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Pornography: your questions answered
We get lots of posts about pornography and masturbation. Many of you are worried about what it means if your partner uses pornography, or if masturbation might be reason you’re not getting as much sex as you might like. We’ve had a look at the science behind pornography and the effects it can have on your relationship, and we’ve answered some of your questions below. Is pornography bad for my relationship? This depends on your opinion of it. If you have a problem with pornography in general, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be OK with your partner watching it. This can have a negative impact on your relationship [1]. One way pornography can affect your relationship quality is by diminishing your self-esteem. If you aren’t happy about the idea of your partner using pornography, it can make you feel like you don’t matter in the relationship, or that you aren’t good enough. If you don’t mind pornography, or if your self-esteem is very robust, then it’s less likely to have a negative impact on your relationship [2]. Can pornography reduce sexual desire? Watching pornography doesn’t seem to reduce sexual desire. According to one study, pornography doesn’t take away your sexual urges, so it’s unlikely that this would be the reason a partner seems less interested in sex [3]. For more ideas on why sex might be off the table, check out our tips on being in a sexless relationship. Can we watch pornography together? Several studies have shown that couples who watch pornography together can experience improvements in their sex lives [3] [4]. As a shared activity, it can encourage you to talk about sex, creating a more open atmosphere for you to discuss your sexual desires and fantasies. While it’s important to remember that pornography doesn’t always present a realistic picture of sex, it can sometimes be a springboard for talking about what you like and don’t like [5]. How can we use pornography to talk about our relationship? Be open and honest about pornography. If you like using it, talk to your partner about why. If you don’t like it, let your partner know where you stand. These might not be the easiest conversations to start, but they can have a positive effect on your relationship by allowing you to learn more about each other. This can improve your sex life and may help make your general communication easier – couples who find a way to talk about their sexual desires in this way can even strengthen their relationship quality overall [6]. You may find that starting a dialogue around this helps you to be more open to experimentation, with a more varied and satisfying sex life. You can learn about each other’s likes and dislikes and talk about how happy you both are with the level of intimacy in your relationship [6]. Can’t I just use pornography alone? Yes, you can. However, it’s worth being aware that using pornography alone can lead to a decrease in sexual communication between you and your partner [6]. When sexual activity becomes secretive, sexual communication can too. Is there such a thing as ethical pornography? This is a tricky one, and a good question to ask yourself. While looking at pornography can be a healthy activity within your relationship, it’s important to think about where it comes from. You may not have considered whether the performers were paid for their work or even whether they have consented to do everything you’re seeing. It’s not always easy to find ethical material, or to know the background of the things you do find. One place to start might be the Toronto International Porn Festival, which has strict guidelines around its submission policy and encourages a diversity of sexual interests. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what you think is acceptable but, if you’re unsure about the ethics of a particular piece, the best advice is don’t watch it.   References [1] Maas, M. K., et al. (2018). A Dyadic Approach to Pornography Use and Relationship Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Couples: The Role of Pornography Acceptance and Anxious Attachment. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(6). 772–782. [2] Stewart, D., & Szymanski, N. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5), 257-271. [3] Brown, C., Carroll, C., Yorgason, J., Busby, S., Willoughby, J., & Larson, B. (2017). A Common-Fate Analysis of Pornography Acceptance, Use, and Sexual Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Married Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 575-584. [4] Maddox, A., Rhoades, M., & Markman, G. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. [5] Daneback, K., Træen, B., & Månsson, S. (2009). Use of Pornography in a Random Sample of Norwegian Heterosexual Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(5), 746-753. [6] Kohut, T., Balzarini, R., Fisher, W., Campbell, L., Impett, E., & Muise, A. (2018). Pornography’s associations with open sexual communication and relationship closeness vary as a function of dyadic patterns of pornography use within heterosexual relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(4), 655-676.
