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Another blogger commented recent on my post about feeling sexually deprived while still being surrounded by sexuality.  Because it was left as a public comment, I feel no compulsion to maintain the anonymity of chely5150, but it was lengthy enough that I decided to go ahead and respond publicly, as I have before.

I classify this correspondence as more misplaced rage, and I invite chely5150 to read that post, as it applies here. In summary, chely5150 suggests that Ashley’s lack of interest in sex is likely my fault. She cites her own experiences with an unfaithful husband and a lack of love and respect in their marriage as a reason for her own disinterest, and says that such could contribute to our situation. (It is worth noting that my and Ashley’s sex life has improved substantially from what it was in the roughly two years since writing the post eliciting her comment.)  Snippets and responses are as follows, and you can read the full comment on the original post.

I was, AM the wife who wants to explore and discover all things sexually together with my husband and we did, until the emotional covert emotional abuse began. After years of abuse, so perfectly concealed behind the facade of our perfect little family… I became Ashley. I no longer found that much pleasure [in the man] who adored and loved my body but NEVER could find the need to adore and love ALL OF ME!

I can certainly see how emotional abuse could make you lose sexual interest in your partner.  But let me be perfectly clear–that has never happened in our relationship.  For whatever problems Ashley and I may have had, we have never been abusive toward one another, and she has always insisted that I am the most loving, compassionate person she has ever known, and that I am an excellent care giver and provider for her.  One could arguably define my infidelities as “covert abuse”, to use your phrasing, but frankly, I wouldn’t. Sure, it’s scummy, but I would not go so far as to call cheating “abusive behavior”. (But I invite psychologists/counselors to provide evidence to the contrary.)

So, right out the gate, your experiences do not apply to us.  But let’s continue.

And I began to loathe the man who could treat everyone (pretty much) with such love and care and respect that I HATED evry thing about him.

If I understand you correctly, you’re suggesting that you hated him for loving and respecting everyone around him, but not yourself? I can also see how that might be painful. But it also strikes me as slightly selfish and demanding of you. I obviously can’t speak to your personal situation, and I have no desire to belittle or demean you, so I will simply let that comment stand as is.

And yet I loved him, I tried to leave him a couple of times but could never fully escape. After many years of depression I decided if we were going to stay together dammit I was going to make it better for us. And we did (yeah ah huh) and others thought too until the day I discovered his affair. And then weeks later when I discovered so much so- it has been excruiciating to say the least.

Ahh, and now we come to the point of this message.  Your husband cheated on you, and you see much of him in me and what I write.  Fair enough, I suppose.  Lord knows I’m a cheater.  But if I may ask, have you determined *why* your husband cheated on you?  Have you given any thought as to whether you may have done something, or a series of somethings, that might make him want to fuck someone else?  Or is it genuinely that he is simply a cheater?  Note that both are plausible, but given the resentment you display toward him, the evidence would suggest that unhappiness on his part might have caused his behavior.  Again, I don’t have the complete picture, so I can’t say definitively.  But have you considered that the fault may not lie solely with him?

They say I have PTSD, but I just go forward…..

May I encourage you to seek counseling for that?  PTSD following such an event is, to my understanding, a common reaction, and you may very well be suffering from depression.  Please, dear reader, see someone.  I suspect my close friend Hyacinth might be able to offer guidance here.

So while I fucking hate you with all my being…

I bet you’d love me if we met.

…I respect the fact that you are being honest…

Oh. Well, thanks.

…as much as one could expect honesty from a LIAR…

My, that’s awfully manic of you.

…being on the other side of those sheets and knowing but not knowing is probably the hardest thing to live with.

This is something that, again, doesn’t really apply to me.  If Ashley were to find out about my infidelities, I would own them.  Once caught, you’re done for.  Best to fess up to it and hope to salvage something from the wreckage than to pretend the boat didn’t crash.  But, in your case, you have my condolences.  Knowing but never receiving a confession is a good way to breed resentment and often prevents any sort of closure.

Maybe just maybe You had something to do with your wifes sex needs diminishing. If it went away there is a reason.

By Ashley’s own admission, her lack of sexual interest stemmed from three things: 1) experiencing physical pain from having sex with me due to my girth (which, thankfully, has resolved since we have begun fucking more regularly); 2) insecurity due to gaining weight post-marriage; and 3) a lack of sexual experience sufficient to keep up with my own interests.  She has since come out of her shell, remarkably so, and our sex life and marriage have never been better.

