My Partner Never Wants To Make Love. What's wrong?
This is a problem that comes up more than most people think. To hear others speak, it seems everyone is having more sex than you and your partner are. There is a stereotype 'out there', which makes us think that all men are highly sexed and feel that they don’t have enough sex and that all women in marriages or long-term relationships are having more sex than they would like. While this is sometimes the case, there are often differences in sexual desire and needs and this can lead to problems between couples.
Many people consult me online and face-to-face with worries about the frequency of sex within their relationship. This includes both men and women. Sometimes it is a man who feels that his partner is not sexually responsive enough and sometimes it is a woman. Many women are surprised to hear that there are other women who have the same problem as they do and feel relieved that they are not in a minority in wanting more frequent sex than they are having.
What I would like to do in this eBooklet, is to talk a little bit about what is 'normal' in terms of sexual frequency and also demonstrate that there are times in relationships when sex naturally takes a back seat, just as there are times when it is more important than anything! This is to help you tell the difference between a 'normal' decrease in sexual feelings and one which is symptomatic of a problem which needs to be addressed. Sometimes one just needs to know that the problem one is having is part of a normal stage in the relationship and that it will pass, while at other times it is important to do something about it.
So what is 'normal'? The answer is very simple. There is no norm as far as frequency of sex is concerned. Some people regularly have sex a few times every day, while others may make love every few years! The truth is, so long as it feels comfortable for both people in the relationship, then it is quite 'normal' and nothing to worry about - as long as you feel happy with each other and the relationship is meeting most of your needs.
It is also true that a couple's need for and desire for sex will wax and wane throughout the relationship. It is common for people to make love relatively often at the start of a relationship when things are still very new and exciting! It is just as common for sex to decrease in frequency as the years pass, with periods of 'drought' and periods of plenty.
Once again, every individual and every couple must be seen as unique in this regard and there is no yardstick by which to measure sexual behavior. For example, while some women do not feel like making love during pregnancy and after having a baby, others are very aroused by the whole process and can have the best sex ever during this time of their lives. At opposite extremes, I have known a couple who made passionate love when the woman had just gone into labor - as well as a couple who did not make love even once throughout pregnancy and until their baby was over a year old. In both cases the issue did not cause a problem and was accepted as 'normal' within the relationship - which, of course it was! One of the reasons that I stress this is to prevent people from judging themselves by the perceived standards of others and rather to look at what is 'normal' and acceptable for them.
Having said this, there are times when there is a difference in sex drive between the individuals in a couple. This may be evident right from the beginning, with one person needing sex much more than the other. This can cause problems, but it need not do so if it is managed correctly and if both individuals are mindful of the needs and feelings of their partner and do not interpret the differences between them as rejection. If you find that this has been a problem right from the start of your relationship and it is causing difficulties in the relationship, it is a good idea to have professional help and advice which is especially tailored for you as a couple, and as an individual.
What happens, however, when a partner who has previously enjoyed making love quite often suddenly seems to 'go off' sex or to want it much less often than he or she used to? As I said before, this happens as often to men as it does to women and can leave individuals feeling rejected and even suspicious that their partner is having an affair. This, understandably, can lead to many other problems in a relationship and may even lead to the breakdown of the relationship if it is not handled correctly.
It is important to uncover the reason for the sudden decline in a person's sex drive, in order to prevent misunderstandings and also to allow people to make wise decisions about the problem. Is this just a temporary thing due to stress, family problems, or hormonal changes or is it a symptom of something else which needs attention?
Obviously the first and best thing to do is to speak to one's partner about the problem. Many of my clients tell me that they have tried this and that it 'didn't work'. It is true that it is a sensitive topic and that many people become defensive and avoid talking about it - often becoming angry and denying that there is anything 'wrong'. This can be very frustrating and upsetting. Often I discover that the subject is broached at the wrong time and in the wrong manner and that, with help, ways can be found to facilitate the discussion so that it is less threatening and more productive.
It is very common that people want to talk about their feelings when those feelings are most intense. When a sexual problem is the issue, people often choose to talk when they have just tried to initiate sex and have been turned down for what feels like the hundredth time. This is not a good time to have a reasonable conversation and usually leads to anger, defensiveness and tears! If you have noticed a pattern in your sexual relationship and this is worrying you, rather choose a time to talk when sex is not an issue. Don't talk about it in bed. Choose a time when you both feel relaxed and friendly with each other and tell your partner that there is something on your mind that you want to share. Ask him or her to listen without interrupting to help you to speak about something that is difficult for you and say that you will allow a chance for response when you are finished. Then speak about your feelings without accusing or placing blame. Say "I feel rejected and unloved because we seem to be making love so seldom these days. I am not sure what is happening. Can we talk about it?" Don't say "You never want to have sex with me - you must be having an affair." If you talk about your feelings, rather than pointing fingers at your partner, this will have a much better chance of allowing your partner to speak freely than if you broach the subject in a way that puts him or her into a corner.
