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What's a Normal reaction to someone saying "no" to sex?(20 Posts)
I have recently left an abusive marriage, getting divorced, but it's still really messing with my head.
This post was triggered by another thread on here about a man claiming to not know his partner was asleep and going on to have sex with her, without her consent. A lot of the stuff about consent and what is required for a happy sexual experience really worried me. My ex used to constantly complain we didn't have sex, that we were abnormal, that 'everyone else' was having far more sex, that he had needs, that (by implication) there was something wrong with me because I didn't want sex. He would pester me, and the pestering was such a turn off that my libido slowly died. Then he would pester and then sulk when I "rejected" him, would get angry and storm off, would ask whether he could have sex with other people if I didn't want to, would say "I just don't understand why you don't want me" and make me feel like it was all my fault.
In the end, the only time I would have sex was because I couldn't stand the guilt, the pressure. I had a realisation one time when we were in the middle of sex and I was literally gritting my teeth to control the claustrophobia and panic that this was definitely NOT OK, but I think I minimised just how bad it was. Or maybe I'm being deluded again. He claims it was really nothing like i remember it, so maybe I've got it wrong.
So what I'm trying to get clear in my head is, if you're in a relationship, and you don't want to have sex, and you say "no", what is a normal reaction. Is it ok to be a bit put out? Is it ok to be huffy, grumpy, sulk at all? What is coercion? What are other people's experiences like because it seems like mine has been very messed up, and I can't seem to get my head straight at all. I have no concept of normality and ok-ness.
Coercion is never ever ok. DH or I may be prone to the odd 'ooohhhh, come on' and a bit of playful poking in back or arm with a sad soppy face type of thing but that's as far as it goes. There has been the odd time where I've sulked silently or huffed a bit. I'm sure he has too. But never really obviously and neither of us would ever pressure the other one. No way. In a loving relationship, serious sucking, bitching, complaining, anger and coercion around sex doesn't happen. And normal, mature, rational adults of either sex do not want to have sex with a non willing partner. It's just not sexy not to mention grossly offensive.
Serious sulking. What's going on with my autocorrect today?!?
Dh's reaction when I'm not in the mood for sex is 'come on, love, let's have a snuggle'(cuddle) and we snuggle up quite happy. No pressure, no trying to make me change my mind or anything.
Coerced consent is not consent. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience.
Normal reaction would be 'okay'. Or 'okay, is anything wrong?' and then a healthy discussion, no matter how brief ("nothing wrong, just don't fancy it") afterwards.
You haven't got it wrong, he doesn't want you to think about how bad things really were.
My DP might be a bit put out, but there is definitely no sulking or huffyness. He would never pressure me, because that is not right in a loving relationship. Plus, what kind of person would want to have sex with someone who was obviously unwilling?
The way your ex treated you was horrible, really horrible
Whathaveilost that's the reaction I used to long for, I used to crave the understanding and loving news that that reaction showed, but I never got it. Instead I was told there was something wrong with me.
Voldy yes, you're right, I don't think he wants me to look at how fucked-up the dynamic was, that what he was doing was very very wrong. He doesn't want to see it in himself, so he thinks if he denies it, it might just not have happened.
Mini your reactions sound so much more healthy and balanced and ...well... normal....
Your marriage sounds terrible and I'm so glad you're out of it.
My experience of a healthy, long term relationship when one of you isn't in the mood:
One of you suggests an early night and the other says 'An early night is a great idea darling but just to sleep, I'm tired'. The others responds by giving an affectionate kiss on the cheek and offers to lock up and check on the kids.
Or one of you starts nuzzling up and the other responds with a hug and says 'I've got a headache' or 'I love you but I've got to the exciting but of this book'
or 'piss off I'm on my period' or WHATEVER and the others offers to bring paracetamol or asks to have the book next or goes out in pj's to buy you chocolate just to show they care for you and not to get sex.
And when you are both in the mood you both kiss and touch and giggle and communicate the whole time and you feel worshipped and it is so pleasurable that it becomes unusual for either of you to not be in the mood.
Certainly no badgering, sulking, pestering or pressure. Ever.
If dh would say no to me when I fancy having sex, I would wonder if he is ok, if he is stressed out, if he still fancies me, basically I would worry! But in no way would I make him feel terrible for not wanting to have sex. When I say no to sex his reaction is showing disappointment but he will give me a cuddle and say that we should book an appointment soon and try to go to bed early - as we have young children and are both tired most nights. With my ex he was just a bit sulky but not pushy. The normal range is quite wide I should think, but personally I am sometimes not in the mood because I am tired and stressed, so I tell dh the truth.
