Newly disinterested in sex

A lack of sexual desire by a partner is one of the most troubling relationship issues for many couples. It affects their emotional, psychological and physical connection and leaves them bewildered, craving and grieving their loss. Understanding and dealing with a change in sexual arousal/desire helps pairs restore their emotional security and intimate bond.

Most couples begin their relationship with heightened levels of physical and emotional attraction. They expect this magical magnetism to last a lifetime. For many, this aspect of their love does indeed persist. Yet, according to Current Psychiatry Reports, 2000, “Sexual dysfunctions are highly prevalent, affecting about 43percent of women and 31percent of men.”

The causes for a reduction in sexual interest or arousal may be physiological, psychological, or both. For women, a loss of desire has often been attributed to evolutional causes such as end of childbearing, menopause and aging. For men, the primary loss of interest was thought to be due to hormonal performance limitations.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is a condition that interferes with sexual desire and causes couples’  “marked distress and interpersonal difficulties.”  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM) states that HSDD affects about 20 percent of the population in America. The causes and treatments are not uniformly clear. Some attribute it to the overuse of antidepressants, while The International Journal of Impotence Research is studying the pituitary’s overproduction of the hormone Prolactin as a possible culprit.

Psychologist and sex therapist, Professor Gerald Weeks, maintains that the two major relationship factors that “can overtime devastate one’s sex drive are; chronically suppressed anger toward a partner and a lack-or loss-of control over the relationship.”

Until research findings are more definitive about the causation of some individuals’ reduction of sexual desire and arousal, the interpersonal aspects are easier to scrutinize.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you harbor unexpressed anger toward your mate? Do you feel unequally treated in managing your relationship? Are you feeling insufficiently loved, appreciated, desired or cherished? Has your view of your partner been degraded to a less favorable level? Are you missing receiving the type of attention, appreciation, communication, interest, admiration and emotional connection you have previously had in your relationship? Have you changed your attitude, view or treatment of your mate since your days of mutual awe?

Not infrequently, our personal interpretation of the relationship “exchanges”, i.e., what we expect and what we receive for our loving energy expenditure may lead us to feel unequally regarded as a valuable mate. Though equality in love and caring is not the epitome of assessing one’s enthusiasm for or by a partner, most people do seek a fair reciprocity ratio in their relationship.

Assess your change in sexual interest/arousal:

  •  Has your admiration for your mate increased/decreased over the years?
  • Do you consistently give what you wish to receive?
  • How much energy do you invest in keeping your passion alive?
  • Discussed your sexual desire/arousal needs with your partner and then seek help.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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