As I said, to find an answer to the question of whether or not there is something 'wrong', the first person to speak to is your partner. This has the greatest chance of finding a solution to your problems because once the real issues are uncovered, action can be taken to address them.
But, what could be some of the reasons for a person suddenly wanting to make love much less frequently than before? Let us look at a few of the more common reasons that arise in therapy to give you an idea of the variety of underlying causes that may be operating.
Yes, sometimes this is the problem underlying a decrease in sexual activity within a relationship and it is very often the conclusion that is drawn by people who feel rejected and insecure. It is important not to jump to this conclusion without definite proof as there may be many other reasons. Some people become suspicious and begin to check up on their partners by following them, checking pockets, cell phones, emails, etc and this is a very bad idea. It can cause great stress and damage and very rarely benefits anyone. If your partner is trying to hide something from you deliberately, it is likely that he or she will deny everything or explain it away even in the face of evidence, leaving you questioning your sanity and feeling even more insecure and threatened. It is a much better idea to look closely at your relationship and your partner's behavior towards you and to address that - rather than to try and uncover evidence that an affair is taking place.
Sometimes illness can cause a decrease in sex drive. This may be something temporary like an underlying infection or virus, or it may be something more chronic like diabetes or hypertension. If your partner acknowledges that his or her sex drive has decreased a lot but does not know why, it would be a good idea to consult your doctor for a check up to rule out any possible underlying illness.
3. Stress and Depression
Both stress and depression can lead to loss of libido or sex drive and this is easily treated if the underlying cause is dealt with. Try and increase exercise levels and make more time to relax and have fun. If there are problems causing stress and depression, look at how these can be addressed and changed in order to return to psychological and mental health. Consider using a natural antidepressant which can lift the depression and therefore improve sex drive. See http://allcures.info/cures-depression.htm
Some people are more sensitive to this than others and incorrect lifestyle often has a greater effect on us as we get older and less able to recover as easily! Incorrect diet, insufficient sleep, lack of exercise, alcohol, nicotine and drug abuse and too much TV or time in front of the computer can all cause a decrease in sex drive and they all need to be considered.
5. Prescription medicines
Some prescription medicines can decrease the sex drive and are too many to list here. If you suspect that this is the case, the best person to ask is your doctor or pharmacist, who will be able to advise you of any potential side effects of medicines that have been prescribed.
6. Relationship problems
Sex is like a barometer, which can measure the health of a relationship. Problems between couples can show themselves in the sexual relationship and this is very common. Just as a decrease in sex drive can be a symptom which indicates a problem with one's health, so can it be a symptom which indicates a problem with one's relationship. Anger, resentment, lack of time spent together and insufficient attention paid to each person's needs are among the problems that frequently arise and can affect the sexual relationship. As always, it is better to focus on the relationship than on the lack of sex. When the relationship problems have been addressed, the sexual relationship will also improve. Seek professional help if necessary.
7. Fear of failure and feelings of inadequacy
Some people, especially men, may avoid sex due to fear of failure or feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps there have been occasions where they have been unable to achieve or maintain an erection and they are afraid that it will happen again. It may be more comfortable to pretend not to need sex than to face the problem and have to admit to something which makes them feel embarrassed and inadequate. If this is happening, it is important to encourage your partner to go for help if the problem persists, but it is equally important not to pressurize him about it or to assume responsibility for doing something about it. Encourage and support him and do not imply that he is less of a man. This is a difficult problem which needs to be handled sensitively, but which often responds very well to treatment.
These are just some of the more common causes of a decrease in sexual frequency in couples. There are many more which cannot all be dealt with here. In all cases, however, it is best to talk about the problem in a sensitive and non-threatening way and to try and understand and solve it together as a couple. If you find that your partner refuses to discuss it with you or continues to deny that there is a problem, then go for help and counseling yourself. Do not just accept problems indefinitely or allow them to wear you down and erode your self-esteem. Sometimes an objective, professional viewpoint is very useful and a therapist may even be able to draw your partner into the process more easily than you can. At the very least, you can receive support and guidance as to how to strengthen and help yourself - even if your partner refuses help.
Good luck and be well!