On sex excuses

I’ve got a headache. I genuinely have – my head’s throbbing and for once it’s not because I drank too much last night. It’s because I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time growing steadily angry about the husband who detailed his wife’s ‘sex excuses’, and then sent her the spreadsheet.

Long story short: he compiled a spreadsheet logging the times he’d tried to initiate sex, and her responses, including the reasons she’d given for saying ‘no’. These included such things as ‘you’re too drunk’ and ‘I have to be up early.’

Excuses for not having sex

Here’s a list of excuses for not having sex that I have given my partner (or he has given me) in the last couple of months.

  • It’s late, I’m knackered.
  • I smell super gross.
  • I’m not actually that horny right now.
  • It’s too hot.
  • I just came about five minutes ago.
  • I’ve got a cold that makes it tricky for me to breathe through any of my face holes.

What do all of these excuses have in common? That’s right – they’re all things that happen to humans quite regularly. They’re also not really ‘excuses’ – an ‘excuse’ is something you use to ‘get out’ of something that you otherwise would be obliged to do. These, on the other hand, are just explanations of some stuff that’s happening (extreme tiredness, snot dripping out of someone’s face) that is causing that person to be unkeen on sex.

Why do we give sex ‘excuses’?

Here’s the thing: no one ever has a right to sex. Not your partner, not the person who’s spent twenty minutes going down on you, no one. Therefore you are never compelled to give a reason for not sleeping with someone. If you say ‘no’, that should be the end of the discussion. Maybe you have a nice cuddle instead, maybe you hop onto the night bus and go home, whatever.

But if I were to turn round to my partner and say ‘no’, then wander off, that would sound a bit odd. Sure, I don’t owe him a reason, but I like to explain lest he feel his ardour is wasted and I have suddenly decided I just don’t fancy him. So I say ‘argh, headache’ or ‘I stink like the bottom of the laundry basket’ and he is reassured that my lust for him remains strong – the mind is willing, but the flesh is… stinky and sweaty and not in the mood.

So, the reason I am pissed off by the spreadsheet compiled by this arsehole is not just because it displays a terrifying sense of entitlement towards sex, nor because it’s a cruel thing to send your partner along with the explanation ‘this is why I won’t miss you when you’re away on your trip’ – although it is both of these things. The main reason I’m angry is because he’s taken her reasons – those little nods towards making one’s partner feel better, softening the blow of the rejection – and turned them back round on her. Sneering as if her reasons are lies, and making her feel like not only is her lack of desire for sex a moral failing, but that her attempts to soften the blow are manipulative and wrong.

But you’ve got to have sympathy for the guy… no?

When I had a rant about this stuff on Twitter, I got a few people telling me that ‘you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy.’ In fact, I get this quite a lot – when I write about men who believe they are stuck in an imaginary Friend Zone, or men who struggle to chat up women, I am pretty much guaranteed a comment or two that says ‘well, you have to admit that it’s sad to not get any sex. Let’s get more guys laid and bad things won’t happen any more.’

Here’s how far I’m willing to go: I do feel sorry for people who want sex but can’t get it. I do. I have a hell of a lot of sympathy for people who are horny and lonely and struggling to find someone to share their life, their bed, or even just a sweaty five minutes in a pub toilet somewhere. I’ve been that person, and it was shit for me.

But no matter how shit it is, I do not have sympathy for those who try to coerce or guilt-trip a fuck out of someone. Being sad that you’re not getting laid is perfectly natural – using that sadness to manipulate is unacceptably cruel. So no – I don’t feel sorry for the guy who made the spreadsheet, at all. Any ounce of pity I had for him evaporated when he painted his lack of sex as a failing of his wife. Had he spoken to her properly and tried to work out whether there was a wider problem, all under the understanding that he didn’t have a right to sex an arbitrary number of times each week or month, then I would be cheering him on and wishing them future happiness.

As it is, by making a spreadsheet of her ‘excuses’ he has implied not only that she doesn’t have the right to refuse sex (which she does, obviously, as does he, as does anyone), but that her reasons for refusal are ‘mean’ – she is a horrible wife who isn’t doing what she should, and doesn’t have the decency to make up good enough reasons for not doing it.

Maybe next time he tries sex with her, she’ll hit him with a new reason:

  • I can’t fancy you while you’re trying to manipulate me.


  • I actually think that you are projecting quite a lot onto the man. I don’t like the spreadsheet. I think it sucks big time. It is clearly a glimpse into a very disfunctional relationship. It is indicative of a whole heap of issues.

