Updated: Aug 26
If your man has shut down from you, physically and/or emotionally, you are not alone. But you may only be guessing at the reasons why! He may give you an answer that may or may not be true, or you may blame it on porn, or him being selfish and cold...but is that accurate or the whole story? Moreover, regardless of the cause, is there anything you can do about it?
Men losing interest in sex with their female partner is a well-kept secret, but widespread phenomenon. In my FB group, More Intimacy and Bedroom Bliss, when I’ve polled women, about 40% report “I have a higher drive than my man” often with comments like, he’d rather use porn than be with me, or “he hasn’t touched me in years.” But even being in good company doesn’t make this less sad and frustrating. I'm an intimacy counselor and psychotherapist; my specialty is helping women create more intimacy in their relationships, both physical and emotional. So whether you or your man is the one who lost desire; I can help!
Sexless marriage is not only a lost opportunity for physical bonding and all the health benefits of regular sex, it usually causes intimacy and affection to dry up too. Often we miss that as much as the sexual touch!
In talking with women, I ask what caused the man to lose interest in sex with her. She may say, she doesn't know and he doesn't say. She may blame depression, or his porn use, erectile dysfunction, or just speculate that he doesn’t have any drive. Those are all possibilities, but a study shows the top reasons men claim to lose interest are either physical, or due to relationship frustrations, and boredom.
The data in this article comes from the book Why Men Stop Having Sex by Bob Berkowitz and Susan Yager-Berkowitz. The authors surveyed and interviewed 4,000 men and women in this situation. I’ve added some of my interpretations as an intimacy coach for women, as I’ve developed techniques and methods that women can use to single handedly change the loving dynamic of the relationship, and get their man back in their bed!
First let’s list the many reasons men lose interest: depression, stress, low testosterone, medications and medical conditions, trauma, religious conditioning, too busy, an affair, porn addiction, sexual dysfunction and relationship and resentment issues. And rarely….he’s secretly gay. Many men have multiple, layered and cause and effect reasons and there is rarely one single cause; the survey allowed multiple choices.
Depression, stress, and mood are reported by a third of men with low drive. We can imagine that Covid stress has caused these numbers to skyrocket. (Lifestyle can contribute to low mood, as does lack of exercise and fitness. Health issues and medications can lower testosterone, or libido) Of course, having a bad relationship and/or sex life is both a result and cause of depression, stress and low mood.
Many men lose desire based upon sexual dysfunction. In order, the top male dysfunctions are erectile dysfunction, premature, then delayed ejaculation. Dysfunctions impact 40% of men in their 40s, 50% of men in their 50s….and so on! About a third of the men surveyed cited these problems. So your man could be hiding his performance fears and frustrations under a veil of disinterest. But where there is a will, this shame and frustration can be overcome if you create an atmosphere of safety, trust and creativity; what I like to call, "be sensual explorers together."
The biggest reported reasons for losing desire are relationship issues. Nearly two-thirds of men reported that they lost desire because their partner wasn’t very interested in sex and previously turned him down or just ‘put out’ for his sake. They shut down when they feel that they've been rejected or merely tolerated, as opposed to desired. In this relationship category were also men who reported that the sex was boring, or the or not satisfying because their partner either wasn’t adventurous, or ‘into it.’ Her lack of enjoyment, enthusiasm and initiation lessens his interest. This is consistent with other studies that show that men’s top desire in a lover is her confidence and genuine enthusiasm and desire to be with him.
Regarding boredom….the sexual menu is vast, but most long-term couples have basically the same sex every time. Boredom is a top reason women lose interest too, (in fact, females are even more susceptible to being bored in bed than their partners!) so creating playfulness and novelty in the bedroom is in the interest of both! So is creating deep, connected lovemaking as opposed in addition to adding ‘spice’ such as different scenarios, locations and positions.
