Out of the Sexual Comfort Zone

A reader writes: My husband and I have been together for 17 years. I gained some weight over the last few years and our physical relationship became almost nonexistent. We are still very close; we cuddle and say nice things, and that was pretty much OK.

Eight months ago I joined a gym and lost the extra weight. Frankly, I’m feeling very good about myself. But this has not changed his behavior.
Yes, we are still very close and all that, but I feel I deserve more now that I’m in the shape I was when we first met.

Additionally, there are several guys who have shown an interest in me physically. I am certainly attracted to them, and I want and need something to happen. I like being admired again, and I feel I deserve this. But I don’t want to live with the guilt of cheating. I feel silly and needy asking for sex after all these years. Should I get over myself and have a little fling just to give my new body a test-drive?

My reply: I don’t think you’d enjoy a fling if you had one. Sure, maybe for the first hour or so, but then you’d have to conceal it. Deception is hard work and contaminates the fun. More than that, I think you’d feel guilty. If you didn’t have a conscience, you wouldn’t be writing me about this.

Worse yet, an affair would weaken your position. When your husband finds out (not inevitable, but certainly likely), then you’d be on the defensive. Your otherwise valid point that you missed having a sex life would be lost in the flurry of recrimination and hurt feelings. And then you’d have no answer to his perfectly reasonable question, “Why didn’t you at least say something to me?”

People don’t like to be honest about these things. You’ll rarely hear, “I miss having sex. I’d love to have sex with you. But if you’re not interested, in all honesty I might look elsewhere to fulfill that need.” Ouch! That would be an unsettling thing to encounter. I’m not suggesting you put it that bluntly, but why not be honest about something so important? You might consider some counseling, but most likely he’ll want to know why you want to do that.

I realize that talking with your husband honestly will stir up the status quo. But what’s so bad about that? You don’t like the status quo! He does, or at least he’s comfortable with it.

Sometimes we get into comfort zones and we stop growing. Life isn’t static, and change isn’t just necessary; it’s part of living.

Think about it from your husband’s point-of-view, and imagine if he knew you were asking me if it’s wise to have an affair. You’ve already reached a point where the status quo is about to blow up. This is true whether or not you go on pretending that’s not the case. Compared to that scenario, having a frank discussion about your feelings and needs seems like a pretty mild alternative.

Something must be going on with him as well. Attempting to approach this rationally, rather than bottling it all up and pretending it isn’t there, will set you free. Nothing is more uncomfortable than the “comfort zone” you have created for yourself.

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