Why Aren't We Having Sex Now? How To Stop Fighting About Sexual Frequency

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to talk about how much you're having sex in a relationship.

Q: “I've been with my boyfriend for about two years now. We used to have sex every day or at least every other day. Now it's once or twice a week. I know that's kind of normal, but it still makes me sad — I still want him the same amount. He says he thinks stress might have something to do with it, that it isn't about his desire for me, but it's hard not to take it personally. Even worse, I almost always end up bringing it up when we fight so I feel like I'm making it into a bigger deal than it would be otherwise. How can I avoid throwing it in his face when I'm upset and taking it personally — but also, how can I stand up for what I need and how I'm worried about what this means for us?”

A: Thanks for the question! Almost every couple experiences some sort of sexual slowdown at some point in their relationship. Since sex can be so tricky to talk about openly, most couples struggle with how to rebound from the post-honeymoon blues. We all feel sensitive talking about sex, and can far too easily wind up getting defensive or aggressive. Here are five steps for talking about sexual frequency in a more healthy way.

Talk About Sex More Often

It sounds like what’s happening is that you have all of this pent up fear and frustration about your sex life, and it’s all bursting out at inopportune moments, in unhelpful ways. I know it might sound counter-intuitive to suggest talking about sex more frequently if it’s feeling like such a big problem right now, but I think it’s healthy to talk about sex more often. Things won’t build up, and you won’t feel like you have to get everything off of your chest in one go. You’ll feel more at ease having smaller, bite-sized conversations. If you’re feeling attracted to your partner, let them know in the moment. If you’re feeling lonely and missing intimacy, express your feelings. If you’re feeling sad that they’re too stressed for sex, let them know how you feel. If an amazing sexual memory pops into mind, share it with your partner.

Don’t Just Talk About The Problems

This idea goes hand-in-hand with my first suggestion. Most couples only end up talking about sex when they’re fighting about it. Like with your relationship, there will be fights about sexual frequency, or about one or both partners not feeling attractive or desired. Sometimes couples will fight about the specific things they want to try in the bedroom. Or there will be fights about partners orgasming too quickly, or taking too long, or not having orgasms at all. Sometimes sex gets brought up in the middle of completely unrelated fights. Most couples have the association that talking about sex equals fighting, or at the very least, one person being upset with or hurt by the other. That association puts couples even more on guard with each other, setting up a vicious cycle for even more fights.

One of the best things you can do is to start trying to have positive conversations about sex. Give compliments. Reminisce about memories. Brainstorm new ideas. Talk about sex without trying to accomplish a specific task. One of the best times to do this is right after you’ve had sex. You’ll both feel more relaxed and connected. Tell your partner what it’s like to feel so close to them. Describe your favorite thing they did. Suggest something you want them to repeat next time. Keep it light and positive. This will help both of you realize that there are still plenty of wonderful aspects of your sexual relationship, and that talking about sex doesn’t have to mean immediately putting up your guard and preparing for a fight.

Make Requests

Your partner is never going to be able to know exactly what you want, exactly when you want it. Throughout the entire course of your relationship, you’re going to have to tell your partner what you want and need. A lot of people fall into the trap of thinking their partner should “learn” what they want, and shouldn’t have to be asked. But that’s just not a reasonable expectation.

When you talk to your partner about what you want, make specific requests of them. If all you hear are complaints, it’s far too easy to get defensive and not want to take any action. Plus, complaints are usually broad, so it can be hard to even figure out what the complainer wants in the first place. On the other hand, a specific request, coming from a good place, is much easier to respond to.

For example, what would you respond better to — “we never have sex anymore” or ,“could you plan a date night for us on Friday?” Here are other examples of requests you could make — “could you find a new sex position for us to try?” “Could you pick a sex toy that you’d like us to buy together?” “Could we schedule three nights this week to have sex?”

Fight Fair

It’s absolutely understandable for you to be feeling frustrated and afraid about the state of your sex life. These are valid fears that deserve to be talked about. But they have to be talked about in productive, healthy ways. Read my article about how to fight fairly for more tips.

In particular, don’t bring up sex when things are already heated. And definitely don’t bring it up when you’re fighting about something completely different. You can ask your partner to hold you accountable if you have a hard time stopping yourself. Tell your partner something like, “I’m really going to try to stop talking about sex when we’re fighting, because I know it’s not a fair or productive way to talk about something so important to both of us. If you hear me slip up, please call me out.” Together, come up with a healthy way for your partner to do that. Maybe they could say a code word, or raise a finger, or simply say, “hey, remember you asked me to hold you accountable for bringing up sex during a fight?

Channel Your Energy

Right now, it sounds like you’re putting a lot of effort into fighting with your partner about the fact that you’re not having as much sex as you’d like. Why not try putting that effort into initiating the sex life that you want, rather than complaining about not having it?

One of the things I find myself repeating to my clients most frequently is that having a consistently great sex life requires a lot of ongoing effort. It’s easy to want your partner to make more of an effort — we all want that! But we all also have to take honest looks at ourselves and the effort we put in. How often do you initiate sex with your partner? How often do you make the effort to plan a date night? How often do you go out of your way to seduce or surprise your partner? It’s OK if you’re realizing you’ve been slipping up recently too. We all do! But we have to keep remembering to pull ourselves out of our ruts and keep trying.

Making more of an effort has a lot of amazing benefits. You’ll have more sex. You’ll have fewer fights. You’ll feel better about yourself for taking action and going after something you want. You’ll help your partner remember that the two of you have a lot of fun having sex together. Hopefully, you’ll also inspire your partner to make more of an effort too.

Good luck!

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