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#275531 - 02/16/09 04:14 PM Sex, or the lack thereof
dls2317 Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 7
I've been with my boyfriend (a CSA survivor) or almost six years now. He told me fairly early (about 2 months) into our relationship about the CSA.

For the past few months, he's been in therapy (whoo!). I'm thrilled that he's in therapy, and I'm so proud of him for finally tackling this thing. It takes a lot of guts to face CSA, and I'm continually in awe of him (and other survivors who have done so as well).

But, things are not perfect, of course. He doesn't seem to be getting any better--his outbursts are increasing, his need for control is increasing, and the sex between us is decreasing. I'm assuming this is part of the much-needed healing process; is that correct?

He's doing things to make himself less attractive to people in general--not shaving, showering every couple of days, not brushing his teeth--and you know what? It's working! I'm not attracted to him anymore. This has been the case for longer than he's been going to therapy; probably 3 or 4 years now. Is this normal for someone in recovery?

Also, what do I do with respect to my partner and my own needs? How long do i push aside my own feelings to support him? I've been struggling with this for years. At this point, I don't initiate (and I've told him so) because I don't want to trigger anything. That, and I've been turned down for sex more times than I've been, er, turned on. When we do have sex, I don't feel comfortable asking for what I want, which is not cool.

So, gentle readers, where is the line? When, as a partner, do you start demanding your needs be met, and when do you back the hell off and give your partner some time? How do you handle this?

Thanks, everyone!

#275543 - 02/16/09 05:48 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: dls2317]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Your bf sounds like a lot of guys around here (and probably a lot more out there who haven't tried healing). It sounds like his personal hygiene issues are trying to push you away. It may be a technique to avoid intimacy (not just the sexual intimacy but also the emotional intimacy.)

As a therapist working with male survivors, I like to get the partner in for a session or two to help get the partner's perspective. If there is hesitency there from him to this idea, I don't push it but I do emphasize that the partner is part of the support team and healing is a team effort. A willing partner (one who wants to help and is careful about his/her boundaries) can be a terrific resource.

Ask him if you can come to a session to give the therapist a sense of what is going on from your perspective. He may feel threatened that you are going to bring up some sensitive issues but if he can set boundaries of what is ok and not ok to talk about, you may get the invite. The off-limits topics may be off for now but could be addressed in later sessions if the initial one goes well. As the therapist, I would welcome any input from the partner who is likely much more aware of the serious issues affecting the survivor and the relationship.

#275552 - 02/16/09 06:30 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: dls2317]
Kathryn Offline

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 303
Rob has told me in the past that: 1) it uncomfortable for him when I initiate and 2) that he feels rejected when I don't initiate.

Control: control what?

Most of us try to control the amount of closeness and distance we need/want in a relationship -- be far enough away, but not too far.

How long do you put your own feelings and/or needs aside?

I have no idea, cuz I myself keep pushing the day of recogning off. It's not a bad thing to do, and in a way keeps me focused on today rather than some time in the future, which is probably a pretty good thing.

But, yes, I'd like to be able to both initiate and not initiate without both ways of being being a major ordeal. Catch 22's aren't fun.

And... creates further catch 22's -- like at this point I think it's up to Rob to communicate what he wants very clearly so that he sees that he's in control. But then again, I resent that he's in control.... so he's also damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

What's the solution? Being able to talk openly and honestly about a central issue in most relationships: the amount of closeness/distance each party feels most comfortable with, and what they think the amount of closeness is appropriate for a relationship, even if it falls outside of their comfort level.

I still haven't figured out just how much connectedness I need, so really don't know what to tell Rob. It would have to be an experiment, an ongoing process.

I find it interesting that talking about this issue can be so emotional.

It's easier to talk about other things -- like all those specific things we do to try to insure that there's X amount of closeness and X amount of distance.

As far as time: Maybe there's no time like the present.

Some therapists think that the issues of present, ongoing relationships is where the focus should be, and where healing happens.

