Assumptions on safe sex

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Safe sex is a phrase that is commonplace these days and something that most people who have sex, or are thinking of having sex, or wishing they were having sex know the meaning of and understand. Or perhaps not. Or maybe they think it’s not that important and  contracting an STI is something that only happens to other people. I don’t want to play Russian roulette with my health, so I would never consider having sex with a new partner without using condoms. Especially in the domain of non-mongamous relationships.

I recently met a man whom I got on well with, and who seemed very taken with me. He is a decent, mature,respectable and seemingly sensible person, who is in a prominent position of  work. We exchanged several messages.  We met for coffee. A couple of weeks later, we met for lunch. Then a dinner date. It was an unspoken fact that we would return to his nearby flat after this third meeting.. Wanting to be prepared, I had my own condoms in my bag. Just in case. As I did not assume that he would have his own supply, although I would have been surprised if he hadn’t. And, of course,it went without saying  that he would practise safe sex.Or so I thought.

I learned that night not to assume anything. Without warning and very suddenly, he decided to try to penetrate me without a condom. I stopped him from doing so the second I realised what was happening. I said, very clearly, ‘not without a condom’. My intervention seemed to deflate matters at that moment but, later on,  he did rubber up, from his own supply, and without question.  I put his faux-pas down to over-excitement in the heat of the moment, and didn’t make an issue of it.

We met again, two weeks later, for a dinner date at his flat. Again, I went prepared. And there would be no repeat of the previous indiscretion, as I had made my feelings quite clear. How wrong I was. The same thing happened again. And I realised  that it was a deliberate act and not to be blamed on over-excitement. Again, I repeated, ‘not without a condom’. This time, he resisted. ‘Just for a bit – I like skin-on-skin contact‘, was the reply. ‘NO’, I assertively told him. I asked what his aversion was to using condoms. He replied that it was the reduced sensations and losing the moment when putting them on.. I ended up lecturing him on STIs and how you can’t tell by looking whether people have any nasty diseases etc. The kind of thing you might have to explain to a naive teenager.  He remained blasé about it and I was, very subtly, made to feel like I was over-reacting and being way too cautious. He never asked about my sexual history or whether I was using any form of female contraception (I am), so for all he knew there might have been a possibility of me getting pregnant, had I let him continue.   I knew that he had been sexually active during the last few months, so it was ultra-important to me that we used protection. I was left feeling annoyed and  disappointed in his attitude and the night was definitely spoiled. Needless to say, I haven’t heard from him since. Nor do I want to.

I am still amazed how a very intelligent man can show so much naivety and disregard for practising safe sex. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get that he thought he could try ‘bareback’ again, despite me not consenting previously. I am particularly cross with myself for making assumptions, but I have learned a lesson from this in that not all men are going to adopt  a sensible approach to safe sex.  In future, condoms will be bluntly discussed at the coffee stage, and not on reaching the bedroom.

I am interested to hear others’ thoughts on this subject.

An Update on the Elephant in the Room

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post regarding lack of sex in marriage. It seemed to make an impression on many people, as I received an overwhelming number of comments, tweets, DMs and emails from others willing to share similar stories. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

Particular thanks to The Shingle Beach for recommending a book entitled Rewriting the Rules by Meg Barker. The book examines the rules society places on relationships, and covers areas such as love, attraction, sex, monogamy and conflict, and considers ways of rewriting the rules and how we can adapt them to fit into our own lives. I found it to be a very interesting read and it certainly made me stop and question some of my own values. I think it would be of benefit to any type of relationship, not just anyone considering non-monogamy.

I decided that the best way of approaching the matter with my husband would be to let him read the blog post, along with another I had written regarding oral sex.  Finding the right moment to approach the subject was tricky, mainly due to me losing my nerve a couple of times and the fact I’d decided to raise it while we were away on holiday.

He seemed pleased that I’d raised the matter, which he agreed was overdue for discussion. We had a long talk and he obviously felt somewhat inadequate, which saddened me. We were both a bit exhausted by the talk, and the matter didn’t get discussed again until we returned home. Having both had a chance to mull things over by then,  we ended up having a more heated discussion where our marriage was laid bare. A lot was said – some of which was painful to hear and say. But digging into the mechanics of a marriage and assassinating each other’s characters is always going to be a painful experience. He said that he had lost interest in sex and, despite having told me otherwise, he can only get aroused by thinking or participating in corporal punishment activities. Which is as I had always thought. But even CP is not doing it for him at present. Oral sex, for him, is definitely not an option, and he does not understand why men get pleasure from going down on women. And, of course, we all have different likes and dislikes.

We both needed some space and the fact that he was due to go away for three days for work was welcome respite.

On his return, we talked a lot of things over. Neither of us want to split, but there are a few cracks there, which we both need to work on.  One constant throughout has been his appreciation of my frankness and honesty. But, he admitted that he can’t provide me with sexual fulfilment and acknowledged our differences in that respect. Consequently, he has given me freedom to seek other sexual partners if I feel the need for fulfilment, However, for him, sex is not a priority at present.

I feel strangely detached from it all at the moment and it feels a bit surreal. I’m certainly not filled with a feeling of euphoria, as one might imagine from being put in a position of consensual sexual freedom. For us, the rules have certainly changed and it will take a period of adjustment. I acknowledge that it is an unusual situation, and one that some people may not understand, or think is wrong. I am sure I will get used to the idea in time; until then, the male population is quite safe…

Raising the subject of sex with your partner can be awkward and emotional, as I have found out. But, in the end, acknowledging the elephant was the right thing to do and hopefully it will stay out of the room in future.

