What do you do when the sexual fire's gone? How do you get it back?
posted by missingthefire to Human Relations (51 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I've been with the same partner for nearly 20 years. We have a five-year-old son who is the light of our lives. My partner is kind, funny, and just an all-around good person. The only problem is that I don't feel sexually attracted to him any more. In fact, I haven't felt attracted to him for years now. As far as I can tell, the attraction pretty much died shortly after the birth of our son. So yes, it's been over five years. We still have sex around twice a week, and I know he still wants me. He is affectionate and touchy and I reciprocate as much as possible, but my heart hasn't been in it, not for a long while. He just doesn't turn me on. He used to, of course he did. I wouldn't have committed my life to him if he didn't. At first I chalked it up to post-baby craziness that all people go through, but I'm sad and scared that it hasn't come back. Sex with him is often a chore that I get through, although I'm very good at faking my excitement, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't notice. I honestly can't remember the last time he made me come. Usually I just end up taking care of myself when he's not around.
For a long time I just assumed it was my problem, my hormones that were out of whack, that things would settle down eventually and we'd get back to where we were pre-kid. However, I discovered a couple months ago, that it wasn't something wrong with me. I've played a well-known MMORPG for the last year or so, and a while back there was a player I really hit it off with. It's a story that's been told a thousand times, but through tons of flirty in-game messages, we got to know each other really well, or at least as well as you can in an online medium. Inevitably things took a turn for the racy, and I let it get into full-blown sexting messages. It felt so good to feel that very basic lust again, even though I knew it wasn't authentic. Still, I knew what I was doing was wrong, so I soon cut things off with him (nicely) and closed my account, because I could feel it getting serious and I was already experiencing a ton of guilt.
And now I don't know what to do. The online daliance was a one-time thing, very out of character for me, and not something I will repeat. But the one thing it proved to me is that my lust and need for sexual fulfillment on a most basic level hasn't died, but I'm not getting that from my partner. I love him, I love being around him, I love the life we are building together, and I love the life we are building for our son. I do not want that to end under any circumstances, especially since both he and I came from pretty awful divorces, and have said over and over that we are going to avoid that at all costs and not put our son through that.
I feel like I'm in this impossible situation. We have in all other ways a really good level of communication, but I can't bear to tell him that I am just not sexually attracted to him anymore. It would break his heart and wreck his self-esteem, and to me it seems like it would be the height of selfishness for me to do that to him. At the same time, I hate not being turned on by him. I absolutely hate it. I miss being turned on. I want him to inspire the same level of lust and craving that some dumb guy on a dumb online game did, but he just doesn't. I don't have the first idea what to do about it. I don't want to live the next 50 years of my life without lust, where sex is uninspiring and completely unsatisfying.
I've sometimes wondered about open marriages, but I don't think that's the right answer for us, because if I were to flip this situation around, I would be devastated if I knew he needed to be with someone else to be sexually satisfied. And that just makes me feel like a giant hypocrite, because sometimes I find myself fantasizing about a random hook-up with a guy, getting fucked as I so badly want to be, even though I know that's dangerous, and odds are it would just be empty and meaningless sex, and probably be more damaging to my psyche than I would realize at this point. But that fantasy hasn't gone away.
Other things that might be important:
- I'm not a SAHM, and our kid has been in daycare most of his life, and just started kindergarten, so I don't have the complaints of it being all about the kid all the time.
- We are very good co-parents and partners. I do not feel like I bear an unfair portion of the child-raising duties, or keeping the house clean.
- My partner and I both work, but not excessively. We have usual, boring 8-5 jobs. We do fun things together, both as a family and as a couple. He and I have dates on a semi-regular basis, like going out to a nice dinner, going to the movies, and so forth, but every time we do it's like I'm going out with a great friend. There is zero sense of romance or lust there.
- I am definitely able to satisfy him, quite easily.
- We are not prudish in the bedroom, we do all sorts of positions and things. I'm not shy about anal or oral.
- He is a good-looking guy. His hygiene isn't always up to par, but that's a minor issue.
- We both are physically active and lead engaged lives. We don't watch a ton of TV. We eat a healthy, balanced diet most of the time.
Please help me. I feel like there is no good answer here, and I'm hoping that one of you might prove me wrong. Email is email@example.com.