I think it's sound to realize that getting frustrated with a component of sex--including your own sexual responses--is likely to impede the pleasure you're already getting. I also think that wanting to know if partnered intercourse can feel even better for you, or going into a new instance of sex with an open mind as to how it might feel this time, aren't inherently bad things to have in the mix, especially if you're otherwise the one usually initiating sex from a place of desire.
I actually want to circle back to something we talked about earlier in the thread, which is that some of your frustration or dissatisfaction around this is coming from feeling like you're not feeling as emotionally satisfied by sex as you want to be. When you think about how, ideally, you'd feel during or after sex, in a perfect world how would you feel about yourself? About your partner and your relationship? And how does that compare to how you usually feel about those things afterwards? I know it can be tricky to articulate experiences with something as nebulous as fulfillment, but I think it's worth a try.
Too, when you think about what drives you to initiate sex, are there things that a physically pleasurable (sexual or not) that seem to contribute to you feeling that way?
I find that after sex I feel both emotionally and physically dissatisfied. The physical aspect is easier to explain, seeing as I end up too under or overstimulated to orgasm during partnered sex, I just feel drained but restless at the same time. But emotionally, I suppose I feel similarly in a way. I feel a bit drained and like I need time alone afterwards, and I tend to feel upset with myself in ways that are hard to pinpoint. So, ideally, I think I'd just want to feel content and happy by the end, preferably less socially and emotionally drained. I'd like to feel like I'd done something emotionally and physically connecting with my partner and to be able to stay with her afterwards instead of needing to leave to reset myself. I want sex to feel like it's something significant we share together instead of just something we occasionally try only for me to feel disappointed by it.
In terms of things that drive me to initiate sex, I'm not really sure if there are certain things that contribute to that? I feel like I'm generally a fairly sexual person most of the time; I consume and create lots of sexual writing, look at sexual art, talk very openly about sex with people, but none of those things seem to impact my desire to initiate sex. That desire seems to pop up entirely at random, and it's something I'll feel for a few very strongly for a few days until it fades again.
So, we haven't talked yet! Can you give me a baseline at this point in your conversations with our staff, of where you're at with this now, and where you think we can possibly best help?
I understand why this is frustrating. Now that you mention it, I think it's very commendable that you want to be there for your partner after you finish, even if you feel drained. However, I do want to mention that your behavior is not unusual and not something you should be feeling ashamed of. I know this is easier said than done, but I just wanted to put things in perspective for you. Also, once you recharge a bit after sex, do you and your partner ever practice any aftercare? How do you feel about that? Does that improve/impact how you feel physically/emotionally at all?
Also, you mentioned you're asexual, how does your relationship with sex tie into this part of your identity? From my understanding, I know that asexuality is a spectrum and quite complex. I know you explained this a little bit at the beginning of your thread, but it might help to delve into that since it plays a role in your relationship with sex and sexual activities. Can you expand on this a bit? If this is unnecessary to talk about, then please let me know, I'm just brainstorming.
I suppose I don't know if what me and my partner do after sex is aftercare or not. I know aftercare can look like plenty of different things, I guess it's more that I don't know if it's having the same effect on me as aftercare is supposed to. Because I already feel like the "moment" has ended, I usually don't really think of anything we do afterwards as aftercare. But at the same time, I feel like the things we do could also be considered aftercare. We get something to eat after, we talk, we nap or go to bed. I know those things absolutely can be parts of aftercare, I just don't know if they're acting as aftercare here. I suppose they help distract me from the emotional parts, but the physical ones are usually still there for the rest of the day and the restlessness can make it hard to sleep.
I might need something more specific to focus in on if I'm going to talk about how my asexuality effects my relationship with sex. Predictably, it effects it in a lot of different ways, so I'd need to know where to begin and what aspects might be important or where would be a good place to start.
I think that sounds a lot like aftercare! There's nothing necessarily that you have to get out of it, I was just curious if partaking in it helps at all.
I'm glad you're open to talking about it! I want to preface this by saying that in no way do I want to invalidate or disrespect your identity and experiences, I'm just formulating some questions so I can get a better sense of what you're thinking and going through. Then, we can brainstorm how to tackle this, as I know it's very frustrating!
