Does My Low Sex Drive Mean He is the Wrong Guy?

a woman thinking if her low sex drive is because she is with the wrong guy

Hi Evan,

Love your blog! It seems that, after searching through your archives, many women have asked about what to do when their boyfriend has low-to-no sex drive, but what about if the tables were turned? I’m in my early thirties, and have had many long-term relationships–some great, some horrible, some somewhere in between. No matter the circumstances, I have always lost interest in sex a few months into the relationship.

I warned my current boyfriend of this very early on. He is a wonderful guy. He makes me feel safe, confident, and loved. There are no games and there is no low-level anxiety and insecurity lurking here. I’ve explained to him that I sometimes need help to “get in the mood” by him initiating sex. He has said that he feels it’s useless to do this as there’s a 90% chance I’ll turn him down. I feel horrible about this and sometimes feel it is my “duty” to have sex. At the same time, he is resistant to giving me what I’ve clearly asked for multiple times. We have been together for a year and three months at this point, and we seem to be lacking some communication here, as well as intimacy. Does this mean the chemistry is gone? Is this potentially the “wrong” relationship?   —Anne

You meet a man.

For the first few months, he’s the most charming man in the entire universe. He texts during the day, he calls you at night, he makes plans in advance. Dates last for full weekends. In your experience, this guy is the best communicator you’ve ever seen. You two can work everything out and you always know where you stand with him.

Eventually, he changes.

He doesn’t text regularly. He doesn’t want to talk on the phone. He sees you as much, but doesn’t linger as long. You get the sense that he’s pulling away, but he swears he’s not. The more you push him to explain why he’s cooling off, the more he shuts down.

One of the best parts of healthy relationships is that you don’t get rejected by your partner.

This is who he is, he says. There’s nothing to talk about, he says.

How do you feel about the prospects for this relationship?

I mean, he’s a good guy, but he’s not the same guy you dated at the beginning. And while you don’t expect the fireworks to continue, at the very least, you expect him to care about your needs and make you feel safe, heard, and understood. His failure to do so casts a large shadow over your relationship and puts your future in doubt.

You’re well within your rights to want more from your boyfriend.

And your real-life boyfriend is well within his rights to want more sex from his girlfriend.

Both communication and sex are cornerstones of romantic partnerships and, if either of them is neglected, it can cause a major rift. Hey, if two people want to have sex once a year and they’re both cool with it, fine, but, in general, couples have to attempt to meet each others’ needs. You’re not meeting his right now.

I’m not “blaming” you. What you’re feeling is natural — to you.

“No matter the circumstances, I have always lost interest in sex a few months into the relationship.”

There are many reasons for this. Some people have low sex drives. Other couples become so familiar, so it’s hard to get as excited on a regular basis. My sex life admittedly dropped after my wife moved in. But, even so, neither of us ever claimed to have “lost interest in sex”. Not entirely. Not the way you claim.

So, to answer your question, is this the “wrong” relationship?

At the end of the day, a man needs a woman who makes him feel sexy and attractive.

It may be, but not because of your lack of chemistry. It’s the lack of communication and creativity that is killing you.

Let’s face some facts here:

1) You have an unusually low sex drive — with everybody. Your boyfriend shouldn’t take this personally. But that doesn’t mean that he has to accept the status quo. If I were you, I’d be talking to a sex therapist or getting my hormones measured. Because even if you’re content with your lack of sex, few men will be.

2) You two haven’t figured out a healthy work-around for this problem. You’re not wrong that you need help getting into the mood. Many people do. But one of the best parts of healthy relationships is that you don’t get rejected by your partner. Of course, sometimes, one of you is too tired or in a bad mood. However, if he makes a move and 90% of the time, your answer is no, it makes perfect sense that he’s not inclined to do it more. He needs your help. He needs your signals.

And if you can’t give him signals, since you’re never “feeling” it, then maybe the simplest solution is to put sex on your calendar every Friday night. Busy married couples do this all the time. Scheduling sex means that you’ll anticipate sex all week. It means he knows he’s not going to get shot down when he makes a move. And who knows, maybe if the sex is good, it’ll mean that you even want to do it more.

