we're happy! If things change in a couple of years, we'll figure it out.

Blondsak

@TheBelleWitch I don't want kids, so my response will not answer your question (and really, your main premise) completely, but here are my reasons:

1. I am bisexual. I live with and am in love with a man right now, but if I fell in love with a woman, I wouldn't be able to marry her where I live. That a tradition is the only reason why it's acceptable for me to receive financial and societal benefits by legally committing myself to a man but not a woman really turns me off to the whole prospect.

2. If we decide the relationship is over, I can move out and BAM! it's done. I should mention here we also don't share finances.

3. I love parties but I hate planning them, and a wedding is something I will bypass at all costs. Unfortunately, even if your plan is simply to go to city hall, there are always societal and familial pressures that make any union more stressful than you think it will be, no matter how simple you try to keep it.

4. My boyfriend doesn't care about marriage, so no pressure there either.

CAVEAT: Both my boyfriend and I want to leave our country and live somewhere else. If one of us got a job or path to citizenship in the country we want to move to, we have agreed we would marry so that getting us both there would be less of a hassle. As you can see, there is no passion to that however - it will simply be a rational decision based on weighing the likely outcomes.

Clarisse McClellan

@TheBelleWitch For me, having my legal and financial identity defined by marriage makes me really uncomfortable. I'm not sure if I can really explain why. If I wanted to have kids, I might feel like the benefits outweigh that discomfort, but that isn't an issue so far.

Miss Maszkerádi

@this entire thread - I know a couple (she's in her early thirties, he's about forty) who were married for five years, then about two years ago had some sort of crisis and divorced. After living apart for about half a year they moved back in together, adopted a dog, and are once again madly in love, though they did not remarry. I don't know many of the details (not my business) but I have gathered that at least part of the crisis was that they were freaking out about the legal, binding nature of Being Married. Like a crisis of faith - are we together because we actually WANT to be, or because we HAVE to be? And the complete impossibility of escape route if things ever did go south was hanging over their heads like a sword of Damocles. For them, it seems, it works better to be committed but not legally married, because now they know 100% that their being together is both of their own free choice. But what do I know? *shrug*

MilesofMountains

@TheBelleWitch I'm non-commital about marriage: it doesn't really mean a thing to me, but given that it seems to be important to friends/family and oh yeah, my boyfriend, sure, I'll do it, whatever.

I know some people who say they don't want to get married because they want their partner to be with them because he/she wants to every day, not because divorce is such a pain that they're "trapped" in the marriage and they're willing to accept that their partner may leave them when they no longer want to be there.

For me, I feel like it really means nothing (and I'm Canadian like swirrlygrrl, so it has no legal benefits compared to common-law), but seems to come with all these expensive expectations and stupid, outdated traditions I'd be expected to follow. BUT, like I said, I've come to the conclusion that getting married is really about society/cultural cohesiveness, and not me or my relationship, so I'm willing to do it for that.

Beatrix Kiddo

@Emby I agree 100%. Just because he's not really into the idea of marriage doesn't mean he's not committed to her.

hallelujah

@MilesofMountains Exactly. I didn't give a shit about being judged for being pregnant and unmarried and living in sin or anything else, but my partner did. People were constantly giving him a massive side-eye, assuming he wouldn't man up and put on a ring on my finger, because as a Lady, OF COURSE I wanted to get married! Nobody believed it was me who didn't care, and so because I wasn't that invested, I went along with it for his sake. As much as I wish we could have been just "we do what we want," societal expectations and pressures cannot be discounted in certain situations.

julia

@Emby I only opened this out of reader to say:

HEY LW 1, FOR A LESS GLIB ANSWER (really, a married dude? i know you are going on limited info from the LW but your response was like... ew to me.) Ask Team Practical yesterday addressed a similar situation. The comments section is also tremendous. A lot of people are dealing/have dealt with one partner not wanting marriage when the other one does.

See here.

Crackity Jones

@Emby Phew - I'm relieved I'm not the only one not so excited about AMD's response to LW1. I scurried down here to say that not being into marriage does not equal not being into commitment AT ALL. MrJones and I have been together 15 years, we have a mortgage, some shared finances and 3 cats, but we aren't married. I don't believe in marriage, he's not too bothered about it, so we aren't/won't. Doesn't mean we're not committed, obvs. I got a tiny feeling of relationship normativity from the response to LW1 - like, marriage is the only 'goal' of a relationship and if her manfriend doesn't want to get married he's definitely not into her. No no no - it ain't necessarily so.

Emby

@TheBelleWitch As others have noted, kids seem to be a big part of it. As in, I don't want any. And neither does the current Embabe, so that's fortuitous.

But let me flip your question around a little bit: Why would signing a piece of paper necessarily make your relationship any stronger or more sound? To my mind, not being legally obligated to someone would force me to work harder on my relationship.

Of course, other folks' mileage will vary and I absolutely don't mean to accuse married folks of phoning in their relationship work. That's totally not the case. My point is just that different strategies and philosophies will work for different folks.

City_Dater

@Emby

This is one of the many topics that couples have to talk honestly about when they start planning for a future together. For what it's worth, years ago I lived with a very "no marriage for me" guy, who is now married -- to someone else. I'm pretty sure his lack of interest in marriage was more due to not wanting a legal commitment to me (and my at-the-time giant grad school debt) than a stance against the institution.

I can see numerous reasons why a couple might opt in (particuarly people who want children) or opt out. I'm not especially interested in being married, since I see my married friends compromising all over the place for the sake of "the relationship" while their husbands really usually don't.

TheBelleWitch

@Emby Oh yeah! Certainly, I don't think marriage makes a relationship more sound at all. I think my question comes from my personal experience of never having a strong emotional response to the idea of marriage, pro or con. For me, it was like, I want to be with this guy forever, so why exclude myself from the legal benefits? (So romantic.) If the benefits aren't enough to outweigh dislike of the institution for others, that makes sense, and the answers here have been really interesting.

Just in case my first comment made it seem otherwise, I definitely don't judge the legitimacy of a relationship based on whether it's a legal marriage or not. That'd be ridiculous.

I'm still going to side-eye this particular guy a little for wanting kids but not marriage, especially given how military benefits work. But probably this LW just needs to talk to the guy and find out his objections and if they can work with or around them.

fondue with cheddar

I'm not religious so I don't believe in marriage for that reason. My boyfriend is a lot more traditional than I am, so marriage is something he definitely wants. I lean toward marriage because it's common in this society and because of the legal benefits, but if I were with someone who didn't want it I would be okay with that, too.

On the other hand, he and I were both married once before, and those marriages were terrible. There's a part of me that wants to succeed where I failed. Why marry the asshole but not the good guy? That's just feelings though, and not an actual Reason To Get Married.

One thing I will not do next time is change my name. I was thrilled to get my birth name back and I'm not giving it up again! Though we did joke that we will combine our names because they mash up really well.

Lorelei@twitter

@Emby I am glad to see other people here who are interested in commitment but not marriage! Because I am 100% there - I do not want to participate in the institution of marriage, for a variety of political and personal reasons. But I love my boyfriend so much, and I think we have a great, solid relationship together, and I want to spend the rest of my life with him. But I do not want to spend the rest of my life married. I am not "keeping my options open," I am defining what commitment means to me, in my life, on my own terms. And while he would be happy to be married to me, he's not too fussed about it because he's seen me demonstrate that commitment on a daily basis and he trusts me. If it turned out he was not ok with not being married and ended up breaking up with me over it, (and ONLY over that, marriage-as-a-legal-status being the dealbreaker and not some overall lack of trust or commitment), well, I'd be fucking devastated. And maybe willing to reconsider, if my only two options marriage with him or losing him completely. But also I'd be reconsidering the person I'm with, because, well, as it stands I cannot imagine him making that sort of ultimatum over anything so important to me.

More than once in "ask a married dude" columns I've seen answers that rely heavily on the idea that "I don't want to get married" really means "I don't want to get married to YOU". And these people exist for sure, but it takes more than an advice column letter to tell the difference between the people who just don't want to commit, and the people who want a different framework for their commitment, and it bothers me a lot.

Basically what I think LW1 needs is a heart-to-heart with her boyfriend about why he doesn't like the idea of marriage and why she thinks it's the only meaningful "next step." It doesn't have to be! And also, it still could be, with this guy. He might just need some time to adjust his feelings.

shannanigans

@Emby I feel the exact same way, and was also bothered by the response to LW1. It sounds like this guy wants to build a life with her, and is ready to even marry her if it will make her happy. I definitely don't think she should dump him because he has reservations about the institution of marriage that he's willing to set aside to be with her!

renegadeoboe

@TheBelleWitch I don't want to get married, but I do want a committed, long term relationship with my Person. My reasons for not being married are as follows:
1. I come from an evangelical Christian background, and while I got out of that almost 10 years ago now, there are a lot of associations with marriage that I still have - and they turn my stomach. Man = head of household, relatit things that most people think about marriage (and neither do I), but my personal associations make it extremely distasteful.
2. Most of my family would associate that list of things with being married, and they aren't things I care to have them think of me.
3. My identity as an individual is extremely important to me, and the "2 become 1" thing of marriage compromises that.
4. My relationship is between myself and my Person. If your marriage is religious, it's supposed to be between you two and God; if your marriage is secular, it's supposed to be between you two and the State. Why would I include a God I don't believe in or a State I don't trust in my relationship?
5. I hate when people play the "tradition" card. Marriage is a *bad* tradition! It was traditionally a bill of sale, not a pact between equals! Fuck tradition, especially in the case of something as individualized as love and relationships.
6. I hate love-as-an-obligation. That is why I never want to have babies, and that is why I kinda throw up in my mouth a little when the Dude up yonder says "What I've found since is that being married makes the obstacles to separating higher than the obstacles to staying together."

@Lorelei@twitter "I am not "keeping my options open," I am defining what commitment means to me, in my life, on my own terms."

That is the best way of responding, high five high five high five.

Further response to any letter-writer who says that you love your Person and want to be with them forever, and they feel the same but don't want to get married: if marriage matters more to you than *actually being with* your Person, it seems to me that you maybe don't love them as much as you think you do.

renegadeoboe

@renegadeoboe Where did my list go?

1. Things evangelical Christianity associates with marriage that I find disturbing: Man = head of household, wife = identity from before is disposable and now dependent on husband, relationships that aren't marriage < marriage, sex outside marriage = sin, marriage = better for kids, marriage = now have babies, etc.

I realize that these aren't things that most people think about marriage (and neither do I), but my personal associations make it extremely distasteful.

amitygardens@twitter

@Lorelei@twitter I completely agree with what you said but want to share. My sister dated a "I don't want to marry YOU" guy for five years. He kept stringing her along and made her think it was only a matter of time before they got married. Then he bought a house, and says he needs break. She obliges and moves out her stuff. Now it's two years later and he's married with a kid. I know it hurt her to know she spent all that time waiting, and then he commits to the next girl he meets.

amitygardens@twitter

@renegadeoboe The "head of the household" thing annoys me so bad. My Grandmother loves to remind me of it. My husband does tease and call himself that, but we're a team and we're all equal in this house and(even our pet rabbits).

Lorelei@twitter

@amitygardens@twitter Yeah, I get it. There are people who are squirrelly about how committed they really are, and it's an issue! But to me, the heart of the issue is commitment - I assume your sister wanted a level of commitment from her partner that she wasn't getting, and that he promised to give in the future, in the form of marriage. And then he didn't, because he wasn't actually being honest about his investment in the relationship, and she spent all that time not getting what she needed from it. If the conversation is repeatedly, "I want this from you," "Ok, you'll get it, eventually," without change, that's shitty.

I mean, if my boyfriend started telling me that wouldn't be happy in our relationship without marriage, we'd be having a lot of long talks about what marriage means to him, what he expects marriage to mean for our relationship, and what we can do to make sure his needs are met without actually having to participate in a legal institution I wish were radically different. Because I'm here, now. This is as committed as I get, there is no next step for me. I think that comes through pretty clear in how our relationship works, and my boyfriend agrees with me. I'm also totally ready to take advantage of the legal benefits for practical purposes if one of us gets terminally ill, or when we're old and seeing imminent need for inheritance benefits or something. But for now, while I can, I'd much rather be the change I want to see in the world.

My boyfriend doesn't have anything to wait for, is my point, (except for a higher tax liability and some legal privileges I wish were available to chosen families of many kinds anyway), and no one should have to if they don't want to! But as far as I can tell from this letter, this is the first time the LW's boyfriend has felt comfortable voicing his concerns, and that is the *beginning* of the conversation, not the end.

amitygardens@twitter

@Lorelei@twitter I meant to add that I don't think that this is one of those situations. They definitely need to discuss what their individual ideas of marriage are. Again, I completely agree with you.

I was always taught that marriage was the end game. It's a sentiment I really dislike. I wish that marriage benefits were open to anyone in a committed relationship like it is in Canada. Marriage isn't for everyone, and that's okay. It shouldn't make you're committed relationship less than mine. It takes the same level of commitment- the only difference is the piece of paper.

mystique

@swirrlygrrl The impression I got from A Married Dude is if one thinks of marriage -- not commitment-- as something to "think about," then it actually makes little sense; that the institution of marriage is outdated and Not For Everyone, not that commitment is only for the Smug Marrieds.

harebell

@amitygardens@twitter
This is why I am "Party A" and my husband is "Party B" on our marriage certificate. Even though it doesn't really matter. And we goof around with who gets to be "head of the household" on those stupidly written customs forms when you go in and out of countries.

Better to Eat You With

@TheBelleWitch Hopping in later here--I am married, but without kids. And you can make what happens inside your household as egalitarian as you like, but the community around you is going to base their behavior toward you on their expectations of your status. When my husband and I lived together (for almost as long as we've now been married--6ish years on either side), people seemed to understand that, since our arrangement already didn't conform to their ideals, it wasn't open for discussion. But since we've been married, every non-traditional choice we've made (no kids, kept my name, both work, etc.) has been called into question by someone, and generally by many people, many times since we made it "official," as they all say.

WaityKatie

@TheBelleWitch To me, having a house and kids is WAY more committed than being married? It's super easy to get un-married, but really hard to get rid of kids.

bethanne

@Emby

So, CRAZY story... I submitted a question to AMD two months ago, was surfing the site today, and what do you know... there was my question! I'm LW1 :)

Thanks for all the advice, friends - most of it better than AMD's, which I will admit, nearly made me cry.

Also, I sent this page to the boyfriend, and he told me that @emby posted almost exactly what he was thinking. Thankfully we HAVE had some heart to heart discussions on this issue, and can agree to compromise on a simple, small affair when we're ready. In the meantime I'm the happiest girl being his girlfriend!

fondue with cheddar

@bethanne I'm so glad it was helpful to you and you were able to come to a compromise! I understand why some LWs want to remain anonymous, but I LOVE it when they come out of the woodwork to give us updates!

cuminafterall

Yay, advice!

