Sexless Relationships

Ask A Mental Health Professional

Dear Darcy:
I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost two years and even though I love her very much and we get along great, I feel like I’ve reached a fork in the road. I don’t think we’ve had sex even five times during the last year. I’ve tried talking to my girlfriend about this but the conversations go nowhere. I think that one of the problems is that neither of us is used to initiating sex. Can two bottoms have a healthy sex life?

I think the bottom/top dynamic in the lesbian community is very interesting.  For those who choose to identify as either a bottom or a top, their term of choice often speaks as much to their personality as it does to their sexual preferences.

You’ve been with this woman for just shy of two years and I’m betting that your respective roles became clear early on. The fact that you (a bottom) chose to stay in a relationship with a woman who doesn’t initiate sex leads me to believe that this issue didn’t always result in a sexual standoff between you. Although it certainly sounds like a sex issue, I wonder if there’s more to it. Ask yourself how invested you are in your role as a bottom. If you feel your blood pressure rise at the mere thought of a compromise, you may be in the throws of a good old-fashioned power struggle. Your resistance to initiate expressing desire may be more about control, vulnerability or unexpressed anger than about sexual compatibility.

You say that discussions about sex go nowhere and I’m telling you that it takes two people to allow a discussion to end without a conclusion. There’s a reason why she’s in your life, and this may be an opportunity to work through some issues that will help you experience greater depths of intimacy.

I don’t think that this issue is going to resolve itself by ending the relationship. Even if your next relationship were to involve the toughest butch on the block, my guess is that your issues will manifest themselves in some other way. I suggest that you register the two of you for an Imago therapy weekend workshop (therapy boot camp) and then jump into couple’s counseling.

E-mail questions to or call 212-604-0144

Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.

*By submitting questions, the writer acknowledges that she has no rights of confidentiality and that her question or a version thereof may be printed in GO Magazine.  Correspondence between Dr. Darcy Smith and a writer does not constitute a therapeutic relationship and such a relationship and the rights/privileges associated with such can only be established through a scheduled, in-person session.

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