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Are long periods of sexual incompatibility survivable?


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Since the pandemic my girlfriend has had really took a hit to her libido that’s only gotten worse and worse as time went on, even though just the week before lockdown was having sex as much as we usually did. We’re a young couple, 22 and 21. 

 

I’m away for Christmas for a few weeks, but when I come back we’ll have not had sex for almost 3 months, and only twice since mid August. 
 

It’s really bothered us and we both really want to get back to normal. She’s been struggling with her motivation to do a lot of things, so getting her to work harder on the relationship has not been easier but we seem to be making small progress. We know this is a problem we need to work on and have been really trying to figure out how best to tackle this, but what’s affecting me more than missing having sex with her is the shame that’s attached to it for me. The idea that we’ve been having this little sex - perhaps the perceived judgmental opinions of others thinking we’re a dead bedroom couple and that I’m weak for allowing a dry spell this long when we’re just trying our best to get through days until life returns to normal. If things don’t get better after life returns to normal we’ll try therapy as a last resort. 

 

How normal is it for things like to happen in relationships? Can dry spells this bad happen and eventually get back to normal? Is this embarrassingly abnormal? Can we get through this? 

Edited by Sinfu
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28 minutes ago, Sinfu said:

 just the week before lockdown was having sex as much as we usually did. We’re a young couple, 22 and 21. 

Sorry this is happening. How long have you been dating? Are you living with parents or roommates or living together?  What changed in August? Lack of intimacy/affection is nothing to be ashamed of.  Have there been arguments or or strife or stresses?

What are her explanations about the lack of intimacy? 

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Sorry about this.

Can I ask how long you've been together? Also curious: How were things going between you two, in realms other than the bedroom, prior to the pandemic? Would you describe your emotional connection as strong and growing, fraught and stagnant, or...?  

First things first, this really isn't something to feel any shame about. Your sex life is your business, not others', and generally speaking it's a business that ebbs and flows for all us humans—in our own skin, in the space we share with others. So try to chill on that mode of thinking, as all it's going to do is add pressure. Relationships thrive when people can stay curious, even curious about tough things like this, rather than judgmental. 

In terms of your questions, I'd say periods like this are pretty normal between couples, but also something to be concerned about. My personal sense is that early in a relationship sex can be something of a pathway toward intimacy and vulnerability, but as a relationship progresses it tends to become something else: a reflection/celebration of a more all-encompassing sense of intimacy and vulnerability. When that is lacking, sex often wanes, fizzles out. Good news is that it can be revived, by getting curious and vulnerable in other ways. 

I'd also try not to think of this as something she needs to "work harder" on, but rather to understand what's going on with her. What's behind that lack of motivation these days? What has she been doing to address it? How does she feel, in her own spirit, day to day? What are her expectations, in terms of intimacy, inside the relationship? Exploring some of that may help you find your way back toward each other between the sheets.    

 

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1 hour ago, Sinfu said:

perhaps the perceived judgmental opinions of others thinking we’re a dead bedroom couple and that I’m weak

WOW, that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. 

What in the world is a "dead bedroom couple," and in what gallery are these people on display? And who are the patrons, lol?

Are you part of a Dead Bedroom Couple Brigade, scrutinizing the sex lives of others, marking people for public humiliation in the Dead Bedroom Couple Museum? 

I doubt it. 

Seriously, who really gives an eff what's going on in other people's bedrooms?

If you have friends who are needling you about this, they are probably working through insecurities themselves. So, try not to concern yourself with the perceived judgmental opinions of others.

Sexuality is as diverse as personality. Some people enjoy more sex, some enjoy less sex. And sex drive fluctuates along with outside factors, like stress. It's just a thing. It has absolutely nothing to do with your value as a human being. 

How long have you been with your girlfriend?

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This isn't a normal year. The stress levels have been extraordinarily high for most people. So because of that, I think you're judging your bedroom issues too harshly.

I don't believe it's your fault, or her fault or your problem as a couple.

I think it's very hard to be romantic with all of the financial worries and health worries and worries of the world in general.

Try to remain close as a couple where you support each other emotionally. Make each other laugh (laugher can do wonders for stress). Take care of one another and try to take the pressure off about sex. 

We're not in a normal time. So give it time and see if it doesn't improve once the pandemic improves.

