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#65526 - 03/07/05 07:19 PM Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
I remain feeling somewhat stumped with regard to the many intimacy issues that seem to afflict relationships in which one or both partners have suffered SA. It can all feel so utterly exhausting and crazy-making much of the time. In my relationship, at least, it is the number one source of conflict, heartache, resentment, distrust, and so forth these days.

For the first few months after our recent reunion it had seemed that all of the passion and at least some of sexual openness/connection had returned to our relationship at last, just like in the early days of our initial courtship, but over the past while it has largely disappeared again.

In our case, sometimes it seems to me that the main problem is really quite simple to understand/identify: Given that as a child my partner was sexually abused by his father--and for years--it's not hard to see how being sexually intimate with someone he loves, trusts, and should naturally feel safe with feels anything but "safe" or "right." I mean, the two most important people in his life when he was a boy--the ones he should have felt safest and most trusting with, most loved and protected by--proved to be anything but safe, affirming, loving and trustworthy. His father sexually abused and violated him, repeatedly, while his mother seems to have pretended not to suspect/know what was going on...and she's certainly never talked about it with him, even after all these years. Moreover, from what I gather, his was not at all a demonstrative family when it came to affection...things like hugs or even just verbal expressions of affection were not commonplace at all--certainly not from his mother, who remains (IMO) a rather critical, judgemental, and nervous/tense woman, who lives mostly as an isolate (outside of her phone calls and visits with her three sons) and with whom none of them ever discuss much of a personal nature.

Indeed, she does not know many important things about her own sons--substance abuse problems, and run-ins with the law, for example--though I've no doubt that at some level she suspects more than she lets on. In addition, her sons are adamant that she not know about such things, as they say she "couldn't handle it" (personally I don't agree at all, but it is not for me to make that call). If nothing else, it is clear that there is much about themselves and their respective lives that they do not wish her to know. Nobody really talks much with her about anything outside of politics/current affairs, their work, or maybe the tap she needs them to fix. They are very devoted to and protective of her though, especially my guy (the eldest son) and her youngest: the two with long-standing histories of alcohol & substance abuse (which has caused each of them problems with the law on more than one or two occasions and gained them both criminal records); the ones with recurrent financial crises/problems; sporadic, dysfunctional, short-lived and unstable relationships with women; the ones who have fathered children but never had custody of those children, etc. (Though both now in their 40's, neither of them has ever married, nor lived with anyone longer than a couple of years, and both have gone for periods of years w/o any steady partner at all.)

Except for my partner--and him only once or twice a year, very briefly, by phone or email--no one in the family has had any contact with their father for 10 or 20 years now. His two brothers (who suffered the same SA he did) refuse to even acknowledge the man's existence and he is never talked about.

Anyway, my guy and his youngest brother in particular seem to put their mother (who is 75) on some kind of pedestal, and live somewhat at her beck and call--ensuring that she has plenty of firewood split, stacked and ready for her fireplace, and responding to frequent calls from her to repair various things around her house, take her shopping (though she is quite capable of driving herself, has her own car, and is actually quite an independent, healthy woman), and so forth.

I used to be impressed with how devoted my guy was to his mother, with how he was so conscientious about ensuring that she had whatever she needed to live comfortably, etc. But after three+ years, I have come to see an underlying dynamic in his relationship with her that I find quite disturbing. Especially when I consider the possibility that the problems with intimacy in our relationship are eerily reminescent of what some call "The Madonna-Whore Syndrome [or Complex]."

For those not familiar with this syndrome, it refers to a complex some men seem to have about women: That women are either of the "good girl" variety (sweet, honest, dependable, respectable, marriageable), or of the "bad girl" type...sexy and exciting, perhaps even irresistably so, the kind you'd happily ball, but would never feel emotionally devoted/close to.

