I’m Not Sex Crazy, But…

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Reader’s Question

I’ve been with my partner for about a year now, and we are crazy in love, but for the past four or five months she hasn’t really felt like having sex very much. When we do, it’s amazing, but it’s usually only once a week, or less. I’m not sex crazy, but I can’t help myself when I’m around her: she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, and we’re both young, healthy women. Usually after she comes home from work, after spending the evening together, she’ll just get into bed and go straight to sleep. I know she’s most likely tired from work, but it happens so often that I’m starting to think it has something to do with me — as though she’s not finding me attractive anymore.

I brought this up one night in bed, but all she said was she’s just “so tired”. I know it probably shouldn’t affect me so much, but it really does and I can’t help it. We both work as hard as each other; and I don’t understand why she’s so tired and I’m not. I love to do nice things for her, like make her dinner, give her massages, take her out, surprise her; but she very rarely does them for me. She’s very affectionate, and we share everything with each other, but I find it hard to talk about this with her because she always answers it with an “I’m just really tired”. I don’t doubt that to be true, but it’s really messing with me, to be honest. It’s also reached the point that sometimes when we are having sex it just seems as though she’s doing it for the sake of making me feel better — it doesn’t feel as though she’s really there, or really wants to.

Should I try to make things more exciting for her? Haha, like ‘kink’ things up a little? I’m not sure. This is my first really serious relationship (whereas she’s lived with girlfriends before), and I want to do things right. My self-esteem is really, amazingly low at the moment because I somehow feel inadequate. It seems like I do everything to make her life as happy as can be, and she says she’s the happiest she’s ever been — but I would love, I would really love to have sex more than once a week, and to know that she finds me as attractive as I find her.

Psychologist’s Reply

I want to give your question the attention it deserves. But first, let me point out to heterosexual readers that the issues that come up in this same-sex relationship are identical to those in a heterosexual relationship. The things we talk about in premarital counseling are the same regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple.

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The full answer to your question, then, is to begin a semi-structured conversation which may take several hours, designed to discover how much you two agree and disagree on topics that are important to the success of your long-term relationship. You can identify your areas of strength as well as the areas in which you could stand to grow as a couple. Most importantly, you can learn how to discuss issues that are difficult for you, like sex and the frequency and kink you want for your sex. If you feel comfortable having this conversation on your own, then go for it! You can also get some guidance on how to structure such a conversation from my book, Of Sound Mind to Marry [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]. If you need help, then you can find a qualified marriage counselor near you for a short series of sessions.

Now, the short answer to your immediate question could be this. You need to have a real talk with her about sex. You need to know how much of this is about her being tired and how much of it relates to the honeymoon being over. You’ll need to understand what is reasonable to expect from yourself and from her, and then you can decide if it is something you can live with. To have this conversation, you need to set the stage. I’m not talking about adding kink to your sex life, at least not yet. I’m talking about making a plan with her to get away for a few days, rest up, and eliminate exhaustion as a reason not to talk about this. Then, ask her if this is a good time for her to talk about something very important to you. Tell her you love her and are concerned that something in your relationship has changed. Let her know it troubles you and you want to understand and improve the situation. Avoid blaming. Be prepared to listen and reflect what it is you hear from her. Only after she has responded to you completely and you’ve acknowledged what she has said should you respond with your own take on things.

So much of conversation is hearing the other person accurately. So much of a conversation is setting the stage for a positive outcome and experience.

Given the time you’ve been together, my first reaction is to guess that the honeymoon is over. She may be settling in to a sexual habit that is normal for her. If that is true, then it may be something you will need to adjust to. I do appreciate your generosity in keeping your sexual life exciting. That will certainly help. But if she is ultimately comfortable with sex once a week, then that may be what you can expect to get with her.

There is also a questionnaire called Couple Checkup which I encourage couples to use to see where they stand with each other in many areas including sex and intimacy. It is a brief, easy and inexpensive questionnaire that you take jointly. It can give you a great head start on a conversation that will hopefully last a lifetime and lead to ever-increasing intimacy, love, and friendship for you both.

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