Enlightening Answers: A Sexless Marriage and Saying “I Love You” Back

We’ve been together thirty-four years – in the last ten we haven’t had sex. Finally he told me he didn’t have the “desire.” I flipped out, and moved into another room. I was blown away and bummed but then I thought, who said we can’t ignite it again? Our sex life was great! So I want to be patient and try to reignite the spark…”

Sexless But Willing

Dear Sexless,

What took you so long to have that conversation? Of course he doesn’t have the “desire.” You know what they say, you’ve got to “use it or lose it.” When a couple stops bonding physically, they don’t feel as close emotionally because they literally stop producing as many hormones having to do with romantic attachment for one another, creating a vicious cycle: you don’t feel as connected, so you don’t want to connect. And on it goes… Sadly, your story is common. As many as 20-30% of marriages are considered “sexless” – in which sex happens less than ten times a year. If your sex life was once great, it can be again – but you’ve got to find out what happened. Was it something emotional between you? Did he undergo a life trauma (stress makes libido go right out the window)? Could it be a health problem (men have less testosterone as they age, which can dramatically lower sex drive)? Is there someone else? Face these tough issues directly, and perhaps get a professional counselor to help. But don’t be so blown away and bummed – it takes “two to tango” and two to stop – so you’ve got some responsibility here, too.

Good luck!


I met a really nice man right before Thanksgiving 2007. A few days ago he told me that he loved me. He’s very intelligent, very much a gentleman and a great conversationalist. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time spent together. He’s very active with his work, his children and hobbies. He’s a pilot, an engineer, a great cook and an all-around super fella! I’ve lived with quite a few men since my divorce in 1976 but the majority have been losers. Namely: unemployed, ex-convicts, womanizers, drunks, and/or woman beaters! Now my dilemma lies with not being able to return the “I love you.” Am I learning (finally)? Am I stupid (for not being able to see the “goodness” in this man or give myself a chance to be worthy)? Am I actually being cautious instead of believing that “this is the real thing this time?”

Not Sure What To Say


Dear Not Sure,

You may actually feel more attracted to and comfortable with “losers” as you call them – to be with a real man who has a great life is scary. There’s more at risk – the stakes are higher and you could get hurt. This is all subconscious and psychological. When you have a pattern like “only liking bad boys” there’s something about it that works for you, even though it seems like it doesn’t… it involves no fear of rejection (because if a jerk rejects you, who cares?), no chance of really building anything, no option of having to commit to a real relationship… All signs that you’re commitment phobic, even though it looks like the guys are. Crazy, but common. Please give this guy a chance – it hasn’t been very long. As for what to say to him, tell him how much you think he’s a good man, and that you love to spend time with him, but that you’re not ready to say “love” yet. He sounds like he can handle that. Then get to know him over time. The most important thing in relationships is to have them with good people – this is more important than your compatibility. Because you can be compatible with someone that’s not good – which you’ve done (feeling that wow feeling for a “loser”). But no matter how great someone is, you must find someone you love or why bother? But that “oh my God, this is so exciting” infatuation isn’t love, and it passes (as you’ve noticed). A friendship that grows with mutual respect and shared support can lead to real love – which isn’t necessarily as exciting, but sure is more fulfilling. Either way, congrats on attracting a good man – and good luck with the outcome. If nothing else, this is great practice for you.

Good luck,

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