General Question

coquilicot's avatar

Relationship question?

Asked by coquilicot (152points) December 8th, 2008

What do you flutherers think about falling out of lust? My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 5 years, and while I love him very, very much, it’s much more friendly than it was before, I just don’t want to have sex with him anymore.
It’s pretty awful for both of us, and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to be without him, he’s my very best friend, but I think I’ve moved on in the sex department. Has anyone else been through this?

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20 Answers

bythebay's avatar

Do you mind if I ask your age?

wundayatta's avatar

Well, in the past, when I stopped being sexually interested in my significant other, the relationship was over (these were relationships that lasted four or five years. If sex is important to you for a relationship, then this might not be a good sign. You might love him now, but over time, you may find more and more to fault in him. Especially if he still is after you all the time.

Also, there are times, a few years after a relationship starts (from 3 to 7 years) where a lot of relationships break apart. This is popularized as the 7 year itch.

If sex isn’t important to you, if it is to him (and it looks that way to me from what you say), it will be a sore spot.

My wife stopped wanting to make love to me for years, and I kept thinking she’d come around, but she didn’t. We grew further and further apart. Finally, I couldn’t take it any more, and I sought sexual relationships elsewhere. I was having some mental problems at the time that didn’t help me make good decisions.

Eventually, I confessed to her, and this enabled us to start getting counselling, and dealing with the problems in our relationship. We’re working still, but things are improving.

Counselling can often help couples deal with such things. It makes it easier to talk to each other, and tell each other the truth. There’s a referee there to keep things from getting off track or out of hand.

I wish you the best!

TaoSan's avatar

I can only give you the male side of it. I’ve been with the same woman for roughly 15 years now. for the first four or five, sex was great. Then everything slowed down, now it’s non-existent.

At first it was her that simply didn’t want anymore. For a few years I was constantly chasing, resulting in soso sex every now and then. However, as the years went on I lost all my sexual interest in her, simply because the “frustration to success” ratio was everything but enhancing my feeling of self-value.

Problem is, I’m mid-thirties, not ugly or deformed in any way and to some extent successful and financially independent, with a very healthy sex drive.

It’s torture, believe me. Constant sexual rejection is a very, very unhealthy thing. Bad for the ego, bad for everything.

I don’t know about you, maybe you’re the nicest person in the world, but it still has a tad bit of an egoistic ring to it, if you selectively “chose” which parts of the “relationship” you like, and which one’s not so much anymore, simply because being sexually rejected is really under the belt-line for a man.

Metaphorically, and in actuality.

You should really go to a sex therapist together, and see how you guys, or you in that case, can re-ignite, get porn, toys, try new stuff, do whatever, but do something before it becomes hurtful.

If you love him you will, ‘cause trust me, as a man, it is really horrible to live in an asexual, platonic relationship by one party’s choice. You say you love him, so why hurt him.

laureth's avatar

Familiarity breeds contempt, and the Coolidge Effect is true for females too. I think part of it is the death of Mystery. When you’re in a new relationship, you don’t know what it’s like to make love with that person yet, or if you have done a little, there’s still more to know – and it’s exciting. After a while, though, after you have seen all of the parts of his body (too many times), know what it’s like when he’s no longer putting on his most charming, seductive face, and maybe farts in bed and chews with his mouth open, well, the mystery is dying.

It’s normal and it happens to people in long term relationships all over the world.

That said, there is more to keeping a relationship going than hoping the sex will always be great. There comes a time when it requires work at making it interesting, rather than it just being interesting. And how much work a person is willing to put in at the hard time is a very good indicator of how important the relationship is to that person. If it is a bad relationship, it is a good time to let it die. If it is still good, maybe it’s worth putting some effort in, in proportion to the value the rest of the relationship has to you.

What can you do? I don’t know. That’s up to you. Some people try new sexual things that they haven’t done before, or haven’t done with that person. Some people decide to open up the relationship after laying down some ground rules and communicating a LOT, whether that means moving into polyamory or letting the hornier half explore freely elsewhere. Some people try to woo each other all over again, introducing variety and charm instead of just assuming that the other person will say “yes” all the time. What you do (or don’t do) is up to you and your guy. Some people even declare defeat and just decide that sex is no longer all that important. It could go any number of ways.

