My boyfriend wants sex every day. I want it once a month. It didn’t use to be that way. When we were first dating we were like two rabbits in a wool sock; couldn’t get enough of each other.
My boyfriend wants sex every day. I want it once a month. It didn’t use to be that way. When we were first dating we were like two rabbits in a wool sock; couldn’t get enough of each other. Five years later we’re still deeply in love but our sex life seems to have gone AWOL. Here’s the usual scenario: He initiates sex and I say “No, Fill in Excuse Here.” He feels rejected and abandoned. I feel harassed and anxious. He thinks my lack of sexual desire is proof that I’ve fallen out of love and that I’ll eventually leave him. Ironically, I think he’s going to leave ME because he’s going to wander and get what he can’t get at home. We’re both in love. Except for sex, our relationship is great. How do we get past this?
— Sexless in Seattle
You two are suffering from the most common problem afflicting long-term couples: Lack of three-ways. Oh, wait, that’s my problem. Yours is “Desire Discrepancy.” Meaning, one of you wants it more than Glee wants its audience back while the other one wants it like a porcupine wants another needle.
First, recognize you’re not alone. Desire Discrepancy is one of the most common sources of conflict in relationships. Here’s how you handle the “He’s hot and I’m not” issue:
The ‘Low Desire’ Person (You)
Rule out physiological causes. Low testosterone levels, excessive drinking and chronic illness can zap your libido. So can side effects from medicine (anti-depressants are notorious for making the k drop out of your nob). Get thee to a doctor.
Take responsibility for your own arousal. Get yourself in the mood. How? You tell me. Better yet, tell him. What turns you on—porn? Having your ears kissed? A romantic dinner? A fat wallet? Whatever it is, communicate it and act on it.
Don’t wait for a tidal wave when a ripple will do. ‘Low Desire’ guys are always waiting for the perfect wave before they ride their partners in. Stop looking for tidal waves and pay attention to ripples. The slightest twinge of sexual desire should be followed up. Low Desires don’t operate on a “schwing” mentality—you know, you see or feel something and suddenly you’ve got a tent in your jeans. Most Low Desires feel a ripple of something and let it die. Don’t. Amplify it! Did the scent of his cologne make you look up from your book? Don’t keep reading; follow the scent.
The ‘High Desire’ Partner
Go to time out. Stop asking for or initiating sex for the next couple of months. You’re not getting the right answer anyway so why ask the question? Besides, you’re just forcing him into “duty sex.” You know, where you let somebody get on your behind just to get them off your back. Don’t you want him to want you the way you want him? Then give him the space to do it. Create an opportunity for him to miss you, a space for him to step into.
Get to know the front of your hand like the back of your hand. Beat off more. Take the edge off yourself; just be sure to do it when he’s not home, otherwise you’ll just make him feel pressured and guilty.
Get better at turning him on. High Desires need to be more skillful at turning their Low Desired partners on. If he likes oral pleasure then learn how to give the kind people write about on Christmas cards.
The thing to remember is that none of this works if only one of you is working it. You’ll greatly improve your odds of success if you see yourselves as a “sexual team” figuring out how to best play the sport rather than competitors trying to attack a problem.