Being a woman, I have heard many times throughout my life variations of the following: “boys only want one thing” “if you keep your legs closed, you won’t get pregnant”, or “dress modestly and you won’t tempt or invite sexual advances”. That is a lot of responsibility for anyone! You are being challenged with the responsibility and duty to maintain the chastity of TWO people! Why is there so much emphasis and responsibility placed on one person, and in particular, the female?
This article can go in many different directions. I think I am going to have to revisit this topic in more articles to come. But for this article, I want to talk about how being the “sex gatekeeper” can potentially impact your desire when you enter a committed long-term relationship, particularly marriage.
Unfortunately, I see this in my practice regularly. Having to discourage sexual advances can be challenging and disheartening. However, when those advances are wanted, consensual, and mutual, they can be a huge turn-on. “I WANT THEM AND THEY WANT ME”!!! And that thought process can really increase desire, by A LOT!
I like to remind clients what it was like for them before they were married or having intercourse, and how hot it was to have a great “make-out session” for an hour. How on earth did we do that? Desire is through the roof! If it is only permissible to kiss, then we are going to have the best kissing session imaginable!
Well, what can happen, when these same two people settle down and get married, and the newness and excitement of “now we can have sex, let’s do it every day” settles down, often the person who was the “sex gatekeeper” returns to that same role. They are burdened with the responsibility to discourage behavior that no longer is driven by out-of-control desire. Desire is now being dampened by the lack of newness and keeping everything PG-13 rated.
Maybe what has also happened, is that sex wasn’t everything they imagined or anticipated? Maybe they don’t know how to experience pleasure and how to achieve this? Maybe they haven’t had many pleasurable experiences and they are not sure if that is normal or how to express that to their partner? Sex is not that easy to talk about, especially if it was a “no-go” topic in their family or community. Many women are socialized that if you talk about sex, then you must be a bad person.
When one person is burdened with the role of the “sex gatekeeper” they are taking on a lot of responsibility before and after they are having sex.
When sexual activity, in its entirety, is shared, then there is mutual responsibility for both to explore what is on or off limits, what feels good and what doesn’t feel good, and how to cultivate desire for both partners, after the initial excitement wears down. Sex is a shared experience (unless chosen otherwise, i.e., masturbation). That means mutuality. We should try to avoid guilt and shame, especially as it relates to sex. Placing the burden, blame, and responsibility to be the “sex gatekeeper”, sets couples up for guilt, shame, blame, and a power struggle in the bedroom.
If this is something you are or have experienced, I would love to work with you.