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GF's troubled past impacting us?

I have been with my girlfriend for about 18 months now. I'm 33, she's 31. We have so much in common, similar views and ambitions, and seem to be perfect for one another. I'm just not convinced she's at "hot" for me.
About 9 months ago, I learned she'd been molested by a family member for about 10 years of her childhood and teen years. We discussed how this affected her lack of desire for sex. It bothered me, both that this happened to her but also that it meant she might not ever have a normally functioning libido. I should add that things were amazing until she told me she loved me, after about 3 months of dating. Once that was out in the open and our relationship was "secure", it was like a switch. She admitted later to using sex to keep a guy around. I suppose this should have been a red flag.
Very recently, I learned she had spent most of her 20s being extremely promiscuous. This image isn't even compatible with the woman I know and love now. She has essentially slept with every straight male friend she's ever had, has had many FBs and FWBs (you can look those acronyms up), many at the same time, and a couple of what I'd consider dangerous random encounters. She has been tested and is clean. This I know. She has also been raped several times (date rape, as it was described, but raped nonetheless).
There was therapy of course, and she says she's over it, the past is the past, and it has NO bearing on our relationship. But it seems this behavior continued up until only a few years ago, until her first long-term relationship. When that ended, it was followed by two more sex-only relationships.
Then we come to me.
We met a few years ago and went on two dates, right after she'd broken up with her long-term BF. She dropped me because she just wasn't attracted. A year or so later, we reconnected. I was living out of state. We began emailing and chatting. It seemed we were really hitting it off. When the opportunity arose to return, I took it, and we went out on our first date almost immediately. We'd had sex within a week. It's been 18 months.
So now you have the back story.
I'm dealing with the knowledge of her promiscuity. It's very hard to think she has slept with five times as many people as me. What's harder is the feeling of not being desired. I feel like I am protecting her, that I'm a security blanket. I'm a "nice guy". She loves to cuddle, with me spooning her. But she will not initiate anything beyond that, and usually finds an excuse to not have sex, make out, or anything more physically intimate if I initiate. She will on occasion, maybe a couple of times a month. Right now we're going on three weeks. Just this morning, laying in bed, I began touching and kissing her, and she suddenly began saying she had to get up, it was time to get up, and she leapt out of bed. This seems to happen a lot.
She's made comments regarding ex boyfriends, the type of guys she "used to be attracted to", how I'm so good for her, sort of like "medicine"... She says she loves me. She wants to marry me and have kids with me. On the one had I do feel like we're perfect for one another. I admit I have my own weird hangups and issues.
But I basically do feel like I'm "medicine". That she's with me because I'm safe and thoughtful and take care of her, and make her feel good about herself and her past. I treat her like a princess. I feel needed, but not wanted. I don't know if she's so damaged that she cannot ever truly desire sex or physical intimacy with anyone (within a relationship, I mean, as she said the last year of her previous relationship was essentially sexless - she thinks he's secretly gay, I think he was going elsewhere), or if she's simply not attracted to me in that way. She only ever wants to cuddle, to spoon, with me bihind holding her. When I ask or try to broach the subject, she gets hurt and offended and tells me she loves me and wants to spend the rest of her life with me. I don't have the heart (maybe the guts) to say that I just cannot remain in a relationship where I am not desired. Not wanted. It's killing me because I love her and I want US to be happy.
I don't know what to do. I consider the possibility my personal insecurities are the real problem, and I am seeking therapy, that my knowledge of her past causes me to treat her too gently and not assert my physical needs. But I can't escape the knowledge that she was once extremely sexually motivated, and that the first couple of months were amazing. I know passion is a fire that slowly burns down, but it shouldn't be a switch.
What should I do?
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replied February 7th, 2009
Community Volunteer
Passion is not a fire that slowly burns down....
Hi Green_Monkey and welcome to ehealth:

First, passion is not a fire that slowly burns down....This is the one statement in your post that brought me to attention...If this were the fact, then I am one of the biggest and best fakes around......

If this woman has had as much sex as you speak about from the time of childhood until now, I can imagine she is worn out....When sex becomes a necessary thing that you must do instead of a pleasure, it loses it's luster...I wonder if she ever knew this or will ever know it?....It sounds to me like this is something she has been taught to do from an early age and accepts her fate.....I feel sorry for her for I question if she will ever know the true real want of a woman....

Tread softly.....You could be being used as you fear that you are....She sounds tired....She wants a normal life but can she accept the fact that wonderful sex is a part of being normal and not a punishment that she must delve out....

I am not a therapist or any kind of knowledgeable person but I think she is deeply wounded.....How deeply, I just don't know....This my dear young man is for you to find out.....

