Last night my girlfriend told me that she has no sex drive
July 3, 2016 10:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm 24 and she's 20, last night she told me she doesn't enjoy sex at all and doesn't see the point. She said she likes how people look and likes how I like but doesn't feel desire towards them. I've tried to ask her more about it, like when it started, but she said she genuinely didn't know, it's been causing her a lot of stress and upset and she was afraid to tell me.

We haven't had sex for nearly a month and were having it about once a week before then. She said she does sometimes like the feeling but gets quite sore even though we use a lot of extra lubrication and do a lot of foreplay beforehand.

We've been together nearly six months and she's got a history of depression and anxiety which she still deals with every day, she's not currently receiving any treatment for this, although she has done in the past. I've tried to persuade her to see a doctor about it because I'm concerned, but she seems very reluctant.

She's been on progesterone-only birth control since she was 18 (two different types) and I asked how she felt before she started taking it, but she didn't seem to remember. I was wondering if maybe this could be one of the causes of the lack of libido.

I don't want to make her feel pressured at all to have sex (which I suspect she currently does). But I feel really upset because I'm in love with her and I see this as a source of conflict for the future of our relationship. My sex drive isn't particularly high, especially because I'm on prozac and have a history of anxiety and low mood myself. I don't really mind about this though and am happy having sex every now and then, but I'm not sure I could handle a sexless relationship.

I asked her if she was asexual but she said she didn't know. I really don't know what to do, does anyone think that this might get better if she comes off birth control or changes to a different one and receives good mental health treatment? If she tries this and finds out she is asexual, what should I do? I just really want there to be some sort of compromise we can come to, I really want this relationship to work.
posted by fallingleaves to Human Relations (39 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

It is *really really hard* to be in a relationship where one person is completely uninterested in sex and the other... isn't. It's possible! But it is very hard, even if you decide to open the relationship (which isn't for everyone, and doesn't help a bit if one of the ways you feel and express intimacy is through sex.)

The *only way* this is going to work is if a) you stop asking for, hinting at, or even thinking about sex with her until such time as *she* approaches *you* and b) you mutually figure out a different way to get your needs met. A) is really hard, although necessary because pressure will make her want it even less, and b) might not be possible. A sexless relationship isn't what most people want, and an open relationship - especially one forced open like this - isn't going to work for a lot of folks.

Sorry. This is hard, and it may not be worth it for you. This is one situation where it is *totally* possible to remain friends, though!
posted by restless_nomad at 10:49 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

You may really love her ... but she's not that into you. And it could be that she's not that into anybody, but since you are included in "anybody" the relevant piece of the equation is unchanged. Let her go, and try not to be angry if she's happily hooked up with a new boyfriend in a very short amount of time.
posted by MattD at 10:52 AM on July 3, 2016 [24 favorites]

Well, this is a tough spot. There's pretty much nothing you can do that won't be wrong in some sense. Support can easily turn into being pushy. Doing nothing means you both suffer. It sucks she has this going on, but she has no insight beyond, "I don't know." I'm not sure you can help her. Everyone is going to apply their bias to solutions because she's not providing any helpful information. It's all guessing.

Birth control pills made me moody and depressed and I wish I had known that at the time I was taking them. So there's some anecdata.

You are not a doctor or a professional. If she wants to address this you can help her find good medical help. Or you can break up with her but stay friends, or just break up altogether.

She's 20, but her articulation around difficulties sounds like she is much much younger. I think you might gently encourage her to get therapy. Something is pretty off here, she needs a professional to help her. Sadly, a boyfriend can't help this, not at 20 years old.