1 and 4: you might both be interested in reading this. And maybe some of the other stuff on that site, if wedding/marriage business doesn't freak you out too much.

cuminafterall

@cuminafterall Also, for #4: I'm getting married because shit happens. If one of us gets critically ill or injured, I want hospital visitation rights and joint health insurance and the power to make healthcare decisions. If one of us gets a job offer in a foreign country, I want the other person to be able to get a visa. If one of us gets accused of a crime, I want spousal confidentiality. And if it doesn't work out, I want access to the laws and procedures of divorce.

I get that not everyone thinks this way-- my upbringing was transient in a way that taught me nothing is certain. If you're settled and stable in life, maybe you don't need to get married. But my fiance is literally the only part of my life that I'm sure I want to hold onto in the long term, so I'm going to lock that shit down.

red pen

@cuminafterall a practical wedding is the beeeeeest!

swirrlygrrl

@cuminafterall All of that is very legit. I want to live in Canada where I get that anyways, without a piece of paper. :)

Verity

@red pen My parents are pretty clear that they got married purely for practical reasons (they got a free police house for the first few months!).

packedsuitcase

@swirrlygrrl Yet one more example of Ways In Which Canada Is Doing It Right.

(Yes, I'm slightly jealous I wasn't born in Canada. I love it up there! Minus the cold. I don't do well with cold.)

julia

@cuminafterall ha ha link jinx! Except I did it almost 2 hours later... the dude's response was so annoying! Hopefully LW 1 finds the goodness of APW and is like "Oh, there are people who will take my relationship issues more seriously."

purefog

@cuminafterall
I don't know where you live, but if your partner executes a durable power of attorney for health care, you can make medical decisions for him/her. In many places. I would THINK that would also include visitation rights, to allow for informed medical care decision-making, but that may vary from place to place.

cuminafterall

@purefog Yeah, anybody who is really motivated to share those rights but not get married (or who isn't allowed to get married) can definitely take the time or pay a lawyer to set up those documents. You could also set up a domestic partnership, if that's something your state offers. You can even write a "post-relationship agreement" to determine how you'd split up assets in the event of breaking up, though I don't know if it would be enforceable in court.

My state also offers common-law marriage, if you live together and present yourselves as married for 7 years. I prefer the 48-hour waiting period at the courthouse, though :)

harebell

@purefog
I think that's part of the problem -- you *can* set those powers up legally, and they should work, but they don't always in the practical situation of visiting the hospital, etc. I've seen that break down in person. Also, there might be good understanding of those papers in North America, but if you are traveling or transient in different cultures, those papers may very easily not work, or only after a very long time delay that obviates their purpose. So I agree with cuminafterall.

By the way, this Dude is not completely right about marriage's effect on finances and taxes. Marriage is good for your taxes if your incomes are unequal -- i.e. what I suppose an old-school breakdown between a man & woman's salaries might have been. However!, if your incomes are fairly equal, then you can actually end up paying more in taxes filing jointly than you would if filing singly. This is called the marriage penalty, and the IRS has mitigated it a bit, but it's still there for people with relatively equal incomes. An irony of the system.

thebestjasmine

@harebell That's the thing, marriage has SO SO MANY legal benefits, that not being married to someone, even if you want to commit to them and want them to be your partner forever, automatically makes them second class in the eyes of the law. Everything from health, to inheritance, to travel, to criminal justice issues, etc. It's cool if you don't believe in marriage and all, but recognize that that makes any partner of yours automatically disadvantaged versus where they would be if you just went to the courthouse.

HairBander

@cuminafterall THANK YOU

One thing I remind people of frequently is that if you plan to lead a long-term committed life with someone without legal protections, you NEED to take legal measures. Marriage affords your partner myriad rights: to make medical decisions for you in emergency cases, to settle your estate, to inherit your property, to plan your funeral, to decide where and how you are buried, to benefit from your insurance.

All of the commitment in the world won't mean anything if there's no legal precautions taken to ensure that your partner already has these rights. My cousin's girlfriend is now pregnant with his second child and my mother said to him "if you get in a car crash, do you really want to have a scenario where she can't say anything to the doctor? Where she has to call your mother to make a decision?" Or, on the flip side, does he want a scenario where she cannot use his insurance should she become critically ill? (We don't live in a state with LDA benefits.)

Similarly, things can get sticky with property issues. My cousin had a baby with a boyfriend who died unexpectedly. He sat on property that now rightfully goes to his daughter, but since she's only 8 years old, his sister is trying to wrest the control from his daughter. Had they been married, my cousin would've inherited that property as his widow and avoided a lot of lawyers and arguments with his surviving siblings.

One thing I always say is that you think your family and your partner's family are great, but the truth is these sticky end-of-life or serious-injury situations will reveal that they're all just assholes vying for control. So while I do think it's A LOT cheaper to get a marriage certificate that builds into it all of the legal protections I mentioned above, if you are totally opposed to it but want your partner to be able to live fully committed and protected by that commitment you should hire a lawyer and get a nice, specific living will.

WaityKatie

@thebestjasmine I agree, and also think we should change that law. I'm pretty sick of subsidizing The Marrieds, especially since they all seem to do it multiple times, with multiple people.

Kristen

Here's an alternative perspective for LW1: There may be couples out there who got to the point of getting married without having some difficult conversations about the fact that their ideas about it didn't match up immediately. People who just knew, after exactly 1.5 years of dating, that they were ready to get married following a 1 year engagement, and pop out 3 kids on a 2 year schedule after that. I do not personally know any of these people, but I believe they exist. What I honestly have trouble imagining - and what it seems this Dude is suggesting your boyfriend should have done - is, after he had shared his opinions on marriage (not super into it) and then you shared yours (want it) him immediately saying, 'Okay, then, if that's what you want, let's get engaged immediately, like right now. Here, I'm proposing to you with this rubber band I just found on the floor."

Here's your situation: your present is good. Your ideas of the future align in many ways, but they don't precisely match up. Despite that fact, your boyfriend has suggested that he is willing, for your sake, to make a major life choice in order to make you happy, and instead of giving you vague promises, he has laid out a pretty clear future timeline. Does that mean he will definitely stick to his promise, and that he will definitely be ready when he says he will? No. He could be bullshitting you, or, more likely, himself. But, even if he had proposed to you right away, his mind could have changed in the period between engagement or marriage. Your mind could change. Nothing - not even an engagement, not even a marriage - precludes the possibility of people changing their minds about what they want from the future. So I would say, the questions you should ask yourself are - do I have faith in my boyfriend? And, even if, realistically, my faith isn't 100%, do I love him enough to take the risk? If the answer is no, then you should end it now, and if the answer is yes, then you should be fully committed to that. Take your boyfriend at his word, or don't, but "keeping your options open," - ie., deceiving your boyfriend about how committed you are to the relationship - is the absolute last thing you should do.

Emby

@Kristen Right on. AMD's advice here bugged me a lot, especially as a dude who's not super into getting married, but loves his girlfriend a lot. If she read this advice column and took my reticence about the institution of marriage as me "keeping my options open," which I am emphatically not doing, I'd be pretty pissed.

oboe-d-amore

@Kristen YES, this. In general this advice was good, but that first one? LW#1, I don't think you need to be concerned about this. I mean, there are always unforeseen possibilities, but it sounds like your boyfriend is being thoughtful about your and his positions in this and is committed to you.

Onymous

@Kristen Also, seriously, what if his ship date was like that weekend?

Snood Mood

@Emby Seriously. This is only a problem if it's a dealbreaker for her to not be married. Otherwise he's totally committed to you in every way but on paper, and that should be what counts. I've been with my man for eleven years without a certificate, but that doesn't mean either of us is "keeping our options open", and if some stranger told my guy that's what I was doing I'd be deeply offended. That doesn't sound like what LW1's guy is doing at all. grrr... What ridiculously old fashioned advice, or maybe AMD is projecting his own crap.

ponymalta

LW#2, your boyfriend sounds like an asshole. Also like he thinks by virtue of having a baby now he is an expert on How Other People Are as parents, which is very obnoxious. He is the male equivalent of a female parent who tells other women how they should breastfeed and instructs them, unsolicited, on what kind of Birth Experience they should have.

frigwiggin

@ponymalta Right? Ugh. It's hard not to extrapolate unverified information from your submission LW#2, but there's something about this setup (oh, he gets to help make a child but thinks you would be a terrible parent) makes me want to punch him.

piekin

@ponymalta Yeah, the bf is an asshole, no doubt. He is waving red flags up in your face, LW#2 - take your cue and get out now. (And best of luck to you and your brother and niece - they're lucky to have you!)

thebestjasmine

@ponymalta It seems like he's way worse than that, because from what she says, it doesn't seem like he actually has done much parenting.

PistolPackinMama

@ponymalta Word. I also want to punch this guy. "I just don't think" isn't a reason in the same way "I don't want to have kids with a psychopathic bank robbing nutella addict" would be a reason.

Yikes.

279th District Court

@ponymalta
Yes! This drives me crazy because LW2 is WILLING to be the full-time parent of someone not biologically her own child (from what I can read of the niece situation). Someone willing to do that you judge as "not a good parent"? Also, REALLY? "You wouldn't be a good pregnant woman" or "woman with a baby"? That is something that people say to someone else? "You'd be good raising a child but you could NOT handle a baby!" Am I missing something here? Are the next 17 years less important than the first one in raising a baby into an adult?

Liz81

@ponymalta Can someone post a picture of that T-Rex with the flags? That would fit very well for Letter #2.

fabel

#3...I think you may have that thing some people have where only the courtship/beginning stages of a relationship is exciting to you, & you constantly want to re-live that part?

I've been with my dude for a little over 3 years---not that long, obviously---but still long enough where of course the lust isn't as all-consuming as it was when we first started being intimate with each other. But we have sex often, & yes, I still am crazy about his dick. Making out sends shivers to my nether regions. However...not ALL the time? It's kind of an odds thing, you know? The longer you are with someone...the more chances you have of not always being in the mood?

So sometimes sex is a bit boring & predictable. Sometimes I can tell he isn't really into it, & sometimes he can tell my mind was elsewhere the entire time. But it's all good. We don't mind. And we make up for it next time.

So yeah, that's my personal story.

SarahP

@fabel You said this all so well! Yes. Yes.

OhMarie

@fabel Totally, totally, totally.

My husband and I have been together for 12 years, since the end of 11th grade. There was a period of time where we had sex every single day (specifically, Freshman year of college, especially after my roommate left for Africa during second semester). Now, we've had a pretty good once or twice a week rhythm for years. We don't have sex often, but when we do we REALLY go to town.

BornSecular

@OhMarie Yep. I worried about this as well. I've never been that horny in general, so I worried sometimes that my relationship with my boyfriend/husband was in trouble when I'd hear my friends gush about how hot/active their sex life was. But it's about companionship. There needs to be balance in everything. It's corny, but being able to enjoy each others' company and conversation is super important too. Some day we may all be too old to have a ton of wild sex, but we'll never be too old to talk to each other.

BornSecular

Also, LW3, have you looked into the possibility that your method of birth control (if applicable) could be affecting your sex drive? I didn't believe mine was for years, until I made a change to a completely different method. And it took a while, but suddenly having sex a couple times a week wasn't "too often".

up cubed

@fabel : LW3- http://thehairpin.com/2013/02/security-vs-surprise
Seriously, this sexy French sex therapist totally changed my perspective. The whole thing is great, but especially changing the perspective from "what turns me on" to "how I turn me on".
ETA: my boyfriend and I have been together 8 years. The first few years were very exciting, but it comes and goes. I know the things that set the mood for me (music, wine, primping ahead of time, not on evenings when I have something early the next morning, etc). Sometimes my BF gets grumpy about the lack of spontaneity, so we alternate with some of the things he likes too.

Mila

@fabel I have been with my dude for getting close to two decades. We certainly have progressed past the days where I can't wait to get home so I can fuck him. Plus, we have kids now, and they leave so little time for anything, so then you have to prioritize - like do we want to snuggle and do crossword puzzles? Do we want to catch up and have a really awesome conversation? Do we want to sleep? Or do we want to have sex? Hmmmm...Sex isn't often the one at the top of my list. When either of us actually finds the energy to make an overture, making out revs us up pretty quickly still. But you know, after we had been together a long time but didn't yet have kids, and had all the time in the world to make out, it probably was not igniting our fire to the same degree. Kids: How to rekindle your passion by giving you no time or energy to act on your passion, the world's most depressing sex advice book. I also have noticed that there are two distinct monthly peaks in sexy feelings (right when I am ovulating, and right before I get my period) which is a little weird to realize that my sexy feelings are probably not coming from my feelings for him, but from my internal biology. And finally, I would say, things definitely go in spells. Like, I remember we had sort of a sexual renaissance about five years in, that I think was partly tied to stumbling on a few techniques that were extremely pleasing and wanting to do them a lot.

mostly harmless

@fabel What's interesting about sex is how differently men and women are socialized around it. Women are told they kinda won't like sex, or shouldn't want sex, and definitely shouldn't pursue it. Even if you're quivering and wet and flushed, you're still supposed to put up some token resistance. You don't want to appear too "easy" or god forbid be a "slut." Meanwhile us guys are told we're supposed to always want it, always be up for it, and if it's on offer you can't say no. You're pretty much taught that your sexuality is supposed to be a large part of your self-conception. That's the background a lot of us old types (I'm compelled here to say "I'm 37, I'm not old") have grown up with.

I've been with my wife for two decades now, married for fifteen years, and I still desire her every day. Not the same way as in the limerence phase of the relationship - anyone expecting that heady period to persist is setting themselves up for failure. Desire does wax and wane – over time, over babies, over life changes – but I'd say over those waning years it just means I've had to work harder at maintaining desire. It's particularly hard when that desire is not reflected back at you, because it breeds resentment. If I've learned anything it's that sexual compatibility is important. If sex isn't a large part of what you want in a sexually exclusive relationship, you should find someone who feels the same. The same is true for those who see a sexually exclusive relationship as providing access to sex.

I realize I've left that part dangling there, about working to maintain desire. That work is part of the commitment to being in this marriage. It's work I have to do because the desire is not reciprocated, because our sexual connection has waned for so long. If I let my desire for her slip I fear two things that threaten to pull us apart. First I feel that I would grow indifferent to her sexually, and that indifference would creep into the rest of our relationship. It's all too easy to let one aspect of your relationship color the rest of your feelings. Second, I feel like my libido would have out, and my desire would simply find a new target. For me monogamy provides security, but also imposes an obligation to focus our sexual desire on our partners, and it's an obligation I take seriously. For some people sex is unimportant and so monogamy means not having to worry about your partner straying, even if you're no longer into them. It's best to find out what kind of person you are, and what kind your partner is, before the wedding bells.

