If you are like most of us out there you likely weren’t given the necessary puzzle pieces that help make a beautiful relationship picture come and stay together. Instead, you may have been left to just wing it and when it comes to relationships, we can’t just wing it. It just doesn’t work. Sure, it may work for trying some new restaurant because if it doesn’t go well then there is no harm no foul. But when it comes to your relationship, there is harm. The impact is way more detrimental because unchecked your relationship can head down a negative path that has you in a sexless relationship. And perhaps you are already there.
Your relationship deserves more than winging it and “I hope it gets better and fixes itself.” Spoiler alert, it generally doesn’t fix itself. Instead, your relationship deserves intentionality and if you are in a sexless relationship then I’m going to say that intentionality has likely not yet been infused in your relationship. Perhaps your relationship had been on autopilot for a while; months and maybe even years. I am not here to shame or blame you in any way. You are totally not alone. So many couples have been impacted by the lack of education out there and what you need along with them is to take the following next steps to get you moving in the direction of connection and consistent and reliable sexual intimacy.
Step One: Notice the Current Pattern
The thing about a lack of sex in a relationship is that for most it doesn’t happen overnight. What tends to happen is after the beginning of the relationship hormonal boost or “honeymoon phase”, you slowly return back to your norm of sexual energy. Let’s say for you it’s your hormonal energy that dipped and along with it, life and being busy starts to get in the way. You are getting a bit stressed, you don’t have as much time for rest and the things that help make you feel good, and the spontaneity of sex becomes more distant.
It’s at this point that both partners often don’t know what to do about it. Or they try to address the change but it just doesn’t go well. Your partner may keep reaching out to you for sex but, because you likely don’t know you are more dominantly a responsive desire gal rather than a spontaneous desire gal, you aren’t feeling it at the moment when he asks so you say no with words or your body. When this “no” happens without recognition of your partner’s reach for connection and using a raincheck for negotiation for when you both can connect soon, then the rejection starts to sink into your partner.
Also, your partner asking for sex may begin to fall on you like pressure, and pressure is so not sexy; it’s more like the kryptonite to desire. The more he pushes for more the more you pull away, and the more you pull away the more he reaches for you. He asks for sex, you say no and ‘round and ‘round we go. When you are in this negative pattern for a long time then frustration increases and your partner that kept asking might be reaching burnout or is at burn out, which is when the reach for sexual connection stops. To you, this may feel like a mini reprieve, like the eye of a hurricane. But just like the eye of a hurricane, it is not a place to settle.
Step Two: Own Your Part of the Pattern
Once you can view your negative pattern from the outside rather than being stuck and blinded on the inside, it’s time to take ownership of your part. I know you both did not intend to get into a negative pattern that has led you to have a non-existent sex life. But ownership of your part in the negative pattern and sharing remorse to your partner about the impact it has had on the relationship is your ticket ba. Ownership and remorse can look something like, “oh my goodness honey, I see that when you would reach out to me for sex and I wasn’t in the mood and I didn’t know how to handle it, I shut you down and that hurt you. I am so sorry for that impact of our negative pattern.”
What tends to happen instead of the ownership and remorse is a blame game to understand why there is no sex happening. Blame of either it’s my partner’s fault, it’s my fault, or it must be because this relationship isn’t working and it’s our relationship’s fault as a whole. I want to tell you it is nobody’s fault at all, remember you weren’t given the tools to understanding how to interact in your relationship in a positive way. And even when you get those tools it takes some time to erode away those old patterns. Further, if your partner is still stuck in the blame game he may not yet be able to receive your ownership of your side of the pattern and your remorse for it. This can happen when the pattern has been persistent for years and the help of a professional is valuable.
Step Three: Create the Positive Path
As you understand your negative pattern and take ownership for your role, you also want to start taking steps on the new path that you both want to create. One of reliable and consistent connection without the stress and negativity. When you start out, this path is like one in the woods that hasn’t been traveled frequently, if ever. It’s brambly, the trail is super tiny and you may be unsure if this is the right direction. But the more often you and your partner walk that positive pattern trail the more clear and more easily accessible it will become. At the start, your reflexes and reactions may have you go more often down the old, negative pattern path because it’s been well traveled. It’s a known path and your nervous system goes “psh, well this path is easier! It’s a clear, wide path that I don’t have to even think about where I’m going so I’m going to go this way.” Recognizing the moment when your mind wants to go down that path, resisting the urge, and saying yes to that new brambly path is hard indeed but is what will turn that old negative pattern to the path less traveled.
What are you doing as you walk down this new path you are creating? Great question. You want to infuse your relationship with goodies. This means focusing on things like knowing each other's love language and doing it consistently. This will have you and your partner feel loved, appreciated and emotionally connected. You are also are going to be adding in the goodies of physical closeness in your day to day: sitting on the couch together, holding hands, hugs when you say goodbye for the work day and when you see each other again later that day. As that starts to feel comfortable you can add in more touch of massages of your extremities and then move to full body with clothes on, then clothes off without the genitals included, then include the genitals. You can both create your shared pleasure pie and keep adding in pieces as you grow comfortable.
Keep in mind you do not want to all of a sudden go from no-sex to trying to have all the sex. You need to take the steps slowly as you go down this new path. You can also think of it like emerging into a swimming pool. Doing a cannonball into the deep end is not what we are going for here. It’ll be a shock to your system and you’ll want to jump right on out. Instead, we are going to be dipping toes, then ankles, then calves, then… until you are fully and comfortably emerged into the sexual pool with your partner. This whole time you are acclimating yourself to the sexual pool and training your mind to feel safety and comfort as well as removing the expectation that sexual intimacy has to lead to “the whole shebang” each and every time. This causes pressure and remember, pressure is the kryptonite of intimacy. Again, the idea is to go slowly so you create the positive path intentionally. And although these three steps aren’t a magic wand for your sex life to change overnight, although I wish I was that powerful, with continued intentional steps down the positive path you will begin to shift and move your no sex pattern to more connection and sexual intimacy.