My husband is a wonderful man, but our relationship is much more one of compatibility, comfort, making sense life-wise than some deeply passionate romance. Neither of us has ever had a relationship where we were all that passionately in love with someone — either romantically or physically. Our sex life was never very exciting, but it really took a nosedive when we started trying to have kids two years ago. (It hasn’t happened and probably won’t happen, so we’ve decided to adopt rather than pursue fertility options). I’ve never particularly loved intercourse (with him or previous partners), especially without a condom, and having to do that on a regular basis kind of makes my skin crawl.
Meanwhile, for the first time in my life I’ve been making a conscious effort to live more authentically, pursuing things I actually love, developing friendships that make me feel accepted for myself, and basically just owning who I am instead of constantly trying to follow the script I thought I should follow. For my whole life I’ve considered myself a huge LGBT ally, but now I find myself more and more a part of the LGBT community in my own right, and, honestly, I have never felt more at home or more myself.
What if I’m actually a lesbian, and, instead of simply being a person who doesn’t tend toward intense romantic emotion, what if that’s the reason I’ve never felt really in love with anyone–and what if I really could have that in my life? On the other hand, what if sex with a woman wouldn’t work for me either? If I were single, the obvious answer would be that I would need to date around a bit and see for myself. But I’m married, and I take that very seriously. Plus, even if I’m bi, I’ll almost definitely stay married.
So what do I do? I expect my husband will be supportive of whatever I need (he may not even be totally surprised), but that makes me want to have some clarity on what I’m asking for before I just drop the “I’m pretty sure I’m not straight, I’m probably bi, but I could just flat-out be a lesbian, and, either way, having sex with you just doesn’t feel right for some reason and we need to fix it before it drives an even bigger wedge into our marriage” bombshell. But I don’t know how to get that clarity without ever having even been with a woman, which makes this a huge catch-22. I suppose cheating is potentially an option, but ethically and practically, since I don’t think adding guilt and secrets into the equation will make it any easier for me to figure out), I don’t think that’s a good idea. — Maybe Bi, Possibly a Lesbian
Yes, you do need to get clarity — for yourself, your marriage, your whole future. And it’s not just clarity on what your “label” is. You say in one breath that even if you’re bi, you’ll almost definitely stay married. And then in the next breath, you say you need to know what you are “rather than keep trying, for your entire life, to play a role that doesn’t seem to fit.” Whether you’re bisexual, lesbian, or simply not sexually attracted to your husband, it’s not the label that matters in terms of playing a role that fits, it’s your lifestyle. The lifestyle you have now includes being married to someone with whom you have zero sexual compatibility. Sex with him makes your skin crawl. I’m not sure how you “fix that,” particularly if this is a result of your sexual identity — which I believe it is — and not simply limited to your feelings for this particular man.
The first step to figuring things out is telling you husband exactly what you’re feeling. You don’t have to have complete — or even very much — clarity to tell your husband how you’re feeling. It’s appropriate to say to him what you’re proposing: that you’re pretty sure you aren’t straight, that you might be bi or might be a lesbian, but that, whatever your identity, what you do know for sure is that sex with him doesn’t feel right. I’d leave it at that instead of focusing on “fixing it before it drives a wedge in your marriage.” If sex with your husband makes your skin crawl, then there’s already a wedge in your marriage. And if the reason sex with him makes your skin crawl is because you’re a lesbian — or even simply not sexually attracted to him — then I’m not sure the marriage can be “fixed,” or why you’d want to fix it in the first place.
I hear what you’re saying about your life script and how falling out of love with someone — and, presumably, having terrible sex — isn’t enough reason for you to end a marriage, but I think you’re selling yourself short. What’s so great about a life script that involves a sexless marriage and a lack of intimacy and passion?
Also, what about your husband’s life script and what he wants for himself? Doesn’t he deserve to decide whether or not to stay in a marriage in which his partner feels zero sexual attraction and compatibility with him? And, given that he’s never felt passionately in love with anyone and is also experiencing what sounds like terrible sex, isn’t it worth considering that he might be in the same boat as you? Maybe HE’s unsure about his sexual identity, too. Maybe you both provided for each other a safe hiding place — a way to follow a status quo life script and present to the world an image of yourself you imagined or hoped for but one that is, ultimately, inauthentic. Maybe he, too, is ready to live a more authentic life. Certainly, regardless of what his sexual identity is, living more authentically includes being with someone with whom he can share intimacy and passion. It doesn’t sound like that person is you.