Article | pornography, masturbation
Understanding casual relationships
When it comes to casual sex, different cultures have their own ways of defining things. Dictionary entries may not seem like the most stimulating way to learn about casual relationships but, in changing times with changing rules, you may find it useful to bone up on the terminology: Hook ups. This is an ambiguous term, but it usually refers to any sexual encounter between people who aren’t committed to a relationship. One-night stands. Another name for short-term sexual encounters, these usually involve strangers getting together, rather than friends or previous partners. Friends with benefits. This involves regular sex between two partners, but it usually lacks other features of committed relationships, like emotional support. Booty calls. These are different to hook ups and one-night stands, in that they are usually arranged in advance. Booty calls might happen more than once, but a relationship characterised in this way is unlikely to involve any social activities other than sex [1]. These definitions only touch on the true complexities – the nature of any relationship will depend on the individual people involved, so it’s important to clarify what you want to get out of any relationship you enter into [1]. Communication in casual relationships Communication in casual relationships is a bit of an art form. When you first meet a potential partner, either online or in real life, it can be hard to know how to handle the conversation, and you might find yourself walking a communication tightrope [2]. When you are trying to establish what a new relationship is going to be, it’s not uncommon to take precautions around what you say, and also how much you say – communicate too much and you might be thrust into a committed relationship; communicate too little and the other person might slip out of your grasp entirely. In an effort to maintain a casual relationship, many people avoid communication entirely. But, while this may feel safe, it’s a risky strategy – rather than pulling out of the conversation, you’re better off being honest about what you want. A bit of clarity can help clear up confusion and avoid hurt feelings on both ends [3]. Friends with benefits A ‘friends with benefits’ situation may seem ideal. You get to have sex without having to worry about the other bits of a relationship and – assuming you can keep it up – you’ll still have your friendship to fall back on. But there’s always a risk that things can get complicated when you add sex to an existing friendship [4]. If one of you starts to develop feelings for the other, it can cause friction on the original friendship. Things might work out if you’re both keen to start something up but if only one of you is along for the ride, it can be hard on both of you and it may prove difficult to resurrect the friendship [4]. It may not be the easiest conversation to pull off but being clear and honest about your intentions and expectations can mitigate against potential slipups in a short-term sexual or romantic relationship. If you’re starting something new, talk about what it means before you’re in too deep, so that the other person knows what they’re getting into. Once you’ve established this bedrock of communication, it’ll be easier to talk about any developments, like if one of you starts to fall for the other or if you want to end things [5]. It might help to think of it as a consent issue. In the same way you should always respect sexual boundaries, you shouldn’t enter into any kind of sexual relationship without being clear about the boundaries around it. When everything’s laid out on the table, there’s no reason a casual relationship shouldn’t work. References [1] Claxton, S., & Van Dulmen, M. (2013). Casual Sexual Relationships and Experiences in Emerging Adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 1(2), 138-150. [2] Sumter, S. R., Vandenbosch, L., & Ligtenberg, L. (2017). Love me Tinder: Untangling emerging adults' motivations for using the dating application Tinder. Telematics and Informatics, 34(1), 67-78. [3] Collins, T., & Horn, T. (2018). “I’ll call you…” Communication frequency as a regulator of satisfaction and commitment across committed and casual sexual relationship types. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407518755554. [4] Bisson, M., & Levine, A. (2009). Negotiating a Friends with Benefits Relationship. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(1), 66-73. [5] Eisenberg, M., Ackard, D., Resnick, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2009). Causal sex and psychological health among young adults: Is having ‘friends with Benefits’ emotionally damaging? Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, https://doi.org/10.1363/4123109.
Article | flirting, fwb, casual sex
In gratitude for kissing
Kissing is something we’ve often taken for granted as a standard part of romance, but scientists have been all over the world and they’ve come back to tell us we were wrong the whole time. Previously, it’s always been believed that romantic kissing happens in most cultures, but the first ever worldwide study has revealed that only 46% of the world’s cultures kiss romantically. In fact, some cultures find the idea of lip-to-lip contact strange, or even repulsive. Researchers from Indiana University studied 168 cultures around the world to see what part kissing played in romantic relationships, publishing their findings in the American Anthropologist journal. If these results seem surprising, it might show that we can tend to view the world through our own perspectives and experiences, sometimes taking things like kissing for granted. Knowing that we kissers are in the minority might be a fun excuse to enjoy it that little bit more. The Middle East seemed to like kissing most, with all of the cultures studied there engaging in kissing. 73% of Asian cultures, 70% of European cultures, and only 55% of North American cultures were fans of kissing. The researchers found no evidence at all of kissing in Central America, or among the foraging cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa, New Guinea, and the Amazon. Interestingly, the results suggest that the more complex a society is, the more likely its inhabitants are to engage in kissing. So the fact that we have varying degrees of social and economic statuses may be connected to why we have evolved into a culture of kissing those we are attracted to. Kissing can be a way of finding out how we feel about a potential partner, testing out whether or not there is chemistry, and whether a person ‘feels right’ to us. Further studies may be done into how a society evolves from being a non-kissing one into a kissing one. In the meantime, let’s be grateful that we live in a society where kissing is part of the adventure of sex and romance. Xx
Article | kissing, intimacy, romance
One simple change to improve your sex life
If you are among the many couples who put so much pressure on themselves to have amazing sex that you are avoiding it all together, one simple change could make all the difference. In a poll of 6,000 people, nearly half said they were happy with their sex lives. But, that leaves more than half of us wanting something more. Just over half said they had not had sex at all in the last month. Researchers involved in the study suggested that simply changing your attitude can make all the difference to how happy you feel about your sex life. Many couples say they want sex to be more spontaneous but, due to the nature of our busy modern lives, it’s sometimes necessary to plan for our intimate moments. This may not be such a bad thing, especially as it can reduce the pressure you’re putting on yourselves, and help you enjoy the sex you are having. Another easy way to change your attitude is to recognise the good things you already have. Rather than trying to live up to sex you see on TV, or what you imagine other people might be doing, just allow yourself to enjoy the reality of your own relationship. Remember also that sex doesn’t always have to mean intercourse – it all counts, and the important thing is that you both have a good time. If you’re very busy or exhausted after a long day, sometimes just an intimate cuddle can be enough to help you feel close and remind each other of the connection you share. Psychosexual therapist Cate Campbell says: “It’s sad that so few people are sexually satisfied and put pressure on themselves to perform. Noticing what is going well, rather than dwelling on problems, is quite difficult when we’re all bombarded with messages about how sex ‘ought’ to be. “Sex definitely doesn’t have to be disappointing – there's plenty that can turn your situation around so you can enjoy a sustained, fulfilling sex life. What constitutes a satisfying sex life can vary wildly from one person to the next, so working out what makes you tick is a great starting point”.