Killer Kitties

On LW1: Dude seems to be saying if he's not proposing NOW, THIS INSTANT, he doesn't want to get married. Isn't it very common to set up some sort of mental timeline/goal for when you plan to propose? I know many people in their twenties say to themselves "I want to get married once I accomplish ___."

It sounds more to me as if he's not big on the idea of marriage, but he doesn't feel strongly enough about it to refuse to do it, if his partner values it. At least that's how I read it.

Ellie

@Killer Kitties Me too. I didn't see this as a huge problem. It also doesn't sound like she thinks he's reticent about getting a house/having kids, just about marriage.

LeafySeaDragon

@Killer Kitties mayeb he doesn't want to leave her a widow!

parallel-lines

@Killer Kitties Every dude who told me they weren't into marriage and didn't see themselves marrying did not marry me. The one guy who did marry me was very open to the idea and saw himself making a life with me early on in the relationship and I didn't have to worry about a proposal. I can't say the others didn't warn me. I think this guy is comfortable, doesn't want to hurt her feelings and know enlisting soon gives him an easy out. This excuse just buys him time since he knows it's important to her. If he's proposing solely to make her happy, why set a deadline on it?

Um, WTF Interrobang

@parallel-lines I'm with you. If they've talked about marriage frequently but he suddenly blurts out that "he doesn't like the idea of marriage," something is up. Of course there are going to be anecdotes about people who are totally committed to their partner but don't want to be married, but the reality is that citing a moral objection to the institution is an easy out for people who want the benefits but not the ultimate responsibility of saying "I do. Forever. And if for some extraordinary reason things change I'm not going to be able to just peace out."

packedsuitcase

@parallel-lines I don't know - I think there are a lot of reasons to not be ready for marriage, even if you've found the person you want to be with and decided that marriage is in the future. I'm not even going to speculate at what's going on in his brain, but I think that further conversation wouldn't go wrong. I will say that Dudefriend and I had a very blunt talk about marriage fairly early on (he isn't against it but doesn't really see the need for it, whereas it is a deal breaker for me), and even now our timelines are a little out of sync. However, if LW1 feels like her guy is being genuine about the fact that he will propose and she feels like their lives are going to be entwined forever, I don't really see a need to worry.

Personally I wouldn't want Dudefriend to propose until he's ready, because marriage comes with a lot of challenges and I want a partner who is ready to go down that path with me. I doubt that LW1 wants her partner to propose just because it'll happen eventually.

Personally, I would trust that LW1's partner is as good as his word, and if he came back from deployment and time went by without a proposal, an honest conversation would be in order. It's okay for marriage to be a deal breaker and to break off a relationship if your partner is unwilling to marry (or if you hate the idea of marriage and your partner needs/wants it), but I also wouldn't rush to decide this guy is never going to decide to marry her just because he's not ready now.

packedsuitcase

@packedsuitcase Apparently I'm in love with the word "personally" today. That's what you get when you don't proofread.

swirrlygrrl

@packedsuitcase Personally, I like that you didn't generalize your opinion and feelings into mandates for all other people at all times.

parallel-lines

@packedsuitcase BUT, conversely, this dude is getting deployed and she will be sitting here, waiting. She's putting her eggs in a very unreliable basket--what if he comes back and says he changed his mind? That he really doesn't believe in marriage after all? If you want marriage, you want it and that's totally fine but the only time it gets ugly is when the other person isn't on the same page--why not get that out of the way before wasting time waiting on someone who said they don't want the same things you want? If she's fine with that, then by all means proceed but if she truly wants marriage and just a commitment isn't gonna cut it, why not find someone who's on the same page?

packedsuitcase

@swirrlygrrl Thank you. The Pin has been wonderful for me in terms of learning how to phrase things well - there is very little that I do in life that I feel is universal (try to make good choices, don't be hateful, etc.) but I definitely wasn't great about articulating that when I first started commenting here.

packedsuitcase

@parallel-lines I think it comes down to asking a few important questions.

Do I want this person no matter what?
Do I want marriage no matter what?
Do I want this person and marriage?

If LW1 feels that the answer to 3 is yes, and is willing to wait and have faith that her partner is being honest with her, then there is no problem. And it doesn't sound like she's 100% there, and that can be resolved with some honest communication. I think the dating period is unreliable and we all make sacrifices of time and energy and emotional investment to try to find the right person if that's what we're looking for. I just think that, if you've found somebody you want to marry and you trust them, taking their word at face value and trusting that they are being honest with you is a good standard to set. Being with somebody you don't trust is a totally different discussion.

thebestjasmine

@packedsuitcase I think, though, that there's a difference between "I'm not ready to get married right now" and "I don't believe in marriage." Because the former, I get that, especially with the deployment and their age (I'm assuming twenties) etc. The latter, I would break up with him, because it would be clear we have different visions of the future.

packedsuitcase

@thebestjasmine I totally agree. But I'm not sold on the fact that "I don't believe in marriage" is 100% where LW1's partner is at. I think that some people can start at "I don't believe in it" and change their minds or be willing to get married because it's important to the person they want to commit to. But if after honest discussion and with full understanding of where the other person is coming from, one partner is 100% against it and the other 100% for it, I'm with you. I'd end the relationship.

thebestjasmine

@packedsuitcase Yeah, agreed. I think, though, that even given this scenario (and granted, we didn't get a ton of detail about the conversation, but who knows) I'd be skeptical. Because I don't think I'd want someone to marry me who didn't believe in marriage but was doing it because he knew I wanted it. I wouldn't want someone entering a marriage with me reluctantly.

packedsuitcase

@thebestjasmine Well, I think it's also partly how strongly the believed it.

For background: Dudefriend and I had been together about 5 months when marriage as a concept came up. He said that he didn't believe in it, and that you could still have a solid, committed relationship without it. I said I agree that being married isn't what makes a relationship stable or committed, but it was something I wanted and that it was a deal breaker for me. There was some back and forth, but where we ended up was marriage was a deal breaker for me, and he wanted to be with me more than he didn't want to get married. From there we've both brought up marriage and engagement, and he's asked me to send him pictures of rings I like and he asked me to take him ring browsing when he was visiting. So I don't think that starting at "I don't believe in marriage" is a deal breaker, but I think staying there and/or being dishonest about your feelings would be. I think we'd need a lot more details than we were given to really figure out this letter, though. It's kind of sparse on the important details.

thebestjasmine

@packedsuitcase Yes, agree that it's sparse on the important details. I think what their conversation was about, how lengthy it was, and why he has issues with marriage are super important.

packedsuitcase

@packedsuitcase That said, I don't think it should ever be a conversation where one side is trying to "win" and make the other person come over to their point of view. But I think honest dialogue and trying to understand your partner and their reasons for how they feel will give you a good sense of whether there is a way to meet in the middle or not.

Better to Eat You With

@thebestjasmine I didn't believe in marriage but did it because it was important to my husband. Most of our friends have gotten divorced since we got married, and we're still here. It's a pretty gross generalization to assume that the baggage a person carries related to a deeply public and political institution is a reflection of the relationship you're in with them. Long term relationships cannot survive without negotiation and compromise--this is just another way I was willing to compromise to stay together; I think that's true for a whole lot of people.

thebestjasmine

@Better to Eat You With That your friends got a divorce isn't a bad thing, or a sign that there is something wrong with marriage. Divorces are good things. Just as marriages are legal ways to protect yourself, your property, and your partner in a relationship, divorces are ways to protect all of those things as you get out of a relationship. It's all well and good to be against marriage, being a life partner of someone and not being married to them is a second class relationship in the eyes of many many laws. It's not a generalization at all to say that if someone wants to be in a long term relationship with you and not be married to you, it gives you and your relationship a significant disadvantage in many ways. That may not be their intention, but that's what it does. You may have issues with these laws (many people do!) but I don't see them changing anytime soon.

Lily Rowan

I think it's my religious background that makes me see one of the values of marriage as the chance to do it in front of your community -- make that commitment and recruit others to support you in it.

SarahP

@Lily Rowan My husband's not from a religious background at all, but this is the main reason he wanted to get married. I had suggested something tiny, sort of wanted a courthouse wedding, but he really thinks it's about just what you said, making a commitment, in front of and with a community.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Lily Rowan Yeah, whether it's marriage or a commitment ceremony, I think it's the idea of standing in front of others and proclaiming your partnership that compels me. Like, here we are! We are a family unit now! Please support us! Also, we're having a party with booze right after this!

alannaofdoom

@Lily Rowan - I agree: for me (and I'm as unmarried as you can get, so this is the perspective of someone who has happily always been the bridesmaid) the most compelling aspect is that you gather your loved ones as witnesses to your commitment to each other.

Also, I was half expecting your comment to end after "do it".

Lily Rowan

@alannaofdoom Heh. My religious background is not one that places much of an emphasis on not Doing It before marriage....

And yeah, I'm Right on Top of that, Rose -- you can do that with or without the government part.

queenofbithynia

@Lily Rowan That's one of the most fundamental differences between a marriage and a mere lifelong partnership, & this is my strongest reason for opposing marriage for myself most of the time -- I find it intensely off-putting in the same way polyamory often is, even though both polyamory and marriage are obviously fine in general moral terms if you are interested in what they have to offer. I don't want third parties intruding into my relations, is what it is. I don't want anyone having a vested interest in their success or failure or having the power to permit or sanction their start or end. Particularly, I don't want society or God having an interest; they both already presume on a lot of my personal space and time and they can't have any more.

reburkel

I feel you, LW3, and can't wait to read more comments on this topic!

Kulojam

@reburkel Jumping on here to say me too! That one-year mark is a killer. I am really interested in hearing from those in long-term relationships. My three-year marriage ended partly because we stopped being intimate, and after a while, we weren't even itnerested in trying to re-kindle that spark. That wasn't our only problem, but it was a big one.

coolallison

@Kulojam I've been married for just under 2 years, and I think that my lack of sex drive is going to be one of the reasons that we might not make it. I have no idea what to do. I've had various hormones tested and they are all normal, so I find myself at a total loss.

EpWs

@reburkel I've been with my dude for almost a decade and sex is still one of our favorite things and biggest priorities, just as it's been for pretty much the entire time we've been together. We still can't get enough of each other. I feel weird saying this stuff because I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but if you're looking for the long-term relationship perspective, this is mine. (It is certainly not the only perspective, obvs! Everyone's experience is different. Boyfriend and I have pretty darn similar sex drives which I think really helps.)

Kulojam

@coolallison I am really sorry to hear that. I wish I had some advice to give you, but obviously,I don't. To be honest thought, neither of us were really trying that hard: my ex refused to go to therapy, and I started feeling super shy and self conscious about my body, so I didn't want to initiate anything. There were other things that were wrong in our relationship, but this was a problem, and I worry about in future relationships. Good luck; I do wish I could help.

coolallison

@Kulojam Oh I feel you there. I've been super self conscious lately, too, which doesn't help. And we go to bed at different times. There are so many factors working against us. Maybe... the more we do it, the more I'll want it? Or something? I also think we should go to therapy but I'm not sure how to broach the subject. Blergh. Life. Am I right?

kickupdust

@reburkel yeah, I'm at the three-ish year mark and I'm feeling everything LW3 mentioned. LOTS of anxiety on that front, having always (while single) prided myself on having a pretty high sex drive... and now, nuthin'. very few tingles of the loins, no desire to get started, have to INTENSELY FOCUS to orgasm, which kinda takes the fun out of it, tbh.

to be fair: there are possibly some un-communicated kinky leanings on my part and it probably help a bit if we watched porn together beforehand but I am SO not ok with sharing my porn preferences and... yeah. that. face in hands.

karenology

@reburkel me too. I'm in a six-year relationship that is now long distance, and that combined with my lack of sex drive is just killing it. We actually did break up, but then I cried about it a whole lot and then we got back together, and traveled together through India, and things were good! But now he is on the other side of the planet again, and we both suck at communication. Every time I honestly try to assess the situation, I turn into a weepy mess so I have adopted the totally healthy strategy of just not thinking about it. Ugh, FEELINGS.

RNL
RNL

@reburkel I was with my ex for about 5 years, and we consistently had lots of pretty good sex, even when the relationship was taking a nosedive into sadness and hell. (So remember THAT when you're bemoaning your happy, albeit less sexy, companionship).

I like variety and novelty, in life and in sex. So we had variety and novelty. I think the reason we had good sex for so long is that we kept trying different things. Our sex life had many lives, and many faces. There was the winter of femme-domme. The spring of anal. Etc.

I will say that the shift in sexual tides almost always arose out of times of new-found independent self-hood. I felt sexy with him when I was discovering new things about myself, as myself. Getting a new job. Discovering yoga. Etc. There's a really great TED talk about desire and commitment that discusses this kind of thing. You need indepdent self to feel sexy, and for your partner to find you mysterious and sexy.

Linette

@reburkel That IS a good TED talk, and here it is.

For those who don't have the 20 minutes to spare or who can't watch video right now, the gist is that we find our partners most attractive when we have enough distance from them to get our creative minds involved in thinking sexy thoughts about them. Familiarity breeds complacency, and you can break out of that rut if you a) are physically distant from your partner for a long enough period of time, b) step out of your normal routines long enough to see each other in a new light, or c) see your partner in a position that's alien to you but clearly at-home to them (like watching them do an activity that you don't do).

All of which can be orchestrated! This is why, apparently, the advice is usually to mix it up in the bedroom - it's an attempt to break you out of that familiarity. But this talk makes it seem that it's really about an attitude thing - if you're in the attitude of constantly finding your partner newly interesting, you will find them more compelling sexually. If you find them so familiar you can predict everything about them, less compelling.

Linette

@Linette Oh, weird. The link took while it was in edit form, but then went away? Here's the link again, without embedding:

http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_term_relationship.html

RNL
RNL

@Linette sweet thanks! I'm at work and couldn't find it

I think, also, the way my psychology works with regards to sex, I need to feel attractive and interesting myself, to myself, to want to bone all the time. (Maybe I'm a narcissist. Hm). I have the most and best sex when I feel fulfilled apart from my partner, and have the least when I feel like my partner's caretaker.

reburkel

@RNL @Linette "You need independent self to feel sexy."

This point really speaks to me! My boyfriend is a comedian and is an endless source of entertainment and interest, so I feel it's definitely on my end. We started dating at the same time I started my first full time, professional job. While I love my job, I've been struggling with what I want to do, creatively, in my spare time. And also, I haven't been doing as much fitness because of a stress fracture. In general, I've been feeling kinda bummed and tired, and spending a lot of time watching reality tv after work (but I guess I do that a moderate amount anyhow).

But my boyfriend actually suggested a really fun creative project that I'm excited about (embroidering portraits of my drag queen friends) and I started the Bar Method and I quit the pill. Things are starting to feel more promising :)

amitygardens@twitter

@coolallison Oh sweetie. You're comment makes me so sad. I've been married for a little under two years, as well. I can say that your sex drive does diminish, but the fact that you are doing it out of necessity instead of want is definitely a red flag. It's probably causing some resentment and anxiety between you two.

