SEXUAL PRESSURE. WOMEN DO IT TOO.

He’s laying on his side. I inch over to him and push my body up against his, hands wandering and groping, as I graze my cheek gently along his back. He doesn’t move, whispering something about having eaten too much at dinner. It’s a line I’ve heard many a time before. Sometimes I push harder, verbally chastising him for not being “normal,” in an attempt to scrape what remains of my ego up from the floor. But, it’s been nine years of rebuttals, and I’ve gradually given up. Tonight, I roll over, hugging my knees to my chest, trying to create closeness from within, and silently weep into my pillow, feeling the cotton beneath saturate with tears, the rest of my face dampening as the moisture spreads. I’ve committed forever to this man, I struggle with how to serve a life sentence devoid of the physical intimacy that sex extends.

But, I chose to marry him, already acutely aware of this deficit. We were “normal” in the beginning, and in my youthful naivety, I told myself things would eventually remedy. He says it’s not me. He says he thinks I’m beautiful, sexy even. Maybe I believed him years ago, but I’ve lost my emotional footing by now. I’m lonely, and I doubt myself. We’ve got other problems, and I wonder if he’s lost interest because of the tension and mounting contempt, or maybe I suck in bed, or maybe his hormones are whacky, or maybe…. I could go on forever.

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I pressure him consistently, laying guilt whenever I can, undoubtedly making it worse, but I’m desperate and feel physically abandoned, so I justify it. We’re incredibly affectionate in every other way, always touching, to a point of excess, which only adds to my confusion. I crave affirmation that nothing is wrong with me, more than anything else. It never comes. And, eventually our marriage ends, problems snowballing year after year. I’m left only able to speculate where things went wrong and how much I had to do with the unfolding.

I’m eager, upon our split, to confirm that I’m not unattractive or broken. Friends agree I should go out and “get some” as soon as possible. That’s all I need to hear. A short-lived relationship ensues that serves every purpose it needs to. Purely physical in nature, it lays the foundation for me rediscovering myself as a woman. Maybe I do know what I’m doing? Maybe there isn’t something wrong with me after all? But, I’m still terribly insecure. It wouldn’t take much to reduce me back to the pile of flesh and doubt that I was a mere month before.

I meet my current husband while in this space, feigning confidence via short hipster sundresses, a killer tan, and long, flowy hair. He’s unaware of any self-doubt on my behalf because I’ve mustered up an attitude, born of self-protection, that reflects a woman who gives no fucks. Of course, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

He doesn’t fit the mold of “stereotypical guy”, a fact of which I am still unaware. He’s not looking to put out. I’m crushed in every way when he denies my advances to go further, painful emotions reminiscent of my marriage flooding in. I’m that lonely, less-than girl all over again, unloved and unworthy, searching for acceptance the only way I know how. It was never about sex, just a feeble attempt at reclaiming confidence. I can’t let myself go there, the wounds still too raw. My ego steps in to do the dirty work. I admonish him for not being manly. That doesn’t work. I guilt trip him for hurting my feelings. Nope. I try to be as hot as hot can be. Uh-uh. I’m rude, inappropriate, disrespectful, and I don’t take no for an answer, a total asshole. Nuthin. We eventually part ways, and I swear him off. “Who the fuck does he think he is?”

But the truth is that I do like him, more than I’m willing to admit. He’s smart. He has values. He knows how to communicate. He knows who he is. He’s interesting. He’s stubborn. And, he can’t be manipulated (by boobs or otherwise). So, a couple weeks later, when he seeks me out (Who even knows why? Maybe it was the killer tan, or maybe (for sure) my hard ass act was completely transparent), I relent from my anger and reconnect with him. He’s decided to lend me the Flight of the Conchords DVD’s that I’d previously been denied, for fear of them never making it back home, an obvious ploy to see me again. His version of this story doesn’t cast me as a total jerk. In fact, he hardly remembers these moments I refer to. My insecurities colored my perceptions into an individual tale, riddled with pain and rejection. Spoiler alert: He put out, but he did it on his own terms, when he was ready. Unbeknownst to me, I required that momentary pause (whether I wanted it or not) to stew in my feelings, to recognize that my value to him, to myself, wasn’t just in what my body could do. Years of being rebuffed had skewed my worth. He was in it for more. Although, we’ve never grappled with sexual issues or disparities in desire, recovering my self-esteem has been a long road, because I came in with lots o’ baggage, but here we are, and I feel very loved. I have a marriage with connection, on all fronts. My trust wasn’t built in a day. It took a lot of demonstration on his behalf, to create safety, and emotional vulnerability on my own. None of it came naturally. It’s a daily choice to be present and naked (emotionally, this time).

