Savage Love: Devastation

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Dear Dan,

I'm a straight man in a live-in relationship with a beautiful woman. There are no sparks in bed, and it's been more than a year since we've had sex. She says, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested." Sometimes she asks me if I'm disappointed, and I say something like, "I miss sex." And she says: "Maybe someday. But the important thing is we love each other, right?" Before my last birthday, she asked me what I wanted as a gift. I replied, "A soapy handjob." That would've been the most action I'd had all year. But when my birthday rolled around, all I got was a speech about how she loved me but was not in love with me. My question: In the year 2017, how does a straight man make it clear to the woman he's with that sex is important to him without coming across as threatening? If I told her I'd leave her unless our sex life improved — and I have certainly thought about this — she'd probably "put out" to save our relationship. She has abandonment issues, and I fear she would be devastated if I left her. I only want to have sex with someone who wants to have sex with me, not someone I've coerced. What do I do? I love her, but a sexless relationship isn't what I want or signed up for.

— Sexless Over A Perplexing Year

There's being sensitive to coming across as threatening and wanting to avoid even unintentional coercion and being cognizant of the ways women are socialized to defer to men and the ways men are socialized to feel entitled to women's bodies, SOAPY, and then there's being a fucking doormat. She isn't in love with you — she told you so herself — and she's never gonna fuck you or soap you up to get you off. If you don't want her putting out to keep you, then don't give her the option. That means ending the relationship, SOAPY, not entering into negotiations about the terms for remaining in the relationship. ("1. Tell me you're in love with me, even if it's a lie. 2. A sad, soapy handjob once a year on my birthday ...")

There's nothing unreasonable about wanting a romantic relationship that's both loving and fully sexual, SOAPY, and a man can put his wants on the table without pounding said table with his dick. Your girlfriend's issue may be a mystery — maybe it's her, maybe it's you — but you're not obligated to stay in an unsatisfactory relationship indefinitely because your girlfriend will be devastated if you leave.

Also, devastation is a two-way street. If you dump her, SOAPY, her devastation will be immediate, like the impact of an earthquake or a hurricane. But if you stay, you'll be the one devastated — but your devastation will be gradual, taking years, like the erosion of coastline or the destruction of our democracy. The destruction of your self-esteem and sense of sexual self-worth is already under way. She's a lot likelier to get over the devastation she'll feel if you leave, than you are to get over the devastation you'll experience if you stay.

Your gonads/self-respect/preservation instinct are in that apartment somewhere. Get 'em and go.

Dear Dan,

A man impregnated me about a month into our relationship. He is adamantly against having the kid, as it's too soon. I really don't want to have an abortion — I have religious and moral beliefs against it. He states that since one parent doesn't want the kid, I am wrong for even considering keeping it. Am I wrong? We're both around 30, and this is my first pregnancy. Do I have the right to continue with the pregnancy? I feel like we'd be great parents. He's already left me because I wouldn't make a decision within a week. It's tearing us apart.

— Opposing Opinions On Pregnancy Situation

I'm going to sidestep the whole no-abortions-for-religious-and-moral-reasons-but-premarital-sex-is-not-a-problem issue. This pregnancy isn't tearing you apart, OOOPS, it tore you apart. He already ended things — he left you — which was a shitty thing to do, perhaps, but within his rights. It is absolutely within your rights to continue with the pregnancy — it's your body, it's your decision. And while he will be on the hook for this kid financially if you decide to have it, no one can force him to do the work/experience the joy/clean up the vomit that comes with actually fathering this child. Here's hoping you have the love and support you need to raise a kid if you decide to keep the baby, and here's hoping he comes around.

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