Dear Coquette: How to End Lesbian Bed Death

“My partner isn't interested in sex and my libido is raging.”

By The Coquette

Welcome to Dear Coquette, a place to have your burning and how-do-I-make-this-stop-burning sex advice questions answered. You might recognize The Coquette and her bare-knuckle honesty from her columns on Playboy.com, The Daily, or her own popular site, Dear Coquette. Send your questions to coquette@nerve.com.

I'm stuck. My partner isn't interested in sex and my libido is raging. I initiate any activity we have and she's not interested in being on the receiving end of any pleasure – classic lesbian bed death. We're five years in and totally entrenched in what I thought was going to be a lifetime partnership: common friends, total family involvement on both sides, financial ties, etc etc. We've done counseling and she's been checked for hormone levels. Due diligence has been met. 

She's (so far) unwilling to open up the relationship so I feel as though I have three shitty choices. 

1. Suck it up and deal with it and plan on replacing my vibrator every 3 months from overuse. 
2. Blow up my entire (and in most other aspects wonderful) life and end the relationship. 
3. Be unfaithful, which is totally against every fiber in my being. But my bitter and angry self is coming up with more and more justifications for this all the time. I'm scared I'm going to do something impulsive and stupid. 

She doesn't ever reach for me, in any way. It's heartbreaking and demoralizing. 

Give it to me straight, I respect your perspective so very much. 

You only feel as though you're stuck with these three shitty choices because you haven't checked the fine print on the terms of your relationship. There is another choice. It's difficult, and it still might blow up your entire life in the process, but it's also reasonable and equitable under these circumstances. 

You've both agreed to be in a monogamous, long-term romantic relationship. That's fine. Congratulations on making it five years. The problem, of course, is that you've confused monogamy with fidelity, and you've failed to recognize that your partner having zero sexual interest in you whatsoever is its own kind of unfaithfulness. I'm sorry, but just because she's your romantic partner, that doesn't mean she gets to hold your sex life hostage in a prison of unrequited monogamy. She's the one betraying you here, and you don't have to stand for it.

If your partner isn't interested in sex, then the decision to open the relationship isn't up to her. You're the one who gets to decide whether to open things up. That's the little known codicil that can dramatically alter the terms of your relationship. 

All you have to do is tell her. Be brutally honest. Just say, "I am opening up our relationship, and I am going to start having sex with other people. It's just sex. I'm not looking for love or intimacy. I have that with you, and I don't want love or intimacy from anyone but you. Quite frankly, I'd rather be having sex with you than with anyone else, so as soon as you feel capable of resuming a regular sex life with me, we can be monogamous again. Until then, please know that I love you very much, but this is something that has to happen."

Yep. It's really that simple. The hard part comes later when you find out how strong your relationship really is. Maybe it's an arrangement that can work. Maybe it brings you two closer as a couple, or then again, maybe it's what finally blows shit up.

If your partner can't handle you having sex with other people to fulfill your very reasonable sexual needs, then she's the one who will have to end the relationship, not you. That may be cold comfort, but it's an important distinction.

Whatever happens, you need to cozy up to the fact that something has to change, and it can't just be the batteries in your vibrator.

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