I write for both singles and couples, and this is one area I get called on a lot to have conversations about… so, I’m putting it out there at the start of this blog that this is not an issue affecting mostly men, or mostly women, or only singles, or only couples. It’s perhaps one of the best kept secrets in many relationships, and there are significant issues around this. Disconnecting from Intimacy mostly comes about due to a libido issue. Some of us have high sex drives, and some are wondering what all the fuss is about.
When I say it’s not just a woman thing or a man thing, it may surprise you to know that of all the people I’ve had conversations with – and there’s a lot – as well as various research, Googling, blogs and articles about this subject, it seems just as many men as women are leveled out or bottomed out in the libido stakes. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find any definitive statistics on this. But like I already said it’s a best kept secret for many. For some lucky couples, their libidos match – at which ever end of the spectrum. Just as some lucky couples are into the exact same levels of kink, shared fetishes, and various other aspects of their sexuality. Sadly, many are not so blessed.
The interesting thing is, that may of us don’t think about, is that the person with the lower sex drive actually has the most control over the entire relationship. Ouch – I know you may want to read that line again. The reality is, the person who doesn’t want sex as often or at all, controls the levels of intimacy the couple experience together. If there’s less cuddling, less physical touch and nurturing, the person who feels the greater need for that will be driven to try so much harder for an opportunity to engage physically. But they may eventually either give up, seek it elsewhere, or build a wall of resentment between them that grows in strength as time goes by.
Take for example the couple who never seem to argue, appear happy and connected to those around them, but looking on you can almost see the disconnect in the physical sense. There are no touches as they walk by each other, no hand holding, the sparkle that never meets their eyes when they are together, vs the couple who are still enjoying good intimacy and physical relations who seem to almost sizzle a little when near each other. You’re thinking about a few people right now aren’t you? If you look hard enough you can see those who are still ‘into each other’ and those who are just putting on a good show for the world.
I personally know many couples who have libido challenges in their long term relationships, and also many individuals who are also at one end of the spectrum or the other. For some singles, sex is so important, that a lack of it will bring an otherwise great relationship (or potential for one) to an early end, and for some couples battling this issue, the slow trudge through it is nothing less than torturous. And an interesting part to this must be acknowledged: NOT all men or women who are not getting what they need at home are out there seeking alternative options. I’ve met some seriously monogamous men and women who don’t want ‘it’ with anyone else, but they are frustrated. Frustrated to a point where some have quite literally sobbed alone in corners and even developed quite severe depression throughout their intimacy battles.
Imagine if you will, a woman having to say publicly that she desperately wants sex but her husband or partner has absolutely no desire for her. However they may be best friends, and love each other dearly, but there’s zero intimacy, aside from a quick chaste cuddle or kiss as they part for their respective days at work. Imagine a man having to admit to his friends that not only – as he may joke to his mates – is ‘Jane not that interested’, but that he has taken to almost mistreating himself when he masturbates because the desire is deep rooted, but the ability to do anything about it has become untenable.
What does this mean for children who suddenly find parents separating, despite their having thought of their own family life being significantly better than everyone else at School because ‘my Mom and Dad never argue, much. Again – the person who has the lowest libido is well and truly able to control so much about their relationship, and that certainly includes behavior in many other areas of their lives. Many outsiders or even those nearest and dearest to the couple have no idea when the break up does happen that it was ever likely to.
Why is this Important?
What is it about sex that means so much to some and so little to others?
How can you describe that feeling of the endorphins exploding, the rising tide of desire that becomes an itch that must be scratched eventually or you’ll explode What we do in the secrecy of our bathrooms and bedrooms is made even harder when we share space in our homes closely with a partner – masturbation is by necessity a deeply private thing after all. Not being able to share your deepest needs, desires, wants, and fears with your partner is the most excruciating form of loneliness. Intimacy or disconnecting from intimacy is right up there with grief, serious illness, and trauma for so many people because it quite simply is what we need so desperately.
There’s truth to the cliche that if you don’t use it you loose it. But while less sex does mean lessened desires for many higher libido men and women, the sex may not even be the main issue anyway. Yes there’s the desire, and it can be kept on a lower level in the long term by lack of available options for satisfaction, but the need for physical intimacy is so connected to the sexual act of love making that separating the two is almost impossible to do.
In terms of a marriage, if one person decides to stop having sex with their partner, who has broken the first of their (commitment) vows by doing so? Think about this for a moment: If he/she decides to stop having sex and therefor also putting a new interpretation on their relationship’s intimacy, is this something that he/she has a right to decide alone? Such a move is arguably a serious strike out for loving, honoring the other person in their partnership.
There’s a lot to think about in terms of your own self, your relationship(s) past and present, and of those around you in some of what I have shared today. I wish you beautiful conversations and loving outcomes if you decide to bring this up with your best friend/lover/partner/spouse… and remember that for some, there are medical resolutions to this dilemma, and for most of us, the waxing and waning of the libido is something that fluctuates over time.
Be kind to yourselves and please learn what you can do for yourself and your lover if this is an issue.
You may also enjoy this TED talk by Michele Wiener Davis on the subject of the Sex Starved Marriage
For more on the issue of Horizontal Happiness, join our FB Group – www.facebook.com/thatsexbook and join the discussion about this and other related topics.