Men with the M-W Syndrome generally feel very emotionally connected and devoted to their significant other, but do not find her of much interest sexually; at least, not once the relationship was become a committed, emotionally close one for them. And this is something that creates much confusion, hurt, and loss of esteem for their significant other. Typically, these men habitually seek out sexual liasons with other women with whom they are not emotionally attached, usually in secret, while remaining emotionally devoted to their primary partner. Most (if not all) efforts on the part of their primary partner to rekindle sexual passion--especially if the effort is blatently sexual--are rebuked by these men at best, denigrated and judged "whorish," etc, at worst.

The theory is, at least in part, that these men have unresolved issues with their mother stemming from unmet needs for emotional intimacy from/with her during childhood. They tend to put their mother on a pedestal, just as they do their primary partner in adulthood, but this kills/precludes being able to experience or sustain any sexual passion for their partner; after all, who wants to f**k their mother?

So my question is: Does the M-W Syndrome seem to be particularly common in relationships like mine, where my man was sexually abused as a child?
I am reluctant to diagnose or label, but the shoe does seem to fit in many ways. Does any of what I've written here ring a familiar bell for partners/survivors on this site?

Stride

(edited to add trigger warning to topic)

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65527 - 03/07/05 08:11 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
dwf Offline
Moderator/BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 1223
Loc: Austin, Texas USA
Hello, stride,

There was a really frank movie by this title made in the '70s. French, of course, it was called 'La Mere et La Pu***n' ('The Mother and the Whore').

I saw that movie as a young man and that's about all I know about this syndrome/complex.

However, I do know that men who have been sexually abused, and particularly those with whom a parent committed incest, suffer from all manner of dysfunction, sexual and otherwise.

It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the part of the equation about your partner and his family.

I guess my response to you would be somewhat of a challenge, if I may?

Where do you fit in with this bunch of misfits?

It must be a very difficult place to be for you; the scenario sounds very unpleasant, to say the least.

I seem to have been in a similar relationship as a gay man and had the same sort of reaction. At first, putting the best face on it, I admired my partners devotion to his mother.

After meeting her and experiencing what a vicious shrew she was, it very much lessened my opinion of him.

My partner had been molested by his step-father, usually in the guise of enemas, with his mother standing by. Yet he continued to cherish the memory of his deceased step-father and to cater to his demanding, abusive, alcoholic mother's needs.

I sort of gave up on trying to figure out what was wrong with him and all those people. With good advice and professional help, I did what was best for me.

It was difficult to leave him, this was 4 years ago, but in retrospect it was an impossible situation for anyone to be in.

I did get out of the relationship and stayed out for good. As far as I know they are still locked in their cynical, dysfunctional embrace.

What I found out was that for me, I cannot exist in a relationship with someone who cannot or will not attempt to recover from sexual abuse.

Even with a man who is attempting to recover, there are many, many difficulties to try to pass through.

But when the hermetically sealed family dynamic of abuse is allowed to fester indefinitely, then I would conclude that there is absolutely no hope of a positive result.

I discovered about myself that I was seeking to rescue my man; perhaps to prove to myself that i was stronger than the abuse. It was a losing struggle.

I hope some of my experience may be of help to you.

Also I hope that you will take extra care to be very kind and nurturing to yourself. You seem to be in a particularly difficult spot now and it makes sense that you will need extra loving attention. It doesn't sound like you can expect it from your partner or his family.

Making plans to get the love, attention and caring that I need is much more productive that wondering why I cannot get it from those closest to me.

When I began really taking care of myself, for example refusing to go and visit the abusive mother, that act of self-care began the rupture in my relationship. I also insisted on going to as many therapy sessions, AA and Al-Anon meetings and talks with friends, as I needed.

That also pissed both of them off.

As a friend of mine often observes (usually when I am busy analysing a situation), "If we understand things, they are just as they are. If we don't understand them, they are the same."

In any case, be good to yourself. It's good that you are asking questions about them.

They may lead you to some answers about yourself.

