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Dear Lezzies Advice Column 7
for Lesbians On The Loose (LOTL)
Online Magazine in Australia:

Question: Three year relationship, but no sex. Is this lesbian Bed Death?

Dear girls,

I've been with my girlfriend for just over three years and while our relationship is loving and affectionate, our sex life is almost non-existent. It wasn't always this way; when we first met we couldn't keep our hands off each other. I know that it is common for long-term relationships to lose some of their spark and it takes work to keep it- there are lots of things that I have tried- seduction, trying to spend more quality time together, waiting for her to make the first move, you name it.

I've talked to my girlfriend about how losing that sexual connection with her has made me feel sad and I miss it but, although she listened, she said nothing about how she felt and nothing has been resolved. I don't know what to do anymore. Please help.

(Please keep my name anonymous)

Dear Lezzies Answer:

Dear Anonymous:

You are right, what you describe is very common. The reality is that the “romantic” love phase between two people starts to fade and is gone around one and a half to two years into their relationship. This is due to the hormones settling down and the brain chemical PEA (that is only active during this phase of the relationship continuum) fading away.

You are also right when you say that it takes work to keep the romance and sex going in a relationship once you go beyond this phase. It takes the things you mentioned--seductions, spending more quality time together, writing love notes, to keep your romance alive.

I can imagine that because your girlfriend didn’t respond to you when you talked to her about your concerns, you must have felt like she didn’t care, or that she has pulled away from you on some level.

It could be she feels just as badly about this problem, but doesn’t know how to change whatever it is that is going on for her; or may not know how to say how she is feeling about the situation. She may also be having other issues that have nothing to do with you, and doesn’t know how to talk to you about them. She could also have some physical condition that has affected her sex drive and may want to be checked out by a physician to rule out a medical cause.

The only thing that will begin to solve this problem is if you can talk to her about your concerns, and she is willing to be open and frank about hers and why she has shut down her sexuality.

There are levels to sex drives. Some of us have high, some middle of the road and some low. At the beginning phases of a relationship, the hormones and brain chemistry create a matched sex drive between the two people. As the chemistry wanes, the sex drives fall back to what they normally would be--either in the high, middle or low categories. If you have a high or mid-level sex drive and your partner has a low, you can be left wondering, “what happened?”

When you change from stage one of a relationship to stage two, the Power Struggle, sex and sexual intimacy usually start to pay the price. This is where the glow is gone and things start to get on your nerves. The things you once found cute are now annoying, and you feel the other person is trying to get control of you in some way. It is also the place where the person’s true sex drive returns. Again, the person with a high or mid level sex drive paired with someone with a low sex drive makes it hard on both partners.

A childhood of abuse (mental, emotional or sexual) can also affect the relationship once it moves out of the Romantic Phase. Childhood trauma can affect a person’s willingness to be intimate as things between you continue to grow. It is also possible that your girlfriend may be unaware if she is seeking to emotionally protect herself, at least in regard to why she is not moving to change the lack of sexual intimacy you are going through. It can be from the more obvious fears of being sexually abused, to the less obvious of expecting abandonment because one, or both, of her parents abandoned her in childhood. This can even include one of the parents just disappearing for a period of time, or being physically present but emotionally checked-out for any reason, to the more extreme physical abuse. This often creates a situation where an unconscious expectation that significant people in her life will eventually disappear, so there is withdrawal from her partner to protect from the expected abandonment.

It also could be something that you inadvertently said or did that she thought she’d let go of, but just can’ t get by, and now doesn’t know how to talk to you because so much time has passed.

There are two keys in this situation. One is your girlfriend being willing to be open and honest, and tell you what she feels is going on, and what she feels she needs to do, have, know, or see in order to move back to a more sexually intimate relationship. That may include what she needs to feel emotionally safe. You can make as many efforts as you want but until you talk to her, you won’t know what she needs. The other key is the willingness of both of you to be as open and nonjudgmental as you possibly can concerning what each of you has to say, and let that be the way to open an ongoing dialogue.

Your girlfriend may have a fear of sharing what she is feeling, and that she is vulnerable to rejection or being made fun of, or it could be a fear of hurting you that keeps her silent.

It will take both of you working together to solve this. Open communication and willingness to push beyond the areas where you both are comfortable in regard to communicating are what will help with this. If you two find that you can’t be open with communication, or if you are but things are staying the same with little or no change, then you need to get couples counseling. Find a good LGBT friendly couples’ therapist and go see that person together. Ask people you know that have been to therapy for the names of therapists they saw and if they liked them or not. There may even be a resource guide in your area that lists these therapists. Make sure that you both feel comfortable with the person before committing to ongoing therapy. Remember, counseling relationships are like any other--you’ll either click with the therapist or not. If, as a couple, you are on your third (or more) therapist because one of you keeps finding fault with whom you find, then there is reluctance to commit to therapy and this must be addressed by a therapist that you are seeing.

NOTE: The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care professional.

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