MANSWERS: Is my fiancee’s disinterest in sex a deal-breaker?

MANSWERS: Is my fiancee’s disinterest in sex a deal-breaker?

I Dear RC, thanks for all your wonderful advice, I especially love the Manswers. So much, that I would like their and your advice on the following. For 4, 5 years I’ve been with my soulmate. She’s great at putting up with my antics, I’ve made some missteps which she more or less forgave me and all is quite well except for one thing! The sex, or lack thereof actually.

My fiancé has a low libido while mine is normal. I say normal because I consider sex 2-4 times a week a healthy average to maintain over the years. And the first two months were good, but we’ve had dry spells longer than the Atacama Desert and it’s driving me nuts. It makes me cranky, irritable and frustrated. I love her dearly but I just can’t get her out of that ‘slump’. Once per quarter is too low an average for two healthy 32-year-olds.

On top of low libido she suffers from libido-limiting conditions such as an occasional infection in/on/to her nether regions, and I very much sympathize with her during these episodes but, come on man! I gotta get some. When I bring it up we talk about it in an adult fashion and there’s clearly mutual understanding, but now I’ve been rejected by her so often that I can’t bring myself to try and seduce her out of fear for rejection. So my question is two-fold.

a) How can I overcome my fear of rejection and how can I coach her to help me?

b) I am having doubts about our future. If we’re already in this ‘slump’ how will it be once we are married or ‘worse’, have children? Like I said, we’re both 30 and have a long and healthy life ahead. If the intimacy doesn’t improve, should we call off the wedding, break up in the best of ways, and hope to find a partner who is more on the same page libido-wise? Desperate Dutchman

Reality Chick says… I’ve answered this question a lot from both men and women and yes, couples do have to negotiate about sex when mismatched libidos are part of the picture. But you guys are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. If she agreed to marry you I suspect she’s not resentful or withholding sex from you (I could be wrong), but even so that doesn’t help you much, because you can love someone desperately and just not be suited sexually. I could give you a heap of strategies on coming back from rejection and trying over and over to fix things, but I think you more need to face facts and whether the situation can and will change. If it doesn’t, I can tell by reading your letter that four times a year isn’t going to cut it for you over the coming decades.

Of course, some relationships do happily work and chug along without much sex or any sex at all, and we know that sexless marriages are pretty (scarily) common. But for a sexless relationship to work and for the commitment to endure, both people have to be down with the status quo. You guys aren’t. Get some counselling ASAP and be really clear in the session that the lack of sex is making you miserable and you’re seriously concerned about a future together. Trust me, you don’t want to be battling this issue for the rest of your life, no matter how much you love her.

Manswers Man BB says… DD, the truth is most couples have differing libidos. Ever been present to a group conversation where one person makes a quip about not getting ‘enough’ and their partner rolls their eyes? Even in the closest relationships there is a very strong chance that one party could be completely satisfied with the level of sexy time, and the other would really prefer a little less / more, but does nothing about it. That said, you guys seem on completely different planets when it comes to the bedroom, and the periodic infections certainly aren’t helping matters.

You suggest that you’ve made some mistakes and that she has ‘more or less forgiven you’, but I am starting to wonder if, despite your affection for her, she is not necessarily in the same space. Despite the lack of sex is she still affectionate towards you? Does she speak positively about your future together? Assuming this is the case why not just focus on kissing and cuddling for a while? Sometimes you need to go back a few steps to move forward. On the bigger question of your future, that’s a lot harder to answer. Have a really honest conversation. If your fiance isn’t that interested in sex she probably won’t change, and then it’s up to you to decide if that is more important that what appears to be a solid foundation for a good relationship.

Manswers Man Dr Phil says… Hi DD, From your post and attempting to read between the lines it seems there might be a lot going on. You mention ‘missteps’ that she forgave you for, and forgive the assumption but but if it is to do with infidelity, could this be a contributory factor to your fiancé’s lower than average libido? Which leads me to another question: are you aware if the libido issue is clinical, psychological (or a combo?).

If it is clinical then it might be worth exploring available options. If it is psychological then getting professional advice might be the way to go, especially if low libido is a symptom of psychological issues. Another thought: could it be that the infection you allude to has affected her her psychological outlook on sex? Eg the stigma of an STI? The cause of the STI, if known, might be a driver in the libido situation? Some answers to the questions raised above may go some way to helping you answer your questions:

a) Since you are already talking in an adult fashion about the situation, maybe it’s time to take a further step and explore clinical /psychological avenues. If there is a psychological element re rejection: why is she rejecting? Is something from your/her past contributing to this? Or is it simply physical low libido? As far as boosting the libido is concerned, it might be a good idea talk about what turns her on. Talking about it could even be stimulating in itself. Sure, talking about taboos can be difficult but broaching fantasies and possibly exploring/ enacting them (within agreed boundaries) could help.

b ) If you’re already having doubts about your relationship you’ve nothing to lose if want to save it. Try different approaches like suggested above: a radical change/rethink is required. Sex is an important part of a relationship and often a gauge of a healthy one. It is not shallow to bring this up and being a bloke makes it all the harder with the perception/stigma that men perennially want sex 24/7. At the same time your fiance is no doubt aware that being a red blooded male, sex is a natural healthy requirement and there is the danger of temptation elsewhere if you can’t get it at home?

Another thought, and although it sounds a bit lawyer-ish/contractual, a condition of the wedding could be more sex, which may provide a goal/something to achieve. You could set a goal now to have a minimum amount of sex per specified period. This may sound clinical but at least you’ll have something to both work towards, rather than failures/potential rejections to come?

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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).

1 Comment

  1. Lola 7 years ago

    Hi DD, I believe in the “3C” approach: counselling, communication and compassion. I’m gonna be a tad harsh with you, but I’m more concerned about what you don’t say than about what you said. If you had “stuff on the side”, chances are that your fiancée may still feel resentment. I bet that if she said she forgave you, she did mean it, but the unconscious (or subconscious, choose your pick or pick your choice) is a complicated beast that sometimes doesn’t really know what to do with “forgiveness”.
    On the subject of mismatched libidos, I can recommend the “Sex Bible” for committed couples: Mating in Captivity, by Esther Perel. Surely enough, I wish you heaps of good luck on this one.

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