I don’t know what you and your husband will decide to do with your marriage going forward. One possibility is that you both explore your sexualities within the comfort and security of an open marriage, maintaining that safe place you’ve always provided for each other during an exploration period that could potentially feel tumultuous. Or maybe you keep it closed and do your exploration in a therapist’s office together and individually. Or maybe you simply decide to go your own ways, hopefully amicably and with limited hurt feelings. What I do feel certain about is that you should put thoughts of parenthood on hold until you do have more clarity. No more unprotected sex with you husband, because even if you haven’t gotten pregnant yet and even if unprotected sex with him makes your skin crawl, that doesn’t mean 100% that you can’t get knocked up; it just means it hasn’t happened yet. That last thing you need is a pregnancy on top of all of this.
In summary: Talk to your husband, be honest — authentic! — about how you’re feeling despite not having all the clarity you’d like to have. Be honest about your needs at this moment, even if you aren’t sure whether and when certain needs might change. Ask him what his needs are, and discuss together what you are both able to give each other — what needs you can meet and what you might not be able to meet. And discuss what boundaries you both might need or want at this moment, even if those might need to be changed at some point. Keep the dialogue open and honest and make sure to keep checking in with each other as this process of becoming your true self develops.
Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
SasLinna April 21, 2016, 8:38 am
Completely agree with Wendy’s advice! I think it’s absolutely worth exploring your sexual identity. But don’t kid yourself, this absolutely has the potential of ending your marriage, and it won’t just be up to you – your husband might well decide he wants a divorce. You have to be mentally prepared for some pretty big changes if you talk to your husband about your feelings (which you still absolutely should).
SasLinna April 21, 2016, 8:46 am
Also, simple point, but you don’t actually need to have sex with a woman to know sex with your husband doesn’t feel right. You already know this. So what if having women doesn’t do it for you either? You’d still be better off having no sex at all.
LW April 21, 2016, 8:56 am
LW here… I guess I’m still hopeful there is a chance that if I am honest with my husband about who I am (as I figure it out) and work to make my life/our life better fit what I want (instead of just what I thought I “should” want), there is a chance sex with him won’t feel so wrong. It could feel wrong because I’m gay, or because we’re just not sexually compatible. But it could also feel that way because of the gulf I’ve created between us by not being honest with him (even if it’s because i wasn’t honest with myself).
PumpkinSpice April 21, 2016, 8:43 am
A very thoughtful and insightful response Wendy.
LW, listen to what Wendy is saying. She is spot on in her advice to you. You do need to have a serious talk with your husband. No one should just settle because of a “life script” they have made for themselves. What good is it if you cannot be who you are meant to be and if you are not happy? And the same goes for your husband. You need to be happy to have a fulfilling life. Don’t go with the “status quo ” just because you think it’s what everyone expects. Do what is going to make you happy and feel fulfilled.
LW April 21, 2016, 9:24 am
Thanks, Wendy. You’re right, and I’ve thought a lot of the things you said as I have started to try towrap my head around all this. It was hard to distill the whirlwind in my head down into a coherent and concise email- and I didn’t necessarily do the best job!
I do want to see if our marriage can be saved- especially because it’s not like anything has really changed. I knew going in that what we had wasn’t of the passionate, head-over-heels variety. So if I made the promise to him, to God, to our families, etc that I wanted to have this marriage knowing that, I want to do everything I can to follow through.
That said, you are absolutely right that I need to be honest with my husband, and that it’s not just my desires that matter here. I strongly suspect he’ll follow my lead, but I could be wrong- and I’m prepared to deal with whatever that means. I want him to be happy almost as much as I want to be happy (I feel like that sounds selfish, but I hope it makes sense). I just think he’s more adaptable than I am. I know he probably senses that I’ve been keeping him at a distance and that he wants that to go away, but I also think he’s likely to want to make it work as long as I want to make it work- especially if the parts of the script that matter to him (kids, partnership, financial security, stability) are things that I want to.
I do want those things- I just want more than that too. So it’s a matter of figuring out whether we want those things together, or separately. But you’re right- even if I’m likely to have to make the final call, I need to figure that out in concert with him.