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Contrary to much of what we are told and see through media, sex is not the essential and all encompassing element of relationships. While it is an enjoyable aspect, there are plenty of couples who do just fine with little or even no sex. Every relationship is different, and every individual has a different sex drive. There is nothing to feel ashamed about. It is also no one's business but your own. Unless you are telling them, how are they suppose to know? If they don't know, they can't judge. And even if they do judge, does there opinion really matter? If you and your partner are happy together, then what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.

Sex is also more then just physical, it is mental and, especially, emotional. If a person is going through something stressful, it is difficult to lose yourself and allow yourself to be "in the mood." Given how stressful the year has been for everyone, it's understandable if she is not feeling it. Doesn't mean something is wrong with the relationship. In fact, trying to force the two of you into romantic situations may just add more pressure and create an even more frustrating situation. Instead, try to relax and simply have fun together. If you want intimacy, learn to appreciate the little moments. Cuddling together while watching a movie, holding hands while taking a walk, talking and laughing over nothing.... anything that brings you closer together and helps you to relax and have fun. If she is struggling with her motivation, she needs your love and support to help her stay calm and focused on moving forward, getting through this rough time. Getting her to be comfortable with herself again should be the priority. Once that happens, in time, the rest will follow.

 

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4 hours ago, bluecastle said:

Sorry about this.

Can I ask how long you've been together? Also curious: How were things going between you two, in realms other than the bedroom, prior to the pandemic? Would you describe your emotional connection as strong and growing, fraught and stagnant, or...?  

First things first, this really isn't something to feel any shame about. Your sex life is your business, not others', and generally speaking it's a business that ebbs and flows for all us humans—in our own skin, in the space we share with others. So try to chill on that mode of thinking, as all it's going to do is add pressure. Relationships thrive when people can stay curious, even curious about tough things like this, rather than judgmental. 

In terms of your questions, I'd say periods like this are pretty normal between couples, but also something to be concerned about. My personal sense is that early in a relationship sex can be something of a pathway toward intimacy and vulnerability, but as a relationship progresses it tends to become something else: a reflection/celebration of a more all-encompassing sense of intimacy and vulnerability. When that is lacking, sex often wanes, fizzles out. Good news is that it can be revived, by getting curious and vulnerable in other ways. 

I'd also try not to think of this as something she needs to "work harder" on, but rather to understand what's going on with her. What's behind that lack of motivation these days? What has she been doing to address it? How does she feel, in her own spirit, day to day? What are her expectations, in terms of intimacy, inside the relationship? Exploring some of that may help you find your way back toward each other between the sheets.    

 

We’ve been dating for over 2 and a half years. The lack of motivation has been hard for us to work. She’s quite confident the pandemic is the culprit for all of this. It’s been hard to address things when we’re not clear what the issue is, but we think the issue for is her is feeling gross all the time by having to work in the house and not being able to get dress well, socialize and feel competent (she wouldn’t want to get all dressed up to be indoors as it’s needlessly less comfortable to be in tight jeans if you’re not going to go anywhere). Day to day, she’s mostly happy, but definitely struggling with motivation and feels really bad about how much I’m struggling with the drought which makes her feel like a bad partner.

 

1 hour ago, boltnrun said:

How would your friends even know how much sex you're having? That is so weird to me, that what your friends think would even be a factor. 

They wouldn’t. It’s kind of irrational, but I feel like if people knew it would sort of “demote” me in a male social hierarchy. It’s really weird. I’m trying to work on it with a therapist.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Sinfu said:

It’s kind of irrational, but I feel like if people knew it would sort of “demote” me in a male social hierarchy.

I think a lot of men feel this way, to be honest. You are definitely not alone. Unfortunately, many men are afraid to talk about it because of the social pressure. 

I like what ShySoul had to say:

2 hours ago, ShySoul said:

Contrary to much of what we are told and see through media, sex is not the essential and all encompassing element of relationships. While it is an enjoyable aspect, there are plenty of couples who do just fine with little or even no sex. Every relationship is different, and every individual has a different sex drive. There is nothing to feel ashamed about.

 

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16 hours ago, Sinfu said:

I still feel some embarrassment from the fact that we’re dealing with this issue as such a young couple, though. 

For whatever it's worth?

Much as cultural stereotypes dictate that it's the young ones and young couples who pinball through the world "issue free" when it comes to matters of libidos, I think it takes most people a bit of time to really come into their own on that front. Can only speak for myself, at 41, but I don't really know anyone who looks back at their early 20s as the high point of their sexual life so much as a clumsy time of discovery, not all of it easy. 