Regards,

_________________________
"Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang"

-Tony Joe White

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#65528 - 03/07/05 09:07 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
beautifuldisaster Offline
Member

Registered: 01/03/05
Posts: 85
Loc: usa
My husband is a wonderful man (wonderful husband, father and provider for his family) with intimacy issues stemming from childhood SA that involved his oldest brother (hubby is youngest of 4 boys).
His mother is an incredible woman that is honest, independant, opinionated and warm. She has no idea of the abuse my husband was subjected to.
His father is my husband's hero. He was an involved man who took time to teach my husband how to be a good father and husband.
My husband seems to have the characteristics of this sydrome also...although not to the extreme measures I have read about.
We went from a very hot, passionate relationship...to what I feel became almost non-existant for a period of time. As we have slowly worked on his SA issues, he is beginning to recogize the dysfunction in intimacy issues.
However, there is a part of him buried so deep it seems he almost cant grasp one relationship with both emotion and sex involved. It seems to be one or the other.

I actually pulled up a link to the M/H syndrome, and had him read it....his expression said everything.

_________________________
I AM THE MASTER OF MY DREAMS,
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL-

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#65529 - 03/07/05 11:58 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Caetel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/03
Posts: 322
Loc: Paris, France
Hi Stride !

I can tell you that I have been trapped in the rôle of Madonna and what happened next was that V got into a relationship with a Whore type of girl who was much more sexy than me, very liberated in terms of sexual flirting and I guess with the rest. Having a lot issues myself because of the incest this betrayal has been devastating for me. It still hurts so bad. I have been thinking he has done that because of my sexual problems (since I told him about them) and because he needed someone he could enjoy sex with and not really bother about possible problems. It has been terrible for me because he had done it after I had the courage to trust him, speaking openly about my darkest secrets and fears. After he went on having this affair, I was left with no confidence whatsoever.
I have read somewhere that in the normal sexual development of guys, they go through a phase of making love to girls they just fancy as a way of geeting over "mummy". After that phase they slowly learn to develop and enjoy intimacy and love in their relationship and love making.
Knowing that V has his issues, obviously linked to madonna/whore syndrome, it is nevertheless a matter of fact that I wasn't good enough and he had to turn to someone else. I am so hurt but I have to accept the fact that sexually I am left with the scars of my abuse. I hope someday someone will be there for me all the way despite all the issues.
Thank you for bringing this on the board. I am crying now so I guess it was important to share this with you. Blessings
Caro

_________________________
Mitakuye oyasin ! We are all related !

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#65530 - 03/08/05 12:58 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
Hi Danny,

First, thank you for the heads-up on the (French) movie. I'm going to see if I can't get a hold of a copy.

Quote:
I guess my response to you would be somewhat of a challenge, if I may?

Where do you fit in with this bunch of misfits?
Quote:
Ahhh...an incisive and telling question for me, and one for which I have any number of responses to, depending on my viewpoint at the time. In the first place, I too was sexually abused as a child. I was molested once at age 5 by a friend of my father's and then raped at age 14 by another associate of his--events that I made both of my parents aware of almost immediately. Their response, however, was anything but supportive.

In the first instance, they insisted I keep my mouth shut about it and, in fact, had the perp over for dinner the very next night, despite knowing full well what had happened (a 5 yr old simply doesn't come up with the kind of details I did on his/her own!). Moreover, they continued their association with him for a good long while afterwards, insisting that I be polite and gracious towards him at all times, and basically pretend that what had happened hadn't happened.

In the 2nd case, an acquaintance of my father who he had arranged to house & care for me while my father was out-of-town for 3 months, got drunk and raped me on my last night there. I told my parents (who had just reunited after their most recent break-up) about it the next day. Their response? That if I didn't act "so provocatively" and didn't "dress like a french whore," it never would have happened. Aside from that, the subject was to be dropped. Period. In other words, *I* was the problem and it was my fault.