SasLinna April 21, 2016, 9:56 am
IMO, the marriage is for you and your husband. It doesn’t have any value above and beyond that. If it doesn’t meet either of your needs anymore, you shouldn’t feel like you have to keep that promise just for the sake of the promise. Staying in the marriage because you promised to do that would be in line with the letter, but not with the spirit of marriage.
Of course a marriage based on friendship, shared interests and stability can be fine if that’s what both parties want. Just be sure that you’re aware of the compromises you’re making. You have a lot of life to live ahead of you, and circumstances can change rather quickly (for example, you or your husband could meet someone you’re really into – what then?).
Honestly, it sounds to me like you’ve really bought into a conventional lifestyle and are slowly opening your eyes to what else might be out there. It’s not wrong to want to follow a life script and to value stability, but you can’t be carried through life by the force of being married alone, especially if that marriage has issues. And you don’t have to because a lot of other options are available to you.
SlowlyBecoming April 21, 2016, 11:31 am
Wendy’s advice is great, as always!
LW – I know those feels you wrote about in your original letter, slightly different circumstances, but the questioning of your sexuality after being in a long term relationship with a man is something that many women experience. What was helpful to me was knowing that I was not alone in working through all this – a great book is _Dear John, I love Jane_ (http://sealpress.com/books/dear-john-i-love-jane/) which is an edited anthology of women telling their stories of working through this very thing – some leave their husbands, some never got married but were in relationships with men, and some of the writers have remained married to their husbands. Just knowing that it’s not only you might be a helpful thing – it was for me.
Also, it might be worth expanding the ‘not alone’ thing into online communities of bi/lesbian/queer women – autostraddle is a great starting point, as is everyoneisgay, where you will find stories like yours, and/or women who have heard stories like yours – which can be helpful particularly with navigating the issue of what the physical act of sex means to you, whether with your husband or with (potentially) a woman.
Just know that you are not alone, <3
Northern Star April 21, 2016, 9:32 am
I feel very sad for your husband. Touching him repulses you, and you don’t even want him around for platonic outings. Why would you want to stay married to him, really?
LW April 21, 2016, 9:41 am
I love him- and I honestly do like him too. I’d want him around for platonic outings if I didn’t feel like I was having to keep up a front. Which is why I wonder if being honest might help things between us. Because you’re right- the way things are now isn’t fair to him.
Juliecatharine April 21, 2016, 10:53 am
LW, being yourself in a marriage is essential. If you constantly feel the need to put up a front around your husband that has to stop. Show and tell your husband who you are/who you are becoming. Marriage shouldn’t be just for show-it isn’t just a box to check on life’s journey-it should be a true partnership.
Anonymousse April 21, 2016, 9:53 am
At the end of my last relationship, my partner made my skin crawl. That was after we’d broken up and gotten back together numerous times. I was even sleeping in a seperate bedroom from him. It was over. The skin crawling reaction made me realize we couldn’t fix it. He was very attractive, but I was not attracted to him anymore.
I thank the universe all the time that we broke up for good, when we did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been single, struggling, learning to be happy and available when my husband came into my life.
LW, your sexuality may or may not have anything to do with this, or maybe it’s everything, I don’t know. I do think being married to someone you aren’t attracted to, don’t feel passionate love for, and don’t even think to invite him out (except as an afterthought) probably means you need to try something new. Like a seperation.
call-me-hobo April 21, 2016, 10:10 am
Is it possible the LW could be asexual? Many asexual people experience attraction, but feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Instead they feel a desire to get to know someone, to get close to them in whatever way works best for them. Asexual people who experience attraction will often be attracted to a particular gender, and will identify as lesbian, gay, bi, or straight. People who experience no desire for a passionate romantic relationship identify as Aromantic.
Sue Jones April 21, 2016, 10:12 am
I happen to know quite a few lesbian women still married to men and gay men still married to women. I am not so sure of the details of how they manage their sex lives but I would imagine that their relationships are more of the companionate variety and they stay because they like the lives they have created with each other. They often have children together and want to see that through, but I also know of a few who stay even after the kids are grown. Because they are best friends. I am sure that Dan Savage would have a lot to say on this subject, too!
RedroverRedrover April 21, 2016, 11:37 am
Yeah, I’ve seen this too. It does depend what you want out of life. If you’re happy with a “companionship” marriage, and your husband is too, then go right ahead. You won’t be the first. That’s what a lot of arranged marriages end up being too, and many of them are perfectly happy.
