Incompatible Defense*

Inspired by one of my last ramblings about coming out to my wife about my BDSM kink, slave2Catwoman left a comment in which he wrote:

I applaud your courage to finally talk to your wife. You did it the right way, too. You showed her the aspects that would benefit her, not just the leather and dungeon stuff. In time, she may come to enjoy those things as well.

I am always amazed at the way men will date and actually marry women who are totally sexually incompatible with them. It seems to me to be a horrible folly. Yet countless men fall into this trap.

Yeah, well, the first part had to be done or I was going to have what they used to call “a nervous breakdown.” I was not sleeping, was depressed, and felt physically ill most of the time. We’d had a long period in our marriage in which I could not even discuss vanilla sex, let along anything else. It took a separation and more before we could at least begin to discuss things.

But that’s not the point I wanted to make today. Rather, I wanted to address the second part – the concept that so many of us end up with incompatible partners.

Personally, I think that hardly anyone considers their partner to be “incompatible” when they meet and date for a while. Some people manage to hit it off well right from the start, and can discuss their feelings and interests with regard to sex. Others need to feel more secure in their relationship as a whole; lest we forget, sex is not the entirety of our relationship, that’s why we see so many couples with incompatible sex lives who are still together.

I think that many people believe that the initial excitement of dating will last forever, and so never give much thought to the eventual leveling off of libido. And some for some people, that libido will drop off fairly quickly into the relationship – but often after their partner is satisfied that their level is sufficient enough. If the five-times per week part of the relationship lasts for a few months, the partner with the higher libido will assume that things are going to be fine, and may in fact interpret a once-per-week spell as simply a setback, and not as the natural level. It’s a constant subject of study for psychologists to understand why it seems that the security of marriage or long-term partnering seems to lead to a drop in frequency.

But people with kink leanings have one other obstacle to overcome: if they are embarrassed by or do not understand their own desires, then it will be difficult to bring them up for discussion with a partner. Worse, if they they have attempted discussion and were met with a real or imagined negative reaction from their partner, then it will be even more difficult for them to bring it up the next time.

Unfortunately, Western culture has a schizophrenic attitude about sexuality; we treasure it highly, but find it difficult to discuss because we’re taught that it’s impolite. Often, we lack even the syntax with which to discuss even the basics, let alone anything kinky. How often do you hear adults describe their genitals in terms of “down there” instead of using actual words? How many euphemisms do we have for various sex acts? And how many of those euphemisms are couched in language that is sarcastically humorous or downright degrading? Booty call? Doing the nasty? Parking the sausage bus in tuna town?

Ugh. Have any of us really progressed beyond Junior High School?

So here we have:
a) people who feel embarrassed to discuss their sexuality,
b) people who don’t have the terminology to discuss their sexuality,
c) people who don’t have enough sex drive to even want to discuss their sexuality.

Makes you wonder why we have so many couples who actually do so well at it.

Since I spend a lot of time reading relationship blogs, I run across interesting perspectives on couples who are mis-matched. I found this on Unsolicited Advice, one of the (seemingly) several dozen blogs by Digger Jones. While not specifically targeted for the kink-inclined, this brings up some good points that should not be overlooked.

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Top 10 Ways of Identifying a Low-Libido Partner

Here’s my TOP 10 ways to identify a Low Libido (LL) person…

First off, the odds of landing a LL guy or a guy who will have a substantial low libido problem at some point in your relationship is about 20%, which is way higher than most folks think. This is based on some of the research I’ve read. Sorry I don’t have the citations, but check the Journal of Marital and Family Counseling for starters.

FYI, the odds of landing a similarly LL wife (or one that will turn out LL) for the guys is 60% based on the same research. Give or take 5%.

While predicting who is and who isn’t going to be LL is difficult, I have seen some common themes from being on the low libido board for 5+ years. A Low Libido (LL) person typically:

1. Has no time or inclination towards sexual topics, items or subjects. This could be porn, lingerie, certain T.V. shows, books, pictures, etc. It does nothing for them, or precious little. If this is true for your guy, beware. Double beware if they are turned-off and disgusted by any or all of the above. Porn is controversial, but guys are generally more accepting and responsive.

2. Has no sexual fantasies. This is huge and consistent. Most of us, when we ask our LL spouses what their sexual fantasies are, they report that they don’t really have any. Or have very few or something very tame, like sex in a water bed or something. Not all fantasies have to come true (like three-somes) but sexually healthy people do have fantasies and have them on a regular basis. They don’t have to work on thinking about sex. To a high libido person, thinking and fantasizing are as natural as gravity.

3. Thinking, talking and having sex is a chore. Generally, LL folks lose energy when they have to relate on a sexual level, and they tire of it easily and quickly. HL generally gain energy as the level of sexual tension increases. Sex increases the well-being of people with high sexual thresholds, and not having sex bothers and hurts them on many, many levels.

4. Low libido people are generally easily and quickly satiated. Read an article below concerning LL from a sensory integration framework for more detail. In a nutshell, after having sex, the LL person will be satisfied for a longer period of time. They get irritated in a major way if they just finish having sex (meaning it was just an hour, a day, a week or even a month ago) and their partner tries to initiate again too soon. For HL folks, the more they have, the more they seem to want.

