As we grow, our sexual selves often shift. One year you’re perfecting the art of japanese bondage and the next you realize you’d happily trade sex for pajamas, fresh popcorn and Netflix instant. So at some point in nearly every long term relationship, whether you’re going on 2 years or twenty, your sex life is bound to take a bit of a tumble.
I’ve written before about sex as a symptom for a larger issue in a relationship. For instance, if there is a breach of trust or a lapse in communication, your sex can stall out. In these cases, addressing the core issue can likely steam things up again.
However, sometimes sex dwindles when seemingly nothing is wrong; you’re still affectionate, loving, and close, and yet the desire to put your bits and pieces together is null. Cuddling is still appealing, as is throwing on your jammies and binge watching the new House of Cards together. But those long, sweaty Sunday mornings in bed have lost appeal, and you don’t seem to miss them.
First, it’s important to note that this is normal, and no cause for panic. It doesn’t mean the death of your relationship. The frequency of sex in a long-term relationship will change dozens of time over the relationship’s life. However, if remedying the situation is something you’re interested in, there are several culprits to consider. The first is:
Boredom. And I don’t just mean with your sex life, although that could be a factor, too. You’ve developed a routine, it’s comfortable, but it might not exactly be exciting. There are many ways to remedy this.
- Get outside your comfort zone. Sure, sexually. (There’s a reason many amp up the kink as we get older). But get outside your comfort zone in other areas of your relationship, too. Do something exciting and new together, go on vacation, take up a new hobby, whatever. Shaking things up will rekindle those excited feelings you had when you first got together and sex was every date night’s top priority.
- Liven things up on your own. I don’t mean have a little solo sex sesh—although that’s fun, too. I mean get outside your comfort zone on your own in order to bring some of that excitement back into the relationship. Often we forget that our relationships are made of two individual people, two halves, and if one is feeling stalled, it can trickle into the coupleship. Also, for those who live together and are used to each other’s day-to-day routines, going out solo and doing something new will give you more to talk about when you return, which can foster a new interest in the color of each other’s underwear.
Hormone changes. It’s important to remember that our hormones, and consequently, our sex drives, ebb and flow as we grow and age and change. A dip in your libido is natural and will likely boomerang. It’s also important to remember that everyone craves a different amount of sexual intimacy. For some, once a week meets the quota, while others may need it 3-5 times a week to feel satisfied. As we grow and change, what we want and need will change, so check in with your partner regarding an imbalance.
You’re just busy, dammit. You have new a taxing new job, or a new baby, or a newfound passion for vlogging. Whatever the reason, your schedule has changed and the entushiasm that used to go toward sex has been re-appropriated. If this is the case, and desire is still lurking somewhere, try and make time for it, or at least tell your partner what’s up. Regardless of why you’re facing a sex drought, it’s important that you talk to your partner about it so communication remains open and fluent and there’s no build up of resentment or hurt feelings.
Avoid blame. A lack in one partner’s desire can press the panic button real fast, but even more so if the disinterested partner is male. Unfortunately, society has also trained us to picture men as uncontrollable creatures who want sex all the time, but this is untrue. Men have complex emotions and bodies just like women, with hormones and desires that ebb and flow. So if your man isn’t interested, don’t take it personally. It’s him, not you. And men, if you’re dick is taking a few personal days or weeks or months, no need to panic. Focus your energy elsewhere and it will be back up in no time. And if a man in a hetero relationship is becoming disinterested, women often take this extremely hard, as we’ve basically been falsely told that we should be able to get sex whenever we want. When our partner doesn’t desire us, it can hit our self esteem real hard. So check in with each other, and try not to harbor any resentment or take it too personally. A bundle of blame is only going to make matters worse.
Overall, I find it important to remember that a sex drought is likely to occur at some point in long term relationships, and this is okay. Don’t panic, don’t feel guilty, and don’t binge eat your feelings. You’ll likely be back to your sex-loving self in no time.