I'm glad she was honest. I know you'll be kind in helping her sort this out.
posted by jbenben at 10:55 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

(I'm so dumb! This could also be her way of breaking up with you. I didn't think of that. Sorry.)
posted by jbenben at 10:59 AM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

You love her, and she was afraid to tell you. I feel like that points the way to step one: cheerfulness, encouragement, and no pressure to continue what you've been doing--not instantly trying to diagnose her and worry about worst-case outcomes. I mean, I understand the impulse to immediately figure this out, but I suspect that the bigger deal you make out of this, the more obviously you raise the stakes on answers she really may not have right now either. When she says she doesn't remember how she felt two years ago or whether she's one thing or another now, I'd believe it. Self-understanding takes time--usually a long time. Being chill about this for a few weeks and waiting to bring it up under less intense circumstances is nothing in comparison, and that's what I'd suggest.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:03 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mean, there may not be anything to "sort out." She may just be asexual or have a very low sex drive. However, I do remember how I was at 20 and for some women, especially those from very conservative backgrounds, determining what turns you on or how sexual attraction even applies to you is a long and complicated process and one that you have to basically negotiate and explore on your own. It's not something that's immediately obvious, especially if you don't masturbate or use sex toys. The discussion around sex in our culture is very, very oriented towards male pleasure. She may simply not really understand her sexuality yet.
posted by armadillo1224 at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2016 [40 favorites]

Oh, I also suggest you recommend this book to her:

Maybe she is just asexual but I've noticed that the way sexual arousal is depicted in our culture is not really the way many women experience it and she may find the way it's described in this book to be more relatable.
posted by armadillo1224 at 11:09 AM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: However, I do remember how I was at 20 and for some women, especially those from very conservative backgrounds, determining what turns you on or how sexual attraction even applies to you is a long and complicated process and one that you have to basically negotiate and explore on your own. She may simply not really understand her sexuality yet.

Seconding this.

Also, can you consider what you and she do sexually? Where did you get your sex ed? Where did she get hers? Have you had sex with other people in the past?

Not to be indelicate, but if you're having penetrative sex that goes on for quite a while and she is not being super stimulated by that, this might be a factor in it hurting (despite foreplay and good intentions; I'm not saying that you're being an oik about this), and it might also (I am reaching back to my own memories of my twenties) be a factor in the whole "this feels okay but basically I don't really want to do it" thing.

As you and she work this out, one thing you might discuss (if you have not) is whether trying different things sexually might be of interest. It may not - only she can say! But if you are primarily doing penetrative stuff, that may not do much for her. Or anything you may be doing may simply not do it for her, but I think that particularly the "foreplay then PIV" thing fails to do much for many. It may be that she has not been in a headspace where she's felt good about thinking about other kinds of things and whether she would enjoy them.
posted by Frowner at 11:12 AM on July 3, 2016 [19 favorites]

I can't speak for your girlfriend, but I had just about the same problem in a 5+ year relationship. It turned out I was a deeply closeted lesbian that just didn't want to face the facts or admit it to myself. Towards the end of the relationship I started wondering if I was ace, but it actually was just the attraction to men that I didn't have. I was very anxious and dipping into a depression, even though we were the best of friends and I loved him. Mixing things up in bed helped temporarily, but I remember thinking that if I never had sex again in my life I would have been fine with it.

It took my boyfriend cheating on then dumping me for me to figure things out myself a year later, after reading experiences of other lesbians coming out. I'm not suggesting that she's definitely gay, nor that you tell her you think she is, but it's a possibility. And even if she is, it's something she'll have to figure out herself, him questioning me only made me sink my heels in deeper.
posted by Orca at 11:38 AM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think there's something to the idea of laying off and letting her come to you, but take it from me: pick a deadline. A month, two months, whatever. When you've been having sex, if once a week wasn't enough for you, it may be awhile, if ever, before it's more often than that.

On preview, agreeing with Orca: it may be that she's doesn't like sex, doesn't like you, and/or doesn't like men. You can't tell from the outside, and she may not even know herself whether all of this is a relationship strategy, a physiological thing, or a gender thing. You should prepare yourself for the possibility that you'll have to make a unilateral decision about the relationship.
posted by rhizome at 11:42 AM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

IF she is interested in working on this, I would see if she's willing to try the following things:

1) Go off hormonal birth control. I have a high sex drive and it kills it completely for me. For someone who's never really gotten into sex, it could make it hard for her to know what missing even if she would otherwise be into it. It's not unusual for women to not recognize/ learn their interests until their twenties.

