One of the more common questions that I get from both men and women is:
My partner doesn’t want sex as often as I do (or, my partner doesn’t want to have any sex at all)… what should I do?
In this example a woman wrote to me on the verge of breaking up with her man over the lack of physical intimacy:
Thank you for all the information you put out.
I have read everything you said and I agree with you however I’m I’m a relationship where my partner won’t have sex with me. He refuses any thing I attempt. I’m in shape. It’s abnormal because its been 10 months. We’re in our mid 30s I assume the only thing I can do is leave. He states it’s stress but our lives are not stressful we don’t live together. It’s like a friendship. Do you have any advice or anything you recommend
My reply below will likely be valuable to many couples struggling with almost any persistent issue in their relationship that is simply a deal breaker for one of them…
It’s a difficult situation you find yourself in, and often there are no easy answers…
The great news is that difficult situations are usually amazing growth opportunities, and in this case that growth could come from an amazing emotional breakthrough in your current relationship, OR the profound learning and wisdom available in completing a relationship and moving on as a new and wiser person into your next relationship.
Since you are already considering leaving, you have this powerful opportunity to practice one of the most fundamental of all relationship skills:
How to have a powerful conversation.
First, you must create a safe context for a conversation like this. It’s not an after dinner blurt. Begin by carving out a time and place so that you can both arrive to the conversation prepared to give it your best.
Here’s a general idea of how you might set that up: “I have an important matter to discuss with you that is very close to my heart, that I am feeling very vulnerable about, and that relates to the love that we share. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is none-the-less scary for me. Can we create a safe space for a conversation where we both bring our best intentions to support each other, and set aside 3 hours on Saturday…”
Resist being bullied into having the conversation immediately by appealing to his compassion and by requesting his help and protection, not by digging in your heels and stone-walling. You should be ready to have the conversation if necessary, but at this stage, if he forces it, he is already emotionally triggered and you are already at a deficit.
Then, when you show up for the conversation, make your best effort to stay calm, not get triggered, and most of all, BE POWERFULLY COMPASSIONATE AROUND HIS FEARS and insecurities that might trigger his anger, denial, etc… and go digging for the truth.
He might have a porn addiction, he might have a mistress, he might be secretly gay, or very likely, he might be nervous around you noticing his inability to get hard for a number of reasons and has been too humiliated to work on it together so he’s just been hiding from it. He also might just not be attracted to you and is afraid of hurting you.
Who knows? The truth might be far, far from anything you expected, and it might very well be something that he holds shame around, something he never imagined a loving partner would be willing to help him through.
Be open to what is true (even if it hurts), be willing to share what is true (even if it hurts).
Be strong enough to be open about things that hurt you, without throwing blame at him for that hurt.
On the other side might be a relationship worth fighting for.
Or, you might discover a man that you realize isn’t right for you, either because he can’t meet your level of maturity in this conversation, or because he actually doesn’t want the same things that you want out of life.
If the relationship is worth fighting for, work relentlessly to keep that blame-free dedication to what is true, and you will find possibilities for depth and intimacy that you never would have had the opportunity to experience if the sex had been just “good” all along.
You’ll look back on this issue you once had around his lack of sexual desire with profound thanks… because it was the very trigger that forced you to sink or swim in greater intimacy and connection. In the end, you’ll realize that the power and value of transcending this together is far greater than any “easy” path.
If you realize the relationship is not worth fighting for, take a breath, allow yourself to feel the profound sadness and the mourning that comes with completing a relationship. You don’t need to push those feelings down.
Then also allow yourself to feel the “rightness” of it. Allow yourself to feel the excitement of new opportunity, as you re-enter the world of possibility with new men, as a new and better version of yourself.
If you are sad for a long time and have feelings of doubt about the decision you made to leave, be gentle with yourself and know that this is a natural part of the mourning process. Don’t feel guilty about feeling fun/excited at the same time you feel sad and scared.
It’s totally cool to be human, even when it hurts.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS…
Don’t look at this road-map for powerful communication, think, “oh, crap, that sounds hard,” and skip the conversation and just break up with him. Do the work even if you think it’s probably going to turn out badly.
First because it’s hard to imagine how great a man he may become and that you’ll may get to relate with if it turns out that there is something worth fighting for together.
