Let’s Talk About Sex


[ I had to use that title. Sorry. Couldn't be helped]

The wedding/marriage blog community offers such delightful, thoughtful, funny, intelligent conversation on almost every aspect of relationships: the fun stuff, the hard stuff, the scary stuff, the mundane stuff.  But we hardly ever talk about sex. There’s been a couple posts on A Practical Wedding, but not too much on the subject in the individuals’ blogs I read, which I feel are the core of my online wedding community.

I mean, I get it.  Sex is private. You’ve got your own boundaries to consider, your partner’s boundaries, and your readership’s boundaries.

When I put out a feeler about this post on Twitter, the overwhelming response was, “My mom reads my blog!” And THAT is exactly why you have an orphan* blog friend to host an Anonymous Comment-Enabled Sex Talk Blog Party.

[*I do feel the slightest tinge of weirdness writing about sex knowing my mother-in-law Viki reads this blog, but a) in-laws are different b) Viki's cool c) she doesn't have to read this if she feels uncomfortable with it.  Hi, Viki!]

So let’s get this party started.  Here are some sex talk items that I’ve previously shied away from discussing on this blog:

• I prefer monogamy.  I want my relationship with Collin to be monogamous for the rest of our lives.  Collin wants that too.  I want to include something about “faithfulness” or whatever no-sex-with-other-people euphemism is appropriate for a family event in my wedding vows.  I feel kind of embarrassed about that, like it is old-fashioned and square. But I know that monogamy will not always be easy and I want the powerful foundation of my wedding vows to help me stick to that value.

• My libido is way higher than Collin’s.  Working this out was the first big hurdle in our developing relationship and it made us much closer.  [This isn't to say that we "fixed" the problem, I still want sex more often than Collin does, but we got to a place where neither of us feel guilty or embarrassed or hurt by the disparity.] It set the tone for all future conflict resolution in our relationship, and I honestly think set us on the path to marriage.

• If you didn’t hear the story of how we met on the Power Hour Podcast, you may not know that when I met Collin I fully intended him to be a one night stand.  But I had entirely too much to drink that night and puked before we could actually, um, stand.  This story embarrasses me horribly.  I am sparing you most of the humiliating details, but here is one of the best: while waiting for a cab after leaving the bar, I started chatting with some strangers, and I introduced Collin with “This is Collin, he’s going to put his semen in me.” Oh, I am so embarrassed, I have deleted and re-typed that sentence fifteen times.

I am SINCERELY WORRIED about how much a role the humiliating-to-Robin tale of the night we met is going to play in our Wedding Festivities, but it feels too controlling and mean and killjoy-ish to ban all mention of it from the toasts, etc.  So I’ve been trying to own the story, by doing things like sharing it on a podcast and mentioning it here.  It’s not entirely working.  I also have no idea what version(s) of the story I will be telling any potential children, at which ages in their lives.

So please feel free to comment or reflect on any of those items (monogamy, libido differences, initial sexual encounters, sharing sexual stories with family and friends) or anything else under the umbrella of sex talk you’d like to share.  Other ideas: Birth control! Dry spells! Endearing quirks! Is sex with your partner the best sex you’ve ever had? Do you plan to/did you bone on your wedding night? Do you know each other’s “numbers”?

Anonymous commenting will be on for the weekend.  You still need to put something in the name box for your comment to submit (make something up, or go with the time-tested “anonymous”).  I have turned on comment moderation for now, depending on how things go, I may turn it off when I need to be away from my computer to keep the conversation going.

Commenters must follow these rules:

  1. Be nice.
  2. No judgment. [This is a more specific way of saying "be nice."]
  3. You do not need to be engaged, married, in a committed relationship, or even sexually active to join the party.
  4. You do not have to comment anonymously if you don’t want to.
  5. You are NOT allowed to impair anyone else’s anonymity.
  6. Any comments that violate these rules or any of the basic principles of human decency will either not be approved or will be deleted.
  7. Everybody have fun tonight.


  1. I make fun of my partner’s orgasm face a lot and I feel guilty about that.

  2. I have a few hang-ups about sex from a previous relationship. Fiancé is very understanding but I have a hard time not feeling guilty when I don’t want sex (or guilty for expressing when I do). I’m working on it.

    Monogamy is very important to both of us but I also want us both to be at a place where we can explore our sexuality together to the fullest within the context of that monogamy.

    We have both had the same number of sexual partners which I find slightly interesting.

  3. Oh, so much to talk about! Thanks for doing this, Robin. I have a blog stalker who prevents me from getting too close to any of these topics.

    1. Monogamy — yes, absolutely. We joke about our “lists” of celebrities for whom we get a free pass, but we have both said that the only thing we think would tear apart our marriage would be cheating. In our past, the idea of cheating caused a pretty serious rift. Neither of us is particularly jealous, though, and he gets an extra jump in his step when he sees other men checking me out. I’m embarrassed to admit that I enjoy being checked out or hit on when he’s with me, too, because he smiles a little bigger, holds my hand a little tighter and I’m guaranteed a little PDA grab-ass.

  4. 2. Libido — mine is definitely stronger. We’ve found ways to work around this, but I have to admit that I can tell I’m just not getting enough when I start nagging or being snippy about the little things that don’t normally bother me. I have been known to insist on sex to alleviate my grumpies, and damn if it doesn’t work every time. The other issue we have is that he’s a morning sex guy, and I prefer night time sex (I get better sleep on sex nights). We’ve found ways to give him nights off while still giving me the closeness and, let’s face it, orgasm(s) I need, which helps reduce the pressure and guilt we both would otherwise feel.

    3. Best Sex Partner I Ever Had. No contest. I think the great sex (even when it’s, uh, one-sided) is one of the things that makes our relationship in general the most comfortable and compatible relationship I’ve ever been in. I also think our willingness to be a little adventurous (but not so much that we cross important monogamy lines) makes it easy for us to be totally comfortable talking about desires openly together, which makes even dirty stuff feel safe for exploring together.

    • Pretty much everything you said in point 2 I relate to. One reason I think our libido difference has been less of a problem recently is that law school and the bar exam are over, so I don’t get to that “I MUST HAVE SEX TO RELIEVE THIS STRESS” place nearly as often.

  5. My fiance says he would leave me if I ever cheated on him. I think I would stay with him if he ever cheated on me- I can’t imagine that happening, but if it did, I’d try to work it out. I’m so scared by the idea that one mistake could be the end of our relationship.

    • I had a no tolerance policy for cheating before I got married. And now, I think I’d try to work through it with him. Ive read before that Ken cheat for sex and women cheat to fill the void she isn’t getting. Not sure if I agree. I’ve cheated just for the sex so I think it depends on the couple. I think men feel less like a man when their partner cheats because it makes them feel less than. Hate tomake sweeping generalizations though. Basically, I feel your pain and it’s definitely not crazy to feel the way you do.

  6. Something that stinks about monogamy is when there are certain things that end up “off the table.” Like traditional doggy style sex doesn’t work for us, we just don’t fit together right in that position. I miss it.

  7. Like I mentioned on Twitter, I have been writing a post about sex in my head for the past three weeks. I may still actually write it and post it, but it would be tailored to my specific experiences. I like that you’ve opened up a forum here for everyone to chime in. I like that a lot.

    On libido — I’m Collin, he’s Robin. Wow, sorry, that came out weird. I should have just said that mine is close to zero most days. I don’t know why, but the guilt I feel is crushing. The media doesn’t help, either, because that’s the way women are typically typecast — he wants sex! she refuses! or uses it as a tool of manipulation! — and I don’t want to fall down that hole. Fortunately we’re both understanding of one another and are able to talk about it. I think because of that, I’m getting ever closer to not feeling guilty or embarrassed, and that’s good.

    On the best sex ever… I don’t know? Let me put it this way: I have been with men who turned me on a lot more. But I was also feeling inhibited and awkward during those instances — I was a lot younger then and didn’t know what I wanted — so I guess you could call those experiences a wash. My husband doesn’t really know how to be sexy. And I don’t really feel into it at all until I’m able to get on top. There’s not a lot of variation anymore in how we have sex — we have a system down that we’re relatively happy with. I feel like that admission makes me square and old-fashioned, now — you mean we are not having movie-style passionate sex every night? Surely our relationship is doomed! On the other hand, though, I feel freedom with my partner. We have tried different things before. We are open. We laugh in the middle of it. Occasionally we give up and have to start over. Sometimes we are fumbling teenagers, sometimes there are unexpected highs of intensity, and sometimes all it really amounts to is mutual masterbation. So in this sense, in the way we can communicate and just be what we are, it is the best sex. I guess.

    We weren’t planning on having sex on our wedding night. I was completely positive that we were going to be too drunk and too tired. What’s more, I have a hard time reaching orgasm when I have been drinking. So yeah. It was a no go. Absolutely not. Until we got home from the bar at 1:30 a.m. that night, and it just… happened. It was passionate and ravenous. An unexpected delight, and a solid reassurance to boot. See, even boring people in comfortable monogamous relationships can still have fun sometimes!

    One question: what are sex “numbers?”

    Thanks for your honesty about how you met. I know it’s hard to have it up in words on a screen for everyone to read but I find the story endearing.

