Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

(NSFW) Should someone force their libidinous needs upon another?

Asked by LuckyGuy (29264 points ) October 15th, 2012

(This was inspired by the Zumba Madam question. It is not actually my problem.)

The issue is one partner neglecting the needs of the other, either intentionally or unknowingly and forcing the more desirous partner to go without.

I am not asking about partners who are incapable due to some medical reason. I am discussing able-bodied, healthy, and supposedly loving spouses who just do not think about or want to put their partners’ needs above their own.

I think most of us would agree it would be wrong for the person with the greater desire to force his (typically) will on his spouse. In most societies the act would be considered reprehensible.
But looking at it from the other direction, why do we not feel the same disgust and outrage when the partner with no sex drive effectively forces that will on her partner? Is it not the same?
Why is it acceptable for one person to pull the other’s libido down but not the other way around?

If you were in a situation with a libido imbalance how did you handle it?

(I know this situation can go both ways in every letter combination of: M, F, F, M, LGBT, etc. For ease in understanding the question I just shorted it to MF. Feel free to change it the way you wish.

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45 Answers

ucme's avatar

It’s widely recognised that us males are humping machines & i’d sympathise with any guy who went without for an extreme, indefinite period.
I’d hope that he’d empathise with his wife & her needs, but at the same time expect maybe a degree of consideration in return.
Two way street, is what i’m trying to say.

augustlan's avatar

I don’t think you can equate the two scenarios. Forcing someone to have sex with you is different than ‘forcing’ them to not have sex with you. One is a forceful act, the other is the absence of an act.

That said, if one partner never wants it, I think they should be willing to compromise in some way. Provide alternative means of satisfaction with other body parts, or allow their SO to find satisfaction elsewhere.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Give and take with established boundaries, part of the basics of a relationship. Ignoring the needs of your partner (or forcing yours upon them) is pretty crappy which ever way it goes. But so long as both agree imbalances in any desire don’t need to be obstacles. If they are obstacles, it’s probably time for each to reexamine themselves and their continued relationship.

zenvelo's avatar

Withholding is not forcing the needs on another. Use of force is making the other person have sex; that is called rape. We don’t “feel the same disgust and outrage” over withholding sex because it is not a violent act!

A person can relieve themselves of sexual tension. But as part of the survival of the relationship, it needs to be addressed be talking to each other.

You make a statement that it might be unknowingly withheld. If the partner doesn’t know, that’s the fault of the original person who has not communicated her needs. You can’t get your needs met of teh other person isn’t aware of them.

If it is more of an imbalance such as one person wanting sex one or two times a day, and the other just once a week or every other week, that takes some counseling and some negotiation. But that should be realized before a long term relationship gets to the point where it is an issue.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Humans have needs. If your partner doesn’t meet those needs, too bad if I find satisfaction elsewhere. It’s their fault, not your’s.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I intentionally worded the question to sound like it was forcing one partner to follow the needs of the other. In this case it is the partner who does not want or need sex forcing the other partner to go without.
We agree the more active partner imposing his will on the other can be tantamount to rape and unacceptable. But why is other direction accepted?

El_Cadejo's avatar

fap fap fap….

Crashsequence2012's avatar

No.

Male or female, use your fist on yourself and get it over with.

marinelife's avatar

It is more permissible for a partner to withhold sex because our bodies are supposed to be sacrosanct to give of (or not) solely at our discretion.

The partner who has the greater sex drive has only a limited range of choices: end the relationship, fulfill his or her greater sexual needs elsewhere (not outside the bounds of the relationship if it involves faithfulness), or going without.

wundayatta's avatar

I think @marinelife outlined the options very succinctly. That’s how most people think of it. It’s a pretty sorry set of choices, in my opinion.

Ending the relationship is generally a horrible option. Despite the lack of sex, there is a lot going for most relationships. Some of it is history. Some of it is what the couple have built together. Some of it is love and friendship. It doesn’t seem right to end all that due to a lack of sex, and yet sex is very important and lack of it can depress a guy, and I suppose, in some cases, it could even lead him to suicide, if he can’t imagine a way out.

I’m sure that seems extreme, but it almost killed me, so I know it’s possible. So going without could be a dangerous option, particularly in emotionally labile men or women. For some people, the sexual connection is a necessary condition to experience love. I’m not saying sex is love, just that it is how some people experience love. Denial of sex is denial of love for these people. That is very isolating and depressing, and like I said, can lead to serious consequences.

