Feeling like you’ve lost the honeymoon phase of your relationship can be kind of a downer. You used to think your person could do no wrong, you wanted to spend every moment with them, and the sex, well… there was plenty of that happening. It’s normal for the frequency of sex to change throughout a relationship, but if your relationship is now lacking intimacy, it’s important to bring it up with your partner and work on a solution together. But just asking for a little more action isn’t going to cut it.
Step one: bring it up when you’ll have time to talk it out all the way, without interruptions or distractions.
“Timing is everything, and it would be good to set that up at a time when you won’t be disturbed, you have privacy, and your partner is not on their phone or you’re not on your phone,” says Kathryn Smerling, Ph.D., LCSW, in an interview with Romper. “Honesty is absolutely the best policy. You want to say the truth — that you really feel as though you’re losing the physical in your relationship. Maybe there’s something going on at work for both of you and you feel you have nothing left to give. Maybe you have to plan a special time to be intimate.”
Once the conversation is underway, try to learn about your partner’s wants and needs to see where you can potentially meet them better.
“Start by asking questions,” says Mimi Winsberg, M.D., psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Brightside, a platform providing virtual anxiety and depression care, in an interview with Romper. “Try to understand your partner’s physical and emotional intimacy needs: what makes them feel safe, what makes them feel sexy, and perhaps what makes them crave more space. By seeking to understand, you can also express your own needs and get to better alignment before seeking solutions.”
Winsberg says some common reasons for a decrease in intimacy include:
- Lack of communication or respect
- Too much time together or too little time together
- Lack of novelty
- Fatigue, lack of exercise, or an unhealthy diet
- Competing demands that take up time for intimacy
Parents, and those trying to or about to become parents, know there are even more reasons sex can seemingly ghost out of your relationship. So, what about those baby-related intimacy issues?
Having Less Sex While Trying To Conceive?
Smerling and Winsberg agree that it’s normal for sex to change, and become less frequent, once you and your partner are trying to get pregnant. Doing your best to communicate — and keep the sex exciting — should help.
“It can put so much strain on your relationship. Intimacy has a purpose now, and it’s not just for the pleasure and enjoyment, it’s for the purpose of conceiving a baby. That’s not always very fun,” Smerling says.
“Trying to conceive changes the way sex is perceived. Suddenly it’s about procreation instead of recreation,” Winsberg says. “This can change both members of the couple’s feelings about sex. For some it might make the act more intimate. For others, it might feel more like goal-directed work. It can be helpful to talk about these issues, and try to maintain novelty despite the task at hand.”
Is It Normal To Have Less Sex While Pregnant?
The reasons sex can decrease while pregnant vary from couple to couple, but Winsberg says the best remedy is to talk about it and address concerns head on.
“Pregnant sex can be very erotic and pleasurable. That said, sometimes one or both members of a couple might shy away from sex out of fears of harming the baby or because of changes to the woman’s body. Find ways to talk about what feels good in pregnancy. It may require some creativity or new positions, and it may be helpful to explore fears or taboo ideas,” she says.
No Intimacy After Having A Baby?
Maybe your best friend and her partner couldn’t wait their six weeks postpartum to jump back in the sack. Now, you and yours don’t feel any push to get intimate again. Is that a bad sign? Both experts say new parents have a major life change happening, and to try and take that into account.
“A new baby can put a damper on one’s sex life for numerous reasons,” says Winsberg. “There is the time and attention that a newborn demands, and also the hormonal changes that a woman experiences in the postpartum period. Find ways to carve out time for each other and be mindful that each adult may be craving more time for themselves than meeting the needs of another person besides baby.”
“It does change the dynamic,” says Smerling. “’We have a child and we can’t just be as spontaneous as we could have been. How do we handle this new stage of life?’ Either you welcome that stage of life or you get overwhelmed by it, but you have a choice. If you’re overwhelmed, seek some help — that’s my mantra always. You don’t have to do this alone.”
Moving Forward Together
No matter the reason, Winsberg recommends the best way to have more sex is to just do it.
“Just like with exercise, once you warm up and start, you will feel better and glad you did,” she says.
Smerling says making time for each other is key, even if right now, connecting to each other has nothing to do with getting physical.
“There are always other things going on, and intimacy is a metaphor for how close or distant you feel,” Smerling adds. “Sometimes in our busy lives you have to fight not to lose each other. There is no one formula that intimacy has to be getting into bed and having sex all night. It’s also understanding where the other person is so you can meet their needs. It’s going to get the baby when you’re really tired but you know your partner is even more tired than you are, or sitting on a couch and holding hands watching a show.”
Mimi Winsberg, M.D., psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Brightside