I get a lot of emails from readers from time to time, and for some reason, this past week has been filled with emails. Some are easy answers, some are ones I don’t want to tackle, some involve giving instruction (which I dislike doing, so I take my time), and some are just total mind-fucks, like this one.
The long and the short of it is a bit complicated, and due to privacy concerns, I don’t want to quote his email directly. Let’s call him Jimi, since he sounds like the rockstar type.
When he and his girlfriend got together, they had wild marathon sex constantly. He couldn’t get enough of her and it seemed to be mutual. He’s a guy with a sex drive in overdrive, and having a partner who’s into sex as much as he is happens to be a pretty major consideration when committing. He thought he had that in this woman.
She changed, suddenly, when her father had a heart attack. It turns out that she was raised Catholic, and in this moment of crisis, she turned to God and made a vow that, if her father was to live, she would abstain from sex until marriage.
Although he neglects to mention, I’m pretty sure the father lived, because Jimi hasn’t been getting laid much in the last two years. He’s in love with the girl, so he’s taking this in stride, but after two years of little happening, he’s nearing breaking point. Don’t get this wrong, she’s been getting her orgasms. He pleasures her orally, etc, and occasionally they “slip” and have sex, which is always good, but he says that, since she vowed God she’d abstain, he finds himself embroiled in guilt after they’ve finished. While he does non-intercourse things to satisfy her, it seems she doesn’t return the favours. Not very democratic, eh?
His dilemma is, how does he proceed? Does he marry her? Does he break up? Does he confront her? Honestly, fuck if I know.
Here’s the deal: Catholicism is a life-long all-ages ticket to ride the guilt train. You cannot possibly understand the absolutely overbearing sense of guilt and fear that is bred into you when you’re raised Catholic unless you’ve been exposed first-hand. Trust me, I not only drank the Kool-aid but spent 10 years in Catholic school, going to mass probably 5 times a week for 60% of that time. Guilt has been a lifelong struggle for me. It does not ever go away, as far as I can tell thus far.
And I understand the absolute horror of knowing your parent could die. I was far closer to my mother than I am to my father, and even so, when my father nearly suffered a stroke last year, I was terrified.
Religion, as we’ve all heard, is a crutch. Take that as you like, but when it comes down to difficult times, religion’s a pretty easy thing to lean on to get you through. Adversity is hard on all of us, but having a creed that tells you everything’s gonna be all right after the dying of the light somehow makes it easier to get through, regardless of how much you live your life according to the faith.
That said, I’ve made my own vows to God. I can’t remember what I promised then, but I remember being in the shower and just knowing with absolute certainty my mother was going to die, and promising God I’d behave better, be more moral, give up drugs, whatever the fuck I promised, if only she’d live.
She died. I was off the hook – literally and figuratively. I descended into a few years of craziness and here we are now. If she’d lived, I’m pretty sure my life would be a world away from where it is now, whether I liked it or not. That’s the price you pay when you promise God to behave better, and you secretly believe in His wrath, thanks to the upbringing you’ve been dealt.
Girlfriend made her vow, and now she’s struggling to keep it. The question is, where does that leave Jimi?
Between a rock and a hard place.
I’m a firm believer that, whatever you enter a relationship for – their looks, their personality, their sex drive – that you are, essentially, entitled to a reasonable expectation that that status quo will continue. If their sex drive dries up overnight, you have reason to be concerned about the future of your relationship. If they gain 60lbs, you have every right to be upset about the change in your lover. If they become moody and morose and give you no reason to enjoy spending time with them, you have cause to be concerned. It’s not selfish – it’s simply expecting your partner to live up to the terms of the agreement; that they are the person you fell for, and will continue to be that person, or will at least change in ways that are congruent to who they were at the time of the initial hook-up.
In the restaurant business, one of the “rules” for success is, you’re only as good as your last service. In relationships, we all go through rough patches, but the immediate past is the part that’s most relevant to the present, not the good times that were had five years past. Problems emerge, solutions need to be found, and life can hopefully continue. But if you’ve gone and changed the rules of the relationship without cluing in your lover, you are establishing grounds for dismissal.
Relationships go two ways. Agreements and communication and compromises are the lifeblood of any good relationship. If you have adversity and need to change how you’re acting in the relationship, you need to discuss that with your lover, otherwise, they have good reason for leaving you. It’s really that simple.
So, Girlfriend’s withdrawn the sex that made her so desirable. Fortunately, she still has personality and a lot to offer. The question is, can Jimi handle living a life with less sexual promise? That depends on him. She’s essentially notched herself down from love interest-non-pareil to friend with occasional benefit.
Her motivations for doing so may be questionable to the rest of us. Who knows, maybe Jimi can solve his problems over Bloody Marys and a little rat poisoning during a tete-a-tete with the father, but something tells me that, one way or the other, he needs to come to terms with the fact that his lover had no problem making a decision that impacted both of their lives in a dramatic way. Instead of turning to him for support, she turned to God. Not that I’m saying turning to God is a bad thing, I’m just saying Jimi should have been consulted before she decided the future of their relationship without his input.
And when she decided sex was no longer on the menu, she should have done the right thing and said, “This will change things between us, and while I can live with that, you need to decide if you can.”
The facts are, Jimi, pretty simple: She has changed, whether you want to understand why or not. She made a major decision without consulting you. She handles stress, clearly, in less than practical ways. She withholds sex either to punish herself or punish you, whether the eyes of God are watching or not. If things haven’t changed back to what you call normalcy yet, you need to accept that they may not ever change. She has a reason to explain away her lack of interest in sex now, and if you marry, who’s to say she won’t find a new reason then?
Your relationship is only as good as the recent past has been. We can’t go into our Way Back machines and remember fondly the way it usedta be, because the facts are, it is what it is, and you have to go with the averages.
Am I telling you to walk? No. I’m telling you to be realistic. Will she change back to the girl of old? Who fucking knows. Is that a gamble you’re willing to stake your sexual future on? Who fucking knows. Can you justify cheating on her to get what you need while she figures herself out again? No. Not for a second.
So you have a choice to make. You want to hold on to the memories of how it used to be and might one day be again, or do you want to live in the moment and experience life as it unfolds? You decide.
You could always let her know exactly why you’re going through so much emotional turmoil over this, and tell her you’ve been patient, you’ve tried to understand, but that she ultimately changed the rules of the game without telling you, and you’ve never had the option to choose – but now you’re making that choice, and you’re around if she decides you’re worth changing her mind about that vow, but for now, you need to discover yourself again.
Either way, you’re in a shitty situation. I feel sympathy for her, but she’s up against a mighty powerful religion that really, really fucks with your conscience. That, I know first-hand. Good luck, dude.