Okay, I have to avoid obsessing on the pity party of my failed relationship. But I do want to let it provide some direction for this investigation into the impact of libido on relationship. I suspect that my wife's fear of intimacy went beyond just being an issue of low libido. Low libido creates a lack of desire but not necessarily fear or anxiety. But lets look at the other end of the spectrum for just a bit. I have been hanging out at a swingers site lately. I love the idea of free and open sexuality, but I have found that my ideas along these lines are different than most swingers. For swingers this seems not to be a decision based on ideas of freedom; It seems to be a drive. Often swingers have very conservative ideas about many aspects of personal and social freedom, but they do a great job of justifying sexual abandonment within the boundaries of the swinger's lifestyle. Specifically swingers are a high libido couple. It seems that there are lots of men who have libidos large enough to motivate them to abandon normal cultural conventions about open sexuality. Women seem to be the limiting factor here. In a recent study 33% of women reported being low libido. I'm not sure what percentage of women have high enough libidos to encourage them into a swinger's lifestyle but I think that those who do have that kind of libido end up going there.
While I would love to have had plurality in my marriage, I think that this was driven by ideology and not libido, which has a very different cognitive make up. Then again, I suspect that if my wife had had a high libido that I would have blended in just fine.
Another interesting aspect of the swinger lifestyle is that a preponderance of women who are bisexual. But very few swinger men report being bisexual. My guess is that if you could get men to report honestly that a higher % would qualify as bi. I base this on the fact that at this swinger's site there are separate groups that you can belong to. The majority of the men in the "couples with Bi men" group do not list themselves as bi. Across the board a very high percentage of swinger women report being bi. some time soon I will do a random sample of 20 women from this site and see howm many report being bisexual.
Again I think that this has a lot to do with libido. I have always be significantly hetero to the degree that I don't look at men sexually, I don't have sexual dreams about men, I can use thoughts of naked men as a means of ridding myself of an inappropriate hard on (not that I think that hard ons should ever be inappropriate.) But early in life I decided that I loved being attracted to women and wouldn't it be great if I could be attracted to men in that same way. In fact, I reasoned, it would be twice as good. So I was always open to the idea of being bisexual but could never really figure out how to illicit those feelings and finally gave up on it. Then unexpectedly a friend and I were seduced by his wife who drove us to an extreme state of arousal, and when put in the situation I was able to suck his cock. Then several years later I had an MFM relationship with a woman and her husband. There was never anything more than incidental contact between the men in this relationship until one night when we were all very excited she asked me to go down on her while her husband was fucking her. Though at first more than a little reluctant, this experience ended up being one of the most erotic encounters of my life.
When the libido gets supercharged, new and surprising things become possible. Some people have libidos that supercharge easily and frequently, others are not quite so easily there. I know that I have been surprised by my own ability to expand sexual horizons in times of extreme excitment. My hope had always been to get my wife to these points in an effort to allow the doors to open for her. But she had such a phobia that she would fight with all of her might to avoid these circumstances. The few times that she was in those situations, it appeared that her demeanor would change, she would become engaged, responsive and even initiating. She would later deny having such feelings or responses. While she would admit that a lack of desire for kissing, being touched, oral sex and the rest of the range of sexual appetite was a problem, she would not take responsibility for addressing the problem. If she had admitted to being aroused at times, she would have had to bring attention to those feelings which is exactly what terrified her. By denying ever having sexual feelings she could blame everything on being a low libido that she had no control over.
Can someone overcome a low libido by finding ways of more frequently and easily arousing themselves? This is basically what the whole sensate approach is about. In my opinion this is an inadequate approach in that it is only likely to illicit a predictably low level of arousal. What is needed for transformation are extreme levels of arousal. This would require sexual behaviors that go further beyond sexual norms than are likely to be acceptable within the highly regimented and controlled field of psychology. In the annals of sexual anecdotes it is not uncommon to read about women who were low, or at least lower, libido who, after having an extreme sexual experience, usually with someone that they are not already accustomed to, and often in the range of things that are more perverse than normal straight sex, and there after had heightened sexual appetites. I am not prepared to suggest that this is anything more than male sexual fantasy but it seems possible to have merit as a means of true sexual transformation.
It seems that self confidence can play a role in this too. Women, regardless of looks or intelligence who have a high level of sexual self confidence tend to have higher libidos. This could be because they have more means of arousing their libidos. Through such means as flirting or exhibitionism some women can engage in a process that allows them to raise their level of excitement. My wife, in addition to being brought up with very sex negative values had a traumatic pubescent period that may have scared her sexual self confidence and resulted in circumventing these processes from developing. Interestingly she always showed signs of exhibitionism being a possibility for her. Sexy clothing was one of the few things that i could get her to engage in. It was more like something that she tolerated than something that she enjoyed herself. But given the range of things that she would not even tolerate and the ease with which she would wear very sheer clothing, I believe that this was a crack in the thick brick wall around her erotic nature. A couple of times that she was in situations in which she was with other men and clearly excited she was much more bold in her nakedness. Unfortunately she would never acknowledge the feelings. Though she could not deny the behaviors, as I was there she would remain silent when asked about them. That door was shut tight and locked.