The Other Hangry


The Other Hangry

On some level, I think this reaction is similar to getting nasty when we’re hungry. When we are hungry for something and not getting it, we feel “off” and that makes it easier to be rude. I’m not excusing horny anger any more than I would excuse anger due to not eating, but both are an understandable result of going without something we’re biologically driven to have. And just as with anger arising from not eating, it seems wise to know about it and do what you can to deal with it. Just as it’s good to avoid a difficult discussion when it’s been a while since he ate, so too when it’s been a while since he had sex. 

There is another more complex issue along these lines. When a man feels his wife is “holding out on him” he gets mad. It would be like him locking up all the food saying no when you got hungry. Not eating would be one thing; not eating because your husband was preventing you from eating would a whole different thing. While this is also a natural reaction, in my mind it’s less acceptable. 

BTW: In the other hangry post’s comments a couple of men asked about this issue, and I let them know I was doing it today. Then it was suggested I not forget women get sexually hangry too. I have no doubt going without sex causes all kinds of bad feelings in women, and I can understand being refused sex causing anger. But I’ve never seen women react the way men do when the of lack is sex is due to circumstances (rather than a withholding spouse). And, when women talk about such a lack it sounds different than what men say. I could be wrong, but I suspect biology makes this one worse for men, just as hunger anger is more difficult for women.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I don’t like the things I’ve said when I was hangry.

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32 Comments on “The Other Hangry

  1. A few weeks ago hubby and I were getting sarcastic and snarky, not at each other, but just grumpy in general. After a moment of silence between us I said, “we need to have sex soon. We’re getting grumpy.” He agreed. We did. We felt better.

  2. Wow. And not a good wow, but that was a straight faced sarcastic wow. Look, I’m a woman. I am 100% about men and women being different. But this looks like another case of a man saying a woman’s feelings are not valid. And how can anyone truly know anyone else’s pain?

    And by the way, there have been many times that I’ve gone all day without eating and not felt angry. Some days if I’m really busy, I go all day before I realize I forgot to eat. Not healthy by any means, but it happens. Not everyone is exactly the same.

    Maybe I wasn’t “hangry” during the years my husband was sexually rejecting me. Maybe that’s another feeling only men are allowed to have, while we “hysterical women” need to suffer in silence with s smile plastered on our faces. Goodness knows we women aren’t supposed to talk about it. Another right reserved for the men. (sarcasm again)

    I guess while being sexually rejected my feelings of being ugly, unloved, unwanted, repulsive, disgusting, unworthy, a nuisance, sad, lonely, afraid, rejected, a freak, undeserving, a bother, on the rare occasion pitied, not as good as other women, gross, unappealing, undesireable, and like there must be something unbelievably unfeminine and just plain wrong with me, and yes – at times – angry – don’t really qualify. I guess hangry is all about the poor, rejected men – and another emotion women aren’t supposed to feel.

    Look, I thought I was someone who really understood how men could be so upset when they are sexually rejected, because I’ve experienced it. I guess I assumed incorrectly. I guess as a woman I’m just supposed to grin and bear it, like everything else, while the men are the only ones allowed to own their feelings because, well, that’s just how it’s always been. Unbelievable.

    (Thankfully the situation in my marriage is improving, but I did have many awful feelings during the years of sexual rejection, and it very much effected my daily life and my mood. Even if I am just a woman.)

    • I think Paul included an exception there for a withholding spouse.

      I’ve been on a subreddit called DeadBedrooms, and I really get how a lot of low drive spouses can believe that their spouse is all and only about sex. A lot of those people are terrible human beings, and they openly talk about how X Life Circumstance has happened and sex stopped and they want a divorce. There was one women who was cheating on her husband because he had MS and couldn’t perform as frequently as he used to; another had a wife with a lot of very young kids or was on an antidepressant. That kind of thing.

      In those situations, especially medical situations, I simply would not be bothered by a lack of sex over a long term, and I think Paul is saying that a lot of men would be emotionally affected by it. I would understand the circumstance; it’s not a reflection on our relationship or his feelings for me.

      Whereas, with a refusing spouse, I absolutely take it emotionally and personally (even if they have a “good” excuse for an underlying cause).