Even so, I would never say it is the obligation of a partner to provide sex. If you do it out of obligation, then it isn’t love, and it doesn’t work to make the partner feel loved. It has to be done from desire. I would never want my wife to make love to me in order to save my life, but for no other reason. She actually did that a few times when I was in a mixed state. She was scared and she didn’t know what to do, and she did want to save my life, but as grateful as I am for still being alive, I wish it hadn’t come down to that. It was weird, unhealthy love making. I was in a very strange state of awareness. But I think she honestly did want to please me and help me, even if it wasn’t the kind of connection I wanted. It was really weird, though.

Unfortunately, getting your needs met not outside the bounds of the relationship is an impossible paradox. So it’s the same as going without. And if you talk to your spouse about getting permission to go outside the relationship, most likely they will say no. Which seems to show a lack of empathy that isn’t good. Yet it is perfectly understandable, given our social conventions and mores.

In my opinion, that’s why people often try to sneak in an affair. That way, they can keep their marriage, they get what they are looking for, they don’t burden their spouse, and the spouse is never bothered, assuming they don’t find out. Of course, the conventional wisdom as that you will always get caught.

In Europe, extramarital affairs are generally much more acceptable than they are here in the US. The US has rather puritanical views about the whole thing, and people tend to be much more judgmental. Our laws are much harsher on adulterers. Our culture is much less accepting of this behavior, in general.

I’m not sure what divorce rates in Europe look like. OMG. This is so astonishing that I don’t believe it! I looked at the European Social Survey. Only 8% of survey respondents have ever been divorced. Can that be? Either I’m doing something wrong, or there is a serious difference between the US and Europe. Ok, “here’s”:“http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_div_rat-people-divorce-rate a chart showing divorce rate per thousand population which also shows a huge different between the US and most other nations in the world.

Why is it that the US divorce rate is so much higher than every other nation? I would not be surprised that it has to do with our draconian Puritanical attitudes about sex and extra-marital affairs.

cookieman's avatar

@unerbatman: Ooh, you’re beating eggs for an omelet.

Coloma's avatar

Well..as had been said, it is never right to “force” anything on another that they do not want or do not consent to. That said, I would advocate marital therapy to see if a root cause can be identified, and I completely disagree with blame shifting as an excuse to have extra marital adventures. As a woman who has always enjoyed her sexuality I can say that when my libido was in the toilet in my marriage it was because my needs for emotional sharing and closeness, along with other unresolved issues of conflict, wiped out my desires.

Most of the time when a woman shuts down sexually there is a good reason for it.
I also do not believe in staying in unrewarding relationships just to maintain the status quo or for any other reasons than a true and genuine affection for ones partner.
If one has done everything possible to ramp up a floundering relationship and it doesn’t work, time to move on and be true to oneself.
If the woman is in menopause this will also effect her desire and many post menopausal females notice a decline in their sexual desires.

Personally at almost 53 now I do not want the sexual pressure by some old horndog to perform like a 25 year old porn star. Sexuality morphs as do people and while it still remains a beautiful way of expressing ones affections it is the frosting on the cake, not the cake itself.
At my age now a meeting of the minds, common interests, sharing life philosophies and companionship are much more important to me than finding someone with a perpetual hard on.

Unless there is an open and honest discussion and agreement to go outside ones primary relationship to get their sexual needs met, cheating is the cowards way out. Big boys & girls step up to the relational plate and do the work to remedy their relationship issues, or, they man up and get a divorce, freeing each party to find a more compatible companion.

Sunny2's avatar

With more mature people, that’s what FWB’s are for, as long as you’re both very careful.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I don’t think it is a big deal really, you should just give your partner what they want. At least that is how I feel after being the one who is “forced” to do stuff.

I have a very high sex drive, and can want it as much as 2 or 3 times a day. My partner however has a much higher sex drive, and I often find myself trying to buy myself some time so I can reload.

The way I deal with it, I just do what she wants, and then go the extra mile to make sure I at least get a couple hours before her next move. Can’t pester someone for sex when you can’t walk right.

I think the pressure should be on the person with the lower drive to step up and take care of business. It is not really much to ask from someone who has given you what you wanted time and time again. It is not like you are being raped by a stranger or something, you are a couple.

Plus it works both ways, the partner with the lower sex drive will some times be the one with the higher sex drive on the day.

Gotta take one for the team so to speak.

Shippy's avatar

It is a difficult one, because so many things affect libido. But I feel everything starts in the brain and so with mutual effort and mutual willingness it can be pleasurable for both. But who knows what underlies this type of relationship. In that other major issue could cause this to occur.