Article | sex, communication
If you don’t feel ready for sex
What am I up against? When ‘the norm’ is to have lots and lots of sex (or at least it just seems to be) by the time you’re ‘legal’, there can be huge pressures from friends and classmates. You might encounter pressure from elsewhere too. You may have a partner that’s pushing, or you may be putting pressure on yourself. The bottom line is, there’s pressure from all directions to have sex at a young age. How can I deal with it? It appears that everyone else is having sex all the time A survey of nearly 3,600 11- to 16-year-olds in the UK found that 86% of respondents had never had sexual intercourse. In the same survey, 78% of people overestimated the sexual activity of their peers, and many people believed their peers to be ‘more experienced’ than they actually were [1]. Remember that everyone wants to portray an image, so there’s a chance that even people close to you will be keen to exaggerate (or even invent) their sexual experiences. A person’s reputation doesn’t rest on what they do, but on what people believe they do. Choose what's right for you In one survey of teenage girls in 2010, one third of young women under the age of 15 said they regretted their decision to have sex as early as they did. As part of the study, they also asked those girls if they felt pressured to have sex early, and 20% of them said yes. But not everyone regrets their first time; some people have sex for the first time quite young and look back on it fondly. Many young women from the study said their regret stemmed from a lack of planning with their partner and a lack of control over the sexual experience. So, considering this, if you don’t want to go down the “it just sort of happened” route, keep your own intentions clear in your mind and, if appropriate, share them with your partner. Once you feel the time is right to have sex, try not to get too worked up about it. Rather, let it be something that you’ll enjoy and hopefully remember fondly.  Feel free to talk to your partner about the experience, plan ahead and don’t be afraid to say what you do and don’t want.  Consider talking with someone, maybe even a parent You might think that any teenager would rather set themselves on fire than talk to their parents about sex but, according to a survey of 1,000 13- to 18-year-olds in the UK, more than half of teens actually want to talk to their parents about sex and would trust their parental guidance if they gave it. So if you have a good relationship with one (or both) of your parents, that might be something to consider. References [1] ‘Young people not having as much sex, drugs or alcohol as they think they are’, 2014
Article | sex, YPc
If you think you’re not having enough sex
What am I up against? Sex can facilitate and intensify intimacy in a relationship, creating a tangible, emotional, psychological, and (for some) spiritual connection. It can also be a lot of fun and burns more calories than 20 minutes on a treadmill. So if you feel like you’re not getting enough sex, it can feel like your relationship isn’t thriving like it could. How can I deal with it? You may have a different sex drive to your partner If you have a higher sex drive than your partner, you may sometimes feel rejected. It might seem unfathomable to you that their partner would not want sex as often, and so you may feel unwanted or undesirable. However, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their levels of desire –people are just wired differently.  It’s possible to compromise, especially if you take the time to find out exactly what your partner likes and what makes them feel comfortable. This can be a tricky conversation to have but it’ll benefit you both in the long run and you may even feel closer for it. If their sex drive has changed Sometimes this can be purely circumstantial – feeling like anxiety, stress, and tiredness can affect someone’s sex drive. If your partner is tackling these conditions, say, during exam time or an emotional rough patch, it can be helpful to read between the lines and simply be supportive rather than applying pressure or guilt. People’s own perception of themselves also plays a part in their sex drive. So if someone doesn’t feel good about their body or their appearance this will often impact libido, as confidence is such a big part of feeling sexy. In The Student Sex Survey 2014, 49% of people said “what I look like” was their greatest worry during sex. 58% of those were women, and 24% were men. You can’t fix your partner’s self-perception, but you can certainly be a positive influence. If your own sex drive has changed Diet and lifestyle can really make a difference to your sex drive and desire for sex. Getting plenty of sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy diet can allow the body to regulate itself and reawaken the desire you once felt. Sharing an intimate moment with your partner can also help you feel sexy. A sensual massage, a relaxing bath, or even a just shared meal with no distractions can help bring you closer together. More sex doesn’t equal a better relationship It may seem like more sex equals a better, happier relationship. But it’s not necessarily true. The old quantity vs quantity rule applies here; shoot for quality every time. How often you have sex really depends on what suits you as a couple. Don’t get caught up on frequency – if once a month works for you both, then great.   Forget normal The good news is that there is no normal. There is only what works for both parties of a relationship. According to the Guardian’s British Sex Survey of 2014, the average Brit has sex four times a month, but trying to keep up with what’s normal can put an unnecessary strain on a relationship. Being open and honest about what you want and encouraging your partner to be honest about what they want can be liberating. Some couples worry that talking about sex will be awkward but talking about your expectations and desires can actually bring you closer and improve both your sex lives. 
