“Men cheat because they have a higher sex drive.”

“Sometimes women just have to roll over and take it when their man wants some.”

We’ve all heard some version of this story and advice concerning relationships, but what happens when a woman isn’t satisfied sexually in a relationship? If all else is going well, we’re expected to grin and bear it. Unfortunately, by grinning and bearing it to spare feelings, I began to lose sight of who I was and what I desired, a compromise that too many women are expected to make for the sake of keeping a partner. 

In my four-year relationship with my ex, we were intimate regularly for two of them. Things came to a screeching halt when we ended up going roughly 10 consecutive months without sex. What I found was that when sex isn’t on the table, it gives you plenty of time to think, for better or worse. In that time, it helped me evaluate what sex meant to me: a manifestation of human love and the desire for touch. Going too long without that as a person in love made me feel like nothing more than a glorified roommate. Thus, I broke it off, only for friends and family to call me brave. 

Such a label isn’t my preferred word for how I handled things. Instead, I just knew that I deserved better, not only from my relationship, but in the bedroom. Here’s everything that I learned in my time of unplanned abstinence.

Taylyn Washington-Harmon is a writer and editor based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, Health Magazine, and SELF.com. @taylynharmon

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