    • 1. The media stereotype sucks for us hornier-than-the-dude women because we feel like something must be horribly wrong with us for him to EVER turn down sex. Even as a feminist I had to work really hard to break down that sex stereotype in my mind.

      2. I think the reason sex with Collin is my favorite is not because ZOMG IT IS THE HOTTEST but because he is the only person I’ve had sex with in the context of a loving romantic relationship. I’m so embarrassed I just typed that, I feel like THE SQUAREST SQUARE IN SQUARETOWN but it’s just the inescapable truth of how I feel.

      3. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having “a system.” We’ll try new things, sure, but we definitely have a standby approach, which I will probably describe in more detail in an “anonymous” comment everyone will know is mine if they read this first.

      4. Laughing during sex is the best.

      5. I don’t want to plan to have sex on my wedding night for tired/drunk reasons, but I think I will be a little disappointed if we don’t.

      6. One reason the “put his semen in me” comment embarrasses me (aside from the obvious) is it makes me sound like I wasn’t going to use a condom. Please random South Side dude, know I’m not that stupid!

      Thanks for this awesome comment. I think you should still write your sex post on your blog, though!

    • I relate with this so much. I hate being a stereotype of the “the woman’s just not into it as much as he is,” but there you go. I have a somewhat low libido and a whole lot of guilt associated with it. Interestingly, sex with him isn’t the sexiest I’ve ever had, but it’s the best. I do feel uninhibited/completely myself, for the first time. I had to work through a LOT of past issues to get here with him. And he was patient. And I trust him more than anyone I’ve ever been with. And he takes care of me in a way I’ve never been able to accept before. We try different things. There is complete trust, which allows for better sex than I’ve ever had with sexy sulty hottie know-how-to-please-a-woman men I’ve been with, back when I was insecure. It can be silly. It can be fun. It can be passionate. It can be messy. It can be hot. I love all that. I love finally having sex with complete love, which is a new and marvelous thing all on its own.

      Sometimes I wonder if it’s my libido or if I’m still working through some really shitty past experiences. But I tend to think it’s honestly my libido. And general exhaustion. Which ticks me off. We’re constantly working on getting to a level where we’re both happy, but it’s hard. And I hate having to work at it – more than we work at anything else in our relationship. But it’s worth it. Whenever we get there, it’s amazing. But I feel so much stress about sex sometimes. I hate that my libido goes down when I’m stressed (which is always) and that having a lower sex drive adds to my stress. And I hate that I feel like a caricature of a shrewish married woman already – it’s not what I want. I like sex. I love my partner. I wish it were easier. I work at it a lot. And there’s not really a space to talk about it in the feminist blogosphere and I certainly can’t talk about it on my blog. No way. No how.

    • I know exactly what you mean when you say your husband doesn’t know how to be sexy. My partner doesn’t either. Sometimes I have a hard time getting in the mood because instead of seducing me with tender words or touches or undressing me slowly, he just rips off his clothes and then plays with his penis in the most unsexy way. Making it dance and stuff.

      We also have a system, which feels old and square to me too, but I figure if it works then it works.

      • Have you tried telling your partner what turns you on? I know I never had a clue how to turn a girl on and the fall back was to try doing for them, things I enjoyed. It sounds like he’s just doing something he would find attractive for you to do, because he doesn’t know what you like. I know my fiance makes a point of telling me everytime something has turned her on. It really helps make me stress a lot less when I’m trying to turn her on and I hope makes it more enjoyable for her too. We don’t live up to the media ideal of a couple that just knows what the other person wants, but that’s just a ridiculous notion. I would much rather have instructions-
        Insert tongue into mouth. Lick here. Rub there. Say one of the things I like about her. Nibble ear. Undo bra. Etc.

  8. Thanks for giving us this opportunity.

    Also, it’s cool to hear from another woman who wants it more than her male partner. My husband and I dealt with this for years, and it was a trying time to say the least!

    However that’s not the case any longer, and now we have 2 people with low libidos, and its starting to freak me out. We know we should be doing it more but just don’t feel like it much too often. While it’s not a “problem”we have to address it because it’s too easy to let the slippery slope take its course.

    I’m thinking of going off of birth control – I’m guessing that being on it for nearly 10 years might have something to do with the low libido? If anyone else has experience with this I’d love to hear.

    • Once I started dating Collin, I started to hear about a lot more women in the higher libido position. It was a total Baader Meinhof Phenomenon thing. You’re NOT alone.

      One thing that helped ME break down the gender stereotype was talking to (and reading about) gay couples with libido disparities. It’s something almost every couple deals with on some level.

  9. Lyn: Sex “numbers” = number of partners. Which I’ve seen cause a shocking amount of relationship drama.

    Longer response to your great comment coming as soon as I finish lunch.

    • AH. I get it now. I was picturing some kind of Myers-Briggs sex type test I hadn’t heard about before. “Well, I’m a 9, but he’s somewhere between a 4 and 5.”

      I’ll write more later. I’m going to be checking this thread all weekend. LIKE A SEX FOX.

  10. My partner and I have roughly the same libido. I have a suspicion that he’d be into having more sex than we do, but he’s perfectly happy with our frequency.

    We have an odd sex life because there is lots of part touching when we are hanging out in private and quick flashes of parts to each other, but not a lot of actual sex. It’s like our foreplay spills into our normal lives but it doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s flirty and fun.

    We only have sex about once a week. Two is a lot for us. There are times we go more than 2 weeks without sex. I actually prefer snuggling to sex sometimes. It seems more intimate to me and a lot less work. Occasionally I get really shy when we are about to have sex (which is weird since we’ve been together so long). Also, I have been known to have a pretty tight vagina, so we have to stop sometimes if it hurts too much. We’ve been having sex for 3 1/2 years but it still can be uncomfortable once in awhile. He’s so great about understanding and stopping if it gets like that for me. I felt like such a failure when that happened on his last birthday, but he was so good at making me feel like I wasn’t letting him down.

    Monogamy is a big deal to both of us. In fact it’s so important to me that it got hard to watch Mad Men. So we are currently taking a break from the show because all the infidelity was starting to make me insecure. I have no doubts that my partner is faithful to me and that he will always be faithful. But it makes me incredibly sad to see cheating on such a frequent basis.

    • “I have been known to have a pretty tight vagina.” That sentence is awesome.

      • Not to take away from the obvious “wouldn’t that be nice” jokes, but it’s truly a serious issue for some women. Your body literally becomes tight and protective and pushes things out of it, usually in response to emotional complications (but not always.) Many men are NOT patient with this sort of thing. Which then creates a whole new host of emotional problems related to sex and performance.

      • Thanks, B, for that note. I’m newly married and currently working on progressively overcoming vaginismus, which is basically where what you described happens. My partner is wonderful and I’m feeling hopeful because there’s been some progress, but I did feel like a freak originally, and I would still be absolutely mortified if anybody else knew. In my case, I think it was the result of a deep fear of pregnancy because of an upbringing which made me regard that as the most shameful thing that could happen, but who knows. I know I can’t be the only one dealing with this but I never once heard it mentioned on any wedding/marriage blogs while I was planning.

        Thanks so much for opening this space up, Robin. I find it amazing to read you write in such a forthright and unselfconscious manner about sex. I love what somebody said below also – it’s about learning to say yes in the right ways.

  11. I love the honesty and openness of the posts on this site. Incredible! I have been married for over twenty-five years and never, never, did I have friends who could talk as openly as you do on this site! Horray for you all!

    I have felt guilt for most of my married years because I generally am not interested in sex. My husband is very understanding and that has helped a lot, though, lately, that’s become a burden. Any sex we have is all up to me initiating it! (which translates into about once or twice a year, hard on the relationship). Is it my Catholic childhood?

    Next year I turn sixty. Since menopause, sex has changed enormously. I’ve adjusted (less intensity), though have not lost the desire for passion in my marriage. Maybe that’ll go next. I don’t know.

    Funny how good we become at making it look like we’ve got it all together when, in truth, it’s all falling apart all the time!

    • Thank you for commenting! In preparing for marriage I do think about how our sex life may change as we grow old together, and I’m honestly glad we had to struggle with it right out of the gate because it gives us a foundation when we have to work on whatever sex problems may come up over the years.

      • Yay for intergenerational advice! It’s so nice to hear the perspective of a woman who has been married for some time, and has gone through the changes that every relationship does after so long.

        I don’t often think about how our sex life will change as we get older (other than passing thoughts of sex after children, sex with health issues, etc.), but I do think of the other ways in which our relationship will change (why doesn’t he want to save for retirement, where do we see ourselves in 15 years, etc.). Thanks for your honest comments!

  12. My libido is lower than my partner’s. We have sex about once a week. He’d prefer 2-3 times a week, but considering I’d prefer almost never, once a week is pretty good if you ask me (and you did!).

    We tend to bone mostly on weekends, right when we first wake up. Honestly, it’s a great way to start the day! Plus I can hop right into the shower afterwards.

    And this brings me to my next point: I’m incredibly susceptible to UTI’s. It’s gotten to the point that the ONLY way to avoid them is to shower before AND immediately after intercourse, then cross my fingers/pray to a god that I don’t believe in that I don’t get another one.