Take care,

#275555 - 02/16/09 07:03 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: Kathryn]
lovehimso Offline

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 10
Loc: CA, USA
How many years of little to no sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy is long enough??? When can we as spouses hold up the flag and say enough is enough? I would have been ok ( i think ) had i been told from the beginning and given the opportunity to make a decision about my future . I was lied to, cheated on and deceived .... I was made to believe for 10 years that the lack of both was MY fault. I dont recall my marriage vows saying that my intimacy levels were going to be handed over carte my husband. Bitter? yes I am Resentful? yes i am Angry ? yes I am . I am so in love with my husband even after all is said and done .... I am so so sorry that he had such horrific things happen to him . I have read every book I can get my hands on about the abuses that he has had to endure and the ramifications they have on his life , my life and our childrens lives. I just cant help myself sometimes thinking that HEY I did NOT sign up for this ..... I didnt ask to be lied to , and have my reactions to those lies used against me in response to his abuse . IF i had known the truth I very well might not have reacted the way I did . This is a painful , rejection filled marriage and certainly in no way the marriage that I had envisioned it would be. I am as devoted a wife , mother , friend , as i can possibly be ... and though i as all bring my own baggage into this , I also work on a daily basis to sift through my crap as well to make our marriage the best it can be . I have struggled for years to gain acceptance into this mans world , to the extent of losing my self in the process. I look forward , to all responses from the spouses who have felt in some form what i am feeling. I am on the verge of throwing up the white flag and surrendering the fight, even though i know at this point would devastate my husband , I am just not sure I am strong enough anymore to get through this . It is a very sad day .

#275561 - 02/16/09 09:03 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: lovehimso]
Kathryn Offline

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 303

Hey, I'm so sorry you're having such a rough time.

I don't think we do anyone any favors by not having relatively clear boundaries. How you create these boundaries after so much deception is something I really have no idea about. One of those questions I haven't yet found an answer to in my own life.

"I have struggled for years to gain acceptance into this mans world".


Seriously, that just doesn't work - not for you or your husband.

There has to be mutual acceptance. Back to the boundary issue. Boundaries have to be made, including that he has to move into your world as much as you move into his.

Lying: I'm not sure how a person who has spent many years lying about important stuff builds that internal boundary where feelings of guilt make lying an ego-dystonic thing. So again, just don't have the answers.

And only you can decide if you want to live your life with someone who doesn't have the internal boundary -- and nothing YOU do can create it. No rules of engagement will work. No amount of spying, no amount of him being accountable to you for his time, etc....

It's a self structure that was destroyed (or never developed) by living in a situation where lying was necessary for survival.

Rob says he didn't feel that guilty about lying. He just got used to it. And while today he can choose not to lie, he can't simply choose to have that self structure where lying just plain feels bad.

Take care,

#275565 - 02/16/09 09:32 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: Kathryn]
lovehimso Offline

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 10
Loc: CA, USA

Thank you for responding .

"he has to move into your world as much as you move into his."

In reference to the above statement.... that has never been done , our whole sexual relationship has been on his terms , his time , his choices . All of it. There have never been any discussions or communication about even a compromise. I am hoping to gain as much knowledge as possible in regards to his SA that will help me to understand what he is going thru and why he has chosen some of the things he has . I honestly think i have enabled him to continue on this path because I can always find a way to excuse his behaviors , he relys on that . He knows that I have forgiven him many things , that no matter what the issue it is me that makes the concession to lessen the degree of how badly his behavior has affected me. Trying to make sense of all this is sometimes so overwhelming to me. I am always looking for what I am doing or have done wrong , and what part my issues add to things . I hope I dont get beat up to bad , by coming across so callous to my husbands trauma. That is certainly not the case. My husband is a wonderful , caring , strong , resilient man ( husband , father ). I wish there was a way that i could personally take away all the pain he has had to endure all alone for so many years. I cannot. I am just having a difficult time with the fact that the fate of our marriage is hanging in the balance . I'm sorry if I am rambling and not making sense , I have so many emotions , fears and frustrations right now I dont know how to separate them . Thanks again for the input

#275624 - 02/17/09 09:14 AM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: lovehimso]

Registered: 02/15/09
Posts: 7
Found out about my husband's abuse acting out with other men cheating and lying after being together for 27 yrs and I'm still reeling from the blows.Read your post and really identified with some of what you have to say.I am new here and do not understand why that while I will fight for healing he prefers to hide at work with his very dysfunctional family and in the bottom of a beer bottle and throw me and our nuclear family under the bus.He shows up for therapy parrots the words and does none of the worl.The bubbling cauldron in my head finally overflowed when I realized he was just cruising b'cause I wasn't mad and manipulated me again into believing him.I really went overboard .I attacked with all the filth I could muster.The emotional affair he is having at work and through e-mails with this girl tipped me over the edge.Has this happened to any of you and what advice do you have?Sorry about the rambling,feeling kinda devasted.