Article | sexless, intimacy, YPc
Sex during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, sex can become a complicated issue. Your desire can decrease, your discomfort can increase, and you might just lose interest altogether. Or, you might still be in the mood but find that your partner is backing off! All of this is perfectly normal and very common. Sexual enjoyment tends to decline as pregnancy goes on. Around 22-50% of pregnant women find intercourse painful and many women find it difficult to orgasm. It’s normal for your libido to decline too, largely to the change in hormones, and feeling sick, tired and physically uncomfortable [1]. And, as your body changes, you might just feel less sexy. This is particularly likely during the later stages of pregnancy, when you’re all achy and bloated. About a quarter to a half of pregnant women feel less attractive than before, and only 12% feel more attractive [1]. Giving it a go If you do feel up to having sex, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a go. For the majority of healthy pregnant women and their partners, sex is perfectly safe, even in the last few weeks before you give birth [1]. If you’re not sure whether it’s OK, seek advice from your doctor or midwife but, if you do want to have a go, give yourself time to be in the mood, and accept that it might take longer than usual. It’s possible that your partner will be reluctant, which can be frustrating. However, don’t assume that it’s from a lack of desire, or a loss of sexual attraction. One possible reason for hesitancy is a fear of harming the baby, which inhibits at least a quarter of male partners, and a quarter to half of expectant mothers [1]. Talk to your partner. Have an open and honest conversation about how you both feel right now. If your partner admits that they’re feeling funny about sex, try not to get annoyed or take it personally – you won’t be pregnant forever! If you’re feeling a bit insecure, make it clear that you are learning to adjust to your changing body and that, even if sex is off the table, a little TLC would be appreciated. Finding other ways to feel close If you really don’t want to have sex, don’t force yourself. Be honest with your partner, offer reassurance that it’s not a personal rejection, and ask for the support you need. It might be helpful to discuss this article, and reassure yourselves that these are common adjustments that couples face during pregnancy. If you’re feeling icky and your partner tries to reassure you that you look beautiful, accept the compliment and choose to believe them. Lots of people find their partners especially attractive when they’re carrying their child. Finding other ways of being intimate that aren’t sexual – like hugging, kissing, and massage – can help you bond when sex isn’t available. Just spending quality time together can help you maintain a sense of closeness. And remember that you won’t feel like this forever. Though there will be new challenges for your sex life when your baby comes along, the physical changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy should return to normal about three months after the birth. Some women even experience more intense orgasms than they did before [1].   References [1] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8 (15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | pregnancy, parenting together
1 4 min read
Sex after giving birth
If you weren’t having much sex during your pregnancy, you may be looking forward to getting things back on track. But, for many couples, it can take a while to get things back to normal after the birth. Your body might take some time to return to a state where sex feels OK. This is a common experience for many women after giving birth: Following birth only 10-15% of new parents don’t experience any problems at all. Mothers and fathers commonly feel worried about resuming having sex [1]. 13 months after the birth, 22% were still having problems sexually [2]. Try to accept that it’s normal to need time. Even when you’ve recovered physically, you might not feel in the mood, or you might be slow to be turned on. Give yourself a chance and don't pressure on yourself to bounce back, even if your partner is keen to be intimate. Remember that there are other ways to be sexual besides penetrative sex and, if those are still off the table, focus on improving the quality of your time together, giving each other lots of cuddles and affection, or just having meaningful conversations. Feeling guilty about not feeling sexy   Despite the understanding that your body is still going through a lot, you may still feel guilty for not being in the mood or not feeling able to satisfy your partner. Even if your partner isn’t expressing any disappointment over the lack of sex or changes in your sex life, it’s common to be worried about how things might be perceived from the other end. One study of women who had recently had children showed that: 57%... were worried about the sexual satisfaction of their spouse following the birth of their child [2]. If you’re carrying guilt around with you, it might be a good idea to talk this over with your partner and remind yourselves that you’re not alone – only 14% of women and 12% of men report having no sexual problems after giving birth [2].   If you’re not up for having sex, let your partner know that you still desire him, but that you just need a bit more time. It may be difficult for your partner to understand the effects that such drastic body changes can have on your confidence. Taking the time and effort to explain, can help put your partner in a better position to show sensitivity and help build up your confidence. Be descriptive of your own feelings, and ask him to be mindful of them.  