Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“How Can We Get Our Sexy Back?”

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter comes from “His Take” contributor, Dennis Hong, who writes about relationships and other topics at Musings on Life and Love.

I am 26 and have been dating my boyfriend for two and a half years and we have been living together for about a year. When we moved in together we basically stopped having sex. Before moving in, we had sex 3-4 times a week. Since moving in a year ago, we’ve had sex about 7-10 times total! We talk about it and acknowledge it is a problem. He says he is tired at the end of the day and doesn’t feel like having sex. He says we just need to focus and work on it but neither of our behaviors change. Most everything else in our relationship is good. We spend time together, talk, cuddle, kiss, etc. In my opinion, we both have gotten too comfortable with our situation and we have become more like roommates.

Are we able to rebound or is this a deal breaker? How can we get sex back into our relationship? — Needin’ Some Lovin’

Of course you can rebound from this. But you’re not asking the right question. Instead, what you should be asking is, do you and your boyfriend want to rebound from this? From your description, it sounds like your frustration is stemming more from the fact that your boyfriend hasn’t made an effort to fix the problem, not from your lackluster sex life itself. Saying that you “need to focus and work on it” is about as noncommittal an answer as someone can give. I mean, that would be like the government “acknowledging” that we have an economic problem and saying that we “need to focus and work on” getting those economic gears cranking again. Point being, such vague non-solutions certainly won’t help either of you figure out how to squeeze sex back into your lives.

At the same time, it doesn’t seem like you yourself have been trying very hard to fix the problem. In fact, it sounds to me like you’re waiting for your boyfriend to initiate some sort of solution, as you didn’t mention anything specific that you’ve already tried or at least suggested. If that’s the case, have you heard of the saying, “If you want something done, do it yourself”? Because that’s probably what you need to do (way-too-easy masturbation jokes here notwithstanding). If you’re the one who has more of an issue with the lack of sex, then you’re the one who has to take that first step in fixing this. Don’t just wait for him to take the initiative.

To that end, I suggest that you first ask him how important it is to him that you reinvigorate your sex life. If he actually says that he doesn’t care, then… well, then you have some serious considerations to make regarding your relationship (see aforementioned question you should be asking). On the other hand, if he does want to work on it, ask him if he can think of any specific ideas, then offer some of your own. This way, you’re involving him in the solution-finding process and giving him a chance to take partial ownership in fixing your problem, rather than dictating to him all the ideas that you have. After all, sex involves two people. And knowing guys (because, you know, I’m one myself), I think he may not take it well if you go to him out of the blue with all these suggestions on how to fix this issue that you clearly have more of a problem with than he.

As far as specific suggestions from my end…. Well, I am by no means a sexologist (in fact, just typing the word makes me snicker), so I’m going to spare you any sordid, specific tips on what the two of you can do. Just know that there is a literal slew of resources out there that can help you spice up your sex life. Check some out, get some ideas, and approach your boyfriend with them. I do have one quick suggestion to help you get the, ahem, balls rolling, though. This one is used to help married couples firm up their flaccid sex lives: schedule sex. Seriously, schedule it. Like, put it on your calendar if you need to. I know it sounds unromantic, but if you actually commit to having sex, that gives both of you something to plan for and look forward to. So, maybe start by giving that a shot and see how it goes. Either way, “acknowledging” the problem is a great first step, but you have to be the one to follow through.

Dennis Hong is a teacher of juvenile delinquents, freelance comedy writer, group blog overlord, and internet entrepreneur. His personal mantra is: “Always stay positive in life (except when taking a drug or STD test)!” You can read more of his musings on life and love here.



52 comments… add one
  • Gwen December 30, 2011, 7:19 am

    Ugh, I hate the scheduled sex suggestion. I have had the same problem with my husband in our 10 year relationship and we tried that, and honestly it just stressed us both out like we had to perform.

    What helped us somewhat was to start having sex as soon as we woke up in the morning, while we still had energy. When dating it was just naturel that most fun time would happen at night after the date or when we got to see each other. After moving in together this just wasn’t the same since our “date” never ended and usually when we ended up in bed it was because we were tired. So maybe try that?

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    • Addie Pray December 30, 2011, 7:44 am

      Maybe they could try scheduled morning sex.

