The spark has gone please help me find it.
February 10, 2012 3:37 PM   Subscribe

The spark has gone, and I want it back before I break his heart. Please help.

We've been together for four years, happy ones. We're incredibly supportive of each other, and we're best friends. I think he's the best, most decent, most handsome, most beautiful inside man I've ever met. We have a lot of good quality time together. We argue occasionally but they're productive arguments and we learn from them and are never cruel to each other.

However. The sex has got less and less. We seem to never been in The Mood at the same time as the other. We are cuddly, but he seems to see me as a friend most of the time, and only as a sexy sexual being when the mood suddenly takes him, which isn't that often. I'd try couples counselling but neither of us can afford it, and I don't think he'd be at all up for it as he's a "we can fix his ourselves" type.

This started over a year ago. We talk about it, every couple of months, and resolve to do more to improve things, but after an initial spurt it fades and we're back where we started. Then the trouble really started.

In the last six months, I've had a LOT of urges to kiss other people. I was disgusted with myself at first and hoped hard that it would just be a hormonal thing, but the thoughts became more and more frequent. I was getting so few passionate kisses at home, and the hunger for it became unbearable. Finally, at a drunk work party, a colleague kissed me, and I kissed him back. It was AMAZING. But the day after I apologised to him and told him I still had a partner, it couldn't happen again, and he was very gentlemanly about it.

I really picked myself up after that. The next week (after the terrible guilt had died down), had another chat with SO, said lets sort ourselves out, I love you, I want more of you. I couldn't tell him about the kiss as it would break his heart, it really would, and us, instantly. But I thought to myself - take this as your warning. Never do it again, use the guilt to fuel a relationship restart.

But the same thing happened. It died away. And then yesterday, after another work night out, I end up drinking with the barman late, and making out with him.

I'm even more disgusted with myself. I hate that I am doing this to my man, even though he doesn't know. But I hunger SO HARD for passion, to be wanted again, to be pulled closer, to share that magic.

What I want most of all though, is to fix this. Please mefites. If anyone has been in this relationship, and found a way to bring that passion back, that old honeymoon magic, please please help me. He's the best man I've ever known and I want to hold onto him for ever, but right now, I don't deserve him. I want our magic back. Help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
We talk about it, every couple of months, and resolve to do more to improve things, but after an initial spurt it fades and we're back where we started.

Did you ever come to a conclusion about why the sex drops off? Like: have you gone over various possible factors, such as someone being too tired, or conflicting schedules, or stress, or something? I apologize if this is an unhelpful question, and you may have discussed it together, but I don't really see it in your post here, and it could be useful information for people posting answers.
posted by vivid postcard at 3:46 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

It really seems like your guy needs to step up here, and he's not.

I'm so sorry, but you just can not fix this on your own. I think you should consider telling your partner you need to take a break, or just break up altogether.

FWIW, I'm really really angry with your guy for putting you in this position. Either he puts in the work, or he exits the relationship, but in no way should you have to talk to the guy repeatedly about this. And now you're feeling guilty for kissing other people? Skip that, it's a distraction. Don't pile onto your problems.

It's possible you guys are GREAT friends, but the romance is dead, at least for him. If that's the case, he needed to tell you this last year. You deserve someone who loves you in the way you need to be loved. If he's not feeling it anymore, you deserved a heads up on that long ago.

Falling out of romantic love with someone you love otherwise isn't a crime, but failure to disclose that so the other person can move on is pretty shitty.

I don't know if this is what's going on. Again, this is for your BF to talk to you about. I hope he finally gives you what you need.
posted by jbenben at 3:53 PM on February 10, 2012 [10 favorites]

Some people just aren't passionate by nature. As you get older you learn more and more you can't change people at their very core and how they view relationships. I was with a girl who did not share the passion I had and it hurt me so badly (yes we talked about it constantly and nothing ever truly changed). Now I'm with a partner, going on two years, and I give her 100+ kisses a day. I just kiss her constantly everywhere always, I can't stop. She's like a sugar magnet. And she is the same way back to me in a way my previous girlfriend never could be.