You—you both—are still very much figuring this stuff out, in your own selves, along other selves, so try to cut both of you some slack. It's in that space where sizzle and friskiness thrives, is cultivated, and rediscovered.   

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Yeah, but who are these people? What is their life experience? The average age of a Reddit user is 25. Your asking advice from people with the exact same social and sexual insecurities that you have. Of course they will just echo your fears.

Edited by Jibralta
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2 hours ago, Sinfu said:

I’m way too young to be complicit with this and that I should be drowning in sex at my age and to leave before this becomes permanent

This is an awfully dramatic way of thinking.

It's sex, it's fun, and, yeah, it sometimes gets kinda weird between people, a bit chilly, and so on. That's not me saying that you should be okay with how things are—I certainly wouldn't, not at 21, not at 41—but to just extend some curiosity and compassion, to yourself and to her, when it comes to exploring this. Because all this judgmental, doomsday, frat-boy, base-level stereotyping stuff? It's not going to guide you from the desert back to the volcano, so to speak. 

A story:

When I was just a bit older than you I was in a long relationship with someone I very much cared about, and found devastatingly attractive, when our sex life...stopped existing. In that case, it was me, not her, who was pulling away, not feeling it, and it really sucked. For both of us. We explored that period for a good bit, with a lot of tenderness and good faith, and with as much understanding as we could muster at that time in our lives. While we eventually came to the very sad conclusion that it was time to part ways, I'm as grateful for that period as I am all the rest in the relationship, including its sauciest chapters. There was real love in that patience, and there was learning too, for each of us.

 

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From my experiences, most of the users on the sub sound like older divorcees (who I think probably could be a bit more compassionate, to put it lightly) rather than young frat boys. Would that change your guys’ opinion of the sub?

 

6 hours ago, bluecastle said:

This is an awfully dramatic way of thinking.

It's sex, it's fun, and, yeah, it sometimes gets kinda weird between people, a bit chilly, and so on. That's not me saying that you should be okay with how things are—I certainly wouldn't, not at 21, not at 41—but to just extend some curiosity and compassion, to yourself and to her, when it comes to exploring this. Because all this judgmental, doomsday, frat-boy, base-level stereotyping stuff? It's not going to guide you from the desert back to the volcano, so to speak. 

A story:

When I was just a bit older than you I was in a long relationship with someone I very much cared about, and found devastatingly attractive, when our sex life...stopped existing. In that case, it was me, not her, who was pulling away, not feeling it, and it really sucked. For both of us. We explored that period for a good bit, with a lot of tenderness and good faith, and with as much understanding as we could muster at that time in our lives. While we eventually came to the very sad conclusion that it was time to part ways, I'm as grateful for that period as I am all the rest in the relationship, including its sauciest chapters. There was real love in that patience, and there was learning too, for each of us.

 

 

This is really sweet to hear and a bit reassuring, though I suppose a bit concerning to hear that it didn’t work out for you guys when we’re in the same position. 

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14 hours ago, Sinfu said:

From my experiences, most of the users on the sub sound like older divorcees (who I think probably could be a bit more compassionate, to put it lightly) rather than young frat boys. Would that change your guys’ opinion of the sub?

Not really. If they are actually older, they haven't managed to get past the insecurities that are plaguing you. That's not saying much for them. Most people age out of these fears as they mature... Perhaps their limited thinking on the matter explains why they are all divorced. 

You seem to want to validate this fear that your social status is firmly rooted in the amount/quality of sex that you have. It's just not true, and it doesn't matter how many embittered divorcees and frat boys you find to cast their vote on the matter.

To me, it sounds like your true concern is for the success of your relationship. But for some reason, that concern is all tied up with your sexual self confidence. The two are independent, and I hope you will be able to see that. I have a friend who is 43 and still confused about the matter. His personal life is a mess. He destroyed a marriage of 16 years. Really good looking guy, good career, dating women half his age after the divorce... He broke down crying to my boyfriend in his garage, near suicidal. He's miserable.

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23 hours ago, Jibralta said:

Not really. If they are actually older, they haven't managed to get past the insecurities that are plaguing you. That's not saying much for them. Most people age out of these fears as they mature... Perhaps their limited thinking on the matter explains why they are all divorced. 

You seem to want to validate this fear that your social status is firmly rooted in the amount/quality of sex that you have. It's just not true, and it doesn't matter how many embittered divorcees and frat boys you find to cast their vote on the matter.

