Even an anonymous online survey might cause some people to reshape or shade the truth. Although the men know (or at least think they know) the reasons for their voluntary celibacy but the women are only guessing, either way the situation is embarrassing and painful. It is therefore not surprising that both men and women agree most with statements that shift responsibility away from themselves. Indeed, men indicate a lack of sexual adventure (hers, not his) as primary. It is difficult to believe that this lack of erotic excitement is completely one- sided, and that these men who identify their wives as unadventurous are themselves imaginatively passionate guys, just somehow mysteriously unable to inspire the one woman they chose to marry.
Both men and women agree most with statements that shift responsibility away from themselves. After all, they probably knew her acceptable level of tolerance for erotic exploration before the vows were exchanged. We suspect that boredom or other factors is closer to the truth, or they are confusing the pornography they see on DVDs or the Internet with reality.
The overwhelming majority of men who responded to our survey seem to indicate that they are still sexually active beings, or would like to be. The few exceptions are those with seriously debilitating medical conditions, and the 3 percent who said they never wanted sex to begin with. Slightly less than half say they are interested in sex, but not with their partners, which might be valid but could also mean boredom, anger, or per for mance anxiety. The majority masturbates, online or off, indicating a possible predilection for solitary over partnered sex. And although only 25 percent indicated a preference for masturbating to online porn, 58 percent said yes, they looked at it.
For many of these men, a fantasy world is replacing an actual sex life with their spouse, bringing to mind the Oscar Wilde quote: "One's real life is often the life one does not lead."
Here are some of the main reasons we believe men in partnered relationships choose celibacy or solitary sex. The issues are rarely one-sided or stand alone; indeed, they often combine. This is an overview, and all will be discussed in greater depth later on in the book. It should be mentioned here that the following list is by no means complete, it just represents the majority. A few men appear to come from backgrounds so traumatic (e.g., sexual, physical, or emotional abuse) that a fear of intimacy or de pen den cy makes sustaining an intimate partnered relationship impossible without extensive psychological counseling. Others are alcohol or drug dependent to a degree that disallows a satisfactory sexual relationship, and still others suffer from physical illness and disease that precludes sex.
He's Bored/She's Bored
Drs. Max and Della Fitzgerald are clinical sex therapists who studied with William Masters and Virginia Johnson and are founders of The Fitzgerald Institute in North Carolina. We asked them why they believed some men stop having sex with their wives. Max replied that the main reason is boredom. "Same place, same station. We do it the same way every time. Men like variety, and when a couple gets stuck in a routine, the man is the first one to get dissatisfied with it." Della agreed, saying, "Definitely, boredom."