What’s important is that you are both happy with the way things are going. If one is happy and one is not, it will only breed resentment until things split painfully. Talk with him. Maybe see a third party like a counselor, alone or together, if that is more comfortable. But if it’s worth working on, it’s worth working on well. :)

Good luck. The honeymoon is over, and now you have the real thing!

suse's avatar

I would agree that if you are both young and healthy, the relationship is unlikely to continue indefinately with no sex. If you find you are actually turned off by his sexual advances, as opposed to uninterested then I dont think it will recover. Is it just him, or a general disinterest in sex at the moment?

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I’d say definitely give it a shot at reigniting things, but as TaoSan said, sticking around if it just isn’t there is going to be frustrating for both of you. If you give it your best and really try, and it still isn’t there, reevaluate and consider what will be the best for all parties involved.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s torture, believe me. Constant sexual rejection is a very, very unhealthy thing. Bad for the ego, bad for everything.

I don’t know about you, maybe you’re the nicest person in the world, but it still has a tad bit of an egoistic ring to it, if you selectively “chose” which parts of the “relationship” you like, and which one’s not so much anymore, simply because being sexually rejected is really under the belt-line for a man.

If there’s a person alive who doesn’t hear the pain that Taosan spoke of, they must be deaf, dumb, and blind. I feel like saying, “Testify, Brother!”

When I was sexually rejected for those many years, I gradually stopped being a person. I had no power in my relationship. I was afraid to ask, because I knew she would reject me again. I thought I was ugly and undesirable, and I didn’t think she loved me, or really cared what happened to me. It wasn’t the only thing that gave me low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness, but it certainly played a role.

As Taosan says, when you choose which parts of the relationship you like, you are setting a man on the road to that place. It is not love. I know we all want to be honorable, and justify things by thinking we really do love the person, but it really is a kind of torture that can strip a man of his personhood.

Please don’t do that. Please talk to your S.O. Please figure this out together. It is a very serious problem, and it is really easy to just let things slide. We all hate confrontation over difficult issues. We hate to hurt those we care for. But in a case like this, not hurting now will cause a great deal more pain later.

There are already far too many people in painful relationships. Please don’t become another one. Separate, in necessary, and be friends, if that’s what you want. Some couples can do that. Otherwise, separate and take your leave of each other.

You are clinging to him for safety, and that is understandable. To separate means finding a new place to live and furnishing it, and separating all your things, and losing built-in company. However, losing those things is preferable to losing your humanity. I am not exagerating here. I absolutely felt like nothing when my marriage was like this.

It didn’t help when I got mentally ill, and depressed, and wanted to be dead.

I feel like I’m laying this out a bit heavily, and while I want you to know what the stakes might be, I also think that a relationship is worth fighting for. A sex life can come back. I know. Mine has. It helps if both parties really do care for each other deeply. If that’s the case, it seems that things can work out.

Fieryspoon's avatar

Do you feel sexual towards other people, and just not him? Or just not sexual at all?

laureth's avatar

Regarding Taosan’s and Daloon’s commentary: My husband was married before, and existed in that kind of situation. While it was hell for him then (exactly as they describe), it’s actually helped me out. Why? Because he came along and married me! He feels better not being rejected all the time and I feel great because he’s always so happy to be with me. I’m not suggesting you reject your man to that degree, but if you do, when he finds someone else, they might be as happy together as we are.

coquilicot's avatar

I’m 22. That’s why this whole thing seems so unreasonable, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be having lots of amazing sex right now, I’m young and healthy and generally attracted to other people.

The problem is that there are a lot of other issues right now in the relationship. We’re trying to work through all of these other things, but we can’t seem to make it anywhere while I’m so uninterested in the intimate part of the relationship. This all began because we were emotionally really distant for awhile, but I still love him very much, and want to be close with him. Just not like that. Sounds horrible, eh?

Daloon and Taosan, I appreciate your input and your personal stories so much. I know he really is struggling with understanding why/how I wouldn’t want to be with him. At the same time, I’m really don’t know if I can change this part of myself.

wundayatta's avatar

If you’re going to break up, I urge a fast breakup, not a long drawn-out one.

It’s trickier if you don’t know for sure. Then things can draw out very painfully while you figure it out. If you don’t love him like that any more, and you can’t change yourself, that sounds to me like a breakup, even if you do love him. What do you think?

coquilicot's avatar

I think you’re right, daloon, but I also feel like I should give both of us a chance to make it work, like I should put the time and energy into trying to fix it…

I don’t think we’re going to last more than a few more weeks if we can’t start having sex again. It’s been a looong time, and both of us are a little bit irritable.

wundayatta's avatar

Do you have access to therapy? That is, I believe, one of the more effective ways to try to fix this kind of thing.

