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jennifer loviglio
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I Lived with a Sexsomniac

In the beginning, we did it all the time. Two or three times a day and a couple of times at night, the way anyone in their twenties would. It didn't take long and it never seemed to interrupt life the way sex does when you're older and have a family and the simple act of getting naked at the same time in the same room as your partner seems like a gift and being able to stay awake long enough to actually do it seems like a small miracle.

But Corrado and I did not have that problem. We had jobs back then, and cars that were always breaking down, and other things that happen when you're young and broke. When I think of that summer and fall, however, all I recall is a blur of day sex and night sex and bed sex and floor sex and kitchen sex and shower sex and even -- though I might be getting him confused with another lover -- outdoor sex.

Then we moved in together and shared responsibilities and friends and chopsticks and toothbrushes. The sex slowed, as it does. First to once or twice a day and once at night. And then, as the weeks turned into months, sex only happened late at night after we'd fallen asleep.

When sex was the air we breathed, the food we ate, and the beer we drank, being awakened in the middle of a deep slumber for sex seemed normal, part of the rhythm of our lives. But when it happened again and again after days of little or no physical intimacy, it started to feel lonely. He never spoke. Sometimes he was careless and hurt me. I grew to dread the nights. Sometimes I resisted but he'd push and grab me.

Corrado had sexsomnia, but I didn't know it then. Also called sexsleep, it's a form of sleepwalking that causes people to engage in sexual behavior while they are sleeping. Some sexsomniacs are rough while initiating sex, others masturbate compulsively. Though sexsomnia was identified in 2001, I just learned about it last week from Newsweek.

Back then, of course, I blamed myself. I had sworn off artists, but that hadn't stopped me from getting involved with Corrado. He preferred to spend all his free time, time which had previously been our sex time, in his studio. It doesn't matter what he did -- paint, make music, write -- because the same demons that haunted his creative mind haunt all artists (as well as most of my previous boyfriends). And it seemed to me that it was those same demons that woke and haunted me in the dark, rough seas of our night bed.

No amount of cajoling or seduction could bring back our daytime sex, our wild sex, our standing-in-front-of-the-mirror sex. Like many sexsomniacs, he had no idea what I was talking about when I'd tell him, in the morning, what had happened the night before. I stopped bringing it up.

It took me much too long to realize it was over, that the late-night intimacy we had was no intimacy at all. He moved to another city to pursue his dreams. I finally got to sleep through the night and have mine.