    This puts a HUGE damper on my already complete lack of libido. Instead of cuddling after sex, I have to run to the shower. He’s understanding though, and will often hop in the “before” shower with me to make it a part of sex instead of a chore. Then I’ll come back to bed after the post-sex shower for cuddling. All is not lost!

    Ultimately, we’re in it together. One lay at a time.

    • What about sex in the shower? Note: sex in the shower has never worked for us. But I know other people love it.

    • The only sex advice my mother ever gave me: get up and pee straight after you’re finished. Always, even if you don’t need to. Apparently this wards off UTIs better than a shower ever could, and it could be right because I’ve never had one.

      • Yeah, unfortunately, that’s a part of the ritual. They say you should pee before, too. So it’s pee/shower before sex and pee/shower after sex. How sexy!

    • The UTI thing is a big issue for us as well, and like you say letter, the pee/sex/pee ritual is a big reason I don’t love to have sex so often. Even after being together for over six years, it’s still sort of embarrassing to me. And, it makes me a little angry at him, also, which is never good. I sometimes resent that there’s so much risk (UTIs, pregnancy) and inconvenience (pee/sex/pee, sleeping on the wet spot) for me, and so little for him (orgasm, cuddle, fall asleep). Obviously that’s not 100% true, because if it was, I would find a different partner, but when I’m forced to get up and walk across the cold house, it crosses my cranky mind, and definitely makes it less likely that I’ll want to go for a second round.

      Sigh. Just once, I want to have sex and fall right to sleep.

    • I posted below today as well, but I just now saw this. UTIs used to be a constant problem. Get your doctor to prescribe nitrofurantoin to take after you have sex. It works 100% of the time to prevent them. 8 years without a single UTI here. Don’t let your sex life suffer on account of this very, very, very fixable problem.

  13. It’s incomprehensible for me to imagine having a higher libido than my husband. And while I wish I could have your problem I know I’d have a whole host of other issues because of it.
    Along with a low libido, I usually only want to have sex if I’m a bit inebriated. I like sex, but it’s almost like I’m just not confident enough to enjoy it without alcohol removing some of my inhibitions. It wasn’t always this way though so I feel like I should be able to get back to where I was the first 5 years of our relationship. Luckily, my husband is pretty open and willing to talk about anything and everything and is completely supportive of me – but still feel so much GUILT. I want to want to have sex.
    We did have sex on our wedding night and during the honeymoon (and I wasn’t toasted any of those times) but when we returned home it was back to how it’s been. I don’t know. It feels good to write it out though.

    • I’m so glad it feels good to write about. Hopefully with time and talking you can not feel as guilty about your lower libido, because that probably just makes matters worse.

    • I’m similar. A large glass of red wine is so pathetically helpful. But I also have a much easier time on vacations. Hotel sex is easy. It’s new. There’s more early-relationship excitement. This is pretty normal, apparently. We crave variety, and yet emotionally we (many of us, not all) crave monogamy. But new experiences are supposed to be high up on the aphrodesiac scale, which is also why lots of established, comfortable couples get more into kinky sex the longer they’ve been together: many are looking for novelty and pushing boundaries within safe confines.

      My “it’s so easy on vacation” revelation last year really helped with some issues back at home. I have to remember to make time for it (damn the hard hard work) but scheduling novelty once a month, in some form, helps me. Change the time of day. Or the room. Or the type of sex. Or whatever.

      My holiday present was also a hotel-night in our city, whenever I want. We’ll plan a fun night in the city and then go to a nice hotel. It feels like a mini vacation. It helps.

      • Definitely agree on the “on vacation” rule. If I’m stressed (aka: most of the time), my libido completely drops, but on vacay, I’m all about it. Perhaps the added privacy of it helps also (we’ve spent most of our relationship living with roommates, and right now we’ve both moved back in with our parents). But yes, stick me in a hotel, and I’m about 1000 times more likely to want to go at it.

      • That’s really interesting. The best sex I’ve ever had was in a hotel when I was quite a bit intoxicated. I lost any sort of inhibition and we even ended up doing it against the window. A little bit of exhibitionism. Of course, I would never dream of doing that at home.

  14. I have been in relationships in which the girl wants to have sex more often than I do, although it’s never been a source of contention with anyone (at least not to my knowledge). I’m kind of the “have sex twice a day for the first month-or-however-long of the relationship and then less frequently after the newness of the relationship wears off” sort of person. For me, it’s not so much related to libido as it is to refractory period; if I have an orgasm, it’s very difficult for me to have another one anytime soon without putting in some serious effort.

    One thing that has been a problem in past relationships is the type of sex we’re interested in. I tend to like things a little rougher than girls I’ve dated, and a lot of things that excite me have been on girls’ “absolutely not” lists. It’s never been a relationship-ender, but unless you are both really open and have positive communication about what specifically you are both into, there can end up being a constant feeling of wondering whether or not you’re making your partner uncomfortable, which is really unpleasant and not conducive to fun, healthy sex.

    • I have a similar problem from the other side. I have a hard time getting my fiance to play rough with me. We’ve discussed it and he says it’s mostly that you’re taught for so long to be gentle with women, don’t hit women etc. I had to explain that yes, generally, those are good rules and he is never NEVER to hit me in anger, or outside of our controlled scenarios, and he’s loosened up a bit. He enjoys it now when he thinks of it, he likes being in control and such. Problem NOW is that it doesn’t always occur to him as an option. Ah well.

  15. Ahhh Robin thank you so much for doing this. This stuff weighs on me so much and I haven’t had the chance/found the right time to get together with my best girlfriend in town and talk it out. Like Lyn and B and a few others, I have extremely low libido. As in none. At all. (So relieved to read those comments!) My husband is terribly understanding and patient and puts up with sex only once every few weeks, but I feel incredible guilt about my utter lack of desire. It’s gotten to the point that anything sexual or even just hardcore makey-outey on TV/in movies can trigger my falling into a shame spiral because I’m not how women my age are “supposed” to be and I’m an awful wife. Knowing that these things makes me feel terrible and ashamed makes it all somehow worse.

    I haven’t always been this way — the first year and a half of our relationship we had sex regularly, and I would even initiate it a lot of the time. So what happened? I am pretty confident that I can tie the change in our physical relationship to when I started taking medication for anxiety. 2+ years later that initial anxiety is much, much better, but it’s been replaced by the death of my sex drive and the many issues that accompany that, which is so much worse. I even stopped medication a few months back in hopes that my sex drive would reawaken (bc anxiety medications often have unfortunate sexual side effects), but so far, nothing has changed. I’m worried that I have inadvertently done irreparable damage in trying to care for myself.

    Needless to say, this odd swing in our sex life has made him question everything he does, and it adds up to a lot of awkwardness and hurt feelings on both sides. I’m honestly considering taking myself to sex therapy.

    Before this turns into an essay, I want to touch on some other things in the post and comments.

    1. Is sex with my husband the best I’ve had? I’d say yes, but that is also not saying much at all based on my past. (I had pretty unexciting college years in the boys dept., which was fine.) I am 27 now and am pretty certain I’ve never had an orgasm during sex. Please, please, please tell me your secrets.

    2. As for commenter Snuggle, sex hurts for me, pretty much every time. Terrible confession: the last time we had sex, I literally said to myself in my head “I hate sex!” while we were getting started. A few minutes in I relaxed and that thought went away… but still.

    3. Wedding night — when we finally hit the hotel bed in the very, very wee hours of the morning, amazingly we did it. We didn’t have sex every night on our honeymoon, but maybe every other. Really good for me. That ties into what B said — I am so much more willing and interested when I’m on vacation. Definitely tied to stress and tired levels, and probably being exhausted from hating my job. Those instances give me hope, though — maybe I’m not destined to hate sex forever and I’m just in a bad phase.

    OK, that’s enough for now. I am sorry to dump on y’all (and go on forever) but really appreciate the forum. I’m so glad I’m not alone in the low libido camp!

    • fakename: Have you tried asking your doctor about all this? It’s true that anxiety meds can alter your libido, but if sex is also painful maybe there’s something else going on, or maybe your md has suggestions on how to help things along?

    • Re: orgasm during sex point. I love having sex with my fiance, even though orgasms for me are very few and far between (not for lack of trying on either of our parts, but a perk is that my low-ish libido stays higher if we do sexy things without the orgasm.). One thing that really helps me is using a vibrator during sex. Something that doesn’t require a lot of precision (like the famous Magic Wand) is easy enough to pull out when you’re spooning, and he’ll be able to feel it too so you’ll both enjoy it.

    • At Fakename:

      Oh my goodness, I wish I was here back in February! I can only HOPE you check this out again sometime.

      On the subject of no orgasms: I had this problem for a long time; and boyfriend and I had this problem together for almost the entire first year we were together, but now, I orgasm every time. Seriously.

      First of all, I think one of the main issues was psyching myself out. It would become this big hurdle in my mind, and I would become very frustrated with myself, and him, and anything and everything. You sound like you are comfortable with your hubby, so that doesn’t sound like your main issue. However, thinking about orgasm can still take your concentration away from the actual sex.

