Social Question

mostlyclueless's avatar

If the sexual spark goes out of a relationship, does that mean it's over?

Asked by mostlyclueless (701points) February 27th, 2010

Or is this normal after a long enough time has elapsed? This is assuming both parties are healthy, happy, and the relationship is otherwise excellent.

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40 Answers

rangerr's avatar

Sex shouldn’t define a relationship.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The honeymoon period does end for all relationships. You need to talk to your partner abut this and see what you both want to do. You may actually have to make time for lovin’ instead of waiting for the spark to come in. And have that talk ASAP. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to have it.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

This depends on a lot of things. How old are you? Are you married? Living together? I wouldn’t try to answer this until I knew more details.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@aprilsimnel: Although this is counterintuitive, I think talking has actually made it worse. It has put more pressure on me to try to force myself to feel more sexual desire for him (which hasn’t worked), and articulating my lack of desire has made him feel hurt and rejected.

@jbfletcherfan: Mid-twenties, not married, not living together.

Fred931's avatar

Isn’t there such a thing as friends?

candide's avatar

to the original question: no

aprilsimnel's avatar

Are you dealing with any outside stress or physical/emotional issues that are getting in the way? That happens to people, where it might not be how you feel about him at all.

If none of that’s the case, I’d just let him go romantically if you’re not feeling it anymore. That happens too, and it’s not anyone’s fault.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Since you’re so young, & if those feelings aren’t there, then you don’t have all that’s needed to build a solid relationship. I’m sure he does feel hurt & rejected. But it’d be better to start backing out a little at a time now than to let him think that all was well.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@aprilsimnel: No, no other issues. I wouldn’t say I don’t feel romantic feelings toward him. I feel more love, warmth, and affection for him than I ever have before. That feeling grows every day. I just don’t feel like having sex with him.

@jbfletcherfan: I think we have built a solid relationship. We have been together for 3.5 years and have shared values, trust, respect, communication, support, etc. It is just the sex that has been dwindling and gotten to a point where it’s a real issue. I guess what I want to know is if this is abnormal and means we should break up, or if it is normal for relationships to go through periods like this, or if it’s not a period and there’s no hope of the spark ever returning.

And (at the risk of sounding antagonistic—I don’t mean this to be) if I were not so young, would your advice be different? And if so, why? Are older women supposed to settle for less? That sounds depressing.

dpworkin's avatar

Waning sexual desire is considered a treatable condition by couples therapists and sex therapists.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@mostlyclueless There’s a lot of factors here. It’s not depressing. I’m going to a PM…

janbb's avatar

I think in a long term relationship sexual interest and activity can go up and down (no pun, well perhaps maybe, intended.) Outside stresses or hidden angers can certainly factor into a loss of libido. See if you can identify for yourself what might be causing this but if it is causing problems in the relationship, you might want to consider short-term or couples therapy.

Cruiser's avatar

Time to tie them down and make them beg for mercy! Tazer or cattle prod time!!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Cruiser You must be very…uh…interesting to live with. LOLLLLL

wundayatta's avatar

You’re not married and not living together. You’re in your twenties and have been together for 3.5 years. He wants more sex than you do.

My wife tells me that women don’t like sex as much as men do. She says she never had an appetite to match mine. I remember always wanting more (we’ve been together 20 years), but being happy with what I got—at least for the first 10 years of our relationship.

In prior relationships—the ones that lasted two and four years, I did get tired of them sexually, and that was a problem because I started wishing for someone who would like me. Similarly, after the next eight years or so were pretty much waaaay below what I wanted, I started feeling like I was never going to get what I felt I needed, and I started looking around.

I understand that it is very common for people to start getting tired of each other sexually at around 3 years, and the love switches from the exciting kind to the more enduring kind. In your case, your desire has also dwindled.

He needs more. And it is a need. For a large number of men, sex is how we experience love and connection to our partners. Without sex, it’s as if we are married to a business partner. What’s the point?

Anyway, my need for more sex and more love lead me to stray, which made me guilty, and I confessed, and we started counseling. Everyone told me that if I paid her more attention—during the day, telling her I loved her, touching her, giving her gifts or whatever, letting her know that she was filling my head, and then massaging her and helping her relax as much as possible, she would be more interested in sex.