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      • CatsMeow December 30, 2011, 12:28 pm

        Morning sex is awesome. A lot of times at night I’m too tired or too full from dinner (or gassy from dinner), or I just fall asleep in front of the TV. In the morning, if we’ve been cuddling all night, maybe we’ve been dreaming about each other, and then he wakes up with a boner anyway – it’s perfect! And then I’m in a better mood getting into work.

      • ele4phant December 30, 2011, 12:44 pm

        I’m the opposite, it takes me a long time to wake up, so if we have sex right when I wake up, I’m going to be cranky and not really into it.

        For me, the best time is afternoon-early evening, right when I get home from work. If it hasn’t been too brutal a day at work then I’ll still have plenty of energy for a couple of hours.

      • Aya December 30, 2011, 11:12 pm

        Morning sex is also not my thing. I’m like a stereotypical guy, I fall asleep after sex. The few Sundays when we have had morning sex end up being total washes, because I don’t have energy for anything else.

    • MiMi December 30, 2011, 8:15 am

      I have heard of scheduling sex as a valid technique to restart the connection and remind both partners why it is worthwhile.

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      • Britannia December 30, 2011, 3:09 pm

        I think it is. Most of the time, once you get started, you end up enjoying it and it doesn’t feel like a chore.

    • utopiaballroom December 30, 2011, 9:44 am

      I know for me, I am a planner and I get anxiety about unexpected or spontaneous events. When my bf initiates sex, there’s a good chance that the unexpectedness of it will send me into a panic and I will decline as “not feeling like it.”

      An added problem is that, due to some medications, I don’t think my libido is very high. Like, once sexytimes begin, I become aroused and enjoy myself, but I seldom feel “horny,” as the kids these days say.

      So, when I say to bf, “Tomorrow night I am going to sex you,” that gives me time to plan, prepare for it in my head, get turned on, and safeguards against me backing out. We’ve been dating for almost 2 years, so we’re not even close to the point where sex would (stereotypically) be getting “boring.”

      I’m not trying to discount your experience…I’m just saying the suggestion has some merit.

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      • Gwen December 30, 2011, 10:22 am

        For some it does, but it seems whenever this issue comes up it is given like that is all you need to do, a one size fits all solution. I just wish there could be a few more suggestions other than “plan it” because that is not always going to work for someone. I heard it so often I started to feel like a loser for not looking forward to it like I was supposed to since it is the only advice anyone seems to give.

      • PFG-SCR December 30, 2011, 11:16 am

        I’ve read both of your comments, and while I think scheduled sex can actually be beneficial when sex needs to be made a priority again, it’s important to still keep some “wooing” going on, even though you both know the outcome. It shouldn’t be that the only flirting and foreplay is one of you mentioning that it’s Sex Night. Intimacy should start outside of the bedroom (or bathroom or kitchen or wherever Sex Night is that particular night); otherwise, scheduled sex might perceived as another item on your “to do list”.

      • Betsy December 30, 2011, 10:31 am

        “I am going to sex you” just made laugh loudly in my cubicle.

      • utopiaballroom December 30, 2011, 10:51 am

        Um…I actually say that to him too. I’m awkward. Once he was taking my shirt off, and I accidentally punched him in the face.

      • PFG-SCR December 30, 2011, 11:28 am

        That made me think of the Color Me Badd song, “I Wanna Sex You Up”…for you youngsters, that was a classic from way back in 1991.

      • JK December 30, 2011, 11:31 am

        I remember thinking how rude it was (I was 12 at the time), compared to some things kids listen to now, pretty mild.
        Get off my lawn!!!!

      • theattack December 30, 2011, 4:50 pm

        I’ve already mentioned this on DW before, but I recently punched my bf in the eye DURING sex. So don’t feel bad… haha

      • JK December 30, 2011, 8:43 pm

        I´m terribly clumsy, so my husband has suffered with several punches/elbows in the face, and one time we had to stop everything because of an unfortunate knee-groin encounter.

    • ele4phant December 30, 2011, 12:40 pm

      Huh, it works for us. For us, we try not to think of it as something that we are going to force ourselves to do or perform, but more so that we will make a concerted effort to carve out time in the future to have time for sex. If we didn’t make an effort to free up time, other things would pop up and keep us occupied.

