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I want sex, just not with my partner

Is it worth staying in a relationship with someone you don’t want to spend intimate moments with? Because sex is an important part of a relationship, it’s easy to question the future of a relationship if someone in the relationship doesn’t want to have sex.

It is not easy to admit to yourself that your partner is no longer attracting you. It is an experience that almost everyone who has had a long-term relationship faces. Realizing that greater arousal arises from remembering an excerpt from an erotic movie or work colleague rather than your partner, everyone may feel guilty.

Some resolve this inner conflict by accepting that sex will not be as passionate as in fantasies, others are looking for a lover, others are divorcing and looking for happiness elsewhere.


Studies show that the need for sex in long-term relationships decreases significantly. In the UK, a study was published in 2017 with 15,162 respondents. It found that in relationships lasting more than a year, 23% of men and 27% of women say they are less interested in sex than in the early stages of the relationship.

However, if you are the one who no longer wants sex with your partner, it does not mean that this relationship must end.


Let’s start from the beginning. A strong passion is usually associated with surprises, new experiences, anxiety, sometimes risk. These are the feelings we experience at the beginning of a romantic relationship. And love arises when we feel safe, able to anticipate and (presumably) control our own and others’ actions. So it takes time to build a strong sense of love. It is easy to notice that passion and love arise in completely different situations.

Here’s what it looks like in practice. People get to know each other. An unexpected and strong “chemistry” begins. We feel excited, we think about this person, we want to be with him as often as possible and we try to please him. We are considering how to surprise each other, maybe update our wardrobe. Maybe we are looking for interesting places for an evening together. Maybe we buy a nice gift or make dinner.

Life acquires new colors and brings us into this euphoria. We value every moment and try to create as many such moments as possible. We spend morning, lunch, and evening together calling, correspondence, and trying to ensure that these moments never end.

True, this euphoria begins to subside, fearing fear – and what if the partner finds another? What if he doesn’t like something? So you decide to offer to live together, keep a pet, buy a house and maybe raise children. Thus, for security’s sake, we sacrifice part of our freedom and unpredictability.

We strive to find ways to maintain relationships that we feel secure and able to trust. After all, it is such a relationship that should help to survive all misfortunes and overcome challenges.

But that is not our only need. We also want to face new, unexpected, sometimes risky challenges in life. Therefore, this person must still be loving, passionate, with similar hobbies, able to excite, enterprising, able to listen… This list could go on indefinitely.

In addition, we believe that we need to find this person, and when we find it, we need to live together for life. So divorce or mistrust seems to be the wrong choice.

Therefore, we are looking for a universal person who is able to meet all our possible and even impossible needs, not to develop our ability to love.

Most of us “sacrifice” our passion for the stability of the relationship. And then you end up finding yourself in a relationship where you love and cherish each other, but don’t want to do it at all.

Photo by 123RF.com / Couple Engagement


Without intimacy, sexual needs do not disappear in a relationship. So we look for intimacy elsewhere, sometimes it’s fervent fantasies, sometimes it’s a new relationship.

The relationship is always accompanied by a third party. This third is a charming salesperson you want to flirt with. The third can also be a muscular porn actor or a flexible stripper. This third is exactly what we fantasize about during sex with a partner. So the third can be not only a lover but also a fantasy about him, which is like a forbidden fruit.

Everyone senses that this third exists. Sometimes we try to push it out, control it and eliminate it with the texts “You spend a long time with the colleague you talked about?”, “You spend a lot of time at the computer, do you work all the time?”, “Did you think of me today? ? ”,“ Did I miss you? ”. These questions arise as if we are caring, when in fact we are afraid of losing control of the relationship and giving in to a third stranger.

Because we are afraid of losing and being left behind, we build a contract of trust in the relationship. We want to know that no matter what happens, we will be indispensable in the lives of at least one person. And if we no longer feel important enough, it’s time to find another person who would make us happy.


The favorite is dangerous making, which creates risk, uncertainty, and anxiety. In this relationship, there is no need to think about whether this person will please your friends, family, consider household issues and take care of anything other than the relationship itself.

In addition, this relationship needs to find time between all other commitments and worries and ensure that no one notices you. All these efforts only show how much you are willing to sacrifice for each other because of this secret relationship.

It is a mystery, a risk, a fit of jealousy and it causes a strong excitement in this relationship. Can it all have to do with love? Probably not.

Mari Lezhava photo / Unsplash photo / Couple (associative photo)


Change your regular sex. This is one of the reasons why in a long-term relationship you don’t want to make love at all and sex starts to be associated with boring activities that are done by duty.

In addition, we are deeply convinced that only spontaneous sex can save a relationship. After all, it was a strong passion at the beginning of the relationship. Why then aren’t they now?

Since we cannot remember all the details, we firmly believe that passion comes “by itself”, “spontaneously.” True, it is just a beautiful mirage in the desert. Any “spontaneous” sex takes hours, sometimes several days, to prepare. After all, when going on the first dates, we think about how to dress, maybe even go to the hairdresser, we thought about where it would be better to spend the evening together, where it will be more cozy, clean the house, buy candles.

There is no spontaneity in this to-do list, it is planning for a few days. And this planning in itself stimulates the fantasy of a passionate joint evening that creates spontaneous sex.

What can we learn from this experience? We can also plan dates in a long-term relationship, and it is useful to prepare for them.


If a partner thinks of another, he/she may also love the other, and that is no longer acceptable, right?

The fact that your partner’s sexual fantasies don’t always involve you alone can be annoying, but it might be worthwhile to look into those fantasies. No one would want to experience each other’s distrust, but the awareness that it can happen encourages passion in the relationship. By allowing conversations about sexual fantasies, we can safely meet the “third” participant who worries us. That way, there are no more ominous secrets in the relationship.


Maybe your partner likes girls with blonde hair, and he could get it if you put on a light wig for one night. Maybe you like men who wear torn jeans and a leather jacket, and your partner would agree to be this hero for one night. Or maybe your girlfriend likes sex during which she could have less control over the situation, and that’s why it’s worth trying an eye bandage or handcuffs. It is important that this game does not become an attempt to change each other, because we cannot force each other to be who he is not or does not want to be.


In order for a long-term relationship to show a new passion that has disappeared between everyday work, it is necessary to introduce news and surprises into it. Sometimes we forget that the person we are in a relationship with is not only stubborn, hard to accept, annoying, and has unpleasant habits, but he is also cheerful, he has a good sense of humor, he is able to build great relationships with other people and he/she is what you want.

To see again the qualities that once helped build a relationship, it’s worth meeting other people together and spending time watching how others look at your partner, how others interact with him or her. If you saw your loved one for the first time, would you start a conversation with him?

Building intimacy in a long-term relationship is a task that is no less important and perhaps more important than planning a vacation, everyday shopping, and a movie night. Therefore, there is no single simple recipe for correcting a relationship, it is a constant process of communication and cognition that requires self-reflection and love for each other.

The article is based on the book ” Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence ” by psychotherapist Esther Perell.

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