If you'd like to talk then feel free to get in touch.

SexySadie

@coolallison :( Are you me? Seriously? I'm at the 3 year mark, but much longer together, and we are having major bedroom troubles. I guess we have our entire relationship - whenever we do have sex it's good, but I could never get in the mood unless I made myself feel sexy, you know? I tried talking, different hormones, etc. and things only helped in the short term but we couldn't gain momentum.

I'm just having so much trouble discerning what is "normal" cooling of the passions, and what is not normal and a sign of general incompatability. I'm starting to lean more towards the latter. :(

Sorry this isn't uplifting but I guess it at least helps me to know I'm not the only one!!

katzenklavier

@reburkel I've been in two relationships and I had the same problem the first time around. Now I've been with someone for two years and we still have sex all the time. I think what really helped me was masturbating a lot and using sex toys, with my partner or alone. My sex drive seems to grow the more I have sex and disappear if I stop having sex, so masturbating makes me want more partner sex. Also reading sex blogs like pervocracy.com makes me think more about what I like and why, and whether I want to try new things. I know this sounds like "spicing up" a boring sex life which is cheesy, but spending more time thinking about my sexuality when I'm not with my partner makes things better when we're together. Like my sex drive is it's own entity and not accountable to anyone else.

katzenklavier

@katzenklavier Also maybe the urgency you feel at the beginning of a relationship is because you usually don't see the person you're dating every day? So if you don't have sex every day later in the relationship isn't doesn't necessarily mean your sex drive went down, just that you don't take every opportunity to have sex because there are too many...

flapadactyl

@RNL To your point about narcissism- that's not such a ridiculous idea. I had an English professor explain the love triangle between King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot as a sort of narcissistic mirror triangle, in which they were all interested in each other because of the way that the other's social value was actually a reflection of how they wanted to feel their own sense of value, as in "I like you because having someone as high status as you like me makes me feel good about me"

Which kinda makes sense, right? Consciously or not, we enjoy people's company who make us feel good about ourselves. And the more we value the other person, the more their appreciation means to us. I mean, it could be narcissism, but I see it more as pure and simple ego boost. And since nobody in the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle ever really got full emotional availability from the person they wanted, the triangle perpetuated and all the nether regions kept a-tingling. Or as a friend of mine once put it, in love and dating, you're either the slayer or you're being slayed. At least until you find your equal and you slay each other.

So then my psych professors explained that initial romantic pair bonding is about the breakdown of the barriers between your ego and another's ego, which lets you lose yourself in fusing with someone else's ego for a while- which is a just a natural consequence of that ultimate human drive to connect. So you muck around in that whole limerence and giddy obsession stage where you have nonstop sexytimes and feed eachother's egos in a feedback loop of mutual admiration, which is as addictive as cocaine because the drug is feeling good about ourselves.

But then with time passing and growing familiarity, your ego boundary gradually rebuilds itself and you kind of retreat back into yourself and eventually revert to seeing this other person as a whole separate entity from you again, but this time with all the warts, which leads to dissatisfaction and drooping sexy interest because, hey, for a while you and I were total cosmic extensions of each other and now you want to set the knife on the left side of the plate and what is wrong with you this will never work and I definitely don't want to touch your parts!!

Which I guess is where that idea from Esther Perel comes in about losing yourself in the admiration of your partner by watching them lose themselves in a place of their own essence. Because rediscovering something that makes you feel proud of your partner is ultimately something that reflects well on you and so you feel good about yourself, and thus, boning.

Additionally, the thing about feeling cared for makes total sense too, because you know this person values you enough to take your concerns seriously and be a dependable laundry folder or whatever behaviors you feel demonstrate caring, so you have less worry that this person is gonna drop the ball in a critical moment, and you can relax and get into the groove a lot easier.

At least, this is all stuff I've learned and seen applied in my string of relationships...YMMV

amitygardens@twitter

@SexySadie @CoolAllison I can only speak from personal experience s here it goes: I'm still incredibly attracted to my husband after the five years we've been together. We have sex probably once a week depending on how we feel, but it's because we want to-not out of obligation.

He's a morning person whereas I like to stay up late, but the hours that we are together, we spend time with each other. We may be doing other things like reading or watching TV, but we usually cuddle or sit together. I think that the close proximity definitely makes us feel closer- physically and emotionally.

Ialso think foreplay is incredibly important. If you spend that time pleasing one another- it definitely gets you in the mood. Plus, sex toys are fabulous. You should try and please yourself as well as your significant other.

Sorry if that was rambly, but I do hope it helps. ;)

lynzillla

@reburkel I have been married 3 years, and sometimes my husband wants to do it and i dont. buuuuut i just have to keep telling myself that once we get into it, i will enjoy it. becuase its not like it isnt enjoyable. its sort of like going to the gym sometimes... it SUUUUCKS having to actually leave your house and go, but once you are there, its not so bad

RNL
RNL

@flapadactyl great comment! Guinevere!

Yes I feel like this really accurate for me. I like sex in part because I like the physical manifestation of feeling desired. I like my body and feeling my body be appreciated. I like to show off.

I was thinking about me and my bf (who are only like 5 months in, so it's still 2x a day boning for us). My bf gets turned on touching my body. I get turned on by him touching my body. That's overly reductive and simplistic, but fairly true. I like to be touched and seen. He likes to touch and see.

Better to Eat You With

@SexySadie This might be ridiculous, but when things were a bit rough after 3 years for me, I talked to my OB/GYN about it, and she said that it was very common among her patients at the 3-year mark. No idea why, but she told me to be patient and hang in there (which I was planning on anyway) and now we're past six years and things are fine.

mariko

#3 "People lose sexual interest in people they are with, if they are with them long enough. It really is that simple."

AMD's answer (particularly the above) disheartens me. And oversimplifies things a bit! I think it is valid that sexual intimacy may hold more weight in romantic relationships in our society. But I want to believe that sexual interest in your significant other could in fact grow the more you get to know them. Please tell me this is possible!

I'll be waiting here, fingers crossed.

katiemcgillicuddy

@mariko Seriously, I get the whole "ebb and flow" thing, but his matter-of-factness about it was really disheartening to me as well, especially as someone in a potentially serious, very happy current set-up. Ugh.

SarahP

@mariko I've been with my husband for almost 5 years, and we have sex every night* and are both bummed out if there is a reason we can't. Maybe 5 years isn't long-term enough? But that's just a facet of our relationship, and it has been from the beginning, and I don't see it changing (except maybe for babies, but hopefully even that will be temporary). (The change, I mean, not the babies--I want permanent, not temporary, children.)

*-Well, almost: barring illness, drunken passing out, that one night of my period where my uterus hates me, etc.

barefoot cuntessa

@mariko I had a serious conversation with my husband about this LAST NIGHT. For us it isn't that we've lost sexual interest in the other, its just getting out of patterns and ruts. We still want to bone, but sometimes its just life shit that piles up and having an extra glass of wine and setting the TV sleep timer on happens instead. (Ugh, that is the lamest excuse in the world, but there it is.)

I guess that is to say that in a LTR, married or no, you have to work to make sex a priority. For my husband and I, after being together for almost 7 years, it means talking about it just like our finances, travel desires, professional goals, etc, etc.

Um, WTF Interrobang

@katiemcgillicuddy Don't let the matter-of-factness get you down. Maybe you're one of the fabled couples that won't ebb and flow, but odds are you will be. And that's ok. That doesn't mean you love each other any less. Illness, job stress, kids - all sorts of things will come into your life and affect your sex drive. Speaking from experience, we're coming out of an ebb caused by 4 years of pregnancies and nursing and the resulting exhaustion, along with major job changes totally upsetting the household. And on the other side of that ebb the flow is good. Great, even. Different than before. More honest and loving because we've been through some rough stuff together. I hope this makes sense to anyone not living inside my brain. :)

dj pomegranate

@mariko My parents have been married 40 years (!!) and now that I'm married my mom feels like we can actually talk about sex? Idk, but anyway, we were talking the other day and she said that in their 40 year relationship, the best sex they ever had, ever, was LAST YEAR. So.

Mr. pomgranate and I have been together a little over 3 years and while that is definitely not "long term" yet, there've definitely been weeks of infrequent/not-so-passionate sex. The thing that revs it up again is when one of us is away on a business trip for a few days/weeks/months. Something about the absence and the reunion really kicks it into high gear and we're just as lustful ever. (Hi internet, let me tell you about my lust! Glad we're all friends here!)

So, I think there's a natural ebb and flow, AND the longer you're with someone the less lustful you'll be, AND there are ways for long-term couples to have amazing sex after decades, too.

Midie

@mariko
I'd say it's possible, but not always easy. Sure, part of what can make sex exciting is the surprise of being affirmed by a new person in a very intimate way, and that isn't really there in a long term relationship. You already know they like you, find you attractive. For some people, without that uncertainty sex seems to lose its meaning.

But I'd say, if people can continue to get themselves off for years and years, why can't one partner do the trick? I mean, if you can be creative in your own mind enough to get yourself excited, why not share your sexual imagination with your partner, and encourage him/her to do the same? Over time you get to know what someone likes and doesn't like, and you can hopefully build on that as time goes on.

(I'm not sure that this directly responds to the LW's case, where perhaps she feels she's lost her drive entirely, and not just in relation to her partner. But hopefully these more general reflections, from someone who has had the same partner for ten years, are somewhat helpful)

dj pomegranate

@Midie Love that phrase! "Share your sexual imagination with your partner."

Beatrix Kiddo

@barefoot cuntessa It's funny, my boyfriend and I were talking about this last night, too! I was kind of worried that we only have sex about every other day lately, and we used to constantly, but he reminded me that it doesn't have to be so urgent anymore. Also, if we really prioritized it that much in the long term, we would never see any of our friends or get to work on time.

katiemcgillicuddy

@Um, WTF Interrobang Right, I totally get the ebb and flow thing, it was just the way Dude put it that was kinda harsh. You make it sound much better!

SexySadie

@Beatrix Kiddo Hahaha "only every other day" seriously made me laugh. I know it's TOTALLY different for everyone, and what may seem like never to one person may seem like way too much to another. But to someone who in the best of times was having sex once a month with her partner ... every other day seems amazing!

(Obvi i realize that if that's not working for YOU, that's what matters...just saying that seems cray/awesome to me!)

mostly harmless

@SexySadie How can you not think of Annie Hall in this situation?

[on split screen]
Alvy Singer's Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Annie Hall's Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I'd say three times a week.

Megasus

LW2: FUCK THAT GUY HE SUCKS

LW3: It's actually pretty normal for a lot of women's sex drives to ebb after a year. Something to do with all the love high hormones wearing off, probably has something to do with biologically a year is about how long it takes to get pregnant with one partner, or even as a defense mechanism so women don't kill themselves birthing all the babies all the time. Anyways, it's not really weird, and the only thing you can really do about it is to have sex as much as possible, even if you don't initially want to (it's usually harder for ladies to really get into it anyway) and do stuff to mix it up. It's only when you start to find the idea of sex with your partner completely repulsive that you should be worried (at least in my horrible expreience).

Pound of Salt

@Megasus Totally agree. I realized in my most recent relationship (which like all others, saw my sex drive drop dead after a year) that it's just important for me to keep having sex regularly, even if it means pushing through that initial feeling of, "eh, I'd rather not." I found that I do want to do it when I'm doing it a lot, you know?

barefoot cuntessa

@Megasus I think part of this probably has to do with foreplay, at least for some couples. I've had to explain to all my partners at some point that, no, just because you've been hitting this for a year that you can get away with skimping on the warming up. Luckily I happen to give (and like giving) excellent blowjobs, so it has only ever taken a simple reminder that fair is fair.

RebeccaKW

@barefoot cuntessa I agree. Sometimes fast and dirty is good, and sometimes you want to light a candle and hear that your are beautiful and him get you off with his tongue before intercourse.

I also think that 'making out' even without the end-result being sex can help. It keeps you physically connected without the pressure of 'oh, great, now he wants sex.' I have some friends who have been married for 18 years. I was driving a group of us home from a concert and made a joke about them making out in the backseat. She said they don't do that anymore, they've been married too long. And I think that is sad.

barefoot cuntessa

@Megasus Also, LUBE! Lube is great! It really helps those times when my head is in the game, but my body is being a little slow to follow.

@RebeccaKW YES YES YES! My husband actually has ED, and once we discussed the idea of fooling around with out the expectation of PIV every time things got so much better. First of all, we made out A LOT more. Win. Secondly, we starting having sex more often because he didn't feel so pressured and anxious about if his body was going to respond.

wee_ramekin

LW #2 - I'm really confused about what your boyfriend said, and I'm struggling to find a reason for his words.

He doesn't think you'd be a good mother? Even though you're willing to step up and do exactly what a good parent would do for your niece? The steps you're preparing to take as a prominent figure in your niece's life are steps that many, MANY biological mothers have not done. You're willing to make a major change in your life - FOREVER, I might add - to support the well-being of a child that you didn't carry, and this joker thinks you wouldn't be a good mom?

I call bullshit.

Also, what the heck does it mean that he just doesn't think you're the type to "get pregnant and have a baby"? What does that even mean? EVERY woman who has not been pregnant before doesn't really have any clue what it's like to be pregnant; we aren't some of us born with "pregnant lady knowledge" while others of us are missing that gene. That doesn't disqualify her from being a mother.

I'm just really confused at what he was trying to convey here. Does he have some deep doubts about your capability as a parent? Does anything in your past or present *actually* give him a reason to think that? If so, he needs to explain himself if you're going to go any farther with him.

Was he saying this just to be casually cruel and shoot you down at a time when you're objectively Stepping Up and Being A Badass? If that sounds a little closer to the truth, I'd hesitate and think rul hard before deciding to tie your future to this guy.

LeafySeaDragon

@wee_ramekin that was a terrible thing to say, what kind of relationship can they have if he thinks that and he has kids/she wants kids? it's a huge fuck you and hurtful.

anachronistique

@wee_ramekin I think the reason is that he is a jerkbutt.

supernintendochalmers

@wee_ramekin His distinction between having her own children and adopting a child was really strange. At best, he is exhibiting very poor judgment by not realizing how hurtful it is to say that to someone.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@anachronistique I think this is the technical term, yes.

dj pomegranate

@wee_ramekin Agreeeeee so much with you. I don't understand how he can be ok with LW2 basically parenting a 5 year old but he doesn't have confidence in her ability to "get pregnant and have a baby." 5 years olds are children, too, duh,and require a lot of work and love and devotion and attention etc., just as much as any infant or toddler. What about babydom does he think she can't handle, when he thinks she can handle a 5 y.o?! This makes zero sense.

