If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’ve already communicated with your partner in some way about your low desire.
How did you handle it?
Hopefully maturely, sensibly, and with lots of communication.
If you’re anything like me, however, it will have gone terribly- crying, silence, denial, anger, frustration, sadness.
It’s hard talking to a partner about an issue as deeply personal as not wanting sex, and there is often tensions running high on both sides. I’m totally here with you on that- the stakes are high when it comes to sex, and these chats felt incredibly loaded because we both had very strong emotions about the issue (for me, shame, for him, frustration and rejection).
Having “the chat” feels terrifying…
“I’m shit at WANTING to have sex? Great, now lets have a conversation alllllll about it!”
And often, a low sex drive can cause as many issues as it’s caused by, because of the breakdown in communication that can occur and the negative patterns that fall into place as a result of avoiding the issue.
Up until writing this blog, I’ve felt like there was something wrong with me and felt really disappointed that I was the problem in our relationship. I tried to avoid the issue as much as I could, but when it came up I always felt defensive or ashamed, and a chasm opened up between me and the boyf filled with resentment, anxiety, misunderstanding and loneliness. I think shame is the one emotion that shuts me down, and certainly I didn’t want to acknowledge the issues we faced (and that I felt I was the sole cause of).
But genuinely talking about the issue, openly and honestly, works wonders for decreasing that space between you and your partner and is one step closer to firing up that sex drive.
I’ll share my best guidance below on how me and my partner manage it (not perfectly every time I must admit), but what we’ve learned from our mistakes can help you get back on better ground…
Setting the scene
I think it’s always a good plan to have those “serious chats” when you are doing something else to occupy your mind.
Not sat opposite each other intensely staring each other down.
Or in bed at the end of a long day (trust me, not a good plan!). But maybe whilst going for a walk, driving (as long as it’s not going to be too distressing!) cooking dinner or washing up. That way there is no awkward eye contact, and you both feel more relaxed.
Breaking the silence
I found a really helpful way of starting the conversation (which has the added benefit of letting your partner know you’re trying to sort things out) is to talk to them about what you’ve found out.
Ask their permission to tell them what you’ve found out (you could throw in how keen you are to make things good between you that you’ve put in the research- brownie points!)
Explain the issue and the differences in desire (between men and women, or just at different times of the month/related to your mental and physical health- whatever is relevant to you)
If you are struggling to know how to start, you could always ask them to read a blog post from this site to start the conversation! Or maybe send them some bits to read.
I explained to my boyfriend that I’d been reading recently and I’d found out a bit more about different types of sex drives and I’d really like to talk about what I found. His ears pricked up (might have been the mention of the word sex!). I could feel myself going red, retreating into myself, feeling like I wanted to change the topic, but I stuck with it. I told him about the different types of desire, and how for some people it goes desire>arousal, but I think I’m more of a arousal>desire kinda girl. And it went great!
The boyf was really interested in what I’d found, and a lot of it made sense to him. He was also sad I’d kept this to myself and wanted to know more about how I felt, and what would help me get turned on. A huge weight felt like it’d been lifted- it was all out in the open, I wasn’t a freak (it felt easier to explain that it’s backed up by science and experiments and real sciency people!). And most of all, I got to go on a great feminist rant about sex drives and he listened. Fab all round!
Many partners fear it’s them, their looks, that you aren’t attracted to them anymore. Reiterate over and over that it’s not them (if thats true!) and tell them how much you care about them/are attracted to them and want to make things in the bedroom great between you two. Partners often feel helpless, unattractive and frustrated if they don’t know whats going on.
Let them know you are doing your best to try and understand yourself and what you need and want, and you’d love for them to help you along the way
Encourage them to ask questions
Answer any questions as openly and honestly as you can.
Its ok for you to not know what you want or need, that might take time. Just let them know you’re working on it.
And, if you don’t want to have sex, give yourself permission not to want it:
It’s OK that you don’t- you don’t owe anyone sex and we all have times or periods where we don’t want to. That’s fine.
But, I’ve found that it hugely improves things if you try talking to your partner about why. The more you learn about your sex drive and the five thieves of desire, the more you’ll know about yourself and what turns you off. That means you can share this with your partner. For me, this format has really helped:
“I wanted to have sex with you earlier, but since that argument I’m still left feeling….”
“I do really want to have sex with you but I feel worried about X and am struggling to get turned on”
“I’d like to go to bed with you but I’m feeling so tired. Could we get up early instead?”
Not only are there times when we’ve both been totally cool about not having sex (for ages I might add!) when there’s a genuine problem, but also other issues (like stress, worry) your partner can try to help you out which feels really supportive and like you’re working as a team. Finally, if you feel that unresolved conflict is still an issue, this could prove a really good space to bring this up again and hopefully revisit a solution.
Keep on talking
Silence breeds resentment, frustration and isn’t healthy for anyone. So, keep on talking… little and often. The more you talk, the better you’ll begin to understand each other and help each other through this.
Most importantly (for those of you wanting to try this at home) opening up the conversation was such a positive experience (for me at least). It brought us closer together. I learned loads about how someone else thinks about sex, especially someone of the opposite gender, and for the first time we were both open with each other about our feelings around what is a pretty awkward topic. I’d genuinely recommend it!
It’s ok to not have all of the answers (I definitely don’t!) but it’s about being on that journey together and constantly checking in. It’ll come in handy later for when you need your partners help and understanding if you want to practise any of my tips and tricks.
So hopefully that helps. Hang on in there and be brave- those conversations will feel (slightly) easier the more you have them. And good luck!