Add to that the fact that while my father never physically sexually abused me, he had sexualized his relationship with me from a very early age...always going on about sex, sexy women, women with "great asses" who gave great head, etc, and often confiding to me about his many affairs, as well as complaining to me that my mother was "frigid" and a "prude." I worshipped my father in those early years, so the message I got from him, in part, was that being a sexy woman and good in bed was of paramount importance.

But as I said, my parents' 26 year marriage was punctuated by very frequent break-ups (usually as a result of his infidelity and his chronic, vicious psychological abuse of both my mom and all 4 of us kids--I'm the oldest--as well as the occasional bout of violence). My father was also very much a "playboy" in his own right: Good looking, a real charmer of women, always driving some sexy little sports car (while we kids wore hand-me-downs, often shared mattresses on the floor out of necessity and did our laundry at laundromats), and regularly experimenting with/indulging in "recreational" drugs, as well as spending considerable amounts of time/money out with his friends at local pubs--friends who were usually a lot younger than himself, I might add. (Funny, but most of my guy's friends are also many years younger than we are.)

Also, while I was clearly my father's "favourite" child and the only one with whom he would spend any time, such times were never long-lived and he repeatedly abandoned me when the latest (adult) "love of his life" appeared on the horizon. Yet whenever the latest "love of his life" affair ended, as they invariably did, it was me he would turn to, tears, confessions, intimate revelations, n' all, whether I was 6 or 14.

So part of my answer to your "challenge" is that my own primary relationships from a very early age, were pretty unhealthy and very unstable/insecure, especially with men. That, and highly sexualized in a pretty twisted way. I cannot recall a time in my life--especially during the first 30 years--when I wasn't highly preoccupied with sex. And while I feel I've had a much better handle on my own abandonment and boundary issues over the past several years, I am aware that they've not completely left me; especially the stuff around maintaining boundaries. Anyway, it makes sense that I would be attracted to men who share some fundamental things in common with my father, and with whom I seem endlessly seeking, however unconsciously at times, to realize a "happy ending" with.

Quote:
It must be a very difficult place to be for you; the scenario sounds very unpleasant, to say the least.
Quote:
Yes, it certainly can be. But then again, I think deep down it is simply what I know. It is familiar territory in so many ways. Unpleasant? Quite often--even devastatingly so at times; particularly when it comes to matters of trust and sexual intimacy. In a very real sense you could say that being involved with a man who has some serious issues and inner conflicts around sexual intimacy, provides me with a vehicle by which I am forced to sort out and confront my own baggage. Make sense?

I wouldn't say that my guy's mother is a "vicious shrew" like your ex's apparently was, but she's certainly not warm, social or embracing either. Moreover, she seems somewhat jealous or suspicious of her sons' g/fs, most often refusing to attend social/family functions of which the g/fs will be a part, etc, and sometimes even making very uninformed, unfair, negative comments about them (the g/fs) to her sons. (Tonight, as another example of how things are with her, she has asked my SO to stop in on his way home from work to move some furniture for her and stay for supper. Though she knows that this is my day off, I was not invited, as she says "having a 'female' over for dinner would make [his mom] feel like [she'd] have to make a fuss about things and [she] doesn't want to have to do that." Whatever the case, I find it rather offensive that she will invite him for supper but not me, and never seems to give any thought to what other plans we may have already had in place. I can make an issue of it with him, but rarely do as her "suppers" don't come up more than once or twice a month and, let's face it, one must choose their battles.)

More telling, in my view, was the following: When I moved out of our place the last time, my guy's mother never asked him (and certainly did not ask me!)what the issues were between us, nor encouraged him in any way to consider whether it might be worth trying to work things out. Indeed, her only response was apparently to tell him she thought he was probably just like her and "not cut out for anything but living alone and single." That he'd probably be happier to remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. What kind of a mother encourages or wants her son to live a life without anyone special in it to love and share with him??? What the hell kind of message is that??? (rhetorical questions)