    However, we do not know the build up to this. We do not know the context or anything. In reading and reacting we are making a whole heap of assumptions. I can think of several scenarios that whilst this is still crap behaviour, it isn’t about entitlement to sex.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hi there. Interesting, and I’m always willing to admit that I may be wrong on some stuff. Please could you explain to me one or two of the scenarios in which this wasn’t about entitlement to sex?

      • Colin says:

        Imagine the scenario in which your wife, whom you used to regularly have sex with, has a sudden, significant drop in her interest in have sex with you. You used to have sex several times a week and both of you would initiate it — now you’re the only person who ever initiates it, and you get rejected almost every time. You’re concerned about your marriage and your future, so you bring it up with her. But she brushes it off. “Oh we still have sex. Remember that time last week?”

        Months pass. You try to bring it up. You don’t really know what to say, because you’re a dumb bloke who sucks at talking about sex, so it’s pretty easy for her to blow it off. She doesn’t see the problem, or at least, doesn’t acknowledge it.

        You’re 27 and you’re getting laid once a month and you’re getting really worried, because after all, you signed a contract saying this was the only person you’d sleep with for the rest of your life.

        You bring it up with her again. Point out that “nine times out of ten” she doesn’t want to have sex. She laughs, says it’s nowhere near 9 out of ten. Of course since you’re shit at communication this conversation goes nowhere, just like the others.

        Finally, for your own sanity, you decide to just start writing it all down. Maybe it’s not that bad… maybe she’s right. Maybe I *am* blowing this outta proportion.

        7 weeks later you have your data and it’s as bad as you thought.

        You can call it “entitlement to sex” or you can call it “entitlement to trying to find a functioning balance in the sexual relationship you have with your life partner” or maybe “the data I gathered before I divorced her due to sexual incompatibility”

        • Girl on the net says:

          OK, let’s take your example – in this case what he’s doing is – for his own sanity – logging the number of times he has been rejected. Sort of fair enough, and I can understand why he might be troubled if she is telling him that what he thinks is wrong.

          However, he didn’t just do that, did he? He

          a) logged the reasons – and I fail to see how the way in which he’s done this can be interpreted as anything other than an intimation that her reasons are ‘excuses’. In fact, he *actually labels them ‘excuses’*
          b) subsequently *emailed his wife the spreadsheet* along with an explanation that “this is why I won’t miss you when you’re away on your trip”. I can’t see how this can be interpreted as a genuine desire to communicate or an earnestly-felt attempt to fix a problem.

          I can see how maybe collecting data might help you to make a point, if your point is something as basic and simple as ‘we have sex less frequently than you think’. But that’s an incredibly limited scenario, and I can only conceive of it in a purely hypothetical sense – in which the sex or lack thereof was not an emotional issue for either partner. As soon as there are emotions involved, doing something like this is naturally going to seem like a guilt trip, because *that is what it is*. It’s a method of trying to manipulate her behaviour so that she gives him what he wants. He has not offered her the spreadsheet and gone ‘so I notice you say I was too drunk – I’m going to try and stop that. And is there any way we can improve things, like maybe are you more horny before the gym? When is it you’d prefer to have sex? Are you happy with the way I’m initiating it?” etc etc etc.

          So yeah, I’m afraid I do think this comes from a place of entitlement.

          • Colin says:

            a) The other reason for logging the reasons, of course, would be to find a common theme in them, i.e. “too tired from the gym” to use a starting point for a change in their behavior. But I agree the fact that he calls them “excuses” instead of “reasons” suggests that he’s not very good at empathy, and is only looking at the situation from what HE wants.

            b) The only reason to send that email with that context is to say “fuck you.” Some people are so bad at communicating, that this is the only way they know how to react when they’re feeling hurt. I think we can agree you shouldn’t marry people like this.

          • riz says:

            I’m surprised that youve taken such an uncharitable view here.

            We don’t know about their relationship. While labeling her reasons as excuses comes across at first blush as an incredibly nasty thing to do, what if she has been dismissive of his desire for sex? That would feel very undermining.

            I think that often society demonises male sexual desire as selfish and base (similarly female desire has typically been distorted as slutty, the stigma and stereotyping happens for both genders).

            I certainly don’t expect that stereotyping by you, gotn. But I think that there is an instance in which it is understandable that one partner feels legitimately pissed because the other is being dismissive of a valid desire. Sex is a very valid desire in a relationship and if she has just dismissed it over a long period then I can see how it led to what he did.

            As for the entitlement question, I need to consider that more fully. I think if we are honest that most people feel entitled to a good explanation, yes. Its what caring for each other is about.

          • Girl on the net says:

            I’m gutted that you think my view is ‘uncharitable’ – as I said in the piece, I have sympathy for people who don’t get sex but want it – a *lot* of sympathy. What I don’t have sympathy for is his behaviour.

