While occasional lack of sexual desire is normal for most men, I am increasingly seeing young men who have previously enjoyed great partner sex and are now choosing cuddling over coitus or even choosing to "fly" solo through self-pleasuring. So what's going on? What's causing once sexually interested and competent men to shrink and shirk? While healthy lifestyles must be a choice that men make for themselves, their partners can influence those choices in proactive ways for their mutual benefit.
Numbing the plumbing
Alcohol, food or drug use can sabotage more than your tennis game. Invite your partner into a physically fit lifestyle that supports great sex and be aware of the impacts of any medications he's on.
Be careful little eyes
Regular and extended consumption of porn actually kills rather than enhances the desire for real-time sex. It becomes easier to isolate and masturbate than to engage in the work of being in a real relationship with a real person.
Fear of failure
Performance anxiety results in few spontaneous erections or ultimate satisfaction for either of you. Good sex is about pleasure over performance. Talk is a four-letter word for good lovemaking. Apply liberally for lasting results!
Sex was arguably the original team sport. If you've got dissention in the ranks, whether through neglect or abuse, you can't expect satisfaction in the bedroom. Encourage your man to collaborate on making your private space a happier place to be.
Same old, same old…
Men in their 50s are reportedly having the best sex of any age group. So when men in their 30s report diminished desire, it's likely that the routines and not the vessel got old. Decide together about how to generate some oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone, by being adventurous, creative and proactive in your lovemaking. Synchronize day planners and make regular times for intimacy.
Fail to plan -- plan to be parents
Children have the right to a welcoming, well-established environment in which to flourish. Fear of pregnancy can dampen more than one's spirits! Be responsible about timing so everyone can relax.
Sometimes it works and sometimes…
Encourage your man to get a medical checkup if your lovemaking is being stalled by erectile dysfunction, premature or delayed ejaculation, low testosterone or another medical condition. Talk about it, keeping the conversation curious and not critical. You both have a vested interest in keeping his engine running smoothly.
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If your partner would rather spend time with his buddies or alone than with you, he may be worried or upset about something that needs to be resolved. Have a conversation around expectations of shared intimacy and shared space. Low self-esteem, depression and wounds from an earlier time can leave scars that keep him unavailable to the healing love you want to give. You didn't cause the pain and you can't fix it, but you can support an open, supportive forum for change.
I'm dancing as fast as I can
Many couples are sleep deprived. That, plus the multiple stressors of career building, family maintenance and paying the mortgage, can make meaningful sexual activity a distant memory. Sex is an integral part of a good relationship and a good relationship is an integral part of good sex.
Some like it hot
You and your partner may have very different ideas about what makes sex great that go way beyond him liking leather and you liking lace. Some of these are resolvable and others aren't. A candid conversation about preferences and practices will determine if the fit is there. This may be a deal breaker for either of you.
A buddy yes, a lover no
If your partner is coming to terms with questions around his sexual orientation, he may make you an offer that you need to refuse. Decide what you can live with and what you can't, just as he must.
Time for teamwork
Your man may be intimidated by the strength of your sexual desire or feel it is unmanly to ask for stimulation during intercourse. Experiment with the many ways to be intimate beyond sexual intimacy. By the time they reach their 40s, many men require direct stimulation and increased partner involvement to achieve and sustain an erection. Chill out and put pleasure and playfulness ahead of performance!
There is a positive reciprocal relationship between sexual pleasure and sexual desire (positive reinforcement principle). It feels good and works well, so let's do it some more.
Inhibited sexual desire often indicates an intimacy issue. Both men and women desire and require intimacy. Lack of respect, sarcasm, caustic put-downs and, of course, the involvement of a third party, such as a lover or an intrusive family member, are definite intimacy killers.
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Dr. Marion Goertz is a registered marriage and family therapist. Visit her website at www.mariongoertz.com.