Confessions of a Married Incel

FYI — Wedding vows are two-way streets

A picture of a couple getting married by a priest.
Photo by zelle duda on Unsplash

I’m a married incel, but I don’t blame anyone named Chad like some pimply loser hidden away in some shitty corner of the internet. But I know how he feels.

The definition of a sexless marriage is one where people have sex ten times a year or less. If I had sex ten times a year, I don’t know what I’d do. Throw a party, maybe? I wouldn’t complain, that I know. It took me four times in nine years to do something about it.

It’s hard to describe to people what it’s like being in a sexless marriage and what it does to you mentally and physically. I have nothing to compare it to because I didn’t know what I was missing and too young to need that sort of physical love when I was a virgin.

So what is it like?

I happened upon the link below and found these first-person testimonials from people in sexless marriages. As I read their stories that I have abridged here, two things stood out

  • women and men experienced the same emotions a loss of sex causes
  • how shockingly young some of these people in sexless marriages are

Male, 25 — “I just hope no one has to go through what I am going through. Try to be patient, but this only gets you so far. I am considering a sex therapist, but I am not sure how my wife will react to that.”

I’ve never sought therapy because he suffers from a condition therapy wouldn’t fix, but that last part — how he’d react? He couldn’t talk about sex when we had it. The last time I brought it up three years ago, he ran away, and I ran into the arms of my lover.

Female, 31 — “Over the years, I have begged, cajoled, threatened, shouted, cried, and done everything to make him aware of how I feel. He has done nothing to meet my demands. I went through hell. In the beginning, I thought he was having affairs, and then I thought he was homosexual. I have spent hours agonizing about him. And about my attractiveness. Lately, I have concluded that he is just a non-sexual person. One of his male friends told me that he has never met someone so asexual. I agree.”

Thankfully, when he could have sex, we did, and I always enjoyed it. I never needed much, but I needed some. I don’t know what I’d do in the lady’s shoes. I do — I’m having an affair.

Male, 36 — “alarm bells rang loudly on our wedding night when my new bride was too tired to make love — this still stings several years later. After we got married, sex was routine and infrequent. Oral sex was almost non-existent, and resentment began to set in…Years of neglect with seemingly no resolution in sight made me despondent.”

We didn’t have sex on our wedding night either, but I didn’t mind. It wasn’t like Christmas morning when you don’t know what you were getting until you opened it. I was content and satisfied on my wedding day and around that time. I can’t imagine what I’d have done if I had to fight for sex that early in our marriage.

Male, 51 — “We continue to live together, but we have separate rooms and have had a sexless marriage for over two years. We have tried marriage counseling. At times it feels like we are making progress, but two or three years ago, there was a sense of resignation (perhaps from both of us), and it has been no sex, no counseling, no real effort to rejuvenate the relationship — just a focus on making the household work and co-parenting our much-loved boys. There is now no intimacy.”

Intimacy — my lover showed me that in the way he treated me after sex. He just held me and caressed my body. He told me he wanted to remember my curves so he could see them in his mind’s eye, late at night in his dead bedroom. I melted under his touch, and that’s when I knew.

Male, 36 — “My partner and I have been together for eight years. We last had sex four and a half years ago. My early efforts to initiate sex were unsuccessful; if anything, they made things worse, as I invariably felt rejected. If I voice my unhappiness, she becomes upset and feels guilty, so I try not to mention it.”

What I don’t understand is how easy it is to talk to my lover about sex. Because we talk, we can have multiple partner sex experiences in emotionally safe ways because we can take care of each other. My hub and I have never had one conversation about sex or our preferences in over 25 years of marriage — no one.

Female, 30 — “Sometimes I want to get a divorce (or can we have our marriage annulled?), but I am scared to be alone. If we ignore the sex thing, our relationship is solid. I had sex with an old friend a few months ago. It was my first time in eight years. I don’t know if I feel bad about it. My husband doesn’t know. I am confused. I don’t really understand marriage as a concept anymore.”

At 30, I would have never thought of needing to outsource sex to meet my basic needs, but I can tell you now, forget about guilt.

Sex is part of the marital contract

As for the concept of marriage, asking if we are owed sex or intimacy in a marriage is a legitimate question. I would say sex can be something we should share if we can, and we should work through our problems to resolve any issue we might have if we can. Part of the marriage contract of being faithful to your partner is to have sex with them faithfully. It’s not simply an agreement to not cheat. It’s an agreement to have sex with your partner in exchange for their fidelity.

The problem with religion is that it reflects the natural human tendency to reduce ideas to their basest meanings, categorize them as right or wrong, and then judge them. But wedding vows are a two-way street. By committing to exclusivity, your commitment in exchange for that is you agreed to meet your partner’s sexual needs, and you have vowed to hold up your end of the stick. A wedding vow is a promise made by both parties, and when one partner sexually withdraws from the relationship and doesn’t work to resolve it, they can expect problems.

Before you clutch your pearls or pretend you know what feminism is — this isn’t a discussion about consent. Consent is always required; however, never giving consent when you are physically able to have sex is a breach of contract because you are breaking your wedding vow.

To paraphrase Esther Perel, if you aren’t having sex with your partner, don’t be surprised if someone else does.

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© Teresa J. Conway, 2021

Author of How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress, several short stories, I'm active on Medium @teresajconway where I sometimes share my blog posts.

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