Hi Dr. NerdLove,
Question for the expert. I’m in a long-term relationship that’s lasted roughly ~3 years. My girlfriend and I (both early 30s) have been living together for two years out of the three we’ve been dating and we get along great; we’re both geeks and animal-lovers who suffer from some level of social anxiety and we share a lot of the same interests / passions. We’re reaching the stage where we’re talking about getting married / spending the rest of our lives together. I’d be thrilled about that, except for one thing that worries me; we don’t have sex that much any more, and I’m not 100% sure I understand why (that’s the part that really worries me).
Qualifier: “that much” obviously depends on who you ask and what they call “that much”. Let’s just say that we have sex on average maybe once every two-three weeks and earlier this year somehow managed to go a month and a half without getting it on. That’s not down to me — ideally I would have sex twice a week but once a week works. My girlfriend, on the other hand, finds sex very anxiety-inducing because of her insecurities about her appearance. She has a tough time getting in the mood, nowadays she usually has to read some online erotica for half an hour or so before she can get in the mood to have sex. Consequently, she doesn’t like to have sex very often, and I feel bad bugging her to have sex all the time. Even when we do have sex it often gets awkward because she’s so anxious — she’s deeply insecure about her appearance (true, what woman isn’t). I love to go down on her and she won’t let me, for example, because of her anxiety. Last time I tried to go down on her, she got all “in her head” about me being down there and sexytime was over.
Back at the beginning of our relationship we didn’t have any of these problems — we used to have sex all the time, and there was never any of this awkwardness. At some point, maybe after six months or so, we started to have sex less and less often, and it’s been kind of a gradual slide since then. My gf says she’s worried about her body because some horrible ex gave her a hard time about how he thought she was fat or whatever, but I think she’s gorgeous, I love her body and I’d like to have sex more often than we do. It’s a little frustrating to have to go to sleep next to her every night and go, well, I guess we can’t do it tonight because she’s not in the mood, and I know tomorrow night and the night after are going to be the same way, but hey…maybe in a week and a half or so…who knows. So I end up feeling undesirable and frustrated.
We’ve talked about this a few times. Partly this happens because of her anxiety (as a result of which she’s not in the mood most of the time); partly I think it’s also because we’re very busy (we’re both very career-oriented people and we’ve both had a lot going on over the last year). But I’m very worried that maybe she’s just not sexually attracted to me any more. She says she finds me very attractive, she says I’m great in bed and she loves the sex we do have, says the best sex she’s had in her life was with me, but then…she has a hard time getting in the mood more often than once every two or three weeks, so…I don’t know.
An open relationship isn’t really an option — it’s not something that would work for either of us.
So my questions are these:
1) This is the first relationship in my life that’s lasted for more than a couple years (my love life in my 20s was pretty lame, partly due those social anxiety issues I mentioned…oh well.) Is it pretty typical to be having sex 1-2 times a month after you’ve been together a few years? Am I worrying about something that’s really pretty typical and not a big deal?
2) What can I do to help her feel less anxious about — well, intimacy? What’s the best way to try to get the spark back in our relationship without bugging her to death about having sex more often (I hate doing that)? Or is it possible she’s just no longer attracted to me in spite of what she says?
3) Is marriage likely to help (by making her less anxious) or make things worse (say, going from sex once every two or three weeks to once every two or three months?)
Sorry if that’s a little long-winded. This has been bugging me lately so I’d be very grateful for any advice you can give!
Confused And Confounded