They were sort of right, but not completely right. I guess there are some things that can not be overcome with wooing. In my case, my depressions scared the shit out of her. My mania made her fearful that I was looking again. Oddly, once I finally cut loose with all the shit about her that was bothering me in therapy, she started to loosen up and become more warm to me.

I guess what I learned there is that if you hold back when you are talking, it really won’t help. It might make things worse. In such cases, it helps if a therapist—a wily therapist—drags the truth out of you. I don’t know why you do not live together, nor how far apart you live, nor how often you see each other, but a number of things could be going on. You’ll have to talk honestly and completely about all of them. Then, maybe you can get down to the negotiation about what you can both live with. Perhaps you will understand him better, and more inspired to make love to him simply because you love him and he wants it. I don’t know if you think it is a chore, or if you just aren’t attracted to him any more or if you don’t need sex any more. I don’t know if you find other men more sexually stimulating.

If you aren’t honest—at the very least with yourself—about these things, you can’t solve them. Talking may be driving you apart, but I think that’s because you aren’t really communicating when you talk. Not fully, anyway.

It’s a hard thing, and sometimes relationships can’t make it. It’s not really anyone’s fault. You just become too different. I hope you guys will be able to communicate well, and figure this out. If you can’t, I don’t think it’s really worth trying to keep it going.

JONESGH's avatar

I wouldn’t let the relationship depend on that, plus you can always get it back.

thriftymaid's avatar

No. I would not expect that spark to even dim for a long time. If you are together long enough it will but it’s not hard to brighten it back up. Just don’t ever let it go out. Never stop growing together and learning each other. You will never know everything there is to know about each other.

TheLoneMonk's avatar

If no screwin your marriage is a ruin… ooopss, I meant to post this in the question asked after this one…sorry

DarkScribe's avatar

If sex is a natural progression of love-making as against just another appetite then it lasts. If it is only satisfying sexual desire it will fade as each partner becomes less desirable. An overweight women or a paunchy balding man is not going to appeal as much as when they were young and attractive. If they are in love then they hardly notice. Too many people are in a relationship without real love.

phillis's avatar

Oh, I don’t know about all that. I wouldn’t think of it in such extremes. All the great relationships tend to mellow with age. As long as the vet says everything is fine, why question a perfectly good friendship?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The frequency and sense of urgency for sex varies over time in many stable long term relationships.

If your relationship makes you feel close to each other and committed to making it continue to thrive even when there is a lull in sexual desire and expression, you need not worry too much.

If your closeness is based mainly on your sexual relationship, then the stability of your relationship may really be questionable.

JLeslie's avatar

@mostlyclueless My question is do you want your relationship to be more sexual, or are you happy with how it is now? Some couples are just fine with less sex, some really miss it, but just can’t seem to get the spark going for many different reasons.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Sometimes relationships that seem to be going nowhere lose sexual spark. Has the whole relationship become too comfortable? What do your ideas of the future together look like?

Haleth's avatar

Is everything as good as you say in your relationship? An underlying problem could be making you less attracted to your boyfriend, something the two of you aren’t addressing. If you’re feeling, say, resentful or disappointed towards him, it would be hard to work up the desire to sleep with him. If he’s feeling hurt about you wanting to sleep with him less, and you argue about it, that could only be making the problem worse because you’re having fights with sex. If that’s the case, you should take a close look at what’s going on emotionally in your relationship.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@JLeslie: Good question. I am okay (not thrilled) with how things are right now; my partner is really suffering though. My preference is to just wait and see if the passion returns, but he has a real sense of urgency and hurt regarding the situation.

@PandoraBoxx: We talk about the future often and seem to have very compatible ideas of what we want. What do you mean by “too comfortable”?

@Haleth: I agree it would be easier to solve this problem if there was a clearly broken thing that needed to be fixed, but unfortunately I can’t find an underlying problem. I think my own lack of sexual desire for him is really all there is to it. Sure there are things that bother me about him… I hate it when he blows his nose too loudly, or when he cracks the joints in his shoulder, or when he leaves cabinets open. But I don’t think any of that is significant enough to make me not want to have sex with him.

dpworkin's avatar

@mostlyclueless Why would you resist couples’ counseling if it is known to be effective for just this issue?

