Doctor’s note: Today’s letter deals with sexual and emotional abusive relationships and sexual assault
Dear Dr. NerdLove:
I (23m) have always had something of a low sex drive, as in, I just don’t really enjoy having sex or masturbating. I mean, there are some times when I do, but I would say it’s probably not on the level of other guys. I can’t really put a number to it or anything, and it’s not an issue with getting it up or anything, that all works just fine. I just don’t really like sex that much – sometimes I want to have it, but most of the time I’d just rather cuddle or spend time with my partner in other ways. This has proven a problem in my relationships and has only gotten worse after a recent one.
I’m not really too stressed out about finding a partner or anything – I don’t really go out to try and pick up girls because that isn’t really how I connect with people. All of my relationships dating back to high school have come as a result of forming a friendship and the girl eventually asking me out, or asking me to ask her out. I’m just worried that I won’t be able to keep a relationship because of my sex drive problem, since it’s caused trouble in pretty much every relationship I’ve had in the past.
It’s only gotten worse after my most recent relationship. Three years ago, I entered a pretty serious long-term relationship. We clicked on basically every level, and the only hold-up was the sexual aspect of the relationship. She had a very high libido, she wanted to have it all the time and I, not wanting to disappoint, would sometimes just force myself to do it even when I really didn’t want to.
Eventually she kind of got tired of how I wasn’t really into sex as much as she was and would voice that to me. I really loved her and imagined I could have a future with her, so I again tried to improve myself for her. She was really into roleplay and would kinda pressure me into acting out these scenarios that made me feel really uncomfortable – I don’t really want to get into the exact specifics of that, but basically it was a “pretend non-consensual” thing that she had done with other partners in the past and was very into (I hated it).
If I mentioned to her that doing these scenarios made me feel gross, she’d just get upset and make a fuss until I gave in. I don’t really think it was extreme enough to call “abuse”, but she would raise her voice, attack certain insecurities of mine, and on a few occasions she would slap or hit me. Not enough to hurt me physically, but it didn’t really make me feel good emotionally. She was very hung up on gender roles and would tell me that I, as a man, should want to do it all the time and be the one to initiate. Again, I really wanted to make things work with her since everything was perfect outside of this one issue – so I just kind of forced myself to do these things I didn’t enjoy.
Eventually I realized that this relationship, as much as I loved 90% of it, wasn’t going to work out. I talked to her and we both agreed we’d be better off with other partners. But my experiences with her have made my sex drive issue worse.
Months ago, a girl I was interested in came on to me at a party, and she put her hand on my leg. Just her touching me made me think of my experiences with my ex. It really spooked me and I had to excuse myself from the situation. I think that whole thing ruined my chances with that girl, and I’ve begun to doubt I’ll ever find a girl that will put up with my issues.
Recently I entered therapy for unrelated reasons, and I’ve been talking with my therapist about these issues. They’ve given me very good advice, but I still feel like I probably couldn’t initiate sex even if I wanted to.
I’m worried I’ll never be able to keep a woman sexually satisfied going forward. My therapist has told me that I can just tell any future partners about the issues I had with my ex and how they affected me, but I can’t think of a way I’ll be able to breach that topic without looking like some kind of weirdo hung up on a girl from years ago.
I’m already seeing a therapist, but I’ve followed your blog for a while, and I was wondering if you would have have any unique insights on how I can conquer this.
Low Key Low-T