I used to think “lesbian bed death” was a myth. Now the only reason my lesbian bed has life is me, my hand, and I.
If you shave your bush, but you’re not having sex, then why put up with the razor burn?
This poorly crafted self-deprecating rhetorical question is my odd way of finally admitting that I’m in a sexless marriage.
And I’m devastated.
I know there is more to a relationship/marriage than sex, but I just can’t let this go.
Entering the cocoon as a naïve caterpillar; emerging a sexually charged lesbian
I lost my virginity at 14. Even though I started my sexual journey young, I didn’t really hook up with many guys, and when you look at my total body count, it’s actually pretty low. Yes, I started having sex young, but I wasn’t really having that much sex. In reality, I was barely kissing the boyfriends I had.
In fact, before I continue, let me paint you a very lame (and probably sad) overview of my sexual history:
- lose my virginity at 14
- date a few guys in high school but only kiss them; hook up with a girl and do much more
- marry my high school sweetheart at 22; divorce at 25
- date some women; start having the best sex of my life; marry the girl of my dreams
*Okay, actually this overview omits a major event: I had a same-sex affair while married. Adultery isn’t something I’m proud of and never intended, but it happened, so the best thing I can do is to own it and grow. Thus, I’ve spent every second of my life since my blunder figuring out exactly what led me down this road and how to ensure that never happens again. I’m sure I’ll expand on this part of my life in an essay titled “How to Blow up Your life in 1 Easy Step,” but for now, I need to get back to the topic at hand: being in a sexless marriage.
As already addressed, I started having sex way too young. Why I started so young could for be a number of things: being raised by a single mom who wasn’t around often because she was working herself to the bone to support us; being raised in a family that really didn’t talk about things, so I had no one in my life saying, “Hey…maybe you should wait on that whole sex thing;” being young and fiercely in love, thinking that at age 14 I had found my soul mate; or, in later hearing other lesbian stories, potentially being wildly confused about my sexuality, so just diving in full speed ahead into irresponsible choices.
The reason doesn’t matter now. The fact remains that I was 14.
Even with my weird sexual journey, what I quickly learned is that I loved sex, but was still figuring it out. Honestly, it wasn’t until I was well into my first marriage that I figured out how to really climax while having sex, and it was very much something I did and controlled — my poor ex-husband had no influence on my orgasms. In fact, as soon as I came I got bored, so I made sure to speed up his climax so we could be done and move on to the next activity in our day.
The moment, though, that I started having sex with not only women but with her…wow. That was mind-blowing, earth-shattering, toe-curling spank-bank material that I still call on. I often think of those awkward moments of anticipation while we were both figuring out how to do this whole “gay sex” thing and the exhilaration that ran through my body.
But now? Our bed is the coffin that entombs our sex life.
WARNING: possible “Lesbian Bed Death” ahead
So, in sum of all I’ve said above:
- When I was married to a man, I really didn’t care about sex. Yes, I liked to have it, but it wasn’t because I wanted it with him; I just wanted to get off.
- Now, married to a woman, I want to get off, and I want it with her and only her.
What this means is that as my first marriage continued and we spent more and more time together, I wanted sex less and less, but I didn’t understand why. Up until that point, I had written off my dwindling sex drive on a million things, and unfortunately, it wasn’t until too late that I realized it was because I didn’t want to have sex with men. Sex, or the lack thereof, was a gauge for our relationship health, and it had become a major indicator that there was something seriously wrong.
This is my failed marriage baggage: to me, sex is one significant sign of a healthy relationship. Without it, something is wrong.
Now that I’m with the person I do want to have sex with, that person is 100% uninterested in sex, and I’m mentally spiraling out of control.
When I first entered the gay world, I had heard whisperings of “Lesbian Bed Death” — the myth that lesbians’ sex lives tend to die early and swiftly, but I swore it would never happen to me. My wife swore, too.
And here we are.
I’m nine years out of a failed marriage, and in those nine years, I have learned a lot of things. The main lesson that applies to my dead sex life is that I need to leave my baggage at the door.
Just because my diminishing interest in sex was a red flag doesn’t mean that is what’s happening with her. I also know that 99% of the time, when someone exhibits behavior that upsets you, it’s actually not about you; it’s about them and something that they are dealing with (coughcoughmyignoredsexualitycoughcough).