      Its not about forcing anything, its just planning ahead to make sure we don’t get over scheduled and push sex aside for other priorities.

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  • spark December 30, 2011, 7:59 am

    I was going to suggest morning sex, too 🙂

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    • bethany December 30, 2011, 9:36 am

      Give Saturday afternoon a try too!

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  • emjay December 30, 2011, 8:01 am

    Xpressions!!!! LOL! No but really. They have games costumes and all sorts of sruff to get your blood flowing. My fiance and I went through this and we just needed to spice things up a bit. But jumping his bones when your horny will go over well too! I wake him up in the middle of the night and tell him something sexy, it worked for me!

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    • emjay December 30, 2011, 5:36 pm

      Anyway I had to rush my response so I wouldn’t be late for work. What I was trying to convey was that maybe you just need to try a different approach. Ask him how does he want to fix it? What does he think the underlying problem is? What do you believe the underlying problem is? Everyone hits a loll stop in the sex department. I don’t know how “adventurous” you guys are in the bedroom, but maybe a new toy, like say a vibrator for you and a c**k ring for him? Just by going and browsing can open up a world of suggestions, sexy glances, teasing etc. It certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a try. It can bring that nervous little giggle outta you that he loved so much in the begining, and the way his face blushed back then too. Little things like that that turn you guys on to each other. But the main thing is to sit down and have a talk that leads to some ideas and suggestions, then acting on them. If nothing else works, then maybe a counsler would help you guys uncover the root of the issue. Hope this helps!!

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  • ReginaRey December 30, 2011, 8:26 am

    I think going to a couples counselor, one who specializes in your specific issues, would be a great place to start. There, you might be able to discover some deeper issues that are contributing to the lack of sex in your relationship.

    Maybe I’m a skeptic, but I have a hard time believing that only having sex 7-10 times in one year can be blamed on your boyfriend being “tired.” Maybe moving in together HAS taken the fizzle out of your relationship…I can see how you could develop a more roommate-like relationship with a partner in that circumstance. But still, I think there’s more going on (on both of your ends) that has yet to be acknowledged or discovered.

    Sure, this could be as simple as rediscovering your spark and mojo. Or, it could be a big red flag that this relationship has some thinking to do. When sex leaves a relationship, it’s a huge sign that something in the relationship is truly off. Figure out what that is (with the help of a counselor, I would advise). Then, figure out if it’s fixable or if it’s WORTH fixing. Sometimes, red flags exist not to tell us what to fix, but to tell us when it’s time to MOA. If this problem persists, even with effort from both of you, then I think it’s a sign this relationship isn’t right.

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    • PFG-SCR December 30, 2011, 11:25 am

      “Sure, this could be as simple as rediscovering your spark and mojo. Or, it could be a big red flag that this relationship has some thinking to do.”

      I really think this topic needs to be examined in the context of the particular relationship. Over a long-term relationship (especially one with young kids), sexual frequency is going to wax and wane. However, given the specifics of this letter – their ages and the length of time they’ve been together – I think the lack of sex is likely a red flag, and I agree that they need to examine what is going on in the relationship (or with him, if it does seem to be more of a physical issue).

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      • Christy December 30, 2011, 8:00 pm

        I think it definitely depends on the relationship. My boyfriend and I have been having sex about once a month for the past few months, and it’s mainly because this has been the most stressful year of my life! (His year hasn’t been a picnic either) We’ve only been dating about two years and we’re very committed to each other. So being tired, especially if he’s started a new job or is having some other things going on, that can take away the energy.

        On the other hand, the sex disappeared for my boyfriend and his ex a while before they actually split up. They started to feel like “roommates” and it was absolutely because of deeper issues. So I don’t know if they need a counselor just yet but the LW should think about their relationship and talk to her boyfriend to see if he’s still invested in the relationship.

    • Kerrycontrary December 30, 2011, 4:11 pm

      Totally agree with RR! There’s a reason couples counselors ask how often you have sex.