            I am in no way ‘demonising’ his sexual desire. There is no issue with his sexual desire – it isn’t base or selfish. His behaviour is. I genuinely don’t get why you can’t separate these things – this is exactly the problem I had with people who said ‘you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy.’ Essentially you’re blaming her for his appalling behaviour, and saying you ‘can see how it led to what he did’ – this is what I’m taking issue with. Do you genuinely believe that by saying no to sex you are giving your partner carte blanche to treat you appallingly? If you were to say ‘well, he had to say something’ then I’d be 100% with you – if he’s unhappy then of course he should say something. But there’s an ocean of difference between discussing the issue with your partner in a way that respects them, and sending them a fucking spreadsheet about their ‘excuses’ in order to shame them into saying ‘yes’ next time you ask for a shag.

          • riz says:

            I don’t intend to blame her for what he did, even by implication, but I’m assuming they both share blame for things getting as bad as they are. The reason I say that is because according to my own idea of a “charitable” view of human nature, I’m assuming that neither of them are really nasty people and wondering “how did he end up doing such a horrible thing to her?”. Then, perhaps she did something or a serious of things which weren’t very nice to him. NOT the refusing sex, but the being dismissive of him. I’ve been with someone who had very valid reasons not to want sex as much as I did and I really struggled with the feelings and although I didn’t pester, I just felt it so difficult to deal with. I felt undesirable, even though it wasn’t about me. So maybe my personal experience colours my earlier point.

            But I can very much see your point of view as well and am swayed by that a little more. Especially, having seen that one of the entries in his spreadsheet for list of reasons was “too sore from yesterday”. It makes him sound like a dick.

          • Girl on the net says:

            Ouch, yes – I didn’t see that one on first reading but yeah.

  • I can imagine any future spreadsheets that asshole makes will be _filled_ with the word “spreadsheet” in the excuse column.


  • A ribbon blue, blue as my eyes says:

    The spreadsheet dude is suffering from a colossal failure of “just get it”. I suspect, for one reason or another, his wife just doesn’t want to shag him. Does he really think she’s going to want to shag him more if he sends her spreadsheet detailing his woes? No, it’s disgusting – the revulsion is almost physical. The irony is that while he’s being a complete arsehole about it, to some extent he is taking the modern attitude to intimate relationships – communication fixes all, right? Except that it doesn’t. Even if he’d talked to her about their lack of sex in a completely reasonable way, my experience (and reading of the stories of married men) suggests that that just doesn’t help. Instead you have to seduce. Work out. Flirt. All those sexy things you did that made her wet when you first got together. Do that. But for heaven’s sake don’t talk about it. Just do it. If THAT doesn’t work, then try talking – maybe she’s depressed, or sick, or the scheduling of your lives needs to change.

    As a practical matter, happy marriages are generally not sustainable with sex on a 3-a-month ration, so from their perspective it is an issue that needs to be fixed. Modern man, however, seems to have forgotten that some things are best solved with actions rather than words.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I initially though that. Like “maybe she doesn’t want to sleep with you because you’re a towring arsehole?” but then realised that actually, that may not be the case at all. Maybe she just has a lower sex drive than him. Maybe his timing is way off and she’s super-horny *before* going to the gym, etc etc. Loads of possibilities.

      I think I might disagree with you on the ‘happy marriage’ thing – that may well be the case for you, but it’s going to depend a lot on the people in the relationship, their individual drives, their ages, physical fitness etc. Some people could be happy as anything on 3 times a month (I think about once a week is average, so there must be many people who have sex less frequently than that), while others need more: I think there’s more variation in people’s sex drives than we generally assume.

      • A ribbon blue, blue as my eyes says:

        For sure there’s huge variation in sex drive. I was going by the average, but in this case we don’t need to: clearly he is not happy with 3 times a month. She is of course entirely free to sleep with him as much as she likes, but he is equally free to leave her and find someone else who will do so more frequently (which I assume is not the desired outcome, since she did say he’s not usually a massive prick). This is not a question of of entitlement – of morality – but purely a practical issue.

        Again, as a practical matter, it’s usually a good idea to think about what the impact of your words is going to be. No one reasonable is going to take offence at a truthful “I feel sick”. “I’m watching TV”, on the other hand, gives the impression that you care about the Friends re-run more than shagging your partner. If that’s true, you’ve got a problem. If that’s not what’s really going on, it’s actually far worse than honestly saying “actually, you’re being an unsexy whiny prick as of late, and I just don’t fancy you right now”. People can at least change their behaviour – they can’t do much about the TV (apart from maybe throw the damn thing out, which might not be the worst strategy). You can have a serious, productive conversation about one, but not the other. Trying to soften the blow can really backfire.

