At the beginning, you’re ripping each other's clothes off, having sex two to three times every day, buying nice lingerie (only to throw it on the floor two hours later), and sending *riske* snaps.
But a year later, you’re pretending you’re tired - or have a headache - or have too much work on - or weirdly got your period twice in a month, just to avoid the act… sound familiar?
It's not exactly news to anyone that couples’ sexual relationship tends to slow once as the years go on or once you have children, but what if you’ve only been together a few months – essentially still ‘in the honeymoon phase’ – and you’d rather call in sick than do the deed?
While it’s not often talked about, complete loss of sex drive, specifically towards one’s partner, is a lot more common in Australian women (and men) than you’d think.
In fact, one in five Australians have sex less than once a month, according to a Body+Soul survey, undertaken earlier this year.
But that doesn’t mean it’s ok. I mean, who seriously wants to go the rest of their lives attempting to avoid sex?
Side note: You’re definitely not the only one suffering here; it really sucks for your partner, too.
Why do sex drives fade?
Some experts believe that a lack of desire can stem from a lack of education.
“We live in a society where we get no education or information about sex whatsoever," says sex therapist and relationship coach Jacqueline Hellyer. "We get a bit of reproduction education, but no one teaches us about pleasure. No one teaches us about lovemaking."
Once adults, any ‘education’ tends to come from movie scenes and porn, creating unrealistic expectations and sexual standards for both parties involved.
Body insecurities can be another factor, says Hellyer.
“People have a lot of trouble being open and vulnerable enough to actually have good sex or to identify what their sexual needs are and communicate them to their partner."
When asked, her clients are constantly saying they’re “too embarrassed” to talk about their sexual desires, they “don’t know,” or simply – and very unrealistically - that “he should know” how to satisfy them.
“I’m amazed at how many women - independent, educated, successful women - seem to still think they can just leave it up to the man to do everything.”
Another common mistake? Thinking that a low sex drive only affects women.
“It is such a myth that men are gagging for it all the time," says Hellyer, before revealing that she actually sees more men with lower libido than women.
But regardless of whether you're male or female, feeling more turned by a PG movie scene that your partner's lovemaking can feel pretty dispiriting and isolating.
Don't feel too bad, says sex and relationship counsellor Christina Spaccavento. “There can be many reasons why we feel a low sex drive towards our partner, even if we still feel a strong attraction towards them. Low sex drive can be the result of something simple like exhaustion or it can be more complex, so don’t feel discouraged if you are struggling to get your mojo on.”
And the good news? While the reasons for a low libido - even at the beginning of a relationship - can vary from person to person, it can usually be improved (with some effort).
What to do about a fading sex drive
“The first thing to do is talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Explore together when this change started to occur and whether either of you can pinpoint any reasons why that could be,” says Spaccavento.
“If you can identify why, you can try to work through some solutions together with your partner. But if that feels too overwhelming, reaching out to a trained and experienced therapist is a great way to work on resolving your lack of sex drive.”
“People are constantly saying, ‘I wish we’d come in earlier!’ and, ‘now I have hope, God, that’s a relief,’” Jacqueline says of her clients.
Another easy trap to fall into is that of assuming any physical contact has to lead to sex, and therefore, avoiding it altogether says Spaccavento.
She warns that many people stop kissing their partners passionately out of a fear that their partners will get excited that sex is on the cards.
When, in actual fact, that kissing is likely to get you aroused, and they’re most likely to just be wanting some sort of physical contact from the person they love.
“Most men, when their partners allude to them constantly wanting sex, say, ‘No, I want time with you. Sure, I’d love to have sex with you because you’re gorgeous, but I just don’t want you to ignore me. I don’t want you to turn your shoulder to me. I want to engage with you,”’ says Hellyer.
“If you can change your view and instead think instead: ‘What can I say yes to right now? What do I actually desire right now?’ Whether it’s a conversation, a cuddle, or a kiss, it’s progress.”