“There’s no easy way to say this, but I am no longer/infrequently interested sexually in my wife. This realization has weighed heavily on me, and I have nobody to share this with.
We have been together for ten years. This feeling of little to no desire for her began approximately two years ago. We have been in an open relationship since the first year of dating. We have a wonderful relationship and partnership, and we love each other deeply. Currently, she has a boyfriend (two years) she loves, and I have a girlfriend (one year) I love. The four of us get along well, and hang out all of together a few times a month.
My wife and I have fallen into routine/maintenance sex. 80% of the time it doesn’t involve intercourse which is fine because neither us feel in the mood for that, with each other, most of the time. I go down on her and she goes down on me. We have sex this way about once a week to every ten days or so; sometimes I would rather just masturbate. We used to have frequent (2-3 times a week) and more exciting sex up until year six or seven.
Today, I have more exciting and frequent sex with my girlfriend.
My loss of sexual interest in my wife bothers me greatly because I feel like this shouldn’t be happening. I finally mentioned it to her recently and she admitted she felt the same way as I do. We talked about the loss of our sexual energy for one another. Though no solutions were found, it felt good we talked about it. It’s painful this is happening. She said that this is ‘just how life is for long-term relationships; desire waxes and wanes’ and that ‘this is normal and happens to everyone’. Neither of us is angry at one another, just sad this is happening. I do not want to leave my wife and I am pretty sure she doesn’t want to leave me, but I forgot to ask. We rarely fight or argue, and the times we do is never in a way that tears the other person down. I feel emotionally very secure with my wife.”
TL;DR – Not very interested sexually in wife after ten years; sex with girlfriend is more exciting and enjoyable.
Dear Poly Throwaway 0000001,
You are right. Desire does wax and wane. And your and your wife’s respective sadness also makes sense; both of you are grieving the gradual loss of the incredibly intense sex life you used to have several years ago. In a way, both of you are experiencing a loss of that intense connection and sadness could be a reflection of that pain. So recognize and embrace it. Allow yourself to feel sad.
It might also be beneficial for you and your wife to do a complete refresh on your marriage and gather some new data points.
Ten years is a long history to have with another human being. And much of that history is enmeshed together. But try your best to distance yourself from long history you’ve built together and reframe your mind from the mindset you have today. If you had to completely restart your relationship with your wife from the first date today, would you continue to date her? How would you want to explore a sexual connection with her? What kind of enmeshment would you be comfortable fleshing out with your wife if you could start over? Do you actually want to have a sex life with your wife?
Sexuality does ebb and flow, but the material of that ebb & flow is the same: lust. And lust is a lot like lively grass on a hiking trail; it’ll only exist in places in which that are left untrodden. Traditional advice in fading sexual connections is to repave some new trails. To reinvent your connection. To try different kinks. To fuck in unfamiliar environments. To mindfully and intentionally (re)introduce risk back into your sex lives. Continue to get to re-learn about each other if you want to reconnect and stay sexually connected with your wife.
I also want to contextualize this advice with polyamory in mind as well.
Think about what makes the sex life you have with your girlfriend much more enticing and excitable. Don’t just compare what your girlfriend does that your wife doesn’t do, or vice versa. Instead, dig deeper and think about the concepts that drive your sexual connection with your girlfriend. Can you tap into that same kind of energy and exuberance in the same way you aim to reconnect with your wife? How are you approaching your sexual connection with your girlfriend differently than you are approaching your sexual connection with your wife? How is she approaching her sexual connection with her boyfriend of two years than she is approaching her sexual connection with you?
If both you and your wife deem it necessary, taking sex completely off the table could also be a viable option. Especially if it continues to feel like maintenance work. First determine if an ongoing sexual connection is necessary for your relationship with your wife, and her relationship with you. Step away from what society tells you that sex has to happen between two loving people in a relationship. None of that traditional mono-normative advice works here for you since you have other sexual partners with whom you are both having fulfilling sex lives. Instead, think about what is and isn’t working for you. If it is not necessary for you to have a sex life with each other, then your lack of sexual desire is not necessarily a problem. The current end of your sexual connection does not have to mean the End. Both of you could revisit your sexual connection when you both feel better prepared and ready after some grass had regrown back in your hiking trail.
I’m really sorry that you and your wife are going through this. And I sincerely hope that you two can work this disconnect out together.
Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.
I want to hear your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked my advice for this post, please subscribe below to get alerted when my next advice column is published!