Lost intimacy in a relationship
As the title goes, my relationship no longer has any intimacy.
As a bit of a background, we're a straight couple in our early 30s, and have been together for coming up to two years. We took a while to get off the ground (my partner wasn't sure about being in a serious relationship early on), but we have been in a committed, serious relationship for at least a year and a bit now.
The pandemic (and subsequent lockdowns) meant we spent more time together, and late last year, we moved in together.
We used to have a great sexual relationship, that he would actively be enthusiastic about, and was very attracted to me, and showed it.
Since about November, it had become infrequent - going from having sex a few times a week, to once every week, then once every few weeks (and pretty much always initiated by me). This is because he was not wanting to (his reasoning being he was "tired from work", or "just exhausted and not feeling it"). Even then I felt dejected, and started putting on weight. I'm not very overweight, but the lack of intimacy, and subsequent weight gain, has skewed my self-esteem and self-worth.
The last time we had any form of intimacy was in early April, and I'm finding myself more and more depressed, and hating my body more (I know it's a vicous cycle, but I feel so unattractive). My partner knows my thoughts on this, and how it makes me feel. I've tried talking with him about this numerous times, but it ends up going nowhere. Normally, we get along really well, and never argue or yell (though like everyone, we can disagree on things), but with this... we barely talk. I stopped trying to initiate sex, because it hurt being constantly rejected. I told him I'd wait til he was ready. It's now in a pattern where we see each other after work, hug, kiss, go do our own thing, maybe watch some TV together, then just go to bed. And it breaks me. I feel so unattractive and 'unsexy' to him.
I know he loves me (and I love him), and I'm not saying there is zero affection in our relationship, but the drastic change in our sex life has broken me, and I feel like bringing it up again and again is useless.
Can anyone relate, and have any helpful suggestions?
Thank you for being so open with what's happening in your life. Relationships can be quite tough, and it's wonderful that you're still looking for advice on the situation.
I can understand that bringing it up again and again feels useless. Perhaps there's a different way to approach it? Does your partner understand how important intimacy is to you? Do they understand that for you, intimacy is an important factor of a relationship, and that it's absence is a concern for you?
The change in behaviour tells me your partner is experiencing something, and it would be helpful for them to talk about it. Maybe it won't be with you, perhaps a mental health professional? That is also a way you could phrase the problem - that you've seen a change in them, and would like to understand it more.
Ultimately, they also may feel that the relationship does not require intimacy to be fulfilling. Having that clarity in itself would be beneficial to you both too, has difficult as that may be to accept. But I suggest starting with understanding the why of the behaviour changes. People can be tired from work and still intimate, so treat the situation with care and openness that your partner may be having struggles of their own. I truly hope this helps and am happy to continue chatting about it with you.
I can relate to what you are saying & experiencing/not experiencing. This same thing happened to me immediately after my husband & I got married. I was as bewildered & hurt as you describe. When I’ve asked my husband why, he’s just said he doesn’t know why.
I am talking about 23 years ago now & we are still together, still with no sex. My husband is a genuine & honest, caring man. As time has gone by I’ve reconciled myself to how things are.
Our situation is different to yours though I think because I’d already had children in my first marriage. I’m assuming you are younger than us though, so children might become an issue.
I can’t really give you any advice. I know how you feel. I don’t know why your partner & mine have become so switched off. Hopefully it’s temporary for you whereas I accept now it’s permanent for us.
I came from an extremely abusive childhood & never felt lovable. But I suddenly realised, understood & believed my husband loves me - on our 17th wedding anniversary lol! I mean I tend to be a bit slow but that’s ridiculous! It means the world to me though, he means the world to me.
Please know that I am thinking of you & I don’t think for one minute that your partner will stay “switched off”.
Take care & hang on to hope, T.
Hi Firefly112, cool name btw.
There are several things you can do to change the dynamic of your relationship so that you are able to feel intimacy. Fist thing is to understand that there is always an underlying issue. This could be things like; work stress, work/life balance, change in health, change in routine etc. Find out out what is causing the issue of lack of intimacy and how to resolve it for both of you. Men tend to have a different biology to woman which can be really challenging.
My partner (M) behaves similar to your partner which can be really frustrating at times but I (M) stress that you do not ever feel rejected - you are setting yourself up for failure. Think about what makes you partner relax and unwind. If he is stressed, he needs to be distressed and that may require a different strategy. When my partner is stressed/tired, I acknowledge his needs first and this could be simply listening to him and making him feel comfortable. I might even massage his back while he prepares dinner which works. So to be intimate, you may need to try something different. It really is a two way street, but perhaps investing in de-stressing your partner may work.