#275661 - 02/17/09 01:51 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: DESPERATELY TYIN]
dls2317 Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 7
Thanks, everyone, for your replies. Lovehimso, I'm sorry you're going through this. But it's nice to know I'm not alone in having kind of a tug of war between wanting a healthy relationship for me, and not wanting to be callous or uncaring about my partner's pain.

We talked for about an hour last night about this, and it helped a lot, I think, but of course only time will tell. He's going through a particular rough patch in therapy, and only said that he's remembering a lot of what happened, and that it was much worse than he thought. What he had thought was pretty bad to begin with, so I'm worried. He didn't elaborate, and I didn't push him.

Last night was particularly bad. He was playing video games in the same room, but he could have been on mars. When we talked about it, he told me he was having trouble being vulnerable in front of me, and that he didn't want to depend on me so much that I would leave. I told him that if he continues to shut me out, that's not good or healthy either.

I keep trying to remind myself that things will get better, and he says that too. I'm still SO glad he made it to therapy; it's taken him so long to face this, and I'm so proud of him. But in the meantime, it just sucks. I do count myself lucky, though; things are hard, but he's a wonderful man and is really trying to be a good partner, even if is mostly unable to be a good partner. I think we'll get through this, but damn, this is not easy.

#277430 - 02/27/09 12:13 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: dls2317]
ChristineTrying Offline

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 36
Yep, In the same room yet miles away.

It is sad that we (the partners) have to push our own needs and wants to the wayside, or at the least are made to feel guilty about our own needs and wants, in order to have these relationships with these men. In all my life I've never come across a guy who didn't want sex until my current bf. Yes I can understand why he doesn't want it but what am I supposed to do? One reason I'm in a relationship is so that I can freely have sex with someone (besides myself), someone who was trusted and cared about me. Well that's funny because I'd probably now have more trust in a complete stranger.

I sometimes think sex is nothing, why do I even care. It was never that good with him anyway so why does it matter that I don't get it from him now or that he never wants to initiate it. It matters because me, myself, I, need to feel that I am a whole person, a whole woman and to me being a complete woman means sharing love and sex with someone else. Without it, I'm a sad, lonely, bitter person.

Yes we can have connections with a man, love him, have his children, etc etc etc, but I also think that we as women deserve to have that basic need fulfilled, and with most women, sex with a partner is a validation that we are loved, cared and wanted.

I'm sorry for the abused/victims struggles but as someone else asked, how long do we give up ourselves to take care of these other people and is the effort really worth it?

Oh how I long for the days of unihibited sex---not ever having to worry oh jeez, I can't say that to him because it will 'trigger' something in him or I can't do that because that's what someone else did to him. Then the other side of the coin, I can only do 'this' to him because that's the only way he's ever had sex and even though it's what his 'perp' did to him, it's how he likes it even though it makes me want to vomit.

Yes I love my guy but how long do I hide myself?

Don't know if any of this helps or is just a reiteration of what you've already said.

I do feel for you. I've only been with mine for 4 years and the time to leave is very soon.


#277477 - 02/27/09 05:44 PM Re: Sex, or the lack thereof [Re: ChristineTrying]
michael banks Offline

Registered: 06/12/08
Posts: 1755
Loc: Mojave Desert, Ca

Just wanted to thank you for your honesty and trnasparancy that you have shown in this thread. It has really opened my eyes to my tendencies to be totally selfish and self-absorb in my own csa issues and recovery. And my total lack of understanding,compassion and awareness of my wifes feelings and needs. That my recovery is not only just about myself and my issues but also about those of my wife. You made me realize that I am not the only one dealing with issues that have so profoundly affected my life and our lives.
That I need to also take time to make sure that my wifes needs are being met also. To be there for her as she is there for me.

Thank You,


To own one's shadow is the highest moral act of a human.
-Robert Johnson-

"IT ought never be forgotten that the past is the parent of the future" John C. Calhoun

WOR Alumni Sequoia 2009

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