He's only just moved out and I'm still living as if he's still here. I have to remind myself he's gone. I'm really really sad it's all over, but it's a massive relief to never have to have sex under pressure again, or answer questions, or feel guilty for wanting space or for thinking my own thoughts. I'm trying to reclaim what is normal and usual, but I seem to have lost track of it along the way. Thanks for all the replies, I need to hear from lots of different people so that it can sink in I think. It's all very well hearing it from a counsellor, but I'm brim-full of the self-doubt he instilled in me, and I can't quite believe this happened to me.
I think that both pestering for sex and regularly turning down your partner when they try and initiate sex are signs that a relationship is in trouble. I think the normal thing to do would be to sit down and talk to find out what the problem(s) are, and if and how they can be resolved, not to allocate blame.
Depends what's 'regularly turning down'. Barbarianmum. I'd happily do it 2/3 times a week but my h wanted it every day, sometimes twice , and thinks nothing of groping and grabbing me inappropriately constantly. I wasn't treated like a person but a sex object. I tried explaining how this made me feel but it fell on deaf ears. He would often go in a rage, sulk, claim I never wanted to, out even refuse to listen to me saying no. Like you, I have no idea about what Is normal, but I now know mine wasn't.
How long were you married for? Was sex always a problem? Is there a reason why you didn't want to have sex?
I think deliberately "witholding" sex can be almost as bad a pestering for sex, but this wasn't the case for us. Problems started after DC1 and then only got worse after DC2. DC2 was a real challenge and is only now, 5 years later, sleeping with any regularity. I was absolutely on my knees tired, and the last thing I wanted to do was have sex with someone clamouring for attention. I felt totally lonely and objectified, but guilty because I wasn't fulfilling his "normal" needs.
I agree that constantly turning someone down is a sign of a problem in the relationship, but part of the problem was the pestering, sulks, the refusal to take no for an answer, the sheer bloody pressure to provide sex, comfort, affirmation, when I was feeling completely unsexy. I don't think he should have put his needs ahead of mine and blamed me for the lack of sex. He never bothered to find out why I didn't want sex, he just came up with wild accusations and came to his own insulting and crazy conclusions. When he refused to listen to no or to have a proper two sided conversation, I felt like I was screaming behind glass. It's a frightening position to be in.
MrsBluesky1 sounds like your experience is very similar to mine! It just makes me so cross and sad.
He claims I have hurt him just as much by "rejecting " him (I did try to let him down gently, to explain why I wasn't in the mood) as he hurt me by coercing and pressuring me into sex I really really didn't want. I don't think it's the same thing at all, but find it difficult to find the words to explain that concept.
I can't imagine wanting to have sex with anyone ever again at the moment!
Oh dear OP, that doesn't sound right at all. DH and I are at an age now where I want sex more than him, and I might occasionally say "it's been a while you know DH..." with a hopeful look but there is absolutely no way I would pressurise or guilt-trip him into doing it when he's said no. And when we were younger he would always take no for an answer. It's really not healthy to have it any other way.
Perhaps if your sex life significantly changes it would be right to sit down calmly and talk about that change and its implications for the relationship but that shouldn't involve coercion, just a discussion about what's different.
It sounds as though perhaps the initial problem may have been communication? And children certainly bring extra pressure. Coercion certainly not good. My Ex wanted sex every other day and I wanted it less, though I regularly found myself alone in bed wanting relief but ended up just satisfying myself when he was downstairs probably watching porn. I still don't entirely understand why but I guess I had a need for an independence and freedom - and he couldn't accept that around once a week was enough for me with him. I do think a good sex life is important and feel maybe I should have made more effort. Maybe his affair was partly my fault - I still don't know and this was over a year ago.
DP wouldn't be huffy in the slightest. We both work very long hours so if one of us i tired we just cuddle and sleep.
Coercion is deeply unattractive and can be abusive.
If i don't want to, or can't, he'll try to coax me into giving him a bit of um relief i am usually happy to oblige. If i don't want to he'd just ask if something is wrong, but wouldn't sulk or anything. He usually knows not to even try when i'm tired or hormonal anyway.
Okay baby, let's just have a cuddle then. Give us a kiss. Night.
Anything else is Not On.
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