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Feel pressured into sex(45 Posts)
Perhaps a slightly unusual complaint, but I am a 34 year old male and dislike the amount of pressure my partner puts on me to have sex. It's not that I'm never in the mood, just that I'm often not, and engage in sex very grudgingly and resentfully in order to pacify her.
This has been a problem in the past with exes.
I read this on a feminist blog in response to a woman with a similar complaint (and completely agree btw).
“If your husband is hassling you for sex when you’ve made it quite clear that you don’t want it, he obviously has no respect whatsoever for your feelings. He does not have a right to expect sex from you, and no right to demand it of you against your own wishes and desires.
I completely relate, because I feel like I'm having to surrender ownership of my body to someone else on demand. Is this a valid complaint from a male? I love my partner, but I don't want to feel used. Any suggestions?
I think it is an absolutely valid complaint, Joe3578.
The only other thing I'd pick up is your saying that this has happened to you before, and with more than one other woman. I would be investigating that dynamic further, even if it is only to ascertain why it is that you might be choosing women who coerce you.
I agree with it, too.
Why would your partner wish you to take part in sexual activities which you comply with only grudgingly and leaves you feeling resentful? Is she aware of how this makes you feel?
Your feelings are no less valid because you are male rather than female. So long as there are no psychological blocks that have not been dealt with, some simply have a low sex drive. Perhaps you could address this with her and try for intimacy and closeness in other ways
Ladyblahblah: She gets very resentful an suggests I don't want her (which isn't true). It's just that i have a low sex drive and like to feel that I'm in control of my body; I don't like the idea that it's there for someone to have whenever they want it. It makes me feel more like an object than a person.
Patronising why the sceptical face if this was twisted around the other way and the women was saying she felt pressured into sex you'd no doubt be calling this a type of rape and abuse. Men do suffer abuse too you know.
I agree with the sentiment you have quoted. It doesn't sound like the basis of a happy relationship.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
He does not have a right to expect sex from you, and no right to demand it of you against your own wishes and desires.
No, he doesn't. And neither does she. But they do have a right to happiness and fulfilment in the relationship and they have a right to ask for whatever they need in order to get that.
It's really very simple. No-one should have to have sex under duress in order to keep their partner happy, male or female, there's really no difference. At all. The big question is what constitutes duress, and where are the lines drawn?
If you frequently find yourself in this situation then you need to ask yourself why. Where there is a clear imbalance in levels of desire it needs to be addressed and worked on, and compromises must be made if the relationship is to be happy.
It is just as unreasonable for one partner to withhold sex for very long periods of time as it is for the other partner to demand it too often. Just because it's your right to refuse sex doesn't mean it's okay to expect your partner to go for unreasonably long periods of time without something which, for them, is an intrinsic part of a loving relationship. No-one should be forced into sex they don't want, but neither should anyone be constantly rejected or made to feel needy and unreasonable. There is no right or wrong amount of sex, it is purely a compatibility issue. Some people with a somewhat extreme desire (or lack or it) will find it a challenge to find a compatible partner.
Allowing a fair amount of time for recovery from childbirth, illness, emotional trauma or whatever, if one of you is more often than not having to beg, cajole, guilt-trip or bully the other into sex then there is something clearly wrong in the dynamic and the compatibility of the relationship. It might be physical or it might be psychological.
What should happen is that there should be some effort on both sides to meet somewhere in the middle. For the highly sexed person that will mean lots of wanking in the shower and for the one who's not fussed it will sometimes mean they have to put their partner's needs and feelings before their own and just do it, and try to do it with some enthusiasm. Not because they are being pressured but because they recognise that if the relationship is to stay happy they need to make that effort.
It shouldn't have to get to the stage where someone feels under excessive pressure. Only the person feeling pressured can say honestly whether their partner has a valid point or not, re: frequency. And note I said 'feeling' pressured, not 'being' pressured - there is a difference. Some people might feel pressured because of subtle undercurrents of mood, even if their partner does or says nothing specific to make them feel that way. Sometimes 'feeling' pressured involves no actual pressure at all, beyond the fact that you are aware your partner is in the mood for sex, and you feel uncomfortable or guilty because you don't want it. But that is not necessarily their fault, is it?
