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Do partners who don't want sex have the 'right' to object to their partners having sex elsewhere?

(113 Posts)
ImperialBlether Wed 24-Aug-11 22:40:59

There are so many threads where the OP has a low sex drive or where the OP's partner has a low sex drive.

Leaving aside those where the OP has had a young baby or where there has been illness or unusual stress, does anyone have the moral right to say "I don't want sex and I don't want you to have it, either"?

I'm not talking about where a partner is flirting with someone else or is using porn and the partner objects.

I'm talking about reasonable situations, eg the kids are aged 10 upwards and the OP or their partner just doesn't want sex.

TrillianAstra Wed 24-Aug-11 22:45:01

If you are a partnership then you agree what is and what is not "cheating".

You may choose to have an open relationship or you might choose to be monogamous or you might choose something in between.

If you do not agree on the rules then either you compromise or you split up and are not longer a partnership.

So yes. If the agreement was that neither of you have sex with anyone else, then either you stick to that, or you discuss and change the rules, or you split up.

Children being over 10 or under 10 or not existing at all has nothing to do with it.

disambiguation Wed 24-Aug-11 22:49:59

Not sure it comes down to 'rights' exactly, I think it would be unreasonable for someone who didn't want sex to say to their partner that they couldn't have it either. Isn't it part of the marriage vows anyway? 'with my body i thee honour' or something like that.

Anyway, whether it's a 'right' or not won't make any difference to the hurt that may be felt if a partner goes elsewhere for sex whatever the reason (unless both partners are happy with that arrangement of course!)

Sariah Wed 24-Aug-11 22:50:02

When I married my dh I made a committment to remain faithful throughout the marriage.

Sex is a very important part of our marriage.

If dh suddenly decided he no longer wanted to have sex with me and there was no medical reason, say he just went off me.

I would not see this as reason enough for me to have sex elsewhere.

I think first I would try to resolve the issue with dh, if our relationship was to continue sexless, then I would have to decide if the marriage could survive. It if left me feeling unattractive, lonely, frustrated and hurt then I would hope I would leave the marriage rather than have sex elsewhere

ImperialBlether Wed 24-Aug-11 22:56:25

I'm thinking of those threads where the OPs say that their husbands either won't go to the doctor or who don't see why they should go to the doctor.

I'm also thinking of those threads where the OPs say they have a very low sex drive. They seem to be saying their partners should put up with it.

Fairenuff Wed 24-Aug-11 22:57:50

If one partner has just 'gone off' sex and is happy like that, doesn't want to do anything about it but the other still wants sex, it is unreasonable to say "I don't want sex and I don't want you to have it, either"

However, if the other partner wants sex elsewhere they should either have their partner's agreement or end the relationship.

Unless the unwilling person is in their 70's or something where it seems a bit mean to chuck them just cos they are not putting out confused

Hmm, may have to think about this one some more . . .

confidence Thu 25-Aug-11 00:23:24

Leaving aside those where the OP has had a young baby or where there has been illness or unusual stress, does anyone have the moral right to say "I don't want sex and I don't want you to have it, either"?

No, that's clearly a completely unreasonable thing to say. And it's hard to imagine how someone could say it to a partner who they want to be happy.

Bogeyface Thu 25-Aug-11 00:32:18

I asked this 9 months ago when my H withdrew sex because he felt weird about it when I was PG. It was purely hypothetical because I had no intention of going elsewhere, but it turns out he did.

So no they dont, but dont assume that they ain't getting their jollies somewhere.

Awomancalledhorse Thu 25-Aug-11 00:34:33

If DH or I said 'that's it, no more sex from me' (for no 'good' reason), we'd have each others blessing to look elsewhere for it. I wouldn't be happy staying sexless just because he decided not to partake.

However I think we'd split up if it ever got to that point as sex is quite a big deal for both of us.

Currently going through our first pregnancy (as a couple) and we decided on no penetrative sex in the first trimester, which, although was a joint decision & a 'good' (ish, if slightly paranoid) reason, was awful & not something either of us could put up with in the future!

fleurdemaquis Thu 25-Aug-11 03:47:57

Nobody has the right to sex.

