Sad couple having an argument lying on bed

No Intimacy. What Can I Do?

Hi Lou,

I have been with my partner for 8 years. Intimacy was well balanced and succulent the first few years. In the past five plus years, the intimacy has diminished to pretty much nothing.

I have asked about what is going on for her, she says she just does not feel horny, that it is likely pre-menopause symptoms (she’s age 46) that she has financial and work stress, all along with tennis elbow. She has never indicated verbally or behaviorally that anything else is going on. She did have an affair in the first year of our relationship. She is 10 years older than me and I sometimes wonder if perhaps she views herself as being in the mother figure. I asked her this, and she denied this was a fact. I have asked her to see a doctor, and she did go. The doctor said that there are no physical reasons for her lack of feelings. I have asked several times if we could see a therapist together and she adamantly opposes this suggestion. I have definitely heard of the lesbian bed death thing where 2 women spend so much time together, the whole intimacy thing falls by the way side. Even if this were true, when we are apart for longer periods of time, no romance occurs.I keep waiting giving her space waiting and waiting for her to take some initiative to work on herself. I’m not particularly willing to part from her for this reason alone, however, I’m 36 and I feel more than alive and romantic. Some days it eats me up to the core. But, I also don’t want to wait another 5 years, wake up one day, and realize that everything is still the same. I believe intimacy is important without it, were just roommates. Do I stay or do I go? Do I push or do I give her space? What could the problem be?
What are some solutions?

Wilting Further Every Day

Lou’s Answer

Dear Wilting Further:

In any relationship you have to weigh the benefits and it seems your heart is not being heard by your partner and that is the downside that will have you leave this. You have already waited five years, so what I would ask is what is likely to change over the next 6 months or year or 5 years that would have your partner be more interested in the physical and emotional side of your relationship? Has she made any efforts to be more emotional/romantic/physical with you and then stops after a brief period of time? Does she realize the gravity of this? Do you want to make this relationship work?

I don’t think her tennis elbow or pre-menopause are going away but they are physical reasons and they are concrete reasons, hence MD for physical okay to see, will validate, but they seem to me to be masking her real emotional/psychological reason for withdrawing.

That she doesn’t want to see a therapist tells me there is something she doesn’t want exposed and she is staying emotionally withdrawn and distant. And that behavior is keeping that secret/embarrassment safe but is also creating an emotional chasm between the two of you. Let’s be candid our brains, our mental capacity hence our emotional capacity keep us romantically and physically connected.

Here is what I would ask; What was the trigger event that had her withdraw? I’d also ask if she has stopped doing other things she typically enjoyed after your first two years together? Does she have the same pattern in previous relationships? Is she questioning her sexual identification?

Many people stay in relationships because they feel this is a good as it gets, I don’t want to be alone. However I will bet you even though your partner is there, there is no place lonelier than your bed when you are there together. She may well be loving you the best way she can it just isn’t the way you need to be loved.

If I may I’d like to ask your permission to refer you to a fellow Sex Educator Therapist who herself is lesbian and specializes in this in her practice. I feel she would have much greater expertise to address your relationship concerns.

Regards

Lou

Further response from Wilting:

Thank you so much for responding! Please do send a referral.

To answer some of your questions:

Yes, she has made brief attempts over the years, and then they dwindle to nothing again. I’m really not certain if she realizes the gravity of it all. I absolutely want to make this relationship work – everything is great except for this aspect.

What was the triggering event? To be honest, I can’t even remember…. Nothing substantial or important that I can recall. It just started to dissipate – then I realized what was happening and discussed it with her. She has appeared to stop doing a lot of things she liked doing – she pretty much just works, comes home and sleeps – works on the house on her time off. I don’t think she had the previous pattern in her previous relationship – but I will ask her about that to clarify. She was in a 12 year relationship and her partner cheated the last 3 years or so of it and ended up leaving her for another woman. She is absolutely not questioning her sexuality, although I must admit, I have my days where I question mine.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Lou’s Answer

Dear Wilting:

I give you kudos for addressing a heartfelt part of your life that isn’t being taken care of in your relationship even though other parts are just fine. You are not willing to just let it coast and cost you your potential passion.

Please know your last comment truly speaks volumes. My office will forward my colleague’s referral information ASAP!

Best

Lou

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