How do you break the sex stand-off?

How do you break the sex stand-off?

How do you break the sex stand-off?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re in a long term relationship. You both know that sex isn’t everything, but that it is important. You both know you enjoy sex, especially with each other. But you’re also both busy – you’ve each been working hard, achieving other important things you enjoy (career, friends, family, hobby, time by yourself...).

Then realise you haven’t had sex in a while. You realise also they’ve probably had the same idea. In fact, if you’re honest, you realise there has been a gap on the go for a while now, and you’ve both been busy not realising it together. The lack of sex is a great, big, pink elephant lying between you, glaring at the ceiling. Like a yawn, this lack of sex may have begun innocently and involuntarily, though it has since stretched into the realm of deliberate disinterest.

And it’s peculiar, because no-one seems to want to end this bizarre situation of mutually assured frustration.

What’s to be done?

Well, it’s true what they say. In this scenario, there are no winners, only losers. Often, and strangely, it seems easier to carry on pretending nothing is amiss, thus missing out on having sex, than actually admitting some sex would be nice, please. This is because in this bizarre power struggle, we know firing first can backfire. That your partner, embarrassed, might deny there’s a problem, or worse, blame you for it.

Such negative responses are generally attributed to women, but it can and does work both ways. As we have already established, the idea men always want sex is crude and offensive. So it is likely accusations such as “it’s not that we don’t have enough sex, it’s that you want too much sex” may come from her as easily as him (naturally, if you’re a same-sex lover...).

But firing first and misfiring, or not firing at all, also makes it likely you’ll miss out on more than sex. Possibly worse, for people in serious relationships, is not just failure to engage physically, but failing to engage at all. The busyness, the distractions that may have quite plainly and reasonably impaired romantic intimacy at a time can soon develop into handy excuses for not dealing with the responsibilities of being with someone beyond the honeymoon phase.

Such responsibilities of course include sex – and by that I mean more than mere intercourse – but they extend to things like kindness, compassion, patience, affection, compromise, warmth and support. The kind of things we all enjoy receiving, but may not always give in abundance. And a sex stand-off can be a sign that some or all of these are not present within the relationship.

So when it comes to bridging the gap, and getting back to the good habit of getting it on, surely the first place to look is not in bed but within yourself? By figuring out what it is that you’re missing, rather than looking at what your partner isn’t giving you, it’s likely an answer will present itself.

Though if it doesn’t, that’s ok – the point of being in a relationship with someone is that you don’t have to get everywhere by yourself. By inviting your partner into a very personal conversation you’re having with yourself, you might not only get to the bottom of things, but inspire them to share their feelings too, so avoiding the whole ‘you do this to me’ blame-game disaster.

And isn’t that what love and sex is all about - sharing truth and being honest? 

How have you overcome a sex-standoff, and what lessons about long term love have you learned with age and experience?

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kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au