2) Read a sex education book, as suggested above. You should read it too because your technique may be lacking.

3) Try other sensual activities, like long massages, gently stroking her body, etc.

4) Use a vibrator and lube. Alone or with you, whichever is more comfortable for her.

5) Go down on her for 20 minutes straight. Make it just about her; if you want to get off afterward, you can do it yourself.

6) Spend some time exploring your body... giving her free reign to do that and experiment with your responses to different things might make her more comfortable and interested.
posted by metasarah at 11:46 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's definitely worth it for her own long term health and mental well being to come off the birth control and see what her normal is, no matter if the two of you stay together or not. Birth control is a weird thing and what has no effect on one person might completely change another's personality.
posted by fshgrl at 11:47 AM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

She said she does sometimes like the feeling but gets quite sore even though we use a lot of extra lubrication and do a lot of foreplay beforehand.

It might be the birth control, she might be asexual - we can't know for sure but the fact that she says she's sore even though you're using extra lube and foreplay suggests it could be either a medical problem or a um "physics" problem - if your angle isn't right, it can rub and be uncomfortable which is really not sexy. How long have you been on prozac? Your medication could be affecting your performance. Either of those problems could be made worse by anxiety though, so you trying to "solve" the problem for her is likely to increase that and make it worse.

I think you should focus on the soreness issue first - if sex is unpleasant, its not really surprising she doesn't want to do it that often.

I'm a lot older than her but I think masturbation is still pretty taboo with young women, but I don't think she can really say that she isnt interested in sex until she's had a really great experience
posted by missmagenta at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think you're coming from a good place, but just try to remember that you can't fix this for her, and if after awhile things don't change, you're probably both better off with other people and that's ok too. She has to want to do this and she was to want to try different things. If she's not into that and not working with you, there is not much else you can do.
posted by bleep at 12:12 PM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think you need to go back and talk to your girlfriend. The thing that is missing from your question is how does she feel about her lack of sex drive? Does she want to do something about it? Does she want to be in a sexless romantic relationship with you?
posted by sm1tten at 1:18 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, seconding MattD - she's not that into you. MAYBE she's not into anybody, but she's 20, and while asexuality is real, it's not nearly as common as young people not knowing what they want and prevaricating about it to keep someone around as a placeholder. I hope I'm wrong and that's not what's happening here, but that was my immediate (experience-based) read. I would hate for you to strain yourself to understand and accommodate her 'no sex drive', and then later learn what you were really being so noble about was the fact that she wasn't attracted TO YOU.

I'll disagree with MattD though advising you not to be angry if she quickly hooks up with a new boyfriend - go ahead and be angry. Using someone you're not into for comfort and support while you 'figure things out' may be common, but that doesn't mean it's not cruel.
posted by randomname25 at 1:41 PM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Agree with much of what others say here. If she wants to try some things, here is what I would say:
1) Give her some space first, so she doesn't feel pressured.
2) Suggest she learn how to masturbate if she isn't already. She may not be. A toy could help. Give her the space to do this. She also may not be in the headspace to do this, as others have stated, young women often have been taught some very negative things about sex and she might not be ready to overcome. But if she's open to it, Betty Dodson is a good place to start.
3) Stop hormonal birth control. It may be causing her disinterest in sex and the discomfort during intercourse. It may take a few months for sexual desire to return.
4) If she does want to try but still is having trouble with discomfort, focus on non-penetrative sex for a while. Especially bringing her to orgasm. Some woman are much more interested in PiV sex after they orgasm. Some need to be right up to the edge. But for now, see if that would help would be helpful.

Other thoughts-

- the foreplay might not be long/stimulating enough. It's cliche, but true: men and women often have vastly different ideas about what is long enough. This goes back to #4- she may need to orgasm before penetrative sex is enjoyable. Or some gradient in between.

Is there anything that has happened in the bedroom that made her uncomfortable? She may be shutting down as opposed to telling you about it, especially if she's not sure about how to discuss what she wants and doesn't like.