Often the reasons relationships don't work out aren't gloriously simple like on a TV show but are frustrating differences that can't be reconciled. With that said, in this situation, you are rationalizing your situation. At first you used the kiss to help 'restart your relationship' so you say. I'm sorry, but feeling bad about betrayal doesn't make up for betrayal. If you reach a point where you can't properly care for someone anymore, leave them, and move on. Of course it's painful. But keep your integrity and respect your significant other. Just because he has a different idea of passion than you do, doesn't mean he deserves to be cheated on.
posted by jjmoney at 4:01 PM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Maybe you should ask him to get his hormones tested (this comment is from personal experience).
posted by Shebear at 4:14 PM on February 10, 2012

You've very likely already ended the relationship, twice. Sometimes people just don't fit, even if they're otherwise decent people. The only way this relationship continues is if you're honest with your partner about breaking his trust and he forgives you, and you also get what you need from him. So, there's a narrow possibility that it's not over, but it's pretty much over. My advice is to move on. You don't necessarily have to tell him, but I think being honest is the decent thing to do.

Countering what was said above, your recent choices are your responsibility, not your partner's. Take responsibility for your part of this, take some time out and forgive yourself. When you're ready, move on to someone who gives you the passion you need.
posted by cnc at 4:15 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd try couples counselling but neither of us can afford it, and I don't think he'd be at all up for it as he's a "we can fix his ourselves" type.

Clearly you cannot fix yourselves, as you've tried several times and are still broken.

Consider that therapy is cheaper than the deposit on the new apartment one of you will be moving into if you do not address this. If you need someone to give you permission to issue an ultimatum and say "I love you but I cannot stay in a passionless relationship, we must get professional help or we're not going to make it," that is an entirely valid option and I give you that permission.

You are eventually going to do something you really, really regret if you do not force him to confront the severity of this problem. The forcing will hurt less than finding out you've been unfaithful to him.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 PM on February 10, 2012 [9 favorites]

Yeah, I'm going to answer in a way that probably won't make you very happy.

Passion is a hard thing to switch on and off. It's a hard thing to get back once it's gone. It takes two people working really hard together to make it happen. If both people don't work hard, then, well, people go around kissing other people and feeling really bad about it and that's where the drama starts.

LTRs frequently turn into best friendship relationships. Frequently. This is not a bad thing. It's actually a really good thing. Think of how amazing it is to have someone who is so close to you, knows you so well. It's rare, it's wonderful.

It becomes a bad thing when you a) try to relive the past (it's gone, it's not coming back) or when you stay together thinking that you're romantic partners when you're not. Because you're not getting all of what you need romantically. And then you kiss other people when you're drunk...

It is not a horrible thing to stay friends but break up romantically. It is not a horrible thing to want passion. It is not a horrible thing to move onto another phase in your life. But try really hard to do it the honorable way.

That means, having an honest conversation with your partner, and, more than likely, choosing to be very good friends.
posted by mleigh at 4:22 PM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well there was passion once. After 4 years, anything can die if you dont take care of it-plants, animals, life, you get the picture. I have no idea why people think that love is that magical thing that will go on and on and on. That does not happen.

You have reinvent yourself all the time-
are you sexual,
do you try new things in bed,
do you take care of yourself physically, have you put on a lot of weight that he may not be attracted to,
do you have vast stress in your life.
Do you have the same lifestyle you had 4 years back which is now boring?
What is new in your life to-date?
What has changed?
What have you experienced together?
What things are you doing together-excercies, reading, listening to fun programs, travelling, family time, arts, museums
what do YOU bring to the table every year
What has he learnt from you recently?
how has YOUR life changed for the better recently-new music, new clothes/styles that look good, new hairstyle..etc.

i could go on here but you need to constantly refresh your life to keep the romance or it will die. no question about that. dont become the rug in your house that looks the same day after day and never changes.

this goes for both of you but start with YOU first
posted by pakora1 at 4:30 PM on February 10, 2012 [12 favorites]

How are you in all these situations where you can make out with coworkers and bartenders? Is he not with you? Are you not inviting him out? Is he not going out with you? Perhaps he is withdrawing because he thinks you are? I would be a bit concerned if my SO was out until all hours drinking at a bar. Just an idea from the other perspective.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Has your guy had his testosterone levels checked? Mine started falling below normal in my late 20s and it hugely affected my interest in sex. I still loved the heck out of my wife, but I just never thought about sex. A week after starting replacement therapy I felt like a teenager again.

