Sex & Sociability

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Sexless Relationships

Sexless relationships have causes and often have solutions as well... Read More

how about a factor that the

how about a factor that the male partner never turned the female partner on but her being on the pill disguised this fact.

To Rachael

If "he never turned her on" means she never had an orgasm with him that's a separate issue. Whether or not her libido was dampened by taken the pill a woman would know whether she was sexually attracted to him or not.

What if over time the mystery

What if over time the mystery and lust just naturally go away? This happens to me in every relationship. The longer I'm with someone and the more I get to know them, the less sexually attracted I become.Not that I don't like sex with them but not as much as I did when the relationship was new and exciting.

reply to Anonymous

Very few if any couples manage to retain the original charge of new love and lust. It does change over time for everyone. One hopes that what takes its place is a comfortable love and sexual relationship that is richer than the original. Love and sexual connection can be recharged with deepening intimacy and there are many books available to suggest methods of doing so. I personally like couple enrichment weekends which encourage falling back into love like those of David Schnarch, Terry Real, and John Gottman.

divergence over time

Your reply seems to presume that each partner equally loses "new love and lust" with time. I would suggest the problem is that in many, if not most cases the problem is that one partner loses it more quickly than the other, or even that one partner actually has increased lust and love while the other has less.

So perhaps the problem isn't so much "recharging" the relationship as bringing one person up more than the other?

What if you hate sex and cannot be "turned on"?

I've taken great measures to ensure that I have zero interest whatsoever in sex and never will develop any (copious amounts of antidepressants and hormone suppressing injections around the age when most youth start puberty were very beneficial). I was also brought up with an understanding that it was not something people did to those they love. Furthermore, I come from a generation that associates it with piggish acts by a cigar-loving, "chubby chaser" U.S. president and also the far worse problem of AIDS. Is the OP saying it's impossible to have a "relationship" if you don't consummate it or can't just "close your eyes and think of England"?

reply ro anonymous uninterested in sex

There are people who define as asexual who are still looking to have a life partner. It is not necessary to to consumate such a relationship if both partners want to be abstinent. Do a search for "asexual" and you will find others like yourself.

25+ years of an essentially

25+ years of an essentially sexless marriage, which, although a good marriage in many ways, but has just about killed me every single day, have now culminated in a husband that not only is not interested in sex but unable due to prostate cancer surgery. I have felt lonely, resentful at always being the initiator, and deprived of fully being a woman everyday of my life with him, but this is simply unbearable. It is so sad.

Response to Anonymous

You have my sympathy. Please consider discussing this with a sympathetic therapist to help you make some decisions.

Some are hit hard by menopause.

She went through menopause and lost interest completely. She no longer can even masterbate or even get turned on by someone else. Hormone therapy and such did not help. Perhaps a small percentage of women cannot be helped. We are good friends now. I will keep this experience in mind when I date again, perhaps I will date younger women.

dating younger women

A woman's age is no guarantee of her interest in sex, I assure you. There are many postmenopausal women who enjoy intercourse and many younger women who don't. I can't comment on your wife's situation, not knowing all the facts.

my wife hit hard by menopause too

Great article. I think I'd add another category to the five you list. There's a small but significant percentage of women who've never had an orgasm. They experience erotic feelings and turn-on's in the initial part of the relationship, but probably fall more quickly back to a level where sex doesn't really provide the "punch" to sustain interest as long as for women who can have orgasms.

And then when you add loss of libido due to multiple childbirths and menopause -- added to a lifetime of not knowing how her body can work to produce an orgasm, it would seem to be a very steep uphill to THEN have one's first orgasm. Now, when such a woman is married to a healthy man who still wants daily sex, you have a formula for sexual discrepancy disaster which even therapy can't adequately resolve, in spite of mutual love and respect in nonsexual ways.

good essay

Just read it -- good essay. Totally agree. You're exactly right -- therapy can enable better communication, but might still not resolve the sexual discrepancy.

It's my observation that there are probably more quiet and tacitly open marriages than some people might suspect, and they have found it the most practical solution to their problem. They don't show up in therapists' offices because the solution works well for them. And they don't advertise to everyone that they have such a marriage because many Americans judge that rather harshly (sometimes by people who themselves have affairs they are keeping secret even from their spouses!) And they don't show up in statistics as "open marriages" because they prefer to be just known as "married" and file their taxes that way.

My marriage has been sexless

My marriage has been sexless for over 20 years and I have been terribly sexually lonely for a long time. I had a great sex life before I got married but after the wedding and a couple of kids both lost interest in having sex with each other. I simply couldn't find enough sexual desire for her to even get an erection. I guess I should have married someone else as I was never really sexually attracted to her but she had other things going on that made her fun to be with and we still get along fine except for the lack of sex.

We tried many types of therapies and therapists but after years of that nobody was able to help and so we just accepted the sexless marriage and stayed together for the kids.

