My Conversation With A Low Drive Man

At one of our marriage events last year I had a chance to talk with a man who said he was the low drive spouse in his marriage. Given some of you here struggle with this, I thought what I learned would be of interest. I’ll call him George – not his real name.

My Conversation With A Low Drive Man

First I want to say this fellow is the last guy in the room I would have expected to be low sex drive. George was all man. He did all manner of manly things, he did them well, and he did them because he enjoyed them. If I were lost in the forest or needed help building anything, George is the kind of guy I would want at my side. He was healthy and fairly young – 40 at most.

George said he enjoyed sex when he and his wife had it, and his wife told Lori sex was good for her when they had it. But George never felt a need for sex or an urge to have it, and he’d been this way all his life. He could have sex several days in a row if he put his mind to it, but he could easily go a month without and not miss it.

When I asked why, George blamed growing up in a church that was over-focused on purity. I get the feeling he felt guilty every time he had an erection, and masturbation was probably seen as one of the top five sins of all time. George worked hard to suppress his sexuality because he felt it was what God wanted. Decades later it’s still suppressed.

All of that said, George loves his wife and he wants to give her what she needs. He says he will have sex when she wants it. She feels this is true, but it takes more than just mentioning she wants it. My guess is she could have all she wants if she were willing to ask several times each time she wants it and work their schedule so it’s easy to do. I understand why a woman (or a man) would get tired of having to work so hard for sex. Beyond that, I understand how it feels like it’s always mercy/pity sex, and like your husband doesn’t love you, or want you, or is not attracted to you.

Based on what George said to me, I have no doubt he loves his wife and he finds her beautiful. The problem has nothing to do with her; it’s all about having disconnected his God-given sex drive. I encouraged George to think about his wife’s sexual needs and try to be better about both meeting them and initiating sex. I would tell his wife she “has not because she asks not” and suggest she ask, ask, ask. More sex would be good for her, but it would also be good for him and for their marriage. I wonder if it would be easier for her if she could see it as something she needed to do for their marriage rather than because of her own urges?

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I’m amazed and saddened that a guy could so fully mess up his sexuality. 

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15 Comments on “My Conversation With A Low Drive Man

  1. Adding to your advice, I would say that they need to make yes to sex the default in their marriage. They need to schedule regular sex, like Saturday and Sunday mornings….the default is yes, we are having sex unless one of us is too sick to do so. I suggest he initiate on scheduled days, and she can initiate on non-scheduled days or times as she desires.

    It is good he does enjoy sex with her and pleases her when they have sex, so he can certainly initiate during scheduled sex.

    This may help awaken him, too. Unfortunately, he has become lazy in letting his wife do all the initiation and that helps suppress him more. But, if he has to start getting brave and creative and initiating what ultimately he does find enjoyable, then he may awaken.

    He needs to pray, too, for God to awaken his sexuality within the healthy and blessed bounds of his marriage.

  2. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU PAUL!!! Thank you for writing this post.

    I feel exactly the way you describe your guess of how George’s wife might feel. Every day.

    My husband, who is also “all man” (his manliness is a huge part of what I love so much about him) says he loves me and calls me beautiful all the time. But his sex drive does not follow, as you know from my comments. My husband did not grow up in church, so I doubt its that, but I have often wondered what went on in his house. Sex was not discussed, it’s almost like it “didn’t exist.” One day, after we’d been married for a couple years, I mentioned in conversation to my MIL that I had been to my OBGYN. Later that day my husband was upset and told me “we do NOT say things like that to my mother.” Um….okay. It’s not like I was graphic. It was a really weird moment. So different from my own mom. And you might be thinking well…old fashioned mom and a son – but she has daughters too and neither one of them ever talks about sex in any way. So, who knows. I’ve asked him once or twice what went on but his answer is always “I don’t know”.

