Sex & Vice » The Sexorcist

The Madonna/Whore Complex is bad juju for your marriage



Dear Sexorcist,

I am a 29-year-old male, who married the love of my life last year. I love my wife, but I don’t desire her sexually like I think I should and my sex drive is virtually nonexistent. We have sex two or three times a month. My past was full of one-night stands, never having sex more than a few times with each person (30 partners total). This is insane — I can’t get hard for the woman I love! What’s wrong with me and how do I get around it?

— Don’t Understand

Dear Don’t:

You know that number you can’t call block, the one that comes in at all hours? It’s the call center for the Madonna/Whore Complex. As a valued member, they’re offering you a disorder upgrade.

Men who suffer with the Madonna/Whore Complex separate women into two camps: The pious and pure convent huggers you take home to mom or the dirty whores at the celebrity gangbangs you take home to Gloria Allred. (Which reminds me, Gloria, do you spell “publicity whore” with one whore or two?)

Freud theorized that men with cold, distant mothers seek out women with their mother’s qualities so they could re-enact the intimacy they never got. Soon, they start seeing their wives as their mothers — a Madonna figure — somebody too pure and nurturing to cheapen with the stain of sex. Men with the Madonna/Whore Complex subconsciously see sex with their wives as a form of incest.

For the record, Freud named the Madonna/Whore Complex after the woman who gave birth to Jesus, not the one who perfected bitchiness.

The complex puts you in an agonizing conundrum. You subconsciously think of women in one of two ways: “I can’t fuck you because I love you” or “I can’t love you because you’re such a good fuck.”

This brand of insanity is caused by growing up in a religious, conservative culture that sees sex as dirty, wrong or something to be ashamed of. Which it is, but only when you go home with a creature that’d scare the fur off your dog.

What’s really surprising is that we don’t have more men thinking like this. Almost everything around us enforces the idea that there’s something wrong with sex. Abstinence? Sex must be immoral if you go to those lengths to stay away from it. Sex in TV and movies? Almost always motivated by lust, not love.

If you want to see two great examples of the Madonna/Whore’s home-to-mom or home-to-clinic dichotomy, look no further than Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Both married wholesome, sweetheart types, but had sex with walking Petri dishes.

But the classic example of a celebrity with the complex? Elvis Presley. He had a young, virginal wife, a devotion to his mother and a parade of half-hookers going in and out of his life.

There’s no quick way out of your predicament. You need therapy, which a friend describes as psychoanalysis during analingus (“But how does my tongue make you feel?”).

Basically, you have to dig deep into your feelings about women, bring them to the surface and deal with them. Mainly, you have to quit thinking of love and sex as an either/or proposition and women as deserving one or the other, but not both.

You haven’t accepted the fact that women are multidimensional. Just as decent, nurturing, wholesome women can give Category 5 blowjobs, so can meat-starved nymphos be nurturing, caring and responsible. You’re operating under a false construct that’s going to ruin your marriage.

It’s just a matter of time before you start cheating on your wife with acceptable “whores” and she becomes, understandably, bitter that you won’t give her the intimacy she needs. You’ll become jealous, fearing that your adored wife is about to go from Madonna, the mother of Jesus, to Madonna, the woman who knows three languages and can’t say NO in any of them. Save your marriage and click here to find a roster of sex therapists in Atlanta.

Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? E-mail him at Midtown resident Mike Alvear hosts HBO’s “The Sex Inspectors,” blogs at and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie.

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