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Sex can obviously be a very important part of a relationship as it enhances the quality of life and reinforces bonding with your partner. Sex can help buffer the stresses of daily living and contribute to the reinforcement of emotional intimacy and connection in a relationship.
Sex has also been proven to possess important health benefits. Not to mention, sexual pleasure is an inalienable human right, and it just plain feels good.
So when the man you’ve been dating or your partner/husband no longer responds to your seductions and the absence of sexual activity and intimacy becomes the norm in your relationship, it can create some understandable concern and worry. This is particularly true if you have a strong libido and your particular love language centers around physical touch and sexuality.
Below are some factors to consider that may help you assess what’s possibly going awry in your sex life.
Sexual interest and desire waxes and wanes throughout the course of a relationship, and this is perfectly normal.
However, when lack of sexual wanting becomes the trend, one of the first things sex therapists recommend is to obtain a medical exam from your physician to rule out any possible organic causes. Certain medical conditions, as well as low testosterone, can interfere with optimal functioning of the sexual response cycle and cause difficulties.
Medication side effects can significantly impact sexual function and desire, and discussions with medical providers may help troubleshoot some of these issues.
Interest in sex can also be affected by psychiatric issues. It’s been well-documented that individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse can experience sexual problems. Similarly, the side effects of psychotropic medication can hinder libido.
Most couples go through predictable stages as their relationships develop and mature. Sexual attraction and chemistry are at their highest at the very beginning stages of a relationship when both partners are firing off hormones and neurotransmitters in a cascade of rapture.
This stage, often called the honeymoon period, is where romantic love and lust are at their peak. This phase typically lasts about six to 18 months on average.
Everyone has their own threshold for a sex drive, and after this stage of relationship has plateaued, partners will return to their typical baseline. Perhaps your guy has a lower threshold for desire.
If he has a lower threshold, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong. It’s just a difference or discrepancy between the two of you.
One of the major causes of sexual difficulties stem from relationship problems. Sexual interest can take a hit if your relationship is characterized by conflict, resentment, withdrawal, or unmet needs. If you’re not fulfilled in your relationship, this tension can carry over into the bedroom with diminished sexual interest or sexual dysfunctions.
Additionally, research in the field of attachment theory shows that adult romantic attachments have important correlations with sexual and relationship satisfaction. We all differ in the ways we emotionally bond with others, and that has a lot to do with how we were cared for as infants during the formative years.
According to Dr. Kristen Mark, Laura Vowels and Dr. Sarah Hunter Murray, those with an avoidant attachment style tend to be self-reliant, avoid closeness, and possess less need for intimacy (thereby lowering the desire for sexual contact). Is your boyfriend perhaps of this particular attachment type?
Here’s a test from Psychology Today that helps you identify your relationship attachment style.
Sex is often at its best when partners are fully present, mindful, and in the moment with each other. Some guys are easily distracted or don’t view sex as a priority.
Instead, they may be focused on work, overwhelmed with stress, struggling with racing thoughts related to anxiety or attention-deficit disorders, or worried about sexual performance. So, they’re “up in their heads.”
Recent studies report that millennials are having less sex than other age cohorts.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who co-directs Match.com’s annual Singles in America survey, said that this generation is more focused on career and other life goals, and more cautious about relationships. Fisher points out that technology has caused a form of cognitive overload with all the choices available on dating apps (causing platforms like Netflix and video games to be more viable alternatives to personal relationships until they find themselves a truly compatible life partner).
In a recent study, researchers Maria Manuela Peixoto, Tiago José Pereira, and Paulo Machado sought to uncover reasons behind sexual desire discrepancy across all sexual orientations. They found gay men in coupled relationships reported higher solitary sexual desire than other groups (garnering support that gay men appear to be more motivated to be sexual either alone or with a partner).
This demonstrates perhaps that men in relationships where there has been a decline in partner sex may be seeking sexual fulfillment in solitary pleasuring sessions through masturbation, either via fantasy or by viewing pornography. Consistent masturbation with orgasm may potentially diminish desire.
For many people, it can be difficult to talk about sex. We’ve grown up in a culture that’s been very sex-negative and repressive; therefore, many guys may find it challenging to open up about their specific sexual needs.
Mot of us have what’s called an individual erotic template, which constitutes our sexual needs, turn-ons, and fantasies, and a couple sexual style. Do you and your boyfriend have compatible sexual styles and erotic templates?
Perhaps he’s afraid to share with you what he likes, and this discomfort causes him to distance himself from you. Perhaps he’s feeling bored and is too afraid to share with you what he’d really like to experience. Strengthening your sexual communication abilities can go a long way toward bridging the gap.
In terms of low self-esteem and internalized homophobia, for those men who are still struggling to come to terms with their identity as gay, their desire to be sexual can vacillate in an approach-avoid pattern as they grapple with their conflictual desires and behavior.
Low self-esteem can also wreak havoc on sexuality when one lacks confidence, has depression, or experiences performance anxiety.
Infidelity should be the last thing you consider. Much has been written about signs that your partner is cheating. However, without actual proof, you should tread lightly before jumping to conclusions.
Sexual issues and challenges tend to be multidimensional and multicausal, and I recommend that you seek the services of a trained, licensed therapist who specializes in relationships and sexuality to assist you with assessment and intervention.
Communicating with your partner about your concerns is always a requisite skill, and with compassion and understanding, you and your partner will be able to identify factors that might be impinging upon your relationship.
Then you can craft a vision together for your ideal relationship that can become the foundation for a satisfying partnership for many years to come.