Tanked Desire: Does No Sex = The End of My Relationship?

Content Notes for sex, juvenile humor, and medical issues.

Question: Other than a recent, brief and dissatisfying encounter, my SO and I haven’t had sex in a very long time. At the beginning of our relationship, we were very sexually active but my desire over the course of the last few years has completely tanked. I still very much love and am attracted to my SO, but I worry about our future. How do I regain my mojo and how do I know if this is a sign that our relationship is reaching the end?

Signed,

Worried About The End

Dear WATE,

Oh, man. I wish I had a magic pill for you to take, or a guaranteed to work recipe. This is tough, and I am sorry.

First, are there any physiological or psychological reasons for the decline in libido, like perimenopause, actual menopause, or even depression or other illnesses? You might want to investigate the side effects of medication you are on. Many common anti-depressants, for example, can cause a decrease in libido.

Second, are there environmental reasons? Did a new little person join your family in the last few years? Are you super-stressed out because of work or school or money? These things can all change our sex lives, sometimes dramatically.

And sometimes, we’re just in a rut or we just don’t want to have sex. Or,  we don’t want to have sex with the person we’re with. All of these things are okay, you are okay, and it’s normal. As far as I know, this is the least freaky thing about you. Probably.

If you’re in a rut, I suggest starting with a conversation with your SO. Does ze feel like something is amiss right now? What are the other ways the two of you find intimacy with one another? Can you identify what barriers you see or feel?

Sex is just one of the many possible ways to express and experience intimacy with a significant other, and we are all different.  Try exploring some other avenues to intimacy. What you may find is that a lack of intimacy is why the sexy times have been hard to come by. Heh. Sorry.

birds2For real, though, look for opportunities to be intimate every day. Cuddle before bed. Have dinner by candlelight, share and listen. Give each other back rubs. Play a board game. Hold hands while driving or walking around. Run errands together. Ask “getting to know you questions”, even if you think you know everything about each other.

Many of us have these romantic visions of what our sex lives are supposed to be like: spontaneous, plentiful, void of drama or misunderstandings, and perfectly matched in libido to our partner(s). That just ain’t reality, especially for the long haul. I say this as preamble to my next suggestion: plan it.

Plan a date, full of whatever is romantic for both of you, as elaborate as you want or can afford, and that you both agree to. Of course, the date may come and one or both of you is not into having sexy times, and that’s okay. But still have some romance, and keep trying. It might not be super-organic, this jump starting process. That might not feel good. Then again, maybe scheduled sexy times is just what you both want most of all! Just always keep it consensual, knowing that either one of you can change your mind or the calendar any time.

If you are really concerned that this might be the end of your relationship, what else is going on to make you feel that way? It’s quite possible to love and be attracted to someone and not want to share your life with them, or even have sex with them. A partner is so much more than an attractive person to have sex with, a partner is a complement to our lives, a companion, sometimes a co-parent, and a lover (by which I mean a person with whom one has intimacy which may or may not include sexy times in the traditional sense). A relationship is over when it is deficient in multiple areas and the efforts earnestly put toward repair don’t work.

Cardinal Rule: Prioritize intimacy over sex, and be sincere in your efforts. If  the end is nigh, you probably already know. Be gentle with yourself.

Good luck, my friend.

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