5. The LL person will generally have more boundaries and limitations on sexual practices. There are a slew of us on here who have partners who refuse to have oral sex with us. Some are okay with giving and more are okay with receiving, but it is almost universal that our LL partners will have some aversion to oral sex in some way. Or in any way, as in the case with my DW. The absence of variety and kinkiness may relate to the dearth of a fantasy life for LL people. 69ing is not a regular component of the menu for any of us HL CL folks.

6. Kissing. There are a bunch of us who have partners who refuse to give us open-mouthed or long, deep, passionate kisses. If your fiance isn’t looking for your tonsils (in apparent sexual frustration) I’d be concerned. But that’s just me.

7. Initiating. This is also a sore spot, as most HL people on this board complain that if they don’t initiate, nothing is going to happen. Or they have given up, simply because they have been turned down so often. The LL partner generally initiates on an infrequent basis, if at all.

8. Talking about sex is different. The LL partner generally talks about “giving it up” or “giving the person sex” or “giving in”, and refers to the other partner as the one “getting it” as in “I just gave you some (last month), and I can’t believe you are interested in getting it again!” While the HL person may use similar language, such as “Pleeeze?! Can I pleeeeze have a little somethin’?” They are more likely to refer to it as a shared experience. The HL partner’s fantasy includes being with someone who truly enjoys being with them, finds them sexually exciting, really, really wants to jump their bones and responds with lust, desire and passion. All of these components indicate a more shared experience from the HL standpoint. Our partners frequently view it from the standpoint of enduring it and wanting to get it over with.

9. Sex is not worth the effort. Often there are many obstacles to having sex, including work, schedules, physical stress, children, intramarital tensions and other factors that make sex a goal that seems far away. For the LL person, there is a very finite amount of energy that should be expended towards sex. If there are conflicts or obstacles, sex quickly gets put on the back burner. Circumstances sometimes warrant this, but the HL partner will almost always find ways of overcoming or working around these obstacles. The LL person will allow circumstances control and ultimately crowd out time, energy or thoughts of sex. They are often too tired for sex. The HL is more often too tired of NOT having sex!

10. Hostility towards discussing the topic. Generally, the LL folks regard having to discuss the clashing libido issue as pressure, which leads to #9. They will generally avoid the subject and definitely avoid discussing the problem or deny that there is one at all. Included in this is shifting responsibility back to the other partner. The problem should be a shared concern, not just a matter of fixing one person or the other. Chances are, both partners have contributed and both need to be involved in mending the relationship.

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I don’t have much to add to this, except to say that it’s easy to see how some of these items apply in relationships in which there is a kink imbalance. Particularly appropriate is item No. 5 – if your partner tends to avoid conversations about introducing kink to your relationship, or in fact becomes openly hostile, then that should be a large red flag. I would even suggest that subtle attempts to make you feel ashamed or embarrassed, such as referring to BDSM as “sick” or “perverted”, or affecting scorn at the idea, or referring to the desires as “your problem” are also signs that your partner will likely maintain that attitude when you are long into the “comfort and security” part of your relationship.

* The title of the post refers to a joke in an old “Beverly Hillbillies” episode.
Uncle Jed Clampett was describing why the did not need a sophisticated alarm system back on the farm, and explained to Mr. Drysdale that it was the “Incompatible Defense.” When questioned by the banker, Jed answered “If you come in to pat the bull, then you is going out over dee fence!”

Okay, it was funny when I was eight.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in BDSM, coming out, Communication, intimacy, kink, relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Incompatible Defense*

  1. Pingback: Intimacy Blog Digest - Incompatible Defense*

  2. Digger Jones says:

    Okay, I do have a lot of blogs that each lend itself to differing voices.

    Something I should add to the end of the Top Ten list: #10 is the one thing on the list that makes almost every other item on the list nearly impossible to resolve. How do you have a discussion about something that elicits hostility each and every time it is brought up?

    Thanks for the shout out!

    D.

  3. Tom Allen says:

    D – A lot of blogs is okay. Don’t know how you keep track, but if it’s working for you…
    About having the discussion: I don’t know how that works. A few years ago, I ended up moving out. I got a nice studio apartment on a lake, about 10 or 15 minutes away. I furnished it with Walmart and Target items for about $1,000, and slept on my futon. I have to mention that it was one of the coolest places I’ve ever lived.
    After nine months, she was finally willing to talk. Partly it was the fear and inconvenience of being a single mother, partly it was that I’m really a pretty good guy to have around, and partly because on some level she recognized that things weren’t working the old way.
    It’s been a long and difficult road back, and we’ve still got some issues to work out. Frankly, I made the effort because of my daughter; but then, so did she. I’m not going to recommend this to everyone, though.

  4. This is, without a doubt, one of the BEST blog entries I have run across in a very long time!! I agree, why is it that most people feel “embarrassed” or “uncomfortable” discussing sexuality? Hmmmm….
    Thanks to Angela StLawrence for steering me this way!!

  5. family counseling is of course necessary for the improvment of family relationships _

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