Reader Asks: Why Are We No Longer Having Sex?

Dear Neil: What would cause my husband and I to quit having sex with each other? We haven’t had sex for years, but we’re young and vital enough, so why would we quit? Neither of us are having sex with anyone else, either.

Not Getting Any in California

Dear Not Getting Any: I have no idea why you and your husband have quit having sex, but I will give you the most common reasons why couples sexually close down to each other. Why don’t you and your husband read and discuss this article together?

Your relationship has grown disconnected or distant. When that happens, the two of you don’t feel as close to each other, and you are less motivated to please the other person. Also, disconnection tends to kill spark, so your relationship also loses wooing, romance, effort and “sweet nothings.”

Anger. Anger, resentment, hurtful words, insensitivity, name calling, lack of empathy or rage outbursts all push people away from each other. The two of you become adversaries, not friends. Also, your anger hurts me, and then I am more likely to want to hurt you back, and I feel less generous, giving and loving. Your anger can also feel intimidating, and that does not feel sexy, and it does not make me want to be warm and close to you.

The loss of affection. Closely tied with the loss of romance, affectionate touch keeps people close with each other. Holding hands, hugs, kisses, cuddling, snuggling—these behaviors typically function as an aphrodisiac. They keep the embers alive, and make it feel natural for the two of you to feel close.

Not spending enough time or being engaged with each other in common interests, activities, entertainment, recreation or how you spend your free time.

Feeling blamed, criticized or judged to be inadequate by the other. We all want to feel valued, honored and respected. So how will I react if I don’t feel that you think well of me, or if you treat me disrespectfully?

Taking sedatives, prescription medications or drinking large amounts of alcohol. Along with pain pills, illness, surgery and diuretics, these often reduce libido and repress desire.

Fear of being taken over, of losing yourself or of being dominated. All of these kill desire.

Fear of rejection, abandonment or being dumped. If I don’t let you get too close to me physically or emotionally, I won’t feel so hurt when you leave me.

Repetition. Doing the same old, same old can get tedious and boring.

There are other reasons couple’s quit having sex, such as one person getting depressed, a lack of kindness, empathy and friendliness, or one person using sex as a weapon (or as leverage) in order to get their way.

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