Quote:
I sort of gave up on trying to figure out what was wrong with him and all those people. With good advice and professional help, I did what was best for me.
Quote:
Good call! I've 'been there and done that' before for various periods, and always seem to flourish once the worst of the grieving period had abated. Just don't seem fully committed to "staying with the program" over the long haul, I guess. Especially once there seems evidence of positive change and things start looking like they might just work out after all. Many have called me a "hopeless romantic," but since when did pragmatism have much bearing on matters of the heart? I'm a smart woman and not one most would consider gullible, but when it comes to my relationship history, I'm probably a textbook example of "Smart Woman, Foolish Choices" (paraphrased). Still, isn't love and commitment about sticking it out through the hard times and being there for each other instead of just throwing in the towel when things get tough? (Yeh, yeh, I know, it's the mutuality of "for each other" that's key here...and in certain key areas, the part that's missing from our life together--most especially in bed.)

Quote:
What I found out was that for me, I cannot exist in a relationship with someone who cannot or will not attempt to recover from sexual abuse.
Quote:
I strive to be so resolute, but I'm not there yet. Nonetheless I am acutely aware of the wisdom you're espousing here.

Quote:
I was seeking to rescue my man....It was a losing struggle.
Quote:
I have considered this possibility in myself countless times throughout most of my long-term relationships (I've had 4 serious, long-term relationships in my life, inlcuding my current one), though I am loathe to think that I may be "a rescuer." I certainly do not start off feeling any need to "rescue" anyone. In fact, WRT my current relationship, one of the things that appealed to me in the first place was that he seemed pretty grown-up, responsible, conscientious and so forth. He also seemed pretty comfortable with his own sexuality and sex in general, and was very communicative on a personal level during the first few months that we dated, even telling me, however briefly, about his SA history. A good listener, considerate, interested and open to getting to know me better, etc. He did not seem at all is if he wanted nor was in need of a rescuer. Hmmm...the Great Pretend? Still, I can't say that there weren't some important red flags raised for me even then, which I, regrettably, chose to ignore.

As far as nurturing and caring for myself goes, I do struggle with this from time-to-time, but continue to make a conscientious effort to do just that, to the best of my ability, one day at a time. However, things can get so damned confusing with all the mixed messages sometimes that I become unsure of what exactly self-care would look like. I mean, when is it self-care and when is it being unduly unsupportive and/or unfair to my partner? Clearly, I continue to have some difficulties with matters of boundaries as well...

Quote:
Making plans to get the love, attention and caring that I need is much more productive that wondering why I cannot get it from those closest to me.
Quote:
Once again, very well stated. A most pointed and appreciated reminder: Thank you! :p

I have not refused all of my guy's requests that I stop in with him to see his mother, though I rarely do go with him at those times. If it's a spontaneous drop-in and expected to be brief, I will often just remain in the car, though it's clear that he's rather bothered by/uncomfortable with this, and finds it rather rude of me. As for spending time with friends, counsellors or similar sources of support (including visiting this site) in trying to get help for myself, it does tend to piss him off and/or cause conflicts for us, at least so long as he suspects it has anything to do with him (which it almost always does). As far as he's concerned, the only person I should be discussing problems in our relationship with is him...it our "private business" and not at all an appropriate topic of discussion to be having with others.

Blah, blah, blah.

Quote:
As a friend of mine often observes (usually when I am busy analysing a situation), "If we understand things, they are just as they are. If we don't understand them, they are the same."
Quote:
GREAT quote!!! And so true.

Thank you for the holding up the mirror, Danny.
I do appreciate it more than you know. Interesting stuff, this, hmmmm?

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65531 - 03/08/05 01:23 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Stride

Quote:
For those not familiar with this syndrome, it refers to a complex some men seem to have about women: That women are either of the "good girl" variety (sweet, honest, dependable, respectable, marriageable), or of the "bad girl" type...sexy and exciting, perhaps even irresistably so, the kind you'd happily ball, but would never feel emotionally devoted/close to.

