Has your relationship gone from lustful to lacklustre? You’re not alone. Lots of people find themselves in a relationship where the sexual intimacy has all but disappeared. But if you want to know how to revive your sexless relationship, there’s good news - because you’re in the right place.
I’ll show you how to regain the passion in three basic steps. But first -- let’s define what a sexless relationship actually is and isn’t.
What is a sexless relationship
A sexless relationship is defined as a relationship with very little or no sex. Some experts say sexless relationships constitute 10 sexual encounters or less within a year. However, “sexless” is a subjective term and a relationship without sexual encounters isn’t a medically defined condition.
This means you get to decide what sexless means and when you feel like your relationship enters that territory or not.
It also means you get to decide whether you want to change it or not.
Is a sexless relationship normal?
As a sex therapist and sex coach, a large part of those I help, are in what they themselves define as sexless relationships. Sometimes both parties are suffering from low sex drive, but other times it’s more one partner whose lost interest in sex, than the other.
Regardless of how aligned partners' levels of desire are -- it’s clear that the idea of being in a sexless relationship is stressful for both parties. And this has many reasons.
1. We believe everyone else is having lots of hot sex all the time. Not true, at all! 13-28% of men experience low sex drive, and 1 in 3 women experience it, too. While we still don’t have statistics on those with other gender identities, it’s safe to assume the numbers are similar).
2. We don’t talk frankly about our sex lives with others, so a sexless relationship is never normalised. If we knew how many other people were in the same situation, it might not feel as bad.
3. We believe a sexless relationship is doomed or is a sign of something being seriously wrong. It can be, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. Desire wanes for many different reasons.
The truth of the matter is, a lot of people are in sexless relationships -- whether this means they have sex once every other month, once a year, or once every other year.
It’s a normal experience. This doesn’t mean it’s an enjoyable one, but it also doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong with you or your relationship.
How to revive your sexless relationship in three steps
1. Work out why you’re in a sexless relationship
If you want to know how to revive your sexless relationship you first need to understand what’s causing the lack of sex.
There are lots of reasons people stop engaging in sex. These range from psychological factors like depression, anxiety and negative body image, to relationship factors like irritation and conflict.
Even more circumstantial factors such as having a newborn baby, losing your job, or working hard to meet a deadline at your workplace -- can all affect how much you feel like prioritising sex and having sex.
But sexless relationships aren’t just a result of experiencing low sex drive. Sometimes we kind of end up in “the friend zone” within our own romantic relationship. even if it’s a loving, committed one.
One reason this happens is because both parties, (or as is more common, one party), feels like sex has turned into a chore. They no longer equate it with pleasure and intimacy, instead they relate it to pressure and stress.
If this sounds like you or your partner, know it’s common, and it doesn’t have to stay this way.
A few questions to ask yourself if you experience pressure and stress surrounding sex are:
- What about sex stresses me out?
- How long have I been experiencing stress about sex?
- What do I want my relationship with sex to look like?
Sometimes, the answer to the last question reveals the most important information, namely; whether you want to work on your sex life or not.
How to revive your sexless relationship hinges on if you want to revive it or not. You can’t get in the mood if you don’t want to want to get in the mood.
2.Talk about it with your partner
Whether you want to spark more passion or not, you need to have an open and honest conversation with your partner about what is going on.
- how you feel about sex and the lack of sex in your relationship and
- what sex means to you, and why it’s important or not important to you right now
When you’re talking about the above, keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for emotions to run high.
Sex is a sensitive subject and it’s not like we learned how to talk about sex in school or from our parents.
As you tread this sensitive ground together, a few tips to keep in mind to make sure it doesn’t veer into conflict territory, are to talk about the positives, too.
- what you love about your relationship and what’s working well
- how committed you are to your partner and their needs
When you combine an open and frank conversation about sex with the positives about your relationship -- you ensure a better, more fruitful discussion. For more tips, you can read my blog post on how to talk to your partner about sex.
3. Decide what your next steps will be
When you know what’s causing the lack of sexual intimacy and how you both feel about it, your next step is to work out what to do about it. This is where you get practical about how to revive your sexless relationship.
If you can’t get on the same page about wanting to work on your sexual relationship, you might want to start out by seeking couples therapy. Getting the help of a relationship or sex therapist can be a great way of moving forward. A neutral, third-party can often diffuse the situation and offer possible solutions.
If you know you both want to work on getting some of that spark back, you’ll want to change up your approach to sex.
You see, how to revive your sexless relationship has a lot to do with how you look at sexual desire. If you believe it should come spontaneously, no matter how long you’ve been together, you probably won’t see much improvement in that department.
This is because sex drive is so much more complicated than our other drives. It requires effort.
If you actively start making steps to ensure sex happens -- you’ll be able to get that sexual intimacy back.
This might look like:
- Prioritising sex
Thinking about the where, when and what you can do increases the chances of sex happening. This might mean having to de-prioritise other areas of your life, such as doing the laundry or watching that last episode on Netflix together.
- Actively trying to get in the mood, instead of waiting for desire to happen
Turning yourself on by fantasizing about sex or engaging in some non-sexual, light touch can be a great way of getting in the mood and wanting to have sex with your partner.
- Making a romantic effort when you’re not both exhausted and ready for bed
A lot of us leave sex till the end of the day, when we’re knackered and don’t have much energy left for anything, really. This is a shame, because we simultaneously expect so much of our sexual encounters. We compare them to movies and tv-series, and wonder why our sex life isn’t as good as it seems to be in Hollywood. Part of this is because sex is seen as a “night-time activity”.
See what happens if you can make a romantic move during lunch-time, nap time for the kids, or in the morning before work, when you’ve had a good night’s rest.
It’s possible to revive your sexless relationship
Losing the spark happens for many reasons; we stop prioritising sex, suffer from low libido, or feel like sex is a chore. If you want to reboot your sex life, it’s important to take it in three steps:
- Work out what’s going on
- Talk openly and honestly
- Decide on your next steps
However, how to revive your sexless relationship might be more complicated than this, because our relationship with sex can be complicated.
If you feel like you need more than just a few quick tips -- you want and need the full solution, my online program Re:Desire, is what you need.
Re:Desire is a high-touch online experience, where you learn how to reduce pressure and stress and increase intimacy and desire. Get your application in today, it’s just 2 questions + your contact info and it really only takes a few minutes to fill in. Click here to start your journey towards more desire!
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex -- so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to learn more about how to prioritise sex again, download her free resource: The Desire Test.
Originally published at LeighNoren.com.