I got out of a long-term relationship (2.5 years) recently. It was a mutual, polite and extremely amicable break-up, to the extent that a mutual friend who is consoling both of us has called it the most amicable break-up ever. We collectively realised that we wanted different things out of the relationship – I was too much of a planner for her, she was always more about spontaneity – and parted ways. I am doing okay, your advice about an ended relationship not being a failed relationship has helped me a lot.
One of the reasons I’m not 100% better that I can’t really talk about with my friends because we move in HEAVILY overlapping social circles is… the sex. For context, we lost our virginity to each other within the first few months. This was, in large part, because my ex helped me through my initial anxieties (I was 22 the first time we had sex).
We were, I would say, certainly compatible on a basic level, but I always had a higher sex drive than she did. For the first year and a half this wasn’t so much of a problem, because we were having sex regularly enough that I could deal, but then I got a new job with less flexibility. That lead to us not having the time (since it pretty much killed any chance of “wanna stay the night?” without lots of planning, which was anathema to her) and combined with the steady loss of intimacy (and a corresponding growth in my anxiety) our sex life completely petered out.
The core of my issue… I think I might have scared my ex off sex. And I feel really guilty about this.
The last time we attempted sex was 12 months before we broke up; a spontaneous moment after we had run back to my house from a freak rain shower. (Before that, a gap of a few months for the summer; before that, a few months for exams – so we were already on the wind down). After a few failed attempts at penetration I tried going down on her and, presumably because of nerves, that didn’t do the job either. My ex was never really someone who needed much foreplay, so I knew something was wrong. Once everything cooled down I told her about vaginismus – because I genuinely thought that she might have it and that she would be willing to maybe get some help and work through it – and promised that I would help her.
I then embarked on what I thought was helpful but which I can now see was probably pressuring behaviour. I tried to ask her what I could request in the bedroom (essentially, if penetrative sex was off-limits, then I wouldn’t ask for it) and got told that she didn’t know. I bought her a vibrator so we had more options in the bedroom, she reacted with disgust and later told me it never got taken out of its packaging. Weeks went by and I got increasingly frustrated that not only were we not having sex, but we weren’t even doing anything that might potentially lead to it any more. Eventually at the end of the academic year once everything was over – and after plans for her to stay the night had fallen through again – I flat out asked if I should be worried about the lack of sex, to which I was told that sex was horribly stressful and she wasn’t up for it because of her exams… which didn’t really solve the rest of the issues I was worrying about at the time.
Long story short, we went on our first – and obviously now last – holiday together about a month before we broke up. It was, in hindsight, a disaster. We were, a few good moments aside, constantly stressing out at each other from planning right through to the airport home. Most of all, on our 2.5-year anniversary night (which I had based a fair bit of the holiday around) suffice it to say things did not go as I had planned; possibly because while I didn’t explicitly state it outright I think I probably made it a little too obvious that I was expecting things to end with a bang. In hindsight that was the moment we stopped working, because our expectations had so clearly diverged.
But… women don’t just stop wanting sex for no reason, right?
I feel like I failed her, because she was able to help me with my anxiety issues and I couldn’t help her with hers. I’m scared my ex is about to become one of those statistics you hear about women who can’t enjoy sex because of negative past experiences. Most of all, we broke up saying we both wanted the other to be happy and I’m upset that I might have cost her a large part of that chance. I want to deal with this guilt – partly because otherwise I reckon I’m going to be an anxious wreck in the bedroom if/when I do end up dating again – but I don’t think asking my ex about her sexual hang-ups is a good idea right now assuming it ever was. Any advice you have would be appreciated.
Help me Dr-Wan Kenobi you’re my only hope.
Did I Break It?