Advice on why sexual attraction might sometimes go in a relationship and how to deal with that.
Do you think a person should stay in a serious relationship (of over 2 years so far) if they are unsure about their sexual attraction to the other person, and have been for a significant period of time? My girlfriend is my best friend, we have a lovely time hanging out and snuggling, and we basically live together and will be officially soon. The thing is, I am always thinking of other people (real and imagined) sexually, and I don’t feel that bothered about sex with her despite often feeling sexually frustrated. I have actually touched myself while she was asleep a few times lately and sometimes I want to be alone for that reason- because it feels more satisfying by myself when I can properly think of a fantasy scenario. Even when I am having sex with her (which I do on maybe 3-4 times a week. We are staying together every night) I find myself always thinking of something else. It wasn’t always that way obviously, but for a long time now actually.My dilemma is that this is my longest and best relationship, I have never known anyone to treat me so kindly and with such love, I feel that things in my life are nice and secure with her and sometimes I can imagine a whole future of kids and family events where we would still like each other and be good supports to each other in life. None of this sounds very romantic, and honestly my question is how much that matters?I actually don’t know what is normal/common in relationships as I feel like I can’t ask other people I know if they feel this way. How do I know if I would be making a mistake to lose a wonderful person in the mere hope there may be someone else out there I’d feel more passionately about, when I’m not sure I can imagine finding anyone else who I could be so much ‘myself’ with as I am with my current girlfriend? Is sex ever as good as it is inside your head, and is it normal to lose the ‘spark’ in less than 2 years!?Any information to help me think through this dilemma would be a huge help. Thank you….A Girl.
Hi! Thanks for your question. I can’t tell you whether you are sexually attracted to your girlfriend or not, but I will give you some advice about why you might be unsure. There are also some tips here on how you can both make your relationship work a bit better.
Be honest, do you fancy her?
I’m going to talk about why it is that you aren’t fancying her much at the moment. Sexual feelings for someone can come and go and often they are to do with the relationship. I think there are things that you could change and work on but ultimately if you don’t fancy her I think it’s best to be honest.
Your relationship might be safe and nurturing and giving you everything you want right now but she might think that your relationship is about a mutual sexual attraction. If so, the longer you pretend it is the more hurt she will be when she finds out that it isn’t. If you do need to tell her, you will need to think of a way of saying it which is very gentle but also clear. You know her better than I do so you’ll have to think of the best way to do that.
However, if you’re really unsure here are some things for you and you both to think about.
You say that you are having sex on a regular basis but is it the kind of sex you want? Are you doing it because you feel you have to? I would caution against making yourself have sex with someone when you don’t want to. It’s not fair on yourself, it’s not fair on her (though perhaps she could be checking in to make sure that you’re okay with the sex), but also it’s not going to make you want to have sex with her more. In fact it may do the opposite, because your body is storing a lot of memories of ‘meh’ sex that it will be difficult to forget.
Here’s an article about tuning into each other about consent by thinking about handshakes.
Are you both able to talk to each other about what you’d like to do with each other? Sometimes people think they know what their partner is into but they actually don’t. You could each try writing a list of all the different kinds of sexual activities that people can do (think of at least 25). Then you could use this to talk to each other about what you do, don’t and might like to try. Maybe even rate each one on on a scale of 1 – 10.
This list by me might give you some ideas on different kinds of sex that you could talk about.
You mention having fantasies that aren’t about your girlfriend – even when you’re having sex together. Have you thought about whether you could share these fantasies? Expressing fantasies doesn’t mean we want to do them, but they can be very sexy to talk about. If your GF has fantasies they want to share with you then this might also be sexy. You might both have a very fixed idea about each other, but be open to finding out new things about each other. Sure there’s a risk you might find each other less sexy, but you may also find each other more sexy.
Finding different ways to talk about this can help too. Letters, emails, texts, stories, sexy post it notes can be easier to communicate (as you can spend a bit longer thinking of what to say) but also might give you both a bit of distance.
Also think about a sex thing that you do together. Write a paragraph to yourself about a time when it was really enjoyable and then write about a time when it wasn’t so great. Try to write in detail, slow everything down, cover what you could see, hear, feel, taste, smell and what you were thinking. What do you notice? What’s changed over time? (Thanks to Meg John Barker for that tip)
Being close = not always hot
Have a look at these Venn diagrams – which of these apply to your relationship do you think?
It sounds to me that you are overlapping quite a lot. That can feel comforting and safe – which is nice but not always sexy. I think romantic relationships need a balance of separateness and togetherness. To be able to fancy someone you need to be able to stand back and go ‘phwoar*’ they’re hot. If you’re too close up to someone then you can’t really see them. If your relationships is all about two people becoming one, like The Spice Girls reckon, then there might not be ‘an other’ to fancy.
*old fashioned British word meaning
You might need more than one
It’s nice that you can call your girlfriend your best friend too. However, it does make me wonder about whether you have anyone else you can call a best friend. Also do you have family that you can hang out with? Do you have work/school mates? Do you have hobbies? Do you do stuff like activism or community stuff or religious type stuff? Apart from the solo sex do you do stuff which is just for you? Also think about the way you express your love for each other – is it always cuddly and warm or is it sometimes more cheeky and flirty?
Check this page out and think about all the different sources of love (and kinds of love) in your life. It’s from ancient Greece (clever lot the ancient Greeks – well old too).
There are loads of different sources of love and loads of different kinds of love. Sometimes (because of what we are taught about how we should have relationships) we might replace one or all of these kinds of love with one romantic love. Have you done that? If you have, maybe it’s put a lot of pressure on the relationship? If you both try to have rich and fulfilling lives outside the relationship it may make what happens inside more exciting.
Do what works, not what’s ‘normal’
However you’re both feeling about the relationship – you’re probably going to have to make some changes. This is really important and you’ll demonstrate love and kindness for her and for you. It is tough though and it might feel like there’s a lot to risk. Remember that you can find ways to feel comfortable and secure by yourself and with other people too.
To help you think about how you both might be feeling about the relationship you might wanna try my relationships graph.
The kind of love you’re both experiencing is something that you are actively making happen. It might not feel that way because everything might feel easy and natural at the moment but it’s not a magical spell you have no control over. This is good news because you can both then try to make the relationship work for you.
You could live together and snuggle but not sexually. You could have a non-monogamous relationship where you both agree you can have sex or romance with other people or you could be super close friends who have romantic relationships (or not) with other people.
Throughout your message you seem to want to compare your relationship to an idea of what is normal. That’s not really a great idea. There are loads of different ways of doing relationships and you both need to find a way that works for you.
Hope this helps. Sorry it’s a bit long and rambly.
© Justin Hancock, 2019