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September 29, 2012 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Sex drive issues in my mid-twenties. Help!

Confession time...

Me and my boyfriend haven't done it really in more than two months.

I am just tired. I want to get to it more often, but at the end of the day, when I come home from work, I just don't want to. So I end up "procrastinating."

He has been totally understanding, but I keep having this feeling... that we are missing out in intimacy.

The spark isn't gone exactly… I'm just tired. My feet hurt all the time. I'm always about 3 hours sleep deprived per night. Sex is something that i want to do as a part of the relationship. But maybe to some extent i just don't feel like it.

Is this something i just need to figure out on my own?

I'm in my mid twenties... I have to say, I know sexuality is an area where many people come into their own after a while. For me, I still don't think I'm there. So it's particularly frustrating for me to be up against this deadblock.

Somehow, with work, and projects, and the struggle to get stuff done, I'm just too tired to be intimate.

Finally, I have to say I want to just talk about this with my partner but I don't know how.

Lately we have had a lot of miscommunication due to my partner's temper issues and have talked about doing couples' therapy. That's just full disclosure but I don't think that plays a role. I am still very much in love with him.

The temper issues may not be related-- this is probably just due to business or hormones-- but I bring it up because my fear is that somehow this dry spell in our relationship is due to a lack of intimacy, or something being awry.

Any advice would help. I'm not even quite sure what's going on with me but I want to improve it more than anything.
posted by kettleoffish to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be more creative about scheduling sex? And make it a priority for days you both have off from work?

If that doesn't feel possible, I would question whether it's just about being tired for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Honestly, I think taking care of being 3 hours sleep deprived will fix a HELL of a lot. What is going on that you're missing that much sleep? And can your boyfriend help you with that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 PM on September 29, 2012 [20 favorites]

Why are you so tired? You mention work, projects, life, etc, but is there some specific reason you feel so run down?

If so, I'd say that if you can resolve that, or wait for it to be over, or the, like you should be back on your way to sexytimes in the near future.

If not, maybe see a doctor? It sounds unusual to be so exhausted by life at such a young age, with so few obligations.

(On the off chance that "projects" is the typical creative person's struggle to have a day job and also your Real Work, yeah, welcome to the 21st century creative trade off. What I wouldn't give to live in Paris circa 1870 and be a proper bohemian...)
posted by Sara C. at 8:32 PM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Missing a few hours of sleep makes a huge difference to your quality of life. Address this first. You'll be amazed how everything else will just go better.
posted by SPrintF at 8:52 PM on September 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

What sort of birth control are you on?

I was on hormonal birth control for twelve years straight (pills, then patch, then ring) and last December, I decided to give my body a "break" for once since I wasn't sleeping with anyone at the time.

Within about a week, I felt like a completely different person - speaking in terms of just my libido, I pretty much went from wanting sex maybe once or twice a month to multiple times a day, in the beginning. I cannot believe how big the difference was. My libido leveled out a bit after a month or two, but I am *so* much more happier without the birth control hormones messing with my system. My desire for sex on a regular basis is much, much higher than it used to be while on the stuff.

You may want to consider this (and talk to your doctor!) if you are on any kind of hormonal birth control or other medications that may mess with hormones.
posted by Squee at 8:55 PM on September 29, 2012 [14 favorites]

Do you masturbate? Could you block off some time on a weekend after you've gotten a decent amount of sleep to just spend some time with yourself naked?
posted by MadamM at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

The two things that really stood out to me were the sleep, which everyone has addressed, and the anger -- nothing kills your sex drive like being stressed or scared. Honestly, I'd suggest focusing on fixing those underlying issues with the idea that the sex drive loss is probably a consequence of them, rather than a primary problem in its own right.
posted by Forktine at 9:03 PM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another possibility... You may be anaemic. See a doctor! I had iron deficiency anaemia, and within a week or two on iron suddenly felt like running marathons. I've NEVER felt like that! Anaemia is common in women, esp if you have heavy periods. Also, my husband and I have been scheduling sex for years. I do better if I know to allow time for it, and keep in the habit. He loves not having to ask for it all the time.
Make sure you get enough sleep, too. ...and for what it's worth, I second the comment about hormonal birth control, it really screws with me big time. Good luck!
posted by jrobin276 at 9:10 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

And of course, the temper thing... Probably affecting you more than you think. If mesa he is willing to go to couples therapy, go! It can't hurt!
posted by jrobin276 at 9:13 PM on September 29, 2012

