I left my husband because he couldn’t sexually satisfy me

Men want sex more than women, right?

It’s the narrative we’re beaten over the head with: Men want sex whenever they can get it, women acquiesce reluctantly from time to time. Men have voracious sexual appetites, women would rather be reading a good book.

While there may be some truth in this and it no doubt plays out this way in a lot of relationships, the consequences for couples who buck the trend can be dire.

Jane*, a 32-year-old woman in Sydney, Australia, is just coming out of a relationship that was destroyed by incompatible sex drives — except it was Jane who wanted it more than her husband, Peter*.

“By the time we finally split up, the idea of sex was giving us both so much anxiety that it was like this third person living in our relationship,” Jane tells whimn.com.au.

“When I moved out, we hadn’t had sex in eight months.”

It wasn’t always this way

When Jane and Pete first met, the sex was as frequent as it was fabulous.

“It sounds so cliche but we couldn’t keep our hands off each other,” says Jane, “we were 26 and we’d do it everywhere — once we even had sex in his parents’ shower while his family was out the back having Christmas breakfast!”

Even in those lustful first few months, however, Jane noticed that she was usually the one initiating. “Pete was happy to go along with it, for sure,” she explains, “but now, looking back, I can see it was usually my job to kick things off.”

The couple soon moved in together, at which point Jane began to notice a sharp decline in the amount of sex they were having.

“Pete was — still is — an incredibly gentle, loving guy. We’d have these long, lazy mornings where we just snuggled into each other, but once it started moving to sex, I noticed he’d often cut it short or make an excuse to get up,” she recalls.

“We’d still have sex,” Jane continues, “but it was just increasingly infrequent and it would always be me initiating it.”

A holding pattern

Jane says she tried countless times to talk to Peter about it, with varying success.

“Whenever I asked him about the sex situation, he said he was perfectly happy with how things were in the bedroom,” she says, “either that, or he would say, ‘Look, I know things have been a bit quiet in the sex department lately, but I’m just tired,’ or make some other excuse — even when I was confronting him with the fact that we hadn’t done it in six weeks.”

“I genuinely don’t think he realized how little we were having sex because it didn’t seem to bother him.”

Jane says that, like many women who find themselves in similar situations, she immediately thought the worst.

“Of course I thought he was cheating on me,” she admits, “or that he was gay, or that perhaps he wasn’t attracted to me anymore. He swears black and blue that none of these options are true and I do believe him.”

“Over time, I became incredibly resentful. Try as he might to convince me that it wasn’t me, I took every rejection as a blow to my womanhood. I’d go out for drinks with my girlfriends who would whine about how much their partners pestered them for sex. It seemed like they just had to roll over in bed for their men to be up for it and here I was, night after night, lying there in tears and praying that he’d touch me.”

Jane’s quick to clarify just how good things were in every other part of her relationship — something that causes her a lot of pain.

“I know people will be thinking, ‘Well, why the hell did she go on and marry him if things were so bad?’” she says, in reference to the fact that 18 months ago, in spite of their sexual issues, the pair tied the knot. “But he was such a perfect partner in every other way. He was kind and supportive and affectionate — people always used to tell me how lucky I was. Ironically, when we did have sex, it was amazing sex! He was into it and we really connected. It’s just that he didn’t really need it very often and he couldn’t make himself.”

The beginning of the end

“It was actually our wedding night that made me realize it was going to end,” Jane says, “how tragic is that?”

“After a fairy-tale day, we left the venue to head off for our first night of our honeymoon in this fancy hotel,” she recalls.

“I had put all this effort into sexy lingerie, but by this stage, I was so traumatized by all the rejection that I was not going to lift a finger to initiate. Pete, on the other hand, was so nervous about having to put in a big sexy effort that even though he tried, the nerves got to him and he couldn’t perform. We ended up just holding each other and crying, with him apologizing that he couldn’t give me what I needed.”

The couple tried counseling with a sex therapist, but while things would temporarily improve, it never took long for them to fall back into old patterns.

“Eventually I stopped initiating and so did he. We just completely stopped having sex, until one day I just woke up with this clarity that I couldn’t live like this for the next 60 years,” says Jane.

“It broke my heart and still does every day, but I know leaving was the right thing.”

A brave new world

These days, Jane is wary of getting into something new but is enjoying her newfound sexual freedom.

“I miss Pete, but it has been so amazing to feel wanted again by someone,” she shares.

“I met someone a little while ago, just a casual thing and we are so sexually compatible. I feel completely connected physically to this guy and he has a healthy sexual appetite. There’s not much on the emotional side of things, which I think is what I need for now. But I can’t help wishing that I could just take this new man’s sexual appetite and morph it onto Pete — then it would be perfect.”

Does she have any advice for women who might find her tale familiar? Yep, but it’s not the advice you might expect.

“Think long and hard about whether you want to end things,” she says, “and try everything you can to get professional help before it becomes insurmountable. With Pete and I, we were too far gone by the time we both sought counseling and we had hurt each other too much. I often wonder what could have been if we’d had a frank, open discussion with a trained professional when it first became a problem.”

“Things might be very different now.”

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