Is there anything in your daily life that might make her resentful? Has she been doing most of the emotional labor? If you live together, does she do the majority of the house work? Is she in a position where she feels like she's mothering you as opposed to being an equal partner? Think carefully about this, men often overestimate what they do in terms of relationship and house work.

She could be in denial to herself that she's not interested in you and thinks she's not interested in any sex. This happens. MattD touches on this, but it's a form of emotional labor that some women do unconsciously- blaming themselves for their lack of sexual interest because they don't want to accept they just aren't into their partner for whatever reasons.

Are you affectionate and loving outside of sexy time? Do you make her feel wanted, loved? Is there playful touching and does she enjoy it? Some men have a pretty stark sexy times and the rest of the time where there isn't much daily affection given.

Do you listen to her? Are there times she might feel ignored on a regular basis? Say, watching tv or playing video games.

And of course depression can kill someone's interest in sex.

But these are all things to explore if she wants to. There is no guarantee she will.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:59 PM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

She said she does sometimes like the feeling

Sorry to be so direct about it, but, from the way you've described it, I genuinely can't tell: does she have orgasms when she has sex with you? Has she ever had an orgasm? I don't say this in an accusatory way, either of you or of her--depending on how she was brought up, a young woman may be left with very little understanding of her body or, even worse, a sense that too much knowledge--much less knowledge that can lead to pleasure!--is shameful.

I think it's rare to enjoy sex if you aren't having orgasms--or haven't ever had one. If this is the case (among many of the other plausible interpretations offered here), and you want to remain in this relationship, I think you need to focus on helping her understand what pleases her. That may mean making some helpful suggestions about reading (a lot of people seem to like Come As You Are), offering to get her one of the tiny cute non-penetrative-looking vibrators at Babeland like the Ako Vibe and some lube, and backing way off so she can do some exploration without shame.

Basically, she may or may not ever find that she wants to have sex to a degree that meets your needs (for this reason, or the other reasons people have suggested), and you may need to move on. This will be painful for both of you, but (unless she really is just looking for a gentle way to break up) especially for her. Regardless, the one thing you can do for this woman you love is not build up in her a further sense of shame and failure. That could be the difference between your relationship being yet another stone in the wall of a traumatic sexual history or being something that is sad, but ultimately bittersweet.
posted by praemunire at 2:42 PM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Whatever your girlfriend's issues may be - asexuality, birth-control related low sex-drive, just not into you - they certainly aren't going to be resolved by her doing nothing to actively work through them.

A good relationship can't be sustained if partners aren't willing to work through issues and conflicts. It's not fair of her to expect or ask you to wait around for some indefinite period while she sorts this stuff out in her head. She's got to be wiling to seek out a sex-positive therapist and perhaps go back on medication.

And I think it's okay for you to tell her that you are willing to support her efforts to sort through any issues and to take sex off the table while she does so, but she's got to actively seek help and work on her issues. And you should be willing to attend counseling with her, if that's what's needed. If she's not willing to do those things, then I think it's okay for you to say that you will continue to support her as a friend, but can't go on supporting her as a romantic partner.
posted by brookeb at 2:58 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, God, sex at 20 and sex at 40 are so radically different, they're not even in the same orbit. When I was closer to 20, and for years afterward, I would go through phases where I'd be interested in sex, and then just completely lose interest. For sure, when I first started having sex, I was brimming with curiosity which, after the fact, was well summed up by a friend who described her own experience, as "Is this it?" I knew many many many other women who described similar experiences.

It's not your fault. It's a little joke God plays on the two genders.... But in all likelihood, she doesn't know much about her body, and probably you don't either. Statistically most women, especially young women, don't masturbate. That really doesn't help. Then, too, there's the many different ways women's bodies can be structured.... So a few points: (1) is that some women get off with oral or with manual stimulation. And some don't. I didn't realize this until I happened on a book ... and I was well past 30 then, explaining that for women there's a hands-on and a hands-off method to self-stimulation. The latter is rarer, and whether that's your thing depends entirely how your structured, and this can totally change the equation. Further, for the hands-off types, oral may not do it. It's certainly never done anything for me. (2) I've noted, as have other women I've known, that "bad boys" are often a lot better in bed. That's because they really want to get off, and have learned a lot of techniques to facilitate that. (3) My first really incredible experience was with someone who knew a lot about nerve endings. That's a lot of what gets anybody off: the tensing and releasing of nerve endings. If you or she can figure out where all those are ... it might help things a lot.