        Rejection, in general, hurts. It’s good to avoid it when you can. Quite a few times my fiancee has been craving a fucking and I’ve been REALLY tired and not in the mood, but do so anyway because it will make her happy, and 9 times out of 10 5 minutes later I’m thinking “woah, second wind, this is great, what was I moaning about?” I know for sure she’s also done the same for me. This is just good Relationship Maintenance Strategy that means we both go to sleep cuddling & contented (the Latin adjective for that postcoital glow is “ecfututus”; it crops up in Catullus’s poetry as “latera ecfutata” – sounds deliciously filthy).

        I don’t want to give the impression that his behaviour isn’t awful, because it clearly is. No matter how distressed you are, you should never, ever, lash out in this way – it’s unpardonably cruel, as you say. IDK if this is the right forum or time to discuss it, but there are good strategies to avoid that cumulative distress and resentment building up in the first place.

        This particular couple, though, I’d guess has other problems (a lot of them related to his character).

  • TauriqM says:

    My major problem is that you don’t even have a right to an explanation – Anyone can refuse sex for whatever reason they want to. They don’t need to pen a lengthy treatise detailing their thought process or reasoning. However, since we’re mostly decent people, we do offer a compromise via explanation.

    Our refusal or lack of interest in sex does not have to mitigate our love or desire for the person who wants, initiates, etc. So to that extent yes, we give some kind of explanation – not EXCUSE – because that’s what decent people will do anyway. No one needs to be told that; if they do, I’d be kind of worried.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Absolutely – although I’m quite shocked by how many people do seem to think that being married/in a relationship entitles you to some sort of sex quota. I love sex, and I would not be happy in a relationship with someone who didn’t shag me fairly frequently. But that doesn’t mean that any partner is obliged to shag me, it just means that if I am having less sex than I want, I need to look at why that might be the case, and either change my behaviour, help my partner out if there’s a specific problem, or change the relationship. Not come up with creepy ways to compel him to shag me.

  • coraline says:

    I would argue that, no you don’t have a right to sex, ever. But, if you are in a committed relationschip or you are married, then you do have an obligation towards your partner. Never sex, but you are obliged to take his or hers complaints seriously. You are obliged to make an effort and you are obliged to be honest about it.

    I believe Dan Savage has written a lot about this point of view. What are your thoughts?

    • Girl on the net says:

      You have an obligation to treat your partner with respect, kindness, decency, etc, yes. Although I don’t really see the link here, unless you think that sex is akin to kindness. “You are obliged to take his or her complaints seriously” – yes, in most cases, providing they raise those issues with the aforementioned decency. Not if they bring them up by passive-aggressively logging your behaviour and implying that you owe them something.

      The ‘you are obliged to be honest about it’ thing – not necessarily. I can think of a few reasons to refuse sex that might hurt a partner, but I’d probably not be so blunt in a refusal.

      I’m sort of struggling here to write a coherent response, because ultimately the answer is just ‘be a decent person, and treat your partner with respect’, and I genuinely do not understand why this might be tricky to comprehend.

  • Because we don’t know the circumstances, I’m unsure how I feel about the spreadsheet – other than it’s a bad tactic to use with another person. Hopefully it stimulated a real conversation between the two people on what’s really wrong.

  • Unhat says:

    You totally owe your partner an explanation *if you expect them to continue being your partner*.

    At least in general monogamous situations, or those where you pretended you weren’t monogamous then cried outside a pub when he exercised the option the request is “hey, don’t have sex with anyone else but me.”

    (Maybe with a “without my permission” rider, but that doesn’t apply here)

    If you give up on the “but me” part, then your options are either to admit you are tacitly saying “I’m not keeping up the deal, so this relationship is over” or to provide an explanation why what seems to be over actually isn’t.

    It seems like the woman in this case was trying to do the latter, and the guy wasn’t buying the explanations. He was awful in the way he expressed that, though.

    Right to sex? None.
    Right to an explanation? None.
    Right to expect someone to stay around with neither? None.

  • Azkyroth says:

    Ugh. Looking at the pattern…I find it a bit difficult to believe that in each of those cases his wife would otherwise be interested in sex except for the one thing she cites. It does seem like his wife is either not interested in sex with nearly the frequency he is, or just not that interested in sex with him, and yet for some reason is “unable” to come out and say so. It may be that the relationship is a more broadly abusive one and she has reason to feel being honest is actually unsafe, in which case her dissembling is understandable, but barring that: She may feel that she’s sparing his feelings, or protecting her interests, or simply be doing what women are socialized to do – but he quite reasonably feels both lied to and insulted – “do you really think I’m stupid enough to be distracted from the forest by the trees forever?”

