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Question to the Sexpert:
“My girlfriend and I have been dating for over a year and a half. We live together and have a great relationship. The problem is our sex life, which was great early on but has fizzled in the last 10 months. The main problem is her really low sex drive and it has become a major issue in our relationship. We never have sex more than once a week but the dry-spells have been lasting over a month more recently. I didn’t get fat, I didn’t get any worse looking, I didn’t stop treating her well, and I think our relationship in general has gotten a lot stronger over the last 10 months. I know her stress level is high but the low libido has been difficult for me to adapt to. I struggle to talk about this with her because although we DO discuss the lack of intimacy, everytime I bring up the subject, I feel like I put too much pressure on and make the situation even worse. I’ve found myself getting irritable and more on-edge with her because I want to have sex more often so I would do anything to help the situation improve. She’s only 26, Timaree… what the hell should I do?”
Ding ding ding! That’s the sound of you winning…. your very own…. flowchart. Yours is a common problem; probably the most common problem sexperts get from adults. Young people tend to ask a million variations on “will this get me pregnant?” And it’s about time one of the most regularly occurring questions gets its own flowchart.
Here’s the basic rundown. There are a lot of reasons that people have sex (pleasure, money, love, procreation, obligation, pity, stress relief, etc) and just as many reasons why they don’t. You have to play detective and figure out, a la the game of Clue, what is up with your partner and why she won’t get dirty as often as you like. Now I must be upfront with a few caveats:
- Desire discrepancies between partners are extremely common and may never really be ‘fixed.’ Some people simply want sex more than others. Compromise may be the goal.
- Desire and frequency of sexual activity goes down with the duration of most relationships. It just does, statistically speaking. People get busy, novelty wanes, children sometimes happen. It’s not always the worst thing; sometimes sexual frequency is replaced with something else, like emotional intimacy or the aforementioned children that happen.
- If the cause of the lack of sex is relationship problems, don’t try to shortcut your way to banging. Fix the problems or they’ll keep coming back to bite you.
Now that’s out of the way… Let’s fix this thing.
Click twice to embiggen.
As you can see, there’s a lot of stuff potentially going on. But several clear themes emerge into a handy SMART acronym.
She’s got needs: If sex for your partner means consenting to brief bouts (or too long of sessions) where you’re the only one getting off, she’s might want it a lot less than you because it doesn’t seem worth it. She has to worry about getting all undressed, birth control (if applicable), potential pain and clean up without the pay off. Sex doesn’t HAVE to have orgasm, but it helps. She at least needs to ENJOY it.
Mix it up. If sex has become a practiced routine without any surprises or elements of mystery, you need to fix that shit ASAP. I don’t care if it’s dirty talk, sex toys, BDSM, role play, quickies in public places, French ticklers, roses on the bed or a romantic dinner. Put some damn effort in and you’ll get plenty back.
Ask a Pro. Maybe it’s a medical problem. She might have a hormone imbalance, some pain you don’t know about, or any number of physical problems that can hurt the libido or deter a person from getting down. And if not, it might be a mental health issue. Depression is a big time desire killer. Talk to a professional, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Relieve the Pressure. Make sure you’re doing plenty of touching, caressing and making out that’s just for its own sake. There ought to be regular affection between you two that doesn’t carry the expectation that you want sex right now. Take the pressure off by showing her love when you’re not horny.
Talk it out. Yes, it might be awkward. Yes, you might find out she’s mad at you for never cleaning up your dishes or for talking to some girl for two seconds five weeks ago in line at the post office. Yes, you might even hear that you’re not particularly good at giving head. But it will be productive to know that. And you can move forward. Sometimes getting a chance to talk or even yell is all a person really needs to feel better. She may have no idea that her anger or sadness about some issue is affecting her desire. Only by keeping those lines of communication really, truly, honestly, fully open can your relationship be sustained.
Good luck to you!