To me, it sounds like your true concern is for the success of your relationship. But for some reason, that concern is all tied up with your sexual self confidence. The two are independent, and I hope you will be able to see that. I have a friend who is 43 and still confused about the matter. His personal life is a mess. He destroyed a marriage of 16 years. Really good looking guy, good career, dating women half his age after the divorce... He broke down crying to my boyfriend in his garage, near suicidal. He's miserable.


Can you elaborate on the part about how my concern is tied up with my sexual self confidence? Are you saying I’ll think my relationship is in trouble if my sexual self confidence is low? If so, wouldn’t the latter be indicative of a problem with the relationship usually so there’s reason for concern? Or am I not quite getting it? 

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Well, I think you already know that your concern about being "embarrassingly abnormal" is caused by a lack of self confidence. You wouldn't give it a second thought if you were confident. 

If you felt totally secure about yourself, you wouldn't worry about what other people think or do. You would only be focusing on sex as it pertains to your relationship, not to perceived social ideals.

You are thinking about your relationship, but you are getting distracted by fears about your own sexual performance, as if you were in some arena where other people could judge it. That's your insecurity getting the best of you. Ignore that; it's interference. Bring your focus back to your relationship.

Alternatively, if you can't shake your worries, then embrace them: If your biggest fear is that you are a dead bedroom couple, then identify as a dead bedroom couple--embrace it--and proceed from there. How do you get your girlfriend to have sex with you? Internet strangers may help get you laid once, but they can't convince your girlfriend to have sex with you regularly. Time to look within the relationship and problem-solve. 

Sex happens when everybody's comfortable with themselves and with each other. Same with communication.

It's a personal thing. It's never decided by committee brain.

Edited by Jibralta
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On 12/25/2020 at 9:49 AM, Jibralta said:

Well, I think you already know that your concern about being "embarrassingly abnormal" is caused by a lack of self confidence. You wouldn't give it a second thought if you were confident. 

If you felt totally secure about yourself, you wouldn't worry about what other people think or do. You would only be focusing on sex as it pertains to your relationship, not to perceived social ideals.

You are thinking about your relationship, but you are getting distracted by fears about your own sexual performance, as if you were in some arena where other people could judge it. That's your insecurity getting the best of you. Ignore that; it's interference. Bring your focus back to your relationship.

Alternatively, if you can't shake your worries, then embrace them: If your biggest fear is that you are a dead bedroom couple, then identify as a dead bedroom couple--embrace it--and proceed from there. How do you get your girlfriend to have sex with you? Internet strangers may help get you laid once, but they can't convince your girlfriend to have sex with you regularly. Time to look within the relationship and problem-solve. 

Sex happens when everybody's comfortable with themselves and with each other. Same with communication.

It's a personal thing. It's never decided by committee brain.

 

I wanted to thank you for the advice you've given me as it really helped me have a better week. As well as everyone else hvaing commented so far. We're working on it and she's committed and worried sick about losing me. I hope we can get through this.

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8 hours ago, boltnrun said:

It doesn't matter what all the Redditors and all the Enotaloners say.  It will have zero impact on her.

Are you looking to be told you're right?  Or are you looking to improve your situation?

That’s a great question. I would say I’m looking to make the “wisest” decision about the relationship, one that would cause myself and her the least amount of long term grief.

 

I think I would answer that by saying I’m looking to be told I’m right so I can have more faith/confidence in my outlook/game plan for the relationship moving forward but  looking only to improve the situation if this is a pursuit worth the struggles, tribulations and sadness it may bring along the way. 
 

I want to be told I’m right, but only so I can believe in my own outlook as I don’t feel as unjustified if others share my belief. I don’t merely want a green light. I also want to be right because my views reflect the majority opinion of balanced people in healthy relationships. I feel it’s a rational approach. 

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Unfortunately, you can't make someone want sex with you. You can read, have a game plan, go to therapy, whatever, but at some point you'll have to be true to yourself about whether it's working out or not.

On another note, scrolling through each other's phones is an invasion of privacy and a trust, respect and romance killer.

No one wants to be policed because of someone's insecurities.

Take a break. Reflect on what you want in a relationship.

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4 hours ago, Sinfu said:

I’m looking to be told I’m right so I can have more faith/confidence in my outlook/game plan for the relationship moving forward but  looking only to improve the situation if this is a pursuit worth the struggles, tribulations and sadness it may bring along the way. 

And what is your game plan, Sinfu?

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