My Boyfriend and I Have Stopped Having Sex. Should We Break Up?
Welcome to ‘Between the Sheets,’ a new series in which we answer reader questions about sex, relationships and finding happiness in and out of love. Got a burning question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I get it; you’re not getting it on, and you’re suddenly worried that the spark is gone. But let me reassure you: Sex slows down in most relationships, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s also F-I-N-E if you’re both OK with the frequency—even if it’s once a month, or less.
The issue here is that you don’t think you’re connecting with your partner enough, in which case, changes need to be made. Before considering a drastic breakup, sit your partner down and take these steps to re-light the fire.
Discuss your ideal frequency, and aim for a suitable number.
If you’d love to have sex three times a week, but your partner prefers once a week, then you should aim for middle ground. And you have to actually work toward that number, so talk about what will make twice-a-week sex manageable for you.
If you burn out by the end of the day, maybe you need to set the alarm 30 minutes earlier a couple times a week. If you’re too rushed in the morning, schedule sex for Tuesday and Friday (for example) and get to bed early enough to make it happen. Maybe you need a designated “date night” to romance your way into the mood.
Try new things. But keep that number in mind, and work on hitting it every single week.
Initiate, initiate, initiate—and respond, when needed.
Sometimes, getting things started is the hardest part—and a lot of women don’t take enough initiative with their partner. Aim to start the process roughly half the time, when you feel in the mood, especially if you have the higher sex drive. Take initiative for your needs.
If you have the lower sex drive, be aware that you may have responsive sexual desire. This means you have to start the process of arousal before you’re truly excited for sex; you don’t really crave it spontaneously. If that sounds like you, tell your partner—and don’t wait until you’re “in the mood” for sex, because it will rarely happen. Instead, be open to your partner’s advances when you feel up for it, and just make active efforts to plan sex into your life.
Infuse novelty into the relationship.
Scientific researchers (and longtime romantic partners) Art and Elaine Aron have found that couples who participate in novel, exciting experiences report higher relationship quality than those who don’t. Novelty can also infuse your relationship with the passion needed to recharge your sex life.
So, have sex in a different room of the house. Try new positions. Go away on vacation, and get yourself into a new environment. Explore, sight-see, bond and hit the bedroom afterward. Novelty is crucial when it comes to keeping your relationship fresh and exciting. Especially if you want to feel closer to your partner and enjoy some spontaneous sex...do new things, consistently.
Check out any health issues.
If all else fails, make sure there’s nothing going on in your life or your partner’s life health-wise that might be slowing your sex drive. Certain mental health issues like anxiety and depression can lower libido, as well as conditions like diabetes and medications like SSRIs. If one of these problems are in play, your doc may be able to prescribe the right fix.
Obviously, if you’ve explored all options and your sexual needs are just not being met, then you might be incompatible with your partner. But don’t jump right to breakup, if the love is there. Agree to put mutual effort into keeping the flame alive as you become an established couple.
Relationships are work! And this is work you’ll need to do for the rest of your life. Best to start now.
Jenna Birch is a dating coach, journalist and author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life & Love.