Everybody has the right to leave a relationship if they're unhappy.

In your scenario, sure the first partner has a right to object, just as the other partner has the right to decide that in that case they want to end the relationship.

Cocoflower Thu 25-Aug-11 04:00:21

Actually a very interesting question-I don't think there is simple answer to this.

IMO, I despise cheating so I think if you sex drives have become this mismatched then surely the mature thing is to end the realtionship rather than cheat?

The only time I can think it would be ok to cheat is if the other partner had given explicit permission that the other could find sex elsewhere as to remove the burden from them (but you have to question how you had got to a stage where you just didn't care anymore).

I personally could never do this-I guess everyone is different.

Im not really sure what if any answer there is to this so hope more people answer....

garlicnutter Thu 25-Aug-11 08:04:36

Of course the less-sexual partner has the right to object to the other one's going elsewhere. The partner who still wants sex also has the right to object to the change in their relationship.

If it's looking like a permanent change, the terms of their 'contract' need to be renegotiated, which I think is what you're asking. Going elsewhere for 'just sex' isn't as simple as it looks, though. It'll take a while to find suitable partner/s, the search will require investments of time, emotion and money outside the home relationship, and the risks of attachment elsewhere are very high. It'll only work if you're all incredibly lucky to find each other!

Having said that, it can work. More often, I think it's a slow way of ending the relationship. It's kind of understandable how that happens, but the couple would be better off being painfully honest from the outset.

Scaevola Thu 25-Aug-11 08:08:22

I think any relationship which is framed in terms of "rights" is probably doomed.

carminagoesprimal Thu 25-Aug-11 08:18:23

If one partner doesn't want sex for no other reason than they simply 'can't be bothered' ( and make absolutely no effort to give their partner anything ) - I doubt the relationship would last long anyway.

ThePosieParker Thu 25-Aug-11 08:22:14

Honestly I think I would just split up, it's not fair to exclude a whole side of a relationship.and expect someone else to.

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 08:34:17

OP is this a debate you are opening just for the sake of argument's sake- or is it about you personally?

I just wonder why anyone would post this unless it affects them, or they simply feel bored and want a good old debate!

My two penneth worth is
- You don't have a "right to sex" with your partner. The same way that you don't have a right for him/her to take you ice skating every weekend, or whatever floats your boat.

- If you want to talk "rights" you also need to talk "responsibility" which may mean leaving the relationship if it's not working.

-If you are religious, you might want to hold onto your vows- for better or for worse, richer of poorer , ( sex or no sex.....)

- As GB said, trying to find it elsewhere is not like shopping for a loaf of bread, is it? Unless you are paying for it, then it is.

-If the above does not appeal then you have to find a man/woman who is happy to be part of your game plan, which presumably means no strings sex. If they too are in a relationship it then possibly involves deceit. People can get hurt by these arrangements.

IMO if this is to work, there has to be complete openness, and a couple admit what they are doing. But that begs the question of what holds them together anyway and if that's worth keeping. I think you/they need to address that issue beofre embarking on anything which involves other "innocent" parties, as someone along the line usually gets badly hurt.

Catslikehats Thu 25-Aug-11 08:42:16

I believe the terms of a marriage, like any contract, need to be constantly assessed and renegotiated and if one partner withdraws a fundamental "clause" from the contract then they really can't expect the other partner to continue as before.

What should ideally happen is the issue is discussed and a solution reached, although I think this rarely happens. From reading MN and talking with friends I think there are many marriages where sex just stops, maybe not in a dead halt but peters out until sex is something of a rareity. Without the issue ever being discusses. Whilst not condoning it, it is hardly surprising when one partner goes elsewhere.

If my DH didn't want a sexual relationship with me it would be incredibly difficult. I wouldn't want to leave him, I love him and he is a great father and would reamin a great partner in other ways but could I live without sex for the rest of my life? Not a chance.

carpetlover Thu 25-Aug-11 08:43:50

I think it is very unreasonable to withold sex from your partner for no good reason. If we are talking about marriage vows, sex is a big part of those and even religious groups are sympathetic to ending a sexless marriage.

It is no more unreasonable to find it elsewhere than it is to withold it IMO. If you withold sex for no reason you are already the one breaking the marriage vows both morally and legally (grounds for divorce).