All that said, depression; ill health, which easily wearies her body, and makes her not want to move much; birth control and a feeling of pressure around sex can all render women uninterested in sex. When sex therapists encounter this problem in marriages, they typically focus on fooling around, while taking sex itself off the table entirely, for a while. As to how to proceed, the important thing is that you're both really in accord. And if and when you do, maybe turn it into a little bit of game as to who or what turns which of you on: first you, then me, then you, then me. In the meantime, I'd do a lot of reading if I were you. It will serve any relationship you have really, really well.
posted by Puppetry for Privacy at 3:18 PM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just because it hasn't been mentioned above, and this could have been me... it's turned out that for me it was just low-grade chronic yeast infections and being somewhat "tight". I had the painful sex you're describing often, but haven't had it since giving birth! There are other ways to accomplish this, thankfully.

A check-up with a well-regarded sex-positive (preferably young female) doctor wouldn't hurt; also wouldn't hurt to re-evaluate the birth control she's on. I know when I was that age all the clinics I went to gave very perfunctory service, and to sexually active college girls automatically prescribed the absolute strongest birth control (which made me super depressed, fwiw). Swapping it up might help. I can also recommend the book Ending Female Pain by Isa Herrera; physical therapy can help with these things but is hard to find.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:20 PM on July 3, 2016

If she is experiencing soreness and discomfort, then that can be the reason that she doesn't like sex. Possible causes:

1) She may have the beginnings of a yeast infection. Both of you should stop drinking and live a healthier lifestyle. Encourage her to eat more fruits and veggies.

2) Her personal lubrication can be off due to allergy medication or stress. One uncomfortable, drunken time can be enough to seize up a woman her age. You may have to slow things down to let her relax with you again.

3) Her ph balance may be off. You should never touch her with anything that hasn't been recently washed, as her body could be reacting to your aftershave, your sweat, your soap, your pizza residue from supper, etc.

4) It could be that you are both too inexperienced to know that you aren't doing a good job of it.
a. Foreplay should not always lead to sex. Kissing, cuddling, hand holding, and doing nice things should happen all the time, not just when you are expecting a happy ending. Having it always lead to that one thing can cause her to tense up.
b. She may actually only be able to enjoy it if she is on top, but be too shy to be on top.
c. She is supposed to be enjoying what is going on. If she isn't, you should stop immediately. Going in for the big finish might feel great for you but it can be very uncomfortable for a woman who hasn't been properly satisfied first. If your big finish is uncomfortable (some young men can be somewhat rough without realizing it), and she knows it is coming, it could ruin the entire before experience for her. Avoid watching any porn so that your response is towards her and not to what you see in your head. Make it your goal to connect with her, instead of both of you finishing.

If you love her, then you may want to take sex off the table (since it seems to be anyway). Back way off. Continue with kissing, holding hands, etc., but stop it there. Let her learn to feel safe and comfortable with you. We aren't made like the movies. It is an emotional act for women and, most times, slowing things down is the best way to heat things up.
posted by myselfasme at 3:29 PM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just wanna say, oral contraceptive totally killed my libido. I didn't notice at first, because I felt pretty normal. But I realized I usually got hormonal when ovulating, and I'd notice a marked increase in my libido around this period. Birth control dulled that to the point where it went away completely, and I had to really really work at it to get turned on. It was awful. But regular condoms dry me up; they hurt after a while-- so it was this weird catch 22 for me. I was considering getting a diaphragm or gold/copper (non hormonal) IUD or such. Also, SKYN condoms were the best we found for me.

