What's A Refuser?

Greetings. And Salutations.

First post. I've read not 'twenty random stories' but the last twenty pages of stories. Interesting, sad, insightful, informative. At first I was so empathetic and saddened I had to quit reading. Then I saw a pattern. Then I recognized the insights. The stories and comments have helped bring much to clarity, thank you all for that.

My tale of woe is similar to the rest and I don't feel like 'spilling it' right now. Maybe another time -- it's dissimilar enough to maybe help a person or two.

Just to kick the can, to get the ball rolling, I have a question to pose. Suppose a spouse, given the choice between sex or the door, chooses sex. But the sex is 'duty sex', devoid of intimacy or passion. Would you still categorize this person as a 'refuser'?

PlatypusPete PlatypusPete 46-50, M 18 Responses Aug 17, 2012

Your Response


Intimacy. And the feeling of being loved and cared for...expressed by physical touch and the ultimate "two becoming one". But what to do when the other has no desire but to fulfill a physical craving...hmmmm....

Thanks for posting thoughts and questions. No two situations are the same.....ever.

Its just way darn easier to type then spouse that does not want me....

My (former) affair partner's wife has "duty sex" with him. That says it all, doesn't it? The problem is still there. Actions with no feeling.

The label you apply to package the dynamic between you is less important than the behavior itself and what it means to you. One thing for certain, to get out of this place, you need a solution that fully involves a partner (and a partner who will get on board with a program). I find that labeling, as such, leads to a kind of relationship cauterization. As to the main point, in my experience duty sex is sex performed out of obligation and not desire. I have found it to be harmful on both ends of the equation.

I do like to take care with my language and notice patterns in other people's.

Therefore, when I hear "duty", there's an immediate problem for me because my experience is that this is either a set-up excusing the refuser from any responsiblity, or else it's almost like the refused may be talking themselves out of what may in fact be of value to them both.

As mvcmvc asks, is it adding value, or not?

I do not think is is valuable to ask someone to pretend passion that is not there, that perpetuates the lies that are the shaky foundation of the SM. Of course, if passion is essential to you, every time, from your partner, then you will have to make the usual choices very quickly, because there is little flexibility or room to manoeuvre. It is possible to talk yourself out of sex because of too-rigid rules.

My experience is that it is quite possible to have loving sexual intimacy without both partners getting the same thing out of it, certainly not every time, certainly not earth-shaking passion every time. And sometimes the run-of-the-mill is an enabler for the stellar.

As far as the refuser label is concerned, the discussion of that has been done to death many times. Again, my feeling is that it is not of itself pejorative, it's descriptive, and sometimes it is (understandably) overlain with venom. But I think that's OK if it enables someone to shift their patterns so that they will act to change the situation.

Finally, may I encourage you to "spill it" when the time is good for you. I've noticed on accounts here that the act of "coming out" - even anonymously - names the beast and ultimately is an important step on the way to slaying it.

Is the duty sex you are experiencing adding VALUE to your overall relationship?

Or is the duty sex subtracting VALUE to the overall relationship?

Duty sex or "save the relationship" sex is not an expression of feeling or intimacy. It is exactly as the name implies. However, from the other spouse's perspective the view may be very different. They may and often do genuinely want to increase the physical relationship. This desire IS genuine to them. The difficulty for us, though, is that the desire that they have is a desire please, satiate, capitulate and maintain the relationship. Some genuinely love us and want to give us what they believe that we need. The desire is not born from a genuine urge or burning desire to connect physically. To us, this difference is palpable and difficult to ignore. The actions lack passion because they result from a conscious decision and not an innate need. This differentiation can be almost impossible to explain to someone who has not endured the experience. To our spouses and to others, when we decry a lack of sex, "sex" is the only word they hear. They can think only of the physical act. As I and countless others here have said, the physical act is only a tiny portion of the problem. Most damaging to our psyche is the feeling of rejection, the lack of desire and the accompanying feelings of worthlessness.

em, your response is so spot-on, I feel no need to provide additional feedback.
ddb, yes...a person performing duty sex IS a refuser.
Good luck on your journey.

If your spouse does not want to engage in sex with you, but submits to keep up her security and stays quo, it is a form of prostitution. You can use my body in exchange for continuing the status quo is the message. It is sad on both ends and harmful to you both. And, unhealthy to the relationship as it can only perpetuate resentment. It will only heal through honesty, and most often that means admitting there is no way to preserve intimacy in the face of both wanting to completely different forms of marriage. Most of what you see here on this board is people working towards acceptance of this reality.