Coloma's avatar

Well..a lot of what people claim to be a high sex drive is really sexually compulsive and addictive behavior. That’s why there is a book called ” Don’t call it love.”
Compulsive sexuality is not about love and intimacy, it’s used as a drug used to mask anxieties, relieve stress, and actually escape from true intimacy.

Shippy's avatar

@poisonedantidote wow! there must be permanent activity your side loll

LuckyGuy's avatar

@poisonedantidote Does she have a sister? Just askin’.

Bellatrix's avatar

Having been in a relationship where the other party had a much lower sex drive, I am acutely aware of how frustrating that situation can be.I think both parties have to be conscious of and respectful of the other party’s needs. I don’t believe you can ‘force’ another person to have sex. I do think the person with the lower drive should be prepared to work to get in the mood on a more regular basis, and the person with the higher drive shouldn’t be overly demanding. For the long term, I don’t hold out much hope for relationships with this imbalance.

Coloma's avatar

@Bellatrix Agreed, and, the same holds true for any major imbalance. The introverted homebody and the ” let’s go out and have fun” mismatch, the simple living, don’t need lots of stuff type and the I want it all type. The saver and the spender, the intellectual and the potato head the “I want a zoo” and the animal hater. haha

poisonedantidote's avatar

@Shippy nop lol, she is away for 6 months, it’s like being 14 again. sad.
@LuckyGuy 2 skinny brothers.

BhacSsylan's avatar

I can’t add much to this, especially since @Bellatrix said it very succinctly (though i do think it can be overcome, though it requires work and communication). A relationship is work, and it should be expected that each partner must bend a bit to accommodate the other. Hopefully, if you’re well matched, it is indeed ‘a bit’ and not a huge stretch.

In general, in answer to the question, no. If someone “force[s] their libidinous needs upon another”, they have committed rape. It is worse then the reverse, because the low-libido partner has a right to their body. Retaining that right is in no way comparable to violating it.

That said, @wundayatta also has a salient point, that for many a lack of sexuality in a relationship can be very painful. Having gone through a similar, shorter (and apparently less intense, thankfully) period, I know what that feels like. It’s passed and I have changed so that it is no longer an issue, but that doesn’t mean what i felt wasn’t real. The issue really is communication (for my part, i failed at this. We did as a couple, but me more so). If one partner is in pain, it needs to be addressed somehow. Maybe it does result in them leaving. That would suck, yes. A lot. But affairs will cause both people pain, so that’s hardly agreeable, and one partner staying in constant pain instead of breaking it off is not really better.

But until someone brings it up, it’ll never get better. And there are ways to figure it out without leaving. Some unconventional? Sure. But it could work. And anyway, that’s up to the couple.

deni's avatar

I think both situations are equally bad and ultimately will result in problems. Either way there is a deeper issue probably. Or, at least if one person never wants sex, that’s an issue. There is of course a difference between that and a person who wants to have sex six times a day. Then you’re just being greedy. I think that’s an important aspect of a relationship really, having similar sex drives so no one is ever starving for attention.

Mariah's avatar

Because sex is not an unalienable right that a partner is entitled to in a relationship. Sorry, but it’s just not. I’m not obligated to give myself to anybody when I don’t feel like it.

A partner is free to move on if their sex drives are incompatible. There is no forcing involved.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

@Mariah:

Yousoundlikealotoffun.

Mariah's avatar

Sorry my reply isn’t fun enough? I’m not the only one who didn’t make a joke in this thread, so I don’t really know what you want from me or why you singled me out. Am I a wet blanket if I’m not willing to give out sex every time my partner is horny?

wundayatta's avatar

I think I hear wedding bells…..

J/k

Coloma's avatar

I agree with you @Mariah, well said.

Seriously, there are times when having sex 3 times a day is normal and healthy, like in the beginning of a relationship or on a vacation or when you’re a newlywed person, but, anyone that “needs’ sex 3 times a day, every day, needs help.
I’d tell a guy to go fuck himself if I was under that kind of pressure.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Everyone, I sure like your answers. Many of you answered referring to extreme cases.
How would you answer if both were in their mid 50’s and both were healthy? Imagine the woman does not want or need sex anymore but the man still does and once per week would be plenty for him.
Of course he can’t force his wife to satisfy his needs. But, she can effectively force him to satisfy hers by simply denying.
I wonder if this is how many divorces start.