I would just try to keep in mind that it's probably all of these things working together to make sex seem like the last thing you want to do right now. I wouldn't write off any one of them, especially not the temper issues or the communication issues. It's natural to not to be too enthusiastic about someone with a temper, even if you love him. Have you ever heard the phrase "I love you, but I don't like you that much right now"? Couples counseling will help, making sure you're meeting all of your physical needs will help, and maybe just getting to know each other again romantically will help. Take it slow and don't put any more pressure on yourself, you really don't need that.
posted by bleep at 9:38 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Something else to bear in mind is that for many people, the more often you have sex, the more often you think about it, and the more often you end up wanting it. I know that is true for me, my husband and some of my friends. So if you've gone two months without, you stop thinking about it much, and don't feel like having it, but if you make a real effort to schedule it in for a few days in a row, even if you feel kind of "meh" about it at the time, you'll maybe find your drive revs up again.

That's not to say you should have sex if you actually DON'T want to, of course. But if you are just feeling neutral about it, maybe do it anyway.
posted by lollusc at 10:03 PM on September 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good morning.

Really, make sex a priority and do it first thing. You'll be well rested. At least, you'll be as rested as someone chronically sleep deprived can be. Can you sleep in a bit on Saturday or Sunday morning and schedule some sexy time?
posted by 26.2 at 10:07 PM on September 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's understandable that you don't feel like having sex if you are tired. I don't think not having sex is the real problem. I think these are the real problems you should think about:

1. Do you want to continue doing the things in the life that are making you permanently tired, thus missing out on sex, missing out on other things, and possibly putting your health at risk?

2. Do you really want to be with someone with whom you don't feel you can communicate because he has a temper? A significant other should be someone with whom you can best communication, not someone with whom it's hard to communicate.
posted by Dansaman at 11:28 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by LarryC at 11:41 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lack of sleep- sleep more (easier said than done)

Birth control- see if yours has a lower libido as a side effect

Diet defiency:
Iron- if you have your period monthly and don't eat a lot of dark veggies or meat
Vitamin D- if you don't spend much time in the sun, eat fish, or drink much milk
Vitamin B12- if you don't eat much meat

Other causes:
Low thyroid- often runs in your family and can cause general lethargy.
Stress- can you just not let go, even for the 20+ miinutes it takes to enjoy yourself?
Attraction- are you still attracted to your boyfriend sexually? Or are you pretending that you are tired?
Mental- were you ever abused, etc?
Your natural drive- you may not want sex, but if you have it anyway, do you still get into it? Many women have a responsive sex drive. Try two or three times just having sex anyway. If you aren't into it then, then I would rule out medical causes.
posted by Monday at 11:59 PM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

More exercise, it may seen counter intuitive but dragging yourself to the gym a few times a week will improve your sleep and make you much less tired overall.
posted by Lanark at 3:11 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't feel like sex with someone who was angry with me either!
posted by inkypinky at 4:20 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

All of the other posters saying make time, or get the sleep you need are right about that. BUT.

Lately we have had a lot of miscommunication due to my partner's temper issues and have talked about doing couples' therapy. That's just full disclosure but I don't think that plays a role. I am still very much in love with him.

"Temper issues" can be no joke. Does your partner yell at you, have you walking on eggshells, etc? That will kill your sex drive fast. At the very least, it can make you resentful, and more likely to put work, projects, time with your friends, etc, before making time for sex with your partner.

You are obviously crazily busy right now. Can you back off on one project? Spend a little less time at work? Hire a service to take care of one thing you need to do regularly that you can't seem to get finished in time?

Do you and your partner live together? Is he pulling his weight with chores, finances, etc? If not, that's a real intimacy killer.

Enough time with my boyfriend so that we can stay connected and close is very important to me. If I find myself overwhelmed with the business of life and it's getting in the way, I cut back, because it is a priority for me.

Start looking at the way you're spending your time and asking yourself these questions:

1.) Is there any place I can cut back so that I can make time for my partner a priority?
2.) If there's no place that I can cut back, is there a way that he can step in and help?
3.) Is it possible that I just don't want to cut back because making this time feels like an unfair sacrifice, or because making time for him just seems less interesting than the other things I like to do?

If "cleaning the bathroom" and "going to the DMV" are more interesting/important to you than making time for sex with your partner, that is a red flag that something is going on - maybe those temper issues are impacting your attraction and affection for him more than you realize.

If "why should I have to not go to spinning class 3x a week when he can't ever even take out the garbage??" is a thought - maybe it's time to talk to him about more fairly sharing the burden of work.

Tl;dr - I think you should examine the situation a little more closely, really get a handle on your feelings, and see what you think the root of the problem is. If you can't get there, I do agree it might be time to go to couple's therapy.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:19 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

What could this be related to?

