feature image by Zackary Drucker for The Gender Spectrum Collection
Hey hey my dudes/dudettes/and dude-theys.
So, ever since I came out like, seven years ago, the term ‘lesbian bed death’ has been on my periphery through both interactions with my local queers and sifting through the online community.
There’s this common knowledge that if you stop having sex YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS DOOMED, and also random “facts” like people defining a successful relationship by having 2-3 partnered orgasms/sexual experiences a week.
As someone with mental illness and chronic pain who has been off and off all sorts of medication, things like this just make me feel… broken? I’m often jumping into bed for the first few weeks or months of a relationship, and then I lose interest and my desire plummets. It’s not that I’m not attracted to my partners, I just don’t feel like having sex. I’d rather cuddle or watch a movie or get a pizza.
I’m defos not ace, but I do have ADHD, so also part of me wonders if I just need a break in the repetition? I am into kink sometimes, but often I’m more bored of kink than vanilla sex. Which I do enjoy! I’m all about getting fucking railed on a nice bed/sofa/kitchen floor etc.
But there’s that thing that if you’re not having regular/frequent sex there must be something wrong with your relationship, and I just feel weird about that. My current partner and I are both on anti-depressants, and although we find other ways to be intimate and are open to sex, we’re just not bothered mostly. Does this mean something’s wrong?
–Very confused skaterboi xoxo
Hi Skaterboi! I have great news for you: nothing is wrong with you, and nothing is wrong with what you’re describing! I hear you on the confusion and the feeling broken, though. A lot of misconceptions and assumptions get passed around our community, and one of them is the impression that everybody either is or wants to be having lots and lots of sex, all the time, forever and ever, amen.
The fact is, sex is different for every couple (and throuple, and polycule), and it also evolves over time within those relationships. I think that arc you describe, a ‘honeymoon phase’ followed by a period of increased interest in less sexual types of intimacy and a decreased interest in sex, isn’t unusual at all. It’s one I hear sometimes from friends who are very happy in their relationships, and one I’ve experienced myself.
It’s really good news that you and your partner are feeling well-matched at the moment, desire-wise. Where couples can sometimes run into trouble, or need to assess, are when their respective levels of sexual desire don’t match up.
If you were uncomfortable with your lack of desire because of reasons within your relationship, I’d want to unpack some things around that. If you missed feeling more sexual desire, you could ask your doctor about alternate anti-depressants. If feeling bored with sex was frustrating, you could seek out some ways to make it feel new and interesting. But it sounds to me like the only things truly worrying you are the external messages you’ve gotten around what a sex life is supposed to look like. Our wider culture demonizes sex, and there is natural pushback to that in the queer community. Because of its name, the existence of the sex positivity movement can sometimes make us feel like we should be having more sex. But the core of that movement is really about removing shame from sex and from sexual desires. It follows that you should also feel free to remove shame from those times when you lack desire. I want to give you permission to dismiss your worries about what it seems like your sex life “should” be.
Sex is a lot of things. It’s intimacy, it’s touch, it’s physical exertion. It can be a powerful way to show love and affection; it can also simply be a fun way to pass a long Tuesday in May, like rollerblading or taking up watercolors. And there are many things that sex is NOT: it’s never mandatory, it’s not ethically or romantically superior to not having sex, and it is absolutely not the only way to share intimacy with a partner.
Within your relationship, you and your partner are the only ones who get to decide what activities and intimacies are meaningful to you both. You and your partner are the only ones who can know when “not being bothered” to have sex is an indication that something might be wrong, or a nice token of your comfort with one another. It sounds to me like right now, it’s the latter!
I’m glad that you know yourself well enough to know what you want, and what you don’t. That’s very healthy — it’s basically the opposite of being “broken!” I hope that the future holds just as much getting railed on the kitchen floor as you and your partner desire, and also just as many cuddles in front of the tv at the end of a long day. 💙
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.