Guys, we understand that when we tell you we just “haven’t been all that interested in sex lately,” it strikes to the core of your ego and wracks you with doubt about your ability to please any woman, ever. But that is your ego doing the talking. Popular psychology widely suggests that your sex drives are typically more straightforward than ours. Basically, while you may forget your own name once an amorous mood strikes, female arousal is typically more contingent on external factors such as environment and mood, making our sex drives prone to significant fluctuation and, sometimes, substantial dips.
If you’ve noticed your girlfriend’s libido is consistently inconsistent, suddenly M.I.A, or (sorry), was never much there to begin with, understand that a variety of factors could be responsible. Relationship and sexuality therapist Rebecca Rosenblat helps break down basic sexual roadblocks your girlfriend may experience, and ways you can help her, for lack of a better term, ride them out.
The issue: If a woman’s schedule causes her to feel chronically tired and sleep-deprived, or if she becomes preoccupied with her body image, her drive will plummet.
Your move: Encourage her to incorporate exercise into her regular routine, even if she only has time to, say, walk to work or take the stairs over the escalator. (Yes, this can be a minefield; good luck, and be tactful.) Frequent activity helps counter lack of energy or self-esteem by giving her system a needed boost, encouraging a positive body image and triggering coveted endorphins. This, in turn, can produce a greater sexual appetite. For best results, suggest a joint workout session, which, if you’re lucky, could lead to other types of exercise.
Further, Rosenblat says that because sex enhances testosterone and dopamine production in women, contributing to greater feelings of desire and a sense of reward, the more sex a woman has, the more she’ll want — and vice versa.
“When she doesn’t feel desire,” Rosenblat explains, “it’s important for her to tell her partner that even though she’s not feeling it, she’d like him/her to do their thing to arouse her. Then she should focus on how she’d like to feel versus how she is feeling…desire will soon follow.”
Again, easier suggested than done, but encourage your girlfriend to relax and visualize sensations of pleasure without the added pressure of an end goal.
The issue: Unresolved relational issues; anger or resentment; if she’s feeling misunderstood; if she’s experiencing a lack of control in the relationship. While you might be able to put relationships problems aside in the name of lust, her feelings of bitterness or insecurity could be a real sexual barrier to her arousal. Rosenblat adds that an additional factor here can be if she’s experienced any sexual trauma in her past.
Your move: Rosenblat says to “engage her emotionally before approaching her physically.” This may mean trying to address any unsettled issues or arguments in the relationship, either independently or with the mediation of a therapist.
If her issues predate or have nothing to do with you, be as supportive as possible and recommend she seek therapy solo — which, when it comes down to it, is her responsibility, for both of your sakes. If she refuses, well, you’re looking at a bigger discussion.
The issue: Mental health issues and mood disorders often contribute to low sex drive, accompanied by the unfortunate irony that many antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications that counter these illnesses bear the maddening side effect of a lowered libido. Yeah, balls.
Beyond mental health, Rosenblat says, “Women’s multi-tasking brains allow distractions to come into bed with them.” Plus, “If she’s a control freak, it’ll be hard for her to be in the moment, so sex won’t do much for her, making it hard for her to want it.” Further, if a woman is deeply absorbed in work, a project or a hobby, “which engages the same part of the brain as sex,” she may crave sex less. And if she has a baby touching her all day long, Rosenblat says, her “need to connect is [already] met.”
Your move: If your girlfriend is suffering from mental health issues or is taking medication that kills her drive, this is sometimes out of both your control. Still, finding a good doctor who helps test different meds and doses can usually mitigate sexual side effects.
If your girlfriend’s libido is affected by distraction and intense interest in other things — including a new baby — Rosenblat says “it’s time to schedule in date night, and everything else should be off the table at those times.” It can sound routine and unsexy but by booking some romance and one-on-one time, you’re more likely to shift her attention to you and you alone.
The issue: A woman’s desire varies over the course of her menstrual cycle, typically peaking during ovulation. Some birth control pills cause certain women’s libidos to nose-dive. Rosenblat also points out that, “six weeks to two years after childbirth, [a woman] can be on a hormonal roller-coaster.”
The move: Since ovulation is normally associated with enhanced drive, the ambitious among you could try gaining insight into your girlfriend’s cycle and pinpointing the time of ovulation — typically occurring an average 14.6 days from the start of her most recent period. If ovu-calculating strikes you or your lady as creepy, try asking her to identify when it’s going down.
If reduced desire is a result of the pill, encourage her to try another kind of, or to experiment with non-hormonal methods of, birth control.
If the issue is a post-kid thing, which can create a weary cocktail of hormones and fatigue, Rosenblat says, “a 90-minute nap will pique her randy hormones and give her enough rest to get it on; not swing from the chandeliers, but just get into it.”
As an overall antidote to low sex drive, Rosenblat recommends using “regular, non-sexual touching” to make your girlfriend feel “special and desirable… Taking 10 seconds in the morning and 10 seconds after work for a lingering kiss can keep her feeling connected and craving intimacy.”
Image courtesy of rachel a. k..