Something to think about, if the lack of interest is mostly coming from his direction.
posted by balistic at 4:33 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is he up for any fake-it-till-you-make-it? Can he at least make an effort to take time every single day and say, no matter how he feels, "Hey baby you are one hot tamale" and then give you a big squeezy smooch?

Do you do anything like that to him?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:54 PM on February 10, 2012

Reading between the lines, it sounds as if you work at (or with) a bar.
This would explain the scheduling differences as well.

You say that you have a lot of quality time, but maybe you both would benefit from an outright 'date' together.

I think you should make a serious pitch for couples counseling.
If you find a good one, you would be able to navigate your guilt traps and actually get to the heart of the matter, and he may feel more open to answer.
If possible, leave time after the session to further the conversation and maybe bang.

As well as you may know him, don't hear his answer 'no' before you ask him.
Also, be firm about it. He may need to realize that there is something on the line.

Inertia is a powerful force, and if he is complacent, you will need to nudge him into movement.
And all the right words and best intentions mean little if there isn't follow-up in actions.

The course you are running (mind over heart) will lead you into a bad situation where you act further on your natural instincts, and it will in all likelihood poison your relationship, especially the chance for keeping on friendly terms.

Good luck!
posted by Busithoth at 5:07 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you IN LOVE with him or just LOVE him. What about his answer? There is a difference. Passions requires both partners to be open, spontaneous, creative-but both have to be IN LOVE with the other.

IMHO, Loving someone without intimacy is friendship.

Best of luck to you both..
posted by BeastMan78 at 6:00 PM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

If anyone has been in this relationship, and found a way to bring that passion back, that old honeymoon magic, please please help me.

Do something new and different and a little bit scary. Spend a week hiking in the Badlands. Got white water rafting. Go parachuting. Go bungee jumping. Go to a sex club. Go hunting. But do something and stop fucking talking. Passion is made in doing, not endlessly repeating the same conversation every couple of months.

Just be aware that whatever ya'll do may break the relationship. That's ok too, in the long. You have powerful needs, that aren't being met, that need to met. Work it out in this relationship or move on.

But overall, answering this question is difficult. What happened a year ago, what changed? New job, new house, his favorite dog died, what? It sounds like part of the history of the relationship is missing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on February 10, 2012 [10 favorites]

I've known a few couples with long term marriages where the sexual spark remained very much a part of their lives into their sixtes, at least. The things they had in common were:
1. They were well matched socially, intellectually, physically in their tastes and preferences.
2. They were able and chose to spend a very great deal of time together,
3. They did not have small children, were not overworked or overburdened with financial problems.
5. They preferred each other's company to all others and they talked to each other about everything in their lives.
6. They habitually did creatively romantic things together, like dates, gifts, picnics, cruises, travel, etc.
7. One partner deferred to the other a little more than 50% of the time.

Obviously they were in love but it is equally obvious to me they worked at keeping it that way.
Personally, I think it might be just the combination of very good luck and that much attention to the relationship. If you do all that and the spark is gone, it might be time to move on.
posted by Anitanola at 9:19 PM on February 10, 2012 [10 favorites]

We seem to never been in The Mood at the same time as the other.