This isn’t an ideal solution, but it may be a creative breakthrough for you. At the end of the day, a man needs a woman who makes him feel sexy and attractive. And if you simply can’t do that — not with him, not with anyone — I don’t think the solution is to keep shopping around for the mythical guy who makes you permanently horny; it’s to figure out why no man seems to be able to do the trick, and learn to find a compromise that works for both of you.

If that sounds impossible or unpleasant, you have one option left: find a man who is okay with sex once a month and doesn’t mind being consistently rejected by his wife.

You may discover that such a man is hard to find.

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  1. 21

    Not to discount the reality of a low sex drive, but I echo the point about self-fulfilling prophesy.   She said she warned her boyfriend at the very beginning of the relationship about her waning sex interest.   So, gee, what do you know?   Her sexual interest waned.   I understand wanting to be honest and buffer disappointment, but at the same time you don’t want to inadvertantly influence how your story plays out.     I think by making such a negative prediction from the very start, you WILL alter the nature of the relationship.   If my boyfriend came out with something like that on the second or third date, I cannot help but think that would have influenced our interactions from then on quite a bit, with me feeling a sword was dangling over us.   Not good.
    Even if the influence of this prediction is not the biggest factor, I can see where sex would become a chore if Anne is having it with a boyfriend who is feeling understandably discouraged. There’s a good chance that doesn’t feel right being enthusiastic while he believes his partner is just tolerating him, so foreplay might seem rude and pointless to him, so Anne loses out (and sex continues being a chore).   Or, he could just be a little clueless about the concept of “foreplay” and needs more specific direction that he can’t just intuit.   Maybe he doesn’t realize that foreplay can be started anytime and last ALL DAY if you want it to.   Maybe he responds better to being shown rather than told what to do.   Or heck, all of the above.   Creativity may be all Anne needs yet she will have to lead in this regard given her boyfriend’s confidence is shot to hell.
    In Anne’s defense, if it’s the case where Anne is asking for foreplay – with specificity – and her boyfriend is just not willing and just wants to get his rocks off, then I can see where she would feel pretty rejected herself and tune his desires out.   In which case, I think we all know what the solution is here (and just so happens to rhyme with hump him).
    Frankly, I’m not always rarin’ to go everytime, either.   However, I find sex to be fun so I rarely if ever turn it down. If sex stopped being fun barring any stress, injury or illness, I can understand where sex would feel like a waste of time.   At the same time, I would have to wonder: what happened to the fun?   What what made it fun in the first place?   How can I ask my partner for help?   I encourage Anne to give these questions some real thought.

  2. 22

    @starthrower68 #19: “How did relationships ever survive back when sex was taboo before marriage?”  
    My guess is that there was pretty much no real relationship before marriage, with the occasional exception due to school or military duties, but both parties would then be apart anyway. Courtship lasted for a few weeks or months with marriage to follow quickly if everyone was on board.

  3. 23

    I can completely see where the man in this situation is coming from…after consistently getting rejected, you start to think “why bother?”…
    I was in a relationship like this with a man who had a very low sex drive, and it made me feel terrible about myself. The most successful relationships I have had have been ones where we both gave ourselves freely, so to speak. Yes, of course there are times when you wont want to, such as if you are sick. But being rejected 9 times out of 10?
    LW, I would certainly want to talk to my doctor if I were you. It can’t be fulfillling for you either, knowing that there is an important aspect of your relationship missing. Not to mention, sometimes I think that even if I am not “in the mood”, if I go along with it anyway, I’m usually able to get in the mood pretty fast! Good luck.

  4. 24
    Some other guy

    I wonder how “Anna” might weigh in here? 🙂

  5. 25

    I was in a relationship with a man like this. Eventually I couldn’t be bothered initiating any more because he would not respond at all. I felt lonely and unattractive. People think sex is just sex but that side of the relationship is a good part of feeling loved. So I’m going to go ahead and say that sex is a duty for both partners. But I don’t understand why some people are unafraid to talk about sex before it gets to the point of derailing the relationship. The affected person withdraws rather than really confronting it. It’s perplexing for both sides.