Just be sure that that’s what you want. Because after a few kids and ten more years together, it’ll be a lot harder to change your mind. And work out the sex stuff – are you both going to be celibate? Or are you going to open the marriage?
LW April 21, 2016, 2:49 pm
Haha, I did write to Dan Savage too- but since I tend to love both his and Wendy’s advice, I figured both might have interesting perspectives.
Given that we don’t have kids yet, I don’t think staying in a purely companionate marriage makes sense- but I’m also not convinced we can’t fix what’s going on in our sex life assuming I’m into men at all. It’s certainly worth a shot.
for_cutie April 21, 2016, 10:28 am
I think the LW needs to consider the consequences of bringing this up to her husband in the manner suggested. “I don’t like sex with you” is a tough pill to swallow, and he would be well within his rights to walk away from the marriage. Much of this dialogue has been couched in terms of what the LW needs and feels, but a separation or divorce does not necessarily require the two parties to agree to the dissolution.
I’ll assume you didn’t always feel this repulsion, otherwise you would not have gotten married to him, right? If so, I think couples counseling and exploring your sexuality together may be a nice starter. However, if you were already feeling repulsed sexually and got married out of convenience, then you should probably do the most humane thing and end the relationship.
LW April 21, 2016, 10:55 am
It’s not always been like this- but our sex life has never been great. I just never thought it was all that important compared to all the bigger things in life.
A big part of what’s changed, I think, is the role alcohol has played in our lives. We both used to be big drinkers, and have cut WAY back. When we were drinking a lot, it was easier to ignore the way I felt, and easier to blame “sloppy drunk sex” for any issues.
T April 21, 2016, 12:33 pm
Totally agree! I think the suggested script is way off for the first time bringing this up. “I might be a lesbian and sex with you repulses me” would come as a huge sudden shock, and would probably be pressing the eject button and trigger divorce. Can you start opening up more gently? Especially since you’re not necessarily done with the marriage. Make it about you, that you need to explore yourself and have experienced some confusion. The best scenario in my mind would be getting your husband’s permission to try sleeping with another woman. Or what about a threesome? (These scenarios might take some time and multiple gentle conversations.)
I think you need to explore to figure out what you want. It’s possible you simply don’t really enjoy vaginal intercourse (do you enjoy other things?), or are maybe on the spectrum toward asexual. It’s possible you’ve just never met a partner that really did it for you, and of course it’s possible that you’re more attracted to women (were you ever really attracted to your husband?).
If the hubby doesn’t go for opening up the marriage, start by watching all different types of porn. Porn that includes a focus on women’s bodies, men’s bodies, activities other than intercourse. I think that could give you a good insight into what will turn you on. And if you do go see a therapist, ask questions first on the phone to determine whether she is sex positive and open-minded (ask how she feels about same-sex relationships, open marriages, etc.) – someone shaming you will only add to the confusion.
Another Jen April 21, 2016, 10:34 am
Just want to add my $.02…I feel like you may be afraid to through away something that’s pretty good for the chance of something really incredible. That’s valid. I mean, what if you decide to explore your sexual and personal needs and it ends your marriage? And, then, what if you don’t end up meeting another man or woman you want to build a life with? That’s one way of looking at it.
Here’s another: Can you build an amazing, authentic life that potentially doesn’t include a traditional marriage and family? Could you, with our without your husband, envision a script that’s completely different than what you’ve envisioned up until now?
If you love, admire, and respect your husband, but don’t feel sexually attracted to him, perhaps you should adjust your relationship. Perhaps you could be best friends and co-parents without the added (inauthentic) layer of being a conventional husband and wife. It’s not traditional, but these days people are building all kinds of families that don’t like sitcom TV families. It would require honesty and courage. It would require a commitment to a different kind of loving, permanent relationship. It might not work…there’s no telling. But I don’t think a passionless marriage where you have no sexual intimacy and cringe at the idea of sex is actually “working” either.
Both you and your husband deserve the chance to be passionately attracted to someone and to be desired in return. And, you deserve to build a family on a foundation of honesty…together or separately.
Good luck! jt
LW April 21, 2016, 11:35 am
I absolutely agree that a permanent relationship without any spark isn’t a tenable plan. It’s selling both of us short. I guess what I want to explore is whether the fact that I’ve been holding myself and denying a big part of my identity (or downplaying it, at least) is a big part of what’s lacking in our sex life. I guess I just think we just need (assuming he’s amenable, obviously) to explore what might make it work, before assuming it won’t. It’s a marriage, not a dating relationship.
