I had coffee awhile back with a friend who wanted to tell me about a serious problem she was having with the boyfriend she'd been dating for about six months: The man was a sex-crazed maniac. To illustrate her point, she told me about an episode in the recent past when, after a very upsetting day at the office, she and Mr. Maniac were lying down in bed together. She had her nose buried in his neck, and after a moment or two, she started to cry. He hugged her and made pigeon noises. But after a couple of minutes, when she was still crying (albeit less violently), he pecked her face a few times … and then her neck … and then he kept going down. As he started to unbutton her shirt, she had to laugh through the tears. "What are you doing?" she said. "I'm sorry, but NOT RIGHT NOW."
He replied with understanding and respect, but he also didn't entirely understand why she was so surprised — not to say annoyed — by his less-than-ideally-timed attempt at seduction. After all, as he explained, seeing someone he cares so deeply about in such a state of vulnerability aroused deep feelings of tenderness.
Sex and tears are rarely a desirable combination, for me. While I'm aware of the phenomenon of "break-up sex," it's not really my thing. If I'm very sad about something, it is nice to have a warm body near me, but I'd rather have it lying comfortingly beside me — fully clothed — rather than jack-hammering me. When my brain is overwhelmed with sadness, having sex produces cognitive dissonance — I'm distracted, and I just don't enjoy it.
But what do you guys think? Are tears are turn-on? Or a libido-killer? And should I be more open to having sex during tough times? Is it actually one of the most comforting things a person can do for you, if only you're open to it?