Yeah, but then she (or he) would have to get a job. That's so not going to happen in so many instances...

-----"Suppose a spouse, given the choice between sex or the door, chooses sex. But the sex is 'duty sex', devoid of intimacy or passion."

It is not about the sex, it is about passion, intimacy and commitment.

Sex is an event in the relationship. Intimacy (or lack thereof) makes or breaks the environnment. The health of the overall environment is what will determine whether I feel well loved over the long term. That the person is passionate enough to care about the long term intimate health of the relationship is what makes me feel well loved - not necessarily "having sex" with me the requisite twice a week.

To my mind the issue is less about the event of sex, and more about the overall paucity of intimacy - intimacy that, in a loving relationship - ought to be manifested in daily pair bonding behaviors.

It would be about my spouses lack of ability or unwillingness to share of himself - physically and emotionally - his lack of engaging in daily pair bonding behaviors and the emotional remoteness that would be the dealbreaker - and not necessarily the lack of an event of sex - over the long term.

I appreciate the replies.

I think 'refuser' has a strong negative connotation. Often that negativity is deserved but I think there is a difference between a spouse who is willing to 'do their duty' and one who flatly refuses - because their Guild needs them or some other bullshit reason.

I don't disagree with any of the comments with respect to relationship quality or the existence of a problem. But -- I think the above difference does influence the shape of situation and maybe the solution to the problem.

I realize anger can be motivating and negativity can fuel anger but I don't like operating that way. Negativity just sucks the life out of me. I'd rather see things how they are then respond accordingly. Exactly what is accordingly is something I'm trying to figure out but the stories I've read have really helped open my eyes.

I've seen a lot of advice along the line of setting specific expectations and conditions. A condition of 'I want sex twice a week and I want you to like it' seems kind of ridiculous to me, especially taking into account whether the person is literally refusing or not.

Do you think that it matters what label you or anyone else cares to slap on it? If it looks like a turd, smells like a turd, it's almost certain to be a turd.

If you are getting duty sex which many explicitly or implicitly regard as being ************ by another name and it has killed the mutual trust and respect in your relationship it must put the very existence of your relationship in question.

I guess that your moral dilemma is that the inference is that your partner is making the minimal effort "as contractually stipulated" and are asking yourself is that good enough or would I be selfish to expect better than that?

It might just be the wrong question. Why not ask yourself whether "Is this relationship one to cherish, to continue to invest yourself in"? Your wife might also ask herself the same question.

Call me quaint but I like to think that giving sex to someone else in a relationship should be regarded as a gift and receiving it is a gift given and gratefully received as well. Does that sound like your relationship?

Well brother H, here is where you start equal with everyone else here.

And the choices you have to bring this to resolution are exactly the same as everyone else here too.

From those 20 pages of stories you have read, you will have already picked up on what those few choices are, and how unappealing they all are.

Your journey out of the swamp might start here. Or not. That'll be down to you, and the obligation of choice.

Tread your own path.

Just have to tell you I read your comments in the voice of Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange, lol. Good stuff, I've enjoyed your replies.

I honestly am trying to sort this out for myself, because I am getting "duty sex." I threw a hissy fit after the Year Of No Sex, and said if my spouse did not, I'd end up cheating eventually.

So I get done like a chore, yanno, dishes, laundry, get the spouse off...

...I can say with authority it sucks.

This forum is really about the loss of physical intimacy, desire and ardor. Ask yourself, are you being refused all of this? The pair bonding stuff which to the majority of people, distinguishes a spousal relationship from that of a friend, partner, sibling or housemate. When you view your circumstances through this clear and focused perspective, I think you have your answer.

Why would it matter what label you applied to the behaviour ?

Unenthusiastic sex, no sex, re-set sex, rare sex all are but an underlying (though obvious) symptom of a dysfunctional situation.

Tread your own path.

If your refuser decides to give you sex and you know that this is just "pity sex" or an action just to keep you for the present time then sex is not a reflection of love for you or respect for you. It is putting a band aid on a raging infection of the soul. Be very aware that this action may be a deliberate intent to result in a pregnancy as this is another way to keep the marriage intact.

I see so many red flags here and you have to be extremely cautious as to your wife's ultimate goal. Remember a huge life lesson DDB. Anyone can modify their actions for a brief time to get their desired results. People seldom change and once a person shows you who they truly are, believe them! If I had acknowledged this in my past life I could have saved myself a huge amount of grief and pain! Peace,D

Forced sex or sex without intimacy or passion is lifeless.