    So, if he’d stated that he felt there was an openness/honesty/communication problem in the relationship as well as his sexual needs not being met, and asked her to discuss it with him frankly, he’d actually have a point. The way he actually handled it makes it clear he’s operating from a position of feeling entitled to sex, though, and his emailing it and then cutting off contact was petulant and pointlessly cruel.

  • between2fires says:

    My gut instinct when I read about this guy was, “You’re probably a lousy lay, or you’re a narcissist .”

    I know what it’s like to be the partner of an incompetent lover. They do not consider the person they’re fucking. But they imply it is that person’s fault when the encounter is less than stellar. Blame transferral.

    Once a tv show is more compelling than sex, then somebody done got the dang recipe wrong!

  • Lizzie says:

    I was interested to read your post after seeing the original article yesterday. I don’t agree with how he went about it but I’m a female who really sympathises with his feelings and situation. I think most people are assuming this was his first move in trying to deal with it, but likely this was a late-hope attempt to bring the issue to her attention, after many more subtle or caring attempts to approach their challenges. It clearly wasn’t smart, but when you are always the person making the moves and you are continually rejected, for what does feel like “excuses”, it does become very upsetting and frustrating, and also, crucially, hopeless. And hopeless people do silly things…

    • Girl on the net says:

      I’ll be honest- I don’t even think this should be a last resort. Sure, if you’re miserable in a relationship, you always have the right to leave. But the way he’s done this sounds more like the ‘right to get laid’ which isn’t a last resort: it’s just not a right at all.

      • Albert says:

        I tend to agree that this was not a “last hope/try”, a way to guilt her into having more sex.
        I think he tried bringing the problem to discussion without success, and this was kinda of a way of saying “this is why i’m breaking up with you”.
        It feels very disarming being turned down so many times, makes you feel undesired. A terrible feeling. It terrifies me to think that my current relationship will stay the same. Think i can count on one hand the times we had sex this year… Brought the problem to discussion a few times, not much improvement. And i also feel terrible for thinking of leaving the relationship because of this.

  • Richard says:

    If his bedroom skills are anything like his spreadsheet skills, I can see why she might not be wanting it much. I’d at least have gone for some sort of conditional formatting rule in column B?

  • Emily says:

    He’s a prick. Simple as.

  • advizor54 says:

    at the risk of being pilloried along with other men who have commented, i find a surprising lack of empathy for those who are in relationships where sex is denied on a long term basis. You must remember that is not about sex, it is about intimacy and love and trust and togetherness.

    When a man asks for sex, initiates, he is seen as an aggressor devoid of emotion and only there for selfish reasons. This is false. For men, just as much as women, sex goes beyond the orgasm and relates directly to our sense of self, our sense of worth, and how we are loved.

    It is difficult to describe the emotional pain of long term ongoing rejection.I will repeat the mandatory agreement that his methods of communication at this final stage are awful. But I have great sympathy for the frustration and struggle that has probably led up to it. Most men do everything they can to stay in the good graces of their partner, to stay in their bed, and in their arms. We do try to smell nice, lose weight, flirt, and do all the things that worked in the past. But we discover to our dismay that our partner for reasons explained, and unexplained, have decided that we are no longer worthy of affection.

    At first we learn to live with it, we justify it, we blame ourselves, and we learn that frustration is a daily part of our intimate lives. Then we started thinking about cheating, leaving, tearing apart a relationship that may have been the center of our lives for many years. For those who stay the frustration grows. For those who leave the pain is immense

    A marriage like this most likely would be a case study for long term communication and marital breakdown. We just saw the final shot, the action of a desperate man. All I ask is that we think honestly and deeply about what may have led up to this now infamous spreadsheet and the death of a marriage.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Bloody hell. OK, firstly no one has been ‘pilloried’ – I am just disagreeing with them and engaging in debate. I do, at the very least, do them the courtesy of reading their entire comment and considering what they’ve said before responding – a courtesy you don’t appear to have done me, otherwise you’d have taken on board this bit of the blog post:

      “I do feel sorry for people who want sex but can’t get it. I do. I have a hell of a lot of sympathy for people who are horny and lonely and struggling to find someone to share their life, their bed, or even just a sweaty five minutes in a pub toilet somewhere. I’ve been that person, and it was shit for me.”

      So, when you tell me a long sad story about just how sexual rejection feels (and, incidentally, leap to some fairly massive conclusions about what ‘most men’ not just do but *feel*) it seems to me like you have not actually understood any of what I am saying – either in my post or in any of the follow up comments.