My first reaction reading your letter, LW2, was that dude was simply being a jerkface, but also MAYBE that he feels a little bad (?) that if you two were to stay together, you'd be accepting the responsibility of raising his son as well--perhaps he's lashing out at that, like he feels like you are being TOO MUCH OF A BADASS so he needs to cut you down to size? If so, that is just awful, obviously. I honestly cannot think of any reason to say anything so mean to your badass, responsible, caring ladyfriend.

wee_ramekin

@dj pomegranate Also, I'm going to partake in some "Parent Opression Olympics" here a little bit, but I muzzily (from lack of sleep) feel like what the LW is doing for her niece, and what she would presumably do with his son if they get married, is actually a fuck-load more difficult a choice to make than his has been so far as a parent.

I'm not trying to discount his experience as being the father of a child with a woman he's no longer with; that takes some heroic maneuvering to do well. But I mean, he's also doing the thing Any Decent Person should do, which is being involved in his kid's life. Once someone gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, you're legally obligated to provide for the child, and if you're a decent person, you also try to be a parent. That's just kind of what you do.

The LW, on the other hand, is actively giving up her current way of life to parent her brother's child, and she's making that choice when she could just as legitimately be like "Sorry, this is too much for me/isn't what I want from life". I just...don't get how he gets to set himself up as an arbiter of whether or not she'd be a good mom, when by her incredibly selfless actions, she's already rendered that question moot.

FlufferNutter

@wee_ramekin I totally agree that what he said was dim-witted, illogical, and hurtful. But I disagree with AMD that she should up and leave based on that single comment. In the nearly eight years we've been together, my husband and I have said some things to each other that were immediately regretted. You know that moment? The one where you can practically see the words coming out of your mouth and hovering in the air and slowly making their way to your parner's ears? Maybe you mis-phrased something, or used the wrong word, or said something you just didn't mean. You wish you could take it back, but alas, you spend the next three hours apologizing and backtracking and trying to explain it all away.

I can't tell based on her letter whether he was apologetic, but if I were her, I'd have a follow-up conversation in which I 1) explain the seriousness of what he said 2) ask for further clarification of the statement and 3) impress upon him that it is really important that her future husband see her as a good mother and that if he doesn't, that could affect their standing. If they had only been together a short while, I might be more in the "GET OUT NOW" camp, but they've known each other so long. Perhaps a bit more work is in order here.

wee_ramekin

@FlufferNutter Oh yeah, I don't think it's practical to advise or expect someone to be like "That one thing you said? WE'RE DONE.".

However, I do think that the things people say in Important Moments (such as the moment you tell your boyfriend that you're considering becoming a parent to your niece) are indicative of their general attitude. ESPECIALLY if the follow-up to a hurtful and insensitive remark like that isn't "Holy shit, I'm sorry, that is NOT what I meant!", but rather a further clarification on the specific type of unsatisfactory mother he pictures her to be.

I'd be pretty wall-eyed about this guy after this conversation, to be honest. The LW's submission doesn't indicate any sort of apology, remorse, or follow-up conversation from him. It sounds like he kind of drone-striked her with that remark, and then walked away whistling.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

LW1, I think "the idea of marriage" is the sticking point here. If it's possible, maybe each of you could articulate to the other why you are invested in it/why he doesn't like it. Not to find out who's "right" or "wrong" (because this isn't a right/wrong thing) but to see how, or if, your underlying assumptions align. I married a man who was really freaked out by The Idea of Marriage because his parents were divorced and he never quite got over it--I think he believed that if he never got married he'd never have to deal with the pain of a divorce. I felt--and still feel, to a large degree--that marriage is valuable as a social recognition and sanction of a relationship, and I wanted to get married to have that sanction. I told him that and he respected it enough to try to overcome his fears. We divorced after 6 years of marriage because of other issues (this comment box isn't big enough...) and although my mother still occasionally tweaks me for "marrying a guy who never wanted to get married" I think it's not that simple. Maybe the two of you can define marriage (or non-marriage) in a way that satisfies and reassures you both. Social conditioning works both ways--maybe your dude is reacting to stereotypes about wedding-hungry women in the same way that you worry about reacting to marriage-averse men? (I actually had the phrase "It's just me" engraved inside my ex's ring to remind him that he was marrying ME, not some terrifying wife-avatar.)

par_parenthese

@EllieTea "terrifying wife-avatar" cracked me up. That needs to be someone's screen name.

supernintendochalmers

@EllieTea "It's just me" <--That KILLS me. Such a sweet sentiment. Your mom's comments are mean.

emeegee

@EllieTea I completely agree with this- you two, together, are the ones who primarily define what will be the core and boundaries of your specific marriage, and you'll almost certainly shift your definitions and expectations as you navigate the changes of your lives (as individuals and as a team). Like http://xkcd.com/150/

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@supernintendochalmers Aw, thanks! To my mother's credit she only says mean things about once every 15 years and they are far outweighed by kind, understanding, funny things.

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@par_parenthese Hmm. Is there a limit to screen name changes per year? *rubs hands, gleeful cackling*

Terrifying Wife-Avatar

@Terrifying Wife-Avatar Ha! Did not realize it would change the name on the comments I'd already made. Also, pretty sure Hello Kitty is not terrifying enough . . .

Lorelei@twitter

@Terrifying Wife-Avatar I agree with this so much! The question is not "marriage or not," the question is "what do we want the shape of our relationship to be, and how do we make it that way?" and then you figure out along the way if marriage is part of that. And to me that letter sounds like the LW has one conception of what it means to be married, and her boyfriend has a totally different one, and they haven't figured out yet how to reconcile them. I don't even see the LW mentioning WHY he's not comfortable with marriage, just that he said he was but willing to try anyway, and then she started worrying. Talk to him! Understand his fears!

I would be the worst relationship advice columnist ever because all of my answers would be "talk to your partner! voice your concerns, listen to theirs! be respectful of their needs and vulnerabilities and expect the same respect from them. If you can't do that, find a therapist you click with and work with them until you can." copied-and-pasted over and over again and no one would read it.

no wait, there'd be some DTMFA sprinkled in because some people are clearly terrible.

LeafySeaDragon

lw#3....i've been married for like 13 years. 14 in june? DAMN. anyways - sex changes, you change. i'd say when my guy and i got together we'd go at it 2, 3 even 4 times a day. that tapered off after the first year, and then it was like once a day. then down to a couple of times a week and catching up on the weekends. lately it's been 1-2 times a week, barring sickness. extras if we're feeling frisky. i think we went almost two months without this winter, which is a record. he had walking penumonia, then my kids got it. :/

i'm going to get crap for this next statement - but sometimes i am just flat out not in the mood but i go for it anyways. why? because it's a relationship, and sex matters. my sex drive has plummeted in the last year and it was leading to arguements, which leads to less sex and other bad things. my guy's drive? NOT PLUMMETED. so we have to find a happy medium.

there is a reason people watch sexy movies, wear sexy lingerie, play games. after sleeping with the same person for umpteen years it takes more to get interested. and speaking for myself, i don't buy sexy underwear for me. in fact, the last lingerie trip i made i bought matching sets of stuff (which i have NEVER DONE) and the effects are pretty awesome.

the sex is always good, and sometimes awesome. practice makes perfect!

wee_ramekin

@LeafySeaDragon Thank you for being so specific about y'all's sexual frequency! When I read other peoples' comments and they say things like "We used to have sex all the time, but now, less so", I always think "Okay, so...what was 'all the time?' Every day? Multiple times a day? 3 times a week? And if I don't know that, how can I calculate what 'less' is?".

LeafySeaDragon

@wee_ramekin lol its been under discussion in my household and i decided to err on the side of tmi! :P

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@LeafySeaDragon "there is a reason people watch sexy movies, wear sexy lingerie, play games. after sleeping with the same person for umpteen years it takes more to get interested."
YEP. (This is also fun; it's like finding a new treasure map to follow.)

cuminafterall

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Yes to the fun aspect! Trying new things with a partner you love and trust completely can also turn things that might have felt dumb and embarrassing in Year 1 into things that are fun, silly and maybe even hot.

OhMarie

@LeafySeaDragon Yay for you! I have the same frequency and we also tend to make a Big Thing out of it when we do have sex--I get all shaved up, we carve out some time, do fun new things, whatever. It's amazing and I couldn't be happier. If anything is dead, it is definitely that spur-of-the-moment sex where you get carried away with things.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@cuminafterall Exactly. The fun and silly things that you try - "I don't know, maybe it's a cliche for a reason, should we do it? Just for laughs?" - can end up making you think about your person during work and blushing and willing the clock to move forward so you can get home, like in the beginning of your relationship.

damselfish

@wee_ramekin Haha agreed! All that "I have a high/low libido..." I'm like, compared to WHAT!? It's nice to see cold, hard numbers once in a while! I remember someone saying "oh we never have sex anymore" and turns out they're having sex twice a week, which makes me go "where do you find the time!?" Maybe that's why I'm single. I don't have time for that.

coolallison

@damselfish I know... I think if we were banging twice a week, my husband would be elated. As it stands, he's lucky to get it once a month, and usually it's when I decide "oh man, I should probably have sex with him so he doesn't leave me." This whole thing is just making me feel really really self conscious, actually.

par_parenthese

@LeafySeaDragon "sometimes i am just flat out not in the mood but i go for it anyways"

So, I'm a virgin and therefore have no personal experience, but one of the smartest things I ever heard about this was, "Nobody ever looks back on 50 years of marriage and says, 'Gee, I wish we'd fooled around less; I wish we hadn't gotten naked that one time.'"

Kulojam

@LeafySeaDragon I agree with going for it despite not feeling it. I was thinking back to past relationships in which the sex didn't drop off dramatically after one year, and in those relationships, I specifically remember having sex when I wasn't that into it (NOT when I REALLY wasn't into it, like when i was ill or had a crazy period, just when I was kind of "meh" about it). I definitely didn't do that in my marriage and sex became so infrequent that I got used to not having sex and actually became uncomfortable having sex. I do agree that there is some kind of "use it or lose it" phenomenon at play here.

wallsdonotfall

@par_parenthese This is true. On the other hand, every time I look back on my old two-year-long live-in relationship I think, "God, I wish I didn't keep agreeing to have sex with him when I hated both him and myself for it." Megasus makes a good point in a thread above--there's "not really feeling it, but eh, fine" low interest and then there's "I don't want to do this, I'm doing this out of obligation or to avoid an argument, and I don't like it." That's a huge, crucial difference, but it can be very hard to recognize.

par_parenthese

@wallsdonotfall Absolutely. I loved how this particular writer addressed those issues too and talked about how important it is to be able to get a few minutes into making out and say, "Honey, I'm just not feeling it; sorry," but also to be willing to invest those minutes to find out if it's going to start your engine. I wish I could remember where her blog was but it has been years.

supernintendochalmers

@Kulojam "Is it true that if you don't use it, you lose it?"

parallel-lines

@supernintendochalmers Yes, it totally is. Someone comes and takes it back and tells you that you cannot have nice things.

I'm getting so depressed reading these since I'm a newlywed and my sex drive has hit the skids so hard - it's a difficult combination of depression born from an abusive, 24/7 on call job and physical injuries as a result of sciatica. The former zaps me of all energy and makes me sad, and the latter keeps me in pain constantly. I've been having a lot of "doing this because we should" sex and it makes me sad that I can't let go of feeling crummy and get it on properly.

OhMarie

@coolallison @parallel-lines No, nobody feel bad! You do you! I have had this feeling before that what I am doing is wrong (about masturbation--we both do it A LOT more than we have sex) but fuck that.

Linette

@Kulojam, @LeafySeaDragon, @par_parenthese

It is SUCH a relief to see some ladies saying that sometimes you just have to take one for the team. Not that you should feel obliged to have sex when you're vehemently opposed to the idea, but sometimes marriage means you do help your partner out with their needs even though you'd rather do something else.

Parallel: sometimes you have a five-hour conversation with your partner about an angsty, emotional topic, because they REALLY need to talk about it right then, even though you've had an exhausting day and would rather just sit around and watch reruns and turn your mind off. There's not a huge difference there, to my mind.

Caveats, caveats: some people have huge issues with sex and this may not apply to them because it is super traumatic. Extenuating circumstances are completely fair. I'm just glad to see women not putting sex on a pedestal like it's the one thing in marriage that isn't about compromise. Because that has so frequently been my experience when talking to married ladies, and it always made me really sad.

up cubed

@parallel-lines Your situation sounds pretty exhausting physically and emotionally. When my energy is low, but I want to do something nice for my BF, handy-js are a sexy bonding-type activity that's also not too strenuous. My strategy is to start with a little kissing or oral, then switch to hands and add some nice oil (Vitamin E from Trader Joes or olive oil in a pinch). It evaporates more slowly than lotion or most lubes.

blueblazes

LW3, I'm another married lady. It'll be... um... 3 years, I think? And we were together a while before that? I'm not good with numbers but let's call it 5 years all told.

So, yes, there are days when sex feels like just another chore I have to get through before I can go to bed. That probably sounds sad to some of the younger ladies, but to me it is a way to show my husband that I care about him. Sex matters to him, so I make it matter to me too. The same way I learned to take an interest in the films of Jason Statham and the music of Journey. Love makes us do crazy, unfeminist things sometimes.

I am still very much attracted to Mr. blueblazes, and he has always been great in bed. The sex is awesome once we actually get down to it, but I do find that I have to push myself through a couple of minutes of ambivalence to get there. :) So what? I DO GET THERE.

I think the thing that LW3 need to think about, as AMD sort-of said, is the purpose of the relationship. Mr. blueblazes and I didn't get married to have sex, we got married because we get along like gangbusters and have an awesome time together no matter what we're doing. (OK, really we got married so that we could sleep in the same room when we go to visit our crazy-conservative families. But still.) He's my soulmate first and my sexmate second.

wee_ramekin

@blueblazes Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, "the music of Journey".

entangled

@LeafySeaDragon "i'm going to get crap for this next statement - but sometimes i am just flat out not in the mood but i go for it anyways."

I don't think anyone should ever have an obligation to have sex, but I do agree that sometimes when the only reason not to have sex is "but I already have my pants on" or something to that effect and that can get really detrimental. Sometimes it is worth trying to see if you (or if he or she) can get into it when you know you love and want the person, but are feeling like you don't really want to bother with sex right now. Because that right now can be this week and next week and the week after and having SOME physical component to a relationship can really help build intimacy.

I'm married, have been with the same dude 5+ years and we definitely started as multiple times per day people. That is... geez, now I count myself lucky if we get multiple times per week. does it mean our marriage is doomed or we don't love or like or aren't attracted to each other? Hell, no. I'm actually the higher-libido one in the relationship right now, since he is getting killed with stress and it's really put a damper on things. But I still love him and want him. Even as the one who's usually the initiator, though, it's definitely become more about intimacy and less about urgency. I think the ideal for me would be 2-4x per week, maaaybe a little more on special occasions, which is very different from what it was earlier in the relationship.