Who the fuck died and made you GOD? What makes you think you deserve to have your every desire fulfilled?

I never claimed to be God, or that I deserved to have my every desire fulfilled.  To suggest otherwise would imply you haven’t read all of my work.  (Not that I expect you to.  Hence, my response.)  I have long struggled with controlling my sexual urges, balancing them against my desire for a fulfilling and loving marriage.  But when you go months at a time without having sex, the ability to resist–hell, the *desire* to resist–disappears.

No man “deserves” to get laid, regardless of marital status.  A woman’s body is her own, and she gets to decide what she does with it, and when.  Period.  But, relationships are partnerships, and if one partner is not sexually fulfilled, well, don’t be surprised if he/she seeks that fulfillment elsewhere.

Maybe if YOU put as much effort into your marriage-not just sexually either, you wouldn’t have put yourself and Ashley (although unbeknown to her) into such a lose/lose marriage.

No one who knows me can accuse me of not putting effort into my marriage.  I haven’t written about it much, but Ashley and I have been to several counselors, alone and together, in pursuit of a “fixed” marriage.  We have spoken at length about it over coffee, breakfast, drinks.  We have cried together because we thought we were failing.  And we have celebrated our not-so-recent upswing.  And, from a domestic standpoint, she and I are true partners, sharing evenly the housework and financial burdens.  Not to brag, but she calls me “the perfect husband”.  (I am far from it, mind, but it makes me smile when she says it.)

Do yourself a favor decide which you want. Can’t have both little boy, don’t work like that! You should show Ashley the respect she deserves and let her choose for herself- No one gave you that privilege. It’s not right -if you love her as much as you say you do GIVE HER THAT RESPECT.

I don’t love and respect anyone enough to give them that, because I am selfish.

Please don’t let my differing opinion affect the fact that I enjoyed your writing, I find it brutally honest and appreciate knowing the thoughts of a sex addict as I am discovering that I have been married to one for a long time.

Well, I do appreciate that, though I would not classify myself as a sex addict.  I once wrote about that possibility, but I don’t think I am so deep into my compulsions to be considered a nymphomaniac.

I am in the deciding process in my marriage, is this what I want for the rest of my life? The jury is still out on that one.

I wish you the best of luck in that.  Choosing whether to continue or end a marriage is not a pleasant endeavor, and I truly hope it works out well for you, chely5150.

Pro tip: You have to take the venom out of your words and be less accusatory if you want me to refrain from responding with so much snark and sarcasm.  Though, admittedly, I use much less of both herein, maybe because I truly sympathize with what you’re experiencing.  Before I was the hopeless cheater I am today, I was cuckolded by the woman I loved, and it left a lasting impression, and I can tell you are hurting.  I don’t want to contribute to that.

Or maybe I’m just going soft in my old age.

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It’s hard for me to talk to my lover about her lover.

There was a time in my life when I was a decidedly jealous person.  In retrospect, I often feel like that is less a personality flaw of mine, than a product of the specific relationships I was in during my youth.  My first real girlfriend fucked her ex mere hours after having sex with me for the first time, so losing my virginity didn’t quite have that je ne sais quois advertised by word of mouth and media.  I was too great a pushover to end it though, and actually stayed with her (as much as can be said for any high school relationship) for three years after that, during which time she fucked two coworkers, a boss, and the same ex multiple times.  I was insanely jealous because I was too scared to end it, and I knew that she could be fucking someone else if I weren’t on my game.

Then Kelly.  I was still pretty fucked up from the first girl (I should really give her a pseudonym at some point), and I had difficulties trusting anyone.  I don’t know if it was my insecurity that eventually drove her to cheat on me, or if it was the kind of atmosphere fostered by her performance arts department (all those kids fucked like rabbits all the goddamned time), but it happened, and I was insane with jealousy and insecurity any time she was out with that crowd, doing a show, or whatever.  I couldn’t bear the idea of losing her, and simultaneously, hated that I was in another relationship where I cared so much for someone who cared so little for me.

I’ve often said that Kelly was a major milestone in my sexual education.  Aside from giving me the opportunity to explore certain facets of my sexual tastes, she also “drove me” to cheating.  I hate that phrasing, because it implies it was her fault, which is terribly unfair.  It was always in me to be a lecherous bastard.  I just needed an excuse, an opportunity.  Kelly gave me that excuse.  Because of her, I learned how to cheat and get away with it.  It’s a skill that I carry with me to this day.  Not one I’m super proud of, but there it is.