      Let me say this again: I am not saying this man is an awful person for feeling bad. It is not his sadness I object to, it is his *behaviour*. His behaviour is appalling, and is not excused by his sadness. To claim that it *is* excused by his sadness is to say that men are entitled (there’s that word again) to treat their partner badly if that partner does not provide them with sex. And therefore, it demonstrates an entitlement to sex, which is utterly objectionable. I don’t think most of the commenters here are going that far, but it seems like you are.

      So there is no need for you to explain to me how horrible it is to be sexually rejected, or be with a partner whose desire for sex is much lower than yours: not only have I been in that position, and hated it, and mentioned in the blog post just how much sympathy I have for people in the same boat, but regardless of personal experience, I still don’t think that the sadness excuses such shit behaviour.

      • Stephanie says:

        “I still don’t think that the sadness excuses such shit behaviour.”

        It doesn’t, IMO. It would have been better for him to keep it to himself, or at least have a face-to-face discussion with her about why he felt ignored or whatever. Sexual desire in relationships wanes and waxes. We’re not all robots.

    • Azkyroth says:

      at the risk of being pilloried along with other men who have commented

      Oh put a sock in it.

      -A man (more or less)

    • Stephanie says:

      “at the risk of being pilloried along with other men who have commented, i find a surprising lack of empathy for those who are in relationships where sex is denied on a long term basis. You must remember that is not about sex, it is about intimacy and love and trust and togetherness.

      When a man asks for sex, initiates, he is seen as an aggressor devoid of emotion and only there for selfish reasons. This is false. For men, just as much as women, sex goes beyond the orgasm and relates directly to our sense of self, our sense of worth, and how we are loved.”

      I’m married to a lovely, compassionate guy, and I agree with you.

  • Juniper3 says:

    It’s not about lack of empathy for those in sexless relationships, it’s lack of empathy for people who email a spreadsheet to their wives FFS. I cannot believe how many comments are trying to defend this behaviour. I have been in a sexless relationship. It was depressing but I didn’t compile a spreadsheet.

  • Marc says:

    I pity the bloke, he’s still got marriage and children to come yet, he’ll need a spreadsheet to remember when and where he last found the time, space and energy to have sex!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Bloody hell, is this a trend now?! I should probably come clean and admit that I have once tried logging sex – with my boy’s approval and enthusiasm, though. Basically we wanted to do some data analysis working out how often we did it over the course of the year, whether there were any particular days on which we were hornier, etc. But then we forgot to keep up with the log, so it all collapsed.

      Still, I think her spreadsheet is slightly less odious than the first (it’s not labelled ‘excuses’ and is more of a comment than a dig. I also have a feeling those aren’t necessarily sex ‘attempts’ but just the days – i.e. it looks as if there may have been days where no attempt was made?) but overall it still seems to have the same odious message: your duty is to fuck me when I want you to. There’s no empathy and no discussion, just a bald list of facts, with the aim of making the other person feel/look like an awful person because they don’t always want a shag.

  • LongJohnSilver says:

    Having checked the content of the spreadsheet, she is clearly avoiding him. Few of those are likely to be the real reasons and she clearly doesn’t want to discuss it. There is certainly more to this than just whether or not she wants it at any given time. She could easily be seeing someone else at the gym and he may be joining her on this “business trip”.

    • Azkyroth says:

      ….does this sort of speculation actually help anything?

      • Azkyroth says:

        In fact, the more I think about it, the less cool this seems – not only is it completely out-of-the-blue speculation (I tend to agree there’s probably an elephant in the room of some description but it could be anything from health issues to emotional stuff to stress at work to body image issues…really, why is your go to “oh, she must be having an affair”?!) but it pointedly and gratuitously tries to reframe an issue of a man doing something entitled and shitty to his female partner, into the idea that she’s probably doing something wrong.

  • DMDM says:

    I’ve been in this guy’s shoes, and have walked a few steps down that road. Partner lost interest in sex, check. Partner came up with increasingly implausible reasons for not having sex, check. Increasing frustration and misery, check. Started tracking actual times we had sex, check; started tracking reasons given by partner, check.

    Differences: I kept it all in my head, and I never aggressively confronted my partner about it. Did try talking about it in various other ways. That didn’t work out so well either — she did not want to talk about it.

    Not a lot to add. Yes, this is utter asshole behavior. And yet, and yet, when I read it I felt an instant twinge of recognition and sympathy.


  • DMDM says:

    — Okay, I guess I have one more thing to add. GOTN, I love your stuff, and have been lurking for a while. So, enough of a fan that I hesitate to criticize. But I do think you might be suffering a failure of empathy here.

