Please Advise: Can Sexual Chemistry Just Disappear?

Nerve readers weigh in on one man's sexual quandary.

Wise readers, 

Each week, the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she cannot answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this man out. You can give him advice in the comments below, or, if you'd like to share what you wrote with your friends, on our Facebook page. 

 

Dear Nerve,

So, funny thing happened to me the other day. I'm in bed, with my boyfriend, and he starts to kiss my neck. This is like my favorite thing in the entire world, totally hot and just about guaranteed to make me come. Only this time, it was different. Not hot, and not kind of annoying like, "I'm not really in the mood." It felt bad, the way it would feel if a stranger licked your neck in a train station. I flinched and practically swatted him away. Totally unlike me. If it's relevant, I'm not a menopausal woman — I'm a twenty-eight-year-old man. 

My boyfriend and I have been together for some years, but casually dated for way longer than most people do. During that entire period, we had fun, easy sex — so much so that when people asked about my sex life, I didn't even know what to say, but it wasn't something I thought of as a thing. In other words, we had sex often enough that I never thought about how often we had it, and it was good enough that I never wondered if it could be better.

Then, a couple years ago, we moved in together and sex went downhill. Less often, less good — a little frustration here and there. But, like the awesome and communicative adults we are, we talked about it, worked on it, and it got better. Not quite like it was before, but back into the "not a problem" category. Until this. After the flinch, I chilled out, took some breaths, and we did have sex. But, as we were having sex, I ended up back there — disconnected, freaked out, a little cold — like he didn't feel good touching me anymore. 

It's like some part of me just turned off, and it's shitty. He can tell, but I don't really know how to say, "Dearest, sometimes when we fuck, I feel totally alienated and turned-off by you — for no reason, after all these years." 

The rest of our relationship remains on track, and my sex-drive is functioning elsewhere — I still wake up with erections and masturbate and all of that. What's wrong? 

— Too Weirded Out for Cleverness

Tell him what you think he should do in the comments below.

Commentarium (33 Comments)

Jun 30 11 - 1:12am
semifactual

I think you might be bored and you might be working too hard at having a relationship.

Every once and a while what worked just stops working and I have to try a new thing and sort of reset the clock. I stop talking it out, stop working on things, and just look at who I'm with. Then there is a shift and I stop thinking about our relationship for long enough to realize, "I want to fuck this man."

So be a little selfish and weird and don't work on shit. Ease up on the emotional stuff, think perverted thoughts, and then when it hits you, pounce.

Jul 05 11 - 12:54pm
KH

I like this advice. It sounds like you're pretty committed to this relationship; if so, you need to think long-term. What's going on in your own life? Are you bored in other areas too: friends, hobbies, work, etc? In general I think if you find your own life interesting, and your partner has his own thing going on too, you'll come back together full of information, energy and yes, attraction. But it's tough and it takes a perspective that looks towards the future.

But if you're not so sure you want to be his partner at age 80, and you don't have kids together...maybe you should be open to breaking up. If you're not deeply committed, know that you're not doing him any favors by stringing him along. There is someone else out there who will want him to kiss his neck.

Jun 30 11 - 9:32am
Joe

The only advice I can give is to be honest. If you can't talk about it, write a letter or an email or something. He needs to know and you need to find out if you're compatible, which you may no longer be. Nothing kills boners like domesticity.

Jun 30 11 - 10:36am
hop

I heartily disagree with Joe. Nothing kills boners faster than talking about how someone killed your boner. Second to that might be domesticity.

Jun 30 11 - 12:24pm
Rob

Congrats, you finally got tired of the cock! You know what you wont get tired of??? Pussy. Get at it.

Jun 30 11 - 12:48pm
Dude,

^^^What a dick.
Anyways, maybe you should try to "spice things up". Be more adventurous, initiate public sex with your boyfriend. You could just be bored with him, this could be your body telling you that something is up within your relationship. I don't actually believe that though. You could give yourself a break from sex for a while, try to get your thoughts together.

Jun 30 11 - 1:48pm
some bitchcunt

lolololololololololol thx Rob, totally didn't realize that it worked that way

Jun 30 11 - 5:14pm
Rael

Yep, no man ever gets tired of any pussy. It just doesn't happen.
You do know that Bill Clinton's still totally hot for Hillary, right?

Jun 30 11 - 2:17pm
MTJ

Maybe you're just guilty over the fact that you shouldn't be having sex until you're married.

Jun 30 11 - 3:20pm
Xine

MTJ and Joe,

This is a place for advice, not judgment.

