While writing my last blog post on Intimacy something became very clear in my mind. I am emotionally triggered by Faithful men. From my own personal experience I’ve found it really difficult to read about men who go without sex for long periods of time without apply pressure, insinuation or complaints.
In some of the relationship books on affair recovery it talks about withholding from sex while rebuilding trust. In a lot of sex books it talks about abstinence while learning new ways of intimacy and foreplay. In some of the blogs on affairs it talks about the possible need to withhold from sex for various other reasons. For me those have been deep trigger points. Even though it’s been a year since our relationship hit discovery day and I have moved from the emotionally wracking spasms of grief and anger. When I hear about men who withhold from sex as part of the healing process or read about men who talk about going without sex for long periods of time yet still loving their wives and staying faithful, I immediately trigger emotionally. I’m flooded with thoughts, anger, fears, mental movies of the other women and a really deep aching kind of sadness.
Why is this? I think it is because for me and many others like me, who have never known a man capable of such a thing, it is a sad reality that the only men we’ve ever known are those who view the strong sex drive of a male as entitlement and a priority over even the people they claim to love the most. It makes me hurt inside when I think about how I begin to panic every couple of days for fear that I won’t be able to put myself in the “mood” or find the energy to fill my mans needs regardless of where I might be emotionally at the time. If we get beyond 2 or 3 days or god help me, out to the point of close to a week, I literally have sensations that feel like panic attacks where my chest begins to constrict and my stomach begins to flip as I search for any way possible to figure out how to MAKE my body responsive. The reality in my world is that men who don’t get sex as much as they feel they deserve or want it will easily and without qualm search for and take that sex anywhere and anytime it is offered. They will resent you for not filling the need every time they have it. Now, I know I’m bent and twisted with scars from a lifelong experience with infidelity but I find it heartbreaking that so many women have never known the reality of or even the role model of a man who despite his own desires will or can endure a period without sex and still honor the one he loves by being faithful. To women like me this is just a fantasy. A figment of imagination to feel we could be able to trust that you can have an off week or a down period from sex without your partner dipping the wick somewhere else. It is perhaps the single reason that from my first sexual encounter right through to this very day I have struggled with the inner conflict of feeling like a sex object. Of being expected to perform on cue. The underlying purpose of my existence in a relationship being to stroke my partners ego whenever needed and satisfy his sex drive as frequently as possible.
I’m hoping that somehow through this recovery I will once and for all find a way to abandon that internal concept, the disgusting self image that accompanies it and the emotional pain that goes with it which contradicts every other sane area of my otherwise strong and independent nature. One day I hope to be in a relationship without feeling duty bound to perform or be fired. Put out or get out of the way. One day I dream of knowing the kind of trust that allows me to truly believe my partner is here for the long haul and for something more than sex.
I am also triggered by movies or stories where I hear about men who are patient and faithful even during times when sex drives go through a low cycle. It confuses my understanding of the world in some weird sense. The logical understanding that this can happen is at odds with my own life experience growing up with a serial cheater and entangling myself with cheaters in nearly all of my relationships since.
I sometimes read blogs here by men who reference this kind of patience. Though frustrated or hurting from lack of intimacy they still express commitment and love for their partners. They search for ways to reach them, please them, connect with them and they don’t imply that they are pouting, angry or apply pressure on their spouses. I read these things and I find myself thinking “this can’t be truth, this isn’t how men really act” and yet a part of me says “maybe they do. Maybe some men do”
My partner does not express anger when we go a few days without sex but he does start to display attitude and pouting behavior. He does have a way of making me feel the pressure of amping up the sexual pressure without attempting to fill the other emotional and mental and spiritual intercourses I wrote about in my last post. All of that leaves me feeling helpless. It makes me feel like a failure for not being the sex goddess am I suppose to be. It makes me feel like something is wrong with me that I am not responding to someone I love and leaves me deeply frustrated that I too go without sex or I participate in body but not soul because I can’t get my needs expressed clearly to him or some how make him understand how my mind body and soul work. I try each day to plan for the sex, to create a scenario I can make unfold to please him and to experience the connection we need and I can’t seem to explain to him the ways that he erects roadblocks that crash my good intentions.
I have never felt comfortable trying to express my needs. Each and every time I have tried in a relationship I end up feeling like a witch. It always seems to be turned around to me demanding too much, expecting unrealistic things, ignoring a mans needs and made to feel that I am “controlling” the sex. How does that affect me? It makes my heart pound and it drains my energy. It makes me cry on the inside and hurt deeply even if I refuse to show it. How does a woman try to explain what she needs or what is missing without making a man defensive or take the attitude that he must be failing everything? I have no idea. And I have no idea if it is because I have never been in a healthy relationship or if it’s because I am incapable of communicating my needs.
What I do know is that I realize now that this has always been a trigger for me but that it was so subtle I didn’t really understand it. It felt like jealousy or envy when I heard of such things or women described such men. It felt like a lie and I often thought to myself secretly that they were making it up. Covering up what we all knew really happens in a relationship. But now, recovering from multiple affairs I recognize the triggers much more clearly. I recognize the pain I am feeling and the confusion it creates in me.
But that feels really messed up to me. My logical brain tells me that hearing of faithful men should invoke HOPE in me, not sadness. It seems backwards to me. Does anyone else out their have experience with this kind of trigger?