ETA: and just to add, based on the sample size of me and my friends (both male and female), when opposite sex relationships settle into lower-sex established relationship mode, it's usually the lady who feels like her libido who is not getting met by the dude. though my friends may not be a representative sample.

par_parenthese

@Linette FOR THE REALS. I kinda, as a person who does not have sex but definitely has a sex drive, get grumpy with my married/sex-having lady friends who are like, "How dare anyone suggest I be sexually generous with my husband/partner! My body my choice! and other cliches!" It makes me sad.

Linette

@par_parenthese That is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. As if it's so offensive that you should be asked to gear up physically, but it's mean and horrible and cruel if he doesn't gear up emotionally. This often divides down gender lines because we've got a society that encourages women to be emotional but not sexual and men to be sexual but not emotional, but it isn't always the case (as evidenced in several other places on this thread) and either way, when one partner refuses to help another with their needs or says those needs aren't valid, that is bad news.

Again with the caveats: some people have very real stuff going on that prevents them from making this particular sacrifice, and that is totally fair. For them it's a huge deal. But for the most part I see this argument with people who expect their partner to do all the sacrificing, and are using societal cliches to get out of doing stuff they find inconvenient or annoying at the time while holding their partners accountable for the stuff the partners find equally inconvenient or annoying.

But as before, yay ladies of the 'Pin who are co-partners and believe sometimes there are sacrifices to be made on both sides! Like equals! Woooooo!

par_parenthese

@Linette I want us to be in person so we can high five. I have sat gritting my teeth while a friend has, in the same breath, complained about how her husband wasn't happy to sit and listen to her parse out every emotional nuance of her day, and huffed about how he just wanted sex all the time and ugh, what a horn-dog, men just want one thing, amirite?

Lest you think I just have terrible married friends, though, 90% of them are WAY WAY NOT like that. But the ones who are, I just kind of want to shake them.

GoldStripes

@blueblazes "The sex is awesome once we actually get down to it, but I do find that I have to push myself through a couple of minutes of ambivalence to get there." Just wanted to chime in on this. I feel exactly the same way. I have to get myself past the shrugs and the feeling of rather just having a cuddle and falling asleep.I'm often really reticient, like sex is a hassle or a drag. But then when we get into it, my thought is usually like "Why don't we do this ALL the time? This is great fun!" What a strange conflict in my mind.

7 vidas

Yay, Ask A Married Dude! I do enjoy the advice columns. Thanks Edith, A Married Dude and letter writers for sharing this.
LW 2- I imagine parenting is tough, I can't imagine parenting with someone who isn't supportive of you developing your parenting style/skills/plan. I don't have kids yet so my take holds little weight. Best wishes for you, your niece & brother, and your boyfriend's baby & baby mama.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

UGH LW2 this guy is a douche. He's like all of those horrible people you know who, after giving birth, say things like, "Oh, you have NO idea," or "You wouldn't know, you're not a parent." Only this person is one you want to have as a partner. A partner who thinks you are inadequate. UGH.

Kitty

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I hate those people. Just because you don't have children, you don't know what a decent human being is? I mean... that's what raising a child is right? Trying to raise a decent human being?

Kitty

So, here's a question regarding marriage and time frames. When SHOULD you start asking (demanding?) a time frame for marriage if you are ready. I don't want to be all "when are you going to marry me, tell me tell me tell!" but I would like an idea of when (if?) it will happen. I know I want it to happen and when but I don't want to waste my time if it's not going to happen (if there is one thing I've learned in all of my relationships: time marches on; "in love or not").

Side note: asking this is sending me into a bit of shame spiral... like Cosmo has conditioned to me be worried. But I am scared!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Kitty Don't shame spiral! It's OK!

I think the important thing that gets lost in a lot of Cosmo bullshit is that a marriage proposal shouldn't be a surprise. Like, sure, the act of proposing should be cute and fun and surprising, but the fact that one person asks the other to marry them shouldn't be a "will he/she? Won't he/she?" situation.

I think couples should have open conversations about their expectations for the future, and whether that includes marriage. How does your person feel about marriage? Have you ever talked to your person about it? Have you ever expressed that you'd like to get married?

Open conversation can alleviate a lot of anxiety by removing the fear of the unknown.

LeafySeaDragon

@Kitty i'd say to start asking yourself this stuff after about a year or so. do you want kids? i'd like to have time to be married to the one i love a few years (at least!) before having kids. also - age and the kid question need to be factored in to this equasion.

Lily Rowan

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I am not married, and generally a practical rather than romantic person, and the whole idea of agreeing to get engaged in a year (or whatever) makes NO FRICKIN SENSE to me! I feel like, if you both agree you're going to get married, even if it's two years in the future, you are engaged. Ring or no ring.

cuminafterall

@Kitty I am promoting A Practical Wedding all over this comment thread, but this collection of posts on engagement/proposal dilemmas is really, really good at cutting through the shame spirals and Cosmo bullshit. Included: somebody who gave their partner an ultimatum, which worked out; somebody who decided to be cool with not getting married, which worked out; and a woman who proposed to her male partner, which (spoiler alert!) worked out. The takeaway I got was to be honest about your emotional needs and respectful of your partner's, and to do what feels right for you.

Briony Fields

@Lily Rowan I...kind of get it? Early into my relationship, I knew I WOULD want to be with him forever, but that I needed to ease into it and get used to it, if that makes sense. Like, I had this spidey sense that we'd end up together forever and I was happy about that, but if he'd asked me to marry him at that point I'd have run away flailing and screaming. I know if we had rushed, I'd have panicked and it wouldn't have worked out but I knew I'd be ready, with him, some day.
I hope that makes sense!

packedsuitcase

@Kitty I had a really honest conversation with Dudefriend a few weeks ago when he was here visiting. He had a gift for me that he'd built up and up and up until all of a sudden all of the voices saying, "Oooooooh, you're getting engaged!" felt right. (Spoiler alert: they weren't.) I found out right before he started his 16 hour trek to visit me that he wasn't proposing and I realized I was kind of let down. So a few days after I got his beautiful, thoughtful gift, we had a talk about how thinking it might be a ring had felt, and when we felt like we'd be ready to actually get married. (Note that I say "get married" and not "get engaged" - we both view engagement solely as a means to an end, and something to be gotten over with quickly with a wedding coming as soon as possible after officially deciding to get hitched.) We'd been together almost a year and a half, and we'd talked about our views on marriage and whether we wanted to marry each other already, so it was a more practical nuts and bolts kind of conversation.

I think it's totally reasonable to have an honest talk about where marriage is in your future and why. I think the current narrative of engagement skews in the man's favour, but if that's not how your relationship operates, then why should engagement operate that way? In no part of our relationship do I sit back and wait for him to decide things about my life, so it didn't make sense to me that waiting for an engagement should also involve me being totally in the dark about when it was coming. I don't need to know the exact date and time, but I know roughly the time and personal milestones he feels are important, so as I see those pass I can hazard a guess that engagement is likely not that far away which is a comfortable place for both of us.

supernintendochalmers

@Kitty Maybe a year or so, if it's important to you? But even if it's not that pressing for you right now, I think that you and your partner should be able to discuss the idea of marriage in an open-ended way. Just, this is what's important to me, this is what's important to you, let's check back in a year or whatever. Also, if you disagree on timelines or on how much you value getting married, being open about it will give you both time to marinate on it and hopefully slowly slide towards a compromise.

Dirty Hands

@Kitty ""when are you going to marry me, tell me tell me tell!"" aww haha.

thebestjasmine

@Kitty Honestly, I think this totally depends on how old you are (especially if you want to have children). Because if you're in your mid to late thirties, this conversation is going to happen a lot sooner than if you're in your mid to late twenties, let me tell you.

H.E. Ladypants

@Kitty My boyfriend sometimes worries that he should have asked me to marry him by now and will say such things out loud. (Because we talk pretty openly about getting married, future plans, etc.)

My response to him is, "If I want to get married and you haven't asked, I'll ask you. You're not the only one who can propose, you know."

And that's true. If I'm absolutely ready to get hitched and he hasn't asked me yet, I'll ask him.

Maryaed

@Kitty ASK HIM.

I feel like a broken record telling people this, but if you really want to know whether someone wants to marry you, why is waiting around to see if he will ask you first even an option? Other than sexist tradition.

mostly harmless

@Maryaed I wish I could like this a thousand times. If you want something, ask for it. So simple, and yet so elusive to so many.

harebell

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose @Kitty
Actually, I think this contemporary ideal we have right now that the proposal has to be a big cute surprise is extremely damaging to people's relationships. It's so crazy, because then women think they can't even bring up the discussion of whether to get engaged without "spoiling the surprise," or being greedy marriage-hungry people... but it's in nobody's interests for women to be completely in the dark and men completely in control of the timing of the engagement process.
How did things get to be so extreme and unmoderated, I wonder? False ideals of an imaginary past that never existed?

Hot Doom

Re: LW3, I'm really interested in reading others' replies about sex and marriage, because I have been married for less than a year and I can already see how the sex has changed. For me, I think a lot of it has to do with my hormones and the frequency of my period (which is often, and seems to occur even more often when we have frequent sex). Also, I was really depressed for several months and that really cooled things off. I've been trying to motivate myself for sex, and like LeafySeaDragon said earlier, I go for it when I'm not in the mood sometimes too, and that's fine for me. We have sex 1-3 times a week and though I miss the crazy lust that we used to have, it's just not happening for me anymore (might be the hormones, might be familiarity). We've been together for just over two years now, and sometimes I wonder if we fall on the low end of the sex spectrum and think "shit, there's something wrong for us to already be not having sex 5 times a week" but basically, we've both found a happy medium where if one of us wants it, s/he makes it known and we go for it and by the end, we're both really happy we did it and, to be fair, it's not insanely frequent, but it is always awesome.

mostly harmless

@Hot Doom the low end of the spectrum is "no sex at all" so I think you're safe there. hell, myself and one of my married friends are in the 6-8 times a year camp, so you sound just fine from where I sit.

Kitty

I love this "Listen to your friends." I need to do that more often. They love me! They know me best! They always have my best interest at heart! I would really be better off if I would listen to them.

Bookish

LW3, are you by any chance on hormonal birth control? Do you start it when you start a new relationship? Because I used to have a lot of issues with my sex drive falling off about 6 months to a year into new relationships ... until I realized it might be related to hormones, and stopped taking the pill.

I'm not saying interest in sex doesn't change over time, but if you're mentally there and your body isn't responding, you might want to think about switching up whatever you're putting into it. Talk to your gyno about your options. Also, worrying all the time about this can cause you to stress out, which can then affect your sex drive! So if you're in a cycle of worry about it, you might also think about sex-positive counseling. Get somebody else to help you break out of that worry cycle you're in, there's no shame in that. :)

Hot Doom

@Bookish YES. I was just saying above how my sex drive really seems to be tied up with my bc (the rod) and I second your advice wholeheartedly about either switching bc or examining the stress that can dampen sex drive. The hormones though, seriously.

barefoot cuntessa

@Bookish I quit hormonal birth control right after I got married because I was experiencing exactly what you described. We use condoms now (lifestyle THYN) and OMG my libido went up and my orgasms were much more powerful.

packedsuitcase

@barefoot cuntessa Going from the pill to an IUD made me feel like I was living in somebody else's libido until I got used to it. Holy whirlwind, Batman! I wanted all the sex, all the time.

barefoot cuntessa

@packedsuitcase I'll take two!

kate.m

@packedsuitcase Can I be nosy and ask if you're on Mirena or Paragard? (Because I have a Mirena now, it's about to expire, and I'm considering switching to Paragard, mainly because of the possibility of more excellent sex.)

packedsuitcase

@kate.m Of course! I'm on Mirena. So sadly I can't promise any more sex than you're already having.

kate.m

@packedsuitcase Darn! But thanks. And I'll keep investigating since usually a sample size of one is not adequate.

jaimie

LW 3 - I've been in a relationship with a super hot/good at sex guy for almost four years, and I also noticed a drop in sex drive after the first year. We now probably have sex about twice a week, whereas in the first few months (we were also long distance) we would sometimes have sex 2-3 times a day when we were together. I've always attributed it to a combination of familiarity (so it doesn't have that same spark of the new anymore) and the effects of my birth control. I've noticed that I usually get the most turned on towards the end of the week of placebos, when I guess I have the least amount of hormones in my system. Sometimes I wonder if I went off of it whether I'd be turned on more and more frequently, but the idea of an IUD scares me and I would worry constantly if we had to rely on other methods so I just deal with it. But seriously, can't wait for male birth control to happen.

BornSecular

@jaimie I have the Mirena IUD and its is (mostly) beautiful. It made me realize my pills were affecting my drive, and it's more convenient for me to not take them everyday. An internet stranger recommends it! ;)

CasualElegance

@jaimie GET AN IUD! Seriously, I went off of hormonal birth control for just a month (because I couldn't get into my doctor for a refill) and I noticed that I was constantly jumping my bf's bones. When I put two and two together, I swore off birth control for life. There is no reason to be scared of an IUD, the insertion is uncomfortable, but it is 100% effective. As in you cannot get pregnant. Period. Talk to your doctor, I really think it is a shame to waste a perfectly good sex drive!

Kulojam

@jaimie another IUD supporter here. I've had almost no pain except for a weird pain-ish feeling when it was inserted for about 24 hours. Other than that, it is all good and my libido is way up. (I have the copper one because I wanted no hormones.)

RoyRogersMcFreely

@jaimie I'm echoing the recommendation for an IUD. I have the Paragard IUD, which is totally hormone-free, and it's the best thing that has ever happened to me. The pill caused all kinds of crazy problems for me, many of which I didn't even notice until they were gone. As mentioned above, the insertion is uncomfortable, but it doesn't take very long (like, I was only in the office for about fifteen minutes), and then you're good for between 5 and 10 years, depending on which IUD you go with. Plus, for me, getting the IUD was WAY cheaper than the pill. I paid forty bucks for ten years of extremely reliable birth control with virtually no maintenance or upkeep. Even if I didn't have insurance, the Paragard still would have been cheaper than ten years of the pill. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and see what she says.

dj pomegranate

@jaimie Chiming in for the pro-IUD chorus! I got my Mirena a year ago or so and IT IS THE BEST. The hormones are much lower in Mirena than my previous pill, and the libido, it is way up. Insertion hurt like the dickens, but now I am carefree, period-free, and can wait another 4 years for babies.

frigwiggin

LW#3: My boyfriend and I have been together for about 5.5 years, and we don't have sex very often (like, maybe once every two weeks or once a month?) Part of this is the extenuating circumstance of me dealing with vulvar vestibulitis for the last couple years, which means we haven't been able to just have casual P-in-V like we did when we were first dating. The gyno gave me a numbing gel and some other stuff to make it work, but some trouble at the beginning was discouraging and we haven't tried in a while--which means most of the sex we have is oral, which just feels like more work than P-in-V! Especially since we both work full time and have had extra stuff in our lives lately (moving, being sick). I honestly don't know what my boyfriend's sex drive has been like, but mine has been fairly low, and he doesn't initiate things very much so I just sort of forget about it. Sometimes I remember and feel a little bad because we're not having as much sex as we're "supposed to," but if we're both happy, whatever. Once things settle down I do want us to start working on being able to have penetrative sex again on a semi-regular basis, because I do enjoy sex and orgasms and it's a nice way for us to feel close, but in the meantime I'm still happy with what we've got, even if it's just casual cuddling and smooches.