I just want to confirm some things before moving forward: you're asexual, you don't necessarily enjoy sex, and you wonder why you don't enjoy sex, but you like the idea of it, correct? I know there has been some discussion on what sex is or isn't. I believe you mentioned that this mainly concerns genital sex. I think you also mentioned you feel unfulfilled and like you should be enjoying sex more.
You identify as asexual, so you have awareness of your response to sex--sometimes it feels great, and sometimes it doesn't, is that correct? I feel like you have accepted this to an extent, right? I'm just curious to know if you're trying to conform to what you think sex should feel like, rather than understanding that arousal and sexual attraction may work differently for you. Do you feel any sense of pressure regarding anything like this? I know you like to delve into sexual topics through other avenues, but I'm mainly focusing on physical arousal and sexual attraction.
With this, I'm not at all saying to give up trying--absolutely not! I'm just trying to figure out the reason for your questioning about your levels of physical sexual attraction while also identifying as asexual, which is a spectrum of little to no physical sexual attraction. Does that make sense?
I definitely feel like you've got just about everything right in the first bit about my feelings and sexuality, though I want to reiterate that I don't know if saying I don't enjoy sex at all is the way I want to word things, but instead that I just wish I enjoyed it more and feel like I'm not getting as much out of it as I think I could. My enjoyment of it is pretty surface level and not as strong as I'd like.
I don't necessarily feel any sort of pressure to conform to sex feeling or being a certain way, I just want to know if I'm able to enjoy it more. I'm already not exactly always having "traditional" sex, and I'm fine with that. I feel no pressure to conform "traditional" ideas of sex, or sexual attraction for that matter. I'm aware that arousal works differently for me in some ways, and that I tend to physically feel things differently in a way that effects things, but that's precisely why I want to try to figure out what might help me.
I can say, that from talking with my friends who aren't asexual, that at the very least some people feel their arousal, sex drive, and sexual attraction are intrinsically linked. This isn't necessarily true for me. Sexual attraction is something I don't feel at all, but this doesn't necessarily effect my arousal or sex drive. Arousal is a necessary component for me to initiate sex, but I don't necessarily feel like they're linked the way they are for most people. Being aroused rarely makes me feel like I want sex, and I can't think of any link between the two that leads to me wanting sex vs. not wanting it, such as higher levels of arousal leading to wanting sex.
Essentially, sexual attraction (or lack thereof) has no effect on my questioning, because I don't need to feel sexual attraction to want to have sex. I'm aware that some asexuals don't have sex because of this lack of attraction, but I'm not one of them since these feelings are very separate and often individual for me. My levels of physical sexual attraction aren't really part of my questioning, my abilities to enjoy partnered sex in terms of physical and emotional fulfillment are.
Thank you so much for clarifying! This was all very eye-opening for me since I am not asexual and I just wanted to understand your situation better before moving forward. This definitely clears things up and I hope my questions weren't super invasive or anything. I just have a better understanding of what to focus on now!
I remember you mentioning your current partner and how this has been the best sexual experience you've had so far. I'm not entirely sure if you've mentioned this before, but did you ever feel a sense of emotional and physical enjoyment during sex with your partner in any part of your relationship? And, if so, is there anything specific that has changed in either of your lives? For example, mental health, stress levels, etc. You mentioned that you want to figure out if you are capable of enjoying sex with your partner or if you're just having bad sex in general. I am just trying to see if this is something that you could work on yourself OR together as partners because these feelings about sex could very well be something you might need to discuss with your partner further. I believe you've communicated this to them, how have they responded?
I really hope this response makes some progress. Again, if you feel like these questions are unnecessary, please let me know! I'm just working on pinpointing more of the situation. Please take care and enjoy the weekend!
At most, I can at least say I feel safer with her than I have with previous partners. I feel happy to be doing things with her because I care about her a lot and it's nice to be with someone who I know will listen to me even when what I want isn't always "traditional". But beyond that I feel like there's very little emotional effect. But outside of that, I don't feel like our sex life has really affected our relationship all that much. (Hoping I answered this well, I was having a bit of trouble figuring out what exactly you were asking.)
When we talk about sex together, we both sort of have this joking attitude of "sex isn't that good", though she's aware that I would like it to be better and this joke of ours hasn't resigned her to not trying because it's "not good", I just think it shows that we have similar feelings about it all.
Hoping this doesn't come off as impatient or anything, it's just been a few days since any reply and I had assumed the last reply didn't need a response from me, but since it's been a few days I'm just making sure this wasn't forgotten or anything!
