The confusion of sex/love

My marriage to a gay man was marked by emotional dryness and a complete lack of physical affection. I am an affectionate woman; it was natural for me to touch him – his arm, his shoulder – in nonsexual affection. But he would cringe as if struck, and often say, “Stop! You know that bothers me!” ┬áIt wasn’t long at all before the only physical contact we had was during sexual intercourse – which we had for most of our years together because, quite frankly, I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

I’ve been told by several women that they (or their sisters, or their friends) went for years without any physical contact whatsoever – and I often felt that DH would have preferred things that way, himself.

Longing for emotional intimacy – for him – I was occasionally given sex: dispassionate, mechanical sex. Sex that might have been dictated by some sort of user’s manual: touch this, stroke here, kiss now… insert Tab A into Slot B… (dear God can we please just get this over with?)

Sex and love become highly confused in such a situation. Where physical affection takes on exaggerated significance, either as the substitute for love or the associated expression of denied love, then all sorts of warped sexual response can develop in us. I don’t suggest that ex-wives of gays are the only women who might be able to go from 0-60 in 1.3 seconds, if you get my drift… or who are so hyperresponsive to physical affection, but we do face a real danger of mistaking sexual interest (which we didn’t get from our gay husbands) with authentic love (which we also didn’t get from our gay husbands); and the glorious euphoria of being treated like a desirable woman, when we resume dating, can become a high-risk opportunity to lose one’s head and become incautious in our relationships.

Being used for easy sex is as bad as – maybe worse than – being denied affection at all.

How to find balance? Honey, don’t ask me. I decided to remain celibate after one particularly humiliating dating experience. I’ve had my “Do Not Disturb” sign out, now, for several years. Life’s easier and more tranquil this way.

Just be aware, okay? And decide before you date what your limits are going to be – and what you really want – and don’t want. And be cautious, too. A good man with honorable intentions is not going to try to press his advantage on your vulnerability.