Saturday, 19 April 2008

Something For The Ladies #8

It's, Saturday, so time for another poke of the lady-problem fireplace. The rules;

Ladies: If there's ever been anything about men you've wanted to know but were afraid to ask, or wanted a male viewpoint on a certain relationship niggle you're going through, drop an email to us at todger dot talk at googlemail dot com. Every week, we shall pick one out and answer it to the best of our capabilities.

Gentlemen: We would very much appreciate your input, so the comments section of each Something For The Ladies post will be yours and yours alone for 24 hours. In other words, all female comments will be deleted. Sorry ladies, but in this case we'd be very grateful if you'd hush those sweet keystrokes and let the chaps have their say. Just for today, though.

This week's question...

A Non-knee Mouse writes: What do you do with a man with a low sex drive? When we first got together my man and I were at it like rabbits in all kind of saucy ways. I have always had a very strong sex drive and I was delighted to find someone who could keep up with me. It made me feel sexy and beautiful, and boosted my (normally not that good) self-image. But within six months his sex drive had dropped to next to nothing, and now we have lived together for a year we are down to one halfhearted coupling every fortnight, if I'm lucky.

He says it's nothing to do with me, he still loves me and is attracted to me, and that this is just because of his depression, but I feel rejected, emotionally and physically frustrated, and ugly. I have begun to repress my own sexuality because I don't want to risk more rejection, or be a burden, which is just making me feel worse. In the meantime, he says he is working on it, though I don't see any evidence of this. He flatly refuses any proactive suggestions from me, such as scheduling sex or the 30-Day Sex Challenge as suggested by the Sex is Fun podcast. He won't work with me at all, and I am at my wits' end.

It's become a touchy subject, and it's getting so bad that I daren't even speak to him about it, and he no longer features in my fantasies, not because I don't fancy him but because I can no longer visualise him seeing me in a sexual light. I am terrified that if I get the opportunity, I might cheat on this man who I love more than anything, just to get some validation. What can I do to stop the rot and bring back the hot?

Sam says: Depression is a really tricky issue. I’m not sure if he is, but if he is on medication one of the very common side effects is a massive loss of sex drive. And people with depression also can have less energy and a lowered desire for sex.

I know that you are feeling rejected, but what if he had a car accident, and because of his broken bones couldn’t have sex? Would you feel so rejected? The trouble with depression is that you can’t see the injury, but it has an effect which is just as profound as a physical illness.

You can trying hitting the sex issue through an indirect approach – one way to help depression, and boost your sex drive is exercise. How much exercise does your man do? Regular aerobic exercise will give him a natural boost of endorphins and make him friskier. (Many studies have shown that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression). What about going along to the gym together each day? There is nothing like just finishing a workout together and going home all hot and sweaty to make you feel like a roll in the hay.

Also is he getting any sort of professional support, has he talked to his GP about his depression? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is now available on the NHS. You might like to also get in touch with Rethink, who have a great advice line.

'Mr Sex' says: I think the reasons for this might be a bit more prosaic. Fact is, the male sex drive almost always seems to take a dip when the honeymoon period is over, and even more so when you start living together. There's three main reasons for this; the first one is outright complacency. By finding someone to split the rent/mortgage, men may feel the battle is won and their partners are going nowhere (putting on weight and generally letting themselves go is another symptom).

The second reason is self-doubt; contrary to all the evidence, and despite all the 20 foot-high signs you're waving about, a lot of men still have a tiny node lodged in their brains that say 'women don't really like sex all that much'. More importantly, and contrary to everything you've read, heard, seen and felt, men are totally capable of being in love with someone without sex coming into play. Not only that, but if your partner is constantly after a portion, men don't always automatically think; "Cor, this woman really fancies me". In some cases, they think; "Christ, is this all she wants from me? If I don't give it to her, will she go elsewhere?"

The third reason - and probably the most likely one of all - is that after sacrificing six months of his life on you in a non-stop tup-fest, he's trying to re-balance his life. Compared to women, men who fall in love are absolutely rubbish at prioritising things - mates, hobbies, extracurricular work and everything get junked over the side when you fall for someone. And at some point, you have to take your life back, or else you cease to become the person who their partners were attracted to in the first place.

You'll note, hopefully, that none of these reasons have anything to do with the way you look, your attractiveness, or how sexy you are, because before you do anything else, you have to put this bullshit notion that sex = validation out of your mind, because that way lies danger. Trisha and Maury are full of people who believe that their lives can only be validated by rubbing their genitals against someone else's.

Secondly, you have to be a lot more subtle with your plans for more sex. No disrespect to this other podcast, but the words '30-Day Sex Challenge' had me covering my groin with terror, so God knows what he must be thinking in his current state. Although you have the best possible intentions, he's probably interpreting your ideas as "Oi - if you don't sort this out, I'm going elsewhere". If you're going to schedule sex, make sure you're giving each other the right impetus; go back to the scenes of previous sauciness would be a start. More importantly, give the pair of you time off from each other before meeting up again, because if you're living together, it's easy to fall into a rut, and giving each other a chance to miss their partner can be a huge stimulus.

