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After the Sexin’s Gone

Eight months into one reader's relationship, the spark had all but gone out. They turned to the 4-way panel to get advice on how to proceed: rekindle the flame or find a new spark?

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Dear 4-Way,
My partner and I have been dating for about eight months. Six of the eight have been fantastic, but the last two have been different—not bad, things just aren’t they way they were before. We also have not had sex for a month and a half. I still enjoy spending time with her and think she’s an amazing person, but I find that I’m not really that bummed out that we’re not having sex and don’t miss it. I haven’t tried to push it and neither has she. I know the physical spark usually dies down a little after the beginning phase of a relationship, but I’m not sure the flame should go out altogether. Is this normal or is it the beginning of the end? Should I work to keep the relationship going or should our lack of sexual interest in one another be a sign that this just isn’t right?KD, Atlanta, Georgia 

The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
I really, really want to be the kind of person who tells you that all you need is love and that a long-term, deep, emotional connection trumps a physical connection. While that’s true, I do believe you need the physical attraction and fire in the beginning to keep on file in your memory for when things slow down. Also, you’ve been dating for eight months, not eight years … something’s not right. You should still be reasonably interested in ripping each other’s clothes off as often as possible and sneaking out of work to meet for an occasional nooner. Instead, you’re practically in the twin-bed phase. This is a DEFCON 1 situation if you ask me. 

You also gave your partner the old “amazing person” routine in your question to us. It’s my belief that “amazing person” is the new “she’s got a great personality”—both labels are code for “I feel so guilty for not being interested in such a great person that I’m going to pay her a compliment, but what I really want to do is break up with her.” While I’m sure your partner is indeed an amazing person, you just don’t sound all that jazzed about her anymore, which is probably why you’re not missing the lovin’ and probably why both of you are acting like people who’ve been married for sixty-three years instead of people who’ve been dating for eight months. 

Talk to her. Maybe you’re both avoiding the conversation to put off the inevitable breakup you both know is coming, or maybe you’re both just not that into sex. Though sex isn’t everything in a relationship, I do believe this: there should always be a flame of some sort that can be rekindled, even if it takes some work. Even if it’s on low-burn for a while, you should be able to occasionally juice it up and set the house on fire. If that’s completely gone, then perhaps you’re better off as friends instead of lovers. 

The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
I’m sure you’re aware that there’s more to a relationship than just sex, so I won’t go down that path with you here. But I do think you should take a really close look at the relationship. Is it turning into more of a friendship than a relationship? From what you’re describing, and from your own admission that you don’t really miss the intimacy with her, I’m inclined to believe that it’s headed in that direction. And if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with that! Many great friendships are born as a result of people being former lovers. After the awkwardness of going from one label to another, lovers to friends, it can be a much better scenario in many cases. 

But if you find that this cannot possibly be the case, then I encourage you to talk openly and candidly with her about it. Do either of you have needs that aren’t being met? Are they being met somewhere else? Is the spark gone? All these questions are questions only the two of you can answer for each other. The lack of sex isn’t the sole killer of a relationship, but the infusion of sex can never hurt either. Should you work to keep the relationship going? Ask yourself the hard questions, be honest, and then have the discussion with that amazing person. She’ll still be amazing, just more enlightened. Chances are, if you’re questioning it, so is she. 

The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
It’s been my long-held belief that two individuals involved in a relationship with another are emancipated to create their own idea of “normal”—their own rules, rights, and by-laws. You’re the writers of your own relationship constitution, which you’re free to make amendments to at any time.   If it doesn’t bother either of you that you’re not having sex and you’re truly happy with each other, then so be it and I don’t have a problem with it. But, you are writing in here, and so you do have a problem with it … and so I have a problem with it, too. 

I don’t blame you for your concern; it’s valid to feel like something is wrong. Allow me to get all mathematical on ya for a moment. At least 25 percent of your relatively brief relationship has been non-sexual. You haven’t been married for thirty years to this person; you’ve been dating for eight months. That doesn’t add up.  This situation is likely going to equate itself in a friendship rather than an intimate relationship. While every relationship has its mutually written constitution, each individual has the right to pen his or her own declaration of independence.

Your uncertainty is a sign to sign yours. 

The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
I think you have another step to take before you jump right to “Is it time to terminate things?” It sounds like what needs to happen first is a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart conversation.  There are a million and one reasons why folks’ sexual appetites wax and wane. For some, no sex—even for a brief time—seems intolerable. Yet other people can go for very lengthy spells without it.

The fact that you’re even considering the idea of ending things with a person you say is amazing—without even talking with her—makes me question how invested you are in the connection. If she truly is amazing and you really do enjoy spending time with her, then she’s worth the time to have a conversation with.  Something else to remember here, KD: sex is not necessarily synonymous with all forms of intimacy. It sounds like you guys have a lot of good stuff going on in your relationship. Why would you want to toss that all away without even a conversation?

Talk with her. Listen to her. I think you’ll learn a lot about her, yourself, and the relationship.

 

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