Turns out, I am not the only blue-beaned or blue-balled human out there
These revelations are echoed by sex therapist Dr. Emily Morse in her podcast Sex with Emily. In an episode titled “CAUTION: Sexual Roadblocks Ahead,” she lists six things that can get in the way of a healthy sexual relationship:
- Stress and anxiety
- Media depictions of sex and intimacy
- Health and medications
(To hear more on these and her tips on how to navigate these roadblocks, check out her quick episode. Interested in hearing a more general view of Dr. Emily Morse, her story, and her message? Check out her recent appearance on Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear these episodes.)
This episode left me speechless because the listener question she opened with had almost identically my story: Here was a man explaining all the healthy ways he’s tried handling his fading sex life with his wife, and Dr. Emily validated his efforts by highlighting how he was doing everything right — most importantly, communication outside the bedroom.
His story was a nice reminder that yes, “Lesbian Bed Death” is in fact a myth because a dead sex life can happen to all couples for any number of reasons.
And then melancholy washed away my momentary relief as I remembered I’m still in a sexless marriage. This is not something I want to connect with a stranger over.
My wife and I have certainly been communicating our way through this obstacle. The lack of sex in our relationship has been a recurring conversation where she has very clearly stated that I’m reasonable and clear about what I want and need and why, but she just can’t figure out why she’s not interested or willing to try harder.
She tells me she’s trying to figure out what’s going on. In fact, there are moments she’ll make spontaneous reflective declarations, completely unprompted, and then she always ends with a promise that it’ll get better.
Change is promised, but then never delivered.
Today I finally realized, and then mentioned to her, how sex began disappearing as she moved up in her career. Whether those events are truly related I don’t know, but it would certainly align with Dr. Emily’s suggestion that stress and anxiety get in the way.
So who am I really shaving my bush for?
A handful of years ago when all these dry spells started, plus some other relationship issues, I started keeping a daily record of things my wife did to show she loved me because, honestly, I was having a hard time understanding her love language; I genuinely did not know if we were going to make it.
What I found is that she loves me immensely, even if she doesn’t always show it in ways that I need her to. She can’t speak to me in my language, but she is still speaking to me.
Despite knowing she loves me, I handle all of the dry spells in various levels of maturity and coping. In one of our more recent dry spells, I stopped shaving my bush. Even though I like to think I’ve matured a lot over the last decade, I of course have my moments, as we all do. In one of those not-so-great moments of mine, I decided that as an act of defiance I would use my grown bush to measure the length of our dry spell, thus “showing her” how long our dry spells really are.
As you can probably guess, she didn’t notice because we weren’t having sex, so really, the joke was on me. She had no clue or care, and I was left hacking an overgrown monstrosity.
Have you ever cried while shaving your bush? I have. And it wasn’t attractive and only caused more razor burn.
Since then, I’ve kept up with shaving because a shaved bush is what I know, but I definitely don’t put in the effort of making sure every spot is perfectly clean like I used to.
So what’s wrong here?
Why are we running in circles when it comes to sex? And what happens to the shaved bush? Why continue causing razor burn when it’s just me hanging out down there? And why do I even care that it’s shaved?
I originally shaved it for sex with someone I haven’t been with in nearly a decade. I don’t think I really honestly care about my downstairs carpet, and as I get older I feel sillier the more I labor over it. Every time I question my pubic hair status, Hank Moody’s line in season 1 episode 2 of Californication runs through my head: “while I’m down there it might be nice to see a hint of pubis. I’m not talking about a huge 70s playboy bush or anything. Just something that reminds me that I’m performing cunnilingus on an adult.”
Despite all my questions, the one thing I do know is that I can’t be in my early 30s and never have sex again. Can this really be the headline of my sexual journey?
Maybe this is karma serving me. In some self-punishing way, I kind of believe that’s exactly what’s happening; it’s the most perfect symbolic retribution for my extramarital slip.
At least while I hang out in painfully lengthening dry spells, which I’ve also nicknamed “masturbatory purgatory”, I have my new perspective from Dr. Emily Morse: I no longer need to view my solo bean flicking moments with dread. Instead, I can celebrate being in touch with and embracing my own sexuality, and all those toys I had purchased for us can and should be dusted off and well-loved.
So, while this essay began with me mourning the loss of a sexual marriage, it ends with me learning to celebrate my own sexuality, and hopefully, anyone else in a similar situation can find their own celebration as well. I know this is not something we want to build camaraderie over, but at least you’re not alone, and perhaps some of your best moments ahead can now be in those solo adventures. I mean, you might as well make the best of your own masturbatory purgatory, right?
So cheers, my friends!! Here’s to another night taking the express train to Happy Town, buffing the muffin, and saucing the taco. Light the candles, set that mood music, and end your evening breathless.