And secondly, because the experience and growth of successfully completing a relationship in this way will transform you into a more powerful, compassion, and attractive lover who is far more capable of attracting the kind of powerful, compassionate, and attractive man you’ve always dreamed of.
Sending you love and light,
Since you aren’t married- Leave Him..!!! Life is too short! I’ve been there and done that and it’s not fun. I’ve had to clear (personal work) for a long time because I was attracting what I had in my childhood. Lack of connection with my parents. Good luck! 🙂
The book Intimacy and desire by schnarch is a great read all about this topic.
There is more than meets the eyes in a lack of desire.
A lot of personal growth can arise out of this conflict.
Excellent, compassionate, sober, thinking, realistic advice, Alex.
Not to blow air up your skirt, but that is some of the most comprehensive, deep hearted advice a person can hear.
I’ve navigated that conversation myself and so have a number of my clients.
This statement is the MOST important thing to me:
” because the experience and growth of successfully completing a relationship in this way will transform you into a more powerful, compassion, and attractive lover who is far more capable of attracting the kind of powerful, compassionate, and attractive man you’ve always dreamed of.”
Thanks for your work and passion, Mr. A. I learn with everything you write.
Thanks Steve! A little air up the skirt feels pretty good now and then 🙂
Either marry him like you should under God’s law or go to your own home and keep yourself up
Pray about it and decide
Alex, you give good advice. Each situation is different. As far as the lady and her comment, she does need to really think about what they should do. Both are involved, and both need to solve the problem. I was married for 36 years to my high school sweetheart. He was my soulmate and best friend. We had a very healthly and active sexual life, with 2 daughters. He became very sick and there was a lack of any intimacy for 20 years. I put my wants and needs aside
because I then became his caretaker. I never strayed, or even thought about it. That is what true love is all about. He passed away in 2011, and now I find myself at 61 widowed, and lonely. Dating these days is a whole lot different. We were going to grow old together, and I find myself wanting and needing to be with someone. Even though he was sick for 20 years, one’s life can change in an instant. Thank you for listening to me. I have written before, and appreciate your advice. I’m trying. One day at a time.
Excellent advice Alex,
It’s a very tough thing to do but worth it, whichever way it turns out. I’m storing this one in my mental file cabinet in case I should need it in the future.
The ability to recognize and make the decision .
I am agreeing with your decision almost 100%. If a couple are in love and are having
wonderful sex and all of a sudden, the husband is not interested…Yes, an in depth
non-confrontational conversation needs to be done.
There are many reasons why a husbands stops wanting sex…I am a nurse, and I find
that the most logical is sometimes the least thought of and done.
Men absolutely must have their PSA TESTING ON A REGULAR BASIS!!! Let’s hope his not wanting sex is not that…
but If the man has been very interested in sex for a very long time with the same woman, and now is not…He is either having health problems that he does not want her to know about…
or he truly has found another woman that meets all his needs in a much better way…
or some men are very cerebral, and worry about their jobs, or feel strangled in a marriage they don’t want anymore, or they just plain fell out of love and can’t have sex with no intimate feelings…
there are so many reasons, but bottom line is THE TALK…no anger…just wanting to help, and even if it is another woman, the wife has to accept that…You can’t make a man love you, who has already changed his love and fidelity to someone else…
the two people involved, treating each other with kindness and consideration, can find out what the problem is and either remedy it, or part as dear friends.
WOW! I agree you should discuss the situation first, love is hard work and dedication. If the guy loves you for the lady you are values his relationship with you he will do by all means anything to keep his relationship healthy and happy(legally lol).You reaching out to him emotionally by telling him what you feel is absolutely the right thing especially when you feel unhappy. :-)Also an extra tip when you tell him how you feel let him know you have faith in him as your lover and that’s why you are letting him know how you feel:-‘)
Good tip Jett… I think women can scarce imagine how powerful it is for a man to let hi know you have faith in him.
You have no idea how bad I needed to read this article. I have been trying to decide how to have such a talk with my guy… you certainly enlightened me with some ideas. Thank you.
You’re welcome! Good luck!
I think one of the saddest things is when you become nothing more than a room mate.
I have been married 40 years and 34 of them have been little to no sexual connection with my husband.