I want to be passionately in love, and I realise there’s a good chance my husband does too- and he certainly deserves that if that’s what he wants. I don’t necessarily think he feels it with me, but maybe he does, and his way of showing it reads more companionate than passionate to me. I just think that the first step, as long as he’s on board, is to see if we can be passionately in love with one another. I think at the very least, that’s going to require some changes in lifestyle. Maybe opening up the relationship, or maybe just figuring out my identity and embracing that, rather than charging forward with the 2.5 kids, big house in the suburbs thing will be enough. Then we’d be loving one another for who we are, instead of just coexisting with the people we think the other wants. It’s at least worth a shot if he’s on board
Skyblossom April 22, 2016, 7:11 am
If I was your husband I would have trouble seeing how opening up the marriage would make the two of you fall passionately in love. It seems a huge jump to say if I can just have sex with other people I hope to fall passionately in love with you. I don’t see how that would work.
memboard April 22, 2016, 8:41 am
By proving to myself that that grass isn’t greener on the other side?
Skyblossom April 22, 2016, 9:24 am
That sounds like a request to explore leaving the marriage before leaving the marriage. An I just want to shop around and see if I can do better than you before leaving you. If there was going to be passion between the two of you it would be there and I personally think no amount of sex with other people will make you be passionate with each other. You know your marriage and you know whether you can find long term happiness in that marriage. If you need passion for long term happiness then you know that you need to move on from your marriage. It seems cruel to leave your husband in a holding pattern while you go out exploring for your own self. You know him well enough to make a decision without keeping him on hold while you find a replacement. It is like any other person who is unhappy in a relationship and they break up before moving on and exploring life with other people. There is no guarantee that you will do better and no guarantee that you won’t.
LW April 22, 2016, 10:13 am
I mostly agree with you- I just think there’s a possibility that a major factor in the lack of passion is the fact that I’ve been so busy denying what I want and who I am (both in terms of sex and life generally), that I’ve left no room for passion. So I think it’s worth exploring if being more true to myself- letting him really know me and maybe love me, and not spending so much mental and emotional energy trying to navigate by finding and following the “right” path- might let us find passion together, before looking for it with other people.
Part of that being more authentic probably involves being clear about my sexual identity- and that could potentially involve seeing if my thusfar purely hypothetical attraction to women would actually play out in real life. But I feel like that conversation is really getting ahead of myself. The first step is talking to my husband. And the second step is probably getting a therapist, lol.
bagge72 April 21, 2016, 10:38 am
All very good advice here, but I’m wondering why you never sought fertility advice, because if there is something going on with your hormones that could have to do with how you feel with your husband too. Just throwing that out there, because this can happen, unless you have always felt this way.
LW April 21, 2016, 11:40 am
Honestly, I think a big part of why I never sought fertility treatment is the same reason I’m dragging my feet on adoption- I don’t feel like our marriage is ready to bring a child into it. Since I knew I would be unlikely to get pregnant, “trying” wasn’t a huge risk. It sucks, because if I were single I’d probably have already figured out a way to have a kid by now. I’m ready to be a mom, and he’d be a fantastic dad… but I know that doing it now isn’t right.
That said, my hormones have always been messed up, so that’s a valid possibility.
Diablo April 21, 2016, 10:45 am
Wow! What a situation. I’m not judging you because I’ve never had a crisis of identity like this, but I do know that if i found out my wife was just “going along” with sex but was actually repulsed by it, that would be a very big problem. By “consenting” without giving real enthusiastic consent, you are putting your husband in a very ugly quasi-rapist role. That is how I would feel if I found this out. Ugh, I was all over you and you were hating it? I don’t want that! Please be gently honest with him, and don’t have any more contact with him that you don’t actually want. As hurtful as this is likely to be, the front is worse. Again, i don’t blame you, these things happen to people, and I don’t claim to grasp it because my orientation has never wavered, but now that you know, if you love him as you say, you have to be a good friend and hurt him, but as gently and as little as you can manage.
mylaray April 21, 2016, 10:51 am
You do need to be honest with your husband, but regardless of your sexuality, I don’t see how this marriage could work longterm when you have little or no sexual compatibility. Six years together is a long time, but it’s also a drop in the bucket when you could be in a more authentic relationship. Unless you’re asexual, I don’t see how the relationship you’re in truly works for you. At the same time, I think you need to figure out your sexuality more on your own first. The person you’re really not being honest with is yourself.
