When the honeymoon is over

Picture this. You’re in a long-term relationship. Your partner leans over to you in bed and presses their body against yours. You love them deeply, no doubt about it - you want to spend your life with them, but as they run their hands over you, you recoil. You would rather do laundry than have sex with them right now. The unthinkable has happened; sex has become a chore. 

If this sounds a little too familiar, it might be because it is extremely common. Unfortunately, a lot of people still feel alone in going through scenarios similar to the above, which can perpetuate a “what is wrong with me?” mentality. Not feeling like having sex tends to spiral rapidly into feelings of shame and inadequacy, which can snowball into other relational issues. So what do you do if you’re not ‘feeling it’ in your relationship? 

First of all, know that there is nothing wrong with you. 

It is extremely common for sexual appetites to fluctuate and shift over time. Acknowledge openly that it is a natural occurrence and whatever you do, do not beat yourself up about it. Consider having an open conversation with your partner, naming what you’re experiencing and speaking gently and honestly about it. Healthy communication in itself is sexy, and you might find your partner’s understanding and support to be the reassurance you need to feel more connected to them. 

It’s also important to acknowledge that while there’s nothing wrong with having a low libido, there can be some external factors that influence it. Stress, illness, body confidence, age, grief, performance anxiety - there are limitless variables that affect our relationship with sex, and it could be helpful to identify them. 

If you don’t feel resourced enough to talk to your partner one-on-one, a therapist can be a great third party to help guide you both in the right direction. Many therapists are specialised in areas of sexual wellness and intimacy, just have a quick research to find the right one for you. If finding the root issue wasn’t right for you, there are a number of exercises a therapist may suggest if you both wish to increase how much sex you’re having. Naturally it depends on each couple’s specific needs, but one such exercise is ‘banning’ sex for a mutually agreed on period of time. Counter-intuitive at first, perhaps, but some couples find that once sex is off the table, they are able to enjoy each other in an entirely different way that is less pressurised, and more about fun, flirting and connecting in an emotional, rather than sexual way. 

Feeling your partner’s touch, embrace, kiss, etc. and knowing that it is an act of pure affection (and not sexually motivated) can help bring you closer, even deepen your connection.

The irony of this, of course is that emotional connection oftentimes begets sexual connection, and some couples find themselves lusting after each other as a result. 

If boredom is the enemy, you could also talk to your partner about spicing things up from time to time. Role-playing, using toys, mutual masturbation, introducing a third party… there are always new and exciting ways to have sex and deviate from the monotonous. 

Beyond all else, good sex comes from good connection, mutual understanding, trust and communication. There are so many things to try before waving your white flag, and if you have a strong foundation built on mutual respect, you have every chance of fulfilling each others sexual needs - whatever they may be.

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