Long story short, I have a great partner, except I don’t feel any intimate feelings for them. We’ve been together almost five years, and we’ve built a really nice life together. I do love them very much, and they make me happy. But it’s come to the point where my lack of intimate feelings and affection makes this feel more like a best friendship than a romantic relationship. I’m just not sure how sustainable that is long-term, but thinking about breaking up now also feels impossible. Everything about our lives is intertwined. I need help making sense of what’s realistic or how I can get those intimate feelings that seem like the missing puzzle piece to something really perfect.
Dear Lacking Intimacy,
Full disclosure: I am a big baby who loves to walk away from difficult situations, and that means that I’ve never been in a relationship that lasted as long as yours has. I want to be upfront about having never shared that intensely with a partner before I dive into my advice. I don’t think that you are describing a situation that can’t be salvaged, and a big plus is that you clearly love and respect your partner and aren’t thinking of this dearth of intimacy as a dealbreaker. Because it’s definitely not—a lot of happy, comfy long-term couples will hit a dry spell after a certain amount of years.
Sexual desire certainly ebbs and flows for those of us who experience such desire, and too often that can come with offense or hurt feelings from the people we’re dating. I’m glad that isn’t the case for you or your boo, but I would definitely suggest broaching the subject of intimacy and getting some good-natured and light-hearted conversations going on the topic. Find out where your partner is right now with their own desires and share your own thoughts and feelings on getting back in the sack with them. Maybe your self esteem or body images have changed over the years, or maybe work/school/life has gotten so hectic that it makes you both dry as sand. There’s probably a reason that the intimacy has waned for you both, and figuring out what changed is a great first step to correcting the issue.
Do you cuddle the way you used to? What about other intimate but non-sexual stuff like hand-holding or goodbye kisses? Have you gone on any dates recently? I would recommend recreating the settings where you first started making eyes at each other, whether that was at a concert or a lecture or a favorite local watering hole. Some couples find that they can reignite intimacy by specifically making time for it—I have a ex who banged me every Thursday and every Thursday only, and the sex was always outstanding. I had something to look forward to every week, and it was exciting to find ways to surprise each other and mix things up. It made for great weekday flirting, and most of that flirting would eventually give way to fun conversations that kept our connection feeling fresh.
Some couples will also cultivate a sexy new interest or hobby that can fire them both up. It doesn’t have to be whips and chains or anything over the top. Maybe start a weekly movie night where you watch something titillating, but more kitschy than pornographic, like Wild Orchid or Nowhere. I don’t get the sense that you actually want to break up, but that’s also a valid choice if you decide to make it, while it’s definitely not my recommendation. Unfurling your life from that of a years-long partner is difficult, but that’s no reason not to initiate a breakup. I think that you and your partner may be able to find some common ground on which you can move forward, but that’s going to have to start with honesty and fearlessness in the face of this possibly awkward task. Maybe start with a serious conversation, setting of intention and Blue Is The Warmest Color. Whatever turns you on.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.