I don’t know if this helps…I’m bi and had boyfriends and girlfriends at a young age, and I never enjoyed sex with men or felt sexual attraction for years. I was so convinced I was lesbian, but in my situation, I would date men who were too safe for me as a result. Because I was repressing my sexuality. While I do think labels are important for self-identification, I think it’s often best to throw out the pressure of all labels and explore your feelings and desires, whatever they may be.
Diablo April 21, 2016, 11:11 am
mylaray, you make a really good point about six years being a drop in the bucket compared to the chance of being in a more authentic relationship. The other side of the coin is that six years can be a drop in the bucket in a marriage, too. I can’t imagine staying with someone for a lifetime if that spark wasn’t there. It’s popular to say that the honeymoon ends, the spark fizzles, etc. but i could not have stayed with my missus for 27 years (so far) if this aspect of our relationship was broken. Barring a couple of surgeries and whatnot, we have never ceased enthusiastic coupling for more than a few days at a stretch. Both the LW and her husband (and all of us) deserve that genuine connection, regardless of orientation.
dinoceros April 21, 2016, 11:05 am
I know that you feel like you’re doing things to be nice to your husband, but this isn’t a decision you get to make unilaterally. He should get to decide if he wants to be with someone who doesn’t enjoy sex with him.
You also might look into asexuality. When you mention crushes on women, you don’t really note if you feel sexually attracted to them. But since you seem pretty unsure if you like sex at all, it might be something to read about a little and see if it applies to you.
LW April 21, 2016, 11:24 am
I definitely don’t think I’m asexual. While I’ve had several relationships in my life where sex was pretty infrequent and/or lackluster, I’m definitely one who needs to get off (sorry to be crude) at least every couple days. And honestly, I like parts of sex. I even like performing certain sex acts on men (even with my husband- that’s one thing that doesn’t really bother me. But I’m also not supposed to be particularly turned on in the moment, if that makes sense). I don’t know. Clearly I need to figure some things out!
jlyfsh April 21, 2016, 11:56 am
What does not supposed to be turned on in the moment mean? Do you think other people aren’t turned on? Is that what you’ve been led to believe based on talking to real people? I’m not sure doesn’t really bother me and I enjoy it mean the same thing. It would be sad to go through life and not be bothered by doing something in bed and not being turned on by what you’re doing! Assuming you’re talking about blow jobs, I for one find them to be exciting and turn me on. If you really don’t enjoy penises though I can see that being a problem! I hope you’re able to figure things out for yourself and your marriage. Not having a fulfilling sex life for your entire life would be a sad prospect! (At least for me!)
LW April 21, 2016, 12:08 pm
Yeah, sorry, I didn’t want to get super graphic since that tends not to be the vibe (ha) here… but yes, I’m talking about blow jobs. I am genuinely turned on by giving blow jobs for some reason, which to me means I’m unlikely to just be gay. But other sex acts, especially intercourse, not really. Sometimes it’s ok, but it’s generally underwhelming (and not just with my husband- previous partners too).
At the moment, the idea of being with a woman is hugely exciting- in a “holy crap, how could I have not acknowledged that I really want this instead of just thinking girls are occasionally pretty” kind of way. But there’s always a chance I was right all along, and the problem is more with my current marriage than the gender of my partner generally.
dinoceros April 21, 2016, 5:49 pm
OK. I’m not saying this because I think you’re wrong about what you want, but because people don’t really understand asexuality. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to get off necessarily. Just that a person doesn’t feel attraction. I brought it up because you didn’t mention attraction beyond “crushes,” which range from pretty innocent to actually wanting to have sex with someone. Anyway, PSA is over.
saneinca April 21, 2016, 1:13 pm
LW, I think your problem has 3 aspects:
1) You may not like having sex with anyone (asexual?)
2) You may not like sex with a guy (lesbian ?)
3) You may not like sex with your husband (incompatibility ?)
If you want to fix the issue in your marriage, try talking to a doctor/therapist and find a solution.
If you don’t like your marriage, by all means divorce your husband and go exploring.
I feel what you are want is a free card from your husband, to explore. ( It sounds so similar to a recent guy’s posting about monogamy in this site) So that later on you may stay in marriage or leave it.