He had a vasectomy after we had been our two children and after that he lost interest and he was afraid it would hurt to do anything.
He did try ED drugs and now he is doing injections but he says they hurt so he is not in to sex hardly ever. He also never takes the amount the Doc told him to so he never gets really hard. When we talk about it he makes me feel like I am sex starved and maybe I am sometimes. I really miss the closeness of being together.
We went 3 years with nothing and I finally said either he steped up or I was going to leave because I have a high sex drive and I just want to be wanted. I try not to pressure him but it’s really hard.
He isn’t interested in any kind of sex that would be oral or taking the time to just be physical with out intercourse.
I did tell him about the G-spot and the deep spot and I am almost sorry I did because there is about 30 seconds of foreplay and then a rush to get it over with,
I would love to be with a man who loves sex as much as I do but that isn’t going to happen as I don’t want to cheat on him and I don’t want to hurt him. It’s a sad way to live.
If your not married and not living together you need to think long and hard about your future with this man. I can say that it is very hard to live for years with little to no interest in sex from a man you care about.
I have asked myself what I am doing wrong and I know it is not so much about me it’s more about him hardly having any sex drive.
I did mention to him maybe we should talk with a marriage counseling person who deals with sex issues, but he is not interested. I think I am going to go anyway and see if that helps anything.
He has been drinking the past few years and I know that won’t help with his ED problem. He is going to see a Doc to see if there is a physical reason for his issue.
He is a great guy except for that one thing and that one thing is a big deal for me. I never thought I would be dealing with this issue at this point in my life.
Thanks for letting me vent. :0(
Hi Sage, it’s a sad story you tell, and I’d offer you much the same advice as I put in my blog post:
This COULD BE an opportunity. It COULD be that there are whole worlds that even 40 years of marriage later, still lay unexplored between the two of you.
And, of course, I have to acknowledge, realistically, that it could be that he will be unwilling to explore those things with you.
Vasectomies do not decrease the sex drive in men.
Of course the psychological trauma of it, the fear, the sense that something of his manliness might have been lost, maybe even a sense of betrayal that HE was the one that had to get the surgery… who knows? …but yes, some psychological factor relating to the procedure may have been a seed here.
But it is also possible that it was coincidental with his loss of interest in sex that may be rooted in many reasons that he doesn’t want to talk about, that are more difficult for him to articulate, and so he uses this easy excuse.
It is telling to me that he did not get an examination already to see if there was a physical reason for his ED.
With clarity and courage there may be a way to talk these things true and deepen your emotional intimacy – even if not necessarily your physical intimacy.
You say that you “really miss the closeness of being together,” and obviously you are in some pain over this, you feel rejected, unwanted, and hurt. And that hurt could be well avoided if he was willing to play while limp (even use a “strap on” if necessary)… if closeness and love making, and showing you his physical affection were priorities for him
And yet you say that you don’t want to cheat on him or leave him because you don’t want to hurt him. Does that mean that it is your job to bear the hurt for both of you? Or does it mean that you are staying with him out of pity or out of fear that he is not man enough to handle your truth?
Could it be that your desire to protect him from the hurt of you leaving or taking a lover is exactly the emasculating feeling that you project in other areas? Could it be that he has simply lost attraction for you and is sneaking off himself to masturbate? Could it be that he is hiding things to protect YOU from hurt?
When you ask yourself what you are doing wrong and come up with only that it’s about him hardly having any sex drive, you discount these possibilities.
If you are nothing but friends and roommates, and you feel a need for more, then a “powerful conversation” makes sense, and every option, including perhaps having a respectful open marriage or even separating should be on the table.
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. And after 40 years of marriage I truly do understand that creating a new and potentially threatening kind of communication might feel frightening or even impossible.
Every relationship is unique and I can’t know for sure what is the best path for your relationship and your life, Sage. But I do believe there are unexplored options that could very well lead to personal and spiritual growth, and a new adventure of learning about each other.
Very well said, Sir! I learned a lot from your advice. I’m excited for the couple addressed in this article to finally lay the issue out and get completely honest with it. The way you put it, there really is no way to lose here–only improve–whether it’s through a deepened and more honest relationship or through moving forward separately, but with valuable experience gained. Thank you for sharing, Alex.
What’s your view on Asexuality?