As an intimacy coach, I say that some women don’t naturally lose interest in sex, we lose interest in the quality and type of sex we are offered. Or the relationship turns us off....The same seems to apply to men. One or both could take initiative to bring excitement back. My intimacy counseling helps a woman explore what she likes, and the communication skills of how to get it with her lover. Her empowerment and enjoyment could go a long way in solving the challenge of boredom, or her viewing sex as something at the bottom of her to-do list.
Beyond boredom, partner resentment is a problem. Nearly half the respondents said they are not interested in their wife anymore because they are angry or resentful toward her. (FYI: the biggest frustrations men report about wives are feeling disrespected, nagged, criticized, mothered, and/or ‘frump syndrome.’ As my husband says, disrespect is kryptonite to a man.) It’s worth considering how much desire zapping depression and stress could be alleviated by having a more peaceful, loving relationship.
A third of men said they are not attracted to their partner anymore. I think “not attracted” could be physical, or emotional, falling under the resentment umbrella. Most men continue to be attracted to their wives despite normal aging, but significant weight gain can be a turn off for some men. In the case of my own husband, his ex-wife looked similar at the end of their marriage as when he met her, but her criticism and disrespect caused him to feel so repelled by her, that he slept in the basement for three years to avoid her. Fortunately his loss of desire was limited to her, and rebounded in his loving relationship with me!
Because a man who has lost desire for his wife due to resentment and/or not feeling attracted to her, still has sexual urges, he will often to porn in order to stay in the marriage and not stray. As a result the wife may blame porn as the cause of his disinterest, not a result of it. It’s the hen and the egg; not understanding which came first; turn-on to porn, or turn-off to her.
A quarter of men reported they preferred to masturbate to porn rather than make love. It’s impossible to tell how much of this turning to porn is due to the many challenges and turn offs described here, or the growing trend of men who have loving, sexy wives, yet still prefer porn. Many men, younger ones in particular, are so habituated to masturbating to the nonstop variety of the porn superhighway, (from the average age of 12, especially nowadays when porn is free) that they actually prefer it over putting in real effort with a real woman.
To make matters worse, most women don’t understand the real reasons for the loss of intimacy. In the survey, men said “She isn’t sexually adventurous enough for me in 68% of the cases, but the wife chose this option just 14% of the time! And 61% of the men reported, “she doesn’t seem to enjoy sex with me” and in contrast, only 10% of the women identified her lack of enjoyment as a problem….Also nearly double the number of men reported that they ARE interested in sex….but not with their wives, 48% vs 25%. I’ve certainly not heard any woman in this situation cop to, he’s fed up with the way I treat him, or I’m a boring lay! ;-)
(not cited by the thousands of men surveyed, but I suspect, early sexual trauma, could be an additional reason)
Now the good news for the ladies:
When the loss of interest is due to boredom or patterns in the relationship, YOU the woman, have more power than you think to change the situation! When you create an atmosphere of loving respect and gratitude, you may see how quickly a good man wants to please you. I help women tap into their feminine energy with time-tested secrets of cherished women; that build your mutual attraction. Often after just a few weeks coaching the wife only, we’ve seen numerous stonewalling, emotionally and physically shut-down husbands become their woman’s lover again.
If boredom or not being easy to please is the challenge, through coaching the woman can become a creative and empowered sexual explorer. More good news; even when the sexless situation is caused by his performance issues, dysfunction or mood, the woman has the ability to create an atmosphere of safety and teamwork, rather than shame or blame. See my article on What the Woman Can Do, When Her Partner Has E.D.? https://www.moreintimacy.net/post/what-can-you-do-if-your-man-has-erectile-dysfunction
It can help to shift goal-oriented "having sex" into making love and/or having playful sexy time together. There is more to sensuality than penis-in-vagina sex, or porn-style.
I hope this article helps you understand your power, and perhaps facilitate a breakthrough dialog with your man. The woman does have the ability to turn the dynamic, yet few women can make this transformation without guidance and support; a skilled coach makes all the difference! I invite you to explore your vision, and your challenges in a heart-to-heart conversation with me. https://www.moreintimacy.net/book-online