Your Call: Why Won’t My Boyfriend Sleep with Me?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call by leaving your advice in the comments section below. 

Dear Em & Lo,

I am writing for a few reasons, and hoping to get some straight advice. First, I have been with my boyfriend for about 2 years. I’m 23 and he’s 29. It was kind of a crazy situation, but he swept me off my feet and we lived together pretty immediately. I was head over heels with him when we met and those first few months of sex were amazing.

Now, we have settled into that old married couple state, where there is little excitement and lots of routine (you know, where you do nothing fun anymore and have tv shows you watch on certain days of the week).

Here is the problem. Where we used to have amazing, spontaneous sex several times a week, now it has dwindled to once a month, if that, and currently a record of six weeks with ZERO sex. Not even a hint or suggestion of it on his end. He says I bring it up too much, and while I do try to initiate it a few times a week, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the man I love to want to make love to me! But he continues to reject me with excuses or just a flat out “no.”

I don’t understand what could make a guy suddenly have no interest in sex! I have researched it and talked it out and fought with him about it so many times, I am at a loss. I have tried it all; even sex games and naughty lingerie have no effect!

We both work and are stressed out at times, but we usually have plenty of time together in the evenings and weekends, when it would be a perfect time to get it on! I love sex, and I love sex with my boyfriend, but this is causing such a strain on us, I don’t know how much longer I can take it. I am tempted to cheat on him with a former lover just to be able to get off without using one of my growing collection of sex toys!

Help me out! What should I do??

— Six Week Drought


  1. All this discussion-and-therapy talk is making my testicles retract. You can’t discuss someone into sexual arousal – trust me, it’s impossible. Sexual arousal isn’t a rational thing that can be hashed out with a therapist as mediator. It’s a primal urge, and if it’s not there, it’s not there.

    You’re a young woman – too young to be dealing with this. He’s a grown man, and this is dereliction of duty. Two partners in a monogamous relationship have a responsibility to keep each other satisfied – that’s part of the monogamy contract, as far as I’m concerned.

    Put on something sexy and be as seductive as you can be. If he rejects you, say, “that’s it, I’m done. A woman needs some lovin’.” And dump him.

  2. There is no way to know what is going on without a lot of discussion. If you don’t share enough intimacy to discuss these things openly and honestly; then the relationship is dying on the vine – a therapist might help, though, and is worth trying if you are both invested in the relationship enough (and personally brave enough) to deal with whatever blocks exist.

    I would suggest exploring these issues:
    1) Is he aware of how long it has been without sex? (Chances are, he isn’t)
    2) Is he aware of how you feel about this? How does he feel about it? (You are hurt – is he hurt? Does it bother him that you are hurt?)
    3) What is he doing for sexual relief? Is there some way to share this with you? (If he’s watching porn, can you watch it together?)
    4) What general stressors are aggravating things in his life? (Unemployment? Best fried suddenly came out as gay? Career dissatisfaction?)
    5) What is he willing to do for your sexual relief?

    I’d refer to Dale Carnegie’s rule – seek first to understand; then to be understood. Or, as a slightly different truism: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

  3. I have had this with my ex husband and current boyfriend. It is so frustrating and it is ironic that the story is always that the guys don’t get enough sex. I have had a couple of other women say they don’t get enough sex either. Men are alot of talk and not enough action.

  4. Also, I speak from agonizing firsthand experience. Guy tuned out to be pathologically narcissistic and emotionally abusive. Everything in this letter describes what I experienced, hence my suggestion.

  5. This might sound weird, but hear me out.

    Narcissistic (pathological, not just vain) men and abusers have a pattern of sweeping women off their feet and rushing the initial stages of the relationship. Check. Check. They also tend to be selfish and do not respond well when a partner brings up concerns – perfectly legitimate concerns get turned around and thrown in the partner’s face, as if she is the one with the problem. Hmmm. Check. They also put their partner on a pedestal in the beginning, and as real life barges in, they start to devalue and disrespect the partner. They are also known to withhold sex as a manipulation tactic.

    I know it sounds extreme, and I hope it’s one of the other theories folks have set forth, but I wanted to put this out there. Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?” covers this possibility in more detail.

    Good luck!

  6. Endocrine is a cue. Maybe he should check for hypothyroidism. I’ve got it, and when my med’s dosage isn’t right, my libido is like zero. And it’s not that rare, about 10% of people have it.
    Other symptoms are being cold all the time, constant fatigue and feeling depressed/angry all the time.

    Other suggestion: If you’re up to it you could suggest a regular strictly platonic cuddle. It’s really important, that you both are clear that nothing sexual will follow, so he won’t feel pressured. But some cuddling for the emotional connection and your sextoys for the thrill might get you a long way.

  7. Most of these suggestions are helpful. Additionally, he may want to go for a medical checkup. This happened to me and my boyfriend; it turned out he had an endocrine system-related tumor. Therapy is also helpful. Best of luck to you.