      Secondly: You sound like you can orgasm by yourself, because you only mentioned the “sex” part. This is good! Lots of women (lots and LOTS) can’t have orgasms from sex alone. You are not strange, or different, or “wrong”. We managed to work out a system. First: this started with me insisting he “get down there”. Meaning he actually sit further down and look at what he was doing, or sit and watch what *I* was doing. Going down there blind with only your hand does not make for orgasm-friendly sex play. Once he understood how I was touching myself, he could follow suit and mimic what I did. After we got past that, I was still not having orgasms every time, and they usually required a lot of help from me. The next step for us was to incorporate this into actual penetrative sex. (*We also used vibrators at this step, too, though boyfriend has never gotten the knack at using it the way I like. Which is fine, because I like my “me” time with it)

      We would have sex (not finish), stop and either he or I would manually stimulate me (using either hands or vibrators) into orgasm. Then we would resume sex and he would finish.

      After this, we began trying different positions which would allow either he (or mostly me) to orgasm during sex (either manually or with a vibrator); this way we could both enjoy ourselves at the same time.

      Finally, we bought a sex toy which is essentially a stretchy cock ring (but not as constrictive) that has a vibrator attached. This way, he still gets to penetrate, and I get the hands free vibration that I need in order to orgasm. If you haven’t guessed, the vibrating part is at the top, which hits the “important part” as I’ve heard it so wonderfully called. I LOVE that toy. I really can’t stress that enough. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I orgasm every single time now. I went from never in my entire life (with another person), to every single time. So, it can happen for you, too.

      Some general tips on the pain: yes, as “N” mentioned, talk to your doctor. It might be medical, so see a physician. It might be psychological; so see whatever doctor you feel comfortable (physician or psychologist or psychiatrist). Use lots of lube. On both of you. Lots. It will hopefully ease the friction and help you out some.
      Also, lots and lots of foreplay. You need to be sufficiently turned on, or otherwise in the mood. Ditch the negative thoughts. Do whatever it is that you need to do. Get away, mini vacation, get out of the house, turn on music, watch porn, light candles, whatever it is, do it. I’ve heard that some women think sexy thoughts all day to get their imaginations going; so wear clothes that make you feel sexy, do things that make you feel sexy; get yourself into the right frame of mind. If he’s too large, use fingers or other toys that are smaller.

      I wrote a TON, without even knowing if anybody will get to read this, but I really do hope you come back and check it out. It was a long and frustrating journey for the both of us, but we got there because we both wanted to. Boyfriend LOVES to brag about how he was “the only one” to get me there, and I think it’s a big turn on for him. But, part of the reason we got there was because it was a team effort and neither of us pressured the other. There were arguments out of frustration, and there were tears, but we kept trying. Even when we weren’t making progress, even when we wanted to give up. So take a deep breath, get into the right frame of mind, be open and honest with your partner about what you both want and what feels good to you both, and try it out! There’s really nothing to lose. Good luck to you both. :-)

  16. Not to sound like, “This! This! This!” but a lot of these comments have rung SO true for me. Vacation sex, less libido, tightness causing pain……. My first time having vaginal intercourse, I was raped by my first boyfriend, so you can just imagine how THAT fucked me up. I didn’t have p-in-v sex for five years afterward, and didn’t really enjoy it for probably seven years after. The only thing that has reduced my nervousness about the whole thing is being with my love for almost ten years and his extreme patience and willingness to stop anytime. I always have felt like a big ol’ freak about it, even though it’s obviously not my fault, and it really helps to know that other people aren’t perfect sex goddesses all the time too.

    • Yeah. My first kiss I nearly got raped, which fucked me up. The first time I finally had sex (after college) was such a horrible horrible situation (not date rape, but something close with alcohol impairment and naivete) that I still get nauseous flashbacks. After that, I had painful sex for years, which drove away other boyfriends. It wasn’t until I met my fiance, who was patient enough to work through my panics, that sex became tolerable and finally enjoyable. I spent years feeling like a complete freak until a girlfriend (who had been raped repeatedly) told me she had the same response to sex, but that she’d worked through it with therapy and her now-husband (and they have a VERY healthy sex life.)

      Your body stores memories too, and it’s trying to protect you from other sex-trauma by shutting down and pushing out, even if your brain wants something different. Your body is reacting in a more visceral way.

      You are NOT a freak. It’s just that there aren’t safe places to talk about it. It’s an uncomfortable discussion for Sex and the City tabletalk. But it’s very real and more common than you might think. Hugs.

      • Yes, this is close to my situation as well – past trauma and all. My partner is very understanding, but my inability to have sex without pain (and sometimes just plain inability, period) does put a strain on things. We’ve learned to be creative and find ways to do things that are mutually pleasurable, and I’m incredibly grateful for his flexibility in that. Still, I tend to feel a lot of guilt for not being “normal” and not being able to respond physically in the ways that I mentally/emotionally want to. Which, of course, can be something of a mood-killer.

      • I’m another one with a low libido and bad experiences when I was younger.
        Mine were with a boyfriend who I started off willingly having sex with (although I was only 15, I thought I knew what I was doing). I was clearly just too young, because I was never strong enough to say no more than once. I would always give in and hate every second. I remember having sex with him with the lights off and the whole time making faces at him and mouthing that I hated him. Sounds fucked up when I write it down! That relationship ended after 3 years when he started getting violent with me.

        I have been working through it bit by bit. I used to freak out when I knoew I was about to have sex with subsequent boyfriends and need to stop. I happened long ago enough now that that doesn’t happen anymore, but sex is definitely never “just” sex to me. And I wish it was.

        My fiance is very kind and very understanding and we talk through these kinds of things. We get a lot of the intimacy in our relationship from the snuggle side of things. I don’t feel disconnected from him, but I’d love us to have sex more often. It is just up to me to be okay with it.

        I feel like I’ve gone around in circles with this comment, but I’ll write more later on the other stuff :)

      • Just to add again, pain with penetration (or attempted penetration) can often be caused by an involuntary muscle reflex (as mentioned above), and it is possible to train your muscles so that you can consciously control and relax them, and eventually get to a completely pain-free place. (This problem has made me feel despairing at times and I think it’s good to know there is huge cause for hope.)

  17. I’m with Robin here- my sex drive is a thousand times higher than my fiancée. It had been the biggest issue in our almost 6 year relationship, but we get through it.
    I too start to get crabby when we go to long without, but our spells can go up to 3 months without (which is when I about lose my mind and get super sad and cry alot).
    My fiancée was set on fire when he was only 4 years old and I am convinced that the man who did that abused him- but if so he still isn’t ready to tell me. So I try extra hard to understand his lack of libido.

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry for your fiance, Sam.

      • Oh Sam, your poor fiance.

        And I am understand about having the much much higher libido than my (male) partner, the poor guy just isn’t into it at all, and we too can go for months without while I steadily get more and more frustrated (weepy, sometimes angry, etc etc) and start climbing the walls. I hate hat HATE the feeling that he might be “doing it” just to make me happy even though he might not be interested at the time. I would rather not have sex if that is the case.

  18. Argh. I feel like part of my resistance to sex is the sucky initiation I had into it. I was suckered into doing things I didn’t want to do by someone who was the first person to pay me enough attention — how pathetic is that? I’ve been able to move past that, but damn. I wish I’d been better, you know? I wish there’d been somebody who could have told me it was okay to speak up, and to stop things. Why didn’t I know?

    From reading your other blog I know you read Tiger Beatdown. I’m not sure if you caught the particular post, but I thought it was interesting when Sady argued that in cisgendered sex, when a dude argues for sex without a condom or dismisses a woman’s hesitancy to perform certain acts — any of that thype of behavior equates to sexual violence. I wasn’t entirely sold on use of the word “violence,” but I totally got it on an emotional level. I was too lenient when I was younger. I let my first sexual partners do whatever they wanted to, because I was afraid they wouldn’t like me anymore if I spoke up. That sounds pretty screwed up, and it was. It took me a couple tries with a couple of different people to get me to feel confident and to like sex again.

    I don’t intend to play a victim card, here, but I think that a lot of women have had similar experiences, and I believe that our society has done a disservice to women in the way we approach sex in general. I’d be interested in hearing from different perspectives — especially women who have higher sex drives. Am I just a product of low self-esteem and a lack of sex resources?

    Also: this was way harder for me to write than my previous comment. I don’t mean to hijack your comment thread, Robin, and I apologize. But in the interest of honesty and the vodka I was drinking earlier this evening, I felt I couldn’t ignore it.

    • There is no such thing as hijacking the Sex Talk Blog Party.

      I’m relatively healthy and not fucked up about sex (I am trying to not sound judgmental here, I really don’t want to be, because it violates the rules of this conversation and is uncool), which I’m extraordinarily grateful for. I think one thing that may be the result of is that I didn’t have sex until my 20s. If you asked me when I was, I don’t know, 19, I would have told you that there is no reason to wait that long (I was not a principled virgin. I was shy with boys, bad at dating, and abstaining from alcohol.) But in hindsight, I think being more of an established human being when I started having sex helped me ask for and get what I want (In the bedroom, not in relationships. Learning that took meeting Collin.) Obviously, starting later doesn’t have this effect for everyone, I was also lucky enough to exclusively have respectful and attentive partners (same disclaimer from last sentence applies!). This is something I’m definitely going to be talking to any potential children about.

      “I believe that our society has done a disservice to women in the way we approach sex in general.” To me this sentence reads like, “Sugar is sweet.” Yes. YES. Yes. I also think I am relatively healthy and not fucked up about sex because I am a lifelong feminist. Moreover, I believe feminist progress yields better sex for everybody.

