DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m 50 yr old female with some serious issues revolving around sex. When I was 25, I was raped by a man I was dating. The mental toll that took on me me made me repress all of that for 10 years and turned me into a different person, almost like a multiple personality disorder. I became gay at age 26 then dated only women for the next 12 years.
The first woman I met, I had an all consuming sexual obsession with to the extent I thought I was in love with her. Then four years later, I ended up watching my best friend and her run away to be together. I came back to being with men at age 38, but the first man I was with was, once again, an all consuming sexual romance where I felt I took our sexual chemistry as a sign of fate. I could not let him go even after I saw him hook up with his best friend’s ex. I was so into him I had to leave the state we both lived in, because I was still going to their place asking him to talk to me and explain what was right in my face.
I reconnected with him 5 years later. I didn’t have the same romantic feelings for him, but my memory of our sex made me go right back to that as a reason to keep him in my life. He’s still a friend I’ll go see every year or so just for a memory lane hookup. I just got out of my most recent relationship that started as only a sexual thing, but I tried to stop that early on after I realized I had a pattern. I didn’t want to have just sex between us. But he stayed with me because he said he liked me, so we stayed in touch as friends. We actually did become close and fall in love and we stayed together in a truly unconditional love for 8 years but here’s the thing: as soon as he proposed, which was 3 years ago, the sex we barely had stopped. He was supportive of me to the point of codependency, and I needed all of the communication he brought out of me, but I felt no sexual desire for him after we realized we were in love.
He didn’t go further than giving the ring to me, so I didn’t get to plan the wedding. I moved out in June of this year and started seeing someone who, I will admit (like the others) is the best sex I’ve ever had in my life. He isn’t available all the time, so I think I feel more attracted to the elusiveness and fly by night side of things. He isn’t sharing himself and I don’t know who he’s with or where he is when he isn’t here. I don’t even talk to him on the phone. He will just call me up and say he needs me to pick him up and I will. I don’t think about anything all day except for that call and the last time he was here. I feel like a sex addict.
What am I ever going to be besides a side piece or fill in until the next girlfriend shows up? Why am I not girlfriend material?
Girl On the Side
DEAR GIRL ON THE SIDE: Oh man, GOTS, I’m so sorry that you went through that. It sounds like you’ve put a lot of time and effort into surviving and getting through that trauma, and it’s fairly clear how much it’s affected you in the aftermath.
I think the thing to focus on right now is that I believe you’re asking the wrong question here. I think the issue at hand isn’t whether or not you’re girlfriend material; it’s about how you see yourself. The commonality I see in the relationships and experiences that you’ve shared are how much sex and sexual connection have driven things, even when the relationships themselves weren’t the healthiest. In each of the relationships, you mention how intense the sexual connection was and how that lead you to stay in relationships that either no longer met your needs or were starting to become harmful.
Now, focusing on sex, sexuality and sexual connection isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. However, it seems like sex for you isn’t necessarily something that brings joy and connection right now so much as it’s the glue that’s keeping you in relationships that aren’t good for you. That’s why I think you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about whether you’re “good enough” to be more than a hook-up for your current beau, it’s about why do you stick with him at all?
It would be one thing if a no-strings, f--k-buddy relationship is what you wanted… but it seems pretty clear to me that you want more than that. So that alone would say to me that this isn’t a guy that you should be dating. The most generous interpretation of the situation would suggest that, while this dude may be a great lay, he isn’t boyfriend material for you. And if you’re looking for more than just bed-rocking, neighbor-annoying sex, that would make him a poor choice for a romantic or committed relationship. But that’s the generous interpretation.
The less generous interpretation is that he sees this casual relationship as a reason to treat you casually… and that’s deeply s--tty of him. Even if both parties are going into this wanting something strictly casual, it’s still important for everyone to treat each other with respect and dignity. From what you describe, it sounds like he’s treating you like he’s ordering a pizza, and you’re finding that dehumanizing and painful. That’s bad enough even if this were a mutually agreed-upon NSA arrangement. It’s worse if you’re in this hoping for love and romance… and worse still if he knows that.
So no, this isn’t about some fault in you that means you’re not girlfriend material. The fault is in him for treating you like a human-shaped Fleshlight, when that’s emphatically not what you want. So my question for you is: why keep someone around who treats you like this? You deserve better than that, and you should treat yourself like someone who deserves better than this.
I wouldn’t worry about why you’re not girlfriend material, GOTS. I think the first thing you need to do is dropkick this dude to the curb. Yeah, the sex is great, but great sex isn’t gonna make up for how much he shreds your soul in the process. Dump him with the quickness and your life will immediately improve, I guarantee it. There’re folks out there who’re amazing lays who also don’t treat their partners like s--t, and I would recommend looking for them instead.
Now with all that in mind… I think you may want to talk to a counselor or therapist who specializes in issues surrounding sex and sexuality. Like I said, it seems like you’re letting the sexual connection keep you in relationships that either don’t meet your needs or that become harmful to you, and that’s not good for your heart, your soul or your self-esteem. Talking with a sex-positive therapist could go a long way towards helping you understand why you’ve been following this pattern and — importantly — help you break it. That doesn’t mean that prioritizing sex is bad, far from it; I wish more people would prioritize sex and sexual connection in their relationships, especially at the beginning. However, when it seems that your prioritizing it in ways that lead you to stay in bad relationships… well, that’s a point where it’s best to talk to an actual doctor and not a loudmouth with an advice column.
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists has an excellent directory that can help you find a sex-positive counselor in your area, which can help you process your feelings around sex and relationships and work towards getting your physical and emotional needs met in a healthy way, by people who actually are worth f--king and/or dating. Because, let’s be honest: what benefit are those mindblowing orgasms if they’re coming with a heaping helping of “but why am I not good enough for him”… especially when the real issue is why is he not good enough for you?
Ditch this guy and find someone who’s worth your time and your bed, GITS. And talk to a counselor; it’ll make you feel better over all.
You’ve got this.
All will be well.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com