Men with the M-W Syndrome generally feel very emotionally connected and devoted to their significant other, but do not find her of much interest sexually; at least, not once the relationship was become a committed, emotionally close one for them. And this is something that creates much confusion, hurt, and loss of esteem for their significant other.
That's something I kinda knew was going on, but never thought about that much, until I read that.

It describes something I've done up until fairly recently, find myself attracted to the 'slappers' in a purely sexual way.

I've never acted out with other women since I met my wife, 33 years ago. But that attraction has always been there, and I have exploited it sometimes. But nothing more than flirting.

The cleaner at work is a woman I've known longer than my wife, and although she's married I know at least 6 or 7 other guys she's had flings with. And a while back she came after me.
She's got dyed blonde hair with roots, and is not what even the charitable would call good looking, and she's as dumb as a box of hair!
But the sexual attraction was undeniable.

Maybe it was flattery, because I'm no oil painting :rolleyes: But the thought of uncomplicated sex with a more than willing partner did have some appeal. I know, from the other guys experiences, that she wasn't after everlasting love, just sex.
So maybe the attraction came down to the thought of sex without emotions involved?
That's a very powerful attraction for people like me who can't seem to seperate the powerful, and wrong, emotions that we now have around sex.

It's why so many survivors masturbate instead of having sex with the partner they love dearly, we can't stand the emotional overload.
And a woman offering uncomplicated sex is just one step up from masturbation ( in 'our' view )

In all the many topics I've seem on this forum about men betraying their wives and partners with other women, I can't recall any that say their men went off on an 'emotional and loving' relationship.
( but if there are any, I think it will be a minority ) It seems to be more about seperation of sex and emotion for us that wanting a whole new emotional relationship.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#65532 - 03/08/05 02:39 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Dave, Stride and all,
Quote:

So maybe the attraction came down to the thought of sex without emotions involved?
That's a very powerful attraction for people like me who can't seem to seperate the powerful, and wrong, emotions that we now have around sex.
I wonder if some of this attraction has less to do with a willing, or "sexy," partner and more to do with an inferior partner.

If a survivor feels that sex is disrespectful or linked to power, or not something that happens between equals, it makes sense that he might choose life partners, or sex partners, who'll make it easy for him to figure out where the power is.
This could mean sexual attraction to women who fall into the "inferior to me" category-- whether the reasons behind that have to do with sexual morality, intellect, looks, or life circumstances I think it's sort of the same result.

It occurs to me that this thinking could also result in men choosing partners they see as superior to them in some way-- stronger or smarter or more fully recovered-- and then later resenting the role they've given themselves of "inferior partner."

I see some of that in my relationship-- my boyfriend would back out of "intellectual" conversations, ignore any attempt to bring him into the discussion, then get angry about being left out. He has a hard time accepting compliments about his intelligence or believing that I think he's as smart as I am-- and I also think he chose the dumbest acting-out partner he could find.

Framed in terms of power like this, I can understand this way of thinking, and I can see how sexual expression/morality could be a sticking point for some the way intelligence was for my boyfriend.

But I have to be honest, when the sexual part of this is overemphasized and turned into a "syndrome", it seems like a lot of excuse-making and labeling for what is some pretty immature macho crap about what women are supposed to be like and how men are supposed to treat them. If I saw this going on with a guy I knew I think my first question would be why he's so susceptible to bogus societal ideas of masculinity rather than what his unmet needs are.


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#65533 - 03/08/05 03:12 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
CAUTION: ***********TRIGGERS!**********

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your input.