      • See, I think it’s awesome to hear from others who have a healthy attitude about it. Not judgmental at all. I just feel heartened to know what those experiences were like. I think about that for my theoretical children too — they will be making their own decisions, of course, but is there anything I can say that would actually help start them off on the right foot?

        I was 18 when I started fooling around, and 19 when I had intercourse for the first time. I think maturity lines vary from person to person, but I definitely wasn’t the established human I should have been at that point. I got told the right messages when I was a kid — I knew I could say no. But what I wasn’t prepared for at that age was negotiating the tricky line that lies between “no” and “yes” — I wanted it, but not like that? And I didn’t know how to direct what I wanted, and was afraid they’d stop liking me if I did? That’s me having assertiveness problems.

        It’s unfortunate that that was my first foray into sex, but… I had to make my mistakes and learn from them. I feel so far removed from that now, because I am definitely established. And I grew a lot even inside the timespan of knowing my now-husband, which for me is one of the real benefits of being in a comfortable, monogamous relationship. I think I’d have real trust issues otherwise.

        This is an awesome convo.

      • Getting at the core of what allows for a healthy approach to sex is tricky stuff. Because I agree with you and Lyn – ideally, you’re a whole person, more fully developed, before you enter into sex. You need to know how to ask what you want and how to say no. But I thought I did. I was a feminist from a truly early age (like five years old, when I got angry at my kindergarten teacher about Miss v Mrs v Ms and how the male teachers got the simple Mr.) I minored in Women’s Studies and felt pretty damn confident in my general badassedness, independence and agency. I knew I didn’t need men to make me whole, but I kept getting conflicting messages because, frankly, they didn’t want me. And that stung. I was pretty unattractive in any conventional sense. So in some sick and twisted way, I felt validated when someone finally showed interest – both in the first kiss/near-rape and really fucked up first sexual experience. Sex and sexual activity was a form of getting validation, which meant I subsumed any of my own needs. Despite all the intellectual strength and knowledge, insecurity won and led to some truly awful results.

        So I don’t know what the answer is in how we teach our daughters about healthy approaches to sex. Feminism is a part of it. Self-empowerment too. Being older helps, but only if you’re actually waiting because you WANT to and not because you feel you have no other choice. Because I also know women who had sex young with long-term loving partners and are better for it. I think the key might be having a loving relationship when you lose your virginity, even in high school, where you’re both mature enough to talk through all the confusing feelings and needs. We need to teach our daughters about pleasure. That they aren’t just objects of desire but participants, and that they DESERVE someone who wants that too. It’s not about saying NO, it’s about learning to say YES in the right ways and with the right person. It’s about teaching them to express themselves. It’s about talking about self pleasure to our daughters and telling them that partner sex should be equally pleasurable and mutual. It’s giving them to communication tools to ask for that from their partners. It’s about teaching them that healthy sex isn’t about power or fear-of-losing-him or “saving yourself” or “giving yourself” or whatever other terrible messages permeate popular culture shoves at them. Sex is about love and self-love. And I don’t mean love in the sense that you need to be in love. I have no moral issue with one night stands and experimentation. But women need to enter into that with a strong sense of self-love and fun about sex to make it work.

        It’s complicated though. And I don’t think the “wait till you’re older” message is helpful, since that’s what I was given by my mom and life circumstance. I think the teaching tools for loving and mutual relationships, and open discussions about what sex and pleasure mean are more important.

      • “Moreover, I believe feminist progress yields better sex for everybody.”

        Yes yes yes yes YES. Here are some useful tidbits I learned from feminism: I have value! I can ask for what I want! I can speak up if my wishes are not being respected! And I FIRMLY believe that I have good sex because of that.

      • I definitely think waiting until I had graduated from college to have sex has been majorly beneficial for me. I was already well versed in what kinds of touching/liking/sucking I liked, so I was able to direct my first vaginal intercourse experience quite well. I actually ended up having an orgasm the first time I had intercourse because I knew enough and had taught my partner enough to know that rubbing my clit in particular way yielded an orgasm.

      • As far as talking to children, I think the message is out there to say no to sex until you are ready. But how do you know when you are ready? That is NOT talked about and really should be. Instead of focusing on an ‘anti’ sex message that only focuses on saying no and when its bad there needs to be a conversation with kids about when sex is good and having sex when they feel ready! Its a total disservice to kids to skip the positive talk about sex.

    • Hey, lyn – no hijacking! because yeah, I had a similar experience with my first time and I really, really, really wish young women could have more confidence in themselves and know that what they feel is true and worthwhile and that they could stand up for themselves. Society should be stabbed for what it does to young women.

  19. I’m also in the his libido is higher and have sex once a week camps. I am SO GLAD I’m not alone! I never really thought I was, but I did really wonder if that was “normal”. I know, there’s no such thing as normal. But yeah, I totally feel guilty all the time. And now we have sex on the weekends and if Sunday night hits I feel like I “have to” have sex, which I don’t and he says I don’t, but I guilt myself into it.
    I think my oral contraceptives have really killed my sex drive and I’m trying to go off of them as soon as possible but I’m not sure I’m ready to just be using condoms. Which brings me to…please somebody tell me I’m not the only married person using condoms???
    Oh, also we totally have a “system” too. It’s frustrating for both of us, but some positions are just really uncomfortable!!! He wants to spice things up more, but due to aforementioned low sex drive, he just counts himself lucky to get to have sex at all.

    • Collin and I used condoms for birth control for the first year of our relationship. Frustration with condoms eventually inspired me to get an IUD, and I’m a huge fan of it. I’ve heard some women have trouble getting prescribed one, but my doctor actually suggested it to me. I had prescription drug coverage at the time (I’ve since lost it), which covered the cost of the device, so the total cost to me was $11. For five years of birth control. Pretty sweet.

      I do caution that the insertion was one of the most painful things I ever experienced, but it doesn’t hurt for everyone. And even with the pain, it was worth it.

    • When I went on birth control the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, my sex drive definitely dropped. I didn’t get horny as easily as quickly anymore.

      I’ve read some studies that say that people on birth control also choose different partners than they would if they weren’t on birth control (hormones are not natural and therefore you choose partners to mate with that aren’t ideal matches genetically). This troubles me that I may go off bc some day and find myself no longer physically attracted to my partner. Of course there will still be emotional attraction, but what if he just doesn’t turn me on anymore?

    • I’m late on this because I just came across this post from A Practical Wedding, but my husband and I use a diaphragm and I can’t say enough good things about it. We settled on it for a number of reasons, primary being that I didn’t want hormones messing with my normal state. If pregnancy absolutely isn’t an option for you, then a diaphragm probably isn’t your best bet, because it’s slightly less effective than the pill or condoms, but I love it.

  20. I take birth control and we use condoms… I suppose that’s overcompensating, isn’t it? I don’t mind condoms and he doesn’t seem to either (and like anon I’m a wee bit scared to go without regardless), so maybe I could go off of BC and see if that helped anything, sex-drive-wise. That’s definitely a thought.

    Obviously now that we’re married I don’t have to fear the wrath of my father at an accidental pregnancy (ha) but I still worry about getting pregnant before we are “ready” (financially, etc… even though lots of people say you’re never ready/if you keep waiting until you think you are you’ll never have kids). Using two forms of contraception seems like more of a safety net. It’s probably more for my sanity than anything else.

    Anyone on the forum have positive experiences stopping the pill and rediscovering a sex drive?

    • I took the pill for about 5 years and stopped just a few months ago. Libido is definitely up. Condoms are annoying, but so is remembering to take a pill everyday. And I like that now he gets to have the responsibility for a while – I actually think the freedom I feel has something to do with having more interest in sex. Also the lack of inhibiting hormones running through my body. And possibly the slightly higher risk is exciting? I don’t know. I was very thankful for the pills while I took them, but for now I want to re-align my hormones to highschool-level sexual enjoyment with the grown-up knowledge and trust :)

    • Overcompensating, never! Honestly, we use Condoms on top of my hormonal birth control because I hate the mess involved in sex ;) Wet Patch, bah!

  21. Ooh, I picked up the boy in a bar! I had been crushing on him for about month before I worked up the courage (aka drank enough vodka) to introduce myself to him. We, um, hit it off. Ha ha. I’ve always been a serial monogamist and would never have dreamed of picking up some guy at a bar and taking him home. So I think it’s funny that the only one I ever did is the one I ended up marrying.

  22. ahh! first time posting because I have to share this with you. I also picked up my future husband on a boozy night out – and threw up too – and said some amazingly bad lines… I also worry about speechs…

  23. My boyfriend and I have been dating for over two years. We are both in our young twenties, and we know that we want to get married eventually (in a year or so). We are waiting to have sex until we are married. After reading the comments on this post, I realized that no one has talked about this side of the story, and I’m hoping that if I do, I will hear stories from others who can relate.