  8. I would HIGHLY recommend seeing a therapist, together and perhaps separately as well. I am in the middle of a similar situation, as my boyfriend’s libido dwindled after the first few months of us being together, in our case due to drug side effects. We spent nearly 3 years being frustrated with each other before finally seeking the help of a therapist. Turns out he honestly didn’t realize how devastating constant rejection can be to my self-esteem, and I didn’t realize how my attempts at initiating could make him feel pressured. Even after 6 months of therapy we’re still trying to find the common ground for a compromise that we can both live with, but frustrations and habits that have built up over years will take some serious time and effort to get rid of. If the relationship is something that you’re invested in and both want to make work, don’t hesitate to get some professional help.

  9. This is just an interpretation, but it seems like the “sex question” has become the elephant in the room… in the beginning, sex was spontaneous, it wasn’t a big issue, you just had sex because you felt like it. But then, for whatever reason, his libido declined somewhat – stress, health issues, a disagreement, too much routine, or something else. That might have set off a downward spiral: he doesn’t want sex, you try to seduce him, he feels pressured, you try harder, he becomes defensive and you both build up feelings of insecurity, blame, frustration, guilt, anger… and that only complicates the whole sex situation until everything is just about sex (or not having sex, more likely)

    So my suggestion would be to try and shift the focus away from sex and towards other things. How much time do you spend doing stuff together? (actually communicating, not just watching a movie)Do you talk about your feelings? (unless they’re sex-related) Do you talk about the future? Do you trust each other? Do you do little things to make each other happy? I suppose this is really difficult, but if you manage to make sex less of an issue (for a while) and really focus on your emotional connection, you can maybe figure out if there is an underlying issue in your relationship and finally open up about what being rejected feels like to you. If you manage to take some time off sex and get all that out in the open (maybe with professional help?), you can start with a clean slate and get rid of that pressure on your sex life. It’ll probably be a long road, but I wish all the best for you!

  10. Honestly, you may be putting a little too much pressure on him. Don’t get me wrong. You completely deserve to have your needs met but he has his rights too. I have been in situations like this in which I have lost interest in having sex with my partner. We fight about it. He pressures me. It stresses me out. And sex has turned into a problem, not something fun. It gets to the point where I’m almost scared that he will try to have sex with me because I’m sick of fighting. This is a shitty feeling and you may want to consider if this scenario is being created between you two.

    So, what can you do? Well, everyone above gave some good ideas about trying to communicate in a no pressure type of situation. But, at a certain point, you may have to accept that the sex ain’t working. Sexual compatibility is important and hard to fix if it isn’t there. It may be time for you to move on and find someone who is on your wave length.

  11. My only suggestion would be to try drinking. I know it’s juvenille and probably a bad stereotype. I have actually had some success with this, so I’ve done it more than once. If a guy can’t tell me what the problem is and it goes on for more than a week then it’s a six pack and a low cut shirt, a walk by a lake or under the stars drinking beer! After a buzz is achieved, and you are in the wide open air so he’s not fenced in and over protective or distracted by the TV or afraid to speak in front of anyone else, you just ask him. “What’s the deal with you not wanting any sex at all? If there’s someone else, I can take it, I just want you to be happy.” Okay that’s probably off base, not the problem at all. But it’s a jumping off point. Let him talk, let him stop talking and think stuff. But hang together until the does let it go and tell you his problem. Who knows what it is. Could be any of the suggestions above, could be stress, could be anything.

    If that doesn’t work, if he can’t tell you in a safe, open environment with a supportive girl and a buzz going on then you have had a nice walk sincerely tried to help him. When you get back home I would leave. There is only so much a girl can do and begging for sex is just not right. If they won’t help you or try to help themselves, there is nothing further you can do.

  12. Usually this is the result of one of a few potential issues:

    1. He’s having an affair
    2. He has a low libido, or a libido that responds best during the honeymoon phase and not during the “long time married” phase
    3. He’s depressed.
    4. He’s on antidepressants for depression (yes they have sexual side effects)
    5. He has some sexual issue he isn’t willing to admit to you.

    Men can be uncommunicative about what’s going on with them mentally/sexually, so you have to talk to him and find out what he’s going through. If he says he has a low libido, you might suggest he have his testosterone checked, although I think low T is probably over-diagnosed in men (our testosterone is supposed to decline with age). Even if his libido is just naturally lower than yours, he ought to be more responsive to your needs, and if he can’t bring himself to do that, then you should consider leaving him rather than cheating.

  13. I’ll probably get pilloried for asking this, but have you put on weight? If not, is he depressed in general? If so, those are your answers. If it’s both, that’s a double whammy.

    If it’s neither, he’s just not into the relationship anymore, but is too scared to be alone. In fact, you probably have a touch of the scared-to-be-alone thing yourself – otherwise you’d have broken this off a long time ago. Months without sex? That’s not even a relationship. You guys are room mates. In my book, hooking up with your former lover wouldn’t even be cheating at this point. It’d just be gettin’ some.

    Although if it’s come to that I’d recommend just leaving.

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