Having said that, I think it's very unuaual for one partner to suddenly decide they no longer want to have sex with the other for no reason. Assuming it is not post baby exhaustion, illness or depression on either part, it is far more likely to be indicitive of deeper problems in the relationship.

carminagoesprimal Thu 25-Aug-11 08:47:13

Actually, I think people do have a 'right' to some sort of sex life with their husband/wife/partner - it's a basic need - unlike ice-skating.
Even if I'd gone off sex completely, I'd make an effort to give my dh something - if I couldn't spare him 10 minutes a couple of times a week, - I'd leave him.

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 09:35:03

I don't know any lawyer who would accept no-sex as a reason for divorce- unless the one withholding had stated their wishes and it was non-negotiable.

Carmina what would you say then to a close friend of mine, married for over 20 years, who has refused her DH sex for 10 of those years?

By refused, I mean they have emotional issues which mean she doesn't feel like having sex with him. She also says she doesn't want sex with anyone ele. She is not really a sexual person unless it's happening emotionally for her- which it isn't.

carpetlover Thu 25-Aug-11 09:52:25

Well Amelia, Ive just asked Dh who is a lawyer working from home today. He says absolutely, you can sue for divorce for unreasonable behaviour and one of the most common reasons is long-standing or permanent withdrawal of sex.

Agreement to sex is part of the marriage vows. So most religions are sympathetic to ending a sexless marriage. It is also clearly part of the legal contract of marriage if its withdrawal is grounds for divorce.

venusandmars Thu 25-Aug-11 09:54:19

I agree with thequeen that marriage needs to be constantly assessed and renegotiated, maybe not in terms of the fundamental values that keep you together, but in the practicalities of how that plays out day-to-day and year-to-year.

My friend was in a marriage which became sexless after 10 years (her dh developed / became aware of a sexual preference which made him unable to have sex with her). They went to counselling, their reveiwed their marriage and the decided to stay together. A few years later she felt she could no longer live without sex, that the long term impact was making her feel unattractive and worthless. Again, with the support of a counsellor, they renegotiated their marriage and it was agreed that "she would take care of her own sexual needs". My friend had 2 relationships (not at the same time) which met this need, people with whom she had a strong friendship, but who were clear about her position and thier own. I know that the second of these ended when the man met someone that he wanted to have a committed love relationship with.

A couple of years ago my friend's dh emabrked on counselling by himself, and this has marked yet another change in their marriage. Although they continue not to have a sexual relationship, the effor that he is making to understand his own sexuality has made my friend feel more secure and desired. She no longer looks for her sexual needs to be met outside the marriage. They both continue to believe that they will remain married and happily so until the end of their lives.

carpetlover Thu 25-Aug-11 09:54:36

Also, re your friend, if she is refusing her DH sex and has no intention of doing anything to address the situation then she is breaking her marriage vows. Him seeking sex elsewhere would also be breaking the marriage vows but would be secondary to her.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Thu 25-Aug-11 09:57:47

If you don't want sex, you don't have to have sex.

You can also say that you don't want your partner to have sex elsewhere.

They have a choice - accept that, or say sorry,that is not acceptable to me. And vote with their feet.

And yes, it is very unreasonable for someone to never want sex with their partner. It makes that person feel ugly, unloved, unwanted and, after years of it - makes them think that if they were better, prettier, nicer, sexier... that they'd be wanted. And it can break their heart in two.

But they still have a choice. They can still say you know what? sex is more important to me than being with you, and if being with you means no sex, I'm off.

Or they can say that being with you is more important than sex, and I'm staying.

What I don't think they have the right to do, is go behind the other person's back.

ameliagrey Thu 25-Aug-11 09:58:47

carpet can you tell me wich part of the marriage vows say you have to have sex- are you referring to the "with my body I thee worship"?

And if it's not a Christian marriage ( which it is, but for the sake of other people reading this) wher is that said?

If my friend was reading she would laugh and say don't get started on unreasonable behaviour because she could take him to the cleaners on his- her withdrawal of sex is because of HIS UB- she consulted a top divorce lawyer about it.

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