I was getting my yearly exam when my doctor asked "What do I tell all these women who have lost their sexual desire?". He explained that it is by far the most common complaint he hears.
So, how to address it? Well, anyone who works in sexual health understands that there is no pill, no well laid out treatment protocol. And anyone who has struggled with this problem knows that best of all!
There is no way to overstate how many couples struggle with this. And sadly reawakening erotic desire does not usually come easily. It is often a long, drawn out and tedious battle. A battle that some couples lose by either learning to live with it (miserably) or by splitting.
Most couples initially try everything they can think of to "fix" the problem. They read articles that speak of the need for women to practice self-care. But the glasses of wine and bubble baths and attempts at meditation and walks outside don't alone fix desire. If there miraculously is any success at making time for them in the first place! Then the oft-prescribed date night. Time alone with a partner is important, don't get me wrong. But setting aside the time and money necessary for dates? That can feel impossible to do on a consistent basis.
A woman who has lost her sexual desire and the partner who loves her will desperately anticipate the magical "thing" that will make the desire for sex come back...more kissing, lingerie, a new hairstyle, sex toys, flowers, someone else cleaning the house, a baby that sleeps through the night.
We try to be patient. We try to just wait it out. But then the partner who still wants sex ends up crying out for their needs to be met. They risk being rejected by asking for it again and again. After the cycle goes on long enough they often just stop asking. They don't want to be having sex with a woman who is only agreeing out of a sense of obligation, to keep the peace, to bide some time. Yet another quickie and checkmark for a duty performed, now leave me alone.
In such a cycle the person who doesn't want anything to do with sex will often begin to wonder if they are "broken" forever. The distance that is there with lack of physical touch continues to grow and emotional distance often follows.
We can try to make sense of our relationship by consoling ourselves that passion is just for those newly in love, never something sustained. It wanes because of brain chemicals and novelty wearing off, right? We decide to trade romance for safety. When that path is followed long enough, we lose not just the partnership, but a vital part of ourselves.
In future posts, we are going to explore some ideas to heal ourselves and our partnerships when we or our partner has lost sexual desire. There are things we can do to invite our erotic and passionate nature back into ourselves, into our lives. Are you willing to keep trying?