There seems to be a new dynamic happening. Many people are finding themselves sexless in the modern relationship, and more often than you might realise, it’s men turning it down, not women.

There is no secret that women reach their sexual peak in their 40’s. I for one have always been a sexual person but I’ve definitely noticed my desires have increased as I’ve gotten older. Maybe this was because I was divorced and forced to rediscover myself. Or, maybe as women get older we have a stronger sense of self? We are less self conscious when it comes to sex. 

When I started dating again, almost 5 years ago, I realised that compatibility with a partner can’t be underestimated if you are going to step into a relationship. Of course I mean emotional as well as sexual compatibility. 

For most women, intimacy is important, sexual and non sexual. Being held, touched, cuddled, spooned or even having your hand held speaks volumes about feeling loved, desired and wanted. There is no deeper connection for me personally than locking eyes with your partner while making love. Knowing they are fully present with you in that moment is a sign of true intimacy. Sharing the kind of intimacy you can only share with a lover. 

In that moment there is no outsider longing. Just two souls melded together, flesh on flesh. Sex is the most intimate thing you can share with another human being that you absolutely love. (Yes, of course you can have sex with anyone regardless of feelings -and great sex too – but love in my humble opinion takes things to another level). I personally feel so much more spiritually and emotionally connected to my partner when we are having regular sex. 

Our society teaches us that men are hungry for sex. They want it all the time, right? Sex fills up their thoughts and is an innate need driven by deep biological urges? So why then are more and more straight women complaining that they actually want sex more than their male partners? 

Given that we have been raised to believe the above hype, it’s easy for women to feel devastated when a partner rejects them sexually. A million thoughts go through your head. 

No one has ever knocked me back for sex before. Doesn’t he find me attractive? Does he think I’m overweight? Is he having an affair? Doesn’t he love me? 

I’m sure it’s the same feelings men experience when women withdraw intimacy. It’s hard not to feel rejected, undesirable and unwanted. 

Just last week I was speaking with a psychologist. Carol said that the majority of couples counselling sessions booked with her are partners who feel their libidos are incompatible. Her observation was that in the past few years it is increasingly women complaining that their male partners have pulled back in the bedroom. 

A “sexless relationship” is categorised generally by having sex 10 or less times a year. So how important is sexual intimacy in a relationship? According to this Dr. Phil article , “The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners.”

There are many reasons why men can withdraw sexually, some of which are listed here. 

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Medical reasons (including depression and prostate problems)
  • Use of antidepressants and alcohol
  • Watching excessive amounts of porn
  • High levels of masturbation
  • Sexual dysfunction (premature ejeculation, erectile dysfunction)
  • Boredom 
  • Hormonal issues
  • Not being attracted to a partner 
  • Having an undisclosed fetish
  • Having an affair
  • Fear of intimacy 

I’m not a counsellor and nor do I claim to be an expert.  I’m not suggesting that if your partner has suddenly turned cold on making whoopie that any of the above are the main issue, though they are all worth looking at. 

While men sometimes need to withdraw into their cave in order to restore some order and quiet their minds, the sudden withdrawing of affection and intimacy from a woman can cause confusion and feelings of inadequacy. Especially when they previously shared a healthy sex life. Women will analyse and over think every possible scenario for why this has happened. 

Of course “healthy” might be different for everyone. Some people are wanting sex once a day, once a week or a few times a month. Some just don’t desire sex at all. I generally find that having sex actually increasing your desire for more regular sex. That might not be true for everyone. 

Issues will always arise when one partner is withdrawing and the other person doesn’t have the answers. As long as both partners feel satisfied then there are less likely to be issues. 

So what can you do to get the sizzle back in the bedroom? Carol advised that firstly, you both have to be on the same page. There is a difference between desire and arousal. Just because you don’t “feel” like having sex doesn’t mean you can’t get turned on and change your mind. 

As woman, it’s okay to want and enjoy sex. We’re human too. (You get that I was slightly tongue in cheek then? Of course we like sex – it’s awesome). Sadly sometimes the issues may never be resolved. If he can’t or won’t acknowledge your needs and desires as being important in the relationship, and meet you half way, then you may need to give yourself permission to leave if lack of intimacy is a deal breaker for you. 

For some, sex or a lack of it is irrelevant. For others it’s vital. If you love one another it’s certainly worth exhausting all options before it gets to that. She suggested the following strategies may be helpful:

  • Talk about it. Open communication about sexual desires, fantasies and issues is important 
  • Don’t play the blame game. It’s not really helpful and creates a divide – work together to solve the issues 
  • If it’s a physical issue, always have a medical including a hormone check 
  • Decrease the frequency of masturbation to increase desire for partnered sex and watch less porn 
  • Schedule regular sex (this is based on the “fake it til you make it principal”). In busy lives, set a regular time for intimacy 
  • Make an effort to stay healthy for each other 
  • Deal with stress levels – yoga, meditation and exercise all help 
  • Try being intimate often outside of the bedroom so you feel connected (hug, kiss, text each other, be loving)
  • Spice things up – some sexy lingerie or introducing sex toys can be fun 
  • Be open to new things – oral sex, masturbate in front of your man, sexting ; touch each other intimately, watch porn together 
  • Mutual massage and touching can help 
  • Turn OFF the damn phone, laptop etc and focus on pleasuring one another 
  • See a couples counsellor if you are not sure where to start

I would also add that it’s important to reassure each other that you love one another. Kiss for 20 seconds every time you see each other (it’s quite an incredible thing to do). 

Remember that while sex isn’t everything, it’s very important and you  have a much bigger chance of sorting out the issues if you are working as a team. This is something you can’t fix on your own. 

Have you even been in a sexless relationship or one lacking in intimacy? Do you have any helpful tips?