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  • fast eddie December 30, 2011, 8:51 am

    Some friends of ours schedule Saturday night sex and it works for them. It invites using imagination to get the ball rolling. A special dinner, candles some wine, etc. Set the mood for seduction. Exercise is a great idea, it does the body good and the energy boost releases the libido. You have to take to bull by the horn (singular). Play an erotic CD at an appropriate time when other demands are absent.

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  • MiMi December 30, 2011, 9:04 am

    There’s no such thing as “getting too comfortable to have sex” in my opinion. There is a problem here, but the lack of sex is a symptom of it, not the cause. Take a good look at the whole relationship to identify what’s not working, not just this one piece.

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    • ReginaRey December 30, 2011, 9:06 am

      This is exactly what I was trying to say, except you were far more succinct! I totally agree. The sex is but a symptom of something else, and she needs to figure out what that is.

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    • spark_plug December 30, 2011, 10:04 am

      I agree as well that you can’t be too “comfortable” to have sex. Even if you’re in torn sweats all the time, your boyfriend knows that he can take them off and find the body of a woman underneath!

      Sometimes a low sex drive can be a health issue, especially considering the boyfriend is tired, it seems like ALL the time. Yea, everyone gets tired after work.. but every day, even the weekends for a year? Either he’s lying about his tiredness or he has a health issue because no one should be tried 355 days a year (I’m guessing the 10 times you had sex he was feeling energetic). Even if his job is that demanding, if you just have sex ONCE a week on Saturday/Sunday morning when he isn’t exhausted from a long day of work.. that’s still 54 times a year! Also, sometimes illnesses like undiagnosed diabetes can cause a low sex drive.

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    • CatsMeow December 30, 2011, 12:41 pm

      But conversely, sometimes just getting the sexy back makes the rest of the relationship better as a result.

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  • Fabelle December 30, 2011, 9:09 am

    I kind of agree with Regina on this– 7-10 times a YEAR when you guys are living together seems like he’s more than just “tired”.

    I do have a question, though (& sorry if this is a little graphic for DW?)– does he get aroused (aka hard) when you guys are kissing and cuddling? If he does, then yeah…he’s just being lazy. I bring this up because I dated a guy who would be lying in bed with me rock-hard & STILL not make any moves for sex. It confused me because in my experience, guys wanted to go as soon as they were ready & this guy would more-often-than-not NOT do anything until I was basically like “Um, can you put that in me?”

    Sooo if that’s the case, and you want sex more, then you’ll probably just have to do the work yourself. And if it’s not the case, then you’ll have to do even more work to get him aroused in the first place. Sex IS work, & both people should make the effort, but if he’s been this way for a whole year & he seems fine with it…there could be deeper issues?

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    • Budj December 30, 2011, 9:12 am

      Pending any mental, physical, or drug related issues a boner is pretty easy to obtain…but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to get down per say.

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    • ReginaRey December 30, 2011, 9:17 am

      Also, she should really think about whether or not she WANTS to be with someone who she has to do that much work with. Not saying a dude should always be the initiator, but if you’re in a relationship where you have to do all the work (be it sex or otherwise), then that’s NOT a relationship you have to stay in. That’s a dealbreaker, in my book at least, and it’s OK if it’s a dealbreaker for the LW, too.

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    • Rachel December 30, 2011, 1:02 pm

      LOL at “um, can you put that in me?”

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      • Heather December 30, 2011, 1:53 pm

        “Yes, THAT.”

  • Budj December 30, 2011, 9:10 am

    Since moving in together…are there things that he does that really annoy you and you just bottle it up? Are there things you do that annoy him that he bottles up? Passive aggressive behaviors based on counting household duties (one example) could also be making you guys less sexually active with each other…not saying this is the case…you’ll have to analyze your situation to see if this fits.

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    • utopiaballroom December 30, 2011, 9:49 am

      Great point. Bottled up annoyance kills my sex drive, then takes it out into the woods and buries it in a shallow grave.

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      • katie December 30, 2011, 7:58 pm

        so true AND hilarious.

  • bethany December 30, 2011, 9:29 am

    Speaking from personal experience, I can totally understand how you get lazy when you move in together. You figure, you live together so you can always do it tomorrow, but then tomorrow you’re tired too. I’ve been there, so I get it. But 7-10 times in a year is not because you’re too comfortable/lazy. It sounds to me like there’s some other problem if you can’t even manage to do it once a month. I have no idea what that problem might be, but you guys need to work on figuring out what it is!!