Hey Crow -- appreciate you bumping this back up! We do our best to respond to everything as quickly as we can, but sometimes it isn't as quickly as we like it to be. This can be especially sticky to navigate when we see a good conversation going with a particular user and volunteer and don't want to interrupt the flow. Nicole hasn't been on, but is returning tomorrow and knows you're hoping to continue your conversation.
I apologize for my absence, I was out of town! When you both say "sex isn't that good," do you mean the concept of sex in general or the sex that you both are having? Either way, it seems like there's a mutual feeling. I asked all of those questions before to see if this is something on just your end (meaning that it's something you can work on yourself) OR if you are both experiencing sexual dissatisfaction in the relationship (meaning that it's something you can work on as partners). Does that make sense? From your response, working on this as partners might be the right way to go about things.
I'm glad to hear that your partner makes you feel safe, secure, and happy--that's a wonderful thing. I know you mentioned that sex hasn't impacted your relationship that much, but you have been reaching out to us about how you want more out of it, especially when it comes to emotional and physical pleasure. So, in a way, it is making some sort of an impact. I think it might be time for a more extensive conversation about sex with your partner. It seems like you already trust her and she's quite responsive with trying different things. We also have some resources on how to go about speaking to your partner about sex if you feel like this is the right thing to do. What do you think about that?
Generally when we make that comment, we're talking about sex as a whole, not just sex with each other.
I of course feel it's important to note a development between me and the partner I've been talking about here: she has communicated that she has no interest in sex for reasons outside of me, which I'm completely okay with! I am polyamorous and I still like the idea of having a sexual partner, whether they're also a romantic partner or solely a sexual partner. Me being poly also circles a bit back to what I said about not feeling like sex impacted my relationship that much: I don't feel like it impacts our relationship much because I don't feel as if sex (or lack thereof) is a requirement or dealbreaker for us. I want to enjoy sex, but it doesn't have to be with her.
I understand this might make it harder to proceed here since I now don't have an active sexual relationship to discuss, but if there's anything else that can be suggested it would be greatly appreciated.
I see, thank you for clarifying! Thank you for being so open with us about this development. I'm glad to hear that you both are being communicative and understanding. Does this mean that you are currently seeking a sexual partner outside of your relationship? If so, do you believe that there will be a difference in emotional and physical pleasure with a different sexual partner? Is there anything you need from us regarding this change in your relationship with your partner?
I know you said that this might make it difficult to continue the conversation, but we are here for you when you need us and you are always welcome to return to this thread if need be.
I would like to seek out a sexual partner, but I'm not sure how easily I could do that in a safe manner. I do like the idea though, I will probably look for some way to find an exclusively sexual partner if I can.
I'm not sure if there will be any difference with another person necessarily, since I don't really feel like I've been able to get to the root of why I didn't enjoy it with my current or past partners. Without that I suppose I can't know unless I try. I do feel like maybe finding someone who seems more enthusiastic and engaging with sex may help, as while my current partner was certainly better at communicating and listening to me, I do feel like maybe she wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I would've liked, which makes sense since she has now communicated she doesn't have much interest in sex at all.
We have some resources on finding a sexual partner in a safe manner, except that depends on what "safe" means for you! Please let me know if you're interested and I can drop some links.
From what I've gathered from our conversations, it seemed like your dissatisfaction could have been something you needed to work through with your partner. As for your previous partners, I believe you mentioned that you were unable to feel 100% safe and secure with them, is that correct? That may have played a role in your dissatisfaction. Again, this is just my speculation since you know yourself best! I'm really sorry if these conversations didn't end up how you'd like them to, but I think there was some progress made. Nevertheless, I think it might help to try moving forward and see how things turn out. Is there anything else you need from us at this time? Please let me know and take care!
I would be interested in those resources! I suppose what I personally mean by safe is I just want to be able to vet someone for a bit and make sure they seem like a safe person to meet with and that they'll work well with what I think I need and what I'm looking for, if that helps.
I do think that if I can find someone who I feel safe with, can communicate openly with, and who feels like they're fully interested and engaged in sex, then can start working towards enjoying sex more :]
Please let me know if any of these articles resonate with you or if you're curious about our other resources on approaching a new sexual relationship safely and comfortably. It's great that you're going into this with optimism and I hope this works out for you!