Dear Daisy: What Do I Do With My Loving, But Sexless Relationship?

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by Daniela Morosini |
Published on

**Dear Daisy is our new agony aunt column, where Daisy Buchanan answers all of your big questions, from how to be more assertive to how to move on from sexual assault. Daisy's first job in journalism in her twenties was on the problems page at Bliss Magazine. This week, she tackles whether you should leave a loving, but sexless, relationship.

Dear Daisy

I've been in a relationship for 3 and a half years now, which we rushed into. Due to other circumstances we jumped into a flat together after only 6 months. There have been lots of ups and downs but I know he's the right guy. However, I'm having second doubts about settling down so quickly and so young. He doesn't see sex as a priority and it's all but dried up, and passion and romance is sincerely lacking. Strangely it doesn't seem to affect my love for him or how well we get on, and I'm definitely still attracted to him. I've been more persistent but it's hurtful getting the cold shoulder from my own boyfriend.

It's got pretty bad and I've begun texting exes and other men, enjoying the attention and feeling of being attractive again. I really miss sex and the excitement and romance of dating. Do I risk ruining the best relationship I've ever had to be single again and potentially hate it, and lose him?


Dear J,

We all have completely different attitudes to sex, from “Hoorah! Yes please! Get all up in/through/alongside me immediately!” to “Really not bothered, I’d rather watch a Storage Wars marathon that I’ve already seen”. And there is no right or wrong way to think about it, as long as you’re with someone who feels similar. You and your boyfriend don’t connect on this issue at the moment.

Personally I believe it’s vital to feel wanted in a relationship. Your partner, through their words and deeds, should know they can make you feel good by making you feel like the hottest, most desirable thing to have ever hatched from a sex egg. But I’m saying that because, for me, regular sex is as non negotiable as saving Game Of Thrones to watch together instead of skipping ahead on Sky Plus. If your partner has a low sex drive, he’s not going to prioritise sex as a way of promoting tenderness and togetherness.

You deserve to feel desired. As a society we’re not good at establishing that sex is as much a part of a relationship as paying bills together, or sharing a bathroom. We compartmentalise sex, when it affects every aspect of our lives. If your boyfriend was mean, or rude, or cheating, I’d be here saying “Leave him now!” But it sounds like every other part of your relationship is good, and it’s really hard to see a lack of sex as a reason to walk away from someone you love, and that you’re intimate with in so many other ways.

I’m sure you’ve already told him that you need more sex, but tell him again. Make sure you’re as neutral as you can be. It’s going to be really hard because this constant rejection must be knocking your confidence enormously, and if it were me, I’d struggle not to be angry, or defensive, or upset, or to start sounding like a Black Eyed Peas tribute band, shouting ‘WHERE’S THE LOVE FOR MY LOVELY LADY LUMPS?’ You need a quiet cafe, a whole afternoon, and a notebook with some written prompts. Talk about how much you love having sex with him, and how badly you miss it. Explain that it’s not just about orgasms, but feeling loved and connected. And, most importantly, ask him what’s going on. Be gentle, be patient and think of him as a friend you’re trying to help. In 2016, trying to pay your rent, do your job and deal with an on-going shower curtain mould situation is enough to leave anyone too stressed for sex. It’s time to discover what’s happening in his head.

Now, there’s a chance that your boyfriend is unhappy in the relationship, and that’s why he’s off sex - which means that whether you like it or not, you’re going to be single and seeking out other people. This will be painful in the short term, but brilliant because you will eventually meet someone who thinks you’re the hottest thing since you accidentally left the hob on and wants to bonk you until the bed breaks. However, he might love you with all his heart and have a very low sex drive. You can’t live without sex, it’s too important to you. So he can spend time addressing whatever it is that means he doesn’t want to have sex - could a health issue like depression be affecting things? Does he have body issues that don’t bother you, but mean he feels less than confident? Is he extremely stressed? - if the lull isn’t temporary, you could consider opening the relationship.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to flirt, kiss and hook up with other guys - and if your boyfriend can’t give you the attention you need to feel happy, you could explore a situation in which you look for it elsewhere. However, if you’re going to make this work (and it’s very hard to do this) you need a policy of total transparency. You must stop texting exes if your boyfriend doesn’t know about it. I completely understand that you’re desperate for a confidence boost, and being sexually rejected by your boyfriend has hurt your self-esteem. Going behind his back is one of those things that is brilliantly effective in the short term, but spells disaster in the long term.

If this relationship doesn’t work out, it’s going to be OK. Even if it is the best you’ve had so far, there might be something even better beyond it. We learn about ourselves in difficult situations, and you’re learning that sex is very important to you, and you’re unhappy without it. You’re discovering that you need a partner who is physically demonstrative as well as being an intellectual and emotional match. You’re allowed all three! You don’t have to put up with someone because they’re ‘almost perfect’, and it’s not fair to either of you. Staying in an unhappy situation because you know it’s possible to be even more unhappy is what keeps us in terrible jobs, horrible houses and with awful friends. This might be fixable, but if it isn’t I really hope you have the guts to take a risk and jump.

There is no right or wrong amount to have sex, no ‘normal’ - but when you’re in a relationship and you’re not having the sex you want to have, it feels wrong.

Good luck,

Daisy xxx

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