So that may be a factor for her, it's really hard to say. It could be so many things. Lots of great answers here. I'd look into alternate BC first of all to eliminate that as a factor. After that, if she still feels that way, then you know it's not that.
posted by Dimes at 4:18 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lots of stuff in this thread might be great advice for your girlfriend, if she were looking for it, but may backfire coming from you. You don't want to create a sense of obligation around explorations that should be personal and light-hearted.
posted by yarntheory at 4:47 PM on July 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Also recommending "Come as You Are", an amazing and eye-opening book about female sexuality and how our society completely fucks up women's understanding of what normal female sexuality looks like.

But also--you can't force her to do anything. She has to want to put effort into solving this problem (and if she turns out to be asexual, then it's not a problem to be solved, it's just how she is). Any pressure you put on her, and anything you say or do that could imply she's "broken" and needs to be fixed, will just make it harder for her.
posted by a strong female character at 5:47 PM on July 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Some of the responses above, that assume she is stringing you along or "using" you to figure herself out, pain me.

It might be the case, but she just also genuinely might not know. At 20, I didn't know. At 30, I didn't know. I still don't know.

I do not know why I have almost no sex drive. It has caused a lot of problems for me, because people I've loved -- I didn't want to have sex with them, but for the vast majority of people, sex is an important part of a romantic relationship.

I went through the list of reasons why I might not want sex:

* Have I experienced a sexual trauma? No.

* Is there something up with my hormones? No, I had them checked.

* Am I culturally repressed? No, or rather -- I wasn't raised conservatively, and don't think I'm repressed more than average.

* Is it because I just don't know what I'm doing? No.

* Is it because I just need to become comfortable with this person, to let go, to blah blah blah? Will it change with time? No.

* Is it because I'm trying with the wrong people? No? I mean, probably not?

* Is it birth control or medication? No, I'm not on birth control or medication (anymore).

* Is it a symptom of depression that will get better if the depression does? Apparently not.

* Am I just this way? ????? Still undecided.

The thing is, she has to go through this process herself. It is completely understandable that she might not have an answer yet. It's completely understandable she might never have a clear-cut answer. (Or, she might find that the answer to one of the above items is "yes.") There are many reasons to have low or no libido. Most of them don't come with signs.

It's very likely that a young woman her age doesn't know what's going on and whether it's permanent. Like, I still don't know, and I've had ten more years to figure it out.

So I would urge you to have some empathy for how confusing and difficult this must be for her also. It sounds like you already do. This is mostly telling you not to listen to people telling you that it's X, Y, or Z--especially those people telling you that she's being selfish.

I really don't know what to do

You have to talk about it with her. This isn't something that will go away by ignoring it. If sex is an important part of a relationship to you, you have to address it. Not addressing it turns it into this big, unspoken thing that can be just as stressful, anyway--that won't help her figure this out.

The first thing you need to find out is if she views this as a problem that she wants to fix. If she does, changing her birth control is an obvious first step, because this is a known side-effect.

You say she's reluctant to see the doctor. Is this because she doesn't want to deal with this issue, or is because of something else--embarrassment at talking about it, fear of doctors, etc?

If she doesn't want to work on it, then you need to figure out together where that leads you--whether there is a compromise that works for both of you, or whether that leads you your separate ways. It's not wrong to break up with someone because you're incompatible, even if you still love them.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:47 PM on July 3, 2016 [15 favorites]

The only time I've ever stayed in a relationship where I didn't want to have sex with my partner is when the sex was painful for me. He would be pretty rough with my nipples and I would be in pain for a whole day afterwards because of it. He didn't want to hurt me and I would tell him to stop being rough, but when he would get excited he would suddenly get rough and then I'd signal him to stop, which he would immediately- but his ego would be hurt so he'd lose excitement and then we'd have to build again... and that was the cycle. Sometimes I would just grit my teeth and bear through it because I knew it was hurting his feelings and he would start hating himself when I'd bring it up. Which made me feel awful, so I would just try to avoid sex.

Is it possible that you are unintentionally causing her physical pain in some way and she's afraid to hurt your feelings by telling you?

