Sexual health experts Laura and Jennifer Berman are regular contributors to ABCNEWS’ Good Morning America. In this weekly column, they will answer your questions about sex, relationships and the challenges of intimacy.
This week's question comes from a 29-year-old woman who is disturbed by her boyfriend's lack of interest in sex.
Q: Help! My boyfriend and I have been together for over two years and he has lost the desire to have sex. Our relationship started out with us having sex at regular intervals, but for the last year, I'm lucky if we have sex four times a year.
He's 30 years old and has a high stress job. He refuses to discuss it or go to see a doctor. He says there's nothing to discuss — he's just not interested. He doesn't have time to see other women and he is masturbating maybe twice a year. We have a great relationship other than this problem.
I'm worried, hurt, confused and frustrated. I also feel like I am the only woman in the world with this problem. Men are suppose to be the aggressive ones, right? Please tell me I'm not the only one and what can I do to preserve my sanity and my relationship. – Frustrated in Kansas City
A: It is clear that you are really frustrated. And you are right, a myth does exist that men are always supposed to be the sexually interested aggressors — not true!
First of all, stress has a lot to do with it. People cope with stress in different ways. Some men (and women) experience sex as a stress reliever and use it to release some of that pent up energy. Others feel so overwhelmed during periods of stress and feel so insecure or inadequate that they can't even imagine sexually performing.
But even beyond stress, it is simply not true that all men are interested all the time.
The main thing that concerns me about your situation is that it doesn't sound like your partner is that willing to talk with you about the problem and it seems like you still wonder if his lack of interest has something to do with you. This is really important, because it will be very easy, under these circumstances, for you to feel rejected, insecure, and then start feeling angry and acting negatively in the relationship. Then you run the risk an even bigger rift building between the two of you and it will be that much harder to get to the bottom of this.
I don't know all the details of what you have or have not tried, but here are some starting points for bringing this issue up with him and getting to the bottom of it.
Bring up the conversation at an optimal time, not when he's just returned from a hard day, and not after you've tried to unsuccessfully initiate a sexual encounter! Wait until he is relaxed or you are spending some non-sexual quality time together.
When you bring it up, make sure you do so in a way that won't make him feel defensive. He may already be feeling guilty, or he may feel pressure due to the same myths you are struggling with, feeling he should be interested all the time when he's not. If he's feeling insecure, attacked, or inferior, he won't be receptive to a conversation.