Dear John: When The Only Sex Is Drunk Sex
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I have a problem with a guy I’ve been dating for about six months. It took me a while to notice what was happening, but now I definitely see a pattern. The only time he’s interested in having sex is after he’s had a few to several drinks. He never initiates sex, and the only time he’s responsive to my advances is after drinking. A couple of times recently just to see how he would react I have tried to get him interested when he’s completely sober and he said he was tired, had some things to do, etc. So I am starting to feel really bad about this, like there’s something wrong with me that he can only get past when he’s buzzed. In the non-sexual ways, I think our relationship is really good and he usually doesn’t make me feel bad about myself. What should I do?
Dear Sobering Thought,
The first thing you should do is stop feeling bad about yourself. This involves you, but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. Your boyfriend would need the same psychological boost regardless of whom he was with. The second thing you should do is talk to him about it if you haven’t already. Sex apparently makes him feel a little anxious (hence the need for some self-medication beforehand), and sometimes just talking about a mild anxiety can rob it of its power. If not, though, or if the problem seems to be getting worse, a session with a couples therapist may be helpful. He or she may also give you some insight as to why you were so quick to attribute your boyfriend’s need to drink before sex to some shortcoming of yours.
My husband and I both were married before and had kids from those relationships when we met. My first husband died and left me with a six-year-old boy and my husband is divorced with twin girls who were nine when me met. We all live together (he has joint custody of the girls with his ex, and they get along very well on issues regarding the children) and everyone gets along great – we hear stories from friends with blended families and we know how rare our situation is. We feel very, very fortunate. But there is one issue that has come up that I need some advice on. My son is twelve now, so it’s time for us to discuss teenage things with him, and we’re not on the same page. I am a devout Catholic and take the teachings of the Church very seriously. One of these teachings is that masturbation is wrong. My husband, while raised Catholic, disagrees with virtually all the Church’s views on sexuality, including, and maybe especially, this one. He says it’s perfectly normal for boys to do this and he remembers how conflicted he felt when he was my son’s age. According to him, being taught that masturbation is a sin never prevented him from doing it; it just made him feel guilty all the time, and he doesn’t want our son to go through the same thing. And he says as a woman, I can’t understand what it’s like when you’re made to feel guilty and sinful just for having normal teenage hormones. So we are at an impasse. My Church’s beliefs vs. my husband’s. I honestly don’t want to ignore either one, but I don’t know what to do! Most of all, I want to do what’s right for our son.
As in my answer to the letter below, I think a lot of times we underestimate the capacity of kids to understand that in many situations, there’s no easy, black-and-white answer. And that’s certainly the case here. I think you should both sit down with your son and acknowledge that boys frequently start to masturbate at his age. (If the prospect of doing that is embarrassing to you, you just have to resign yourself to being embarrassed. It gets easier the more you do it.) Some people’s religion teaches this is sinful, and some people scoff at such beliefs. You’re in the former camp; your husband is in the latter. (Placing this conversation in the context of a longer discussion of sexuality would be a good idea if you haven’t had that talk with your son yet.) Presenting the issue this way will tell your son everything he needs to know: that virtually all boys do this; some people think it’s wrong and some don’t; and adults can have opinions that differ drastically while still respecting each other’s points of view.
My son wants to join the Boy Scouts, but I am not in favor of this because I’m trying to raise him to be caring and non-judgmental and I disagree with the Boy Scouts about their position on homosexuality. I am a single mother and one of the reasons his father is not in the picture is because he is just an angry, hate-filled person who we are much better off not having in our lives. But to my son, Boy Scouts is just about camping and having fun in the woods, and he has some friends who are scouts and he’s feeling left out. And I know a lot of things they teach boys are good, but I have a brother who is gay and prejudice toward gay people is not something I take lightly or want to condone on any level. Should I consider letting him join or follow my conscience in this?
Dear Teaching Tolerance,
I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive. Contact the scoutmaster of the troop your son wants to join and talk to him about your concerns. See what he has to say. Like any large organization, the Boy Scouts undoubtedly includes adult leaders with a wide range of attitudes about this particular policy. It’s quite possible that the scoutmaster of the local troop shares your values. In a lot of troops, Boy Scouts really ARE “just about camping and having fun in the woods,” not pushing a retrograde social agenda.
I think the best thing you could do here is talk with your son about it, frankly and openly. If he’s old enough for Boy Scouts, he’s old enough to learn about issues like this and the way that the things we want can sometimes conflict with the things we believe. At the very least, even if you decide not to let him join, he’ll understand that this is not an easy decision for you and there’s an important principle that underlies your answer.
Personally, I would be inclined to let him join if you get a favorable impression of the scoutmaster. I think the chances of an organization like the Boy Scouts evolving are greatly enhanced if parents like you are involved.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com . He's away from the advice desk this week, so he's chosen some of his favorite letters from previous columns to share.
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