(Sorry to any IRL friends that end up reading this and didn't want to know that much. I'm a natural oversharer!)

Briony Fields

LW1: I disagree with A Married Dude on this topic. It doesn't sound like he's not interested in YOU, it sounds like, for whatever reason, the institution of marriage is not for him. Not wanting to get married is not necessarily a red flag. Marriage is not the ultimate sign of commitment, in my opinion. Lots of people get married when they are not truly committed. Lots of people treat marriage as a joke, lots of people cheat or treat their spouses badly. This guy seems to be in it for the long haul, wants the kids, wants the house, wants you. Heck, he is even willing to go against his morals and marry you because it's important to you. He's simply asked for a bit of time for that, and I see no problem there. Heck, he even has a date set for when he thinks he'll be ready? Sounds like a keeper to me. Don't let those cosmo quizzes get too deep into your head.

bnna

I don't have much experience with LTR sex, but I read/ listen to Dan Savage a lot (moments of fat, vag and bi phobias aside, I like Dan!) and I really think AMD's answer was a bit simplistic. Everything seems OK and like not a red flag, but it is my impression (from reading, talking to friends and having some of my own experiences) that having good sex in an LTR takes intentionality, commitment and work. Its easy in the beginning because mystery is sexy and you don't have to think about, but thinking about how to have good sex doesn't mean that it has to be less good. It is also my impression that there are a lot of really great, loving and healthy relationships out there with less frequent sex, but if you want a vibrant sex life that is normal and allowed! And doesn't need to come by-way-of cheating or finding a new temporarily exciting partner! It just takes work, like EVERYTHING else in your relationship, life, career, family, etc...

BTW, Dan Savage really has the market cornered (for better and worse sometimes) on giving advice to committed partners with complex sex lives, so his writing is definitely worth a peek for some of the stories you're looking for.

Miss Maszkerádi

Married Dude, regarding LW1, what part of "I want to spend my life with you, move in with you and have a family with you" sounds like "keeping his options open" ?

aphrabean

@Countess Maritza Indeed! Ohhh indeed.

Snood Mood

@Countess Maritza Seriously. WTF? That was a huge fail on AMD's part, and not helpful for LW1 at all. bleh.

carissadalloway

Real married person here. My anecdata for LW3:

I've been married to my husband for 4 years, together for 8. We started off with an almost daily schedule that adjusted down to maybe once a week after a year or so. Over the years there's been a definite ebb and flow, with ebbs usually due to my changing birth control or meds for bouts of depression or us both just being damn tired. I used to worry about not wanting sex, feel bad, apologize, and he always reassured me that he was happy. I probably did keep a bit of a timer going though, and would make sure not to let it go more than (an admittedly arbitrary) 4-6 weeks. Then I got pregnant and had a baby and breastfed and shut that shit DOWN. It was just not happening, cue the nope nope nope gif. I could honestly envision never having sex again and being fine with it. Now, though, the baby's almost 9 months old and we're normalizing a bit. I recently made an effort after reading something about sex being like glue for a marriage and thinking it would be good for us to connect--sexyparts and all. It was nice. We had fun, like always. It might happen again soon, it might not. I still don't feel comfortable in my postpartum body but that's my issue, and I'm working on it.

I can relate to how you're feeling. I've always just talked a lot about it with my partner to make sure we're on the same page. I also began to realize that it's perfectly okay (for me, and us) not to want to have sex all that much. He probably wants it more than I do, so I'm mindful of that, and he's understanding when I'm not up for it. Ultimately, we have a very happy marriage and it seems we're meeting everybody's needs. If that changes, I hope we can change too and keep this thing going.

Scandyhoovian

LW3 - Husband and I have been together (including our dating, as we're newlyweds) just about three years, and there are times when we have sex ALL THE TIME EVERY DAY MAYBE EVEN MORE THAN ONCE and then there are periods where we don't have sex for like two weeks. The low points have to do with any number of things: one of us is sick, he's just really tired (accountant during tax season), I'M just really tired, one of us *ahem* just read an article about abandoned dogs in post-disaster zones and is just not in the mood, all sorts of things. But even during those times if we're not having sex, we're still cuddling and kissing and doing all the other things that signal a healthy love life, so it doesn't really bother us so much. I mean, occasionally we'll go, "Uh, when's the last time we..." and then that tends to lead to "let's reset THAT clock, shall we?" fun times, anyway. I figure that's just how life sort of works in long term committed relationships.

PomoFrannyGlass

LW4, and everyone, sorry, I know I've said this before but trust me, it bears repeating: Marriage as an institution is primarily a financial arrangement. Yes, there are benefits, but if you and your partner aren't responsible or transparent with one another, you can do real damage to each other and your future. My ex was focused strictly on the romantic idea of marriage and didn't understand the practical aspects or how his financial actions affected me and that's why he's my ex.

RoyRogersMcFreely

LW # 3: I've been with my current partner for about four years now, and we've definitely hit the point where things have slowed down a little. When we first got together, we could barely keep our hands off each other, even in public, and now we sometimes go weeks without having sex.

Like you, I also have a tendency to have a hard time getting aroused like I used to. When my partner and I first got together, we could make out for thirty seconds and I'd be good to go (is that too crass? I'm sorry). That sort of fell off as time went on. Stuff that we did when we were younger just isn't that exciting anymore.

Instead, we've shifted to what we call "naked couple time." We just hang out together in the nude for a while. We lay in bed together and watch Netflix or talk about stuff or read books together or whatever. Typically, neither of us is initially in the mood at all, so there's no pressure to have sex or to feel like having sex. We're just hanging out in the nude, doing whatever we're doing. Invariably, at some point we start to get aroused from the nudity and the skin-to-skin contact, so we always end up having sex, but it's always super fun and relaxed and easy. It just sort of happens organically. Is it exactly the same as it was when we first started having sex? Absolutely not, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Eventually, the fire burns itself out and the butterflies stop fluttering, but then I think you can really start exploring yourself and your partner on a deeper level. Sparks and butterflies are fun while they last, but I think that in some ways, they can get in the way of becoming truly intimate with your partner. It's like chasing a high. It IS chasing a high, and no matter who you're with, that high won't last forever. When it stops, you can either move on to someone else and keep chasing those feelings, or you can really hunker down with your partner and start building a different kind of intimacy altogether.

It's not even about settling for something, it's about realizing that there are wonderful ways to be intimate with your partner when the sparks have dimmed. It'll probably be different, but it certainly doesn't have to be bad.

mariko

@RoyRodgersMcFreely This is a beautiful comment. Thank you!

vunder

Forgive me if someone has already made a point similar to this, but for LW#3, for me, sex at the 10 year mark is a little like exercise. I don't necessarily feel inclined to do it when I'm not doing it, but I'm almost always glad I did. If I focus on doing it regularly, I get more regular enjoyment from it and it takes me less time to get into it. I tend to be sort of an in-my-head kind of person, so it takes some focus to connect with my body. Yoga helps. Thinking about sex helps. It's not perfect. One thing I can also say is that when my sex life is really suffering, it's usually because something else is going on with me. Fixing that/those other things helps with the sex life, but similarly, working on the sex life also help improve the other things...

LeafySeaDragon

@vunder this is a great explanation! <3 it

Killerpants

@vunder I also love this! That makes so much sense, thank you for sharing it. I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who has that experience. Of course we all have to establish our own "regularly," whether that be once a week or once a month or anywhere less or more than that. And we should all be ok with whatever that is and not worry too much if someone else is higher or lower on the "regular" spectrum (she reminds herself).

GoldStripes

@vunder I really like this explanation, thank you. I'm in a bit of a lull at the moment and I think things like this are why: being a little bit unhappy with my body, not working out or being active, coming up to the end of winter with all the heavy clothes and dry skin :) and lack of vitamin D. Reading your comment made me realise that these things actually affect a lot of different parts of my life, and sex happens to be one of them.

knitterly

Long-time reader, never commented, but I had to log in for this one, as I haven't seen anyone "my" age for LW #3. I'm 43, been married for 18 years, with my hub a total of 22 years. (Aside, we celebrate both anniversaries, mostly because we think it is funny that we had sex 4 days before our first date--we count the sex date. )

In my experience, it is ebb and flow based on many, many different things. We had sex every day for the first year or so, and then less so as years passed. After we got married, our sex life took a real dive because of me--and as I realized later after we decided to have kids, because of my birth control. Grrrr.

I think it has to do with age, as well. Once I hit my mid-30s I was crazy for it all the time again. (He also traveled a lot for work, so getting back together was super fun--absence making the heart grow hornier.)

We're kind of in a slump again for a couple of reasons, I think: He's nearly 50 and is suffering the "man change" and we have a teenager in the house, which takes me back to when I was a teen and my newly re-married mom and stepdad screwed LOUDLY all the time. It is gross as a teen to even have to consider that your parents are sexually active, and that happens to be a mental thing I'm working on in regards to our own child's presence in the house. When you're waiting for your kid to go to bed to have sex, and he doesn't go to bed until after you do, shit gets a little sideways.

That said, we had sex twice and I blew him twice last weekend, and this week has been a great one (except for my resulting UTI).

Long story, presented long: It does ebb and flow. And you do need to talk about it. And there is nothing like looking at old photos of yourselves/remembering old times, and remembering how freaking crazy you were about each other to wake yourself up.

Also, as my mom always reminds me (usually in reference to my kids doing annoying shit): Everything is temporary.

noodge

I just feel really reassured by everyone's response to LW3 and sex life shifts over the course of relationships. It seems like the people who are more open about discussing their sexual frequency are the ones who are getting it a lot more? so it's a relief to hear that there are others in multiple-year relationships having sex 1-3 times a week and that it's relatively normal. i feel like i've always been worried that it's not enough or that we're lame because we "only" have it 1-3 times a week...

parallel-lines

@noodge Hahaha, yes, I was reading that and like "Multiple times a day?!? I have school and work and holy shit how does anyone have that sort of time." But then again, I wasn't ever a multiple times a day person (maybe at the very very very beginning) so why would I be one when I'm married? But I can't lie, I am a little jealous--of the time and the sex!

SarahP

@noodge I think people often get caught up in wanting to know "What number's normal?" without amending it to "What number's normal for me/us?" It can make conversations like this hard (on both sides) because no matter how much you enjoy your sex life, I think most of us have some kind of pressure to think we're doing it wrong or something. I think if you're happy with your sex life, that's all you need! (But it's one thing to say it, another thing to feel it, of course...)

blueblazes

@SarahP For just a second I thought that said "What number's normal for MELIS?" And now I would like to know, please. @melis?

SarahP

@blueblazes The Hairpin needs to know.

mostly harmless

@noodge oh good god, no, 1-3 times a week seems perfectly normal to me. if you need the other end of the spectrum to help balance your sense of "normal" my wife and I have sex maybe one a month, sometimes skipping a month or two. 1-3 times a week seems like such a distant memory.

antipretty

OK I feel weird talking about this but I'd feel more weird bringing this up with my friend over brunch so here goes:

I would like to hear some stories of people in the reverse position of LW3. What about when your sex drive is functioning great but your boyfriend doesn't want to have sex? We've gotten into this rut where he's constantly like "no, we'll do it [tomorrow/when we go to bed/after he gets home from soccer/this weekend]" and once that time comes, it doesn't happen, and I am fighting the urge to nag him for sex because that's pretty much the antithesis of sexy.

He's still really affectionate and we're still very much in love with each other, but I want to have sex more and I've never been in a relationship where my sex drive outpaces my partner.

So...how'd you guys cope with this?

noodge

@antipretty i have a bit of this going on - and I'm coping alright, but I have had the "it's not always a burning desire or especially driving force, but as time goes on we have to rally - and we always enjoy ourselves!" talk with him a few times, and he agrees and it's good.
I struggle a little bit with the feeling like I'm the sexual driving force, and wishing he was a bit more energized on that level, making more overtures, etc. But we talk about it, and it gets better for a bit, then we get comfortable again until I bring it up again. Yes, it's frustrating, but he's an amazing dude in many ways, and our sex when we have it is phenomenal, so I take the good with the "could be better" I suppose, and I am happy with that.
(his overtures, when he makes them, are really not inspiring... i won't go into details. but that's his love language and I appreciate that he makes the effort haha. it's a work in progress, and I actually enjoy the thought of refining our love-making over the years.)

Smallison

@antipretty

I've been facing this for a long time, and just like @noodge, after we talk about it, it'll be better for a while. We have sex about 2-3 times a week (except when I'm on my period - which lasts about 8-10 days. We're working on that, too), but he almost never initiates. We've talked about it, and I've tried really hard not to be naggy. He's getting better. I let him know what bugs me, and vice versa. My advice is to bring it up sometime during the daytime (not when you're in bed), maybe ask him when his favorite time to have sex is? That's the route I took, and it helped. If nothing else, I offer my solidarity.

antipretty

@Smallison thanks. It's been about a month at this point and I'm getting pretty frustrated. I'm not sure what the answer is but I plan to talk to him about it more this weekend. We also work different schedules (I'm a typical 8-4, he works in a restaurant and has a lot of 6AM starts and works weekends) so that's not helping.

Stevie

@antipretty I'm in this boat! We've been together 2 1/2 years and got engaged this winter, but he's working full-time and then in an accelerated part-time MBA program, and I work full-time and then do most of the house chores and pet chores, and we try to schedule our sex appointments at least once a week but it's really difficult. I often feel like it's more of a concern for me, and that I'm the one bringing it up, and we've talked a few times about how I need him to talk about it too (even if we're not doing it, just mention that you wish we were! or something!), but I do know he's exhausted and stressed and frankly, I think his libido is a little lower than what I assumed men's should be. (Also, I was dating twenty-something-year-olds when I was in my twenties, and now that we're all in our thirties, that probably makes a difference, too.) Anyway, I tend to feel pretty bad about the infrequency of our sex, especially when peers talk about how often they're doing it in their marriage (which is supposed to be worse!), and I worry that this is what the rest of my life is going to be like, even though I know this is just a really stressful and highly-scheduled time. We are still affectionate and communicative and everything, it's just not possible when he gets home from work/class at 9:30 pm, then I feed him dinner, then I get ready for bed while he's eating, then we're both wiped out. Weekends are our only chances right now, and when those fill up, we're (not) screwed. Basically these comments are helping me not feel like a total failure, especially because sometimes I don't want to have sex either, but I feel like we SHOULD be doing it so then I get upset that we're not. So I'm hoping this is just the ebb part of things. Also I'm hoping to switch to an IUD this spring -- I'm sure the pill hormones aren't helping me.

