Dear Dr. NerdLove –
My problem is pretty straightforward: I’ve lost interest in sex with my wife; really, with anyone. I still can get turned on by some porn and masturbate, so the problem isn’t the plumbing (though as I’ve gotten older — I’m 40 — my erection has become less reliable and I do worry about that). Mostly, the effort to connect, to perform, to make things happen, is just freaking exhausting and not at all pleasurable for me. And when she tries to get me interested, I just feel like I’m under assault.
I’ve always had a dropoff in libido over long-term relationships — I found the early meetings exciting, but over time I got less and less responsive. It happened faster in each relationship, and in just a few months in this one. Yet we stayed together, which maybe tells you something about how well we fit in some ways.
It’s been eight years together now, five years married. But we’ve made zero progress in improving our sex lives. We tried couples counseling a handful of times, but it was too emotionally intense for her and we would up canceling. (She doesn’t much like talking about emotions or anything intimate.) I’ve also been in individual therapy several days a week for four years, but while that has helped in some broader areas of my life, it hasn’t shown many results in the bedroom.
I’m at a loss as to where to go from here. I feel like I want sex, I want connection, but in the abstract only. When it becomes flesh and blood, I retreat.
I hate talking about this stuff with her. And I hate the thought of letting her into my fantasy world. (I’m generally turned on by scenes of seduction and boundary-crossing; I’ve done some voyeuristic exploration at kink events; I also have recently started to wonder if I’m bi, just judging from the porn that I’ve started to gravitate toward.) But I love her, too. I worry that I am — or maybe she and I are both — too immature, even at this late date, to ever truly connect sexually with each other or with anyone else.
What do you recommend?
Lust has Gone Bust