I share this because life is tricky, life is grey, love is complicated, ego is a force to be reckoned with, and sexual pressure isn’t exclusive to the male variety. There’s a story behind every heart and every reaction, sometimes even every asshole.

Now, let's read this story with he and she interchanged. I encourage you to take note of your difference in interpretation and shifts in sentiment. The revised version follows.

She’s laying on her side. I inch over to her and push my body up against hers, hands wandering and groping, as I graze my cheek gently along her back. She doesn’t move, whispering something about having eaten too much at dinner. It’s a line I’ve heard many a time before. Sometimes I push harder, verbally chastising her for not being “normal,” in an attempt to scrape what remains of my ego up from the floor. But, it’s been nine years of rebuttals, and I’ve gradually given up. Tonight, I roll over, feeling dejected and alone. I’ve committed forever to this woman, I struggle with how to serve a life sentence devoid of the physical intimacy that sex extends.

But, I chose to marry her, already acutely aware of this deficit. We were “normal” in the beginning, and in my youthful naivety, I told myself things would eventually remedy. She says it’s not me. She says she thinks I’m handsome, sexy even. Maybe I believed her years ago, but I’ve lost my emotional footing by now. I’m lonely, and I doubt myself. We’ve got other problems, and I wonder if she’s lost interest because of the tension and mounting contempt, or maybe I suck in bed, or maybe her hormones are whacky, or maybe…. I could go on forever.

I pressure her consistently, laying guilt whenever I can, undoubtedly making it worse, but I’m desperate and feel physically abandoned, so I justify it. We’re incredibly affectionate in every other way, always touching, to a point of excess, which only adds to my confusion. I crave affirmation that nothing is wrong with me, more than anything else. It never comes. And, eventually our marriage ends, problems snowballing year after year. I’m left only able to speculate where things went wrong and how much I had to do with the unfolding.

I’m eager, upon our split, to confirm that I’m not unattractive or broken. Friends agree I should go out and “get some” as soon as possible. That’s all I need to hear. A short-lived relationship ensues that serves every purpose it needs to. Purely physical in nature, it lays the foundation for me rediscovering myself as a man. Maybe I do know what I’m doing? Maybe there isn’t something wrong with me after all? But, I’m still terribly insecure. It wouldn’t take much to reduce me back to the pile of flesh and doubt that I was a mere month before.

I meet my current wife while in this space, feigning confidence. She’s unaware of any self-doubt on my behalf because I’ve mustered up an attitude, born of self-protection, that reflects a man who gives no fucks. Of course, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

She fits the mold of “stereotypical woman”, a fact of which I am still unaware. She’s not looking to put out. I’m crushed in every way when she denies my advances to go further, painful emotions reminiscent of my marriage flooding in. I’m that lonely, less-than man all over again, unloved and unworthy, searching for acceptance the only way I know how. I can’t let myself go there, the wounds still too raw. My ego steps in to do the dirty work. I admonish her for not being sexual. That doesn’t work. I guilt trip her for hurting my feelings. Nope. I try to be as hot as hot can be. Uh-uh. I’m rude, inappropriate, disrespectful, and I don’t take no for an answer, a total asshole. Nuthin. We eventually part ways, and I swear her off. “Who the fuck does she think she is?”

But the truth is that I do like her, more than I’m willing to admit. She’s smart. She has values. She knows how to communicate. She knows who she is. She’s interesting. She’s stubborn. And, she can’t be manipulated. So, a couple weeks later, when she seeks me out (Who even knows why? Maybe (for sure) my hard ass act was completely transparent), I relent from my anger and reconnect with her. She’s decided to lend me the Flight of the Conchords DVD’s that I’d previously been denied, for fear of them never making it back home, an obvious ploy to see me again. Her version of this story doesn’t cast me as a total jerk. In fact, she hardly remembers these moments I refer to. My insecurities colored my perceptions into an individual tale, riddled with pain and rejection. Spoiler alert: She put out, but she did it on her own terms, when she was ready. Unbeknownst to me, I required that momentary pause (whether I wanted it or not) to stew in my feelings, to recognize that my value to her, and hers to me, wasn’t just in what our bodies could do for each other. Years of being rebuffed had skewed my worth. She was in it for more. Although, we’ve never grappled with sexual issues or disparities in desire, recovering my self-esteem has been a long road, because I came in with lots o’ baggage, but here we are, and I feel very loved. I have a marriage with connection, on all fronts. My trust wasn’t built in a day. It took a lot of demonstration on her behalf, to create safety, and emotional vulnerability on my own. None of it came naturally. It’s a daily choice to be present and naked (emotionally, this time).

I share this because life is tricky, life is grey, love is complicated, ego is a force to be reckoned with, and sexual pressure isn’t exclusive to the male variety. There’s a story behind every heart and every reaction, sometimes even every asshole.

-Angi





 




 

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis.