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Arts & Culture

Savage Love: Basics, bitches

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I’m a heterosexual guy in my early 20s. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about six months, and we’ve been having some fights recently. The problem: I have a high sex drive in comparison to hers. I want to be intimate on a weekly basis (at least!), and she’s told me that she’s more of a once-every-three-weeks-or-so person. I’m trying not to put pressure on her. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable—she’s a virgin (no penetration), and the thought of the pain of that first time scares her a bit. That said, physical intimacy with her—developing that bond, even without intercourse—is important to me and a key part of what I believe is a healthy relationship. I do my best to be understanding, but I’m not sure how to bridge this gap.
—Love Is Building Intimacy During Outset

While it’s great that you’re understanding of your girlfriend’s sensitivities, LIBIDO, and while it’s commendable that you view nonpenetrative sex as fulfilling, you’re running the risk of “understanding” her into a relationship that makes you both unhappy. Because someone who wants sex multiple times per week will eventually be made miserable by someone who wants sex far less than once a month (which is what the “or so” at the end of “once-every-three-weeks-or-so” means), and vice versa—being with you will make your girlfriend miserable in the long run, too.

I get e-mails daily from miserable people on both side of this divide, LIBIDO, from people with high libidos who married lows and from people with low libidos who married highs. The highs are miserable because years of sexual rejection have shredded their sexual self-esteem, or they feel like monsters after years of being “indulged” with going-through-the-motions sex by barely willing and clearly miserable partners. The lows are miserable because going through the motions makes them miserable or they’re sick of constantly being pestered for sex and made to feel inadequate or broken when they pass.

You’re young and straight, LIBIDO, and the culture tells the young and the straight that they must be monogamous (because sex is so important) and that they shouldn’t take sexual compatibility into consideration when picking a partner (because sex is so unimportant). Other shit matters, too, of course—stuff like emotional compatibility, similar life goals, being on the same page about kids, etc. But basic sexual compatibility matters, too, and its absence will eventually undermine everything else.

By which I mean to say, LIBIDO: You’ve been dating this girl long enough to know that you’re not a match—you’re not sexually compatible—and that’s reason enough to end this relationship.

Last month at a house party, my boyfriend accidentally burned my chin, neck, and cleavage during a clumsily executed volcano shot. I was literally on fire for a few seconds. Some doctor appointments, burn creams, bandages, and awkward scabbing later, I’m healing nicely. My problem is, our sex life has become much more complicated. Before the accident, we were having sex only every week or so. But now he stares sadly at my neck wound (which still has a red line going down it) every time he looks at me. It’s very hard to feel sexy when you’re constantly looked at with pity, regret and concern, and the stress of being sexually frustrated is fueling other stresses. I just want a way out of this sad circle we’ve found ourselves in. —Burned

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