Is this the same guy who told you he's better looking than you are? Lack of sleep is more than enough to kill libido and make you feel crappy, but add a partner who takes you for granted and has anger issues and it's really no wonder you are thinking more about couples therapy than sex. Take care of yourself.
posted by headnsouth at 8:18 AM on September 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

People blaming the boyfriend's temper issues seem to be discounting how frustrating/depressing it can feel to be in a relationship with imbalanced sexual needs/outlets. Lack of sex in a relationship can inflame all sorts of other issues, such as confidence and self-worth. Arguments become more common. Yes, this can create a negative feedback loop in which a sexually frustrated person gets angry more often, which then is a turn-off for their partner, but I think that based on the details given it's a mistake to suggest to the OP that the problem is with her angry boyfriend.

OP, first and foremost you are not creating the conditions for a healthy, functional life for yourself. It turns out that a person really does need to get more than just the minimum sleep and create enough downtime in their life if they want to do more than just survive. If you were single, this would still be a problem! But if you're inviting another human to share your life with you, then your standards should be set even higher, because you never know when they might actually need you for something, even if it's just basic moral support. And in your state you might be leaning on your partner a lot more heavily than you realize.

Relationships require more than just being present, and being together for a long time does not mean that you get to coast. Obviously there are trying times when your partner needs to be able to subsist on the bare minimum while you sort shit out, but if that becomes the status quo for your relationship, it can get very toxic very fast.

Obviously people's health concerns here are valid and worth exploring, but I remember being 23 and having to discover firsthand that things like my diet and sleep habits really did turn out to have an effect on my life. It turns out that this stuff was not elaborate propaganda cooked up by bossy grownups after all!

Respect your limitations, and make some changes. Also, set your partner's concerns aside for a moment and pay attention to how unhappy YOU are with your sex life. That's a good safe way to address it when you talk to him: you are unhappy with how you feel, and you want to explore ways to fix it. It will take the pressure off of him to "fix" anything, and will hopefully also keep him from feeling unduly blamed.
posted by hermitosis at 8:38 AM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Lack of sleep could be a major contributor to your fatigue. Might be some medical reason. A visit to your doctor can help you figure that out. Lack of sleep could be a product of your habits, or it might be caused by emotional or physical things. Stress and/or thyroid imbalance are two examples of how this might work. Let a doctor advise you.

Temper problems. That's sort of broad. This could be a feedback loop instigated by a miscoordinated sex life. Might be something else, too. Also, some folks use a short temper as a tool to guide their partner's behavior...this is a bullying tactic. You partner may not be doing this. How can you find out, though, if you can't discuss it with him?

If you can have a pointed discussion about your feelings with your partner, you may be able to find some common ground to discuss these issues. If you feel you can't have this discussion with your partner, then I suggest you talk with a trained counselor of some stripe--Might be that couples counseling can help. Even so, whether your partner cares to go with you or not, at least do yourself the service of talking to a counselor on your own. It's clear that you are able to think about this, but it seems like a couple of tools will help you work it out.
posted by mule98J at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you need to address your fatigue and lack of sleep. Anecdotally, Around 24-25 I noticed a change in my ability to cope with lack of sleep. Prior to that i was on some natural speed, up for anything at any time and could pull an all nighter once a week. Then, pretty suddenly, the normal banal minutia of life - job - errands -miscellaneous upkeep - pretty much tired me out. i compensate by sleeping as much as i want on the weekends now, and have more sexergy since adjusting and accepting the new normal.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:53 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

25 year old dude here... I would gauge that if you got 8.5 hours of healthy sleep per night for a week, not only would your sex drive get turned up to 11, every other aspect of your life would seem easier and more enjoyable.

I am so guilty of depriving myself of sleep, but I'll operate for weeks as a zombie just thinking I need to fit 120% into a single day, then I'll try to just take a restful week and make no plans and actually get a healthy amount of sleep, and I end up getting more done and having the energy to go out or see people afterwards.

Hormonal BC could be it too. But if you're ALWAYS sleep deprived then i bet its this. I was like you when I was dating my last girlfriend, always sleep deprived, because she was in college and wanted me to stay up with her til 12 or 1, and I woke up at 6:30 every day for work and our relationship definitely suffered for it.
posted by el_yucateco at 5:57 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Update: it was the sleep.
posted by kettleoffish at 12:53 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have to admit, the succinctness of that update made me giggle a little.

And yay! Glad you figured it out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:55 PM on October 18, 2012

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