JLeslie's avatar

@mostlyclueless I think you need to give it some effort, unless you are emotionally distancing yourself from your partner as well. The problem is you are not matched up rightnow with your sexual satisfaction, and that can cause some frustration and disconnect. If you both were just not thinking much about sex, maybe occupied with other things in life, or a natural change in your relationship, it might not be a big deal.

Regarding your answer to @Haleth my question to that is, you say you do not have sexual desire for him right now, but are you still experiencing sexual desire? That would be a bad sign.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@dpworkin: I definitely would not resist it. I hadn’t given it much thought, to be honest. I was worried that this was such a fundamental problem that it was a red flag and we should just break up. And I wasn’t really sure if therapists did couples counseling for people who aren’t engaged/married.

@JLeslie: Honestly, it’s hard to say. I am not completely uninterested in sex. This is hard to admit but I do feel like my sexual feelings toward him have changed somewhat. That said, I just can’t tell if my feelings toward sex in general have also changed. I guess I consider some amount of oscillation normal due to stress, sleep, diet, exercise, my monthly cycle, etc. I think possibly it’s both? Maybe I am in sort of a waning phase of sexual interest generally… but on some level, I also feel less desire for him specifically?

dpworkin's avatar

Lack of libido is a very, very common complaint between couples, it is eminently fixable, and no one cares if you are married or not; they just want to help. Look for a trained, board certified sex therapist, and try it. It’s short term treatment, not terribly expensive, and it really works.

Violet's avatar

you said: “I wouldn’t say I don’t feel romantic feelings toward him”
I think it’s over. How can you say your relationship is excellent?
You also said you’ve been with him for 3.5 years, and I agree with @PandoraBoxx, that you may just be too comfortable with him. You’re so use to being with him, that anything else would be weird, and feel wrong.
I was with a guy for 4 years, and I knew it was over. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him any more, but I didn’t have the guts to break up with him. I think I liked him more as a friend.

faye's avatar

That is way too short a oeriod of time. I’ve been through this. If you don’t feel your groin swell when you are in bed cuddling then it is no more. And I do not think women want sex less than men. Women don’t want ‘Wham bam, Thank you, Mam’.

partyparty's avatar

There is more to a relationship than sex. If you are first and foremost best friends, then I think the rest will happen naturally.

janbb's avatar

In any long term, good relationship; it is possible to fall in and out of love many times. I would not dismiss it yet. The fact that you are annoyed at some of his habits may be indicative of some larger anger issues that are turning you off right now or there may be other issues in your life that are decreasing your interest in sex. If you still value this relationship, why not do as @dpworkin suggests and look for some short-term counseling to see what you can discover? Even if you end up moving on, you will have learned things about yourself that you can bring to the next relationship.

JLeslie's avatar

@mostlyclueless The old way of thinking is that a lack of sex in a relationship is just a mask for underlying problems in the relationship. There have been recent studies to say this is not always so. That there are many couple who have little to no sex and are happy with their relationships, and the relationships by all other measures are good. But, of course sometimes people lose interest in their partner because they are annoyed with them, or some other thing that might need to be worked out. Anyway, my point is don’t make troube where there is non if ther is none. That is what you have to figure out. And you both need to figure out if there is a compromise to this problem )problem is not the right word) you (both of you) are having right now. This lack of sexual connection and how each of you feel about it. Sex can be a big enough problem that people part ways, but many times it can be worked out.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction truth from diction. Losing the “spark” may not be a sign of a doomed marriage or union but it could be a chink in the armor. Because the sex went from 11 on a scale of 10 down to 7 on a scale of ten probably means you just grew up and the other perfect parts of the relationship balanced it out. Though sex should be a vital part of the relationship it should not be the only defining thing or once it goes you are doomed.

Sophief's avatar

Work at it to get the spark back.

JeffVader's avatar

If you cant get it back, then yes.

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