Bellatrix's avatar

I would say it most definitely is @LuckyGuy. Especially these days, 50 year olds are often fit and healthy and looking forward to many years of life including a vital sex life. My answer would be the same. Unless the two people can reach a compromise that at least meets the basic needs of both, I think it would be difficult to sustain the relationship.

jca's avatar

I have a middle-aged, post-menopausal friend who tells me she’s no longer interested in sex (although I’m not sure how often they do it, because hearing info like she is willing to tell and asking nosy questions are two different things), and middle aged and older men have told me their wives are no longer interested in sex (and with that, who knows how much of that is true and how much they are just putting it out there that they are not “with” their wives). I hope that I never get to the point where I don’t want sex, because I love it. At least right now I do.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Bellatrix And when the spouses are hit with the divorce requests they usually say they didn’t see it coming. “He didn’t complain.”, “He seemed happy.” , “We didn’t fight.”, “He wasn’t interested.” “We’re not kids.” Sad.

A wise man once told me: “Sex is like air. It becomes real important when you’re not getting any.” He got divorced.

Coloma's avatar

@jca There is plenty of truth to post menopausal lowered libido, I’m there too. Of course I am single, and while I do enjoy myself a few times a month, things have changed drastically. Orgasms become very weak, just a little fizzle, no sizzle. lol
It’s all about lowered estrogen and since I am not interested in taking any HRT, and, even if a woman does, it is a meant to be a short term therapy during the transition, not forever.
Lowered libido, weak climaxes and less lubrication are all part of the shift into the non-reproductive zone.

I think men need to be sensitive to their woman at this phase of life.

Coloma's avatar

Well, while I agree couples should work on a mutually satisfying compromise whatever their sexual issues may be, still, I think it speaks volumes about “love” if a guy is willing to abandon his long term partner because she is struggling with a lowered libido. Think about this, most 50 something year old guys are not going to end up with nubile 20–30 something year olds. If a “mature” man is going to date woman in his age group this issue will certainly arise again, at some point.
Also, turn the tables gentlemen, plenty of middle aged men have prostate issues, heart issues, high blood pressure, etc. that, often, on medications lose their desire and ability to “perform.”

Would you men want your wives to leave you if you come down with some sort of sexually inhibiting condition? Sooner or later sexuality does take a backseat to loving companionship and shared interests. I think it’s pretty pathetic that a man would be willing to leave a long term relationship simply because his wife doesn’t have the desire to fuck like a bunny anymore. Quite frankly, while I remain an attractive and vivacious almost 53 year old woman, I have opted out of the dating scene the last few years and this is one reason.

I am sick and tired of 50 something year old guys that still have the sexual attitudes of 14 year old boys. Mostly I like being single and doing my own thing, but yeah, I sure as hell don’t want the stress and pressure of a Peter Pan boy that can’t let go of his Penthouse forum fantasies in his mid-50’s, still expects a woman to look and act like a 20 something year old. Bah, get over yourself Peter.

I think “men-o-pause” is a great time of life! lol

SavoirFaire's avatar

Going back to the original question: no, partners should not impose their libidinous needs upon one another; and yes, this applies in both directions. People in committed relationships are responsible for one another’s sexual satisfaction. That involves both meeting everyone’s needs and not overwhelming anyone with sexual demands. No one can demand sex from anyone else, including their own partner, but partners with lower sex drives need to be prepared to make other accommodations. If they cannot fulfill a partner’s needs on their own, they have to be willing to let the partner with a higher sex drive to have those needs met in other ways (possibly outside of the relationship).

Sexual fulfillment is important part of a good life, but it means very different things for people with different sexual preferences (including different sex drives). For someone who is more or less asexual, sexual fulfillment will mean finding a way to be in a loving relationship without feeling pressure to have a lot of sex. For someone who is polyamorous, sexual fulfillment will mean finding a way to be in a loving relationship that does not limit them to a single partner. This is not different than the way a heterosexual person requires someone of the opposite sex for sexual fulfillment and a homosexual person requires someone of the same sex for sexual fulfillment.

If one is interested in a sexually exclusive relationship, compatibility is of a very high importance. It is a mark of respect for one’s partner to have open and honest conversations about these needs before making any sort of permanent commitment (or any sort of commitment intended to be permanent). In many cases, this probably requires a bit of empirical research (that is, actually having sex), which is one of the reasons I have argued that waiting until marriage is immoral. You might get lucky and wind up with someone compatible, but you might get lucky and not hit anyone when randomly shooting into a crowd with a gun. That doesn’t make either one any less irresponsible.

jca's avatar

@Coloma: What you wrote is funny and right on – a lot of guys in the age bracket you mentioned still seem to think they can get “young chicks” and it’s like sure, knock yourself out. You also have a good point about older men and their health issues affecting their ability to perform (but they’ll never admit to it!).

Coincidentally, I am going to gyn on Thursday and while I’m there, I’m going to tell him I want to ensure that my (presently) ravenous desire for sex remains that way, and if I have to take something, I’m willing. I can be a demanding partner, LOL.

