My girlfriend and I have lived together for about a year and a half. We're a solid couple, we love each other a lot and generally communicate well, but our formerly awesome sex life is just non-existent now. We've talked about it, but she's just withdrawn and apologetic whenever I try to initiate things. Help?
posted by anonymous to human relations (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My gf is bi, I’m a straight guy, and we've been living together for about a year & a half. This is after us being a long-distance couple for two years (she went across the country for an art school), and a year of semi-serious dating before that. We're both pushing 40. Gf medicates for clinical depression and panic attacks. We have no kids and she has had surgery to make sure none will turn up.
In most ways, we're a really good couple. We communicate well, we hooked up through shared hobbies and we are both sensitive of each other’s previous relationship scars. She's an introvert and I’m generally an extrovert, but we're also both really patient with those differences. We've never had issues of jealousy or trust.
For our first year of dating, there was a lot of sex. We were both pretty enthusiastic about it, as things seemed very healthy and uplifting. More than once, she talked about how I had re-awakened her sex drive after a bad long-term relationship and how great that was. The long-distance period was very hard on her because she had little physical contact with much of anyone and had a hard time making friends, and that made our time together during visits that much more important. Then she came home and we moved in together, and at first things were great. I got comfortable enough to try out a couple of her kinks; at first, even breathing a word of it would get her interested and ready to go play, and we both had a great time.
Since then, we've had sex maybe a handful of times in the past year. It's hard to even know how to approach her. Often when I get saying or doing romantic or mushy things she'll try to play it off like I'm being weird, but I know that in part she feels bad because she usually doesn't come up with such things to say on her own (again, introvert, I don't expect much).
I find her curled up on the couch or on the bed reading, but when I try to approach her it's like everything is physically awkward and I'm interrupting something.
In past relationships, I have gone six months or more without sex and not made waves about it because there was a health thing going on for my partner or something, and my gf knows this. Long stretches of not having sex aren't a relationship-buster for me, but it's still a serious bummer.
There are, of course, stresses involved. My gf has been working a crappy tech job for the last 8 months just to get health insurance, and has been so wiped out at the end of every day that she has no energy to work on her art. Conversely, I have monetized one of my hobbies and that income has rapidly eclipsed the money from my day job; I hardly even go in to work anymore, because it’s silly when I can reliably make more money by working for myself. That contrast has plainly been hard on her despite her never grousing or complaining about it. So now we're economically stable entirely based on me, when we had come together with lots of financial worries and concerns about sharing our burdens (we’d both been financially burned by previous partners). We have both put on a little weight in the last couple years, and while nobody would call either of us heavy-set, my gf is very self-conscious about it… but while I've gotten back to the gym, she’s not doing anything to address her health, either, which only makes her beat herself up more. It doesn't matter that I still find her very attractive; she thinks she’s fat and ugly.
I don’t think this is a problem of me being lame in bed. I would be more than willing to face up to that if it were the case. I have once or twice had trouble getting it up when it was time to go in the past couple years and she needs a lot of foreplay to get ready (so much that she is frustrated by it), but these are not insurmountable problems nor are they constant. Half the reason I've gotten back into the gym is just to make sure everything's working properly on my end.
Lately, I've tried to initiate things playfully, or through open dialogue, or through cuddling, but either she says she's not up for it because she's tired or not feeling well, or she just gives me this sad look and says she's sorry. It doesn't seem to matter if it's morning or evening or the weekend or whatever; it's the same result.
I know she's beating herself up over this. We've had that discussion. She says she’s treating me terribly, but doesn't know what to do about it. I don’t make advances or bring this up every day, or even every few days, and I have certainly never said anything resentful or blown up at her over it... but it has weighed on me a lot in the last few weeks. The last time we had sex was in the middle of the summer when she thought her tech job would be going away and despite the financial concerns, it was a sort of light at the end of a tunnel… but her job hung in there, and so now we’re still in the same situation.
She’s concerned that her medications are having some impact on her sex drive (and weight, and other things), and she has spoken with her doctor about it. They’re also concerned that her thyroid might need some attention. But we don’t talk a whole lot about it, as the prospects of changing meds are kind of unpleasant.
I have no intention of leaving her. If she had some injury or something where she couldn't have sex anymore at all, I wouldn't even consider leaving her. She is far and away the greatest girlfriend I've ever had. But this is something that used to be great for both of us, and now it’s like it’s just gone. I really don’t know what to do, and part of me feels like a selfish ass for even making this much of an issue of it.
(FWIW: I don’t think her being bi is a significant factor here. We've talked about that pretty openly.)