by Dan Savage
on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 3:51 PM
I am straight female in my early 20s. I have been dating a man twice my age for a little over a year. We are madly in love, and when our relationship is good, it is great.
Unfortunately, we fight often. He is an alcoholic, and while he is sweet to me when he hasn't had relatively much to drink, he becomes agitated, irrational, sarcastic, and mean when he has had a lot to drink. (He is never physically violent with me.) I have an anxiety disorder and am an especially sensitive person, and his behavior when he is drunk is extremely distressing to me. Additionally, I struggle with avoiding my problems, and when he is being mean to me or when I know that he's had a lot to drink, my tendency is to want to stay away from him and spend my time alone at my place. However, this makes him depressed, which only makes him drink more.
Additionally, if there is such a thing as sex addiction, he likely has that, too. When he's not drinking (and also when he is), he wants to be having sex or masturbating and watching porn. He masturbates several times a day. I wish he could satisfy the bulk of his sexual appetite that way, but his preference is to have sex with me, and he becomes depressed (and drinks more) when he is not having "enough" sex with me.
I am a "newbie" to sex and have been having it for less than a year. I had a previous relationship that was never consummated because I had/have a condition called vaginismus, which causes an involuntary vaginal spasm at penetration attempts. Because of my vaginismus, my early attempts at intercourse were excruciating, fruitless, and discouraging. With Kegel exercises, lots of lube, a vibrator for my clit, and much effort, I am finally able to have sex, but it is still not always easy. Sex is pleasurable for me when I am really excited, have had lots of foreplay, and preferably have already come once, because this helps me relax my vagina and gets me wet inside (it is hard to lube up the inside of my vagina fully). Sex when I am not excited, however, is rarely good, and is more often uncomfortable or painful. My boyfriend understands this and sometimes tries to get me to come before trying to have sex with me, but that takes a while, and he is impatient (especially about sex and especially when he is drunk). He has complained that he wants to be able to have "spontaneous" sex with me.
I want to be able to fulfill his sexual needs. Right now I feel inadequate. Our relationship is so much better when we're having lots of sex—he drinks less, he's in a great mood, and I want to spend time with him. It is hard to keep this up for long, though, as he becomes discouraged if we're not having lots of sex or if we are having "bad" sex (i.e., sex that I am not into because it is uncomfortable or painful). When that happens, the cycle starts again: he drinks more, he is mean, I start avoiding him, etc. I think I have a good sex drive, and I am very physically attracted to my boyfriend, but the idea of having painful sex (and the idea of having sex with an agitated man who nags me all the time for it), is a complete turn-off.
I am sick of having to choose between a mean boyfriend and obligatory, uncomfortable sex. I want to have an awesome sex life with my boyfriend. I am hoping that you or one of your doctor friends will have some advice for me about how to recover completely from my vaginismus, to have sex with more ease, and to be enthusiastic again about the idea of having intercourse. Thank you so much!
Very Anxious Girlfriend
P.S. You might be thinking something along the lines of "DTMFA." I hope that won't be your advice for me, because I am not yet willing to dump him. The description of him above sounds awful, but he is in all other respects the perfect boyfriend: sweet, sensitive, kind, loving, intelligent, sexy, and affectionate. It is only when he is drinking that he becomes mean. He is not a horrible person; he just has a mental illness (alcoholism), and he has been trying so hard to get better, but it is difficult for him. As someone with a mental illness myself (social anxiety disorder), I can appreciate that people with mental illnesses aren't defined by them, that they often aren't "crazy," and that it is very difficult to overcome them. My boyfriend is fundamentally a wonderful person, and his meanness when he is drunk is not a reflection of his true nature. Please help me figure out how to fix our sex life so I can save my relationship with my him. I am convinced that if we have a great sex life, he will drink significantly less, we will both be happier, we won't fight nearly as much, and our relationships problems will for the most part resolve. The patches of progress we've had in the past regarding our sex life have had a positive effect.
My response after the jump...
DTMFA—sorry, VAG. I know that's not what you wanted but it's all I've got.
Because however sweet, sensitive, kind, loving, intelligent, sexy, and affectionate your boyfriend is when soberish, VAG, he's a selfish, inconsiderate, demanding, childish asshole when he's drunk—and he's drunk a lot and he's mean when he's drunk and he's somehow managed to convince you that it's your fault when he gets drunk. Because, hey, if you were fucking just right then he wouldn't get a sadz, if he didn't have a sadz he wouldn't get so drunk, if he didn't get so drunk he wouldn't be so mean.
How long are you going to let you your boyfriend manipulate you into taking responsibility for both his alcoholism and his asshole-ism, VAG?
And, I'm sorry, but if getting drunk and being mean is all your boyfriend has to do to get his own way, VAG, he has no incentive to get and stay sober. None. Even if you conquered your vaginismus—and you're already doing a lot better than many vaginismus sufferers—your boyfriend will continue to drink so long as you're willing to take the blame. He'll find some other excuse, VAG, something else you're doing wrong that gives him a big sadz. He'll continue to drink and he'll continue to blame you for as long as you're fool enough to stay with him and not a moment longer.
Your boyfriend may not be able to control his drinking, VAG, but you don't have to let him control you with his drinking.