Alex, you’re really knowledgeable! I appreciate your work.
Let me give you my past experience probably you can help me to clear my doughts.
I started having sex at the age of 22 (today I’m 45 and I’m married). Before marriage I met a girl friend with whom I got two different moment.
The second meeting went as the first but it took a little bit longer than the first and my partner released lot of milky lfluids different from the colorless sleeperly fluid. We were both shocked and our session was closed. She appologised claiming that it was her first time to experience it. was there anything wrong from anyone of us?
Second experience happened 7 years past. I met a girl and during the session she released a lot of colorless fluid like urine. She was shocked as to her it was the first time to see that. From then she liked to have sex almost everyday and each time we met she used to release more fluid than before and she was saying that she never feel satisfied if she doesnt release it. Is there difference between the fluid from the first partner and of the second one? Thanx.
All totally normal.
The milky stuff was a build of the normal lubricating fluid secreted by the vagina to make intercourse possible. At different times during a woman’s monthly cycle it goes from more clear to thicker and whiter. It also changes by nutrition, water intake, level of arousal, time of day, etc… so I wouldn’t read anything into it!
The clear liquid is “female ejaculate” from the intra-urethral glands. Also completely normal.
We have had many talks and it always ends up the same, me craving the sex , the closeness it gives me. Him and his lame, yes lame excuses. When I really know his in telling truth , he denies me to punish me. I am actually this very night at the end of my rope. I’m done and when he finally realizes what he has lost out of selfishness it will be too late. I’ve suffered long enough!
I’ve been married 36 years, and this has been an issue for years. There isn’t any talking, she gets oissy and defensive and my reasonableness and understanding don;t matter. Crap, at 62 I may not HAVE that many more ‘opportunities’, LOL. I just love her and keep on. Right now we’re pushing four months since anything intimate, hell I had to go take kisses. Frustrating, but…there ya go!
Look this is actuall abusive relationship here, witholding sex takes a toll on ones body and mind and its rightly abusive what hes doing.
So if I had her ear I would wisper, to lave the guy, or get him to solve his issues if he has any.
If he would rather put his ego or sense of shame as more important than his women than he doesnt really love her and the relationship is out anyways.
So either he gets his act together and you have sex, or you leave the guy and you have sex, either way shes going to get all the humping she wants in the near future, thats what I call a win win.
Hi Alex, I just wanted to comment that a lack of sex in particular a woman not showing interest is likely a sign of an emotional loss to her mate. I went through this over a 5 year period and upon valiant efforts to get her to communicate she simply would not and she wound up cheating and we are done. 23 years together and she felt like she had to “give in to keep the peace” at times which worsened her emotional loss. She did not see the spark coming back because he held everything in for too long. You cannot stress the communication and how important it is to let your mate know they have lost interest before it’s too late. There is work involved in long term relationships, most of us forget that and become complacent rather than show out mates how much they really mean to us. Keep up the great work alex!
Nothing more unattractive tota man than a woman crying out for intimacy (in my opinion).
Choosing another way to get the message through (body language for example) GUARANTEES a more effective responsive to saving this relationship.
And nothing more achingly, beautifully attractive to a man than a woman crying out for intimacy, when he is filled with loving desire for intimacy with her too.
What a beautiful thread, we had that conversation a while back now and it has changed our lives together and taken our connection to a new and beautiful level, but I also think it’s important to say that it hasn’t made everything perfect, we still have our difficulties, but we have a shared commitment to dealing with them most of the time.
I think you do some of your best work in showing such worked through examples of applied compassion and acceptance.
Alex, I’m a therapist working in the UK and there is nothing here that works within this kind of framework. Are there any books you might recommend, is this some kind of radical compassion and acceptance applied theory? I’d love to know more. Everyone deserves this.
First, THANK YOU for coming on and giving a real-world example. I am deeply appreciative of your “proof” contribution.
Second, for those following along, it’s a powerfully important point that a powerful, compassionate conversation did not make everything better… and it NEVER CAN, because no matter what we do, we are still humans at the end of the day.
And finally, I’ll be in touch with you shortly about having a webinar/mastermind with my many readers who are professional therapists, coaches, and educators to talk about these things, and the best ways to translate them into action.
Cheers Alex. I think working with these attitudes changes us.