I recently started dating somebody who ticks nearly all of the “right” boxes for me. This is the first time since breaking up with my sweetheart of over two years that I’ve felt this way, and it’s really exciting. There’s only one hiccup: He prefers to cuddle; I’d have sex twice a day if I could.
We talked about this shortly after we started seeing each other, and it seems like things are workable, at least for now — he says he’s game for non-monogamy and I have other partners who are excited to have the kind of sex that excites me. He’s my only local partner, though, and I can’t help but wonder if this sort of arrangement is sustainable. I’m really wary of implicitly pressuring him into being more sexual than he’d like, but I also can’t help the fact that I’m super horny basically always.
How commonly do relationships like this succeed? What can we do to make sure that both of our needs are getting met? What can we do to make sure that we don’t hurt each other if/when our sexual desires don’t match up?
— Dating But Not Mating
In any romantic and/or sexual dynamic with another person, it’s impossible that our desires will perfectly mirror our partner’s, and many couples have extreme desire discrepancies. This particular dynamic with your partner just has a slightly more disparate desire difference to negotiate.
So, how do you deal — besides consensual non-monogamy, which you’re already doing?
In a 2014 interview with EverydayFeminism.com, David Jay, founder of Asexuality.org, a resource for people who are not interested in sex, reminds partners that “it’s important to give asexual people a place to celebrate and talk about all their important relationships, not just sexual ones. Sexual people need to treat those kinds of intimacy as if they are as interesting and exciting as romantic/sexual intimacy, because they are!”
Which is to say, Not Mating, any implicit pressure for your partner to sexually perform at your level will likely come from inside of you. If you’ve made genuine peace with all that comes with enthusiastically consenting to dating a rarely sexual person in all of their glory, you will be less likely to inadvertently turn up the heat for more than they have to offer you.
Be clear about what you are truly okay with, too. In a mutually respectful relationship, there is no space for pity or charity. In fact, it may even disempower your partner’s already marginalized sexuality identity even further if you continue to date him because you want to prove to him or yourself that you can do without a certain level of sexual interaction. Especially if you can’t! Each of you are entitled to have, express, and be honored for your unique desire levels and identities.
Finally, avoiding hurt is something we all want in our relationships, but may not be able to fulfill — especially in a relationship with inherently conflicting desires built into it. Though I can’t give you a percentage of success here, I can tell you this relationship will take some honest boundary setting, exploring, and work — just as all desire discrepancies do.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive sex writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sex advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.