It will probably help to have the conversation with your partner beforehand. Explain why you don’t want sex at the moment, and what you can offer at this time. Sex may not be as high on your partner’s priority list as you think, but asking about it can be a great opener to discussing how you’re feeling and what you’re worried about. The conversation may even help put you at ease. If physical intimacy is your partner’s preferred way to express love, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean sex. People who express love physically while still appreciate a stroke of the hair as you walk past, or a surprise cuddle while they are doing the washing up. Hugs, snuggles on the bed, hand-holding, massages – these will all help a physical person feel loved at a time when you don’t feel up to having sex.   References [1] Sagiv-Reiss, D.M., Birnbaum, G.E. & Safir, M.P (2012). Changes in Sexual Experiences and Relationship Quality During Pregnancy. Archives of Sexual Behavior. October 2012, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1241–1251 [2] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8(15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | sex, parenting together
0 4 min read
Sex with a pregnant partner
Since finding out she was pregnant, your partner might have been reacting to you differently during sex, or avoiding intimacy altogether. It might seem like she’s aroused less often or less attracted to you. Aside from simply missing something that you enjoy, sex an important way to feel closer to your partner. Without it, you may worry that you will struggle to stay close. While it might feel like it, a lack of sex during pregnancy is not a personal rejection. A quarter of new dads say they’re worried that their partner may no longer be interested in having sex [1] but it’s important to recognise that a decrease in sex during pregnancy is normal, and not your fault. Less sex during pregnancy is normal Your partner may be experiencing a decline in libido. This is very common during a time of changing hormones and physical discomfort like backache and water retention. Bear in mind that 22-50% of pregnant women experience painful intercourse, and reaching orgasm becomes progressively more difficult as pregnancy goes on [b]. Sex may have become a stressful experience for your partner. On top of this, about a quarter to a half of pregnant women feel less attractive during pregnancy, and only 12% feel more attractive [2], so your partner may just not be feeling as physically confident as she’d like to. Be open and honest with your partner. Talk about your concerns and tell her that you want to be supportive. If she is worried about her changing body, you can reassure her that you still find her desirable, but the most important thing is to respect her needs and desires. If she is experiencing a loss of libido, remember that this has nothing to do with you as a sexual partner. It might be helpful to discuss this article with her – talk about how these are common changes that couples face all the time during pregnancy. Can sex during pregnancy harm your baby? Up to half of women and at least a quarter of men worry that having sex during pregnancy will harm the baby in some way [2]. From a medical point of view, there is no reason to ‘forbid’ sex for the majority of healthy pregnant women and their partners, even in the last weeks before the birth [2]. If you’re not sure whether you fit into this category, seek advice from your doctor or midwife. Remember also that anxiety around sex isn’t always rational, and your partner may find it difficult to shake the fear. If that’s the case, try other ways of being intimate. You may find that other kinds of sexual activity that don’t involve vaginal penetration are a bit easier but, if not, things like hugging, kissing or massage can all help you feel closer to each other. Looking to the future Don’t expect things to pick back up again too soon after the birth. Your partner will need time to recover, and you might soon sense another obstacle to your sex life – fatigue. Irregular sleeping patterns, feeding schedules, nappy changes, and constant attention to the baby will probably continue to get in the way of your sex life. You might want to consider asking a family member or close friend to take care of the child for a while so you and your partner can spend some time together as a couple. If you’re used to having spontaneous sex, this might seem a little too regulated, but it might be a start. Finally, try to remind yourself that it’s not forever. As your child settles into more regular patterns of sleep, you’ll begin to find that there are more chances to be intimate without being interrupted by a crying baby.   References [1] Houlston, C., Coleman, L. Milford, L., Platts, N., Mansfield, P. (2013). Sleep, sex and sacrifice: The transition to parenthood, a testing time for relationships? OnePlusOne. Retrieved from: http://www.oneplusone.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Sleep-Sex-and-Sacrifice-OPO-report-FINAL-embargoed-until-29-May-2013.pdf [2] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8(15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | pregnancy, parenting together
1 5 min read
Community posts
“Lack of sex is destroying me”
