Friday, March 6, 2015

The Sexless Relationship: Dead Bedrooms Make Me Very, Very Sad

While researching No Bone Zone (NBZ), I asked my audience if they had first-hand knowledge of sexless relationships. A friend recommended I check out the DeadBedrooms subreddit on Reddit. I did, and it turned out to be a goldmine of anecdotal stories of relationships, most from the perspective of the higher libido partner, where sex was either infrequent or nonexistent. I was most interested in their perceived explanation for the dead bedroom, and was also interested in the solutions people tried. I hit the lottery.

My hypothesis for NBZ pretty straightforward. People stop having sex because passion wanes. Barring physical illness or other extenuating circumstances, that waning of passion is a natural function of hedonistic adaptation. In other words, we get used to our partner and boredom sets in. Solving the dead bedroom is simply a matter of alleviating the boredom. 

After reading only a few posts on the subreddit, it became painfully obvious there were a lot of people suffering through really shitty relationships, and that shittiness was being manifested as a lack of sex. 

Almost every story follows the same path - two people meet, start a relationship, fuck like kinky, adventurous bunnies for anywhere between six months to two years, maybe have a child, then one person in the relationship loses interest in sex. The relationship then morphs into a series of failed attempts to increase the frequency (and often quality) of sex. 

The solutions range from pretty logical (doing romantic gestures, attempting to negotiate and schedule sex, working out to make them more attractive) to the absurd (constant nagging and pleading) to the questionably illegal (drugging.) Most contributors start off relatively optimistic, but hope quickly disappears. Many of the contributors seem to either accept they'll never have a fulfilling sex life again or decide to have affairs. 

The pain and frustration expressed so frequently makes the threads difficult to read at times. Having once been involved in a sex-challenged relationship, I can attest to the pattern of soul-crushing self-blame. There are very few feelings worse than believing your life partner is not sexually attracted to you, wondering if you're flawed, or worrying they may be getting action elsewhere. 

I've also talked to enough people that have a low libido to know the frustration they experience with a partner that never seems to be sexually satisfied. Both members of sexless couples suffer. A lot. Their quiet desperation makes me very, very sad.

The advice offered by others, while genuine, rarely fixes the problem. In fact, it often makes it worse. For example, the most common advice revolves around trying to build more intimacy between the partners. In almost all of the dead bedroom situations where there's little or no passion, building more closeness is only going to drive the passion even farther underground. 

Interestingly, the solutions I propose in NBZ are rarely if ever recommended on these threads even though they're fairly well-known. Based on the details provided, almost every situation appears to be a simple case of one partner no longer desiring the other. That's not a huge deal; it happens as a natural function of increasing intimacy and familiarity over time. Simply understanding that passion and intimacy are mutually-exclusive would make a significant difference in the vast majority of the situations. 

The solution to the dead bedroom problem is fairly straight-forward; it's just a matter of understanding the dynamics of sexual desire. If you are in one of these relationships, don't give up without exploring the passion/intimacy dichotomy dynamic. Odds are good that's all that is needed to solve the problem. After all, life is far too short to experience without sex.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I like your article a lot Jason, I think it really hits home on the fact that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are entirely different dynamics, and you can't fix one by prescribing solutions designed for the other. Unfortunately, most people are completely unaware of that, and dead bedrooms are becoming increasingly common.

    I've actually created a smartphone app that is designed to deal with dead bedrooms, and it works by tapping into the natural attraction instincts that every woman is hardwired with. You can find it here:

  3. You didn't even try to provide a solution, you just goal post moved you fricking retard.