The No. 1 Reason Couples Stop Having Sex, Therapists Say
It doesn't have anything to do with physical attraction.
There are so many reasons couples stop having sex, from loss of passion to busy schedules to medications that hinder intimacy. Once your sex life slows, it can be hard to get back on track. Days turn into weeks turn into months—and at a certain point, the situation might seem beyond repair. However, that doesn't have to be the case. Ahead, therapists tell us the number one reason couples stop having sex, as well as what causes it and how you can strengthen your bond. By getting ahead of this sneaky relationship ruiner, you can keep your sex life strong for years to come.
This is why couples really stop having sex.
In many cases, a disconnect in the bedroom is caused by a disconnect in your overall relationship.
"It's not for lack of physical desire, or that you find the person unattractive, or even that you want to sleep with someone else," says David Tzall, PsyD, a licensed psychologist based in Brooklyn. "All those can certainly happen, but the [impetus] is that you no longer feel safe, comfortable, or connected with your partner."
If you or your partner don't feel that emotional security, it's unlikely you'll want to or be able to have a fulfilling sex life. But here's what you should know so you can improve this part of your relationship.
Emotional distance builds over time.
Fortunately, an emotional disconnect doesn't just pop up. If you pay close attention, you can usually stop it before it escalates. According to Tzall, emotional distance often occurs in couples that don't communicate well.
"Slights and hurts build and grow into resentment," he explains. "The couple speaks less and less and does not share their needs or desires, emotionally, mentally, and physically."
Sometimes, not even the individuals in the relationship can identify the root issue. "The couple is usually unaware of the reasons and will blame themselves or their partner," says Tzall. "If the blame is put on the partner, that might result in an affair or thinking about breaking up, which only serves to create more distance between the two."
If the couple is still having sex at this point, it may not be as satisfying as it once was.
Other responsibilities can exacerbate emotional distance.
While a lack of communication can cause fissures that lead to emotional distance, other factors also contribute.
"Most of the couples I've encountered who complain about not having sex as often or at all seem to be couples that have gotten distracted by other consuming demands, like parenting, career, and illness, both mental and physical," says Natalie Jimenez, EdS, a licensed marriage and family therapist. "The distraction, which may start gradually, grows more pervasive if not addressed in time and leads to emotional and physical disconnect, making it more difficult to become sexual."
This is especially true for women, who tend to need an emotional connection to be sexual, Jimenez explains.
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Clear communication can help you recover.
Just because you're feeling disconnected in the bedroom now doesn't mean you will forever.
"The best advice would be for the couple to speak about it openly," says Tzall. "Some may see that as making the matter worse, but only through bringing it into the light, can it be examined and properly addressed."
If discussing the issue makes you nervous, enlist the help of a couples counselor. "The couple will learn how to listen and speak to one another in an intentional manner without reacting or taking comments or behavior personally," says Tzall. "When communication is poor between the couple, it is usually not for lack of quantity as much as quality. This means that both partners are not hearing the emotional subtext and desires and changes in their needs."
By learning how to get on the same page, you'll improve your communication now and throughout your relationship. That way, you can respond to issues—such as a lull in the bedroom—effectively and respectfully.