Jun 30 11 - 7:13pm
Confused

Not to disrespect religion, but there are people against sex before marriage who read nerve? Do you know what this website is about?

Jul 01 11 - 12:19am
Jay

MTJ- But let me guess, you're not ok with 2 men getting married.

Jul 01 11 - 6:03am
Louise

I thought MTJ was just kidding guys... It's a tongue-in-cheek comment about the very joyful fact they can now be married. At least, that's the way I read it so it doesn't have to be read in a bad way - you don't have to jump down every person's throat.

Jul 01 11 - 6:06am
ae

i am against sex before marriage. for me, anyway. i don't care what other people do. i had sex, and i loved it, but i can't do it anymore til i feel the commitment. it's just too emotional and personal for me to have it without being sure of his commitment

Jul 01 11 - 11:49am
wat

ae - Wow, trust issues much?

Jul 02 11 - 1:46am
ae

yep! but i have pretty darn good reasons. if he doesn't want to stay with me til i work through them, that's his problem.

Jul 03 11 - 12:23pm
AshBash

actually, i kind of agree with ae. i'm not so much against sex before marriage but against sex without some type of commitment or relationship. i see sex as being something way too emotional and special to just be something that you can give up that easily. but hey, i'm sure it's probably fine for other people, i just can't have random sex for funsies anymore lol

Jul 03 11 - 9:39pm
ae

yes so true! I leave other people to their fun, but I want it to be special for me, and i just can't do it otherwise. I wonder why I actually can't without getting upset now--AshBash, what changed for you?

Jun 30 11 - 4:18pm
Allison

Perhaps there is some underlying, unresolved issue affecting your ability to be intimate and receive intimacy from your partner? Don't go playing the blame game, but asking yourself some questions like 'Is there anything else that I have lost/gained interest in recently' or 'Have any of my views or attitudes on major issues changed?', etc. I find that I lose interest in my partner when I'm really losing interest in myself. Usually I got lazy at making me happy and will try to keep others happy, then I have to refocus on my likes/interests and from there I have a renewed interest in my man (and myself!)

Jun 30 11 - 4:46pm
kat

I think the best way to deal with this sudden change would be to go to a therapist. The therapist might be able to look deeper than we as nerve readers can, into the reasons why this change might've taken place.

That being said, a lot of things can suddenly change your sexual chemistry. While this doesn't apply to you, for instance, after I started taking birth control the things that turned me on changed. Also, if you are fighting with your boyfriend or having other relationship problems, your sexual chemistry can change. To remedy this, I'd say, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." If possible, tell your boyfriend that your going back for a week or two to visit family, and that you're going to miss him terribly but your parents don't approve of your boyfriend staying at your house with you.

While communication is key to a relationship, I'd wait until you've delved into this issue a little more to tell your boyfriend, as this could hurt his feelings greatly.

Jun 30 11 - 7:45pm
Lisa

Wow, I thought I was the only person this happened to! This happens to me regularly when I'm in a long term relationship. It will come and go -- sometimes it happens for one night, sometimes for a week, sometimes longer, but it always goes away too. I think it's just a side effect of being with someone for a long time. Mystery and excitement are very sexy. Even if it's a great relationship, you're still going to exhaust each other's repertoires after a while. You're just not going to be as aroused as you were in the beginning of the relationship, and when you're not really aroused, the other person's efforts can be irritating. Some things that I find helpful are to get myself aroused (reading sexy stories, watching porn, masturbating, etc.) and then call my partner in for sex without foreplay or to use a lot of fantasy during sex. I've never told my partners about this, and I wouldn't advise you to at this point -- it would result in a lot of hurt feelings and probably zero improvement.

I assume you've already thought about whether you have any other symptoms that could indicate a medical condition (e.g. depression, low testosterone levels, etc.) or whether you've experienced major changes recently (new job/money troubles/moving/major work stress/new medications/herbal supplements/exercise regimens). Assuming it's none of the above, my opinion is that it is probably something you'll deal with after a long enough time in any relationship. That would make your choices learning to live with this happening sometimes in long-term relationships and coming up with strategies to help yourself through these times or foregoing long-term monogamy. I don't mean to sound like I'm dissing that last option -- it's a legitimate option to decide that you prefer the excitement of new partners regularly to the stability of monogamy.

Jun 30 11 - 8:10pm
Parallel Universe

BTW I'm totally supportive of Lisa's comments. Brilliant, in fact, if you ask me.

