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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

My Partner Wants Sex Less Than I Do

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I am a 26-year-old male in a three-year relationship with my 23-year-old girlfriend. I have tried to have multiple conversations about our sex life. She is unresponsive and makes me feel like I’m a freak because I want to have sex more than she does. In the beginning we made love every day, sometimes all day. Today, we rarely have it once a week, and she makes it seem like a chore. She said she talked to [her girlfriends] about it and they have sex maybe one time a month with their boyfriends. I try to send her articles that portray my feelings and write about our issue in an intelligent manner, but she just deletes them without even looking at them. I do not know what to do. I have tried to open the lines of communication about our sex lives, but it seems as if she would be content with sex once a month. Do you have any advice for me?

It’s common, and even normal, for couples in long-term relationships to have a lot of sex at the beginning of their relationship, then fall into a routine where they have sex less often. This is only a problem when one or both members of the couple want to have sex more frequently—and it can really become an issue when one or both people in the relationship are shamed for their levels of sexual desire, either for wanting “too much” or “too little” sex (as you describe when you say your girlfriend makes you feel like “a freak”). In this type of situation, one person is not right and the other wrong—people have differing levels of desire, and that’s OK. The key is being willing to treat each other respectfully and negotiate a mutually acceptable way to approach sex in the relationship.

I describe several strategies for trying to communicate about this issue in my previous column, Getting More Sex in a Long-Term Relationship. However, for these to work, both people in the relationship have to be willing to work at it. It sounds like you’re trying very hard to communicate with your girlfriend, but she’s not willing to reciprocate. It’s not possible to force someone to communicate with you—you can only control your own actions.

If you feel like you’ve tried your best but she’s unwilling to talk further or to find a compromise that will suit both of you, then you might want to consider whether you want to stay in the relationship on the terms that she’s set. Are there other things in the relationship that make up for having sex less often than you would like, or do you feel like you should move on? That’s a decision that only you can make. It may be best for both of you to end the relationship and find partners who are more sexually compatible. No one likes to feel pressured for sex or shamed for wanting sex.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.