Things Will Get Better in America: Sexual Frustration and Relationships

Q. I’m worried that I’ve stopped being attracted to my partner. I don’t want to have sex with him anymore, but I’m still emotionally very much in love with him. Part of the problem is that he’s not exactly good at getting me where I need to go, and (in two years of trying) I haven’t been able to coach him into a better skill set with that, so the prospect of sex is boring and a chore. Is this going to kill my relationship or is it fixable?

A. Kitten, did you ever see the movie Sid and Nancy? You know, the one about The Sex Pistols, musicians constantly being on drugs, and the general ill effects of being a self-destructive super star cum tragic male narrative? Okay, well the good news is, that is not where you both are.  The bad news is, I’m reminded of one of the key lines in the movie:

Nancy: I hate my fuckin’ life.
Sid: This is just a rough patch. Things’ll be much better when we get to America, I promise.
Nancy: We’re in America. We’ve been here a week. New York is in America, you fuck.

Charming, huh? It’s the best metaphor for your current dilemma that I can think of – things will get better once we do this. There’s truth in that statement – I think with all of us in any relationship, especially long-term, we have been through that period where you have more doubts than hopes. But here is the clincher that solves that issue. Are you happy? Do you want to stay with this person? If you stay with this person, can you get your sexual needs met?

I ask because your scenario is complicated. On one hand, it seems as if you have exhausted many options and your partner’s inability to provide you with what you need sends off a big red alarm. On the other hand, I wish I knew more about the coaching that you have given your partner. I always find that when two people are naked, potentially in any sort of sexual scenario, the vulnerability level is high. Egos can flame and frustrations can mount. Have you talked to him about your needs when you aren’t having sex and the setting is a bit more neutral? If not, this might be a good time to lay everything out on the table. I hate to revert back to gendered stereotypes, but a lot of dudes don’t take criticism about their skills well. This could be for a multitude of reasons: past girlfriends may have not said anything out of fear of hurting or losing him, his sex style may have worked for someone else in the past, the expectations of men as orgasm-providing machines, etc. The list of reasons could be as long as yours, however, we as partners owe it to each other to provide the best possible pleasure we can give. If you haven’t reached a point of resentment and feel that there are so many other things you love about your partner that make being with him worth it, maybe it’s time to get off the beaten path. What’s the type of sex you are having? Is it the same shit, over and over? What can be done to make it less on the level of washing the dishes, and more on the level of bam, wow, holy hell that was awesome. If PIV sex isn’t feeling good, what about other forms of sex? What about the use of sex toys?  How willing are you both to talk about an open relationship, where you are getting your sexual needs met elsewhere?

These are all questions you should be asking. When I hear you say, “Two years of coaching,” all I can do is think of poor Sid saying, “But once we get to America, it will be okay,” and honey, you are already in America. It sounds as if you have done the groundwork, but something is not clicking. What that something is, I don’t really know. It may be that your partner’s feelings of insecurity at not being able to please you are coming out and making things worse. It may be that you just don’t want to have sex with this person any more.  It may be that while you have deep feelings of love or attachment to this person, you just don’t feel sexually at your best with him. All these feelings are valid and okay. You just have to figure out what it is exactly that you’re feeling and why.

Going back to Sid and Nancy, I want to also bring up the idea of being comfortable. In relationships, we get comfortable after a time. Maybe we aren’t feeling pressured to wear makeup and have shaved legs all the time. Maybe it’s okay for them to see you peeing or farting. But there is a line that has to be drawn between comfortable and lazy. It’s easy to get lazy in relationships, especially if they are long-term. While Sid was most likely spun out on enough drugs to not realize the obvious that was directly in front of his face (this is America damnit!),  thats a little bit like what being in lazy in a long-term relationship is like. It’s easier to look over the obvious in favor of keeping up with habit. Perhaps your partner can’t see America, even when you are telling him that you are there, and that it needs to be better.  Now this, kitten, this is something that has to be hammered out, and really rocked out. As in rock the boat.  We all reach points where we get a wee bit too comfy in the relationship that we may take one another for granted. Perhaps your partner’s way of doing so is sexually, meaning, it’s easier to just get off and kind of leave you hanging. If this is the case, then perhaps it’s time to start making demands or start looking elsewhere.

But I will say this: if you two kids love each other and want a future together, then you have a chance. You can figure this out. I’m a believer in the power of, “Things are not broken, they are cracked.” Broken holds such a  heavy weight, a sometimes unfair weight on relationships that, while hurting in a way, are far from broken. Cracks are the obvious physical effects from wear and time. They can always be patched, they only destroy that structure if left long, and while they will always be there, they don’t ruin the otherwise beautiful thing. It is often in the cracks and the slight failures, mistakes, assumptions, and frustrations, that we can learn so much about ourselves, our relationships, and our partners. So this is your moment of learning. Is this a relationship you want or are you holding on to the known?  What is the relationship and sex you want? Can you get them from here? Are you scared of losing your partner because you love him or are you scared of losing your partner because you are scared no one else will love you? Are you scared that the sex will never get better or are you scared that you don’t want to have sex with him anymore? I unfortunately can’t answer these questions for you, love,  but I do know that the answers are already inside you. You just have to find them.

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