Dear Lovehacker, My husband and I love each other a lot. He is my best friend, we enjoy each other’s company, we laugh all the time, we spend a lot of time together, we communicate very well and are open to talk about anything. But there is a problem between us I never talked to anyone about. It’s about our sex life.
It all started a year ago, about one year after we were married. He started to have sex with me much less frequently and when he did he was not very into it, and sometimes wouldn’t get an erection with me. We sat down and discussed it many times, he assured me that the love has not changed, he just didn’t feel the sexual urges when he was with me.
We tried different things, spiced things up with different ways of having sex, even tried to use pills for ED, but nothing really worked. And it turned to a point where I was always asking him for sex or trying to arouse him, unsuccessfully most of the time.
After a few months of trying without success, we decided to give an open relationship a try. We thought that this might help a little if I could meet some other guys for my sexual needs instead. After opening this Pandora’s box, I am having a slightly better sex life but what changed dramatically is that he became much more sexually active, without me. And the result is that we have even less sex than before.
So after all the trouble and everything we did, the problem still remains as his sexual desire towards me has vanished. We are only married for two years, I don’t know if this is how our lives are going to end up. Sometimes it makes me rethink if it is worth it to stay in this marriage but we have been through so much in our lives together, we have such a strong bond that we both do not want to break.
I understand that sexuality is complicated, desires change over time but are there other ways we can try to work things out again? I have never opened up to talk to anybody about it because I feel embarrassed that my partner has lost sexual interest with me. Do you think you can give me some advice? Thanks, Sleepless of Scandinavia
There’s really no way to soften this, so I’m going to be blunt: your husband isn’t attracted to you. While it’s true that sexual passion wanes over time — something known as the Coolidge Effect — that’s not what’s going on here. Your husband isn’t feeling it for you, period.
There are any number of possibilities to the cause. The one that I see most often are people who moved a little too quickly; they rounded a close friendship with a little sexual chemistry up to a long-term relationship, and the sexual attraction just petered out, as it sometimes does. In cases like these, the relationships tend to drift back to being platonic friendships on their own… at least, in cases when lawyers and leases aren’t involved.
Another possibility is that this is how your husband is wired. Some people simply can’t do long-term, committed sexual relationships; their attraction for a person fades along with the novelty. That’s neither good nor bad; it’s just how they are. This isn’t a problem except in cases when — as with you — they’re in a committed relationship with a partner who does expect sex.
And let me be clear, SoS: the problem is him, not you. I get that it’s embarrassing and painful when someone you want decides that they don’t want you any more. It makes you feel like you’ve done something wrong and start second guessing whether there’s something you could or should do differently. But the truth is, sometimes there is literally nothing to be done.
There’s no amount of emotional or physical change you could make, no lifestyle adjustments or moments carved out. Sometimes — often, in fact — it’s just that one person’s attraction was always going to have a time limit. All that’s left is to decide what to do about it.
It would be one thing if you had both agreed that sex wasn’t going to be a part of your connection and your relationship would be about mutual love, support and companionship, but you didn’t. Similarly, it would be a different matter if you both were allowed to see and sleep with other people, but you still had that core of love and intimacy between the two of you. But you don’t. There is, after all, a pretty significant difference between “in addition to…” and “instead of…”, and you’re in the latter case.
And to be perfectly frank: he seems less than interested in trying to make things better. The way you describe things makes it sound like he went through the motions of trying to fix things so he could say he tried and you’d quit asking for it.
Remember: it’s entirely reasonable to want sex and physical intimacy with the person you married. That was part of what you signed on for when you two got together and what you expected when you got married. You went into this expecting and deserving to be desired by your husband. He, in turn, seems to have straight up abandoned you. You may have that bond, but he seems less than concerned with your needs and desires in this matter and that’s relationship poison.
I hate to say it, SoS, but I don’t think your husband’s coming back to you. I suspect that he had his dick out the door pretty early on. I could be wrong and maybe the tides of passion will roll back in… but I really doubt it in this case.
I think the best thing you can do here is end things as quickly and cleanly as possible. You may love your husband, and he may well love you, but that one-sided desire is going to curdle any good that your relationship has left. Waiting for him, even as you have your own sexual adventures, is just going to make you miserable.
This is a time when you have to take a line from one of my favourite bands: “I may love you, yeah, but I love me more.” You may love him… but loving yourself means not putting up with the pain you’re going through.
It’s time to leave, SoS. You deserve someone who loves you and wants you.
This story originally appeared on Kotaku.
Harris O’Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr NerdLove.