And I don’t believe labeling yourself differently or being honest with your husband is going to fix your marriage. (I mean if you call your husband Brad Pitt, will it really change your sex life ?)
Anon April 21, 2016, 1:49 pm
You’ve mentioned that cutting back on drinking has led to (1) realizing you’re not enjoying sex with your husband (you hadn’t really been clear-headed enough before to notice fully) and now (2) “the idea of being with a woman is hugely exciting- in a “holy crap, how could I have not acknowledged that I really want this instead of just thinking girls are occasionally pretty” kind of way. ” FWIW, I can lose attraction for a man when the relationship isn’t working, and I’ve loved some female friends, but I’ve never felt the slightest urge to kiss a woman, much less take one to bed, and I’ve never felt a crush on a girl/woman. For most women, a marriage falling apart doesn’t translate into feeling excited about being with a woman. It doesn’t sound like “the problem is more with my current marriage.”
LW April 22, 2016, 9:55 am
I just want to circle back and thank you all for your kind, compassionate and insightful responses. I keep vascillating between feeling selfish, dramatic, cruel, or stupid… for the decisions I’ve made that got me here, for wanting more from marriage than we currently have, and for the pain that what I’m dealing with will cause my husband, no matter how this shakes out. I was really scared that many replies would be pointing out those things- so thank you for being kinder to me than I’ve been to myself :).
I don’t know a lot yet- but I do know that I’m not happy, and that the way things are now isn’t right. I may not know why or how to fix it yet (and “fixing” the situation could potentially mean ending it), but I’m at least feeling certain that it’s important enough to fix, for both of us. As silly and obvious as that probably sounds from the outside, that’s a really big deal.
Anonymous April 23, 2016, 3:28 am
I agree with your last words: it wouldn’t be a good idea to cheat and add to the confusion. Personally, I wouldn’t make any drastic decision with damagable consequences in this state of mind. I wouldn’t even talk to your husband about your sexual orientation as you sound so unsure yourself about it. You are in a personal crisis, and it is easy and common, in such cases, to report the problem on the closest people, on the romantic relationship. All your questioning seems very theorical. What is certain is: you are in a long term relationship, you love your hubby, but you got very bored, if not repulsed, by your marital sex. So try first to spice it, to add passion to it. Speak about this carnal (and perhaps also relational) aspect of your marriage to your husband. You can evoke your lesbian fantasies, ask about his, and have better sex with him while daydreaming. By the way, who doesn’t have gay fantasies? Start first to improve your sex life, before jumping to explore your sexuality with other people. And add passion to your own life and self: you seem in a void of perspective and goals, lacking something without knowing what.
Then, after having preserved what you have built and chosen, and tried to amend it, you will be able to take a step back and reassess your marriage with more clarity. And you will be able to make a lucid, conscious choice, instead of making decisions in a cloud of question marks.
Anon April 19, 2022, 3:24 am
Hiyya, I know I’m about six years late to the conversation, but if anyone is looking… well. I hope my experience can help.
I’m a biromantic asexual, and I think we might have somewhat similar experiences. I’ve always had crushes on girls, but I didn’t realize I might be bi until I was in highschool. Sex didn’t interest me, and I didn’t understand what people meant by feeling sexually attracted to someone, but I figured maybe I was just late to the party (Despite having started puberty at 11…). Well, I’m through college, and while sex certainly interests me, I don’t enjoy it. With anyone, man or woman. Like you said, it makes my skin crawl. My first semester in college I slept with three different guys. Most experiences were abysmal, to say the least, but even the ones that SHOULD have been enjoyable… they weren’t. I felt gross and wrong and out of my body; years of progress on body image and confidence went down the drain. I feel like I should clarify, I slept with three different guys, multiple times each, fully aware and consenting. If I was drinking with them, it was because I knew the booze was going to get me horny, and that was ok. Additionally, no. I have absolutely NO religious background that would cause a shame reaction to this. I wasn’t raped in absolutely any context of the word, and what I was feeling wasn’t guilt or shame, and yet describing how I felt afterwards still FELT like a trauma response. I knew I was demi-ace, and I knew I wasn’t attracted to the guys I was sleeping with, but I’d had sex just to enjoy sex, surely that was something I could do, right? The guys were cute enough, I’d WANTED to go out with them and be romantic with them! Hell, I was even firmly on my way to falling for one of them despite the shit sex.