    You point out that you’ve known sexual rejection. Okay, fair enough. But there’s a difference between occasional rejection and constant rejection.

    Constant, regular sexual rejection from your partner, continued over long periods of time? is fucking horrible. It leaves you demoralized and depressed. It creeps into every aspect of your life. You wonder what the hell is wrong with you. You feel ugly. You feel boring. You feel like a chump. You feel frustrated and confused and alone. You walk around, sometimes all day long, in an ugly simmering broth of anger and sadness and depression.

    Constant sexual rejection *in the context of a long-term monogamous relationship*? That’s oh, so much worse! Because now on top of the other stuff, you get to sit and think about whether if it will ever get better, and then you get to wonder what exactly you’re supposed to do if it doesn’t. What are your options? Divorce? More years or decades of misery? Finding, as they say, “another outlet”? But what if you don’t want that, because you’re in one of those odd relationships where you both take the monogamous part seriously? What if you love someone, really deeply love of your life love them, all that I am, all that I have, you and you alone.. and then one day they lose all sexual interest in you?

    Imagine you have chronic headaches. Chronic as in all the time, constant pounding pain all day long, from the moment you wake until you fall sick and desperate back into bed. Medication does nothing, exercise does nothing, the doctors shake their heads, nothing works. Sometimes the pain is less bad, sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes it’s so bad you can hardly think or speak, there’s nothing in your head but a black balloon of pain; sometimes it’s just a dull ache. But it never actually goes away. You’re just in pain all the goddamn time.

    And the pain makes you stupid. Stupid and mean. You do stupid things, and one day you do something *really* stupid, mean and stupid, something that would cause any reasonable person to look at you and think, wow, what an asshole. Well: asshole is as asshole does, and pain can explain but it doesn’t excuse. So, you’re an asshole.

    But then someone comes along and says, well, you may have been in pain, but come on — I know what pain is like, because I too have had headaches! Pretty bad ones, actually! More than once!

    I don’t want to denigrate or downplay your pain, GOTN. I’m sure it was real and horrible. But… did it go on for months and years, season turning to season, and just day after day after day of misery and depression and despair? Did it bend your whole life out of true? If it did, you have my heartfelt sympathy! But if it didn’t… well, I guess I’m just saying that sometimes there can be more to this rejection business than nice guys and entitled assholes and friend zones.


    • Girl on the net says:

      So, firstly you tell me I can’t possibly have known the pain of persistent rejection in a monogamous relationship (why, incidentally? Because I’m a girl? Click the link in the piece where I explain it), then you tell me you don’t want to downplay my pain. Which is it? Because- correct me if I’m wrong – you can’t have both.

      Over and above that, you seem to be doing the same as a lot of other commenters, which is:
      -accepting that what this guy did was wrong
      -accepting that it came from a place of sadness.

      I.e. agreeing with exactly what I’ve said in the blog. As far as I can see, I’m only getting this much criticism because I failed to play enough heartstrings about how sad sexual rejection is. Which is odd, because obviously I’m the sort of person who has a huge amount of sympathy for those who are sexually rejected. Clearly the reason I wrote this piece is because- despite my obvious sympathy- I think it’s important to highlight those times when sexual frustration isn’t an excuse for entitled douchery.

  • Anon says:

    Hey :)

    I’ve been in both of the positions related to the spreadsheet: a previous relationship where I felt a growing a significant aversion to having sex, and my current relationship in which my partner had almost no interest in having sex for about a year. (we’ve since figured out some strategies to help us both)

    My former partner responded to my lack of interest in sex by repeated pushing, accusations, threats of ending the relationship (which almost always resulted in me capitulating), remonstrations and finally a demand that I seek therapy because he was convinced there was something wrong with me. Not quite a spreadsheet, but still rather painful. Ultimately one of the most significant reasons we broke up was that I realised that I wanted (needed?) a very different kind of relationship, including a different (kinkier) sex life.

    When my current partner stopped being interested in having sex I was devastated. I thought his reasons mist be the same as mine were and I thought it likely the relationship was doomed to failure because of that. It was truly and genuinely awful. But I was determined not to make him feel the way my ex made me feel, so we talked about it, in as non-confrontational a fashion as we could. We framed it as a question of differing levels of sex drive, rather than as one person’s (either of us) failing. It was hard and we haven’t always got it right. Last year we opened our relationship up giving both of us the option to date and have sex with other people if we felt like it. I’ve seen a couple of people very casually and he hasn’t seen anyone so far. I’m not seeing anyone at the moment and that’s fine – I think just knowing I could acts as a pressure valve actually. But we’ve also kept talking and being nice to each other and being friends which is actually muchore of the substance of pur relationship. And recently we’ve started scheduling a regular sex date which seems to be working quite well for us too.