If you feel pressured for sex much more often than you find yourself spontaneously wanting it then either you have a problem, or your partner does. Either work together to find a happy medium that leaves you both feeling wanted, respected and fulfilled, or split. The situation is not fair on either of you.
Most of us have dragged ourselves to a party that we didn't really fancy, and have had a really great time once we've go there. Sex can be a bit like that same sometimes. You have to put yourself in the mood, for the greater good. I realise that analogy sounds like a very dangerous one, but in the context of a loving, non-abusive relationship I think it's valid, so please try to take it in the spirit with which it was meant and don't turn it into something sinister.
Of course no decent person can truly enjoy sex if they know their partner is doing it reluctantly, so sometimes you might need to feign more enthusiasm than you actually feel at the beginning, but what usually happens is that you end up really enjoying yourself and feeling glad you made the effort.
If that suggestion panics, offends, revolts or appals you then clearly you are in the wrong relationship, and THAT is the thing that really needs addressing.
If that happens in all your relationships then you need to accept that you have a problem and either seek treatment, or stay single.
Thanks Helloitsmefell. Your post feels like a really professional advise. I now wish I could see the history of your posts.
helloitsme i read your post again, and then scrolled back up to make sure I had your name right.
What a very intelligent reasonable point you make. Go to the party: you might find you have a great time once you're there and in the mood. Hard work at first. Believe me I know - two dc under 4.
OP, you are a brave man to admit that you have a low drive. I hope it works out for you.
Joe - absolutely you shouldn't be having sex if you don't want to, or being pressured into sex. And for your partner to do that is abusive.
But if it's happened before with ex's then is there a pattern? Do you have sex much more often in the beginning (most people do!) but what does it drop off to?
Eg is it 3 times a week to start with, dropping off to once a week? Or 3 times a week, dropping off to once a month?
Don't have sex if you don't want to. It's not wrong to have a high sex drive and it's not wrong to have a low sex drive. However, in the context of a long term relationship, it's crucially important that there is a degree of compatibility. If you are not compatible with your partner and she is trying to use excessive persuasion or apply guilt in the form of questioning your affection, that's wholly unfair and will only lead to huge unhappiness and resentment.
How long have you been together?
Thanks so much for all your sensitive and helpful responses. At the moment we're only having sex a couple of times a month, which is becoming an issue for her.
Maybe it is a problem with me in that I feel used after sex; more broadly, I feel like that's the primary reason someone's with me and feel I have to appease them sexually in order to sustain the relationship. I do understand her point of view, but it just doesn't seem healthy or loving from mine. Maybe I do have issues with sexuality. It just seems that when I'm capitulating to someone it seems more exploitative than loving. Does that make sense?
Whether it makes sense or not, it's obviously a feeling that is real and impacting on your life. Do you have any personal theories why you feel that way? Any past bad experience that could have coloured your thinking?
Some people, for example, who suffer from low self-esteem can believe that the only way others will find them loveable is if they have sex with them. Setting up a vicious circle of low esteem leading them to have sex against their better judgement which, in turn, leads to them disliking themselves and a lowering of self-esteem.
'Capitulating' is not usually a word that one lover would use about another. A healthy sexual relationship should always be voluntary and mutually desirable.
CogitoErgoSometimes: Thanks for your response. I don't know really. You could say I had a tough upbringing, which may have something to do with it. Throughout my 20's I remained a virgin, turning women down because I felt threatened (which I can see was unfair). It's like I have this issue with sex because I perceive it as a threat to my autonomy and sense of self-ownership. In a nutshell, I struggle with the simultaneity of being in a relationship and remaining true to myself - of making someone happy but at the same time feeling entitled to say 'no, i don't want to do that' and assert my boundaries.