    I don’t consider either of us as being prude. It started out as more of a moral/religious/”we were both raised this way” type of the thing, and now I’m not even sure why we’re waiting. I know that we love each other. We are affectionate in other ways. We talk about it all the time (perhaps that’s half the fun?), and he is so patiently waiting, more for my sake than his. We just figure, since we’ve waited this long, why not a little longer? I’m not going to say that this choice is easy. Even when I’m with friends who talk about having sex with their boyfriends, I go along with it like it’s no big deal. However, sometimes I do get self-conscious. I even get angry. I see other girls have one night stands with guys they have no chance of ever loving, and I get upset that I can’t be just as physically intimate with the man I love. Okay…so I know I could if I wanted to, but perhaps it’s the perfectionist, rule-follower in me that feels a sense of accomplishment from waiting?

    Or maybe it’s all in my head?

    • I just want to say that I waited to have sex. (now married)
      I think for us, it worked great. I was raised pretty christian and had a lot of guilt even about kissing — and snuggling — and what I did with a previous boyfriends.
      My husband wasn’t raised religious at all, but decided pretty early on he wanted to wait until marriage.
      Um, so we did.

      I guess I just want to say that I am usually a person who questions things, like ‘what if I had gone to a different college, gotten a different major? decided to take a year off?’ etc. but I have never wished I had sex earlier. I like sex, but it also is very emotional and fraught with complications (re: every other post on here), and I think starting it earlier wouldn’t have made it any easier. While dating/engaged, we knew we liked each other and wanted to have sex. Yay. Now it’s more like, I WANT to have sex, BUT…

      I would also say that it took us about two weeks (end of our lovely long honeymoon) before actually having good sex (on my side… I’m pretty sure my husband enjoyed all of our attempts).
      Also, I did take birth control for a couple months — and I hated being on it. Definitely less libido. So I stopped and now we use condoms. I think a IUD is a nice option, but it still freaks me out to commit to something for so long. What if I wake up tomorrow and want a kid? Extremely unlikely, but enough that I’m not really going to pick that for now.

      As for which of us has more desire for sex, I feel like this one varies. Early on in our sexual endeavors we had a very emotional night. The next morning I decided that really we had no idea what we were doing and I bought a bunch of books about sex. This freaked the f*** out of my husband, because he left that morning thinking, ah last night was a failure, only to meet later over dinner with like four books on sex. I think this sent the message, “you’re doing this wrong”, and for the next couple weeks he really didn’t want to have sex or initiate sex that much. Also he didn’t read the books. Or, he started reading one and decided it was stupid (that wasn’t the best book I found) and never quite got around to the others. Eventually, we talked it out and he relaxed and can ask for sex again. All good things!

      Also, I think everyone here brings up a good point. For my husband, if he’s stressed his libido goes down. For me, stress = want to orgasm and release stress. And we both tend to travel a lot. So those kind of variables means that our sex life careens pretty wildly from less than once every two weeks to three / four times a week. We just kind of go with it.

      • Waited, you can have your IUD taken out early if you decide it is time to have kids. They say it becomes “cost effective after one year” if you have to pay for the device (I think compared to the cost of birth control pills? Lord knows I was not spending hundreds of dollars a year on condoms). Like I said, mine cost $11. I have DEFINITELY gotten my money’s worth. I will probably keep it in for the full five years, but I conveniently got mine around five years before I think I want to start trying for children.

    • I am currently in a serious relationship with a guy who is waiting for marriage to have sex. He is a couple years younger than me, but essentially we’re both in our mid-20s. I have not waited. I’ve had a good bit of the sex. Once I became sexually active, I’m know I considered once or twice the idea of ‘dating a virgin’ and what that might be like to have that duty (honor, responsibility) on me–to be someone’s first. I never REALLY considered the prospect of dating someone where that responsibility would be on me…months or years down the line once he put a ring on it. Whoa.

      At this point I could write a short novel on all the feelings, emotions, funny, sad, or frustrating exchanges that have come about from our situation. So I’ll just go over some key points, as I see them:

      –communication is ALWAYS KEY. I suppose there are couples out there that don’t talk openly about, well, anything and everything, but I do not have the faintest idea how they last. We have the best communication possible (I think deriving from the fact that we were friends for years before kissing one night and realizing the one aspect of intimacy missing from our relationship was super awesome.) This makes everything better and easier.

      –while communication is key, I have struggled to talk about this more than I’ve ever really struggled to talk about anything with him (not a problem for me, generally). I think this comes from the fact that his waiting is tied to a deeply religious place, and while I consider myself extremely moral and absolutely faithful, my family did not have an organized religion growing up. It’s hard to start a conversation when you feel like any other time it’s “me and him” on the couch, now suddenly it’s “me and him + God” WHO AM I TO HAVE AN OPINION AGAINST THEM!? But I do have an opinion, and our sex life is my sex life. I have to constantly remind myself that my opinions, background, feelings, and stance are just as valid as his no matter how alike or different.

      –again, connected to the past two points: we had an incredible talk one night about this and it made a huge difference. I gave a detailed account of what it meant to me to lose my virginity, to start having sex, how my life was before and how it was after. I even admitted that I felt like I was slipping into a sorta bad place re: sex right before dating him….doing it more, with people I knew less and less. It was feeling wrong and well, sad. It’s kind of an amazing ‘everything happens for a reason’ type experience, because a few years ago I think this “limitation” in a relationship would have sent me packing. But sex had become not what I wanted it to be, and having someone I knew I was falling for big time make me sit down and reevaluate was a good thing. Anyway, by the end of the talk, it came down to a very matter-of-fact “if I never lost my virginity, I’d very likely not be with you today. If for NO other reason than, I wouldn’t have had the courage or confidence to make the first move.” Not only was he understanding of my decision to get it on before marriage, after this conversation, he was kind of thrilled about it?

      –it helps that once-upon-a-time I wanted to wait. Like, all through high school and into college, I wanted to “wait until I was married.” I’m not sure why exactly (can’t remember my though process behind all decisions I made 15 years ago) …but I DID. I could just as easily be someone who was like “I never wanted to wait! Waiting is lame and not for me” and then we’d have more of a problem. But because I did at some point, we have a little more common ground.

      –It helps that he is game for EVERYTHING ELSE, ALL OF THE TIME. I don’t have to worry, honestly, that we don’t have “sexual chemistry”. We like “having sex” (whatever version we decide on in the moment) the same amount, which is …a lot. Like, on average, every night, every morning, and often middle of the day too. He is an incredible kisser (hands down best I’ve ever had and that is SAYING SOMETHING), he knows just where to touch me, he gets me off all the time, and I enjoy his …um, body. I suppose there is a slight possibility that he has a rare disease where when inserted into a vagina, his penis suddenly gets soft and turns orange; but I’m thinking I don’t need to worry.

      –It’s bizarre how this aspect of our relationship makes me think about marriage so much more than usual (and so much more than I should be so early on). But it’s Impossible not to. Every single time we fool around (see previous comment for how this is very often) …it’s there. “We’re starting to fool around, this won’t be p-in-v sex, because he’s waiting until marriage to have sex, I want to have sex with him, I will only have sex with him if we get married one day.” This line of thinking is there, either, super at the top of my head or buried down deep. Let me be clear, again, that I am SAT-IS-FIED. My man gets it done, y’all. But logistically, those are the facts. It’s bizarre. I will either marry this man, or I will never have sex with him. There’s no third possibility.

      –I get indescribably excited about the idea of having sex for the first time with him in a really, really special beautiful way …if it is the first one. I remember feeling this level of romantic excitement during once-upon-a-time when I wanted to wait.

      –I miss sex.

      There you have it. No wait, I can’t end without a terrible joke, courtesy of my dad whenever I’ve ever started dating someone.

      “Honey, I’ll give you the same advice they give boxers. No action until you see the ring.”

      Oh Dad. Who knew ONE of your terrible jokes would be so very, very relevant to my life? Not me.

      • 1. Communication is key.
        2. Clueless references are an excellent form of communication.
        3. I am FASCINATED by what you said here about feeling like the conversation included God. I don’t know if you meant to describe it this way, but I almost read it as though the conversation was between (You) and (Your Boyfriend + God). Which sounds really intimidating and hard. I wish I had some advice to give to make that easier, but it sounds like you are working it out as best you can.
        4. That is such a dad joke.

      • Wait a minute, I’m fascinated that your boyfriend doesn’t consider that having sex. Did you ever wonder about that distinction yourself?

  24. I, too, have been dry-humping the topic of sex for FOREVER and have never posted it because my mom reads the blog, my high-school friends (from a SUPER conservative Christian school) and now, this just in, my colleagues and boss at work.

    SO. Thanks for the forum, lady, it’s long overdo.

    I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with sex-talk in that every time I’m assaulted with unsolicited peeks into the sex lives of friends or, especially, acquaintances. However, we have sex everyday, on average, and it’s because of something we do on purpose, so I guess I’ll share.

    I feel like the average woman who “gets headaches all the time” – read: Doesn’t want as much sex as her partner, gets too into the idea of rejecting sex. If the moments not right RIGHT then, some women I know will turn down sex and what not to read, watch TV or whatever…it’s not the right time. I used to do that all the time and it had almost become like a habit to me to reject sex if I wasn’t PERFECTLY in the mood, you know? If there was no heat or steam at that particular moment (which, sometimes in a relationship, at least ours, it’s like: “Wanna bone?”), I wasn’t into it. I started thinking about if I wanted to jump him and he turned me down…man, I would just feel so humiliated for some reason, you know? So why is it any different for women? I don’t know..I was watching some movie…I think it was Get Him to the Greek – and he was trying to “blackmail her with his penis” and she said “It’s not the same with the penis…”

    So anyways, a NOVEL later (really, I’m sorry), I don’t turn him down hardly ever anymore. If it really is too late or I’m REALLY not into the idea for whatever reason, I do. But 99% of the time, it’s just my mind that needs to get over the idea that “it’s not the right moment,” you know? Wow, I’m feeling a bit exposed.