    So anyway, other than the church detail, your post sounds like my life. I get what you’re saying that the wife should “ask, ask, ask” but it’s not that easy. It can become degrading. It’s also hard when most other women you know are complaining about how much their husbands love, desire, and pursue them, and you are the wife who has a husband who just doesn’t find you appealing enough to initiate. Maybe he does find her appealing, but by never initiating, why would she ever have reason to believe he does.

    Anyway, interesting post. Sincerely. Interesting to hear that you believe George is attracted to and loves his wife.

    I wish men like George could understand how their wives feel and why. While I’d love it if my husband initiated more, I long for it to happen because he wants me, not because he’s trying to “fulfill my need”.

    When the husband doesn’t have a strong sex drive, I really have a hard time believing it has “nothing” to do with his wife. Maybe I really just do not understand. But I think if he were more attracted to me, the sex drive would kick in. It’s a crummy situation. Maybe I’m still not looking at it right.

    But I LOVE that you addressed this, and wrote this post. While we are an anomaly, there is a small number of women who have this very issue. And it’s such a blessing to see it admitted and discussed, and not just be given the old “well maybe he is tired or has low T” talk, because sometimes that is NOT the case. And when your husband doesn’t cheat, doesn’t use porn, and is loving and caring in almost every other way, it’s hard not to wonder “then what is so wrong with me?” So thank you for taking the time.

    • B, I was thinking of you when I read this post! Maybe there is something in it that can be helpful to you? Or maybe for your husband? It sounds like you are in a better place in your own head, overall, and I hope that continues. {{hugs}}

    • @B – Glad it was of some help. I love chances to talk to people who are outside the norm. I hope to connect with a few more low drive men over time.

  3. “I’m amazed and saddened that a guy could so fully mess up his sexuality.”

    Yes, it’s amazing that it’s even possible to shut down that part of us.
    But he doesn’t seem too be distressed about it.
    Many low libido persons, if they are naturally that way or artificially that way, don’t seem saddened by a lack of sex drive….except when it affects their partner. If indeed he enjoys sex, and can come to a place where his wife is satisfied (and she can come to accept that this is just the way he is) why feel sad for him? He doesn’t know any different.

    I have heard a lot of men who have expressed a desire to be able to shut off their sex drive because it was driving them crazy. This fellow doesn’t have to contend with that. Perhaps he’s actually lucky in that regard.

    • @Jolie – People don’t usually miss what they have never had.
      The Bible is clear sex is to be a part of marriage, and science has shown us why it should be. A messed up sex drive may not be a problem for the individual, but it’s a problem for the marriage, and as such needs to be deal with.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lesbians and Transgenders and Bisexuals, Oh My!My Profile

  4. This post — in particular the statements that “it’s all about having disconnected his God-given sex drive” and “…a guy could so fully mess up his sexuality” — set off some related but not related thoughts rattling around.
    1) A big part of the flibanserin debate was about the idea of pathologizing low libido. Is it necessary to see low libido like this as something is more wrong with him than other men? What if his low libido is a part of his (or her) God-given sexuality? What if God’s “manufacturing tolerances” really do allow for low libido and even asexuality? We frequently seem to conclude that low libido is somehow pathological or something, and I wonder if we would do better if we acknowledged or allowed for low libido as a natural part of sexual variability.
    2) Why do we (generic people, not you particularly, Paul) treat men and women differently? When a man is low desire, we tend to assume that something is wrong with him, and he needs to be fixed. When a woman is low desire, we assume that the woman is inherently demisexual and is not feeling it because the man has failed to court and woo and romance and so on. Why is it always the man’s fault?
    3) On the other end of the spectrum, we tend to also pathologize high libido with things like “hypersexuality” and “sex addiction” labels. We have a history of demonizing stereotypical masculine sexuality. It is as if there is a very narrow window for the “God created” sexuality, and everything outside of that window is “messed up”. What if there is more (or maybe less, my understanding of God’s creative processes is much to weak) to being “God created” than we tend to talk about?
    4) Are we as a church body willing to look at our contribution to messing up people’s sex drive. Christianity has a long history, going back to St. Augustine’s time when they were debating whether celibacy was the best first choice with marriage as a good second best choice (leaning heavily, it seems, on some things St. Paul said) to prohibitions on what was allowed in the marriage bed (it’s called missionary position for a reason) to all kinds of things along a broad spectrum of attitudes more recently (from more laissez-faire attitudes to purity culture to ??). As Christians, how confident are we in our theology around sexuality? How well have we applied our theology (or at least the correct parts) to real life? How could we do better?

