Infidelity's A Dealbreaker, But So-So Sex With Their Partner, Not So Much, Say 6,096 Women

Two Hearts Just To Hold Love
Image by CarbonNYC via Flickr

From the April issue of “O” magazine, an online survey finds that a third of women would take a hike if their partner or husband was unfaithful — but only seven percent would bail due to sexual incompatibility. Hm.

Are American women shortchanging themselves? Sounds like it to me.

Eight percent said boredom would end things, 24 percent if they were “no longer in love” (seems a little vague), 28 percent for “chronic fighting.”

I was saddened to read that 31 percent of women say they don’t get enough emotional support — how’s it in your house? — but maybe they’re being unrealistic? Guys are legendarily not the greatest at hand-holding. Yet 61 percent of women said they turn to their partner in times of crisis, and only 20 percent to their best friend. Which begs the question — where, then, do women get their emotional support, if not from their sweetie or best friend?

A third of women said self-help books were helpful in improving their relationship, 22 percent regular date nights and only 12 percent said couples therapy.

A miserable 12 percent said they feel trapped in their relationship and 10 percent griped “better than being alone.”

In recent months, both Elle and Vogue have also run long pieces on women’s lack of sexual desire — and the ongoing paucity of effective/safe drugs to alleviate it. From Vogue:

Women have slim pickings in the sex-drug marketplace… Doctors have jumped in, giving women an estimated 2 million “off label” prescriptions every year for high-dose—and potentially risky—testosterone pills, creams, gels, and ointments. For now, though, there are no FDA-approved sex drugs for women. Pharmaceutical companies and device-makers have been scrambling for years to cash in on the largely untapped market in female desire: an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion in annual sales.

That lure has revved up American ingenuity in previously unimaginable ways. Having trouble reaching orgasm? In just a few years, the Orgasmatron spinal-cord stimulator—now available only in a nine-day-trial version—may be fully implantable, with a subcutaneous battery lodged inside what its inventor calls “the anatomical love handle.” Stuart Meloy, M.D., says his device delivered orgasms on demand for four of eleven women in his small study. He hopes to persuade others to spend about $12,000 for the semipermanent gadget. The catch: First Meloy has to convince regulators that the benefits of the Orgasmatron outweigh the risks of lodging electrodes near the spine: paralysis, infection, and incontinence, to name a few.

Bremelanotide—the arousal injection—generated a lot of buzz when it was first introduced as an aphrodisiac nasal spray. But the spray spiked blood pressure in early trials and had to be yanked. The hypodermic version appears to avoid that problem, but testing is still under way.

A more appealing aphrodisiac may be within reach. Two firms are racing to develop the first prescription drug for women’s most common sexual complaint: distressingly low libido, which psychiatrists call hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). In the last few months, the makers of LibiGel and flibanserin claim they’ve discovered how to stimulate nerve centers in the female brain that control libido. Just how effective the drugs are remains unclear. The German drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim reported last November that in a six-month study of more than 1,000 women, a daily 100-mg dose of flibanserin gave premenopausal women 0.8 more “sexually satisfying events” per month over a placebo. (That metric doesn’t necessarily mean a woman has more orgasms, or even more sex. SSEs can include greater fantasies, arousal, and orgasms—or just feeling closer to a partner.) BioSante, the Chicago-area company that makes LibiGel, announced that 46 postmenopausal women who used it for three months had three more sexually satisfying events per month than women who received a placebo.

Maggie Bullock, in Elle, points out many reasons a woman can say “No thanks” including: emotional and psychological trauma, stress, relationship problems, depression, weight gain, body image issues, anger, tiredness, infidelity, childbirth, power issues, past abuse — not to mention the routine and ennui that can come with long-term relationships.”

I would add to that sadly long and realistic list a few other issues I’ve experienced — injury, arthritis, chronic illness, surgery and recovery. My severely arthritic left hip now works like a poorly designed hinge. I’ll figure it out, but it’s not erotic.

Does any of this ring true for you?

12 thoughts on “Infidelity's A Dealbreaker, But So-So Sex With Their Partner, Not So Much, Say 6,096 Women

  1. citifieddoug

    A male perspective, for what it’s worth: I can believe in the g-spot, love-at-first-sight, fated romance and that books with Fabio on the cover honestly portray the searching souls of authentic people. At least in theory. “Enough emotional support,” though, is in flying unicorn territory.

  2. Caitlin Kelly

    Such a cynic! I feel lucky my partner does offer, most of the time, tremendous emotional support. I don’t rely on him for everything, nor should women I think, but if my guy doesn’t have my back, so to speak, it’s not clear why he should have access to any other part of me.

    1. citifieddoug

      I’m going to let that easy pitch go by, but I actually think all of your expectations are reasonable ones. It might be the unreasonable expectation I don’t believe in.

