I’m beginning to think there’s not a woman alive who wants less sex than her partner…
“Not tonight honey, I don’t feel like it.”
It’s a phrase one would expect to be uttered by a woman to their male partner, but not this time.
Nope, this time it’s my boyfriend who just delivered the blow.
I feel the painful twang of rejection in my gut, and roll over to the other side of the bed to protest my disappointment; my back a silent familiar sign, he knows says “You’ve hurt my feelings”. He pulls me in to an embrace to reassure me what he knows he has to; “I love you, I just don’t feel like having sex tonight.”
This will not be the last time this scenario occurs.
The first time those words exited his lips after our raunchy honeymoon phase had come to its inevitable end, 18 months in, I called a state-of-emergency-level conference with my girlfriends in search of answers to desperate questions. Did this mean he was cheating? Had I somehow become repulsive to him? Done something to make him resent me?
What was wrong with me that I couldn’t make my boyfriend want me at all times?
After all, men always want sex…right?
Except that after a few mimosas and a lowering of guards, that didn’t seem to be the consensus among my group of friends. Rather, shockingly, they all revealed they’d experienced the same searing sexual rejection multiple times in their own relationships.
It seemed every woman’s story underscored something very significant: the man was the person in the relationship with the lower sex drive.
Why had no one spoken up about this before?
As women, we’ve been sold the myth if we’re not sexually available enough to our partners, they’ll go and ‘get it elsewhere’. Which can only lead one to the logical conclusion that you’re somehow defective if your man, who is biologically inclined to fuck ‘all the time’, does not want to fuck you.
Because we’ve been shown time and time again in movies and television shows – as well as just told in everyday life – that all men are constantly desperate for sex and women just aren’t. Just think of every sitcom you’ve ever seen; the scene of a tired wife rejecting the advances of her persistently horny husband, with the laugh track underneath to tell the audience “Isn’t this just oh-so relatable and realistic?”
Of course, both halves of a couple are bound to want to cool it every now and then, but this cultural belief that women desire sex less than men needs to be thrown in the trash, along with all other gendered sexual bullshit which still persists (I’m looking at you, slut-shaming and ‘women can’t have casual sex’ advocates).
Because research proves women have active sex drives and this narrative that’s shoved down our throats through popular media is really messing with our self-esteem, and our relationships.
I asked several women their thoughts on the issue and got some interesting and, honestly, heartbreaking responses.
“I’d always been told men would never turn down sex, and so when my partner started to say ‘no’, I felt so undesirable and like he’d suddenly become bored with me,” a female colleague told me.
“Once the sex started to die down, I freaked out. I thought I was the problem and he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. I lost heaps of weight, I gained it back and then some, I tried being all different kinds of shapes so he’d find me sexy again,” another confessed.
“I thought he was cheating on me, because I believed if he wasn’t getting it from me all the time, he must be getting it elsewhere. The idea that he just didn’t want heaps of sex never entered my head, because I’d always been led to believe men wanted sex constantly,” a third said.
And on and on it went.
I was taken aback by how incredibly similar these sentiments sounded to my own inner monologue.
My sex drive is relatively strong. In an ideal world, I’d want sex every day, and very little puts me off of getting it if the opportunity strikes. If my partner attempts to wake me up before my alarm, I’ll snap at him to go away and roll back over without even opening my eyes, but if he wakes me up at any time, including the middle of the night, for sex? I’ll be awake and getting down to business in an instant.
Out of the two of us, I definitely want it more. A lot more. And, it seems, I’m not alone. In a recent survey, 59 percent of women reported they wanted sex more often than they got it, when only 41 percent of men said the same thing. The same survey found 21 percent of couples also argue about the frequency of slipping between the sheets. I fall into that box as well.
In fact, our first big fight was about how often we have sex. About a year into the relationship, when the frequency had slipped from daily to – *gasp* – four nights a week, I found myself outside my boyfriend’s apartment in the middle of the night on the phone to a friend, hysterically crying because after I’d been turned down the third consecutive night in a row, I’d exploded in a flurry of sexual frustration and screamed “What’s wrong with me then? Why don’t you want me?!!” To which he snapped back “It’s nothing to do with you, it’s about me. And you make me feel like shit when you keep asking.”
After we calmed down and talked it out, he revealed his medication had been messing with his libido. And I’d been making him feel broken and defective because he couldn’t attend to my sexual needs, all the while feeling broken and defective myself, certain my boyfriend he didn’t desire me any longer.
If this conversation opened my eyes to anything, it was that we need to stop saying men want more sex than women, because it’s negatively affecting both women and men. Because men are told they should constantly want sex as well. And when they realize they don’t actually always want it, it messes with their heads – toxic masculinity, anyone?
And on top of society drilling it into our heads that ‘men want sex all the time’, women are also constantly told our worth lies in our ability to attract men. So, when our partners have a lower sex drive than us, it hits hard.
Instead, the sexual narrative should be that everyone wants sex at different frequencies, and this frequency is also likely to fluctuate and change throughout our lives, depending on our age, health, stress levels, and any other multitude of contributing factors. Communication about sex is key. And it’s always worth noting that sex isn’t everything in a relationship – there are other ways to be intimate with your partner if their libido is lower.
My insatiable sex drive has now become a bit of a running joke in my relationship. When I flop onto the couch and moan “I’m horny…:” in my boyfriend’s direction, he smirks and hits back “Well it’s a day ending in a ‘y’, so that makes sense!” before he scoops me into a playful kiss.
I’m now comfortable with the notion that if he says “no”, it’s not a reflection of my own desirability or of his feelings for me – it’s just a no. Once he’s wrapped his arms around me and kissed me on the forehead to go to sleep, I close my eyes soundly knowing our relationship is strong, regardless of how often we have sex.
Because the sex is amazing when it inevitably happens, but our relationship is also so much more than that.
Video and images via shutterstock.com, youtube.com and romper.com.
Comment: Do you have a higher sex drive than your man? If so, how do you deal with it?
SHESAID's own Carrie Bradshaw, Arie is all about love, sex and crazy #lifegoals. Though she currently lives in Sydney, she feels most at home in New York City – and will sleep with whoever she needs to to get there. Follow Arie on Twitter.