    • @MrShorty – Great points!
      1) The Bible shows an active sex life to be God’s intention for marriage. Those who tried to limit or eliminate that, even supposedly to be closer to God, received condemnation from Paul. Yes, there are some created with either no sex drive or the ability to be okay without sex, but they are not supposed to marry. From a Biblical standpoint married folks are to have sex, which makes not wanting sex a problem.
      2) I see no gender difference in this. Gender affects why some don’t desire sex, but not the fact that it is something to be dealt with.
      3) Much of the “narrow window” is mankind’s thinking and has nothing to do with God.
      4) Same as #3.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lesbians and Transgenders and Bisexuals, Oh My!My Profile

      • Human diversity, what a beautiful thing!

        The problem I see with low/no libido persons not marrying is that many people have no idea what their libido looks like until after they marry. And then, if a person with a low libido marries a person with an equally low libido is there a problem if they only have sex on occasion but are both satisfied? What does “active sex life” look like?

        Many women experience fluctuations in their libido at different points in their lives….child birth, breast feeding, menopause, etc. Some get their mojo back some never do. That all happens after marriage. Yes, it needs to be dealt with which isn’t always an easy task. But, the partner often takes is personally. Thats because it’s the ‘meanings’ we attach to the partners sex drive that are causing the problem.

        Just another thought that has had me wondering.
        Up until the early 1900’s the average lifespan was less than 50 years.
        Most women never experienced the ravages of menopause and most men’s testosterone levels remained relatively steady. We now have to deal with sex and the aging process.

        • @Jolie – You are right about not knowing. We’ve talked to men and women who thought they had a normal or high drive before marriage, then found it was low after. And the opposite happens too.
          Until you use it, how would you know?
          Paul Byerly recently posted…Promise Her A Rose (Flower) GardenMy Profile

  5. Thanks for writing this, Paul. This post made me think of something that I’m ashamed to say I really hadn’t thought of up till now. As a woman, I can tell you all about the harm the “purity culture” so prevalent in churches did to me, and to so many other women I know. The part I’m sad I haven’t given much thought to is how said culture and messages from the church and some Christian parents would effect boys and men. I had mistakenly assumed that since much of the purity movement seemed to be focused on girls, them keeping their virginity, being dirty or bad if they didn’t, (even if it was taken from them without their consent), the way they dressed, etc, that men weren’t really touched or harmed by it. But after reading this post, it seems so obvious…of course I wouldn’t know much about the stuff boys heard, because most of these lectures were usually givenw ith the genders separated, so I didn’t hear the things they heard. While I may have an excuse for not knowing what guys heard, I don’t have one for never putting the shoe on the other foot, and realizing that in their own ways, boys and men would have received the same false messages girls and women did/do, and it would have some of the same results it had/has on us. My sincere apologies to you, and to any other male readers, for not realizing or ever even considering the false messages you’ve probably received about your own sexuality from the very people who should have taught you about Godly sex and sexuality, as they should have taught us women the truth about our own.

    • Alicia – Thanks for being willing to think about it. The stronger drive makes it difficult. Either you decide you can’t control yourself, give up, and go all out, or you try to do something God never intended and either kill your sex drive or deal with endless failure and guilt.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Promise Her A Rose (Flower) GardenMy Profile

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