Well, shit happened and I stopped dating for a year after that. I bought a dildo for the first time, and felt disgusted the first time I held it. I’d always known I’d hated watching porn (though reading well-written [sue me] fanfiction can be very enjoyable) but I never thought I’d have that kind of reaction to a toy. Over the course of that year, I did some serious, SERIOUS thinking and analyzing, jumping between labels (as I really had been since I was fourteen), wondering if I was actually just a lesbian practicing compulsory heterosexuality, if my reluctance to maybe being a lesbian was internalized homophobia, or an actual acknowledgment of my romantic attraction to men (Which is VERY different from sexual attraction, in the same way that Aesthetic attraction is different from sexual attraction, and I encourage you look all of these up. Reading through them can be enlightening). What I finally realized, as much as I didn’t want it to be true, was that on top of being on the asexual spectrum, I’m also sex replused.
And trust me when I say I /didn’t/ (and sometimes /don’t/) want to be sex-repulsed. I have a drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend now that I’d take a bullet for, and I have to be stoned out of my mind to want her to touch me. Sex seems like something enjoyable, something that’s fun with a talented partner and deeply intimate with someone that you love. and I /want/ to experience that. But letting other people touch me still makes my skin crawl. I am still not attracted to people, and I’m still somewhat uncomfortable with other people’s bodies, and there’s really nothing I can do about that.
But, like I said, I’m currently with an amazing girl I love with all my heart, and we make it work. I absolutely loathe being touched anywhere that is normally covered with underwear, but I am more than ok with touching her to make HER feel good. TMI, but it’s also definitely helpful that I tend to be a bit of a top in the bedroom, more content to focus on her than myself, and dealing with myself later, privately. and Less TMI, like I said. I’m absolutely in love with her. She is once of two people I have EVER felt sexual attraction for (It’s not consistent, and tends to be linked with adrenaline and/or her being hypercompetant at a lot of our shared interests which… is a kink rather than plain attraction), and I’m completely comfortable with just Being when I’m with her. Being nude, being authentic, Being Me and With Her and In Love. She accepts me for exactly who I am and she /accepts/ that my loving her has absolutely nothing to do with sexual attraction. Sex is still only something we do occasionally, but it’s not a chore when we do, and so long as I don’t push myself to it when I don’t want to, or when I’m anxious, that lingering, crawly-Gross feeling doesn’t come back.
Everyone’s story is different, you might be biromantic, you might not be. You might be asexual, you might not be. But I’d highly recommend doing some reading and some self-reflection on your past and current relationships, and on your own emotions regarding all of this. Not wanting to cheat is admirable, and so my next step of advice would be to find a kink that Always gets you going, then go find it in porn, and don’t stop being highly scrutinizing in your watches until you find something good. Then stop, and look at their bodies, not just the action. Sure, you can likely appreciate if they’re good-looking, but can you imagine sleeping with them? Is the thought of it appealing? If so, then ff someone who looked like that propositioned you in a bar or concert or anywhere, would the concept be exciting? Would you be EAGER to say yes? or are you instead disgusted at the thought of sleeping with them? Try and determine if it’s the kink, the people, or both that is turning you on. If the only thing that deters your fantasy of hooking up with someone looking like that is the idea of a hookup, then change the scenario. Imagine you’ve been dating for months, conjure up every good, mushy feeling of love that you think you’d feel towards a partner you were in love with, and apply it to this person. Can you imagine sleeping with them now? If so, you might be somewhere on the Ace spectrum, if not, you’re still probably ace, but you might also be sex repulsed.
This isn’t a catch-all, but I do think it’s a good place to start.
lastly… Communication is absolutely EVERYTHING in a relationship. Telling your husband what you’re feeling is something I’d heavily encourage. Even if you don’t know exactly what your sexuality or romantic identity is, that’s /Okay/. You don’t HAVE to know, it takes people /years/ to figure this kind of thing out, and really? You don’t HAVE to know yourself, either. Do I know what most my microlabels are? Yes. Did I also give up at a certain point, accept the ones I had, and Just slap QUEER onto everything else? Also Yes. Sexuality is strange and fluid and unique to everyone; so long as you’re communicating with your partner or partners, and doing your best to be true to yourself, and most importantly, /Happy/, then you’re golden.
I hope this is helpful to someone out there