      I think he’s saying that women are a lot more accommodating and understanding in one circumstance while men tend to react similarly in both.

      • I agree with you @sunny-Dee
        My wife is pregnant right now and while I understand that sex is hard right now and I know I shouldn’t get frustrated I can’t deny that I do get hangry. I start to take things way more personal than they are. We have started to have a little more sex but soon the baby will come and I’m dreading what comes after. I know I should be understanding and I don’t show her how I feel but just thinking about not being able to have sex for maybe 2-3 months scares me. No way to do something about my sexual frustration is really hard. I wish that something would happen biologically with men after their wife’s get pregnant. Like if the testosterone levels could drop for as long as the woman couldn’t have sex and then it could go up again. That would be awesome. But I guess I have to look when the baby comes out. I have heard that it can make most men scared to have sex for awhile.

        • @Ads “I wish that something would happen biologically with men after their wife’s get pregnant.”
          I suspect most men feel the same way! It’s fine to be understanding, we know she can’t and we don’t blame her for that. But we still have this screaming drive going on,
          Paul Byerly recently posted…She’s Probably More Into Sex Than You ThinkMy Profile

          • Ha! During my last pregnancy, my husband was refusing or just doing for him quickies and I was insatiable! I masturbated 6 times a day and still could have had sex. I only waited a few weeks post partum to have intercourse and I tackled him.

            So, yeah, there’s weirdo women like me out there who would hate for men to lose their sex drives when wives got preggers.

            Our kids NEVER slowed our sex life. We wouldn’t let them. The only thing that slowed our sex life was ourselves.

            • Wow! I wish my wife was like that.
              I understand her that she can’t have sex and I respect that. I don’t nag or say anything but the frustration is there. I have recently started training for the first time in years so I guess I am going to try hitting the gym a little more often after the kid is born so I can let the frustration go.

        • Why no sex for 2-3 months? Just because a woman is pregnant does not mean she cannot have sex. Maybe she’s using that excuse, not sure, but I’ve been a childbirth educator for almost 25 years and unless her care provider says she cannot have sex during pregnancy because of bleeding or premature contractions, then sex is actually good.

          And wow, not sure who told you that watching your baby be born would turn you off to sex, but that’s just another mainstream scare tactic. Birth is actually a beautiful moment when a child is born.
          Amy recently posted…Speak the truthMy Profile

    • I’m just going to hit this one, head on. What you just described proves what Paul is talking about. Women and men respond differently, especially when hangry. I know that when my husband needs sex, it can be/is much more physical for him, like the physical need for eating. His mood/our closeness is very much tied to how often we have sex. And that’s where it stops. Does he emotionally feel all the things you listed? No, most wouldn’t cross his mind, because that’s how guys are. I’m pretty sure Paul is not discounting how women feel/respond to a lack of sex. He’s just explaining a guy’s point of view so we can understand our guy. It’s so hard to hear the women vs. men thing. It just plain makes me scream and it’s why I refuse to do Mom’s night out unless I know the other ladies are marriage/husband friendly. Neither is better, neither is perfect, neither has the only answer. Marriage is about working together, thinking together, and putting the other first. Marriage is about biblical love, and keeping ourselves accountable to God, not holding our spouse accountable. Sure, it’s devastating if things are all wrong, but with a dedicated mindset to work on things, it can be so much awesome. I feel for you, B, I do. Your pain and suffering is valid. And I’m glad it’s getting better.

      On another note, this is exactly why sex is always on the table and available for my guy. Why not?

      • @wifeoft, I think you are misunderstanding me and judging me a bit too harshly. I am not saying it’s “women vs men.” I’m not, by any means, marriage or husband unfriendly. I NEVER said women were better than men.

        I was simply frustrated that the majority of resources seem to think it is perfectly normal for men to feel angry, neglected, what have you – when they are needing sex, but a woman is supposed to just suck it up and smile. That is all I was saying. No “man-bashing” whatsoever, just pointing out what I see as a double standard.