Coloma's avatar

—@jca Well, sometimes they can, for a little while. My ex managed to wrangle up a little 26 yr. old with a 2 yr. old daughter for some fun, when he was 50, until she, surprise! wanted to get married and find a father for her child. NOW, he has remarried to a woman his age who is fat and frumpy and bitchy. LOL

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Once a week is very reasonable, maybe this issue has become more of a power stuggle than a true sexual issue?
Nothing worse than withholding just out of pure stubborness. I dunno what to say to you, other than counseling.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I have been in this situation. I felt I had to do it whenever he wanted. Which was often. It got really old. I wasn’t allowed an out if I was tired, sick, whatever. Also, I have noticed older men who say they need it, want it, whatever all the time, but then when it happens they have to pull on it etc. to actually do it. Younger men get hard so much easier than that. I am not into older men at all, and I too am at the point where I’d just rather be by meself.

Coloma's avatar

@trailsillustrated Haha, yes, they can wank their own weenies, shit…there is SO much MORE to life than bumping body parts. I always joke about no man being able to compete with the turbo jets in my hot tub, alas, they don’t speak philosophy well, but hey, I can live with the trade off these days. lol

Bellatrix's avatar

It isn’t always women who have the lower libido. The problem in terms of a relationship ending isn’t the lack of sex as much as the lack of consideration for the other party’s needs, and that isn’t a gender issue. I know many women who have been in the ‘he doesn’t want sex’ category. I am sure the same situation arises in same sex relationships too.

The breaking point is probably not the lack of sex, it is the unwillingness to compromise or care about the other person’s needs. Either by forcing the person with the lower libido to perform to a point they feel is excessive or forcing the party to abstain from sex to a point that is untenable for them. Either way is unfair to your partner. There has to be some middle ground and compromise means being prepared to find it or to get help finding it.

Coloma's avatar

@Bellatrix Well said, I agree. Sex problems are usually more symptomatic of intimacy and communication problems and built up resentments. It’s hard to get in the mood when you really feel like smacking the person upside the head because they frustrate you to death. lol

Crashsequence2012's avatar

The one with the lesser drive will come closer to getting all they desire all the time.

Life isn’t fair.

Grow up.

wundayatta's avatar

It is clear that for some people, sex doesn’t mean much. For others, it is everything. I suppose it’s easy to make fun of men (or women) who think sex is very important.

All I can say is that if you were in my body when I’m making love, and experiencing it from my point of view, you would wonder why I ever spend any time doing anything else. Fortunately, you’re not in here with me, so you can spend your life how you see fit. And I’m going to spend my life how I see fit.

It may be hard to believe, but for some people, maybe mostly men—I don’t know for sure—sex is literally necessary for life. If they don’t have that kind of connection, they get depressed and some of them even die. In my personal case, I’ve sunken into depressions and had them fixed, like a charm, with a little bedtime fun.

That may sound absurd, and I can’t offer an proof of it, so you can either believe me or not. But it’s that important to me, and I know a few other people who say the same thing.

I don’t know if women who aren’t interested in sex feel guilty when their husbands want something they can’t give. Sometimes it sounds like they are being quite defensive when they make fun of men who place great importance on sex. Some women seem to think that since it isn’t important to them, it can’t possible be all that important to anyone else. But I understand that it is really hard to imagine experience that isn’t your own.

I think, though, that these are serious problems and people tend to get defensive instead of trying to understand each other. They try to justify why they shouldn’t have to give sex, when that isn’t the point at all. We are all agreed that people don’t owe each other sex. But that is no call to diminish the importance of sex for others.

I think that if we acknowledge the importance, and people feel validated about these things, it might become easier to solve problems when there is a difference in desire. If people acknowledge the different levels of need and desire, and are empathetic towards each other, then perhaps that will open the door to more creative solutions that might work.

I doubt if there are many men who want to leave a wife for sex, but they might because it is that important. How much easier it would be if you could stay with your wife and yet have an affair or a second wife whose libido was better matched. But that isn’t easy. Indeed, it’s both illegal and considered immoral by most people.

So this atmosphere where women demean men for their overly large interest in sex, and men demean women for… well… whatever it is they demean women for, it’s easy to see how everyone gets defensive and divorce rates are the highest in the world. There’s no effort to be understanding. People rush to judgment and jump to conclusions, and the bottom line is that we stop being kind to each other. Worse, we can’t even begin to understand each other. And if we don’t understand each other, then the kind of connection that makes a marriage strong is impossible to achieve.

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