Another possibility: My best friend in highschool dated a guy for two years that she refused to have sex with. Her excuse was that she wasn't ready yet. Well... then she met a girl... and lost her virginity with her after dating her for only 2 weeks and broke up with her bf. That's when she started telling me she was Bi... which she soon realized was just kidding herself further. She was a lesbian. She just didn't ever admit it to herself.

When her ex found out that she was involved with a girl who she was sexually intimate with only a short time after dating her he blew up in anger and literally destroyed his dorm room (He had just entered college when he heard). His immense anger made my friend even more happy that she was a lesbian. That was over 15 years ago and my friend is now married to a lovely woman.

Either way, it's completely unfair of her to just expect you to stay in this relationship with her when she doesn't seem willing to engage in sex anymore with you. You shouldn't pressure her, but you do need to ask yourself how long you're willing to stay this and come up with a logical time-line and sensible discussion plan, so that at the very least you guys can make an amicable break that doesn't involve a big blow-out.
posted by manderin at 8:22 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

[edit] Never mind, learned to read. For what it's worth, I know somebody who went through this exact same thing. it was their depression, and it went away once that was treated.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2016

Honestly if I told a guy I wasn't interested in in sex with him and he listened to some of the above advice and came back with a laundry list of sex-y activities we could "try" I'd break up with him, change my number and never talk to him again. No matter how it was phrased as being for my own growth as a person. I think you need to respect her feelings here and not pressure her for sex. Which is what many of not most of the suggestions here are focused on. It sucks if you break up over this but most breakups suck.

I think all you can do is say to her "where do we go from here?". If the answer is anything other than a strong affirmative from her that she's interested in pursuing a higher sex drive I think the writing is on the wall about you two having any kind of sexual relationship anytime soon. You can breakup or have an open relationship at that point.

For her own benefit though it is likely worth getting off the BC. Low sex drive, depression and anxiety are like the top three side effects for a lot of women.
posted by fshgrl at 9:08 PM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

You don't mention- do you guys always try for PIV sex or do you sometimes do other stuff, not as foreplay, but as the main event?
posted by corb at 9:36 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

As someone who got dumped for being ace, I find the advice that discounts her own words to suggest that she's just not into you or trying to break up with you to be borderline insulting. If she told you that she's not into sex, please believe that she's not into sex. The way she says she "doesn't see the point" rings pretty familiar. I'm sure she agonized for weeks about whether and how to talk to you about this.

There is probably not a way to break up with her over this issue that won't make her feel like a broken, unlovable person - especially at 20. I felt like a human being that I loved deeply chose an incomprehensible hobby over me, and it sucked horribly. But you aren't her or me. You're you, so you need to make choices for yourself. But at least be honest about it and don't try to "fix" her for the sake of your own desires.
posted by Corinth at 11:09 PM on July 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

You don't mention- do you guys always try for PIV sex or do you sometimes do other stuff, not as foreplay, but as the main event?

This. A billion times this. Our society is soooo piv-centric and yet the vast majority of women do not orgasm from PIV. And there are so many ways to feel good outside of PIV, that are equally valid.

Suggestion: stop using the word foreplay. That word implies that the main event is always PIV, and everything else is just a precursor to What Really Counts.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 12:10 AM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm with Corinth here. I slept around in college, then was in a long term relationship for more than a decade, all the while never actually enjoying sex. In that relationship I was shamed for not wanting to have sex more. I was told that it was my fault and that I would have to come on to him on a regular basis to make it up to him. It was always something I was doing on purpose to hurt him, every conversation was about how he's a horny guy and how dare I not want to have sex. I offered to pretty much just lie there and take it whenever he wanted sex but that wasn't good enough, I needed to be into it, apparently. I was never going to be into it. I didn't know then that I might be ace, it's only been in recent years that I've considered it.

I did eventually meet my husband, who is the only guy I've ever been with where sex felt good. Out of 20+ attempts over the course of 20 years. And even though I think he's the sexiest man alive, and most of the time when he asks if I wanna, I'm all "hell yea," I do not think about having sex pretty much ever. I don't fantasize. Etc.