The core problem is that we don't have sex very often and it makes me feel bad. The frequency of intimate activity dropped dramatically; he would want to do something three or four times a week. Now, we'll have sex maybe once or twice or maybe three times a month. It makes me feel unwanted, fat, and ugly. My self-esteem is in the tank. Also, because I've talked to him about this so many times, now I feel kind of dirty or wrong for wanting to have sex. And, I feel helpless because, in my eyes, I can't do anything about it. He has always been the one to initiate sex. I became too discouraged to try anymore a long time ago because he either doesn't notice when I'm trying to initiate or (when he does notice) he doesn't want to have sex. I've tried every trick in the book to turn him on, but it doesn't matter. The one time I managed to initiate he couldn't perform. So, we only have sex when he wants to, and as a result, I feel like I can't even turn him on, which makes me feel worse. He doesn't feel bad about the lack of sex. I'm not sure if he doesn't notice it, or if he doesn't need it. Whenever I've talked to him about it, he's never given me a reason for not wanting to have sex. I just wish he would show me that he loves me and finds me sexually desirable (since he doesn't tell me that I'm pretty), but it doesn't matter. To me, it's not a physical need but an emotional one. To make things worse, the reason why I'm so hard to turn on is because I don't ever expect him to follow through. He likes to "tease" me, doing the same types of things he does when he wants to have sex but not follow through. He says he needs to touch me to get turned on, but that everything shouldn't have to lead to sex, so I shouldn't worry about it. But, I can't help but feel like he doesn't want me anymore. He always wants to watch porn and he wants me to Jack him off but he doesn't even bother to touch me. He always has an excuse like his arm hurts or he's not in the mood or he is too sleepy but if I don't get him off his arm no longer hurts or he is not too sleepy anymore, so he will get himself off and when he touches me and doesn't get turned on unless he is watching porn. I feel like he's becoming a selfish lover, only concerned about his needs, which was never true before. I'm desperate. I can't go through the pain and humiliation of talking to him again. I've been trying recently, and I can't get him to have sex with me. I believe a sexual relationship goes both ways as well. The only times I have ever denied him is... NEVER. I'm giving up. I'm crying out for help. Sometimes, I just wish my life was at the end already. Any advice would help so much. Thanks.
User article | sexless, pornography
“We don't have sex and I feel bad”
I'm 27 and my boyfriend is 43. We have lived together for three years. Our relationship was never easy. I never thought we were going to work but then I ended up living with him. I remember our first date and the sex was fantastic. Now it is like the forbidden subject. He has difficulties on having erections so we even find a medicine to help him but still he doesn't want to do it. I feel like when we have sex is because I forced him to do it and he makes me feel so bad. I talk to him, to beg to him, what is the problem. because if I let things flow we might stay forever without touching each other. I feel that I'm being selfish sometimes. Other times I feel like I am not that attractive girl because I'm skinny. I don't have big boobs or a big butt. I don't know. I like sex, I don't mind trying whatever he likes but what he likes is no sex at all. I never talk about this with anybody because nobody supports my relation due to the age difference. I know it's not easy and it's difficult to continue. One year ago I caught him in a dating app talking to other girls and that destroyed me – my confidence, how I feel as a woman – but I forgive him because at the time we where fighting a lot. I tried to move on but he shut down and he does everything to not be with me. We're both together in this quarantine now. We're supposed to be happy together doing a lot of sex but, no, it's me in the room alone, masturbating and him doing whatever in the living room. I still believe that maybe we can work things out. After three years, I don't have the courage to break up and go back to live with my parents and start from zero. It would be so hard to believe in love again. That's why I thank you for this opportunity to let it out and ask for help! Somebody help me. I don't know what to do, I'm feeling miserable. I know relationships aren't easy but are you supposed to feel this pain constantly? [Sorry for my English, it's not my first language, hope it's clear and understandable]
User article | sexless
“Lack of lust or passion”
Been with my partner nearly a year and really love and care about him but it just lacks any lust or passion from him. He says he has rejection issues from a previous relationship and uses that as a reason to never come on to me even though I have never rejected him in any way. He has had a previous relationship since. When we first met, he used to brag about how she was young and pretty – even tried to get me to high five a few times at his accomplishment which I did find really disrespectful, yet I persisted with seeing him. He also has in a way bragged or just mentioned how he used to get up to all sorts of sexual things and how with the past two relationships they would have sex wherever and that he really fancied and wanted the one who rejected him a lot. (My past has probably been, shall we say, more colorful and adventurous than his. I just don’t feel the need to tell him every little detail as he's a jealous guy anyway and its never nice knowing too much as you just envision you partner doing those acts with people from your past, plus I am still like that, I don’t think you should say all the good things you used to do then become a monk in the current relationship.) With me, though, I have to do everything. If I don’t try it on with him nothing happens and I have to build him up to wanting sex with touching, kissing his neck and body and other areas! All whilst he lies or sits there with his eyes closed barely touching me, sometimes not at all touching me until we actually have sex, even then it’s not a lot. I feel like sex for him is just a release. When that feeling has just built up to too much and needs releasing – and that isn’t a lot – I can get about once a week from him and that was even the same in the beginning. But, like I say, it's hard work to get there. It's never spontaneous and I never get any umff back. I think intimacy in any form is a way to