Michele O'Mara

Try Harder, or Let Go?

Filed By Michele O'Mara | July 16, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living

My girl and i (together for 14 months) have not had sex for 8 months now. I understand we hit a rough patch, and we came out of it beautifully 4 months ago. However, her low sex drive has diminished our sex life completely. She is a product of childhood abuse, as well as suffered rape (and an abortion that followed) some time ago.

I love this girl madly, and want to be the person that stands by her no matter what. I am unbelievably attracted to her, and in love with the person that she is. But 8 months is starting to wear me thin, and I wonder if I even have a shot at surviving this.

In regards to your column.. I have girls left and right wanting to take me home. I do not love them, but I see their potential in physical gratification. I do not want to cheat. "If it ain't love, it ain't enough to leave your happy home." but I am I really happy going this long? Am I holding out for something that will never exist?

~ Torn And Troubled

Dear T&T,

You were one of many to respond to me about my last post about how to deal with unwanted attractions to others. Your question highlights the need to take my last post one step further; and the next step is to fully understand the feelings behind our unwanted distractions or attractions.

We are all at risk of becoming distracted from our relationship in ways that can ultimately either add to, or take away from what we hope to build with our partner
. Entertaining outside attractions is only one of the many ways we can threaten the stability of our connection with our partner. For many, it is a job, or a hobby, or some other, legitimate activity such as working out excessively or even obsessive cleaning and organizing, that serves to take us away from our relationship.

While I was quick to point out that finding others attractive is a good sign that we are still alive, I did not mention that sometimes when we find ourselves easily distracted we may actually be looking to meet an unmet need. When there is a reoccurring pattern of finding other people, or other things, for that matter (such as work, working out, friendships, family, and hobbies) more interesting and exciting than our primary relationship, it might just be time to take an inventory of our needs, and examine whether or not they are being met.

In your case, you have a basic human need shared by most people (though not all) for sexual connection and physical intimacy with your partner, the woman you love. For reasons that are very serious and make sense, she is not able at this point to participate in your relationship in ways that meet your sexual needs. It is wise of you to notice that because you have this unmet need, you find yourself easily distracted by women who are interested in you.

This is what I consider a "wake-up call."
When we find ourselves distracted, it is a message from ourself to ourself, that is essentially saying, "Hey YOU - listen up here, I've got some needs that you are completely ignoring and I'm getting really tired of being overlooked." The question to ask yourself (and you already have) is "What do I need to be paying attention to?" Are you challenging your partner to grow with you - to take her issues seriously and to challenge herself to address the fact that she is shutting down her entire sexual self as a result of her abusive history? Or do you give her false messages that it is okay, that you understand, when it is not? Or do you pressure her in ways that actually prevent her from feeling safe enough with you to deal with her issues?

Both of you have needs. Hers may be for safety and security (just a guess), and yours may be for connection and affection or sex. All of these needs matter and ultimately for both of you to remain satisfied with your relationship you need to encourage one another to grow - to address the things that keep you from each getting your own needs met.

Start talking about what you need. Don't sugar coat it, and see where that takes you. Far too many people sugar coat their feelings and deny themselves what they need only to later resent the other person for NOT KNOWING, and NOT DOING SOMETHING about it. What you need from your partner, is what she most needs to be able to give in order to heal herself. It would be a wonderful thing for your partner to actually begin addressing her history of abuse - and to allow herself to become a sexually-confident and comfortable human being. What a gift that would be to her if you could be the one to help her step into that very wounded part of who she has become.

In the process you may also discover that what is required of you (patience, sensitivity, compassion, understanding, and trust, for example) to help her do this is EXACTLY what you need to work on in your life to become a better person for you, and for her.

Rarely do our partners ask of us things that will take away from our well-being.
If you ask your partner to deal with something that is preventing her from meeting your needs, usually, you are asking her to grow - to become a better version of herself. I don't know about you, but I think that's a good thing.

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This is just a beautiful advice column. If only we could see something so non-judgmental and helpful from Dear Abby.

Wow, Michele. You've really been hitting them out of the park lately. I'm really glad you had a chance to expand on that last one a bit.

This is a great column. So many times we hush up because we don't want to hurt others, and in the end everyone ends up more hurt.