It’s been weeks since you and your lady got it on. Or maybe, even months. Which is tough to swallow, because things started off so well between the two of you. But somehow, you went from not being able to keep your hands off each other to barely kissing each other goodnight.
So, what gives?
As it turns out, there are a ton of different reasons why women stop wanting to have sex, and they run the gamut in terms of how serious they are, and what each of them mean for the future of your relationship. To figure out the scenarios that are the most common, we asked a few women to dish on the reasons they’ve stopped having sex with their partners in the past and then asked a few sex and relationship experts for their take on what causes these issues, and how to go about fixing them — if possible.
Why Women Stop Having Sex
Here are a few reasons why women stop having sex, and what you can do about it.
1. She’s Stressed Out
“My college boyfriend and I hit a major dry spell when I was in my last semester of school,” says Kayla, 24. “I was taking a full course load, interning 20 hours a week and spending my weekends working doubles as a hostess at a super busy restaurant near college. Not only were my boyfriend and I barely seeing each other once a week, but when we’d finally have the chance to hang out, I’d either fall asleep to whatever we were watching, or I’d be so stressed out about the stuff I had to get done when I got home that the last thing on my mind was getting laid.”
When it comes to the factors that kill your libido, sex and relationship expert April Masini says that stress is the No. 1 culprit. “Stress is one of the biggest reasons people stop having sex,” she says. “It’s really hard to relax when your mind is spinning out about finances, fights with family members, or work deadlines that aren’t being met.” Hectic schedules are a hard thing to combat, but Masini says that if you’re invested in saving this relationship, you need to talk with your partner about reevaluating what’s important here. “When you make sex a priority and decide to cut stress in your life that inhibits it, you’re going to find the fix to this problem,” she says.
2. She Feels Taken For Granted
“After being with my boyfriend for about a year, we started to fall into this routine,” says Misty, 29. “When we first met our chemistry was so hot and on fire, and we’d want each other all the time. But cut to a year of dating and all of a sudden it was like we were an old married couple, and not in a good way. He stopped pursuing me the way he had, and he’d just expect me to jump on his dick whenever he got hard and was in the mood. But he’d never do anything to get me hot and bothered like he used to. So I started to brush off his requests, and before I knew it, a month had passed and we hadn’t done it. Then I found out he cheated on me with a friend, and we called it quits.”
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When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to get into a groove of just having sex whenever you initiate it with your partner — without having to do all of the legwork. But dating relationship expert Benjamin Ritter says that if you want to keep the spark alive in your sex life, you’ve got to keep that chase alive, too — and not take your woman’s willingness to give it up whenever you want it for granted. “Men need to remember that if they want to get into their partner’s pants, they need to act like how they got them off in the first place,” he says. “How did you treat and communicate to your partner before? Date your relationship. It’s the constant foreplay you need to keep the sexual excitement alive.”
3. You’re Not Communicating With Each Other
“My ex was a lawyer had a really demanding work schedule, and it got to the point where I felt so disconnected from him,” says Laura, 26. “He was always a private person and wouldn’t talk much about what was going on, but once things picked up at his job we hardly ever had any real conversations anymore. When we would have sex, I felt like I was doing it with a stranger. Which made me just not want to even do it anymore.”
If you’re not having sex with your lady anymore, it’s probably safe to say that you’re not on the same page. “Like everything in a relationship — sex is no different — communication is key,” says Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of Cupid’s Pulse. “There may be things in your relationship that need to be worked through that are causing her to not want to be intimate. Be open about your frustration and try to work through the issues that are bothering her.” To get her to open up for business, you’ll need to get her to tell you what’s going on with her. How do you go about doing that? “Start talking to your partner about what is going on,” says sex therapist Sarah Watson. “Ask how is she feeling and what is stressful. Also asking, what would make you feel close to me and how can we make that happen?” Connecting on an emotional level will lead to more bedroom intimacy.
4. You’re Not Having The Type Of Sex She Really Wants
“With the last guy that I dated seriously, he and I waited a while before we had sex,” says Julie, 25. “The first few months that we were finally doing it were fine, because we had all that built-up sexual tension and things were still hot. But once that faded, it just wasn’t doing it for me. He was a few years younger than me and would have sex with me like we were in a porno, going at me like a jackhammer. I’d try and get him to slow down and other stuff to remedy the problem, but ultimately none of it worked. I would go home and get myself off after we had just done it, because I wasn’t satisfied. Eventually I started to make up excuses for not having sex. And then we ended it.”
No guy wants to hear that he’s bad in bed. But for the sake of saving your relationship, dating coach Robert Kandell says it’s worth taking a hard look at your sex life, and asking your partner some tough questions. “Sex education for men is primarily porn, their fantasy life fueled by the porn they watch, and other guys who are watching the same porn,” he says. “In other words, men are vastly undereducated on how to please a woman. To make matters worse, most women will not take the chance of educating a man on how they truly wish to be pleased. This has led to a society of uninformed men and angry women. Because women are not having the sex they truly want, they will say no when their partners’ offers. Men then get more frustrated and demanding which leads to more sex. Repeat cycle.” So, what can you do to stop the cycle? “Have an open dialogue around your sex life with your partner,” he says. “Be willing to put aside your fragile male ego and ask the hard questions. Take feedback. Get honest and open.”