Lack of Sex in Marriage – The Elephant in the Room

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On a number of occasions, I have made humourous remarks on Twitter about married people not having sex. Judging by the ensuing banter, many people find themselves in this situation. I have also had numerous private conversations regarding this subject. No doubt there are many married couples who manage to maintain amazing and fulfilling sex lives, but there are those of us that don’t have regular, or indeed any, sex.

Certainly communication is an issue. Sex becomes ‘the elephant in the room’ – it’s too awkward to discuss the fact that there is no intimacy; perhaps too much time has gone by, so we ignore our desire for a basic human need and pretend everything is ok.

No doubt there is a multitude of reasons for this: loss of spark, boredom, physical and mental illness, medication, getting older, incompatibility; I could go on. I suspect the expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ rings true in a lot of cases. And, of course, it applies equally to both sexes.

I haven’t had sex with my husband in around 18 months. We haven’t slept in the same bed for 12 months. This is for a number of reasons:  incessant snoring, frequent bathroom visits, bouts of insomnia, 3am alarms =8pm bedtime on the previous night, etc… Plus his work regularly takes him away from home for several days at a time. And I do actually sleep much better by myself, so it just seemed easier to sleep separately.

Like most couples, when we first met, we had sex fairly regularly and it was ok. The usual initial passion you find with a new partner, apart from his dislike of oral sex, which was and still is a problem for me. But, I have never truly felt completely and utterly desired by him, as he indicated very early on in our relationship that he had never been sexually attracted to larger women (I was nearly two stones lighter then than I am now), but liked me so was trying to overcome this. This obviously did little for my confidence and ever since have felt unattractive and certainly not desirable. He has never told me that he finds my body beautiful and sexy.

He also told me he had a kink for corporal punishment and its association to footwear. This was a new thing for me, and I was happy to participate in role plays on a regular basis, although it held no sexual appeal for me.   As I have mentioned previously, I have an exhibitionist streak, which is not his kink,  so this has never been explored together. The suggestion by me, many years ago, of some erotic outdoor photography filled him with complete horror. As does the idea of women going out in public without knickers on. He doesn’t get any sexual pleasure from intimate looking and touching, or from boobs. Only from spanking and footwear.

Looking back, I realise that I was happy to have found a decent man and, at that time, did not see sex as a particularly important issue.

Over time, the number of occasions that we had sex dwindled, as is usual in a lot of relationships. He took a job that involved living at the other end of the UK, so for a couple of years we only saw each other every 6-8 weeks. I lost my sex drive completely due to stress and bouts of anxiety and depression linked to my work. I rejected his limited advances at times because of this. When I did feel like having sex, I felt awkward making the first move due to the length of time that it had been since any physical contact. As time went by, I became increasingly aware that he found it difficult to have sex without thinking of, or mentioning, corporal punishment in some way.  He assured me he didn’t rely on it, but I have never been able to shake off the feeling that he did, and I found this gradually put me off having sex with him, as I felt it was taking over.

So, all in all, since we got married eight years ago, we’ve had sex a handful of times.  I bravely made the first move on the last occasion. That was more out of my need than a desire for him.  And you are no doubt wondering why we bothered getting married.

Our relationship is akin to sister and brother. We rub along ok in general. We don’t argue very often. We laugh and joke. He’s kind and generous. He’s always there if I need him.  He’s thoughtful. He opens doors for me.  Together, we’ve been through a lot of the unpleasant things that life throws at you. The emotional connection is there. There are a lot of positives.  And yet, occasionally, I feel like I’m living with a stranger. He has no idea how I feel deep down about sex.  I have changed dramatically since we last had sex 18 months ago.  I am more confident about my body. I know that I am sexually attractive. My sexual needs and desires are stronger. There are experiences I would like to try.   I feel that I am now at my sexual peak and want to make the most of it instead of trying to suppress it.

I have read a great deal around the area of sexless marriages and the advice given is sensible and obvious. Usually centred around communicating with each other about sex, and possibly getting some counselling.  But what do you do when the fundamental reasons for not having sex aren’t going to change?  Our sexual interests and what turns us both on are so different. He can’t fulfil my needs and desires. I am no longer sexually attracted to him and I don’t think he has ever really had a true desire for me. Yet, our relationship is sound in most other areas. I know that having sex with other people without his knowledge is not the answer.

I have started to wonder whether there is something to be said for consensual non-monogamous relationships. Can we ever be all things to one person? Perhaps we need someone to love and nurture us, with our sexual needs being satisfied by other people. I don’t just apply this to my own needs. I have questioned whether his strong need for corporal punishment is being suppressed by me.

Sometimes, when I think about the area of open relationships, it makes complete sense, yet at other times I feel ridiculous for even considering it.  After all, it’s the sort of thing other people do, not me. Isn’t it?

We have never discussed this area, so I don’t know how he would feel.

When I read this finished post, it sounded like a really tragic story, yet I suspect that it is not too dissimilar to other people’s experiences. And I apologise to anyone who thinks I am being selfish and should be satisfied with what I have and the love of a good man.

The elephant in the room is becoming harder to ignore, so I know that we will have to discuss it soon.