    • This sounds a lot like the dance that Collin and I do, but with roles reversed. For a while, Collin would occasionally “give in” (having read your second comment, let’s just agree to agree that this is all 100% consensual sex, because it is) so that he could keep our frequency at a level he thought would satisfy me. The problem was, it didn’t… because the sex we had in those cases was never as good as sex that he actually actively wanted. Which made me so grumpy, because it was like he was in total control of our sex lives. So Collin stopped “giving in,” but then there was not enough sex, so then I had to get more comfortable with asking for one-sided sex or other forms of intimacy (lame as it sounds, sometimes an hour of spooning scratches the itch). It all still feels like a delicate balancing act.

      I’m not saying that you should revert to turning him down more often! You gotta do whatever works for you. Thanks for the comment!

      • I get the “giving in” thing from my lower-libido fiance, and I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m totally okay with it. More often than I would like, the dance we do leaves me feeling like I’m begging for sex and being rejected.

        We have had several really serious talks about sex, his libido, and my feeling rejected. He has asked for a pace of 1 night on, 2 nights off, but I think more accurately we tend to end up at 2 nights on and then 4-5 nights off. We also find that his interest level changes at different times of the month. When he hits his low time at the same time when I hit my high time, we tend to have more arguments.

        (This part is totally TMI, but this IS the sex talk): To help me without making him do something he doesn’t want/isn’t feeling up to, we will spoon in bed. He will whisper things/stories/ahem in my ear and hold me close while I do my thing. I don’t feel deprived at all, and sometimes, with all of the touching and dirty talk, it starts something for him, too. We both really enjoy these encounters, which are no-pressure situations for him and let me hear the words I need to hear so that I don’t feel rejected (if he wants to, we do, if he doesn’t, I got both the physical closeness and the release I needed).

  25. First – my grammar in that comment was ATROCIOUS. 3am = a couple of flubs, word-wise.

    SECOND and most important – that post reads like Isaiah rapes me almost nightly. Which, obviously, is not the case. What I MEANT was, usually after like a minute of kissing and what not, I’m revving my engines as well. There doesn’t need to be petals on the bed and Barry White in the background.

    In any case, I’m obviously wishing I had written this anonymously by now. BUT where’s the risk in posting anonymously, right?

  26. Totally late to the party and what a shame since it’s such a great one. I love the honesty here. So refreshing and so freaken needed. Even with my closest friends, sex talk tends to be veiled in abstract terms, with no one actually honestly sharing the nitty-gritty.

    I am another stereotype with lower libido than my husband. To be honest, I’m not sure by how much, because he is super accommodating and doesn’t complain about it. At times I worry that the lack of complaining is actually due to emotional blackmail – if he does push me at all I tend to get really upset because I feel guilty, so to avoid upsetting me he is hushed into silence and acceptance. When we do talk about it though he assures me he is fine with how things are so I guess I have to take his word for it.

    I blame my lack of libido on a few things (though I know the reality is far more complex, these things just give me an easy out in my own head). Birth control in my experience definitely does reduce libido, but for other reasons I really don’t want to go off of it. I also get frequent UTI’s, which introduce a whole host of non-romantic hassles to sex that were perfectly described by someone above (me chugging back glasses of water and running to the bathroom to pee all night while he snuggles up in the blankets and has a great sleep, and then keeping my fingers crossed for the next day or two), and finally, sex can be painful at times for me.

    All this had led us to a point where we have actual penetrative intercourse relatively infrequently, but stay intimate with touching and oral. Taking intercourse “off the table” as Dan Savage would say helped immensely with the guilt and pressure I kept feeling. It gave me permission to fool around without thinking that it always had to lead to penetration, which really took the pressure off. Dan Savage convinced me that all the other stuff IS sex (that’s why it’s called oral SEX, not oral changing-the-lightbulbs) even though popular culture would have you believe that only a penis in a vagina is a valid form of sex (male-centric much?).

    We’re still working on it and it still causes me to have some chronic low-level guilt. Hearing your stories helps.

  27. Admittedly, my 2 cents are not terribly marriage-related, but I think they are points that might be helpful and don’t necessarily fit into most other forays…

    Something that was mentioned earlier struck a chord with me, and I just want to focus on it: Do Anything You Can To Mitigate Guilt (regardless of which side of the libido see-saw you’re on).

    Ultimately, I gather this can be achieved through successful communication, and for me, this was another equally important (and troublesome) issue in my last relationship.

    From my (male) perspective, it is most important to have an understanding of each other’s needs. I was the higher-libido partner, and I often felt like that made me the “bad guy”. Any time there were sexual tensions or issues, it would come to
    her: “well I didn’t want to in the first place, and now your loss of an erection has proven that I shouldn’t have agreed to”
    me: “then why did we? you shouldn’t feel pressured to”
    her: “because I thought you wanted to”
    me: “I have yet to find an occasion that I didn’t want to”
    her: “I can never satisfy you!” This point in the argument was, in fact, quite wrong. Despite the popular argument between us, she always satisfied me. Even if it was an occasion that I was having trouble getting/keeping it up, and therefore couldn’t finish… That never meant it was any less satisfying – but she was thoroughly convinced that men are only interested in orgasm.

    Granted, maybe I’m a unique snowflake and feel totally different than most men in the world, but this info is bound to be helpful to someone else out there.

    Another point I’d like to make is that for me, although I may have had the higher libido, I didn’t have an urgent need to have sex with any particular regularity. So ladies, if you are the lower-libido, just because you don’t want it as often or as much as he does, try not to assume that he is disappointed. Instead, have an open discussion and if he tells you repeatedly “please don’t feel stress or guilt from me or my libido to have sex. Sex should happen when it will be fun for both of us,” just try to trust that he is being honest. This is the sort of thing that makes a relationship successful (I would guess).

    Another item I’d like to touch on is also kinda guilt-related.

    I like oral sex – giving and/or receiving – maybe equally (but more likely something like 48% giving 52% receiving).
    She didn’t like giving or receiving. And this is totally fine. Provided everybody understands this and has agreed to either A) deal with it; or B) work on it together.
    Simple educational point is this: if you ever break down and admit to your partner “I hate doing that,” some of us well-intentioned partners will understand that and it will be clear that blowjobs are no longer on the table.
    After that cat is out of the bag, however, it will require a good amount of discussion before you can get away with a “pleasant-surprise-bj-as-a-treat” because I don’t ever want to make you do something you hate, just to please me. Let’s instead find something you like.

    Also, regardless of how much I might like receiving oral, my spectrum of being-turned-on is directly proportional to your enjoyment of whatever is going on.

    I have other thoughts, but this is all I time for at the mo. Here’s hoping I didn’t sound like a jerk.

  28. Oh, sex. Such a sticky issue. People are so scared of it, for something that so many of us do. Hello, our PARENTS did it, our GRANDPARENTS did it, our friends and brothers and sisters and bosses and taxi drivers do it. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s healthy, it’s important. So let’s talk about it.

    My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and we are each other’s firsts. He’s actually my first for most significant milestones (oral sex, intercourse, etc). We started having sex when we were sixteen, and that’s when I went on birth control; I have very liberal and wonderful parents who were happy to help us with the safe-sex side of things. About a year into our relationship, my parents had bought me a queen sized bed and would happily get us condoms at Costco (cost effective!). We’re lucky that way. :)

    More intimately, our libidos are mismatched. My husband has a VERY strong libido, and mine is more… subtle. We’ve dealt with this through our entire relationship, and it’s something we continue to work with. We had one dry spell when I first went to college where I was depressed and my already low libido plummeted. He was hugely patient, and we worked through it; I didn’t even realize it was happening at the time. He tries not to pressure me, and I try to realize that half the time, if I start being affectionate with him, my body will follow (just gotta warm her up…). And we find a myriad of ways to be intimate, not just through penetration. We trust one another and follow our instincts together. Since we are each other’s firsts, we don’t know if we’re messing something up, or doing it wrong, or if we’re even achieving our full potential. But because we are so open, we can be completely honest with one another, and completely trust one another.

    Another quirk: I’m bisexual. I realized I was bi midway through my senior year in college. My husband helped me to that realization, actually (“Honey, you like making out with girls! It’s okay!”). He maintains that if I need to be with a woman, it’s something he has no right to stand in the way of. But I’ve chosen to be with him, and I never feel anything is lacking. I’m still hugely attracted to him (yum!) and want to raise a family and grow old with him… We just now know and understand a little more about who I am and my sexuality, which makes our relationship that much more intimate.

    As for our wedding night: we didn’t do it immediately, because it was 2am, we were exhausted, and the hotel bed was so damn comfortable. But we did manage to find a little time for canoodling the next morning… which I think still counts (it was within 24 hours, and we still hadn’t left the bed!). :)

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  31. Definitely late to this party, but my eyes are are welled up with tears in the comforting fact that I am definitely not alone. Whew!

