The Dead Bedroom: Am I In A Sexless Relationship?
Updated: Jun 17
Have you ever been sat with friends and the conversation turns to how often you and your partner have sex? It can be a pretty touchy subject. Especially when you find out you’re having sex a lot less often than your friends...
The truth is, the frequency at which we have sex is totally personal. And while your friend may be bragging about having hot sex 'sooo many times' a day, if you’re having sex once a week or less that's also very normal (and healthy!).
In fact, it’s inevitable we'll go through periods when we have loads of sex, and then periods when we have not much at all. If life gets in the way, or work gets more stressful, it’s only natural that sex starts to slip down our priority list.
On top of that, as we move out of the initial lusty honeymoon phase, our sexual desire does naturally start to wax and wane… which makes keeping up the sexual side to our relationships more difficult.
So, if you’re someone worried about being in a sexless relationship, don’t panic. At Lover, we believe there are solutions, and these will leave you feeling happier and more confident in yourself and your relationships.
What does a sexless marriage or relationship mean?
Recent studies have defined a sexless relationship as having sex 10 times or less in a year*. So, if you’re one of the people wondering “is once a month a sexless marriage” it looks like you’re safe!
Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly!) Newsweek magazine found that between 15 and 20% of relationships are, by definition, “sexless”. And, 10% of couples under 50 had not had sex, at all, in the last year*.
This phenomenon is occurring across all sexual relationships too - with a recent study showing that the number of people having sex weekly went from 46% in 2000 to 36% in 2016*.
Why do sexless relationships happen?
There are so many reasons why we have less sex.
One of the most common causes is simply not understanding the way our sexual desire works. Often, it’s not that we have simply a "high" or "low" sex drive, rather we just have different desire styles.
For many women and some men, as they move out of the honeymoon phase (that's around the 6 - 18 month mark), their desire style transitions. It goes from “spontaneous” desire, when the want for sex comes seemingly from nowhere - to “responsive desire”. Responsive desire is when you need to be aroused in order for desire to follow… which can take a little more time and effort.
Sadly, many couples don’t understand this transition happens, or even that there is such a thing as sexual desire styles! And it can lead a partner to feel a little deflated when their partner always rejects their advances.
The simple answer is often that they haven’t been turned-on yet, to allow their desire to come 'online'. You can read more about desire styles in our article: here.
Having a different level of desire to a partner is actually very common. It’s termed “discrepant desire”, and it’s thought to affect up to 80% of couples. So, if this resonates with you, we'd recommend taking the time to work out what gets your partner aroused (otherwise you may be waiting a while).
We also have external factors that can take a toll on our sex life. Stress, family, work commitments, even tiredness! All of these make it much more difficult for us to make time for, and be in the mood for sex.
We also might not think of it, but our phones are a huge blocker.
Just think about it. You climb into bed, you’re partner is lying next to you (typically a great time to get it on). But, instead, you both pick up your phones and reply to those last few emails, or scroll through an endless feed of pictures and videos on social media. Sound familiar? A simple solution is to simply leave your phones outside of the bedroom.
Or alternatively, use your phone for good use! Watch some porn together... or google some new things you'd both be up for trying.
Another reason for sexless relationships is simply not having the sex you want. Because if you don’t want or enjoy the sex you’re having, it’s no surprise you’re not having it.
Ask yourself - do I get excited about the sex I’m having?
If the answer’s no, work out what would make you want it! If you can communicate that back to your partner, you’re onto a winner.
For further guidance to get your sexual relationship back on track - head over to the Lover app. We have various courses designed by a team of clinical psychologists - designed to sort a range of sexual concerns.
1. American behavior gathered by the national opinion research council at the University of Chicago.