Sex Went Downhill

Q: I'm 22. My girlfriend and I have been dating for about a year now, and living together for about three months. I have never felt happier with a girl. We enjoy each other's company and care about each other very much. But after moving in with her, I started to notice that our sex life was changing. We stopped having spontaneous sex, and only had sex before going to bed. Plus the sex was not as good: same routine, nothing new. And if I tried anything new she would immediately reject me. I finally let her know that I was not pleased, that I was always asking and she was always too tired, or not in the mood. She said she was sorry and that she didn't want me to feel like she didn't care about me. But then she went on with life without a care in the world, never asking me about it or making an effort to fix the problem. I'm at a point now where I get this vibe like she thinks this is something I need to fix on my end. Life is not fun when the person you care about so much and can't wait to be with rejects you and shows very little passion and romance towards you. -- George

Dr. Susan: You say you brought up the subject with her, George, and that after briefly reassuring you, your girlfriend went on her merry way and left the ball in your court again. Something that seems to elude many people is that every relationship goes through changes, no matter how excitingly they begin. Sounds like the honeymoon is over for you two and now it's time to get serious. How hard are the two of you willing to work at keeping your love alive?

I'm most troubled by her rejection of you. If you had said that the sex wasn't as frequent or spontaneous, or that the sparkle had dimmed a bit, that would be entirely expected. But every time you make the effort to try something new or liven things up, she turns you down? That's not a good sign for the future. The happiest long-term couples achieve a sense of glorious flow by keeping the novelty going (see my book Loving in Flow). For this, both partners need to be willing to be open-minded and creative.

Sit her down again and let her know, gently but firmly, that you care about her, are indeed mad about her, and that you want to stay with her forever (do you?). But you also miss some of the thrills of your earlier sex life, and although you know some decrease is utterly natural (it is, George), you know that if the two of you put your heads together, you could come up with mutually fun ways to keep things perking along. If she pooh-poohs your concerns, you shouldn't expect your relationship to magically get better. It takes conscious attention and you both have to care. So many men marry or live together to get regular exciting sex, and what they end up with is just regular sex, if that. But you're only 22, for Pete's sake. The two of you can do better. The question is, does she care about what matters to you?

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