QI'm a straight woman who loves my boyfriend, but sex isn't a priority for me. His sex drive, on the other hand, is ridiculous. He gets very upset when I don't have sex with him and accuses me of not being interested in him anymore, which isn't the case. I just can't fuck on demand! Most people would probably say that my boyfriend is an insensitive asshole for pressuring me for sex. Except this was a switcheroo exercise: I, the girlfriend, want more sex. He, my boyfriend, doesn't see sex as a priority. When we first started dating, we had sex every day—it was incredible—but around the four-month mark, something changed. I've had to beg for it ever since—and I mean beg. I give him space, I take care of things on my own for as long as I can, and right around the time when I feel myself start to get really anxious, I ask for sex. And I am rejected. Only when I'm so hurt that I'm literally sobbing on the floor is he suddenly interested in having sex with me. Right then, right there. It happens about twice a month. I don't know what to do. I love him so much and would be a fool to leave him. Other than the sex, everything is wonderful. He is the best and most thoughtful boyfriend ever, but he says he likes being the one who's controlling the sex. Maybe I am just being a colossal asshole? My problem sounds mundane, I know, but it's killing me. —Sexless and Depressed
ASorry, SAD, but relationship graveyards around the world are crowded with tombstones that read, "Everything was great . . . other than the sex."
And this isn't your mundane, run-of-the-mill mismatched libido problem, which is bad enough. (And, as I've written until my fingers are bleeding, reason enough to end a relationship.) You're dating a guy who can get it up only when he sees his girlfriend sobbing on the floor—that's apparently what it takes to make his dick hard—and this sobbing-on-the-floor shit goes down twice a month. I can only conclude that this is how your boyfriend likes it, SAD. He's turned on only when you're not just miserable but pushed past the breaking point.
Frequency is not a problem that improves with time, SAD. A boyfriend who wants sex only twice a month at four months into a relationship—and then only when his girlfriend is sobbing—won't want sex once a week five or ten years in. You know what else doesn't improve with time? Assholery. I promise you that the "wonderful" and "thoughtful" will diminish as the years fly by, and the emotionally abusive games that cause you so much pain—pain that, again, seems to give him pleasure—will metastasize, spreading from your sex life to other areas of your life. The more difficult extricating yourself from this relationship becomes, SAD, the less wonderful and thoughtful he'll become.
End it now.
QI recently ended things with a guy I liked because he wanted to stop using condoms, but he balked when I said we should both get tested for sexually transmitted infections. He said he felt I didn't trust him. I tried to explain that trust has nothing to do with it, and that if he didn't care whether I felt safe, I shouldn't trust him. That was the end of it. I'm not seeing this guy anymore. But what do you say to someone who conflates a request for STI testing with a lack of trust? —Seeking Truthful Insight
QMy husband and I have been married for 20 years, and we both also share our lives with additional partners. Rather than spend a lot of time dishing about whom and how we love—and how fortunate we feel!—I'd like to get right to my plea for support. I want freedom. I want the freedom in my life that I've always wanted for you, Dan: to be able to live and love and talk about your actual life without being afraid that it could cost you your job, your kids, your family. Having to live in the closet is difficult. I cannot say that it is as difficult for us as it is for someone who is LGBT. I did not know I was "poly" as a kid. I never felt like I didn't fit in for that reason growing up—and I agree with you that this is a relationship structure rather than a sexual orientation. But it doesn't matter. This isn't a contest about who suffers more or where these things come from. Instead, I think we should ask ourselves if we stand for the same things and if we can become part of a movement toward freedom and equality for everyone, even if some of the ways we live and love are choices and some are not. The progress we have made together toward a more tolerant world for gay people gives me hope that we could be next. I don't think you are the emperor of acronyms, Dan, but you should be, and that is why I am starting with you. So can we be added to the acronym, please? Perhaps we can honor the differences between our experience and the LGBT experience with an ampersand. What do you think of LGBT&P? —Privately Polyamorous Person
AYou haven't been keeping up, PPP. We are no longer the LGBT community. We are the LGBTQLFTSQIA community, aka the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, leather/fetish, two-spirit, questioning, intersex, and asexual community/communities. I don't see why we can't slap a P on to the end of our acronym, so say it with me now: "I'm proud to be a member of the LGBTQLFTSQIAP community/communities!"
But I have to draw the line at the ampersand. Because if we give poly folks a punctuation mark, PPP, then soon everybody is gonna want a punctuation mark, and our ever-metastasizing acronym is an unwieldy, sprawling enough mess already. So no special punctuation mark rights for you guys, PPP.
And why should poly folks be held at arm's length with an ampersand? Because most poly folks are straight? Lots of leather/fetish folks are straight, and they're covered in the acronym. Lots of trans men and trans women are straight, and they're covered. David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, "is in a romantic relationship with an asexual girlfriend and hopes to adopt a child," according to his Wiki page, and he's covered. If the Ts and LFs and As aren't being held with a pair of punctuational tongs, PPP, why should poly folks be? You're a sexual minority, too, and poly people sometimes face discrimination, bigotry, and oppression. So welcome to the club, PPP. Congrats!
And here's the best part of putting poly folks in the acronym: It brings us one step closer to seizing control of the entire alphabet. While religious conservatives are fighting a losing battle to "take back the rainbow" from the gays—a movement led by a fundamentalist preacher in Washington State—we've been making off with the alphabet one letter at a time. Pretty soon, angry religious conservatives will have to post their hateful screeds in hieroglyphics because using the alphabet will be just as gay as putting a rainbow bumper sticker on your car.
So . . . gee . . . maybe I ought to let you have your ampersand. Why not steal punctuation marks from the haters, too?
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