Most importantly, please bear in mind that your malaise is far more common than you think, and almost always to do with factors that have nothing to do with sex. Practically every relationship takes a hit when it comes to the cohabitation stage, especially if you haven't been an item for that long, and the problems of the real world descend upon the dollhouse. And if you are going to have sex with someone else, make sure you split up with him first, for both your sakes.

Readers of Todger Talk - advice, please...


cornishgiant said...

Y9ou say he is depressed? Is he on anti-depressants? If so, there is the problem. Even if not, it mught still be the problem.

Anti-depressants work that well at reducing sex drive, they are even prescribed for premature ejaculation.
Just a thought, anyhow.

Tash said...

"I am terrified that if I get the opportunity, I might cheat on this man who I love more than anything, just to get some validation."

Her partner is ill and this is what she comes up with? Nice.
Is is soo lucky to have you....

A Non-knee Mouse said...

@Cornishgiant - No, he's not taking any medication. He has tried it in the past and found the side effects unbearable. Apparently, they actually made him worse. He also has a genuine phobia of doctors and medical treatment, which isn't helping him at all, as he refuses flat-out to seek help for his condition. However, he does try to help himself to a certain extent, and is looking into various self-development possibilities. Thanks for your reply, it was thoughtful.

@Tash - well, that was hurtful. Actually, yes, he is very lucky to have me. I adore him. He adores me. We moved heaven and earth to be together and we would do it all over again, and again. You know nothing about me, my boyfriend, or our relationship that you didn't read in the couple of hundred words that I wrote, and I'll thank you not to cast aspersions on any of the above. I suffered from clinical depression myself for 25 years, I can at least empathise with what he's going through, though it expressed itself differently for me. I still suffer the effects, clearly, of having had low self-esteem for a very long time, and I very much miss having someone around who openly expresses attraction to me. I am not going to cheat on him. As I mentioned, I am terrified that the idea, urged on by my own need for validation, would even enter my mind. Can't you see that I am angry with myself, not with him?

@Sam - thanks for your thoughts. He has tried exercising, but it didn't seem to have much effect, to be honest. However he has just been offered a new job in the area he wants to work in, and seems to have perked up already at the prospect of feeling more valued at work.

@MrSex - I think there may be a tiny amount of Madonna/whore synrome going on. He once said something to the effect of "If I respect someone I find it a lot harder to treat them as my fucktoy." It's a shame, really. Also, he has rearranged his life a lot since moving to be with me, and I think that's partially what's brought on his low ebb - he took a drop in wage, job, left his home town, etc. I'll try to ease off on him, though. Things will pick up once he's feeling better, I know. And like I said above, I'm not going to cheat on him. I love him.

Maroc said...

A non-knee Mouse,
There may be a clue in your last comment. Both my wife and myself have gone through phases where we have "downgraded" careers to accommodate changes in circumstances. Although it has always been easy to rationalise the loss of status, the reality has allways been a huge loss of self-esteem and self worth.
If your relationship is strong you will work through it, but I would recommend he seek a good professional counsellor (your GP should have a list of BACP registered counsellors). I know men often struggle with the concept (I certainly did) as a result of the macho cultural crap that goes with being a "man", but I can tell you that a good counsellor can do wonders, simply by listening and reflecting someones thoughts back to them. Its also worth noting that counsellors are completely confidential, and that the benefit gained tends to be in direct proportion to the honesty with which you approach the sessions. If you can persuade your man to go into a few exploratory sessions with an open mind and see where it takes him, hopefully things will start to fall back into place.
Good luck

badgerdaddy said...

Non-Knee - some doctors are prescribing exercise (specifically running) to people with depression. It means less medication goes out, which is usually a good thing. But also, it really works, and better than any other form of exercise in my experience. So if you can, get him down the running shop, get him fitted for the right shoes (verrrrry important, that), and hit the road. It's really hard at first, but the benefits are incredible. It's also lovely to do together - me and my wife run together reasonably frequently, and in fact completed the Las Vegas Half Marathon the same day we got married!

blueskies2day said...

Could it be that the pressure to have sex is distracting from the actual desire to do so? It might be good to do something which takes the pressure off both of you, for instance:
- discuss the possibility of having a non-sex month where you're not allowed to have sex, but you can do everything else. There will be less pressure on both of you, which might be just what you need.
- begin a daily ritual which brings you both closer, but doesn't involve having sex, such as when you get home from work, have 10 minutes naked in bed together, just hugging and kissing.

I think it's very important to try and make sure that sex doesn't define your self image. You need to love yourself despite what other people think of you, not because of it. Basing your entire self image and your confidence on another person's treatment of you is not only a risk, but it puts a lot of pressure on your partner and your relationship.

I hope that helps.

blueskies2day said...

It may be a good idea for your partner to try herbal remedies for depression. They can often work, you don't have to see a doctor, and there are few (if any side effects).
St John's Wort works for me, you can get it from Holland and Barret and places like that. They can take a few months to start working, and you have to experiment with the dosage until you find an amount which suits you. Feel free to contact me through my blog if you would like any more information - I would like to help.