bond with your partner. I have mentioned to him it doesn’t have to lead to sex – sometime just kissing, real kissing and rubbing up against each other with just touching each other not even in sexual areas can be just as fun, but he says that leads to frustration which isn’t fun. We only tend to have sex in the evening on the sofa or in bed and the moves are very limited unless I suggest or just do something different. I tend to do 85% of the work. We hug, cuddle, and peck kiss all the time. He loves a cuddle now which he said he has never liked before and actually used to flinch when I used to touch him, as I am quite tactile. He was never used to that and didn’t like ever to be touched but now actually wants that when we are together, even places my hand on his skin like a comfort thing. It just tends to lead to him falling asleep while I cuddle him. Which I do think is cute. I love being near him, just don’t want that all the time. He does work nights so is generally tired all the time, which is the reason he says he's never in that mood as he needs to sleep yet manages to stay awake for hours – I mean 10 hours straight at times – on his computer talking to friends after a night shift, then just gets off to see me when he's tired and falls asleep straight away. He has asked me to try his game so we can play together but I don’t really like the game he plays, plus don’t want to friend zone myself even more than I feel like I am. I would try it once he can make me feel like his girlfriend, not friend or mother. I try to just get a good kiss as we have never just made out or touched or felt up each other even since the beginning. I try and give him a kiss sometimes. I get about four seconds, then he just turns so I get his cheek to kiss or neck. I also do touch him, make comments about him looking good and how he turns me on as he is very insecure and loves a compliment, he almost asks for them. I never get the same back. I get called beautiful and he loves me – it is really sweet and it may be me being fussy but he calls his daughters beautiful. Yet, he has explained to me about previous girlfriend and people his slept with or people from the TV as hot and stunning. When I am feeling up on him and kissing his neck I can see he likes it but I physically have to pick his hands up and put them on me – only on my back or leg but otherwise he will just sit and take it. I used to be quite confident and even though I don’t really like my body, I wouldn’t feel conscious with my past partner who I was with for 18 years. Even though I wasn’t particularly attracted to him we still had a sex life and i didn’t feel like he found me disgusting to touch or look at. I now feel like I need to cover up, as he never looks at me if I am naked while we are doing anything. Because of that and feeling like I am disgusting I have put on half a stone nearly, through being down. It must be me that’s not hot enough and through so much sexual frustration. This does make him sound awful. He really isn’t and I know he really loves me. I do believe that and whenever I mention anything about this he gets defensive. I never actually get to say what I want to say without him become hostile, which is annoying as I want to do the specific things that I have found upsetting or let down by. Afterwards, he is down, thinking I am going to end it with him. He also has a lot of past and had a rubbish childhood which I know has made him very shut down, his family have said that, since we have been together, they have never seen him so relaxing in life and happy. I have even noticed he's a lot less angry from when I first meet him. I just wish there was more effort made as I do love him but won’t let myself feel like this for ever. We both have children with past partners and I get mine looked after for date nights but he ends up eating whenever I have cooked in five mins, then 20 mins later is asleep on the sofa while I spend the evening by myself AGAIN, or if there are plans made to do something, quite a lot he has forgotten and is just asleep again, so I get dressed up or tell people I’m doing this, that, or the other where in fact I end up in my pjs by 7.00 again watching TV while he sleeps lying on me. Sometimes I get a bit of intimacy from him if I try early enough in the evening before food. Often it's just me giving him pleasure thinking he may return that favor but once he's gone that’s it, I get a hug and his then asleep. I enjoy giving him pleasure – you normally do to someone you love and I have always had that returned but he doesn’t feel that need. I have suggested he needs counseling for all his past issues and the fact that it's not normal for a man in his 30s to have this little interest in sex. He does agree but won’t actually do anything about it. I even said to him I will be patient and one day it may all just change. I have said he needs to try a bit though to get his mind set in a different way and push himself a little but I don’t feel like he tries whatsoever. Do I just be extra patient and hope one day it clicks and he has passion and lust? The trouble is the longer it's taking, the more I am struggling and my respect for him as a partner is fading. I then stop going to him and initiating anything but I know that won’t help as he needs that push to feel comfortable and try and break his habit. It just eats me up. Sometimes I have actually been touching him ‘you know where’, being nice and have tears in my eyes. He doesn’t know as his eyes are always closed. He doesn’t look at me but I feel stupid as I have never had to try so hard to get soo so little back in return with any past man I have been with. The trouble is we do get on and are very similar in many ways. All our children get on ridiculously well and, as a family, we have just jelled but I would think we have been married 40 years and in our 70s the amount of effort and intimacy we have.