  3. inmyhumbleopinion

    Raising children can also be a big libido-crusher–if you’re not paranoid that the little darlings might walk in on you or hear you in the throes, you’re probably just completely sapped of energy, especially if you also work outside the home.

    Thinking that “alone time” with one’s partner is critical for women–a chance to reconnect and forget about the other roles at least for awhile. Hard to focus on good sex when your body and mind are elsewhere.

    1. gypsysister

      If the kids walk in, oh well. They gotta learn that there are private moments for parents and also that – well well well, parents enjoy sex. as far as being pooped from raising the rug rats, that’s a big issue. Carving out alone time isn’t often possible for people with children and work, but it’s worth a try!

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    So I’ve heard…being without kids, this isn’t an issue for us. But I am amazed at any couple of parents, certainly with multiple (small) kids who can gin up any libido at all. The endless distractions seem overwhelming to those of us who haven’t had kids. I find the weariness of crazy hard work draining and a total change of scene helpful.

  5. gypsysister

    I’ll agree that there are physical reasons why people don’t get aroused, but many of the reasons are emotional. There’s still the concept of “bad” girls having sex while any guy’s status is raised from having any to a LOT of sex. Then any other insecurity issues that play in need to be dealt with. Therapy and loving partners can do wonders.

  6. Caitlin Kelly

    gypsysister, I guess (not having had small kids who, I know, probably feel everything they need is urgent) one can actually (?) lock the bedroom door for…15…30…minutes?

    I think the whole “good girl” thing is such a crock, but I am not disagreeing with you. I am really grateful I came of age sexually in an era when this was not as big an issue. I also think Canadian women have quite different (more European, more relaxed, much better access to birth control and abortion), attitudes toward their bodies and sexuality. One-third (!) of American women are said to not be able to have an orgasm during sex, which seems really sad and depressing to me. It also puts whole lot of pressure on the woman (and man/woman) trying to please her if she can’t. Faking it? Not a great choice.

    It’s not at all clear to me why a woman who’s had, and enjoyed, sex with others is de facto “bad.” Quite possibly, she’s learned a lot about how to please herself and others, which, for some men, makes her very good in bed.It can be intimidating, so there you go…

  7. Caitlin Kelly

    I know. The whole idea of being sliced open is just not appealing to me. Silly me. It will happen but I am not in a rush to get into that damn OR again.

  8. john

    These statistics kind of drive me nuts because we could take a similar sample of men, and what do you think we would find? Men love to be cheated on, and never tolerate so-so sex? Please! People who said they would leave over boredom? Can we not just slap someone when they say something that stupid?

    At some point in any relationship you will experience times when you are, in no particular order, bored, sick, injured, too tired, drained, angry and pissed off, and (hold on to your socks!) even feeling like you are no longer in love, and the only question is what are you prepared to do about it? Bailing is certainly an answer, but more adventurous is working through things, trying a little of this, or a little of that, whatever it takes — there is no right way to take the journey, just like there is no right way to have sex. And this seems to be where the comments have taken us, because who doesn’t like to write about women having sex?

    Men and women have different libidos that are affected by stress, being tired, and age in different ways. Is that such a problem, really? Take the 30% who can’t orgasm. Please, unless you’ve had your clitoris cut off, you can still combine sex with masturbation. Is there anyone on earth who can’t get themselves off? For woman who can’t orgasm one way with their partners, they should feel free to come another way. What is the hang up? And flip that around for men who can’t seem to get enough. Next time you get that whine from the old man, have a little fun with it. I mean, you can always start him off and send that poor bastard off to finish things by himself. It’s not like he doesn’t know how, right?

    The bottom line is that our sexuality is complex, and because it is complex, we have to work together to meet each other’s needs. I can sympathize with anyone who feels trapped or abused and lost in a relationship, clearly there are times when it just wont work, and chronic fighting is probably an indication that the relationship is not going to work. But as for the rest of this, assuming there is love, is it really so hard? It seems to me that all it takes is a little creativity and a sense of adventure, and so what if you have to take a pill to get in the mood (assuming one comes out). One day he’ll be taking one for the wood, and so it should be clear that neither sex enjoys sexual perfection, but we can always work together.

  9. Caitlin Kelly

    I totally agree with you. I’ve been with my guy for a decade and things have been plenty challenging along the way. But we’re still here and still laughing and still committed, even unmarried, to figuring it out.

    I agree also that sexuality is extremely complex and women should indeed take charge of their own needs, with or without a guy/gal in the picture to add to their pleasure.

    “Please, unless you’ve had your clitoris cut off, you can still combine sex with masturbation. Is there anyone on earth who can’t get themselves off? For woman who can’t orgasm one way with their partners, they should feel free to come another way. What is the hang up?”

    I wonder (?) if there are many women who have been emotionally squished by severely religious upbringing (sex is bad) or careless or boring partners. You can’t learn how great sex is until or unless you get to know your own body and its rhythms — or if all you’ve had is a few (lousy/lazy) lovers. That can turn you right off for a long time.

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