Mental Health Advice With Dr. Darcy

Dr. Darcy Sterling has the answers to some of your toughest questions.

Dear Dr. Darcy:

My current relationship started as a long-distance relationship. A month or so after we started living together everything was good; our sex life was healthy and fun. Four years later, it seems like we can go weeks or months without having sex. My partner is constantly bringing this up and making it clear that she’s not happy because of the lack of sex. We are close and spend a lot of time together, but the sex has gone. And the pressure she puts on me to bring it back isn’t exactly a turn-on. I spend a lot of time worrying about when she’ll next start an argument about it. I love her and want our sex life back, but I don’t seem to be able to actually make the step and neither can she. What can I do? I don’t want this relationship to end, but that seems to be the way she thinks it is leading.  –Sexless and Sad


Dear Sexless:

Make no mistake: Your relationship is headed for the end unless you (the collective “you”) find a way to become sexually intimate.

If you’re waiting to be turned on, it’s never going to happen. You’ve fallen into a power struggle around sex (she demands; you refuse). No one finds a nag sexy—and no one sticks around in a sexless relationship when they still have a need for sex.

The solution lies in behaving your way to success rather than just waiting to feel differently. Start by assigning new meaning behind her requests for sex. Instead of “worrying about when she’ll next start an argument about it,” try viewing her requests as an attempt to connect with you. Think about it logically: She’s not intending to fight about sex. She’s intending to engage in a discussion about it so she can, A) get some reassurance that she’s not going to be rejected if she initiates, or, B) communicate to you her wish for you to initiate sex. Stop viewing it through a historical lens which is fogged up with negative meaning. Try viewing it through a clean lens, sans baggage.

The next time she brings it up, take her hand, look her in the eye, and tell her how much you love her. Tell her that you also want to be closer with her, to connect more deeply with her. See if that doesn’t begin to break the negative cycle. And for the love of God, if you still want this woman in your life, make love to her—even if you’re not in the mood. I’m not in the mood to take a shower right now and get ready for work, but I’m going to do it anyway.

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