5. She’s Bored
“It wasn’t because the sex was bad,” says Allyson, 30. “It’s that we did it the same way every time and it became so predictable. Any time I’d try to put us into a new position, we’d end up back in our same old Missionary shortly after. One time I tried to fool around with him in the back of a cab and he basically chastised me like a child. The final straw was when we hadn’t had sex for weeks, and we were staying in my parents’ house the night before my sister’s wedding. The change of scene and being back in the bedroom I had when I was a teenager finally had me horny for him. He wouldn’t do it. He told me he was too nervous we’d wake someone up and that he wouldn’t be able to get it up. I just couldn’t anymore.”
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Most things get boring if you do them enough, over and over again. Yes, even sex. “If a woman does not have some variety in her sex life, she will often get bored,” says Kandell. “If the man has the same routine (e.g. kiss, feel breasts, go down on her, have her go down on him, intercourse), she will often not feel gratified and stop having sex with him.” So if you think your dry spell might be due to lack of variety, it’s time to try something new. “This doesn’t need to be something radical like visiting a BDSM club or checking out a swinger’s site,” Kandell says. “Kiss for an hour, go down on her for an extended period of time, or tie her up and play with her body. Ask and try out what feels good to both of you.”
Understanding Why Women Have Sex
Obviously, because it feels good. But as clinical psychologist Dr. Dathan Paterno explains, doing the deed has a more meaningful component to it for women. “Women crave and need emotional intimacy,” he says. “Sex fulfills this need and allows them to express the intimacy that exists, even more than they use sex to build it. Of course, men need emotional intimacy too. But for many men, the warm fuzzies are a pleasant byproduct of sex, rather than one of the primary drivers. The stereotype that men don’t need to feel emotionally connected to desire sex, whereas women do, is valid.”
While it’s usually the visuals fueling a guy’s sex drive, Dr. Paterno says that for women, the act of someone else wanting and pursuing them activates that “on switch.” “Women need to be desired,” he says. “It feeds their healthy ego needs of being prized, pursued, valued and attended to.”
1. Signs She’s Satisfied
So, how do you know if you’re doing a great job in bed? One indicator is that she leads the charge in getting things going. “Generally, women who are sexually satisfied tend to initiate sex more often,” says Dr. Paterno. “It is less of a risk for them, since they can rightfully predict that sex will be pleasurable, mutually rewarding, and will feed the emotional intimacy between her and her partner.” If she’s coming back for more, you’re probably doing it right.
Another factor to pay attention to post-coitus is whether or not there’s an obvious change in how she’s feeling. “Sex shifts a woman’s mood through chemical changes from intercourse and orgasm,” Dr. Cristina Romero-Bosch explains. “Particularly, oxytocin will elevate post orgasm, which increases a sense of relaxation and satisfaction in women.”
As far as the physical signs that you’re doing a good job, psychotherapist Dr. Tina B. Tessina says that, believe it or not, a woman’s nipples say it all. “Her nipples will be erect, usually, when she’s turned on,” says Dr. Tessina. “But if you pay too much attention to that, it will turn her off.” Which brings up another indicator: level of comfort. According to Dr. Tessina, being able to relax during sex is a big sign of sexual satisfaction for a woman. So it’s in your best interest to put in some extra effort in to make sure she’s comfortable and not stressed.
Still not sure? Dr. Romero-Bosch says you should make things easy on yourself and just ask. “Often men are looking for some deep dark secret signal that tells them that a woman is satisfied sexually,” she says. “And maybe you can tell and maybe you can’t. But if there is open communication and dialogue about all things in your relationship, then simply asking her about how she is feeling in that department, then she should tell you so.”
2. Understanding the Sexual Desire Spectrum
For most women, the drivers behind sex and satisfaction are pretty straightforward. But it’s also important to note that some women who identify as asexual or demisexual, or fall lower on the sexual desire spectrum are not textbook cases.
“One important thing to understand is the span of the desire spectrum,” says Dr. Steve McGough. “Some women (and men) don’t have sexual feelings at all. This can change over time, or remain that way their entire life. This can be both biological (hormones and physiology), or from some type of early severe psychological trauma.” However, when it comes to a person who is asexual, meaning that they don’t experience feelings of sexual desire, Dr. McGough says this may not be due to a past trauma and shouldn’t be viewed as something to be fixed.
“Another variation of the human experience is being demisexual,” Dr. McGough explains. “In this situation they only feel sexual attraction for people they are truly romantically attracted to. This can be of actual (biological) origin or from strong religious or cultural influences.”
3. Other Factors That Impact Female Sex Drive
Because one of the big drivers behind why women want to have sex is the need for emotional intimacy, it’s not surprising that the deeper they get into relationship stages, the more they want to have sex. “As women progress in the relationship, both trust and deeper intimacy develop,” Dr. McGough says. “This deeper connection tends to increase women’s desire for sexual intercourse, or at least have less inhibition towards it.”
As far as things you can do to help your cause, setting the mood is something that can actually factor into a woman’s desire for sex. “Being in the right mood (and having the right mood set) helps align the mental (attractive view, dinner, etc.), physical (being in a location where this is possible) and physiological (less stress feeling safe),” Dr. McGough says, “factors that are important for women’s desire for intercourse.”
It might seem obvious, but one thing that’s going to set you back in terms of sexual desire in a relationship is cheating. “If a woman discovers her partner is cheating on her, odds are high that this will cause her to lose interest in having intercourse with him,” says Dr. McGough. “This can come from the feeling of betrayal, as well as concern about possibly contracting sexually transmitted diseases. It also can cause some women to seek out other men in an act of revenge against her partner’s infidelity, or to help her feel that she is still sexually desirable.”