        • @B – “but a woman is supposed to just suck it up and smile. ”

          I’m sure you know I don’t feel that way. It’s just as wrong for a guy to refuse as for a woman to do it, and while it may be a different mix of feelings, I have no doubt it’s just as painful for women.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…She’s Probably More Into Sex Than You ThinkMy Profile

    • @B – I agree no one can know what it’s like for anyone else, and especially not for the opposite sex. That’s why I said, “I could be wrong”. All I can go by is what I hear others say, and what I hear from men is different than what I hear from women on this. It’s possible the difference is a gender-based way of sharing the same thing, but I doubt it. It’s also possible that most men are one way and most women are the other but a few of each are like the opposite sex. In fact, I’d bet it’s that way.
      As for being denied sex, I didn’t say that was different. The mix of feelings might be a bit different, but what I hear from men and women on that are the same. Where I think men and women are different is when the lack of sex is due to schedules and circumstances, not refusal.
      My best guess is men have a physical component to this that women do not. That’s not to say they are unaffected by not having sex, because most women clearly are. But it is different and lacking something most men feel.

      And B, please know I have no desire to downplay your pain. I’ve heard it here, and I know it’s real.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Friday Flashback: Live PeaceablyMy Profile

      • @Paul, “It’s also possible that most men are one way and most women are the other but a few of each are like the opposite sex.”

        Great. Another way I am unfeminine and too much like a man. Trust me, if I could flip a switch and hate sex, I would. If I could turn off my sex drive, I would. If I could lose my desire for my husband, I would. I’ve often longed to know what it’s like to be a normal woman, who could take sex or leave it.

        Unfortunately, I enjoy sex with my husband and yes I get grumpy if we go too long without it. He doesn’t seem to have that issue. I really, really wish our roles were reversed. I wish we were more like a typical couple, with the “proper” feelings and emotions we are “supposed” to have.

        • @B-
          “I’ve often longed to know what it’s like to be a normal women, who could take sex or leave it.”

          Well, let me tell you what it feels like:

          You feel “unfeminine” to quote your words. You feel like there is something wrong with you. You need to see an MD. You need to see a Shrink. You feel like a failure. You feel asexual. You’re a gatekeeper and/or a withholder. You’re a manipulator. Your feelings don’t matter. You need to fix yourself. Your energy level doesn’t matter. You feel like you’re letting your spouse down. You feel guilty. You’re a sinner. You’re evil. You’ve got history. You should have never married if you knew you didn’t like sex. Shame on you. You hate your spouse. You’re abusive. You hate yourself. You’re pretty much worthless if you could take sex or leave it. You are a terrible person right to the core, because what you really feel isn’t what you’re “supposed” to feel. You are “supposed” to feel like you, B! That’s what it feels like to have “proper” female feelings.

          Trust me, you’re way ahead of the game feeling a little grumpy when it’s been a little too long without it.

          • Sorry B-
            I’m hangry tonight. And I’m tired of being a terrible horrible person because I don’t crave sex. Just envious of your situation. I guess the grass is always greener.

            • No worries. I was a little taken aback at first, but you’re expressing your pain just like I try to express mine. I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. You are not a terrible person because you don’t crave sex, and I’m sorry you’ve ever felt that way. I’m sure your husband doesn’t think you’re terrible either – he loves you and desires his wife. That’s a good thing!

              Don’t envy me. Indeed, the grass is always greener. I’ve always felt that every low drive wife had it made. They know what it’s like to be beautiful women who are loved and desired and pursued by their husbands. I’m starting to believe my husband might love me, but I don’t know if I will ever believe he desires me sexually. He doesn’t express sexual desire the way I do. That doesn’t mean his way is wrong, it’s just hard to understand.

              As a wife with a higher sex drive, I share a lot of the feelings you described, just for different reasons. I often feel incredibly unfeminine – after all, aren’t men supposed to be the ones who crave sex while the wives oblige – and not vice versa? I feel like a failure as a woman. I feel I must be too ugly for him. I feel like a pervert for having strong desires for him. Ladies are supposed to be accommodating, not aggressive. The pursued, not the pursuers. I’ve probably initiated over 80% of our sexual encounters, and that is so wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t hate my spouse by any means, but I have certainly hated myself many times, especially for feeling this way. I’ve absolutely felt worthless many, many times.

              So I see your point, but I disagree. I would say YOU are way ahead of the game by being sweet, normal, feminine, and desired by the husband who loves you. From my point of view, you have the “proper” female feelings.