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    • bethany December 30, 2011, 9:38 am

      Totally off topic- I want to thank everyone who mentioned The Black Keys in last weekends open discussion- I have been listening to their Pandora station for the last few days and I’m in love!

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  • GatorGirl December 30, 2011, 9:35 am

    I would totally second the suggestion to schedule sex. My BF and I started scheduling sex when we went from a LDR to the same city. We have mismatched sex drives and it worked out great to get us in sync. We dropped the scheduling after like three months, once we got into the swing of things. Our sex life is pretty great now 🙂

    Also, saying you’re going to “work on it” doesn’t really mean anything. Make an actual plan, even if scheduling isn’t the way you want to go, make clear goals with your BF.

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  • Kate December 30, 2011, 11:02 am

    I agree with ReginaRey and others who have suggested this may not just be “laziness” or “comfort” but a symptom of something that’s wrong in your relationship. I think your instinct will tell you which one it is. Having been there, I think you intuitively have a sense whether you guys have a good, healthy relationship but are just in a rut and can snap out of it (in which case read up on how to do that), or if there’s actually something “wrong” that you need to figure out.

    But I do want to add that if it’s the latter, whatever is wrong in the relationship is not necessarily something you can pinpoint / identify, and you may ultimately not be able to fix it. It could mean that the relationship just isn’t right, didn’t have the right chemistry to begin with (beyond the physical), is broken, or has just run its course.

    If you talk to him about it and he acknowledges that it’s a problem, would like to have more sex, would like to work with you to figure out how to make that happen, then by all means, stick around and work with him. Be open to hearing from him about things you may be doing that turn him off in whatever way. Encourage him to go to a doctor to determine whether or not there’s something physical going on.

    But realize you may not be able to “fix” this, and if not, that’s ok, don’t blame yourself, don’t blame him, but move on once you’ve determined it’s not going to get better. There is nothing worse than lingering in this situation where your partner seems to have lost interest in sex with you and isn’t going to get that interest back. Wendy has mentioned before that it can make you hate yourself, and hate him too. It might not even be that drastic… it might just wear away at your happiness and self-esteem in a more insidious way, and it will likely cause built-up anger and resentment toward him that will manifest itself in ways you don’t want, trust me… and exacerbate the problem, getting you ensnared in a nasty cycle.

    Bottom line, if you can’t find a way, together, to make this better in a reasonable amount of time, don’t stick around hoping that it will get better. It won’t. In my case when this happened, I spent way too long feeling bad and trying to figure it out, when ultimately I think the relationship just wasn’t right, and we were holding on to something we should have let go of.

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    • Christy December 30, 2011, 8:06 pm

      “But realize you may not be able to “fix” this, and if not, that’s ok, don’t blame yourself, don’t blame him, but move on once you’ve determined it’s not going to get better. There is nothing worse than lingering in this situation where your partner seems to have lost interest in sex with you and isn’t going to get that interest back.”

      This is so true! If your partner has lost interest and it’s not going to get better, the sooner you move on, the better for everyone.

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  • Public Pearl December 30, 2011, 11:32 am

    Congratulations, you have discovered one of the hidden problems of moving in together. The courting stops. Do you still have dates? Or is it hanging out at home all the time?

    What was your goal in moving in together? To eventually get engaged/married? Convenience? What? What is the goal for your relationship? If there’s no goal or plan, then there’s nothing to work for.

    There are a lot of issues that lack of sex could just be a symptom of, so take this time to examine your relationship, evaluate where you are and where you’re going.

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    • Budj December 30, 2011, 11:58 am

      Your comment reminds me of my brother’s situation with his gf. They actually plan nights of doing things together – they are both broke so it is as simple as wine and a movie a lot of the time – but they make the point while living together to do those things one on one and keep some of that courting going.

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  • oldie December 30, 2011, 1:24 pm

    If the bf sees his doctor and there are no physical problems, likely its MOA time. Some guys just like the hunt. If moving in is the death knell for sex in a relationship, don’t even consider marriage. I knew a guy from work, who justified his annual flings by saying “it doesn’t even count as sex once you’re married.”