Quote:
It's why so many survivors masturbate instead of having sex with the partner they love dearly, we can't stand the emotional overload.
Quote:
This is an area also most difficult for me. I think my guy masterbates quite a bit...something I would normally see as quite normal and natural. In and of itself, I would not find it threatening or upsetting (it's a regluar part of my own autoerotic life, always has been, and is certainly no threat to my relationship--anything but, in fact!). In fact, (TRIGGERS) in past relationships I have found that say, waking up to my partner masterbating in the middle of the night, or watching him pleasure himself can be both a real turn-on and instructive besides. (END TRIGGERS)

The problem with us is, he absolutely will not masterbate around me--it's all so very secret--and I am painfully aware of the fact that his fantasies rarely, if ever, revolve around me/us. Actually, more to the point, he will often reject any sexual advances I may make--sometimes going for days or even weeks without being sexual with me--when I am aware that he will masterbate when I'm not around. In other words, it feels that he most often prefers his own private fantasies, porn and/or own hands to sex with me. And believe me, after awhile my awareness of that is devastating to my sense of self-esteem and my need to feel attractive, desired, enjoyed by and safe with my partner.

I understand having occasional erotic fantasies about people outside of one's own relationship, even when that relationship is happy, healthy and sexually fulfilling. I have such fantasies too from time-to-time, but normally this does not in any way reflect a dissatisfaction with my partner. Still, most of my own fantasy life revolves around images/scenarios--remembered from times we've shared or strictly imagined--involving US. In our case though, most involve imagined scenarios that I know I'll likely never experience with him...even the most run-of-the-mill variety. And my awareness of the fact that so much of what I want/need from him will likely remain in the realm of fantasy for me has made my self-pleasuring something which ultimately just punctuates the often lonely, sad and very discouraging reality of our love life.

(TRIGGERS)
It's timely that you should mention this now, as the issue came up for me in a new way just last night. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that I was awakened from a sound sleep last night to my partner's sudden pressing of his erection against me. Though very groggy from sleep, I nonetheless tried to wake up enough to give a positive response, already starting to feel excited by his obvious condition. Unfortunately, he seemed only interested in just "doing it" right then and there, without so much as a kiss or caress or even a moment or two for me wake up/catch up. Through my body language, I gave a very subtle hint that I wasn't quite ready yet. No doubt he interpreted this (correctly) to mean that I might need at least a minute or two of attention or time before actually going there. (And no, we're not talking about needing 20' worth of foreplay here, a quick and sleepy session would've been just fine with me...something he was also no doubt aware of.) Well, at that point he stopped touching me altogether, wordlessly rolled onto his side (facing away from me and not touching me at all), and lay still. The vibes were anything but warm or inviting. In the moment I felt so utterly disregarded, hurt, angry and resentful, that I got up, pillows in tow, and went out to the couch to sleep, rather than blow up at him, as I feared I might. He didn't try to stop me.
(END TRIGGERS)

What you wrote about the "emotional overload," sadly, seems to fit very well in our case. Sometimes all I want from my guy is flat-out, carnal "uncomplicated sex," and sometimes I want that tender, languid, ever-so-intensely emotional/spiritual/psychological and highly personal lovemaking one can only know with the person they're most familiar and closest to.

Still, in the former instance, he just doesn't seem to feel that way about me, to have those carnal desires in which I can be/am the source of his excitement: Madonna-Whore Complex? This is something I find extremely painful and damaging to my sense of self-esteem and attractiveness. In the latter instance, he just can't seem to go there or even understand what the hell I'm talking about when I try to express/describe/pursue that exquisitely, intensely personal and euphoric experience of real and meaningful lovemaking.

Yet I know he loves me deeply.

Sometimes I think I'm just stubbornly trying to "work the unworkable" and foolishly squandering my life and energies on a futile enterprise. I am an attractive, vibrant, and passionate woman who other men often seem to fall all over themselves to try to catch my eye. And yet here I am, living with and loving a very sweet, intelligent, talented, sexy, and good-looking man who shows much deep and obvious affection for me, but so very little real sexual attraction, if any.
I frequently find myself thinking I should just leave him for good--either that or give him an ultimatum that he either actively and tangibly works with me on this stuff or we split. But then other times he does take a chance and do something emotionally or sexually that I know is a huge and scary step for him and I think, "hey, it was something he finally risked trying in my presence, so the last thing I want to do is shit on him for how it turned out."

