‘I Have a Headache’ and Other Signs You’re in a Barren Sexual Wasteland

Brian VanHooker

How you can tell you’re in a sexless relationship (and how to fix it)

Relationship counselors might tell you, in comforting tones, that it’s natural for passion to fade over time, and that it’s slowly replaced with things like comfort and trust and emotional intimacy. That’s great and all, but what happens if what you really need right now is a good fuck? What if, while trying to hold your family together, you’re silently clawing your own eyeballs out, trapped in the relentless cycle of frustration and resentment that comes with the dreaded sexless relationship? It’s a cliché from the depths of sitcom hell, but it’s one that many people are living. We spoke to a relationship expert about how it happens and how to break the sexless cycle.

How Few Times Do You Need to Have Sex to Be Considered Sexless?

According to psychologists interviewed by Newsweek, the most commonly agreed-upon standard for defining a sexless relationship is a couple who has sex fewer than 10 times per year. So if you’re not having sex around once a month (the average couple fucks at least twice a week), you can consider your relationship to be officially “sexless.” But take some comfort in knowing that you’re far from alone: According to psychologists, as many as 15 to 20 percent of couples are living like this.

As with anything to do with sex, official numbers aside, it really boils down to whether or not the needs of each partner are being met. Per psychotherapist and relationship expert Lisa White, it also might be more important to pay attention to the trend lines — i.e., once you see the normal amount of sex in your relationship decreasing, it’s vital to figure out the reason why. Similarly, she says it’s important not to fool yourself into believing that it’s just a temporary drought — if you or your partner have been “just too tired” for longer than three months, you’ve got serious cause for concern.

How a Sexless Relationship Happens

According to White, there are a bunch of reasons men and women might stop sleeping with each other. One of the biggest causes is simply that people change over time, and the person you’re with now may not be the same as the person you started out with. “Sometimes, relationships evolve, but people don’t evolve with the relationship,” says White.

This is especially true if one partner has, over time, developed a taste for a specific type of sex that their partner doesn’t like or want to explore. More to the point, the evolution of sexual taste is a natural part of aging; for example, many of those who are into BDSM don’t discover their kink (or at least, don’t act on it) until they’re well into their 30s. Some people even begin to find themselves becoming more attracted to the same sex later in life which, naturally, can be hell on a marriage.

But why does this happen? According to White, a lot of it has to do with how we grow to accept ourselves as we age. “As you get older, people are more comfortable with their bodies, and especially when people enter their 40s, they begin to reflect on what they’ve done, or haven’t done, and they begin to feel their mortality,” she explains.

Of course, the reasons for sex slowly disappearing from your relationship can also be far more simple — and emotional: “Maybe there’s something both people are mad at, but they won’t resolve,” says White…




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