Sexless Relationships

Hi, Annie

My name’s David* I’ve been with my fiancé for 13 years now. We have sex once every two months even though I complain and try to get things started, but she turns everything down! She knows I love her, but I need more. I can’t take how infrequent our sex is. How can I suggest having sex with other people from time to time?

You’re not alone, David. Research shows that 10 to 20 percent of relationships in the U.S. are sexless, and that might even be underestimated, considering how many are too ashamed to admit that they are in fact in a sexless situation. There are several reasons why sex diminishes in long term relationships. People can often find themselves becoming ambivalent towards each other, when lack of intimacy becomes prominent.  It can be awkward for both, and slowly, trust becomes an issue causing detachment and thus puts a strain on the relationship if neither partner communicates with another. When you’re with someone for several years, living together can sometimes make one feel like they are more like roommates rather than partners/lovers, or sex can somewhat become robotic or mechanical and start to feel like a chore rather than something you once enjoyed for some. You become complacent. Other factors could be having children or even relationship neglect due to being busy with work all the time. 13 years is a very long time, so if this was a slow decline in sex as years have gone by rather than quickly at the beginning of the relationship, here are some things to consider and how to fix it.

How are things between the two of you currently? Sex aside, are you both loving and happy with each other, or is there a lot of friction? Do you fight often? Relationship tension will naturally put a halt in anyone’s sex drive. If things are great between the two of you, but she declines your sexual advances, you should get to the bottom of it by communicating with her. It could be that she’s stressed elsewhere (friend drama, family or work issues you may not even know about it), and that anxiety is another libido killer. Is she on any anti-depressants? Being depressed and on certain medications can also be an issue. I hate to add this last possible factor in, but it could be that she’s being unfaithful. So, what should you do?

    COMMUNICATION
    I don’t imagine that you want to just throw away 13 years together. However, it’s not fair. The fact that she turns you down constantly and only has sex with you once every two months is just pure torture, and she cannot expect to keep you in a sexless relationship. As hard as it may seem, you must get down to the bottom of it by talking to her even if that means telling her that you cannot be in a relationship, where she keeps turning you down. Sex is important to you, and she needs to know that. Sex in a romantic relationship means so much more than just getting off. It’s a way to connect; it’s a way to show love. She needs to know what you miss about the sexual connection you once had with her. Also, if things do appear to be fine between the two of you, communicate with her and find out if there’s something wrong that you might be unaware of.

    WORK IT OUT
    Perhaps the issue is getting out of the routine funk that happens, when people become complacent. If there are underlying issues in the relationship, go to counseling. If that’s not the problem, schedule a date night but make it a recurring thing. “Every other Friday, we are gonna go on a mini-adventure together.” Sometimes, relationships need a re-spark in that flame that once was, and you might need to make her feel special like you did, when you first started dating. Try something new in the bedroom or do something for her that you’ve never done before. It’s stuff like this that actually does make a difference.

    CONSIDER OTHER OPTIONS
    It’s hard because I can tell that you don’t want to leave her, so in response to your question regarding having sex with other people, you should bring it up. “Since you won’t have sex with me, would you consider having an open relationship, where I can have sex with other people?” Again, communicating your need for sex will make her understand. Some long-term relationships have flourished this way, when one partner is no longer sexual but is okay with their partner sleeping with other people (if it just purely sexual and not emotional). You will never know unless you try discussing this with her, and if she is against the idea, perhaps she will come to realize how important it is for her to fulfill those needs otherwise risking you leaving her or worse: Cheat.

    END IT
    I know you love your fiancé, but you cannot sustain a relationship with this pattern – you cannot be expected to stay in a sexless relationship! Sex is one of the most essential facets of a relationship. It brings you closer to your partner not just physically but emotionally as well. Even if someone isn’t your perfect match sexually, there has to be enough compatibility to support a future together. Breaking up will be painful, but would you rather waste years of your life being lonely and unfulfilled?

*Name has been changed