Q: Hey Meredith,
I feel kind of silly writing in about this but it's a real issue. Let's get right to it without any food-related innuendo (I promise no grilled cheese euphemisms here).
Basically, I am in a phenomenal relationship. My fiance and I -- both in our early 30s -- are like puzzle pieces. All of the obnoxious cliches are true. We are best friends, we never fight, we have each other's best interests in mind, etc. etc. There is no doubt that I want to be near this person on the regular for the rest of my life.
But one thing has gone mysteriously missing ... our sex life. And I'm scared about that. Now I know all about the end of the "honeymoon period" where you're amazed that you even got dressed long enough to leave the house. I know that moving in together can also take some of the steam and sizzle out of the bedroom. We don't have any weird expectations about it happening every night, so it's not even like there's too much pressure on it. What I'm afraid might be happening has unfortunately been confirmed by others who have been in very long relationships or have been married: we're becoming roommates.
We are still very much physically attracted to each other and still in love so it's not disinterest in that sense. But I guess the easiest way to put it is that we just don't think about it as often anymore. I know I was starting to feel that way and so I asked him about it, and he admitted that despite being a guy and the fact that he could pretty much be ready at the drop of a hat if I was so inclined, he doesn't just sit around thinking about it. We've both just become content with each other's company and friendship, and I'm really afraid of letting that comfort level overtake sexual intimacy, which I believe is a really vital ingredient to a healthy, successful relationship.
My bottom line is that I don't know how to make myself get in the mood or how to put us back to a place where it's a priority again without making it this weird agenda item that feels insincere and forced. I find that I often have a hard time relaxing enough to want it, and sometimes, even if the whole mood is set (candles, wine, etc.), I still have a hard time being present. I thought 30s were the sexual peak for women!? I feel slightly defective, and we're not even married yet!
How can we regenerate our sex life in a way that doesn't feel forced or inauthentic? Have your readers in long-term relationships gone through this? How do we avoid the roommate curse on our otherwise perfect relationship?
Thanks for any and all advice,
– Friends with No Benefits, Boston
A: This is about time, FWNB. Sex tends to happen when you're 100 percent focused on your partner -- when you're really listening to them, when you notice the way they breathe ... the way they return your stare. (Cue the Sade.)
In the beginning of a relationship, focus is easy because of the infatuation. But when you get into a daily routine with someone you love, you have to make time to shut out the rest of the world.
Yes, you guys live together. But do you actually have time for flirtatious dinners and naps that involve more than just napping? I'm not talking about cheesy, "inauthentic" dates with candles. I'm talking about real hangout time. Make sure that your quality hours together aren't just about paying bills, planning a wedding, and eating in front of the television quickly so that you can pass out before the next day.
Also, sex is great and all, but hand-holding is a lovely gateway drug. I'm not talking about walking-down-the-street hand-holding. I'm talking about we're-on-the-couch-and-touching-just-for-the-sake-of-it hand action (yeah, I just said hand action -- be grown-ups). When you get close for no good reason, your brain is reminded of the possibilities.
Make time. Stay relaxed. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Work the gateway drug. Evaluate again after a few more months.
Readers? Is this normal? Any suggestions? Will their sex life return? Does it ever get better? What can they do without trying too hard? Tips, please.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.