No Sex in Your Relationship? Discover Why!By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 18, 2014
Do you and your partner have conflicts over sex?
Does your relationship suffer from a lack of sex? Aside from the problems of premature ejaculation, impotence, and lack of orgasm -- which can often be handled through sexual therapy and education -- I have found that there are two common sexual problems in committed relationships:
- Using sex addictively
- General lack of sexual desire, or lack of sexual desire for your partner
Using Sex Addictively
Using sex addictively is like any other addiction: it is using something or someone to fill you up or take away your pain.
Are you or your partner using sex addictively? Click here for a checklist about sexual addiction.
The most common form of sexual addiction in a committed relationship is one partner using sex to feel filled, to feel validated or loved, or to take away tension. The partner becomes needy and demanding, often resorting to anger or withdrawal when his or her partner doesn't want sex. This needy and demanding behavior can exacerbate a common problem in committed relationships: a lack of sexual desire. A woman on the other end of a man's neediness, or a man on the other end of a woman's neediness is generally turned off by the pull. After all, demanding and needy energy is not very attractive or loving. A common scenario might be:
Allen: Come on, honey, it's been over a week and I'm really horny.
Tonya: I just don't feel like it. It's late and I'm tired.
Allen: You're always tired. Come on, you'll get into it. You know you will. I've got a big day tomorrow and I need a good night sleep. Come on.
Allen does not care about what Tonya wants or how she feels. He is just concerned with what he wants, which is one of the symptoms of sexual addiction - a lack of caring about your partner.
General Lack of Sexual Desire, or Lack of Sexual Desire for your Partner
There are numerous causes for a general lack of sexual desire. Some of them are physical, such as shifting hormones during the menstrual cycle and during menopause for women, or exhaustion due to overwork or childrearing. If you are a man or woman experiencing a general lack of sexual desire, you might want to check with your doctor.
After physical causes are ruled out, there are four common emotional causes of a lack of sexual desire for your partner in a committed relationship:
1) You may not feel sexual due to a lack of emotional intimacy.
Many people need to feel loved and connected with their partner before feeling like making love. If you and your partner do not spend intimate time together outside of the bedroom, your sexual relationship may lack spark.
2) You may not feel sexual when you do not feel safe to bring up problems between you with your partner.
If you and your partner do not create a safe arena by both being open to learning when conflict comes up, the flow of love, and therefore of sexual energy, diminishes.
If, when you bring up an issue, your partner responds to you with anger, blame, resistance, withdrawal, or inattentiveness, you will not feel safe to clear things up with your partner. This lack of safety may translate into a lack of sexual desire.
3) You may not feel sexual due to being a caretaker and giving yourself up in many areas of the relationship.
Perhaps you have never recognized that your sexual desire may be deadened by your caretaking, but I've found that the more a person gives him/herself up in any area of a relationship, the less sexual desire he or she will feel. If you allow your partner to control you in even minor areas of your relationship, it may be affecting your sex life.
4) You may not feel sexual with your partner if your partner is using sex addictively, and you feel used rather than loved during sex.
It may be difficult for you to feel attracted to your partner when he or she is using sex addictively. When you are being pulled on by a person who is sexually addicted, you may feel objectified rather than loved. Your partner wants to use you rather than love you, and that is not erotic to most people. When a person is coming from neediness sexually, it may feel as if he or she is coming to you as a needy child rather than as an adult in their personal power. Personal power is attractive; neediness is not.
If you have a history of sexual abuse, you may feel very conflicted with a partner who is operating from a sexual addiction. You may find yourself responding physically to your partner, because of having been sexualized by someone who was sexually addicted, yet emotionally you may feel repulsed.
Many of these issues can be resolved when both people are open to learning with themselves and each other.
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It is not always what we say or do in a moment that defines us in that moment, but rather the energy with which we speak and act. Our energy in any given moment is open or closed, loving or unloving, accepting or judgmental, kind or unkind, soft or hard, flexible or unyielding, controlling or learning. Regardless of the words, the energy always betrays our intent.
By Dr. Margaret Paul