If you start having sex, can you get into the mood? I would talk to him about scheduling it, and barring extraordinary circumstance (someone's parent dies, you're vomiting blood), start having sex regardless of your mood. So what if you had a bad day at work, or you feel meh? Sex is more fun than sitting on the couch feeling grouchy or bored, and if it's not, then just break up. Ramp into it with massages or a hot shower together or whatever floats your boat, and I'd be surprised if it didn't lead to more sexytimes.

mr. desjardins and I have some different tastes in the bedroom, and after a loooong discussion we came to the conclusion that it's not about the specific activities that take place, but about feeling desired. We both want to be wanted, we want to feel like the other person wants to be there. Your SO obviously wants you in his life, or he wouldn't stick around. Try not to get too hung up on the way he expresses wanting you. Does he do the dishes? Sing you silly songs? Kiss your belly? What do you do to show him that you want him?

I think you need to tell him flat out "I want more passionate kisses" AND THEN KISS HIM. Do not depend on him to initiate, do not use the death of kisses as a litmus test on whether he really wants you or not (see previous paragraph). Just kiss him, passionately, whenever the mood strikes you. If he recoils or demurs, that's another issue entirely, but my guess is it will lead to more, and if it doesn't, at least you know you're getting laid on Friday at 8 pm.
posted by desjardins at 7:11 AM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I couldn't tell him about the kiss as it would break his heart, it really would, and us, instantly

I'm even more disgusted with myself. I hate that I am doing this to my man, even though he doesn't know. But I hunger SO HARD for passion, to be wanted again, to be pulled closer, to share that magic.

What I hear is that:
1) You are not feeling desired by your partner
2) You want to feel desired
3) You are blaming yourself for 2), which is itself a result of 1).

First, please stop blaming yourself and being disgusted with yourself. Until you cease with the blame, you will not be able to see what's really going on in the situation.

How do you do that? Accept that you are a person like any other, you had some booze, you kissed some people. That's all that happened. You didn't sleep with anyone, you didn't kill anyone. They were kisses. Drunk make-outs that are a symptom of the problem you seek to solve. Focusing on those actions is meaningless beyond what they indicate about your relationship.

I suggest you celebrate these kisses, for you obviously enjoyed one of them, you are not dead inside and feel passion and the sex sparkle of life, and they are a dipstick gauging the level of oil in your relationship. So accept and make peace with them. And don't worry about telling him. They were kisses. Yes, kisses can lead to more, but cheating is a behaviour not a thought or a possibility.

Behind the guilt, there's a pattern which may be fairly obvious to those of us that have been through These Kinds Of Things. The spark flickers, someone is resigned (your partner) and someone is bothered (you). You take to boozing it up with work mates, because that's an easy social circle to buttress trouble in other parts of your life. You would probably much rather be at home with your partner, but the lack of sex, of kissing, of passion, seems to eat at you.

Thus the sweet anaesthesia of booze lifts your mind from the aching feeling that something's wrong in the relationship. In that chemical relief, your judgement lapses. Your inhibitions go down, and you go get what you want.

Now, I don't see that as a problem. What I see as a problem is that you are placing way too much of your own value in your relationship. He may be a wonderful man, the best you've ever met, friend to small animals, children, and troubled politicians. That's all fine...

...if he is the right man for you. If he is not the right man for you, then you are faced with a choice of either accepting the relationship as it is, or potentially finding someone else. And the guilt is getting in the way of that. And if you think a kiss would destroy your relationship, the problem is the relationship and not the kiss.

So what does it all mean?

Maybe this is the way this relationship is. Seems many people have these relationships, more companionate than passionate. And they seem fine. Just as some people like hot dogs. Maybe you don't, but they do. C'est la vie. If that is the case, your option is to accept it as it is today and right now.

Yes, you can go find passion and all that OR you can have this man and this life.

But we don't like ORs, because we want ANDs. So I say to you that you will be fine whether this man is in your life or not. You will have a full life either way, filled with love, pain, sadness, happiness, maybe hotdogs, maybe not. So accept that the rest of your life is going to be okay. Stop worrying about the future. Stop worrying about life without your partner. Stop worrying about kissing some dude. Stop worrying about all of that. Take deep breathes, regain your self-soverignty.

If you can do this, you will create some mental space to really understand what's going on here, and if it can be fixed.

Or take a road trip and work it out. TAM: "We were in a malaise..."
posted by nickrussell at 4:26 AM on February 12, 2012

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