Jul 01 11 - 3:20pm
cfg

My thoughts exactly, Lisa. Monogamy is great in a lot of respects, but one of the downsides is that things get boring sometimes. And boredom breeds resentment, which leads to the flinching, "ew" response.

So you find a way to shake things up. Maybe one of you goes on a long vacation with friends or family, sans the other one. Often, when things get a little dry in my relationship, just being without mypartner and missing him stirs up the excitement again.

Jul 01 11 - 8:54pm
EKK

I think Lisa is spot-on. It's totally normal, and very probably temporary. I've been with my husband for 14 years. On our honeymoon, after three years together, I was unfortunately in one of those slumps. You've heard "fake it until you make it"? That's what I would suggest. Desires ebbs and wanes. If you're still in love with your boyfriend, try some strategies to reawaken your chemistry: imagine seeing him through a new person's eyes; try something exciting & fun together (that's bonding & can really inject a lot of verve that getting groceries together won't do); start going on "dates" again; make a list of his wonderful qualities. I would NOT suggest talking to him about it. Being told "you gross me out" will do irreparable damage to your relationship.

Jul 02 11 - 4:04pm
dude

I dunno, I think "fake it until you make it" is tricky. If you're just not that into it, sure, go fo rit, and you might get more into it as things get going. But if you're actually repulsed by your partner? I think that would build up a lot of resentment, and sex would become something to suffer through. Which is about as unhealthy as it gets.

Jul 27 11 - 10:25pm
Zooey

Lisa's post is spot on. I have the same response if I've been in an LTR for a while. Monogamy can be boring, but there isn't much advice out there for women who have problems with it from time to time--it's assumed that men desire sexual variety, but so do a lot of women, and that issue isn't often addressed. I agree with others who suggested taking a break from sex for a while (though you don't need to go on a trip to do this). Wait a couple of weeks, and you'll appreciate it all the more when you and your partner resume intimacy again.

Jun 30 11 - 8:08pm
Parallel Universe

Bro, I feel for you. I'm hetero, but I think the same principle applies. I've had the most awesome girlfriends, and then... it disappears. I haven't figured it out yet, and I'm 50. Maybe I'm just, genetically speaking, a serial monogamist. Good luck, and if you nail it, lemme know.

Jun 30 11 - 9:51pm
Michael V

It happened to me once, you know? I looked at my ex in the eye and everything seemed different, a dead spark. We took a two month break and it worked perfectly, until the relationship simply withered. For your own sake, get away from him, go vacation on your own! If you end up, after consideration, still thinking of others (doubt you masturbate thinking of him), make the move. Although sad, you must know your relationship, like most, might eventually die.
Now if you wanna fight, bring it on! Invite 3rds, go to Vegas with him, try it all! If all else fails and the chemistry really did die, at least you tried.

Jun 30 11 - 9:56pm
Perplexing Problem

Good healthy communication is key. If you love him, tell him that regularly. If you don't, you owe it to him and yourself to let him know. If you're not sure where you are in your relationship, then seek counseling to sort out your feelings.

If you love him but your love life is in a rut, change your venue for romance -- GET AWAY FROM YOUR BEDROOM! The kitchen or living room... a B&B somewhere out of town.

Jul 02 11 - 2:02pm
DanielG

Keeping sex in the bed is a killer. Have sex anywhere else than bed.

Jul 01 11 - 1:34pm
P

To quote the old saying, "No matter how hot she is, someone, somewhere, is sick of fucking her." It's a crude statement that represents a real issue. Sex and attraction are all in the head, so if you can, figure out what's changed and work on that.

Jul 01 11 - 8:00pm
eva

No, chemistry doesn't go away. If it was ever there, it's still there, unless there has been some chemical change in your boy (I'm guessing he didn't start menopause). If you don't believe me, go smell someone else's morning breath, or their hair after it hasn't been washed a couple days. Lick some other sweat off somebody's neck. If you don't go, "Damn! Mine has the right smell/taste", probably you never really got off on his chemicals in the first place.

Jul 05 11 - 10:49am
Dre

Some people are able to separate casual sex from emotional sex and still enjoy both. However, kudos to you for knowing what you want in life!! Too many people are hung up on caring about what others think when it comes to their sex lives. Everyone is different, and different rules apply. What goes on between you and your consenting adult partner is between you and your partner, no one else! On another note, I'm sure this person is just bored with sex they are having, and as one writer says, needs to stop over analyzing and just enjoy life with their partner, and let the sex come naturally. As for the idiot who suggested that he would never get bored with p*ssy?? I'm sorry, I've seen plenty men get bored with the p*ssy they have.. don't even front..