Did something happen to turn you off? The emotional separation? Do you have any idea what these were based on?

I have to say that I got into a similar fix with my wife. In order to make up, I wanted sex, because that made me feel loved and it made me feel safe in the relationship. Then I’d be able to be caring for her.

For her, it was the other way around. She needed the caring first. Massages, kind words, etc. Then she’d be in the mood to make love.

Someone has to give in (usually the guy) if it will work. The hard thing for men is to believe that if we do these things, our women will warm up to us and give us everything we want. It’s hard to do, because until we’ve had sex, we are faking it. Well, some of us are. That was my experience.

There were other power issues, too. So it’s complicated and can take a long time (years) to work through.

cwilbur's avatar

I can add my voice to the chorus telling you from experience that if the sex part of the relationship dies, the whole relationship dies.

I’ve been where TaoSan was; I decided that I was tired of being the one who always initiated things to a lukewarm response, and that I’d stop initiating things and see how long it took. It never happened. Though we stayed together for a couple years afterwards, mainly out of convenience, that’s when the relationship died. And I didn’t realize what a number that constant rejection had done to me until I started getting out into the dating world again and realized that there were people who would not only initiate things, but pursue me.

You’re 22; if it’s not working, and you can’t figure out how to make it work (or you find out he’s not interested in making it work), you should break it off as cleanly as possible and move on.

susanc's avatar

Well I think most longterm relationships have low spots. Do you still like the way he smells? Do you like to put your arms around him and look at his beautiful face? In other words, has he become physically not your cup of tea in all ways? Low spots are one thing – you can learn your way around them. Physical nothingness for anyone, women included, is another. It’s deathly.

Jack79's avatar

1. I’d like coquilicot to tell us how it went, just out of curiosity

2. I believe nobody mentioned the hormonal basis of this. I’m surprised it took you 5 whole years, you guys must have had really good chemistry to last that long. Human beings were not meant to date, they were meant to mate.

3. We (in the West anyway) have very confused sexual rules that comprise of our animal instincts, our religious beliefs, our cultural taboos and our social needs all together. Not to mention even legal and financial implications. At least back when things were simpler (no sex before marriage, parents pick your spouse and you’re stuck for life), people just stayed together no matter what. This choice today poses the dilemma. As recently as even 20 years ago it would be unthinkable for you to be with the same guy for 5 whole years (even at your age) and not be married.

Jack79's avatar

Oh and I just found out from laureth’s response that apparently I’m “polyamorous”. Hadn’t even heard the word before.

laureth's avatar

For those interested in polyamory, I recommend the book that seems to define the idea: The Ethical Slut.

coquilicot's avatar

Thanks for all your perspectives! It’s so valuable to hear from so many other people on this.

Update: We took a break, and haven’t seen each other much since I asked this question. It was really rough on both of us, but felt like we were doing something about the problem. And then I really missed him. Which felt strangely good, and now we’re talking. Trying to figure out how to go forward. We talked for a while yesterday, and I’m considering trying it out again. Maybe some space did us good.

@Jack: We did have amazing chemistry. It was incredible. We slept together for several months before I would consider dating him. (He had dated one of my friends briefly, it felt inappropriate.)

To answer everyone’s in between posts: yes, I still love how he smells (like cigarettes, frequently, it’s weird how one can feel an attachment to something gross like that…) and I don’t know what to do when I can’t call him after work, or when I get any good or bad news. He’s my person. And we’re best friends, I’m just missing that little extra thing, which is a problem that can be solved, I’m sure. From Sept-Nov we hit a really rough spot where we pretty much stopped talking. I’d go over to his place and we’d watch movies and go to sleep. There was zero communication, and I was cold whenever he would initiate sex. It felt like the relationship died.

For me it’s a weird combination of maybe wanting to be with other people, I’ve been with him since I was 17… and a lack of a connection that just didn’t make sex seem all that inviting.

It just now, after 5 years, I have these wandering eyes and he’s so strictly a one-woman man that it’s totally overwhelming to me. He doesn’t really understand how I could feel like I wanted to be with anyone else. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted. :)

laureth's avatar

I know what you mean about an attachment to a gross kind of smell. My boozy ex always had the smell of cheap beer coming through his very pores. And for some reason, now, when my (very different) guy has a beer, that smell gets me all excited for just this very (embarrassing) reason.

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