Recently, it was reported that a man in Uttar Pradesh cut off his genitals because his wife refused him sex for more than a decade. Though sexual rejection is rarely spoken about, it is something that affects men adversely. And there is data to prove it.
Last month, it was reported that Sarah Hunter Murray, a relationship therapist with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, had conducted a study to find out how sexual rejection affected men. Murray interviewed men who were in relationships for an average of 14 years.
Her study found out that men who were rejected sex regularly construed this as their “partners not wanting them”. The report said that a separate study –– conducted earlier by Amy Muise, assistant professor of the department of psychology at York University, Canada –– supported Murray’s findings.
However, irrespective of a person’s gender, sex is an important part of a relationship. But, “the way both genders feel about it may differ. For women, sex is a way of expressing their feelings or love,” says Riddhish Maru, consultant psychiatrist, sexologist and counsellor. He added, “Men channel their need for love, intimacy, soothing, care and comfort through sex. So depriving someone of this necessity can surely have its effects.”
So, how can rejecting sex affect men? Says Maru, “Rejection of sex means rejection of the male ego, and when done regularly, this may lead to irritation, frustration and loss of trust, leading to suspiciousness and loss of interest the partner.” Rejection of sex regularly can also lead to men looking for sex outside a relationship.
Rather than blaming their partner for sexual rejection, men should first find out the reasons for it. Dr Ajish Mangot, onvener, membership subcommittee, Indian Psychiatric Society says there could be multiple factors at play here.
He says, “Women often avoid sex when the relationship appears to lack intimacy, when they are stressed or depressed, if they are suffering from medical illnesses and if they have negative past experiences. In young and naive partners, a lack of knowledge about physical intimacy is a very common cause. Problems with male partners such as unacceptable sexual preferences and sexual dysfunction may be responsible for sexual rejection.”
He adds, “Also, frequency of rejection is subjective as couples may not always share identical levels of sexual interest. So what seems like regular rejection to one partner may not be seen as out of ordinary by the other.”
So, even if a man is not looking for extramarital affairs because of regular rejection of sex by his partner, it can affect a marriage adversely.
Effect on women
Sexual rejection affects women as well, and not only men. “Any kind of rejection hurts because the human brain reacts in a way that is very similar to physical pain, which is true for women as well. It could give rise to myriad emotions among women such as guilt, anger, frustration, confusion and fear. Their confidence and self-image could take a severe beating too, like in men.”
But, instead of getting rejected, both men and women can also talk to their partner if they want to get intimate and are ready for sex. Says Mangot, “There are subtle signs that can tell whether your partner is ready for sex. These include not wanting to cuddle, missing the passion, avoiding non sexual physical contact and irritability. If you observe any of these, it may be a good idea to take cognisance and talk it out with your partner at an appropriate time.”
Mangot says that a frank discussion and timely professional help are the keys to making sure that your partner doesn’t reject sex regularly.