When Love is Warm but Sex is Cold
You still love each other, but you just don’t want to “do it” any more. “Till death us do part” may be the age-old wedding-day promise, but the sad reality is that within four years of couples setting up house together, more than half will be dealing with the ‘death’ of their active sex lives.
Once the “hormone high” of romantic love has helped a couple to bond, it’s often a slow fade according to new research showing secure relationships kill off a woman’s sex drive, with even young women affected by libido loss.
Women who were ‘hot to trot’ when love was new – with 60% wanting sex “often” – were decidedly lukewarm four years on, with less than half of 30-year-old women wanting regular sex.
After 20 years, interest in regular sex had plummeted further, with only 20% of 50-year-old women interested. Their men, in contrast, remained at a constant simmer, with 60 to 80% wanting regular sex over the same time period.
It’s a sexual disconnect that can lead to recriminations and rejection. He feels he’s been “tricked” by a woman who seemed to want him and then went cold. She thinks he worked at turning her on until he had “caught” her and now he doesn’t bother about her needs any more.
Both start looking for alternatives, and soon the romantic merry-go-round begins all over again. The great news is, it doesn’t have to be like that. A cold bed isn’t the inevitable outcome.
Sex therapists like Bettina Arndt (The Sex Diaries, 2009) and love educator Dr Patricia Love (The Truth About Love, Simon and Schuster, 2001) advocate a range of strategies for keeping love alive once the hot glow of hormone heaven has cooled.
1) Just do It
It’s unfair to be in a relationship and not engage in sexual activity, if that’s what your partner wants, Dr. Love says. “To say ‘I won’t be sexual with you, and you’d better not go get it somewhere else either’ is a non-relational way of addressing sexual issues”.
Say “Yes” more often, says Bettina: “Once the canoe is in the water, everyone starts happily paddling. For couples to experience regular, pleasurable sex and sustain loving relationships women must get over that ideological roadblock of assumptions about desire and ‘just do it’. The result will be both men and women will enjoy more, better sex.”
2) Make Sex a Priority
Don’t leave a love date to chance. Agree to find a regular time for intimacy and it will take the pressure off the rest of your time together.
3) Understand low desire is often no reflection on your relationship.
Both men’s and women’s sex drives have normal highs and lows. It is natural for relationships to pass through predictable “ups and downs”, which many couples mistake for “the end of love”. Persevere and choose to discover more about your own needs and those of your partner.
4) Communicate your sexual needs
It’s not reasonable to expect your partner to automatically know what will turn you on, or how you are feeling. Make a pact to listen to one another, and be brave enough to be open and honest.
5) Accept the differences between you and your partner.
There’s an old quip: “Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do.” Partners often think their marriage would be great if only the other person would change. But often they are just attempting to close the gap on the inherent differences that define each person- differences that were not obvious or that they overlooked early in the relationship when “love was blind” – or veiled by hormones. Such futile efforts (trying to change the unchangeable) merely work to build resentments and break apart intimacy.