I'm still on vacation—week two—but the "Savage Love Letter of the Day" must go on. Subbing for me this week...
Daniel Bergner writes for the New York Times Magazine and is the award-winning author of four books of non-fiction, including The Other Side of Desire, a terrific book about kinks, kinksters, and the kinks in being human. His latest book is What Do Women Want?, which Salon said "should be read by every woman on earth" and called "a must-read for any person with even a remote erotic interest in the female gender," and which the Atlantic said "shatters many of our most cherished myths about sexuality." Check out Daniel's new TEDxEast talk about women and desire. Daniel will be answering your questions all week. And while Daniel has been a guest on the "Savage Lovecast," he's new so… take it easy on him in the comments, okay? –Dan
I'm in an uncomfortable situation and I need some advice.
I'm a 27-year-old straight woman in a 3-year live-in relationship with a 27-year-old straight man. Recently, we moved to the west coast from the east coast when he got his first big job. He makes a lot of money, and he told me that he would financially support me while I study for a new career in technology. (English major, majorly bad decision.) This arrangement is not something I would normally enter into, but I would have had to look for a new job out here anyway, and it seemed like an ideal time to hit the books. He has faithfully kept his promise, and we live in a very nice apartment. The downside to this arrangement is that we have assumed traditional gender roles, and it puts me in a really bad mood. I am stuck doing all of the cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. If I nag, he occasionally does dishes, but I feel guilty because he is paying for everything right now, and never complains that I don't financially contribute.
All this housewifery has really diminished my libido. He has a very healthy sex drive, and I don't mind satisfying him orally, but I don't really care much about having a good old-fashioned fuck anymore. I dish out 4-6 daily blowjobs, but even this, which I used to enjoy, is starting to feel like another chore. I still find him attractive and used to really enjoy sex, so he can't understand why I'm not that into it right now. I'm worried that I'm going to fall into a depressive rut and might never feel like fucking again.
I love my boyfriend, but all of a sudden I find myself a kept woman, and I don't like it.
Should I just suck it up (sorry, pun intended) until I get job?
Libido Over Since Total Dependance On Lovely Lover
My response after the jump...
May I begin with a confession? I read your letter twice before noting the sentence “I dish out 4-6 daily blowjobs.” That is, my eyes passed over those words, my brain surely took them in on some superficial level, and yet somehow I didn’t pause on or ponder them. It’s a reminder that we sometimes recognize what we expect to see and manage to miss the very thing that stands out. But you didn’t ask for a lesson in patterns of human perception.
Should you just “suck it up”? Let me tell you about a friend of mine, an architect, who whenever he gets stuck on a problem of structure, whenever he feels creatively stymied, wishes his girlfriend were a gorgeous midget permanently positioned under his drafting table, ever-eager to administer creativity-releasing fellatio. But this is a comical fantasy, Kept Woman, a cause for laughter, not an expectation. What I’m saying, too indirectly no doubt, is that no matter what your boyfriend is providing in terms of room, board, and tuition, you have no obligation to keep up your current rate of favors. If you’re turned on by giving them, fantastic, but if, as you suggest, your entire being is balking at the fourth or even the first in the daily series, stop. Wait a while. A week. Two or three weeks. He’ll survive. And your sexual inspiration might return.
Then again, it might not. The graphs from studies of desire within committed relationships are a bit daunting. Over time, women’s desire for their steady partners tends to plummet (particularly if the couple lives together), while men’s desire merely declines – the graphs are a stark challenge to the widely accepted notion that women’s sexuality, by virtue of evolutionary programming, is innately better suited to monogamy than male lust. The shifts you’re feeling, about both fellatio and fucking, might be part of something almost universal rather than the product of your present situation.
Yet your boyfriend isn’t doing himself any favors. By leaving you to not only cook but to clean, to be his maid, to do what, I’m assuming, his mother once did, he’s fairly well guaranteeing that your lust will diminish. He’s making a child of himself. Perhaps you don’t want to fuck a child. Perhaps he needs to be a man and share in the chores. And perhaps you need to speed up the path toward your degree and new career—it doesn’t sound like you’re cut out to be a kept woman at all.