The question: My fiancé and I are in our mid-20s and have great sex, four to six times a week. But I want more, and when he turns me down, I feel rejected and undesirable - especially given the stereotype that men want to have as much sex as possible. I worry this will get worse as we get older. How do we deal with this?
Dear Turned Down,
You have a robust libido. Like a mane of fire-red hair or a crooner's high C, this corporeal charge is something to be proud of. Your challenge? It is not being responded to by your relationship.
I am not for a moment suggesting you seek out your high jinks elsewhere. Instead, I would ask you: Where does your strong desire for sex come from? Is it an expression of pure physical appetite or does it come from a place of insecurity? Does sex cancel out the doubt you might be feeling, but have left unspoken?
Because it is such a provocative shortcut to intimacy, we can sometimes use sex as a substitute for other elements crucial to a relationship: to forge an immediate sense of closeness; to make the instant and indelible impression of supreme foxiness; to make oneself irresistible - in other words, impossible to leave and impossible not to love.
Turned Down, you need to carve out other ways to be intimate. I know, I know. You are in your mid-20s: probably fit as hounds, untethered by children, and with only a modest intrusion of adult responsibility; it is almost your duty to have sex constantly. But you must respect his position. As you acknowledge, the image of the permanently carnal male, one snort short of a centaur, is a cliché - and one you need to dismiss immediately.
Moreover, difficult as this may sound, you must not take your fiancé's rejections personally. This is not a comment on your desirability, but a reflection of his appetites. You have not intimated any subtext here that would indicate otherwise. The bottom line: Do not rely on sex to be the sole barometer of connectedness. Talk, laugh, travel, cultivate other points of commonality. You may just find your clothes come off while doing so.
Claudia Dey is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier
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