Kelly also taught me to stop caring so much.  After her, I let go.  I stopped trying to control the situation.  I accepted that people are weak and unreliable, and driven by carnal urges that no amount of love and respect can overcome.

Everyone–and I do mean everyone–has it in them to cheat.  And you have to be cool with that, or shit will drive you crazy.

So, in the decade since my relationship with Kelly ended, I have been incredibly mellow and laid back about sex and relationships.  It has caused several women to hate me, not because I cheated on them (I did, but they didn’t know that), but because I was never jealous.  They thought it meant I didn’t care.  They would push me, try to make me jealous, and I just never gave a shit.  I’m not sure why it surprised them.  Perhaps because most guys are inherently jealous and territorial.  But not me, man.  I am cool as a cucumber.  Chill as fuck.  That’s me.  It’s part of why Ashley loves me so much, so it’s served me well.

But, for some reason, talking to Tina about her lover just… gets my hackles up.  I don’t have a high opinion of the guy anyway, for reasons that I can’t go into because those things would be awfully specific.  Suffice to say, he strikes me as an inherently untrustworthy fella.  (Not that I’m the most honest guy around, mind you.  I acknowledge the hypocrisy here.)  But she has real feelings for him, and she likes fucking him, despite his flaws.  So I let it go.

Most of the time, I’m okay with it.  But when she talks about how excited she is to see him after a trip… or how badly she needs him to fuck her… or how she wants to tell him to try this new thing… or how she has developed genuine feelings for him… or how disappointed she is that he doesn’t last as long, and can’t fuck as frequently, as me (take that, asshole)… something in me stirs.  I guarantee you know the tightness, the wrenching in your heart that makes you have to take a deep breath, because it feels like your chest is suddenly too small for your ribcage.  My jaw clenches, my muscles tense, and all I want to do is tell her, “NO.  That is NOT okay.”

Naturally, I don’t say that.  It would be ridiculous.  I fuck Ashley, she fucks The-Guy-Who-Can’t-Fuck-Multiple-Times-A-Day.  I’m married.  She’s not.  I can not possibly impose restrictions on her.  And I want her to feel like she can talk to me about anything, including her sex life, because I care that deeply about her.  But I can’t seem to fight off the tightness.

And yet I never get that way with Ashley.  It’s strange at times, trusting someone as much as I trust her.  But I can’t help but wonder, is the fact that I feel no jealousy toward her, but I do feel it toward Tina, an indication of trust, or apathy?  Do I genuinely trust Ashley, or do I just not care what happens?  I love her, certainly.  But I don’t feel the same sense of excitement, of longing, of absolutely need, that I feel toward Tina.

Do I truly love Ashley?  Or do I just love what we used to be and have?

Do I love Tina, too?  Or am I just experiencing residual anxiety from previous relationships similar to that which I have with her?

This is what I’ve been kicking around the past few days.  I wish I could say I had some kind of answer to it, but typically, I just mull the questions over, then go to the gym or have a glass of scotch and try to forget about it.  I’m really much too passive about the whole thing.  But I don’t know how to be active about it.

I’m not sure I *want* to be active about it.

“So what did you think of the conference today?”

I walk down the hall, my hands in my pockets, messenger bag over my shoulder, side by side with Pretty Grad Student.  We spent the day, as did most of our colleagues, at a small conference on management and ecology.  Unlike the massive conferences for which we typically plan for weeks, this was more directed, with an emphasis on the intersection between policy and ecology.

“It was disappointing,” I answer, continuing the inner monologue I’d been running for the past several minutes.  “It was like everyone wanted to be the keynote speaker, so hardly anyone presented any real science.”

“That one guy did.”

“Yeah, one guy,” I agree.  “I was expecting presentations on new findings and advancements in the field, not hours of proselytizing.”  I shake my head and sigh.  “Two days, wasted.  I could have made such headway on my analysis.”

“Quit overachieving,” she scolds me.  “You’re making the rest of us look lazy.”

“Quit being lazy and you too can be the department bitch,” I say with forced enthusiasm.

She snorts.  “Now you’re just whining.”

“Yeah, sorry,” I say.  “Just frustrated.”  I unlock my office door and step inside, tossing my bag into one of the empty chairs across from my desk.  I fall into my large work chair, an excessive expenditure I have never once regretted, and slump comfortably.

Pretty Grad Student shuts my office door and sits on the corner of my desk, silent.  After a moment, she asks, delicately, “Are things going better with your wife yet?”