              How about this. We agree the grass is greener. Instead of discussing who has it worse/better, how about I pray for you and you pray for me? Praying for you now.

              • B,
                Until you can one day see yourself as the beautiful, worthy woman that God made you to be, you will continue to be miserable…and most likely making your husband miserable too whether you see that or not.
                And I say this from personal experience.

                I had a total meltdown over a week ago and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t handle things well, BUT I did get things out that I’d been holding inside for so long and my husband was finally able to understand where I had been coming from and I was able to release so much which was making me miserable.
                For instance, I was sure my husband didn’t desire me because he never seemed interested in sex and always seemed more interested in going out with other couples or watching movies, etc rather than spending that time for us. So during my meltdown, and one too many glasses of wine, I told him all of that, and honestly, he was stunned, and admittedly a little angry too because I think he felt I was attacking him personally.
                I started crying and saying things like, “I’m not as pretty as so-in-so” and “I’m not the kind of woman a man wants to buy flowers for” and “I’m not as thin as so-in-so”, etc. It just came spilling out, and my husband honestly didn’t know what to do.

                But something happened the next day. Something changed. My husband had heard me and I had finally been able to release all this negative crap I’d store up inside re: me and our relationship.
                And that evening, my husband surprised me with flowers. ;)

                Since that day, which I’m still ashamed of because of how I handle things, we are different with each other. I think he realized I was feeling neglected and taken for granted, and I realized that his lower desire for sex is related to exhaustion and business because of his job, NOT his lack of desire for me.

                Perhaps what we do as a higher drive spouse is to equate love and desire with sex and therefore wrongly assume our lower drive spouse doesn’t find us attractive or desirable because they don’t crave sex like we do. And then we may internalize it and make the deduction it is US our spouse does not want.

                Before I spilled my guts that evening to my husband I was becoming more and more miserable, and my husband was pulling further away because I don’t think he knew what was wrong or how to fix it. I let my assumptions and feelings rule over me, instead of just speaking up.

                And one other thing I would mention is, Paul writes his blog from a man’s point of view, he cannot feel as a woman does nor completely understand what goes on with a woman. If you want to read something from a woman’s point of view visit J Parker’s blog and other women bloggers. Maybe don’t be so hard on Paul just because he doesn’t totally get where you are coming from, he’s just a man after all! LOL :D jk
                Amy recently posted…Speak the truthMy Profile

  3. Paul makes a good analogy about being hungry and looking at the person that is withholding food from you, and I would add: with increasing contempt the longer it goes on, and the withholder also gets mad when you start fantasizing about food elsewhere. If you’ve ever been on a crash diet where you are absolutely miserable, even though it isn’t going to kill you, you’re still just generally unhappy all around.

  4. Using a food analogy here is pointless to me. I can get food by myself. Even if my husband were to lock it away I could legally go elsewhere for it. Perhaps a more useful analogy would be emotional connection/attention/affection/non-sexual touch. Legally (from a Christian marriage standpoint), I am not supposed to be seeking this much-needed commodity from another man. If my husband refuses to spend real time with me, refuses to touch me other than when he wants sex, withholds his affection and attention, this crushes my spirit and makes me “hangry.” I can live with a restrictive diet for a long time. I might not be the physically healthiest person possible but I won’t die. Living long-term without affection/attention/emotional connection stunts all forms of growth and puts my mental, emotional and physical life at risk. It’s “hangry” but it’s so much more. When I look at a man’s sexual hanger in this light, it gives me perspective. Food, not at all.

    • You can get sex by yourself too. What do you think porn is for? Why do you think teenage boys spend so much time in their bedrooms.

  5. I wonder if men tend to become “hangry” because anger is their go to outlet.

    My brother and I had a discussion just the other day.
    My Mother was a single parent. She worked out of town often and left my brother and myself to fend for ourselves for a few days. We didn’t have much money so seldom had much food in the house.
    My brother is Still “hangry” with our Mother (rest her soul) because he always felt hungry. He felt she was a cruel, irresponsible Mother.
    I, on the other hand, don’t ever remember feeling hungry. I would fill my stomach with what was available and go about my business. I felt she was working hard to keep a roof over our heads and she was doing the best she could at the time.
    Completely different reactions to the same situation.
    Another example of a guy reacting to the physical and the girl reacting to the context.

