Sex is like pizza!
Do you and your partner have different sexual appetites?
It can be difficult to explain to your partner that although you really care about him/her, the difference in your sexual appetites is really starting to impact on your relationship.
This pizza analogy may help.
Bob loves pizza. Ever since he had his first pizza 20 years ago, he’s always adored it. He believed that sharing pizza with a partner was the best way to measure how good your relationship was. He found other ways of expressing his emotions quite hard, but eating pizza together seemed to say it all for him.
When he met Sarah, they used to eat pizza together a lot. It was one of their rituals. In fact, they could never have too much pizza. They loved the same toppings, they ate it in different places, sometimes more than once a day, and never thought they’d get fed up with it.
As time went on, they had less pizza, but they still enjoyed it when they ate it.
After the kids came along, life happened, jobs changed, etc. Bob still wanted to have regular pizza for dinner alone with Sarah after the kids had gone to bed. She often wasn’t very hungry, but tried to want pizza to please him.
Sometimes Sarah ate the pizza with him, but she was so tired, and had had a lot of different pizzas by now, it wasn’t as novel as before. It took her so long to get in the mood to want one, and then sometimes it took so long to eat it. It felt like a big deal. She liked the occasional pizza once in awhile, but he increasingly had to eat it alone.
This upset Bob, who felt hurt that she no longer wanted to eat this treat with him that they had once enjoyed so much together. He began to wonder if she didn’t love him anymore. Maybe she’d rather be eating pizza with someone else? Why wasn’t she ever hungry? It must be something to do with her losing feelings for him. Was he rubbish at eating pizza, he wondered? He assumed everybody else was merrily eating pizza together all the time.
Sometimes he would offer her a pizza as a surprise in the evening, or even for breakfast, and if she didn’t feel like it, he felt hurt, rejected. Sometimes this made him angry. He didn’t mean to be, but he was so frustrated. Were they never going to eat pizza together again? Sarah didn’t like it when Bob got angry and frustrated, and did sometimes eat the pizza when she wasn’t hungry, to keep the peace, and give her a few days ‘grace’ before he wanted pizza again. But this really started spoiling the bond between them.
After a while she began to really resent eating when she just wasn’t hungry. Bob thought she wasn’t hungry because of him, but she disagreed and still loved him. The more Bob wanted her to eat pizza, the more pressure she felt to eat when she wasn’t hungry. This put her off eating pizza with him even more.
She started to avoid being alone with him, keeping busy, just in case he wanted her to eat pizza with him. Bob felt unimportant to her and neglected. They started to argue more, and deep down, they felt the root cause was the pizza issue.
Sarah stopped knowing if she was hungry for pizza or not, because of the tension between them. She felt that he was always in the background hoping she would want some pizza which put her off it even more. It was as if everything he did revolved around different ways of trying to entice her to eat pizza with him. She never had enough time or space between eating pizza or arguing about pizza, to actually work up an appetite for it.
Now she felt completely put off by pizza because she associated it with the difficulties between them.
They had to change their views about pizza altogether.
Bob knew that getting angry with Sarah wasn’t helping her want pizza more, but just drove her further away. Sarah knew that Bob had always believed that sharing pizza was the most important thing to him. Sarah wanted to eat other foods to express her love, and Bob feared that substitutes wouldn’t meet his need for pizza.
What do you think Bob and Sarah needed to do to rebuild their relationship without pizza being an issue?
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About Ruth Murtagh
Ruth Murtagh is a Relate - trained relationship counsellor based in the Leeds area. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.