I thought I would feel extreme remorse, paranoid guilt, or something when I cheated on my ex-boyfriend, but those things never came. Maybe my lack of guilt was due to one small chink in an otherwise comfortable, secure relationship: my boyfriend and I hadn’t had sex in seven months because he was impotent.
My relationship lacked excitement. Our relationship was effortless. Literally. We never fought about anything. We complemented each other so well and our relationship was totally uncomplicated. It was a refreshing change to my love life. Finally, I was with a guy who knew how to treat me well. At the time, I was in my early twenties and up to that point, I’d only dated jerks. Unfortunately, those jerks rarely have a problem getting an erection, which is part of what led me to cheat.
The difference between love and lust became crystal clear. You can love someone without wanting to jump their bones every five minutes and you can have amazing sex with someone but not really gave a damn about them on a deep level. I figured out that relationships need a mix of both in order to be successful. Due to my ex-boyfriend’s erectile dysfunction, we couldn’t have sex so the very idea of lust went out the window. Nothing kills a passionate moment like the inability to perform. It was embarrassing for him and awkward for me. Our relationship became about love without the elements of any romance, passion, or physicality. Any of that would lead to lovemaking, which he was unable to do.
I loved him but without the physicality, I couldn’t be in love. At the beginning of my relationship, I felt like I was in love with him. After the slow death of our physical relationship, I no longer felt like I was. Without butterflies or intense passion, that feeling was fleeting. Without sex, it felt more like companionship instead of the intense, affectionate bond that I craved. I loved my boyfriend but I was not in love with him.
I never realized that impotence could happen to younger men. Apparently, impotence happens to young men too. The causes can be physical or emotional, and in my relationship, it came down to performance anxiety. It was equally as confusing for him as it was harmful to our relationship and I know that deep down it destroyed him. It chipped away at his sense of manhood every time we would try to go at it only to fail miserably. That was our sex life. It became a chore to even try and although I tried to comfort him, I could tell he felt ashamed. Not only that, I was frustrated and totally turned off.
Impotence was a deal breaker. Needless to say, it made him insecure and lowered his self-esteem. Erectile dysfunction didn’t just affect him, it affected me too. I felt like it was my fault that he couldn’t get it up even though he assured me it wasn’t. It felt really hopeless. It wasn’t only physically frustrating but emotionally draining as well. I wondered how long I could stay in a sexless relationship.
I realized just how delicate the male ego can be. He wouldn’t talk about it, he wouldn’t see a doctor about it. It got to a point when we went silent on the topic and it was off-limits for discussion. There was an opportunity for him to mend our sex life with the help of treatment, but he refused. I learned to stop asking about it. There was only so much I could do; it was up to him to resolve it and I couldn’t force him. The only person I could control was me, and apparently, I wasn’t very good at that either.
I began to understand how crucial sex is to a relationship. Long-term relationships need sex in order to survive. Sex is a part of it all, and developing and maintaining a sex life with someone you love is another part of a healthy relationship. I don’t believe I can be in love with a man without a physical expression of love. After all, that’s really all that separates a romantic relationship from a friendship, right?
Cheating is all about timing. Not only was I sexually frustrated, I felt neglected and I was desperately craving the feeling of a man. Just around that time, my former fling started flirting with me. If he hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have pursued anything on my own. It was the perfect storm of infidelity: lack of sex or passion, little to no affection, and an arrogant but sexy guy that arrived just at the right time.
The guy I cheated with was the total opposite of my boyfriend. My ex was kind and gentle. He was loving and funny. The dude I cheated with was a casual connection I was seeing before I got into my relationship. He was smug, bossy, and totally full of himself. He also happened to be the best sex I’ve ever had. He’d started texting me again and each message got flirtier and flirtier. I didn’t intend to sleep with him but I was starving for someone who wanted me sexually so I caved. Sex is so much more than penetration. It’s the feeling of another person, passion, excitement, a connection. It was everything my relationship severely lacked.
While I didn’t feel guilty, I did discover a new, not-so-great side of myself. I broke my own rules. Cheating and dishonesty top my list of terrible human behaviors, but I found out that anybody is capable of a darker side. I only cheated a total of twice and then I stopped. I absolutely knew it was wrong and that it was a terrible thing to do to someone. If my then boyfriend ever found out, it would have crushed him and I would’ve felt awful. I realize it was selfish and that I was completely fulfilling my own physical needs, but I kept waiting for the regret that never came. The fact was, I cheated and never felt bad about it.
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