Would you believe that 1 in 3 long-term relationships in America are sexless? Stop and think about that number for a moment – think of your friends who have been coupled up for longer than two years. One out of three of those couples? They’re sexless. No sex. “On a break,” or “just had a baby,” or any number of difficulties has brought them to the place where sex is no longer a recreational activity for them.
That breaks my heart every time I hear it, see it, or talk about it. In my experience, it’s mostly true. But you want to know what makes it worse? (Sure, you say, I’m a sucker for bad news.) The other two relationships where they are still having sex? Many of those are still unsatisfying.
Enter the blog making the rounds this week, How To Make Me Come. It’s a collection of essays by women on their frustrations with having an orgasm with their partner. I’ve been reading some of them this week – highly recommend them; love ‘em – but whenever I close my browser and get back to work, my mind still reassembles old conversations with friends and family, with men as often as women, who have had difficulty reaching or giving sexual satisfaction in their relationship.
I’m a big believer in educating men on how to satisfy a woman. Big. Huge. If I ever win a prize, I want it to be for The Advancement of Men Satisfying Women. But sometimes women don’t know how to satisfy their partner either. The cover of all those magazines you see at the newsstand prove it – 30 Ways To Blow His Mind or 20 Tips and Tricks You Can Try Tonight and so on. Sex is confusing, no matter how many times we criticize ourselves for “not knowing how to do the most primal thing imaginable.” Let’s face it, when we’re not good at sex, we feel like dummies and after a few “failures”, we generally give up and become a statistic. We just accept that this is the way it’s going to be from now on. And we resign ourselves to our fate: we are now one of those three couples that stays together but never comes together.
When the passion begins to die in a relationship, it’s a high pricetag. We live life day by day, feeling miserable. We might “check out” of the relationship and develop a porn habit. We have affairs. We get divorced. We hold onto regrets and wonder what we could have done differently. Here’s what you do differently:
1) You talk about it. Which sucks. And can really hurt. But it can also save a lot of time, heartache, and even improve your health. Think about it – if you are able to work through this, you’re not carrying around the weight of that depression or allowing sexual frustration to manifest as anger, hostility, and verbal aggression towards someone you love, respect, and appreciate. Your relationship will improve.
You will absolutely go through tough times in life. The question is whether or not you are going to do this with your partner. Having one foot out the door already and “checking out” or living in a fantasy world of brushing it all under the rug with a tight, tense “we’re fine” guarantees you will not succeed. Hear me: you will not succeed. You will not win this one as long as you are lying to yourself, your partner, and the people around you.
Talking about the problems you are having in bed together with your partner, yes, will absolutely bring up a lot of negativity, bad feelings, and force you to “be present” and “be honest” with your partner (two things that we’re really good at avoiding). But it really does work. I will swear on this on top of a stack of Bibles ‘til the day I die – when you are honest with your partner, it will allow both of you to reach your best, healthiest, most authentic selves. It will force you to either confront and work through your issues together (and bring you closer together) or it will expose reasons why you need to go your separate ways and allow each other to move on.
2) You get creative. You need to find ways to create attraction, power, and authenticity in the relationship. Two of my best friends are sexually incompatible, but when you see the two of them, you would think they are teenagers. They giggle with each other. Grown ass adults straight-up giggling with each other. Ain’t that some shit? But it doesn’t stop there. These two people respect each other, have each other’s backs, verbally praise one another and go out of their way to do big things and little things for one another. These people have their Married game on lock. Still, when it comes to sex? They’re unhappy, but on every other level, they are crushing it hard. I believe their success (and they confirmed this after I had known them for a few years) was because they talked honestly with one another and decided to not let that stop them. They got creative. They were committed to each other, committed to the relationship, and with that came a commitment to figure things out and find a way that would work for them.
For different relationships, that means different things. How you do that is between the two of you – I know couples that have opened their relationship. I know couples that primarily rely on sex toys. But however you “get creative,” don’t worry about what other people might say. I give you permission to “break the rules” and become a “non-traditional” couple. That might mean giggling. It might mean trying new things. Or old things. Or no things. The main idea here is: You find what works for the two of you. Forget what everyone else is doing. What works for your relationship? Start by making each other a priority, listen more than you talk, and buckle in to making your sex life “work” in some way, but then get creative.
3) You find a mentor. My parents were very open and honest about sex and sexuality until I was in grade school. It’s a long story, but after I gave an anatomy lesson in kindergarten, they thought it best to avoid answering some of my questions. By early childhood, I knew the ins and outs of sex – where babies came from, that adults needed “alone time” when their door was closed, and so on. But looking back, I feel like my parents didn’t talk about their sexual problems until I had already made the same mistakes that they had made decades earlier. Basically, I needed a mentor. Someone who would have been honest with me and helped me navigate, understand, contextualize, and rethink some of my sexual activities because they had already been there.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you and/or your partner need a “daddy dom” or that either of you should visit a prostitute, someone to teach you how to have sex, though those are certainly good ideas and, in the right context, something I certainly might recommend. Having “hands on” learning is a great way to learn in every area of life. But the real goal here is to find someone who practices what they preach, someone who has been there, and can speak from experience.
What I mean is that you need someone you can talk to about your sex life. Many couples will seek out a sex therapist and learn new ways of communicating, touching, pleasing, and pleasuring their partner. I’m a huge supporter of this idea. And sometimes the problems in a relationship are bigger than sex. Sometimes you don’t want to have sex because you don’t want to have sex with this particular person and feel guilty about doing it with anyone else. There are many couples whose sexual issues are really an extension of their relational and personal issues. Getting real here, you may not want to be married. You may have long-standing resentment towards your partner. You may have been abused at some point and the idea of sex, the very mention of it, turns you off and kills the mood.
For you, again, I would suggest finding someone who is able to model the kind of relationship you wish you had, someone you can trust, and talk though some of these problems you and your partner are experiencing. I don’t think something is “wrong” with you. In fact, every person I talk to about sexual problems has a legitimate, valid, absolutely “YES!” reason why they are experiencing those issues. You’re (probably) not weird. There’s (probably) nothing wrong with you. You just really need to have someone in your life who understands, who has been there and “gets” it.
Most people don’t realize they can get mentorship for their relationship and sexuality. They seek out information about their finances, or how to cook something, how to do a home remodeling project, but never ask for or seek help, especially mentorship, for their relationship. Start by simply asking yourself who have been your relational role models? Who were your sexual mentors – who did you learn about healthy, responsible sexual behavior from (we’ve all had someone, even if they weren’t positive)? The key is investing in mentors who are getting the results you want – who has passionate, connected and crazy amazing sex? Go learn from them!
- 10 Things No One Tells You About Sex As You Get Older
- How to Ask Your Partner for Sex so They Will Enthusiastically Say “Yes”
- This is What It’s Really Like to be in a Sexless Marriage