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  • SGMcG December 30, 2011, 2:58 pm

    I’m just curious LW, how are you defining “sexy” in your relationship? Because all those kisses and cuddles sound awfully sexy in their own right. Take it from someone who traditionally thought of sex meaning “coitus only” in the past – sometimes expanding your definition of sex helps you recognize the sexy in your relationship a whole bunch more and help you recognize that sex is not just the manipulation of the privates, but also a state of mind.

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    • PFG-SCR December 30, 2011, 5:18 pm

      In a relationship that is already sexually satisfying, I agree that other physical contact strengthens the intimacy. But, for a lot of people (stereotypically, more often men but definitely many women, as well), it’s not an acceptable substitute.

      They’re a young couple (presumably childfree and healthy) who are only having sex about once every six weeks…that’s not a lot. They are basically in a sexless relationship (by definition), and this is the time of their lives where they both probably have more time, more energy and fewer distractions than they ever will again. I agree that all of those kisses and cuddles sound sexy and arousing, so then it makes me wonder why it’s not progressing to “manipulation of the privates” sex.

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    • Jubietta December 30, 2011, 8:38 pm

      I gotta get in on this band wagon. There are an unlistable number of ways to get intimacy needs met, and every couple and every person needs to find the right quantity and quality. I think the trick is to make sure that both people’s needs are being met and that both parties are willing to look at that question again and again as life’s changes inevitably pass through.

      I hope the LW and her guy can look and see how much of each of their intimacy needs are being met, and if one person is unsatisfied (as the letter sounds) they can rebalance. Maybe cutting back on stuff that’s satiating the BF’s intimacy needs so he’s left wanting a little and willing to pursue and instigate would work. And I’d like to stress talking about it beforehand, don’t start withholding affection as an experiment…that seems like a recipe for ugly.

      Also, an alternative to “scheduling sex”…a doctor suggested to hubby and I that we alternate weeks where each of us is responsible for secretly planning a sexual escapade for the both of us together. I like how the anticipation works on both the planner and surprisee side of this deal, and though we aren’t always successful with it, i wonder if it might work for the LW and her guy.

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  • Anna December 30, 2011, 5:55 pm

    As others have said, the best time to “convince” a man it’s sexy time is morning…when his body already has that idea and his mind hasn’t awakened yet. But if it’s evening and you’re just dying to get some, it shouldn’t be that difficult to seduce him. Sometimes my boyfriend is “tired” or pissed off from work but that doesn’t last long once I put on something really skimpy and find a few excuses to bend over in front of him (Sure, honey, I’ll turn on the playstation for you…now which button is it again? *shake shake*.)

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  • twiglet January 1, 2012, 4:56 pm

    you might also have to face the fact that he may have a naturally very low sex drive.If you are loving and close in other ways this would be fine if you felt the same- but you don’t- you’d like some sex too please! Which I’m sure he’d understand if you explain it to him carefully.So you have to find ways to make it easy for your natural closeness and cuddling to slip into something more satisfying for you.I’d eschew ubersexy measures in favour of allowing physical closeness to grow naturally as then it won’t become a scary battleground.
    I always try to turn things around in my head- so I imagined the LW was a man whose GF was reluctant to have sex, and this is what I came up with-it makes sense to me either way.

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    • Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com January 3, 2012, 9:55 am

      “you might also have to face the fact that he may have a naturally very low sex drive.”

      Yup. No one really mentioned that but its true. It’s not always as simple as there being problems with the relationship, cheating, or health problems. The truth is that not all men are sex-crazed maniacs as they might have us believe. There are also tons of natural things that interfere with a man’s libido –stress, fatigue, boredom, or depression. Keep in mind also that men sexually peak at 18 and women around 35 –so the scales are eventually going to start to dip in the other direction. Remember the TV show Married with Children where Peg was constantly trying to trap Al into sex? Even though Al was constantly talking about sex and oogling boobs?

      I DO agree with all the other great suggestions for how to get sexy back and keep it in the schedule. I’d just add that sometimes you have to find a middle ground. If his ideal is once a week or two and LW’s ideal is daily –they’ll have to find a compromise.

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