Anyway, it's good to hear there are all sorts of relationships out there and that they're all OK.

shumacumlaude

@antipretty I'm so glad this side of the discussion came up. I was actually thinking about writing in for the same subject... I've recently changed anti-anxiety meds and my sex drive is higher than it's been in months, but he's quitting smoking plus he's studying for the CPA. We love each other very much and we're phenomenal companions, but I've had the same nagging fear of "What if it's going to be like this forever?!" It's a huge relief to know that it's not just me.

I like your suggestion, @smallison, about time of day. One of the things I'm having a hard time with is figuring out how to communicate my desires and needs and getting him to do the same. He's from a conservative Catholic family (with parents who have been happily married for 30+ years) and my background is the exact opposite. I also know that I'm more sexually experienced than he is, and that it makes him uncomfortable when I bring that part of my past up in conversation even to relate a good or a bad experience. Do any of you ladies have advice on how to break down that wall so that he and I could have more constructive conversations about these things?

Jess McCloskey

@antipretty Okay, so probably not the response you're looking for, but: I've had this happen in two otherwise awesome long term relationships and it was one of the primary reasons for both of them to end. In my experience a serious sex drive mismatch is just so hard to reconcile and I don't think that men are (generally, generally, I hasten to add) socialised in the same way to make an effort when they're not in the mood. I mean, look how many women in this comment thread talk about starting sex even if they aren't quite in the mood, so as to please their partner and keep the relationship ticking over. Or how many magazine articles tell women to toss out a blowie or a hand job to keep their man happy...and then think about how rarely you can think of a men's magazine telling men to take one for the team.

Generally (again!) speaking, men feel more pressure to have the higher drive, so when that isn't the case, there can be a lot of complex, crappy feelings being thrown around. He feels wrong and inadequate, she feels wrong and unsexy, it's a damn mess. Asking for what you want is a struggle because you feel like a nag and he sees you as a burden that makes him feel even less able to get in the game. It's a bad cycle and I've yet to find a way out of it.

I did counselling with one partner and it still didn't get the job done. I hate to be a downer, but honestly, a higher sex drive than my male partners has never ended in anything but tears for me.

entangled

@antipretty In my experience this is really normal and much more frequent than what's normally portrayed in the media. It can certainly be frustrating to want and initiate and then get told no, but I think it's not insurmountable. For me, the key has been realizing WHY he doesn't want to have sex... and it sounds like it's something similar to your situation. My dude is REALLY stressed. Vacations help, but unfortunately most of those are to visit relatives so not exactly sexy times. He knows that if he never compartmentalizes the stress away and makes an effort, I'm going to be really upset, but I know that it's really put a damper on everything and not to make him feel (too) bad about it.

It's definitely a problem, but I think it's more along the lines of morning person/night person (another mismatch we have, which probably also contributes to lack of sex). It's frustrating and can get worse and worse, or you can accept that you're just a little different and find ways to compromise and work around each other.

Smallison

@shumacumlaude I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum - he was much more experienced than me. I don't know exactly how to broach that, but I think that in this case, porn (or talking about it, at least) could help. We've watched a bit together, and it sort of takes it away from being so personal? I.e., I like watching such-and-such. Maybe you've tried some particular sex act but if he doesn't have to hear it in the context of your previous sexual partners, it might be an easier pill to swallow. I apologize if that's totally off base.

Bootsandcats

LW#3 - He may have been doing the thing - where you told him about your niece living with you, and he thought "Oh God the time, Oh God the money, Oh there will always be children everywhere." and then QUASHED it as an unworthy thought, and when you asked about the hesitation, threw out the first thing that came into his head.

Is your fiance Catholic - or from a Catholic family? Was he trained to be charitable - particularly to family - without a second thought? Because then sometimes people think having and then rejecting the second thought is shameful, and then there is a terrible fight about the third thought instead. (Fights during the first year of my marriage: a retrospective.)

I'm not certain that's what happened, of course, but it seems worth checking.

noodge

I want to join the chorus of those who disagree with the AMD advice on LW1's issue. My now-husband NEVER wanted to marry - it was pretty much a part of his identity, and I was fine with that until I realized I wasn't fine with that, and over the course of a couple years (and a letter of my own to AMD a few years ago) we negotiated this issue, and we ended up marrying last year. It's not a black-or-white situation - like someone is either "yes" marriage or "no" marriage and if they're "no" they're just stringing you along and will marry the next lady they date after you. It sounds to me like he's interested in long-term committment but may have his own ideas about marriage (and they may be negative) and he's figuring it out.

When I initially told my dude that I had changed my mind and wanted to get married, I was a mess... sobbing all over our nice dinner out. He reassured me, told me he definitely wasn't ready, but wanted me to know he would work on it, and would do his best to get ready, to get over his hang-ups. He wanted to wait longer than I did (I'm older than he is) but eventually we worked out solutions that worked for us, after TONS of communication - not all of it easy conversations by any means.

So, yeah. I disagree with AMD.

fondue with cheddar

@noodge And that, ladies and gentlemen, is love.

noodge

@fondue with cheddar Thanks Doll!!! and didn't we want to hang out at some point, my fellow philadelphian? (this is/was Teenie) - need my email addy?

fondue with cheddar

@noodge Yes, I know you're the person who was formerly Teenie because you have the same profile pic! Hanging out sometime would be fun! I keep missing the 'Pinups because there's been so much Stuff going on. I think we might be Facebook friends (I'm never really on there so I'm not sure), but I'm definitely in the Philly 'Pinup FB group (my name is Jen). So you might not have to post your email address here if you can find me there.

noodge

@fondue with cheddar yeah, I think we'd hung out at the first one? and you have the boyfriend who just got divorced and it was super gnarly, yeah? anyway, i friend requested the only jen I could find (which seems - odd, so let me know if it's not you - I'm the only Coco on there if you want to find me :-) )

fondue with cheddar

@noodge That's me! Yeah, we were among the first who arrived at that 'Pinup (the one where we all snuck downstairs to the bathroom to drink Peach and Strawberry Qream). I can't log into Facebook at work because my boss will see if he's logged in too, but I'll check it out later!

the ghost of amy lee

I've been with my partner for over 4 years, and while we used to have sex several times per day, now we're down to about once a week or less. Our relationship has been open for 3 years, and a few months ago I started questioning the status of the relationship and stressing out, mainly because he kept talking about his new partner a lot and I felt threatened. I found a couple more partners recently, and omg has it helped our sex life so much. I am more turned on in general much more of the time, so our sex has increased to about twice per week and it's way better. We have also spent more time talking about our open relationship and what the rules our. I have realized that I am not interested in hearing about his exploits at all, while he likes to hear about my partners because that turns him on.

maggagie

#2 -- Are you "OVERthinking it?" I think you're underthinking it, lady.

RoyRogersMcFreely

Also, can we talk about what a douche LW2's boyfriend is? At best, he's incredibly thoughtless and astoundingly insensitive. I keep re-reading her letter, and I'm simultaneously shocked and confused by the things that he said to her. It read to me like "You can probably raise kids, but not MY kids."

Ignoring the nonsensical way his opinion was worded, and the faulty logic that implies that raising adopted children is somehow less difficult than raising biological children, no one is naturally a good parent. Being a good parent requires responsibility, maturity, patience, and the ability to put other people's needs above one's own. NO ONE is born with those skills, but anyone can learn them if they want to. It sounds like LW2 has already developed them, if she's willing to take in her niece on a full-time basis. There are plenty of good-hearted, loving people who wouldn't make the choice to raise someone else's child. It's an extraordinary decision on LW2's part.

I'm not sure from the content of the letter if that conversation alone warrants kicking him to the curb, but it was sure as fuck not okay. If LW2's friends are already advocating for her to dump his ass, my guess would be that this particular conversation is probably not the first shitty thing that they've picked up on from him. If "I don't think you'd make a good parent" is what he says to his girlfriend when she comes to him seeking comfort and support in the face of an incredibly difficult situation, it's not too much of a stretch to think that he may have said or done any number of other incredibly douchey things.

I suppose it's possible that he was trying to talk her out of making what he might consider to be a giant mistake. Maybe he's realizing how hard being a parent is, and he, clumsily and tactlessly, was trying to get her to recognize the difficulty involved. But it sounds more like he was just being a jerk.

wee_ramekin

@RoyRogersMcFreely YES, THIS.

Maryaed

@RoyRogersMcFreely He sounds like one of those "best defense is an offense" people. Whom I would not want to live with.

par_parenthese

@RoyRogersMcFreely All of these things. Douchey, yup. Not ok, yup. Dump his ass, FOR REAL.

skyslang

LW #3: It doesn't matter what goes on in other people's relationships. What matters is how YOU feel and what YOU want. It's OK to feel the way you are feeling, to want sex less frequently. If you're putting pressure on yourself to do it a certain amount, you're making sex into a job. It should be a pleasure! Give yourself a break and let your desire come and go, act on it when you feel like it, have good (if infrequent) sex and check in with your dude to make sure he understands you still love him, and that he's getting his needs met.

Danzig!

I get that some people are REALLY into marriage but if "I've got misgivings about getting married" translates more or less wholly into "I am going to discard you at some point" then, well... Maybe I'm young, but defining relationships by the way they're likely to end hasn't made anyone I know happy. Also, marriage: not that great of a bulwark against parting, but that's neither her nor there.

I mean, shared life goals are a big deal, but the way Dude put it seems like an unhealthy way of going about this thing. It sounds like an easy way to get angry and bitter.

Also if Mike Birbiglia is any indication, what LW1 needs is to get her bf into a near-death experience. Perfectly sensible

AniaGosia

LW3: my husband and I have been together for 3 years (married for 2), we have a toddler and I'm pregnant with the second guy, but we're still hot for each other. Like, I'm getting a little turned on thinking about him as I type this. We've had a little ebb and flow, and it's not as desperately hot as it was when we were first together - more like comfortably hot. And despite the fact that I'm a beach ball right now, the orgasms are the best I've ever had and they just keep getting better. Of course, every relationship is different, but you asked for a happy story & that's mine! Sometimes I pinch myself.

GoldStripes

@AniaGosia this is fabulous! Funny, but I find it equally reassuring to hear stories about people who have sex once a week or once a month (because it means I'm normal!)and stories like yours about how things are still hot and heavy after marriage and babies (because it means it's possible!).

AniaGosia

@AniaGosia It's funny because for both of us, this is the first relationship that's ever been like this. I kept waiting for that one year drop off, but it hasn't happened yet. 3 years isn't that long, so who know what's in the future, but I think we can handle it. It helps that we're really compatible in bed in terms of our turn-ons and such. Good luck with your relationship! It seems like the main message from all these comments is that mutual communication and generosity are key.

Leaning more to the side

I am so appreciating all the personal stories about sex lives in LTRs....I did not know my experience was actually typical. I thought I was weird and that was why the sex got less hot eventually. Thank you, everyone!

paddlepickle

I agree that LW2's boyfriend is being a jerk, but anyone else a little uncomfortable dude judging him for having gotten a casual girlfriend pregnant, and for his family being unsupportive? I mean, shit happens and you can't help it if your family sucks.

GoldStripes

LW3: I am one year into a relationship too, and feeling the fizzle. We have sex 1-2 times a week, normally on the weekends. I'm just not so excited for sex in the middle of a working week. But I'm really hearing all the commenters who recommend that you make intimacy a priority, even if it feels a little like effort or exercise at first. I too have had a relationship fail because the intimacy just ... died. It still feels like a bit of a scar, because it was such a fantastic relationship except for the complete and utter lack of desire to bone each other by the end. Really, I've learned so much from the comments here! My other take-away is the idea that feeling sexy is not just about how your partner touches you, but about being in connection with your own body. I really like that.

Tenayah90

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happy go lucky scamp

letter writer 4 - are you me?? I've been asking this for ages, particularly with financial benefits etc.

Now I'm going to go read all the responses.

At the moment though, I don't really see the point in getting married when we're both committed to each other, live together (so defacto under common law) and will one day buy a house etc etc...

annev6

LW3: For what it's worth, I find making a point to turn off the TV and the internet for a little bit on certain evenings can help a lot when you feel any aspect of your relationship is withering. That may seem annoyingly obvious but it's something I need to remind myself to do sometimes. OH how much quality couple time is lost to the great On-The-Laptop-While-Watching-TV blackhole. I wouldn't be surprised if whole marriages have crumbled thanks to it.

angelene

Dilemma: my boyfriend loves mdma, I have never taken anything and have trouble understanding why he continued to do it when he knows it makes me feel cut off from him and unhappy (he said he wouldn't do it anymore after the first time, but lied). I know it's not the worst drug, therapeutic benefits blah blah, but it really hurts that he did it behind my back. I'm aware it sounds sort of like an affair - that's kinda how I feel about it. Would like to know how others have dealt with similar differences. I saw myself settling down with him, having kids, but now I'm starting to feel like I have to take this drug to feel connected to him, which fucking sucks. I don't usually judge drug-use in others and don't like criminalisation (your body your choice) but it feels like a different thing within a relationship, because partners expect to be able to share everything with each other, and I'm not sure that I want to share this with him, but I also feel excluded by it. It's making me miserable. At least he's told me about it, but I can't see a way out that will make us both happy (if I forbid him from using it, I'll just feel like his parole officer, I think). Wisdom from the hairpin?

angelene

I'm guessing the simple answer is that taking MDMA will magically make me happy, but I don't feel comfortable with magic happiness. It feels like one of us has to change, though. I don't know if that has to be me.

bethanne

So, CRAZY story... I submitted a question to AMD two months ago, was surfing the site today, and what do you know... there was my question! I'm LW1 :)

Thanks for all the advice, friends - most of it better than AMD's, which I will admit, nearly made me cry.

Also, I sent this page to the boyfriend, and he told me that @emby posted almost exactly what he was thinking. Thankfully we HAVE had some heart to heart discussions on this issue, and can agree to compromise on a simple, small affair when we're ready. In the meantime I'm the happiest girl being his girlfriend!

Lynnita Moore@facebook

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Lynnita Moore@facebook

Its true about this great man prophet Osaze,i want to testify about what this great spell caster did for me. my husband left me 2 years ago and follow another woman and i was angry and went online to seek for advice on how i can win him back. suddenly, i found out a post about a spell caster and i decided to give it a try though i was not fully convinced if it will work out. so i contacted him and he told me he can bring back my husband to me. after he cast the spell for me, 3 days later i received a call from my husband and told me he wants to take me out for a date. that was how he came back to me and we had our 3 baby just 2 weeks ago.contact him now at spirituallove@hotmail. com because he is a great spell caster okay

Daniella Terry@facebook

I must admit, this caster dr.marnish is real. i called dr.marnish +15036626930 when my boyfriend departed from me. but since my boyfriend came back I definitely believe dr.marnish@yahoo.com is real
Daniella Terry

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