      • It’s more than a manly emotion, it’s a Godly emotion.

        You won’t hear that much. Just as the church has much wrong about sex, it’s doesn’t understand anger either.

        Just as we are not told not to have sex, we are not told not to be angry.

        In both cases, we are only told not to sin. We are not to let our desire for sex or our feelings of anger to cause us to sin.

        Anger, like sex isn’t wrong or a sin. But how we go about manifesting both just might be.

        You can’t complain that men don’t express emotions on one hand and then forbid them to be angry, an emotion on the other. It’s a mixed message. It says I only want you to express the emotions I like, not necessarily what you are feeling.

        • @Tony – I agree anger is Godly – we see both God the father and Jesus being angry. But anger often goes bad, which is why we are warned to be angry but sin not and to not let the sun set on our anger.

          Men do get chastised for anger when they should not. But that doesn’t change the fact that some men use anger as a weapon and many default to anger to cover other emotions.
          Paul Byerly recently posted…That’s Not RespectMy Profile

        • @Tony,
          My theory is, and I’ve seen it in my husband and son, is that our society, trains boys and men to squelch their emotions of hurt and sadness, etc., the weak emotions. We tell them to suck it up.
          We also train them that the powerful (manly) ‘anger’ emotion is just fine to display. Therefore, many men use displays of anger to express emotions of sadness, hurt, disappointment, etc. Anger isn’t a congruent expression for many of those emotions. It’s confusing for those to which the anger is aimed. And perhaps, unfair in many situations.

          • Or maybe they are angry too.

            Who is anyone to tell someone that the emotion they are expressing isn’t the emotion they are feeling.

            That is akin to tell someone to just get over it, or you shouldn’t be feeling that way.

            But now it’s ok to suggest that when someone is angry, they are not really angry. They are sad, or disappointed, or hurt?

            So when Jesus was angry with the money changers, someone should have told him that he wasn’t angry, he was sad, disappointed and hurt over what came of his temple?

            • @Tony – Given I have been guilty of that, I think I have some right to suggest it. And I’ve heard it from others, it’s a real thing.
              I never suggested all anger is wrong or not what we are feeling. But plenty of men use anger to avoid things, their own emotions included. If you’ve never done that, great, but it is a real thing and when it exists it needs to be dealt with.
              Paul Byerly recently posted…That’s Not RespectMy Profile

    • Anger is an easier emotion to deal with, acting sad makes you seem weak and powerless. Anger is empowering. It is often an emotional defense mechanism. Men just morph all negative emotions into anger. Sexual rejection makes you feel, sad, pathetic, and unimportant.

      • Also guys have to learn to deal with concealing those emotions related to rejection earlier, most guys strike out 4 out of every 5 women they approach. They’ve still got to be able to get back up and go chat up another woman, but once you are married there isn’t another place to go and try to not get rejected there

    • Growing up with a house full of brothers it was quite clear that as teens they were perpetually hungry. Your brother was probably biologically far more hungry and in need of far more caloric intake and nutrition than you. I am petite. My brothers all tower in the 6 foot range. A LOT of food is needed to keep up on a teen boy.

      In that case, he was being neglected, albeit unintentionally, and I can understand how he is angry about it.

      In our poverty, I was not given proper nutrition and medical care as a child and I am still dealing with the consequences. My needs were neglected, though my parents were not deliberately negligent. It still is sad and hurtful.

  6. Darn right women get “hangry” in this way! I know I am. My husband can’t have sex right now because he’s fighting cancer. Extremely valid reason, and I’m not at all angry with him, though I’m ragingly mad at the cancer. But I can tell you that not having sex, both because I miss the physical pleasure and the mental, emotional, and spiritual connection it gave is definitely causing me to be a snappy grouch with people around me. Not him…I work very consciously not to take it out on him. He blames himself enough. That alone breaks my heart, and he doesn’t need my help blaming himself more. There’s a huge difference between unable and unwilling. Sex was never a problem for us pre-cancer, and the issue here is definitely unable. So I’m careful how I handle this. But it does make me edgy, grouchy, and just not myself at all. If I could flip a switch and make my sex drive go away right now, I’d love to.

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