Q: My partner and I have been married for five years. We had a wonderful honeymoon phase for a couple of years during which we couldn’t keep our hands off each other and every moment together seemed like a blessing. Then, somewhere down the line it started to change. We both started working all the time and when we did have sex, it felt forced and rushed. It wasn’t spontaneous or sexy anymore. I know he still masturbates (and I do too), but he never makes any move to initiate sex. I told him that I am sick of making the first move and he just got upset. Is our relationship over? I’m only 31!
A: Your relationship sounds like it has followed a path that many couples have been down. When we first start dating someone, the sparks fly and every day feels like a new discovery. The sex is wild and uninhibited. But the longer you are together, the more tame and routine sex can become. You know each other’s bodies and minds, and you know how to please each other in the quickest, simplest way. As a result, you tend to have sex in a very utilitarian fashion, just doing what “works” instead of what feels amazing or what gets your heart beating a million times a minute.
Although common, this is a dangerous pattern to fall into. Over time, you will begin to become bored and perhaps even quietly resent your partner. He isn’t giving you what you need and you hold it against him, whether you say something in the moment or snap at him over breakfast the next day. Or, in the worst case scenario, you might feel yourself tempted to look at other men and flirt with them as a way to get attention and light those sexual sparks. Talk about risky.
The good news is that you can turn it all around. As long as both partners are willing, there is no sex life or relationship that is doomed. With a little work, you might even find that your sexual connection becomes better than ever! That being said, you might address your feelings with your partner in an open and non-accusatory way. It sounds to me like you might have approached in anger, which put him on the defensive and caused him to shut down. Instead of having an intimate and real conversation about your mutual sexual needs and desires, you both ended up getting hurt and walked away feeling worse about your relationship.
Come back to discuss the situation with a clear head. Say something like, “I’m sorry I lashed out at you earlier. It’s just that I want to be close with you and have the connection we used to have. Sometimes I think you aren’t attracted to me anymore and it makes me feel sad and scared.” You will likely hear that he has been thinking many of the same things, and together you can make a plan to recommit to your sex life. Conversations like these are a must in long-term relationships, and it this type of communication that will safeguard your bond (and your sexual pleasure).