    My point here isn’t that these things are easily fixed – they’re so not – but that if you exercise genuine care and compassion and love for your partner it is possible to work on making both of you happier without acting like an arsehole. This is one of those areas where just cos you’re being hurt it doesn’t mean that the other person is hurting you.

  • Dominic says:

    Mate, I enjoy your blog but I’m going to call bullshit on this one.
    Sure the guy in question is a dickhead but that doesn’t excuse her behaviour. If you can assume the worst about him then let’s assume the worst about her. She’s not gently letting him down. She’s not softening the blow. She is lying. Instead of telling him the truth. ‘ I don’t want sex with you’ she is giving him bullshit.
    Perhaps if she heard herself say 20 times in a row ‘I don’t want sex with you’ then she would realise herself that there is a problem and address it. Instead of projecting it as his problem/fault.
    It is probably obvious that I am stuck in one of those marriages. Time after time the same lame excuses that mean the same thing. No to sex. No to talking about it. No to any intimacy if it may lead to sex. No to any of the counsellors suggestions. Just bloody No sex.
    Yes he is a dickhead. But I suspect she is just as awful.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Blimey. OK, there’s a lot of stuff here.
      Firstly, as I said above – I don’t think it’s ‘lying’, and even if there is a larger overarching reason for not wanting sex, often the more immediate reason (I’m knackered/sweaty/sore etc) is the one that seems biggest in your mind. Even if not, then softening the blow is a natural and nice thing to want to do. So I don’t get the ‘awful’ thing. Maybe she is awful, but I don’t see any evidence for that here. I appreciate it’s not always helpful though, if what you want is to tackle the underlying reason. But saying ‘I don’t want to have sex with you’ is pretty strong, especially in that moment, and I suspect most people wouldn’t actually say that (as, I suspect, because you sound like a nice person, you don’t respond to your partner’s ‘not right now’ by saying ‘I call bullshit!’, because that’d be harsh).

      So, yeah. This is a difficult one because you’re obviously struggling, and that’s horrible and it sucks. It sounds like what you’re actually after in yours is better communication about it, and some effort to try and fix the problems. What this guy wanted, though, was to blame and hurt and guilt someone about their excuses, which is not the same thing. It’s not my place to tell you what to do in your relationship, obviously, but it sounds like if you’re going to a counsellor you’re dealing with things much better than this guy did, and if I were in this guy’s situation I’d be doing a couple of very different things.

      Final point, and it’s a minor one compared to the points above, but… I get really annoyed by the phrase ‘I call bullshit.’ It implies that I’m lying. And while I have my faults, and I may be wrong on some stuff, I’m not generally prone to writing blog posts in which I lie about shit, especially not how I feel. What you see above is what I actually believe – disagree by all means, but please don’t imply that I’m not in earnest.

      • Dominic says:

        I certainly would not want to insult you by implying that you are lying. My (Aussie) context of ‘I call bullshit’ is just ‘Nup your wrong’ And I do believe you are wrong about ‘softening the blow.’ When the rejection is obviously an excuse, the same glib lines tossed casually at you, then it is not softening the blow, it’s twisting the knife.
        When you can hear your wife lying to you, and obviously lying to herself, it is easy for dark thoughts of logging times and listing excuses to come to mind. “christ if I could video this bullshit then you could see yourself what’s really happening”. The difference is that this dickhead actually did it.
        ‘I call bullshit’ was also aimed at other contributors above that implied that it must be because he is lousy in bed. Kinda like slut shaming really.
        You hit the nail on the head with when you said what is needed is better communication. And to me a cornerstone of better communication within a marriage is honesty.

  • Lurker in Canberra says:

    I have been in her shoes before – terrible relationship with a terrible person who would just NOT LEAVE (my house, my mortgage – not an option for me to leave). There were many, many reasons why I did not want to have sex, chiefly that sex was not seen as an avenue for intimacy (foreplay is boring, apparently). Sex was about him feeling good, not me (hard for it to be great for me when it was over in less than a minute – but that’s another story). While he didn’t actually present me with a spreadsheet, he did use every other manipulative trick in the book to guilt me into it, and was successful on occasion. I guess what I’m trying to say is that maintaining a healthy sex life in a long term relationship requires more than initiating sex – and building desire is more than just saying ‘how about it’… Human relationships are complex, and reducing it to a spreadsheet is just shitty behaviour, whatever his bloody excuse.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Argh I’m sorry you were in that situation – it sounds awful. And I couldn’t agree more re building desire x

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