Wildflowers

Perfect Buds

The If-Busters

Late Bloomers

Early Bloomers

Living-Togethers

Sexual Explorers

Sexually Dissatisfied Wives

Overcoming Rejection

Why Sacrifice Pleasure?

A Way of Classifying Sexual Identity

How Pleasure-Claimers Get Better Orgasms

Some Observations from the Survey

Living-Togethers

"When we first moved in together, we had sex all the time. Now, it's not such a big deal anymore."

-a twenty-six-year-old cohabitant

            Twenty years ago, living together was daring, but it isn't anymore. Living with a man to whom you are not married isn't likely to get you banned from the family reunion, though it may put you just outside the comfortable fellowship of married couples and church, and may not please your mother. Surprisingly, the arrangement also may not guarantee that your sexual needs will be met.

            According to several studies conducted in the late Eighties, women in living-together arrangements were more likely both to be the victims of domestic violence and to have the kinds of sex they didn't want than were either single or married women. Some experts blame the violence on isolation, explaining that these couples are to some degree distanced from social controls of family and church because their relationships aren't sanctioned by either church or state. Other experts cite the woman's precarious standing, both economic and otherwise, within the relationship as the source of the power disparity at the heart of such behavior. Women often live with men who earn more money and want marriage less than they do. Some women aggravate this power imbalance by holding on to the belief that a relationship can be "controlled" through sex, rather than being equalized through financial parity. If she gives him what he wants sexually, she reasons, he'll give her what she needs outside the bedroom.

            Many women do live with men in joyously egalitarian arrangements. They choose to live together for reasons mainly of pleasure. Obviously they aren't pleasure deniers, the subject of this section of the book. Therefore, the women discussed here, who are pleasure deniers, shouldn't be considered representative of all the survey respondents who live with men.

            'I've been living with Kevin for two hears now," writes a twenty-eight-year-old Chicago professional. The themes of sex exploitation and abuse in her shocking story were echoed in several other women's stories. "From the start, I've guessed he cheated on me, but have no proof. He doesn't try as hard at sex as he did when we were dating. The sex isn't less frequent, but it feels less valuable. He doesn't have to phone or make plans. I'm just there.

            "Sometimes things get really bad between us. A few weeks ago we went to a party where he had too much to drink. They were showing porno movies in this one room. He insisted on having sex there were other people could see what we were doing. I didn't want to do it. He didn't seem to care about my feelings. I didn't say no, but I was hoping he'd get the hint when I wasn't enthusiastic. I cried all the way through it.

            "He didn't get the hint."

            But, why didn't she just say no? She wanted him to do it for her. Though he obviously wasn't respectful of the her feelings at all, she kept silently hoping he would suddenly recognize and respect her needs-and take care of her, not himself.

            According to several women in similar situation, the option to say no either doesn't exist or has to be used to be used with discretion. It's useless to argue about whether or not that's true. Many of you reading this would take issue with that statement, but if the women in the sexual relationships believe this to be true, then it becomes true as they hand over their power to their men. They fear that if they exercise their option to say no they might have to make new living arrangements, and many of them are both financially and emotionally trapped.

Who Is She?

Living-together represent 14.4 percent of the total survey group. Women in their twenties make up 67.2 percent and women in their thirties 30 percent. The remaining less than 3 percent are women in their forties. The criteria for defining them is obvious and simple:

  • They are living with men to whom they are not married like as independent woman and with whom they are sexually involved.

            Slightly more than half do want to marry their lovers. Another 20 percent are ambivalent. The remainder, mostly women older than thirty, do not want to marry the men with whom they live. That the living-together women I surveyed may be somewhat less inclined to marry than other cohabiting women interviewed in other studies-where as many as three-fourths typically want marriage-might be explained by two factors: A disproportionate number of my group live in big cities where the pressure to marry may be less intense while the need to find a roommate to share expenses is greater than in other parts of the country. Furthermore, more than 30 percent of my group are over thirty, older than the typical collegiate study participants, and are often divorced. Perhaps the older, divorced woman is less inclined toward marriage than her younger never-wed sister.

Why Women Live with Men?

According to several studies conducted on couples in their twenties, men live together for sex, while women live together for commitment, hoping the arrangement will lead to marriage though the odds are against it. A 1985 Columbia University study found that only 19 percent of cohabiting men marry their partners. And a 1988 study commissioned by The National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, concluded that cohabiting couples who do marry have an 80 percent higher chance of divorcing than couples who haven't lived together before marriage. (Perhaps, the authors of the study suggested, they are less committed to the concept of marriage.)

            But, the living-together women in my observe by survey cited "financial necessity" and "logistic convenience" as often as love or the hope for marriage as motives for their living arrangements. Women over thirty-five particularly say they simply got tired of carrying changes of underwear and make-up bags in their briefcases. They moved in with him because it was easier than dividing their time between his place and theirs.

            "I got tired of schlepping my stuff across town every night and morning," writes a thirty-seven-year-old mortgage banker. "It was exhausting, and I was almost always the one who schlepped. He had a zillion excuses. But, the bottom line was: His apartment was better than mine."

            A twenty-three-year-old writes: "I can't afford to live alone, not even in a closet. I was sharing an apartment with two women and one man, who was a boyfriend to one of the women. It was too much. No privacy. I wanted to read paperback mysteries in a bubble bath with no one banging on the door-not to have to listen to hot sex in the next room."

            Most of these women make less money than their men-which, many are savvy enough to realize, is the underlying basis for the inequality in their relationships, and inequality that extends to sex.

Next >>

Sexual Victims

Discarded Women

The Clock Women

Independent Women

Revirginized Women

Monogamous Women

Second-Chance Women

Surviving the Droughts

Wives Who Have Affairs

The Saboteurs of Pleasure

Conclusion: Your Sexual Turning Point?

The Women Who Doesn't "Need" an Orgasm

What Does She Know About Sex that You Don't?