The Weekly Mindfuck: Sexual Rejection

November 18, 2016 | Posted in Editorial Features by colette-callaway

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Men always want sex. This is the enduring belief of my female existence, a product perhaps of TV - the goofy, persistent husband begging his wife for a quickie during a laugh track - or maybe instead decades of pressure on first dates, at bars, walking down the street, to give access to my body. Maybe it's all that talk of testosterone and morning wood, or knowing men who find at least two new partners a weekend. I don't really know. Everything in my life has just seemed to scream at me, over and over again, that men always want sex. Until a certain point in my life, that knowledge did little more than reverberate off my skull and fall to the ground. I guess I never cared enough.

Years and years of casual sex eventually made way to something more meaningful, where my vulnerability grew and the newness of mutual conquest waned. It was here, in this space of comfort and warmth, that I learned something: Men don't always want sex - or this one didn't, at least not every second of every day. Some days, he was finding me in the kitchen, playing sticking his hands down my pants and kissing my neck while I giggled, and some, he was carefully moving my hand away from his crotch, rolling over and curling up just enough to spell it out across the sheets: Not now. 

This deeply hurt me at first. It went against everything I knew, or thought I knew. If men always want sex and he didn't want me now, what did that say about me? I'd never rejected him for sex before - couldn't think of a time my body didn't respond immediately when he touched me. The feeling spread through me like shame, his unavailable body or fingers around my wrists a cold door in my face. As infrequent as it was, it made me question myself in every way: Was I attractive enough? Thin enough? Or - the real kicker - new enough? The feeling spread through me, rolling through my abdomen with a pang that felt like shame, and one night, I took a trip to the bathroom and sat on the toilet while I let big, fat tears roll down my face.

It was a reflection of my own insecurities, of course, ones I'd buried when I was very young and never examined again. It was also a reflection of this notion that he'd always want me no matter what. It had never occurred to me that I'd heard wrong, and that men were sometimes tired or stressed or distracted, too. I had never considered that he might not have wanted our whole relationship to be about sex - something that was new after so many partners that had sought nothing more from me than just that. When I realized how wrong I'd been, I saw my partner as he really was: a man who loved and wanted me, but was merely human.

More than anything, though, I realized how many others must feel like me - women who believe that men always want sex, distraught and dejected when their supposedly insatiable partners turn them away, and men who've too long been told that being rebuked in bed is the norm, consequently given no way to safely express the deep wound it can incur over time, leaving them irreparably scarred. The irony is, of course, that acknowledging the pain of rejection is the only way to crawl out of it. Perhaps if more people were honest about how it made them feel, fewer people would develop the destructive - often self-destructive - tendencies they do. 

Here's a start. 

 

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