  6. 26

    #7 Fusee, I feel and think the same way you do.   Men look at sex differently with women, as I understand it, it’s how they emotionally communicate with a woman.   Not to mention the physical benefits to them.   Take that away when in a committe relationship, where does that leave him?

  7. 27

    OP, it could come from a more or les serious health problem !
    – it could be Candida
    – it could be silent Chlamydia
    – it could be a chemical (putting hot drinks in plastic bottles)
    – it could come from food (eating/drinking lots of soy ?!)
    – it could be hormone imbalance (not just testosterone)
    – it could be that you are on the pill (most pills kill libido… lame, huh? kinda defeats the purpose..)
    Have a blood test specific for hormones, see a gynecologist AND an acupunctor (they can reestablish lost balance in your organs).
    Do your research.
    There are many conditions that lower your sex drive, and if you have none of them then I think too it’s commitment phobia… a therapist work.
    good luck !

  8. 28

    I managed to endure 18 years out of 22 without any sex with any one before I cracked and sought another woman.   I am still slightly astonished that some couples have non reproductive sex after marriage.   Sex is critical to a relationship.   Children get warped in an environment where parents aren’t having sex.   You can push yourself to stay in the marriage but the stress comes out somewhere in the family.   Sex is absolutely a duty and a mutual entitlement otherwise you are not married in any meaningful sense.   Sex can be bought for money leaving the relationship unthreatened if affection remains in the relationship but no sex and no affection makes marriage threatening affairs more or less inevitable.

  9. 29
    Anne OP

    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. And thank you, Evan, for posting my question! I should mention this too-in the beginning of the relationship, I did, literally, ALL of the initiating of sex. All of it. At one point I had told him that I would like it if he would initiate it, and he told me it didn’t seem he needed to, since I was always the initiator.   He never really did.   I got tired of initiating.   And yes, he knew of my pattern as I had told him early on, but he never initiated! I should have been more clear.   There weren’t “nine out of ten instances” that I rejected him.   There weren’t even ten instances in total where I would have had a chance to reject him.   I certainly agree that there is likely a psychological and/or hormonal component here, on my part.   I’m not quite the frigid picture I painted, though.

    1. 29.1

      Anne that sounds very much like my relationship pattern.   In my experience when you take good care of men you date, they tend to get a little lazy…

  10. 30
    Sparkling Emerald

    Anne OP – Thanks for subjecting yourself to such scrutiny on such a sensitive topic.   If you have to have done all the initiating — Well UGH !   I am not comfortable initiating until I am WELL INTO A RELATIONSHIP, and even then, if my guy does enough initiating that it’s not necessary for me to do so, I am content to always be the responder.   If I am in a well established relationship, and I’m in the mood and he hasn’t initiated, and he’s open to the woman initiating, then I can have a great time being the aggressor in the bedroom, but only IF we have established enough of a relationship where I know he’s really into me.   I don’t think I could even BE with a man who didn’t initiate in the beginning.   I would be too afraid that he really wasn’t that into me, I would feel desperate, I would wonder if he would think I’m a Jezebel, etc. etc.   I could start out really hot for a guy, but if he was super passive and never initiated anything, I would turn ice cold.
    You might want to consider a hormonal solution in the future, if you end up with an initiator and still go cold.   I had a similar problem towards the end of my marriage, and tho’ it was mostly emotional I do believe there was a hormonal component.   I went on BHRT, for other reasons, but I know I feel sexier than I did when I was married.   (Kind of a bummer when I’m not in a relationship)   It could be the BHRT, or it could be that I am out of my emotionally dead marriage.  

  11. 31

    Honestly, if I were Anne’s boyfriend, I’d have ended the relationship by now.   I’m not sure why he hasn’t.   If a partner only wanted sex once a month and the rejection rate was about 90%, there’s no way I could justify staying.

    1. 31.1

      Sometimes people stay with someone because they are in love with them, not because they need someone to satisfy their sexual needs.

  12. 32
    Anne OP

    Henriette, please read my above response as it appears you haven’t.   I didn’t exactly HAVE a chance to do any rejecting…because he assumed early on that he didn’t feel the need to do any initiating because he decided I was the dominant one. We women want to feel desired and be swept up too, as I’m sure you would agree.