I glance at her.  We normally don’t talk much about my and Ashley’s relationship.  It’s not like we purposely avoid the subject, but we always seem to be occupied by other things (usually our nether regions).  The only reason she knows we’re in a rough patch is because she stayed with me at my hotel, helping me make the most of my self-imposed isolation.  Her interest surprises me, and I say as much.

“I worry about you,” she says calmly.  “I don’t think anyone realizes how much effort you put into being happy.  I mean, I didn’t realize it either until these past few days.”

“I’m spending time with you because I genuinely enjoy your company,” I say calmly.  “I’m not using you.”

“No, and I’ve never thought you were,” she says.  Then a sly smirk crosses her lips.  “But, for the record, you can use me any way you need, baby.”

I smile at her.  “Thanks.”

Her smirk remains, but she furrows her brow as though concerned.  “Seriously though, it can’t be healthy for you to keep all this frustration bottled up like you do.  It’s great that you put on a stiff upper lip and all that, but eventually you have to let yourself be unhappy.”

“I don’t want to be unhappy,” I answer, annoyed, swiveling to and fro in my chair.  “I don’t have any reason to be unhappy.  I’m tired of being unhappy.”

She stands up and moves toward me, sitting on her knees in front of me.  She takes my hands in hers and locks gazes with me.  “If you want to quit being unhappy, then stop pretending that you aren’t.  Lying to the world about how you feel is one thing, but refusing to let yourself experience your own emotions is another.”  She smiles warmly, if a bit sadly.  “You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known.  But even the most amazing of men can have bad days, and it sounds to me like you’ve been having an awful lot of them.  You deserve to let it out.”

I look at her and smile weakly.  “Thanks.  But I don’t agree with you.  The best thing I can do is try to keep positive and not let myself get overburdened by my own baggage.”  I squeeze her hands lightly, and she nods quietly.  She kisses my knuckle once before standing, leaning forward, and kissing me gently on the lips.

“Suit yourself, baby,” she says, more lightheartedly than before, but the concern is still there.  “But don’t think I’m going to let this go.  We’re going to talk about it tonight.”

I grin.  “Assuming you can get my mouth off of you long enough to get me to say anything.”

“If you’re not talking, you’d better have your mouth on me.”

“Now you’re just repeating me,” I say as I wave her off.  “Get to work, minion.  I’ll be ready to leave in an hour.”

She glares playfully and snaps her teeth at me.  (It’s much sexier than it sounds, especially coming from her), then turns abruptly, letting herself out.  I hear her voice from around the corner: “Yes sir, professor.”

I look at the empty doorframe, listening to her footfalls as she goes down the hall.  I smile, despite my frustration, and sigh.  Strangely enough, I feel a bit better.

I haven’t been myself lately.

I keep going over the past three entries here, and I find them to be decidedly depressing.  Almost bordering on what I would describe as “emo”.  Which is not something to which I aspire in my writing, or my life in general.

People comment on how I’m always whistling or singing or humming to myself as I walk, and how I’m always smiling, a characteristic my colleague describes as though I “know some grand secret the rest of the world would die to learn”.  I’m in good physical condition, and not unattractive (though, again, I still don’t see what women see in me).  I have a great career that feels more like play than work.  I travel and experience more of the world in a year than most people will experience in their entire lives.  I don’t really have much to be unhappy about.

I am a happy person, goddammit.  That really needs to come across more in my writing again.  Not this… whatever the hell it is that’s been seeping into my blog for the past couple of weeks.  I could have talked about all the free time I spent with Pretty Graduate Student during my separation from Ashley, about the publication I got accepted, about new classes I’m teaching at the university… but no, I chose to focus on the most depressing aspect of my current situation.

Not sure if that needs to change or not, but you have my apologies, all the same.  Perhaps after tonight things will begin to take a more positive spin here at Only Partly Erotic.

By the way, for some reason, I really dig this title.  If not myself, then who am I.  (There’s a lesson to be had there, but for the life of me, I can’t see it.)

I hate hotel rooms.  I like the service, sure, and the water pressure is usually something out of a wet dream (no pun intended).  But I hate how empty they feel.  Hotel managers strive to pack their rooms with all the comforts of home–fresh linens, a television with cable, a writing desk, wireless internet access, and a variety of scented soaps and lotions to make you look and smell as lovely as the room you’re staying in.