My biggest problem since then is trying to find a woman who will have sex with a married man, especially and older one in his late 50's. I am constantly getting rejected and paying for sex is not an option. I keep thinking my sex drive will diminish with age but it hasn't changed one bit since I was in my 30's. In some ways it's a curse. It is really a sad and frustrating situation.

response to Sexless Sam

I do understand how sad and frustrating it is. There are books and weekend groups designed to reawaken sex between sexless couples and a good couples' therapist usually can make some dramatic improvements. If you have tried all these things there are web sites designed to connect married people, men and women, looking for sexual relationships that won't threaten their marriages. Look around online and I'm sure you'll find one or two.

I'm afraid sex between us

I'm afraid sex between us isn't an option now after all these years. I have tried a few websites where married people can hook up but they tend to be very mercenary in their approach and very expensive. I really feel they take advantage of people's loneliness with little or no understanding of what's it's like.

If someone had told me in my 20's or early 30's before I got married that I would basically go without sex for the second half of my life I would have laughed in their face. Not having sex was something that never even occurred me back then as I started dating and having sex in my teens. It was just always available and you didn't necessarily have to me in any kind of serious relationship to get it. Many just had sex for pleasure and fun or because they were sexually attracted to the person. Those days are definitely over and I really miss them so much.

Thanks for taking the time to write back.

My wife and I are mid 40s but

My wife and I are mid 40s but sexless for 5 plus years. She developed small tumour in pineal and pituitary glands that knocked out sleep and hydration functions but are now controlled by medicine. Prior to that she told me she felt too much pressure to have an orgasm when we made love and just wanted me to be content with 'quickies'. Trouble was she seemed so bored with it and it happened so infrequently I just stopped asking for it. as lack of enthusiasm hurt and I felt like a failure.

She's still the love of my life but even non sexual intimacy is rare, I'm constantly lonely but would never look elsewhere. I've suggested counselling and marriage courses but she hates the thought of that. I know this is the numbing effect her meds and tumours have on her but it still hurts.

Despite all this id still choose her again.


Response to H.

That's very romantic but are you really willing to go the rest of your life without sex, wartmth or intimacy? She "may hate the thought" of marriage counseling but what about the thought of a miserable husband? I suggest you make a firmer request or go alone.

Warmth and intimacy can be

Warmth and intimacy can be offered, but part of an ultimation? I don't think so. It's true I feel lonely but not miserable.

Sexism should stop

"...loveable about him or her"

People should put these gender words in alphabetical order, rather than using the sexist male word first convention by default.

What makes a relationship?

I've been in a sexless relationship for seven years, more or less since the relationship began or within a month anyway. There has never really been any intimacy either, physically or emotionally, to the point where a simple hug or kiss on the cheek seems awkward.

The obvious thing is to open a discussion and explain there is no actual relationship. However, she seems so happy with the status quo and so miserable with any discussion that I can't really face it. Bizarrely, she has concluded that I am autistic and am afraid of intimacy, and even tells people that, but that is only true around her.

The level of coolness is such that I don't like meeting her friends and won't invite my friends to meet her. The result is I can only cope by increasingly locking myself in my study, and going away for months at a time. Our social life together also ended a couple of years ago, although she keeps trying on this front, inviting me out for drinks with them. These often disintegrated into public "silent" fights, so I no longer go, or leave early.

She is a smart, sexy woman, with incredible style and flair, so she does get plenty of attention and is often invited out. She always describes these guys as "creepy" though, even when they seemingly would make far better matches for her. She is also a senior executive, so can afford her own lifestyle.

I feel condemned to a life of misery. We both respect, admire and support each other. We just don't seem to like each other very much or inspire each other or have fun with each other. Is it a platonic relationship, or just a stuck friendship with occasional obligations? And where is the exit?

Reply to Quo Vado

Whatever you want to call it it doesn't sound very rewarding. No one is condeming you to a life of misery but you. If you want to change things make an appointment with a psychotherapist and if she won't join you it's evident that she likes things the way they are. If you don't make that appointment it's evident that there is something in this "relationship" that serves you. Otherwise, you know where the front door is. Walk through it.

I love him but...

I've been dating a wonderful man off and on for two years. The first break up was because of the near sexless nature and lack of intimacy. He says he has no libido at all but I can't get it out of my head that it's me he's not attracted to since he dated an 18 year old while we were broken up and managed to have sex with her. While there are medications and counseling available he doesn't have insurance or money for private pay. I have insurance but it won't cover couples counseling since we aren't married. I have explained to him that sex and intimacy don't require penetration and he says he will try (usually after I break down in tears because I'm so starved for human touch) but other than a few kisses nothing changes. Could you direct me toward some sources that don't require insurance or lots of money?

Thank you,


Reply to "I love him but...."

I am most familiar with resources in the San Francisco Bay Area where I practice. Check on Psychology Today Find A Therapist in your zip code. Contact those who have sex therapy specialties and ask if he or she has a sliding scale. In the meantime I strongly urge you and your guy take a massage course together to learn how to give one another pleasure without sex. Also check Resources on my Sexuality Forum

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Isadora AlmanM.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."


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