User article | sexless
“Is my girlfriend cheating?”
My girlfriend and I have been together for 15 months. We were getting along well but for the last five months, if I even mention the word sex she gets so mad at me and tells me it's her body and she has her rights! Which I never said she didn't. I just simply said, "Hey, think maybe we can have some sex?" And she would literally say, "Well, if this is what we gonna go through, I'm going home." And it's crazy because she knows that I've been sitting home waiting for her to get done work just to see her. I would even tell her I wanna go have dinner! And she is so irritated that I asked about sex that she literally goes right home! And, because of work, we would literally get 25 minutes or so to see each other over the next six days. It's very depressing to even wonder but I have to know! Is she really working these two jobs? I believe she is working both of them but I'm not sure if she's working the one that is 45 minutes to an hour's drive away. I don't know if she's working that one the whole time she says! I need everyone's opinion, honestly. Do you think I have a cheating girlfriend? Or do you think she can just go this long without sex? Keep in mind that when we first got together, I think I hung out with her one day and then she begged me to come stay at her house that night so literally we had sex our very first night. And at the time we lived hours apart! She used to drive the hour and have two hour-long drives just to see me! Just to go sit in her car somewhere and have sex all over it! And the sex is so good. Like, I can't even explain how great it is you know? But she just tells me no and leaves it at that. It's been five months and I have not had sex with my girlfriend once. It may have even been a little longer. If I ask, she says no. She literally will go home. And her landlord is suddenly saying I am not allowed at her house! Nothing was done in any foul manner. Is he allowed to tell me I'm not allowed to be at that house? She pays him rent, she should be allowed to have whoever she wants there, correct? But, no, he tells her that because I yelled at my daughter and the downstairs lady (his mother heard me yell at her and thought I was yelling at my girlfriend), all of a sudden I'm not allowed up there at all.
User article | sexless, cheating, work
“My boyfriend's low sex drive”
I am a 24-year-old female in a relationship with a 23-year-old male. We live together with his mum but are moving out as soon as we have the money. We have been together for coming up to two years. We were originally long distance as we are from different countries and we visited most months. Our sex life was incredible from the beginning. We are so sexually compatible and it was so fulfilling. However, recently he has had such a low sex drive and mine is usually high that it is becoming a problem for me. He is stressed at work and has been feeling very anxious lately, so he says he is not in the mood. I try to initiate sex and he says that he is too tired or too hot or too stressed and always says later or tomorrow but I know he won’t. He never initiates sex or touches me sexually anymore – well, very rarely. I have tried everything. I’ve tried making myself look sexier, suggesting we do things I know he’s wanted to try, only initiated when he hasn’t got work or when we’re home alone all day and he has no need to be stressed and isn’t tired. When he is in the mood it is how it has always been, really passionate and intense but it just isn’t often enough to satisfy me. Lately, my self-esteem has been so dreadful. I’ve started getting jealous and paranoid which is not like me at all. I can’t stop dreaming about him and his best friend's girlfriend. She wears more makeup and more revealing clothes than me and we went to a party and he confided in her about his anxiety (he said he said it super casually). She cried to him and he comforted her but they were in her closet, and then they were gone for over half an hour. I didn’t know where they were and then they came back in the room laughing and he was wearing some of her clothes, like her dresses and stuff, and one of his other friends she had dressed up that night too. He is insecure about his body to me, yet he will get undressed in front of her. Also, he told me that when they were getting him dressed, she told him, “Don’t go looking in the drawers” and told him she had loads of dildos and sex toys... I’ve been going crazy thinking about this and having bad dreams where he cheats on me. I explained that our lack of sex is affecting my self-esteem and he seemed frustrated by me. I’m worried that if I try to discuss it with him that I will push him away. Everything else in our relationship is perfect and I’m so happy with him. He is so affectionate with me still and tells me I’m pretty and hugs and kisses me but I am a very sexual person. I need it to feel connected and close to who I am with. I’m not sure what I should do. Does anyone have any advice on how I should banish these delusional thoughts and also try to rekindle his sex drive?
User article | insecurity, sexless, long distance