But everything feels artificial.  The bed is a little too firm, the linens a bit too abrasive.  The shower is too tight, even with the bow-shaped curtain rod, which is designed to create a sense of space–also artificial.  The television is grainy, the writing desk cramped, the internet too slow.  The soaps and lotions have the same smell across all hotels, clean and soapy, but uninspired, unoriginal.  And no matter how many lights you turn on, it’s never bright enough, always slightly more dim then you’d like wherever you’re working.

And it’s all just a little too cramped.  The desk is always shoved in the corner, out of the way, with a floor lamp above it (the one place in the room where you can get sufficient light, but it’s too bright on the laptop’s screen, causing eye strain).  Clearly defined walkways are narrow, and too angular.  There’s no flow to the space, no feng shui.  In their effort to make the place feel like home, they have stripped it of anything resembling the natural comfort of your personal living space.

And it makes the place feel soulless.  Every hotel is the same, regardless of its position on the star-rating continuum.  And as I sit in my hotel, I can’t help but wonder about the room’s previous occupants.  How many people have come through here?  How many have left their individual mark on the place, only to have it sterilized the next morning by hotel staff?  How many individuals have been homogenized by this place, their stories assimilated by the collective?

I’m just being bitter.  I know I am.  But then again, I have plenty of reason to be bitter at the moment.

My phone chimes, and the screen lights up.  I retrieve it from the desk beside me and half-heartedly activate the screen.  A text message from Ashley.

Please come home.

I consider the words, the implication.  It’s been four days since I saw her.  Since the last time she rebuked my sexual advances.  Since I reminded her that it had been a good month since our last sexual encounter, if not longer.  Since we argued about the role of sex in our marriage, and my need for intimacy.  Since I grabbed my gym bag and stormed out of the house.  Since I booked my hotel room for an unspecified amount of time.

I look at my phone, rereading the message over and over.   I imagine what it would sound like coming from her mouth.  I can hear her voice, straining through pain, struggling to hold back the sobs.  I can see the tears in her eyes.

I know she misses me.  Christ, I miss her too.  Being away from her hurts me at the core of my being, at the most fundamental of levels.  I love her more than I can explain.  I need her in my life, like I need food and water.  She sustains me, supports me.  She centers me.  I want to be close to her.  I want that intimacy, that sexuality, to feel her physically consuming me the way she consumes me emotionally, mentally, and hell, probably spiritually.

Christ, that sounds fucking crazy.  It sounds like an unhealthy infatuation.  Hell, maybe it is.  Ashley is my obsession.    She is the physical representation of everything that is good and wholesome in my world, and I want to be a part of it, in every imaginable way.  And to be constantly denied the sexual intimacy that I want, that I crave, from someone who is otherwise everything I could possibly want and need…

My phone blinks off.  I hastily reignite the screen, rereading the message, over and over, anxiously, obsessively.  Fuck, I’m so angry at her that I can’t think.  Four days later, and I’m still angry.  Does that make me juvenile, I wonder?  Am I a spoiled, immature brat?  Or am I justified, and this is righteous indignation that I’m experiencing?  I don’t have the slightest clue.  All I know is, I’m fucking furious.  I’m frustrated beyond words, beyond any hope of reconciliation.  I need something to change, but I don’t know how to change it, and that just fuels the anger.  It’s probably why I’m still mad, I think.  I’m a published scientist, a researcher, a theoretician, a programmer.  Hell, I’m a fucking genius.  And yet I can’t find a solution to the one thing that I need more than anything else in this world.

What good is intellect if it can’t give you the things you need, if it only makes you dwell on alternate scenarios, how things could be different but never are?

That’s my problem.  I’m dwelling.  I need to stop thinking about things.  I need to stop letting the situation get to me.  I need to immerse myself in infidelity, to find pleasure and satisfaction in my marital indiscretion.  Ashley won’t give me that, for whatever reason, so I should get it elsewhere.

But I don’t want to get it elsewhere.  I want what we used to have, and I’m afraid that in losing it, we’re about to lose everything else.

I don’t think my marriage is over.  I’m sure I’ll go home soon.  But isn’t leaving, for any amount of time, an indicator of what’s to come?  Is the ability to just up and leave for days at a time the litmus test for a failing marriage?  If so, where does mine fall on the scale?  Are we on the cusp of a major failure?  Am I about to become another divorce statistic?  The idea is heartbreaking.

And I realize now, I’m not bitter.  I’m just sad.

I reread the message.  I consider the words, the implication.  And I have no idea what to do.

For now, I put the phone to sleep.