  13. 33

    @ Anne OP # 28
    That is a completely different picture than the original post.   I am with Sparkling Emerald   # 30.   If a guy won’t initiate sex he would definitely lose his appeal.   If you had made that clear I think you would have gotten a much different response… at least from me.

  14. 34

    Anne OP
    Is it possible that you were attracted to this guy , at least initially, because he did not initiate? If you’ve had a problem in the past with maintaining a level of attraction to your partner, perhaps this guy seemed safer, at first, because you could control the sex. You wouldn’t feel pressure to have sex unless you wanted to. I’m not saying you did this consciously, but sometimes we are not always aware of what motivates us. I’m glad that you “agree that there is likely a psychological and/or hormonal component here”, and I hope you’re able to get to the root cause.

  15. 35
    Karla (NineGPS)

    In all  honest  I’m curious if you have ever had a toy (dildo). If you have never been super aroused I suspect you are not totally in touch with you inner sex goddess. Sex is a hug deal breaker for many people. Quite frankly I understand it and can appreciate it. Let us not forget we are  mammals.  

  16. 36

    Thanks, @Anne29.   You’re right; I hadn’t read this post of yours and that presents a very different picture.   I was with a guy for a year – a really lovely, smart, funny guy – for almost a year and he never ONCE initiated.   I explained on multiple occasions that I wanted him to initiate at least sometimes but he never did.   I ended the relationship.   That wasn’t the only issue but it was a big one and I knew I could not be happy with such sexual incompatibility.

  17. 37
    Anne OP

    Angie, don’t assume I worded things with my boyfriend the same way I worded my email (which I tried to keep somewhat succinct) to Evan.   I didn’t speak in definites, and you telling me “You are wrong on your part” is an unnecessary definite in this case as well.   You do bring up some good points, though.  
    Im aware that a therapist could/should be consulted for this. I reached out to Evan because I am not necessarily looking for a diagnosis from him; rather, I’m interested here in the whole chemistry/compatibility aspect.   Thanks for responding to my question here.

  18. 38

    I believe that some people are actually asexual (even before menopause for women), or have really low sex drives.   I have heard this is only 1% of the population, but I believe it is far higher.   Most people are too embarrassed to admit it.   The Sexual Revolution made these people feel even more embarrassed.

  19. 39

    Intimacy is an important form of communication and if your guy feels that it is off limits then he will shut down in other areas.

  20. 40

    I am a husband who is in a situation where my wife has told me she has no libido. Im to the point where I dont know what to do besides leave. Im happy with once or twice a week shes happy with once a month or not at all. I used to initate all the time and got shot down 90% of the time. Shes a control freak and everything is on her terms. She also tells me that I need to get her in the mood, she needs more foreplay like kissing and touching. When I want to be intimate I will try to start kissing her and she really doesnt respond. She doesnt make out with me like she did in the beginning so its kind of hard to get her in the mood. She wont have sex with me but tells me how she hopes her ex is happy. um you need to worry about your husband, Ive been married to her for five years and have no clue what turns her on. In my experience either shes interested or shes not and mostly not. Im not saying sex is a duty but if you have someone like me that worships the ground you walk on and does everything you want wouldnt that make you want to give me a good bj every once in a while? I dont get it.

    Im in a situation where my wife is always at worj and when she is homes shes alwasy in a bad mood and too tired to be bothered. I do 80% of the work around the house and I never complain. I try to make her life as easy as possible and it does me no good. We have a massage table that I used to setup and give her a massage but its hard to get her to even want to do that and when she does i shouldnt expect anything more than to rub her back. God forbid I start rubbing her butt or get too close to her privates. LAst night I rubbed her shoulders and she didnt even ask it was rub my shoulders please. She gets what she wants from me but I shouldnt expect anything in return. I buy her jewelry send her flowers tell her i love her giver her massages and all i do is listen to her complain.

    I would hate to leave her because I am unhappy with my sex life but I feel like if shes not willing to fulfill my needs then there seems little reason to stay.

    1. 40.1
      peter 51

      It gets worse over the decades. At least you’re sleeping in the same bed.

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