So, yea. I am your gf and trying to solve it by making her have more sex is not the way to go. She needs to decide if she wants to explore sexually, and she deserves to be listened to whatever her decision. I just assumed I was broken because all people want to bang all the time, right? It never occurred to me that not wanting sex could be normal.

And you need to do what's right for you. I wish my ex had had the courage to leave me instead of constantly berating me for how long it had been since I'd blown him.
posted by cabingirl at 5:40 AM on July 4, 2016 [6 favorites]

Just to add, I don't think that's what you are doing here (berating her or pressuring her.) That was my ex, not you.
posted by cabingirl at 5:50 AM on July 4, 2016

It's commendable for you to be seeking information and advice, but honestly, you can't solve this for her. This is for her to figure out.

There is one thing you can address: if she isn't having orgasms when you guys have sex, then of course it isn't enjoyable for her. (Yeah yeah you can have sex without orgasmic release occasionally, but to do it over and over again is not pleasant. It basically makes a person dread sex.) So the one thing I do think is in your court is to ask if there's anything you can do to help her come, if that's been a problem. That includes cheerfully incorporating toys, oral, anything that might help.

Beyond that - stuff like asking her to change her birth control, etc - I don't think are things you can do for her.

It is totally fine to break up over sexual incompatibility at your age. Much better than staying and pressuring someone or being disappointed in them.

Good luck!
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:46 AM on July 4, 2016

It sounds like your girlfriend may end up identifying as somewhere on the asexual spectrum, or maybe there's some other cause. Only she can decide that for herself. The number one thing for you is to decide what you're willing to accept in a relationship.

Can you be okay waiting a month, two months, 6 months, while she figures this out? What if she decides she is asexual? It's okay if you decide you want a relationship with a more active (or any) sexual component. You shouldn't pressure your girlfriend into having sex (not that it sounds like you're doing this at all), but you can decide this is a dealbreaker for you.

I would encourage both of you not to make any snap decisions. It sounds like this is something you just found out about and that your girlfriend is only just opening up about.

Even though it sounds like your girlfriend hasn't decided whether she identifies as asexual, I'm going to go ahead and include some links. I don't know that you want to show your girlfriend these right now since that might seem too pushy, but if she expresses interest in learning more about asexuality, maybe you can pass them along to her. In the meantime, you might find it helpful to look at some of these resources so that you can get a sense of what being on the asexual spectrum is like, whether or not that's where your girlfriend ends up.

The Asexual Agenda: A really great blog that I found via mefi. Here are there asexuality 101 resources.

The Ace Theist. I really like this blog entry on differentiating types of attractions. Also this post.

The thinking aro

Asexual outreach

Also, AVEN (I haven't spent much time there, so I can't vouch for it one way or the other, but I'm pretty sure it was one of the original asexuality organizations. I think there are some things about AVEN that some members of the ace community aren't thrilled about, but I don't know what they are off the top of my head.)

There are lots of people out there who are way more knowledgeable about this than me, but I just wanted to throw these out there since I think there can be a lot of confusion and misconception about asexuality. Again, I'm not saying your girlfriend is asexual, since only she can decide that. Still, you might find these readings helpful, and it could be worth having some links on hand if your girlfriend decides she wants to read more about this herself.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:41 PM on July 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

You are very young. Sex is important in a relationship. Her hangups are going to become your hangups, or you're going to find a different outlet, which may have negative consequences for the relationship and for future relationships. Move on.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:42 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's 100% okay for you to not date her if your interests don't overlap. Nothing bad will happen to you if you don't want to date her because (e.g.) you want sex and she doesn't. By all means, please do talk with her about this, because maybe you can find some common ground. But don't feel like you have to be the bigger person here and put aside your wants and needs just for her, because that doesn't generally work.
posted by disconnect at 6:00 PM on July 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Framing the issue as just being about "her hang ups" is rude and dismissive. If it turns out to be something like sex is painful for her or she doesn't understand her own sexuality yet, that is not a "hang up", it is a valid and totally normal concern for a woman her age.
posted by a strong female character at 11:47 AM on July 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

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