I wish you well.....
Caroline
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replied February 7th, 2009
FYI - she was a virgin until 21, then did not have sex again until about 23 or 24. The majority or her sexual activity occurred between 23 and about 28.
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replied February 7th, 2009
Community Volunteer
You mentioned she was molested for a 10 year span of her childhood....She did not invite this...It was an intrusion on her body....That is sex....Whether it is penetration or not that is making her sexual parts a play toy for another person...This alone could and will leave a scar on a person for life.....

The majority of her sexual activity began as a child....She was not the willing participant but she was made an object of sexual pleasure....This alone defines how and what a woman will be....If I had been molested at that age for 10 years I would not be the willing erotic woman that I am today...I might live in fear....Dread this act....Hate the sight of the male appendage and welcome the words out of my mouth of "not tonight dear"...
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replied February 8th, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
i'm confused just a bit...ok so the part where you say she was molested and this is sort of the reason for her lack of libido makes sense..but..what about all those random hook ups? i imagine it would be MUCH harder to be with someone sexually that you barely know especially after what she's been through..so i'm quite shocked to hear that she has been so promiscuous..i would have thought the exact opposite..this is a difficult situation...you really need to ask yourself if its something you're willing to work out..it needs to be talked about..i'm not saying that sex is extremely important in a relationship but..it does alot, just to be able to have that physical intimacy with the one you love is part of what makes being in love so great, you seem like a very patient, kind, caring guy..this should be addressed..a sexless marriage(which is what you might end up in if you dont act now) isn't healthy, everyone needs that connection with their partner
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replied February 8th, 2009
I agree. I accepted the notion I'm not normally the kind of guy she's attracted to because I thought she'd turned a corner. My fear is the corner she has turned is to basically forgo sex or deny desire by dating a guy she isn't necessarily attracted to, but who will treat her with some dignity and respect.
The hookups weren't all that random. A couple were, but most were with friends, acquaintances or guys she knew otherwise (casual dating=casual sex). Which makes me wonder - why does she have NO straight male friends now?
I also worry because it seems the only time we actually do have sex is when she's drunk. Recently we had more than a few glasses of wine, and next thing I knew we were going at it like it was a contest. It was fantastic. We probably went five times, until we were both spent. The next day she seemed utterly ashamed and didn't even want to talk about it. And I'm not sure what to feel. It seems if I express any enthusiasm for sex, or desire, or anything to even imply I have urges, she has a way of making me feel dirty. Like that's all I think about.
I truly do love this girl. The time we spend together is so important to me and there are times, maybe more frequently than other guys (or not), that I want to express that physically. She's simply not receptive 95% of the time, or unless she's drunk.
Again, I feel needed, but not necessarily wanted. I want to help her realize we can have sex without being ashamed or drunk, and it can be fun and adventurous and sweet and dirty and the whole gamut of everything good sex between two people who love each other can be. I think because of her past she is used to lies and being used, or believing it meant more than it did. And maybe because I've never really experienced much sex I'm placing too much emphasis on it. I believe I could benefit from some therapy, and maybe that will lead to both of us understanding what's wrong, and whether or not it can be fixed.
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replied February 8th, 2009
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If you two are to have any chance at a healthy relationship she needs to get into therapy NOW. If she refuses, I would end the relationship. Understandably, she has mixed emotions when it comes to sex. People who have been molested often act out sexually and become promiscuous because that is how they believe they will receive love and attention. At the same time they may experience feelings of guilt if they enjoy sex or associate sex with their abuse/ have flashbacks that cause them to avoid sexual encounters. So they can have cycles of promiscuity and abstinence.
I know it sounds unfeeling to advise you to break up with her if she refuses treatment but you aren't doing either of you any favors by remaining together. She needs to deal with this once and for all and, if possible, get past it. And you need to find someone who will love and desire you as a man, not as a protector.
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replied February 8th, 2009
Community Volunteer
It's interesting as I was going to just write about the same thing....She is confused because these were good sexual feelings of long ago and she lives with much guilt because of this...I believe in some ways she blames herself for allowing this even though it was no fault of hers.....I think she could have a happy sex life, but only if this comes out in the open and she is able to face the guilt that she lives with that is not hers....It will take patience on your part and hers....I also think it is important that she always have an open door to this sex therapist, preferably a woman, so that if at anytime during the course of her life, she is troubled, that she has this woman to go to.......This is not a quick fix problem by any means....It has festered for years and will take time....

Just my thoughts...
Caroline
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replied February 9th, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
i agree with the others...not only does she need therapy for what shes been put through in the past, but maybe also a couples therapy would help as well? ...regardless..shes been through alot and she probably does have negative and shameful feelings towards sex...good luck, this is goin to be difficult to overcome
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