Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Maybe sexual difficulty is really stemming from the heart
24: I am 24, healthy, active and in a stable and loving relationship. However, I have been completely uninterested in sex for a month or two now. Boyfriend is very upset and wonders what this means for our future. We tried the other night and I basically broke down in tears, wondering what's wrong with me.
Nothing has really changed in our relationship, although he has been a little more cranky lately (school started again) and I have been very stressed at work (horrific manager).
We have talked about it, but haven't really come to any conclusions, other than we love each other and don't know what's going wrong. What do I do? What do we do?
Carolyn: Are you on the pill? That's one easy way to explain it, as are some other medical issues a checkup could help detect.
Less black-and-white is that stress does affect libido, as does a partner's crankiness.
Equally gray and twice as problematic is that having a partner who gets really upset about your libido can become another source of stress, thus worsening the problem.
If it's not medical, I would suggest mutually deciding to treat this as a blip, and waiting patiently for it to run its course. No trying, no rehashing — just quietly waiting it out, with the understanding that when the urge comes back to you, you'll let him know. That takes away the pressure element, at least for a while.
It also gives you both a chance to find ways to deal with your stress. If stress is in fact the culprit, then you'll both be helping the cause, and if it isn't the culprit, then you'll at least be learning to manage your stress better, which has no downside.
Finally — this is the part you don't include in the conversation, because it's just a thought process at this point — you need to ask yourself whether you're in denial about any change in your feelings for your boyfriend.
You care about him, obviously, and the idea of a big breakup is hardly appealing, so it's quite natural that, in response to his being "very upset," your first response would be to come up for a bunch of excuses (such as "He's cranky," "My boss is a jerk," etc.). In other words, anything besides your losing interest in him.
Please make sure you're letting yourself consider all possibilities, not just the palatable ones.
24 Again: I think trying to create a no-pressure zone would be really helpful. Any suggestions on how to discuss that without hurting feelings?
Your last paragraphs are sitting, uneasily, in my stomach right now. You're right — big breakup is not what I want. But our best friends are getting married, our parents are starting to ask when we're going to settle down, etc., and I'm not sure he's the ONE (then again, I'm not sure I really believe in the ONE). I just hadn't really connected that to libido.
Carolyn: Not feeling it emotionally certainly can emerge as not feeling it sexually. As for the talk, I can't decide if this development makes it more or less necessary. But I'd start with, "I'd like to give this problem some time to resolve itself."