Oh Gawd. What tangled webs we weave!

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65534 - 03/08/05 04:10 AM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
stride Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada
SAR,

Interesting perspective. I suspect that you're onto something here as well...sexuality & relationships being such multi-facted and complex phenomena. Must say that I'm glad to have raised this whole topic as I, for one, am sure getting a lot out of the posted replies! Thanks to everyone for their input.

Cheers,

Stride

_________________________
In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

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#65535 - 03/08/05 01:41 PM Re: Madonna-Whore Syndrome? **TRIGGERS**
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR

Quote:
If a survivor feels that sex is disrespectful or linked to power, or not something that happens between equals, it makes sense that he might choose life partners, or sex partners, who'll make it easy for him to figure out where the power is.
This could mean sexual attraction to women who fall into the "inferior to me" category-- whether the reasons behind that have to do with sexual morality, intellect, looks, or life circumstances I think it's sort of the same result.
This makes sense, and is surely an extension ( for me anyway ) of what I said earlier.
All my girlfriends up until I me my wife were, not to put too fine a point on it, 'dumb but great looking'. Eventually I figured out that 'dumb' wasn't for me - not a concious decision though.

My wife is smart, and although not supermodel slim is exceptionally pretty and young looking. She's actually older than me.
I think this choice was something to do with me being able to negate all my responsibilities from that point on. Which is what I did.
She handled all our money, paid bills, arranged everything and generally spoon fed me, and this went on for over 25 years!

During this time however sex was alright, not exceptional if you believe the crap written in glossy magazines. But we made love often and enjoyed it.
Then I got my head together through therapy, and with that came responsibility again. I began to do some of the things that I should have been doing for all those years. I found a new sense of trusting myself to not balls everything up.
In one sense our relationship has benefited because we are now equals, not just in our sharing of what has to be done, but intellectually as well.

So why has 'my' sexual desire gone down the pan?
You describe a partner that is "inferior to me" - but I think it can work the other way as well.
All those years ago I sought out a partner that was "superior" to me in many respects, education, career, sense of responsibility, capable of getting things done, and a desisive, sensible woman. Not the scruffy, laid back party animal that I was.

A lot of our problems arise as one person changes and the doesn't. And that's not saying anything bad about the other partner, perhaps they don't need to change. I'm sure my wife already had the ability to cope with my revelations and problems before I disclosed to her. She has 'made' changes for sure, but that's a slightly different thing, maybe 'adapted' is a better word?
So our relationship is a new one to a great degree, it's now based upon different precepts and expectations.

My early sexual experiences were ALL based on submission to power. At the end of the 4 year, almost daily with multiple abusers, sex that I experienced I was not just participating but actively seeking sex from my abusers and actually suggesting different things to try. I now realise that my 'willingness' was a defensive acceptance of my position, they were still in charge.
But it was obviously a powerful conditioning experience, I associated sex with submission to someone more powerful, and I still do. So does raising myself up to equality with my wife contradicts that conditioning? I think it might.

Which also explains to an extent the 'desire' for the woman at work. Although she's a 'dumb tart'(and I mean that in the nicest possible way, but you get the picture.) she's sexually aggressive, which puts me in the submissive position. Which is how I've seen her in fantasy sometimes, coming on strong and taking control.
I wouldn't ever have an affair of any sort with her, and I make a point of keeping out of her way for the short time we're both at work together.
But the day about three years ago when she whispered in my ear that she wanted to give me oral sex right there and then blew me away. ( she was a bit more 'graphic' that that though )
I was stunned, and managed to joke my way out of it. But the feeling that was left was powerful.
Not one of temptation, but one of affirmation (?) that this was "my kind of sex" - very much like my acting out with other men where I had to have the submissive role. The moment that was lost I was gone. I ended up fighting with a guy who asked me "what do you want to do?" - that gave me power over him which I couldn't cope with so I went to leave, but he wanted me to stay. I left !

Sex and power, what a mixture?

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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