It does make sense. I would ask is it only in terms of sex that you feel threatened or are there other non-sexual social interactions that trigger the same response? For example having to pay for a dinner, or having to attend a function that is mainly her social circle, not yours? Or indeed in the course of normal domestic squabbling?
You seem to have good insight, now try to figure out of it is sex itself or a broader issue.
If it is sex itself, and you don't feel threatened in any other aspect of the relatinship, then I would ask - do you enjoy sex? Do you enjoy it on an emotional level or see it as a duty? Do you prefer porn because it is on your own terms? Would you be happy never to have sex again? And if so, why?
Lots of interesting questions. You seem to think there is an underlying emotional component, and given that a few sessions of talking to a professional might be very clarifying for you.
Intimacy rather goes hand in hand with trust because it's quite a vulnerable position to place yourself in if you think about it. Loving someone and being physically affectionate is risky. It's far safer, although lonelier, to remain alone, private and reject other people.
If you're with the right person, however, they should make you feel safe and not threaten your autonomy. It's good to want to make someone happy but they should be doing the same thing in return, building up the trust, being sensitive and allowing you to grow in confidence. If the person you are with makes you feel like you are sexually capitulating, ('surrendering' was another word you used) or going against your better judgement, chances are they are not necessarily a bad person but just the wrong person.
Context is everything of course. How did you get together with your partner? Did one of you take the lead or was it a mutual thing? How long have you been together? Any children etc?
Hi Annarose: Thanks for another thoughtful response. I've just started commenting online and it's so liberating to be able to express all this. No, I've never really struggled with any other aspect of social or romantic interaction. It's very specifically the sexual dimension to a relationship.
My best analogy would be this: I've always remembered, as a teenager, how my friend's sister described her experience of anorexia to me. She told me how it made her feel in control of her body, and that denying herself food gave her a huge sense of power that she couldn't let go of. It's very much like that for me with sex. If I deny myself sex then I feel like I'm independent and in control and no one has any kind of hold over me. I sometimes worry there's an element of misogyny in that I don't want women having power over me (I remember reading something by Dworkin to the effect of male chastity being another instrument of control), but I generally like women and have very healthy female friendships.
I occasionally use porn, but don't find it satisfying and it makes me feel morally and politically uneasy. It's not so much that I don't want sex (although as I say I think my sex drive is low), it's just that I don't want it purely on someone else's terms.
Plus, I do suffer from depression, back pain and frequent headaches which make sexual functioning all the more difficult.
Physical love is such an important part of a relationship and we can probably all come up with lots of reasons of what it means to us but I think at a very basic level it profoundly connects us to the one person in the world that we have chosen to share our hopes and dreams with. The person who will be there through thick or thin.
No one ever lives in our intimate space as much as our life partner and I feel sad to think you find it hard to give of yourself in this way in what one hopes should be a mutually loving relationship.
I agree that you should not feel coerced into having more sex than you want but I can also understand your partner's desire to have a more physical relationship with you.
As someone said earlier it's all about compromise in getting our needs met in a relationship.
If you don't want full sex are you happy to cuddle her., give each other sensual massages rather than sexual. Make each other feel wanted, loved and cared for physically.
I feel some couple counselling may help you to reach some middle ground.
The depression is significant. Are you undergoing medical treatment at the moment? Been offered talking therapies? Have you ever told your doctor that you struggle with intimacy the way you have explained it here?
In the tough upbringing you mentioned earlier did it feature women having power over you? Who were your male role models? And... because it's hanging in the air and I feel I have to ask it.... have you ever had doubts about your heterosexuality?
CogitoErgoSometimes: We've only been together for a year now. She very much took the lead when we were getting together (I'm rubbish at initiating!). We don't have children, though she has two grown up girls who I get on very well with (she's a decade older than me).
I agree it doesn't make her abusive or exploitative - just a normal women with a normal sex drive. Maybe I do need to be with someone who's more compatible. It's a shame because we get on so well in other respects.
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