    Stereotypical woman. Lower libido than the hubs. Last night he asked me, “Do you ever get horny anymore?” and this just sent me over THE EDGE. First, because his asking wasn’t serious, but hurtful in tone and nature. Clearly he was feeling some sort of rejection. Second, because while I didn’t answer him, the answer was “No.”

    I used to get hot for the hubs all the time. That is, until he made fun of the way I approached him for sex. Love the a.m. romps and I’d wake him up by playing with his “patch” of chest hair. He made fun of me and my “method” and I don’t think I’ve played with the patch since because it hurt my feelings so badly. I know this is not good, but every time I try, I feel that same hurt. If I try to talk to him about it, I’m transferring the blame to him (in his eyes) because it was something he did that made me react. But the reality is, feelings get hurt and I need to be able to work through it and I have been unsuccessful.

    Sex with my husband is fan-fucking-tastic, but getting in “the mood” is a damn chore. And sadly, our foreplay sucks. I love when we make-out, but he’s not the greatest with his hands and it frustrates me. I get annoyed that I have to direct him and getting pissed during sex isn’t really a great head space to be in.

    And I feel like I killed my own libido. Everything was fine for a long time. Right when I started dating my husband, I started having problems with my BCP (spotting, irregular periods, etc) and I had to change to a higher level of estrogen that effed me up big time. Over the course of 9 months, I was on three different pills. I finally went off and had to deal with the changes from that. A few months later we’re engaged and planning, the hubs is unemployed and my job was a big bowl of stress. I started having panic attacks. I started taking Zoloft. That drug killed my libido dead. After about a year, I weaned myself off, but my libido did not recover and I put a lot of blame on myself because of it. So when he asks me, “Do you ever get horny anymore?” I want to scream at him about how frustrated I am and that I consider myself a terrible wife and woman and how inadequate I feel in my whole entire life because I have a libido that sucks.

  32. I’m back. It’s been really reassuring reading how there are so many other couples going through similar situations, but the recurring ‘drugs-screwed-up-my-libido’ theme is scary and really effing pervasive! I stopped taking birth control pills a few years ago and I’m pretty sure that’s when my libido started to slide.

    @A Non-Mouse: Thanks for giving your perspective. Especially explaining that one partner doing something they don’t like (oral sex or having sex when they’re not into it, for example) just to please the other isn’t necessarily what their partner wants or what is good for either of them. Although I know my husband feels this way too, I haven’t heard him actually say it. I’ll have to bring this up since I think it would help alleviate the guilt a bit and assure me that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.

    Re: Thirty-Something Bride’s comment- I also get pissed during foreplay (which shuts the whole thing down). I don’t like making out; he does. (I swear he used to kiss better in college, what happened? :) ) Otherwise I feel his hands are wandering WAY too fast or kissing is WAY too slow. Since I know he can’t read my mind (or my body apparently) I direct him one way or the other which, Thirty-Something Bride is right, it becomes a chore. I’m not sure how to change this.

    Meanwhile, if I so much as let him see an ounce of skin or look at him cross-eyed he’s so ready to go. This means that I NEVER initiate because I would be so far behind I don’t think I’d be able to catch up.

    Where’s a sex counselor blog friend when you need one? I think we need to scrounge one up.

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  36. Since I left a novel for a comment, I felt it was only fair to comment and answer the questions originally asked.

    Birth control: I took it. I am now off of it (no more health insurance). We just use condoms now, and I honestly haven’t noticed much of a change in libido.

    I do think that I have a higher libido, but that’s probably only because boyfriend works full time and goes to school full time. He can barely keep his eyes open when it comes time for sex. So, I don’t usually push the issue and we do it as often as we can. As mentioned before, communication IS key, and we’ve worked out methods to satisfy if he’s too tired. Usually he will hold me or kiss me while I do my thing, or we’ll have a quicky, or one or both of us will just do the bare minimum.

    Dry spells: We’ve gone weeks without it, but we almost don’t realize it. Usually if one or the other wants sex, then we find a way to make it happen (or some variation). Usually we talk to each other about masturbating, just because 1) we live with his parents and grandma, so it’s not like we can just do it whenever we want; he and I share ONE room–we know if the other is masturbating/watching porn/whatever. and 2) Sometimes one gets hurt feelings because we feel left out. “Hey, I wanted sex; why didn’t you just tell me you wanted it too?” But, that being said, I understand that alone time is important, so we basically have free reign though we don’t usually take advantage of it.

    Endearing quirks: I don’t think we really have them, though I’m sure others looking in would find a lot! We like to playfully tease each other about our orgasm faces/noises, or other funny things that have happened to us.

    Is sex with your partner the best sex you’ve ever had: See my comment above, you can’t miss it, it’s huge. That being said, yes. Because he and I have amazing communication. He isn’t the best kisser, he isn’t a lot of the “best” of things, but altogether he’s the best for me. I wouldn’t trade him or change him because the fact that we are so open with each other makes everything else 1000% better.

    Do you plan to/did you bone on your wedding night?: Neither of us plan on drinking a lot. We actually had a long conversation about it once, because I realized I would be REALLY mad if he was drunk at the reception. He actually agreed with me, and I was surprised. We just don’t want to drink that night because we want to enjoy everything. I guess we’ll probably have sex, or at least try based on our tiredness level.

    Do you know each other’s “numbers”: Yes. His is higher than mine: I’m at 4 and he’s at 10. I waited until I was 18, and he started much younger. I had two one night stands, and I don’t even remember what his number is, but we’ve talked about the significant ones. My first sexual encounter was at 14 with my first love; we are actually all really good friends (and that boyfriend is how I met my current boyfriend) and we were both in his wedding at the beginning of the month. My first time that was intercourse was with a terrible boyfriend who pressured me into it in a round about way AND simultaneously blamed ME for pressuring HIM. That relationship was a total mess. The two one night stands did WONDERS for me, and I would never never take them back. Boyfriend is obviously the fourth.

    To touch on a few other topics that were mentioned:

    Monogamy: Boyfriend is fiercely monogamous, while I am wishy-washy on the topic. I can be, and have been monogamous, but I still get a little concerned with the idea of ONLY him for possibly forever. We’ve had multiple talks about it and a lot of tears. At one point we worked out an agreement for me to flirt/make out possibly have sex with another person, but that actually fell through and I’m really glad it did. He and I are MUCH stronger because of it, and I know we can get through anything that life throws us. That being said, I’m a HUGE fan of Dan Savage, so I’m very liberal in my ideas concerning sex. I completely agree with him that if for some reason the other partner stops wanting sex for a length of time (years, etc) and the other partner wants sex, there needs to be a compromise or allowance for the partner with the remaining libido to be able to get the sex they need without having to resort to divorce, even if that means sex with another person. Sex is extremely important and I would never want to keep my partner from that if I suddenly decided I never wanted sex again. We would work something out.

    Embarrassing tidbits about your sex life: He and I chatted a lot before we got together. (I lived in a dorm at my school in Pittsburgh, and he lives in a suburb about 40 minutes away) We were practically dating by the time we actually got together for the first time. We officially had our first kiss before we had our first date. Had our first date and became a couple in the same night AND had sex AND we celebrated his birthday with friends. We jokingly call each other sluts because we waited for nothing. He was so nervous/excited/whatever that he couldn’t get off. But, he didn’t lose his erection either. We pounded away for quite some time before we eventually called it quits. The same thing happened the second time we had sex. It was embarrassing and comedic all at once. Though it isn’t something we tell people, it’s still something funny we look back on.

    Something that COULD be told, because a lot of people know: We were at a friend’s housewarming party. We were horny, and the host drunkenly joked about us sneaking off somewhere to have sex. We suggested we go off to the bathroom, and he agreed that we could. Soooo, that’s what we did. The host’s girlfriend was really unhappy, and the host feigned anger but really didn’t care. Obviously people we at the party and knew what happened, so we got some laughs, but it’s likely that not too many people remember that. This is the most “in public” we’ve ever had sex, but it’s still funny to think about, though not my proudest moment.

    Did I post a novel again? I’m sure I did, I’m long-winded (also something boyfriend really picks on me about)

  37. Very late to the party. Forgive me. So I’m a little surprised at how monogamous everyone here is. It’s been really smooth sailing for me and my spouse since we started seeing other people. When I’ve felt that tinge of jealousy, rather than empower my possessiveness or my self-doubt, I’ve worked hard to *question* what the problem is. It has meant dismantling a lot of assumptions about relationships, yes, but I think that has really helped with (and been helped by) my feminism. Sex is always a political act.

    One weird thing that can happen when you’re nonmonogamous is this: you know how you fall into a rhythm with your spouse or S.O. when after having had sex a few dozen/thousand times, where lingering on certain parts of the process can be nice but where ultimately you can “skip steps”? (I’m reminded of math class—”Show your work!” my teacher always yelled.) Well, “skipping steps” is not what usually happens early in most relationships; people get excited about a hand on a hip, kissing someone’s ear for the first time. But when I’m used to a certain pace, and then I go out on a first date with someone, sometimes if things go well and we end up kissing, I’ll find myself moving, er, a bit faster than I used to on first dates back in my monogamous days. Oops?!

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