If you or your partner find that sex is not very high on the list of things to do together, you’re not alone. According to a new survey, approximately 15% of men and 34% of women say they’re not really interested in sex.
With low sexual desire in one partner cited as the most common reason that couples seek out sex therapy, these results come as no surprise to mental health experts.
Certified sexuality counselor Ian Kerner wrote a report on this issue, which was published in CNN Health on Thursday, wherein he explained, “When one of you has more interest in sex than the other, it’s easy for the person with the higher sex drive to feel rejected, bruised and undesirable, and for the partner who avoids sex to feel pressure, anxious and guilty.”
Kerner states that there are many factors affecting sexual desire, but when you’re in a committed relationship, attractiveness is generally not what’s turning people off.
Researchers found that for both men and women, physical and mental health affect our libido. “For men, it’s often the appearance of disinterest rather than actual loss of interest,” sex therapist Deborah Fox said. “Men avoid sex frequently due to prior performance issues, such as erectile issues or rapid ejaculation. They may avoid it to escape the anxiety of these issues reoccurring.”
In women, hormonal factors and fatigue can contribute to low libido.
“In my practice, I see a lot of desire diminish due to interest in porn, boredom of the same sexual routine, the comfort of monogamy and relationship security, and the loss of couple time due to a focus on parenting time,” sex therapist Amanda Pasciucco explained.
If you and your partner are experiencing problems in this area of your relationship, sexuality experts have the following good advice:
- Don’t nag.
Anger isn’t helpful, said sex therapist Holly Richmond suggested coming at the issue with curiosity instead. “Instead of saying, ‘I’m so frustrated that we never have sex anymore. What’s going on with you?’ try, ‘I’m curious about why we have less sex than we used to. Is there something you need from me?’ Open a window of opportunity for communication rather than shoving closed a door of criticism,” she advised.
- Just forget about it.
Gynecologist and sex counselor Terri Vanderlinde pointed out that the topic of not having sex can become an emotionally-charged subject. “I start by asking a couple [to] be in the same room at the same time for about an hour at least twice a week,” she said. “During that time, I have them do something fun and intimate, like playing a game or reading a book together.” But no sex.
- Go back to first base.
Just make out above the waist, take a sensual shower together, or give each other a massage.
- Try porn.
According to Kerner, “You should also think about ways to stimulate your erotic brain, particularly if you’ve just been going through the motions. Watch ethical porn together, read erotica, share a fantasy or even reminisce about the hot sex you used to have.”
- Take intercourse off the menu.
For most of us, intercourse is often the main entree on the sex menu, pointed out Kerner. “Oral sex, manual stimulation and other forms of touch and direct clitoral stimulation are relegated to being optional appetizers. Yet recent studies show that most women require a high degree of clitoral stimulation to climax, and prioritizing ‘outercourse’ allows you to discover new paths to pleasure.”
- Don’t put it off, just go for it.
“Sometimes, we have to make a conscious effort to be intimate with our partner. If we sit around and wait to be suddenly in the mood, it may never happen,” sex therapist Rachel Needle said. “Take a chance, even if you aren’t in the mood. Chances are you’ll enjoy yourself once you get started.”
- Make a standing date for intimacy.
Sex therapist Michael A. Vigorito advised scheduling weekly sex. “Knowing that sex will occur may help the low-desire partner to turn themselves on in preparation like they probably did when they were dating. It may also help reduce the high-desire partner’s anxiety about the next time they will have sex,” he said.
- Never give up.
Kerner’s last words of advice were to “think of your interest as a precious resource. Without it, without your motivation to have sex, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. So, don’t give up — just refocus your efforts.”
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