During long-term relationships, it’s not uncommon to go through periods where you’re just not having much sex. When you do so much together—parenting, running a household, friends and family activities—sex can start to feel like one more thing on the to-do list. And it can be tempting to cross off. Sexless relationships happen, and people are often curious whether or not sexless relationships are doomed to failure. Do you have to have sex in order to feel like a real couple? The answer depends on how much of a priority sex is within the relationship.
Making Sex Sexy Again Takes Effort
It can be hard not to turn into roommates when you’re in a long-term relationship. Conversely, it can be easy to slip from a few weeks or months of not having sex into a lifestyle of sexlessness. Sexlessness won’t end on its own. Even if you know your partner well, they can’t read your mind and may not know how frustrated you are with the situation. Ending the sexless cycle will take a lot of communication.
Once you start the conversation, try to keep it ongoing. The more you talk about it, the less weird talking about it will be. It’s a good idea to have the conversation about your sex life when the stakes are low and when you’re both feeling relaxed. The person with stronger desire may feel resentful of their needs being put on hold for so long. The person with lower desire may feel like they are being guilt-tripped into sex. Feeling rejected often leads to an angry reaction, but it’s essential to monitor how you deliver your message. So, the more casual you can make the conversation, the better. Try to emphasize that you care about the relationship and how you miss the connection you once had, more than how mad you are about what your relationship has become.
Don’t Worry About Being Normal
Sometimes, couples are overly concerned with whether or not their sex life is normal. But there truly is no normal within couples’ sexual relationships. That’s because everyone has different sexual values and needs—background needs that go beyond sex and orgasm—that they’d like to have met. It could be the need for connection, adventure, to feel desired, or even intimacy. So, explore the background needs to see if you can meet them for each other, even while sex is off the table.
You Can Meet Your Own Needs
Masturbation is a great way to bridge the gap until your sex life returns. Sometimes, one partner may feel betrayed if you masturbate or feel threatened by porn usage, even though it’s a perfectly normal activity. So, it’s always a good idea to talk to your partner about all your sexual activities—even masturbation. Being open about what you’re doing behind closed doors can help people feel more comfortable with what’s going on.
The truth is, your sexual relationship is worth every bit as much time and effort as your finances—or other aspects of your life that you take seriously. Showing your partner that you’re willing to invest genuine effort into your sexuality can be a turn-on in itself. Desire doesn’t have to arise spontaneously. Putting sex on the calendar is a valid and effective way to start having sex again. Trying to get turned on at a specific time or day can feel like a lot of pressure, which is why it’s important to have enough time allotted for sex. Give yourself an entire evening so that you and your partner have sufficient time to get into it.
If you find yourself stuck in a sexless rut, set up a free consultation with me. I have helped many other couples in your situation find their way back to a satisfying sexual relationship.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist.