Please help a sexless relationship.
November 29, 2015 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Everything is going great, until at some point my partner doesn't seem to be interested in me anymore. Physically. Everything is great, there is just no sex.

So we ve been together for almost a year. Im in my early twenties and he is in his late twenties. You should probably know that he is the type of man who has had many, and I mean many women in his life. He is very handsome, has a good body, and the most important thing is that he can talk. You can fall in love with him only by listening to him.
It all started as a one night stand. I had just gotten out of a serious relationship and he never was the kind of relationship guy. He once was with a woman for 4 years and after that mostly one night stands or affairs. As time passed and we had slept together many times, we decided we want more. We had a lot of sex. A lot. We explored all our fetishes, fantasies, to the point that he truly said that no other woman has ever satisfied him so much.
Our relationship was amazing, we fell in love.
Now, for about 4 weeks or so, he doesnt seem interested in having sex with me at all. Which is to me pretty odd since he is a man with a very high sex drive. He stopped initiating it, until he'd say that he's not in the mood tonight, that he is tired, that he just doesn't want to. Every night. In 4 weeks, we did it 2 times. And it was bad. I could see in his face that he was bored. He didn't do anything. I can understand if someone simply doesn't want it for some time, for whichever reasons, but in a loving relationship that had been the exact opposite of what it is now, it doesn't seem normal. He doesn't even kiss me anymore. And I'm not the type of woman who needs a lot of sex, I just think that when you love someone and you like someones body you also want to get physical. Right?
I tried talking to him about it a couple of times, and he just got mad, started yelling and said 'This way you only make me wanna have sex with you even less'... I can't reach him. No matter what i say about it, how i say it he just gets mad and starts yelling. It's impossible to talk to him about it. He makes me look like I'm the crazy one.
The odd thing, however, is that everything else between us is going the way it used to, even better that it used to. He seems to be very happy with me, he is very sweet, caring and loving. It's the perfect relationship; there is just no sex anymore. I don't get it! If he wanted to break up with me he wouldn't be so nice to me! He tells me how I'm the only woman for him, how he loves me... He does many nice and sweet things for me.
He is the man of my dreams and I love him more than anything in the world. I don't want to lose him. I cry a lot the last time and it hurts so much that I'm somehow not enough for him anymore. That he isn't attracted to me physically anymore.
Please, please give some advice... Have you ever been in a relationship like that? Or have you been the man who somehow loses his sex drive? Is this normal and am I asking too much? I'm really desperate... No matter what I do, and I know exactly what he likes and what not, I can't seem to get him to it. I can't find an explanation...
posted by Tiffy119 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:45 AM on November 29, 2015 [28 favorites]

Differences between partners related to sex happen all the time. There are many questions about sexual issues in relationships on this site. The common theme to the answers is being able to talk about them.


I tried talking to him about it a couple of times, and he just got mad, started yelling and said 'This way you only make me wanna have sex with you even less'.

is a way bigger relationship problem than the sexual issue. Can you talk about other things with this person without him responding aggressively?

I think you really need to examine your overall relationship dynamic and maybe see a counselor.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:47 AM on November 29, 2015 [39 favorites]

If he refuses to talk to you about it, then there is nothing you can do to magically change things. Sounds like either he has a physical problem/disease he's embarrassed about, there's something about you that has changed that has turned him off, or he's sleeping with someone else. There is no way of knowing unless he talks to you about it. So if he won't, then it's time to dtmfa.
posted by greta simone at 7:48 AM on November 29, 2015 [11 favorites]

You're terrified that you'll lose him. I'm afraid you already have.

You don't have a sexless relationship, that is a negotiated thing where both partners are perfectly content with the decision, you have a relationship where your partner is refusing to have sex with you unilaterally. Additionally, he's hostile about it when you want to discuss it with him.

It doesn't matter why. You want to know, but he's not willing to tell you. He's downright hurtful and mean.

The relationship you have in your head with this man is very different from the relationship you actually have.

Clearly he doesn't want to talk, and he's not exactly trying to explain what's going on. Rather than focus on the sex, focus on the lack of communication. If he's being so nice, simply sit down with him, not when you want sex, but when you're both in a neutral frame of mind.

Tell him what you want, "I am used to having a passionate sexual relationship with you, and suddenly that's gone. You have been hostile and mean when I've asked to discuss it. I love you very much, but I love myself too much to be in a relationship with someone who won't be straight with me about something this important. Please talk to me about what's changed recently. Perhaps I can help."

That's how you open it up. If he does discuss it with you, great. If he refuses, as much as it hurts, as much as you don't want this to be true, it's over.

Why would he be nice and loving to you if he's planning on leaving? If you live together he may not want drama until the lease is up, or until he's got his ducks in a row for leaving. He may want to get through the holidays before dropping the bomb.

For now, stop pressing for sex. YOU start getting your ducks in a row. If you live together, figure out what your exit strategy is, because there is nothing worse than being blindsided by a breakup.

There is no magical thing that you can do to make your relationship go back to what it was. I'm sorry, I wish there were, but there isn't. He's checked out in a major way, and if he won't talk about it with you there's nothing else to do but break up.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2015 [61 favorites]

The best case scenario for this is that he's having some kind personal issue that's affecting his libido - either in general or for you specifically - a health/std scare, a madonna/whore complex, an identity crisis after not seeing himself as a relationship person, etc etc who knows?

Also that not only is he emotionally incapable of addressing this with you, his response to even trying to address something emotionally difficult/complicated is to lash out in hurtful/destructive ways at someone he claims he loves.

Whatever is going on with him sexually, this is actually a gift. He's showing you a side of himself you haven't had to deal with yet - and sooner rather than later.

You have tried to address this situation in a mature, loving way and he refused to play ball. This time it's about sex. Who knows what it will be about next time. A person whose response to emotional complexity is mean, hateful and destructive is not a good bet for a lifetime, or even long-term, partner. I think it's time to take your good memories and move on.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:13 AM on November 29, 2015 [12 favorites]

I differ from those above in that I think this is within the range of normal and can happen from time to time for several reasons. One, there could be a medical issue. Two, there could be a lot of pressure on him elsewhere and he lost his drive for the time being. Three, he could be either cheating or masturbating a lot. Four, he could be having his own body image or confidence issues.

If it were me, before I took it personally I would see if it goes much longer and I would continue to try to talk to him about it. I think this could be reversed and it could be temporary.
posted by AugustWest at 8:13 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Came in to say what pantarei70 said. Even if the sex were to go back to perfect tomorrow, you now know that you are in a relationship with someone who thinks that it's ok to respond with anger and yelling when you come to them with a legitimate relationship problem. It's up to you to decide what to do with that new piece of information. Personally, my idea of a perfect relationship doesn't involve a partner who gets angry and yells when I try to talk about my needs and concerns as a couple.
posted by drlith at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2015 [26 favorites]

There are all sorts of reasons why your boyfriend could have a low sex drive right now, but none of them excuse yelling at you and saying mean things to you.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2015 [24 favorites]

This reads to me like almost textbook cheating behavior. Being extra sweet to avoid guilty feelings, being defensive and blaming you about the lack of sex.
I hope I am wrong.
posted by Requiax at 8:25 AM on November 29, 2015 [19 favorites]

The anger and yelling sounds like a defense mechanism (NOT that it makes it ok), and he is having something going on that he is ashamed of. Could be sleeping with someone else, health issues, physical disinterest, etc.

You could give it some time, let him know you are there to talk, open to seeing what happens, yet also be having a plan B in action.

But in the meantime, I strongly suggest having a conversation, not about the lack of sex, but the anger and yelling. Choosing to hang around a bit should be very contingent on this.
posted by Vaike at 8:28 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I could get behind the idea that it's something physical that is embarrassing him to the point of not wanting to talk about it, but the gaslighting makes me think it may be something uglier like cheating. To make you feel like the crazy one or to say things like "This way you only make me wanna have sex with you less" are things people to do/say to deflect guilt and blame and try to keep from getting caught for a while longer.
posted by cecic at 8:36 AM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

How are things at work for him? My husband occasionally goes through periods of low/no libido that coincide with work stress.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:45 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's always a red flag when you try to ask a question about some aspect of the relationship that matters to you, and your partner responds by yelling or shutting down. Whether it's money, sex, kids, communication styles--doesn't matter. The response to your question is the red flag, not the topic of the question. This isn't about sex.

You could try to talk to him, in a calm moment, along the lines of, "I felt shocked and hurt when you yelled at me earlier, because I think it's important for us to be able to have difficult conversations about our relationship. What can we do to go forward from here? How can we talk about sex in a way that feels safe for both of us?" But I think you need to be prepared for the possibility that he won't be willing to have that kind of healthy conversation. And you can't fix what's broken in this relationship by yourself, it has to be a collaborative effort between the two of you, and that requires healthy communication.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm really sorry that you're going through this. You could absolutely talk to him, but bear in mind this relationship isn't good for you (and it's not about the sex).

No matter what i say about it, how i say it he just gets mad and starts yelling. It's impossible to talk to him about it.

I hope you understand that in any healthy relationship, this is NOT OKAY. At work, with friends, with a supposedly loving relationship, it's not okay for people to respond to others by getting mad and yelling.

He seems to be very happy with me, he is very sweet, caring and loving. It's the perfect relationship; there is just no sex anymore.

Dude, he's getting mad and yelling at you. Forget about calling this a perfect relationship; that's not even a moderately tolerable relationship.

I don't get it! If he wanted to break up with me he wouldn't be so nice to me!

That's because he's being a coward and assuming you'll break up with him.

Is this normal and am I asking too much? I'm really desperate... No matter what I do, and I know exactly what he likes and what not, I can't seem to get him to it. I can't find an explanation...

You're allowed to ask for whatever makes you happy in a relationship. Think about it: you're asking for him to talk to you about why he's no longer interested in sex. You're 100% completely within your rights to ask this. His response is to gaslight and yell at you. Under no circumstances is this ON YOU. You're doing what you can to maintain your relationship and your boyfriend is being an asshole. The explanation is that this relationship is over for him, isn't good for you and you should probably consider your exit strategy.
posted by kinetic at 9:26 AM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

In addition to the great, personalized advice people are sharing above, here's a podcast that you might find interesting: 'Why You're Not Having Sex' on WNYC's Death, Sex & Money (It doesn't have any answers but simply has different people sharing their experiences.)
posted by smorgasbord at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I agree he sounds like he's perhaps sleeping with someone else and enjoying the relationship with you. Obviously I don't know this guy, but if I were you and experienced what you have described, my spidy senses would be going crazy.
posted by flink at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

"He is the man of my dreams and I love him more than anything in the world. I don't want to lose him."

The best thing a woman can do to arm herself against bad behavior and heartbreak is to know in her heart that she is worth the stars and there is more than one fish in the sea. I mean it! If I could have a dime for each friend I know who has degraded herself trying to keep a man I'd be a millionaire. Honestly, I've had my heart broken sure, but there is a real power to letting things run their course and keeping your dignity!
posted by flink at 10:04 AM on November 29, 2015 [35 favorites]

So, I'm not going to say anything about why he might have lost interest in sex for four weeks - I'd be making assumptions.

But this pattern - a woman in being unhappy about something in her relationship and being unable to talk about it with her male partner because anything she says, no matter how diplomatically, is interpreted as an attack - oh boy, does it remind me of my parents. And it's brought them close to divorce and still might, because my stepdad is incapable of discussion or negotiation when it comes to sensitive topics.

Now I'm not in your home listening to your conversations and I don't know if what you've written here has given me an accurate picture. It could be he's responding to something that I don't see in your post.

But geez, I would ask yourself these things:

Is it just sex that he gets so defensive about, or is it anything else? If you, for example, try to have a conversation about him not doing his fair share of chores, does he get like this?

Do you think this is a person you could have difficult conversations with if you're unhappy about something related to his behavior? Ever?

I'm not going to say DTMF, but this is a sign of a problem you need to work out. If it's just the sexual topic, it could be that he's very sensitive and reacting immaturely to it - still a big problem, but perhaps there's hope he can get over it. If it's how he handles conflict in general, hoo boy.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:07 AM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Flink speaks wisely. Always keep in mind that your heart can sometimes do you harm.
posted by kinoeye at 10:18 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll go ahead and say it - his inability to speak to you respectfully about your concerns is a deal breaker.

Withholding physical affection in a domestic relationship AND refusing to discuss it AND using emotionally abusive attacks against you to deflect the topic??


You're in your early 20's. This guy is treating you like shit. This is not good enough for you, you deserve a respectful relationship. Make plans and figure out how you will handle a break up. Then, break up. Living with him while he negates your valid needs and concerns will crush you from the inside.

FWIW, I also think he's cheating. I'm really really really afraid you will stay with this guy absent proof of finding him in bed with someone else or similar. Girl! He's already chipping away at your self-esteem and you seem to think he's better than you. You're in danger!! Plan your exit. Leave him.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2015 [23 favorites]


You're young, he's young, crazy stupid shit happens when you're young. People wake up in the morning and look at their partners and go, "Nope, not interested any more." The bit just flips from one to zero. And the fact that he's yelling speaks to the exact point -- he's just not that into you and can't even explain it to himself, so he's lashing out.

Immaturity is a helluva drug.

There are other fish in the sea, and it's a really, really big sea.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

You don't want to be in a long-term relationship with someone who avoids important issues and lashes out at you. It doesn't matter what his reasons are and it is folly to think that there is anything you can do differently that would fix the situation. If you really, really love him, approach him once more and ask to go to counseling, but if he says no, you're better off without him.
posted by desjardins at 11:28 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

My gut instinct tells me he's got a side piece.
He's playing house with you, and spin the bottle with her.
The yelling and the screaming and the "makes me want to have sex with you less" is a kind of gaslighting that will make you doubt yourself and stay with this guy until the painfully obvious manifests before your very eyes.

Don't wait until you catch him, break up with this dude now.
Even if he's NOT cheating on you, this relationship no es bueno and you deserve better.
Repeat that statement until you really believe it and you find someone who fulfills it.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2015 [10 favorites]

It's only been 4 weeks. It's not cool that he gets angry when you talk about it, but it's also not nearly long enough to be certain it's due to anything really serious. He could be having stress at work or with some other thing. It might be entirely temporary. But be prepared to leave if it continues and if he doesn't pull his neck in with the outbursts when you discuss this - though I suggest not talking about sex and instead talking about how life is going for him more generally, how work is, and so on.
posted by The Monkey at 5:08 PM on November 29, 2015

Either he's cheating or he suddenly developed a medical problem where he can't get a boner. I would strongly suspect it's the first one, especially if he's a guy who can only bone so many times in a day before he can't get it up any more and he's already used it up by the time he got back to you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:02 PM on November 29, 2015

So, first off, yelling at you when you bring up this issue is crappy behavior, and "this way you only make me wanna have sex with you even less" is a crappy thing to say. This kind of thing is not okay and is not a normal relationship dynamic. If this makes you want to end the relationship, as most of the above commenters have suggested, that seems like a totally reasonable response to me. But, your question seems more about what you can do to improve/save the relationship, so the rest of my response assumes you are not (yet) willing end it.

There's a commonly accepted cultural myth that while it's normal for women's libidos to vary, both from individual to individual and for an individual woman from time to time, men should be, for the most part, desiring sex all the time, and if a man is not interested in sex, it must be a sign of sexual dysfunction, extreme stress, or something nefarious. This is a false and damaging myth. Men's sexual drives vary naturally and normally, just as women's do, sometimes because of stress or fatigue, and sometimes for no obvious reason at all. But because this myth is so widely believed, men's varying libidos can cause a lot of angst, both for men and women.

For a man, a completely normal change in libido can create fear that he's "losing his manhood." For a woman in a heterosexual relationship, if her male partner shows a reduced interest in sex, there's a tendency to assume that because a man's intrinsic libido is supposedly always high, the fault must somehow be with her sexual attractiveness; it sounds like this is exactly what you're experiencing. For the male partner, in return, there can be a fear that the woman will perceive him as less masculine, or that he will be unable to satisfy her sexual desires. This cultural myth is so deeply ingrained that people may not even be aware that it is affecting their beliefs and behavior. From my own experience as a man who was raised as and has been a lifelong feminist, I've found that this and similar deeply rooted cultural myths about masculinity and gender have created in me deep-seated fears and negative behavioral patterns that I must constantly work to address, despite consciously rejecting the myths themselves.

Is it possible that your partner's loss of interest in sex is a sign that he's cheating, or that he's just no longer interested in you? Yes, it's possible, but you're in a better position than a bunch of strangers on the internet to judge that. But it's also possible that your boyfriend is experiencing a totally normal and probably temporary decrease in libido, and that he doesn't understand it and maybe consciously or unconsciously fears what it means for his masculine identity; and that because of his insecurity he interprets you raising the issue as an attack and/or redirects his fear into anger at you (anger being a more culturally acceptable masculine emotion than fear). If this is true, it is no excuse for his crappy behavior, but it might be an explanation that helps you to understand it. To know whether it is true, you will need to talk to your partner.

Kutsuwamushi pointed out that in addition to the sexual issue itself, your partner's behavior here is also a sign of fundamental communication issues. In my opinion, this is a more serious problem to address, not because the sex issue is not important (obviously it is or you wouldn't have posted about it here!) but because it's a necessary precursor to all other relationship problems. The communication issue is only resolvable if both of you are on the same page and ready to work at it.

I was taught a technique for relationship communication that I've found to be very effective. The idea is that there are generally two kinds of important but difficult conversations to have in a relationship: thoughts and feelings conversations and problem-solving conversations. Generally speaking, it is better to keep the two types of conversations separate, and have different rules governing them. For your issue, I think a thoughts and feelings conversation would be valuable. The rules are something like this:

1. Both partners must agree to the rules, and help each other adhere to them.

2. Take turns speaking. While one person has the floor, she/he can say as much as she/he needs to, and the other person should only speak if needed to ask questions, not to disagree. If this is too difficult, than the other person should not speak at all.

3. The speaker should use "I" statements, and focus on their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences rather than the other person's motives or what the other person "makes" them do. E.g., not, "you make me wanna have sex with you even less," but "When you say you want to talk about how we've been having less sex recently, I feel angry/frustrated/afraid, because..."

4. When the speaker is done speaking, the other person must now reflect back what the speaker said. Basically, repeat what you heard. This is important even if it feels unnecessary or silly. The listener is confirming that she/he understood what the speaker meant. It is very often the case that what the listener heard/understood is actually quite different from what the speaker said/meant, and this is an opportunity to resolve misunderstandings. Note that the cause of any misunderstanding is not important here, only resolving it so both partners are on the same page regarding what the speaker intended to communicate. The speaker should clarify or reiterate anything which was misunderstood, and the listener should reflect again until the speaker feels his/her statements were understood.

5. Now the partners switch roles and repeat the above. The point here is not to rebut or argue the previous speaker's statements. There is in fact nothing to argue, since they are just the person reporting their own inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

6. This process can repeat several times if needed.

I suggest trying to see if your partner will have a conversation with you about sex according to a format similar to this. You could try suggesting it with something like the following, at a time when you are both relaxed:

"Partner, we had a difficult argument about how much sex we've been having the other day, and I don't feel like I really was able to resolve my worries. I found this exercise on the internet for having difficult conversations in a relationship about thoughts and feelings. It might seem like a silly way to do things, but I really want to be able to tell you how I'm feeling right now, and I hope you can tell me how you're feeling as well. It's important to me that we understand each others' feelings about sex. Will you try this exercise with me?"

If he simply flat-out refuses to discuss this issue at all, even within the context of a well-defined, neutral, and non-judgmental conversation exercise, then whatever the cause of his reduced interest in sex, his lack of interest in meeting your emotional needs and resolving problems with you would seem like an insurmountable issue to me.
posted by biogeo at 10:58 PM on November 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Pursuit, enthrall, entrapment, control, abandonment. Hmm, sounds like you've got a NPD on your hands. (Narcissistic personality disorder)

Look up Narcs and sex and you'll find your story of your apparent uniqueness ('no other woman has satisfied him so much') in a stable of 'many, many women' plus, once you're his, using sex against you, making you do the talking so he can act out the narc rage, is being acted out over and over all over the internet.

Fuck this guy off, stat. I speak from experience.
posted by honey-barbara at 12:21 AM on November 30, 2015 [7 favorites]

Another, very plausible possibility...

He picked up an STD while cheating on you and is avoiding sex so he can heal and not get caught cheating. He'll start sleeping with you again when he's got the all clear from his doc. He will come up with a very "poor me" lie to make you feel badly about doubting him. You'll be so grateful things are back to normal, you'll embrace whatever lie he finally comes up with to explain away the fact he couldn't have sex with you...

Get thee to a doctor ASAP and get tested. And of course, whatever the results, DTMFA. Even if you did not pick up an STD from him, he's still lying and treating you horribly. Dump him.
posted by jbenben at 3:53 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would like to endorse 100% of jbenben's post.

The fact that your sex life has gone from scorching to nonexistent in a short time is a problem, but one with possible legitimate causes and a solvable one, if he approaches it with the same level of kindness and respect you're showing.

But he is not showing kindness and respect; he is attacking you for voicing your utterly valid needs and gaslighting you into thinking it's your fault. This is not the mark of a perfect relationship; it's the mark of selfishness if not outright abusiveness. The set of facts you present also make me tend to suspect he's cheating on you -- but even if he isn't, and the reasons behind his neglecting your physical needs are innocent and legitimate, his treatment of you is totally unacceptable. He is giving you an unintentional gift by showing you this lousy side of him and giving you an opportunity to dump him now.

You deserve better.
posted by Gelatin at 12:11 PM on November 30, 2015

I wouldn't act rashly, just yet.

I would take two weeks and devote my energy to myself and my own life and stop worrying about what he was doing. I would go out with my friends, pursue my hobbies, take myself out shopping or anything else that made me happy. I would take my energy off him and the relationship entirely (I wouldn't be rude, and if he asked I would still accommodate him, but I would lean way the hell back).

If at the end of two weeks he hadn't made any effort to talk to me or act a little differently, I would take stock of what I wanted. That self-focus may continue for another two weeks. After a month, I'd take stock of what had happened when I let go of controlling the situation or trying to change it. If I didn't like what I saw, I'd make some decisions.

He knows what you want and you've talked about it. You talking to him more about the issue is just going to make him withdraw more, as you've seen. He may or may not be up to no good, but what matters here is you. If you put the focus back on you and stop worrying about him for a while, it's a win-win - you see you have a life outside of the relationship and gain confidence and respect for yourself, and he has the space to come to you if he wants to work on things.

He may or may not want to, but what matters is that the only thing that matters right now is you, hon. Good luck.
posted by Sunflowercat at 4:31 PM on November 30, 2015

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