What To Do When She Loses Interest

loving coupleA lot of men get bummed out when their partners stop being porn stars after a few years.

Heck, after a few years many women aren’t too interested in sex at all, let alone mimicking skin starlets.

So what to do?

As I’ve recently discussed, our society punishes women’s sexuality (see here and here) so that their desire tends to be lower than men’s and they need a higher level of stimulus to get interested. That can be a problem for couples when he wants it but she doesn’t.

There are various ways to address the dissonance. In this post I’ll to talk about solutions that can help couples to connect.

Obviously, we must do more to change the culture so that we stop punishing women’s sexuality.

But what to do in the meantime?

I’ve written about the new “Female Viagra,” which some are grateful for and others worry about. It’s certainly much better to deal with the root problem of injured sexuality. So we are back to social change.

How about some non-pharmaceutical solutions, right now?

I’ll briefly discuss recommendations from three different authors who have studied the issue. Each comes from a different angle. But each perspective can work either alone or together. And what works best will depend on the couple.

I have already written about some of Naomi Wolf’s thoughts on how to turn on the sex goddess, which are explored more deeply in her book, Vagina.

Sparking desire!

Sparking desire!

Briefly, she says there are “things-that-women-need-that-men-don’t-need” to spark desire. To enjoy sex women must feel relaxed and free from bad stress. So if a guy is harping on about how he never gets a BJ anymore, that will just be a turnoff. He must do something positive, instead.

Mark’s insight that women are more aroused by new partners gives us a clue as to what that positive thing might be. Women are more turned on by new partners because they make her feel “chosen” because “she’s so attractive and desirable” — key to igniting interest. But in committed relationships it may feel like her partner simply has no choice but her.

Wolf tells men to keep wooing their lovers. Bring her flowers, take her dancing and tell her how gorgeous-sexy-beautiful she is. Let her see your lust.

Also, all that good energy can evaporate if her lover puts her down or if he seems more interested in other women.

I’ll write more later on what the next couple of authors have to say. But briefly:

In Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel says that desire comes from creating distance and mystery. Hard to do when you see each other every day, right?

But try to do something that creates longing, she says. Maybe spend some time apart.

Or do something to make your partner see you in a new way. One woman got turned on when she went to visit her husband as he coached his Little League team and saw how others responded to him — she got turned on by others’ admiration.

In contrast, John Gottman’s The Science of Trust recommends becoming deeply bonded in a way that can make sex a transcendent experience. This sort of relationship relies on trust and “emotional attunement.” In bed, the couple would be open, empathetic, deeply connected and ardently sensitive to one another’s responses. Prof. Gottman cites research comparing couples in long-term relationships who have good and not so good sex lives. Those with good sex lives behave like this. Maybe that’s one reason why some people say that sex actually gets better overtime — as their relationships grow more deeply bonded over time.

More later…

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 14, 2015, in psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Hmmm. I love your blog overall and I find it thought-provoking, however, this post caught my eye because it sounds like an article in a men’s mag. Not until the very end of the article did I feel a sense of hope. Women are looking for equality. Women are absolutely sexual and reproductive beings, and anytime we talk about ways to get turned on, it seems to take something away from who we are. Relationship are about all the bits and pieces of life, if we address only the sexuality of women, are we not objectifying? I mean “if a guy is harping about never getting a bj” then there is likely a much greater issue.

    On your post above, I believe some people are monogamous by nature and many are not. Can we not address this topic free of gender? People are dynamic and fluid.

    • You can address this topic free of gender, but I didn’t here for two reasons. One is that I was responding to questions from my readers – who have all been men wondering why their partners have lost interest. The other is that there are gendered reasons why women are more likely to lose interest. I linked to articles that discuss this more in depth, but our society represses women’s sexuality much more than men’s. And our Society creates a sense of entitlement for men such that I get comments from men insisting that their partners should just do what they want. Plus, our society sexualizes women’s bodies more. So while it can make sense to discuss this gender free, there are reasons why I didn’t.

  2. I have to agree that , ( being a women) women are more aroused by a new partner . I’ve heard it mentioned now and again , and have often wondered if being monogamous isn’t just an un- natural way of being that our culture conditions us to follow . It seems , most relationships don’t last , and most marriages end in divorce , or people that stay in a marriages seem to be either for the sake of their children , or some financial reason , or they feel this is as good as it’s going to get for them and stay in a relationship almost out of habit . People’s religious beliefs probably play a role as well in staying in bad marriages . The romantic notion of finding your soulmate and living happily ever after with just one person , is maybe just that – a romantic notion . From my experience any way ,that flood of feelings , or “spark” always fizzles over time , especially over a few years no matter what you do .

  3. This is definitely a problem I have experienced myself. My partner and boyfriend at the time was cheating on me which made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or that they could offer him something that I couldn’t, completely killed my self esteem and of course when it came down to sex I was never into it anymore and at times would just think how he is probably thinking about someone else. Took me a long time to realize that it was nothing I had done wrong. Years later while having a new partner who was a complete opposite i.e was all about me and made me feel wanted and important. Completely changed our sex life, I felt so much more relaxed and was more open and into trying new things. In conclusion I completely agree that if you make a woman feel appreciated and wanted it will depend a lot on how she responds to you.

  4. The advices of Wolf, Gotman and Perel sum up options available to sustain interest of both parties, Georgia, in keeping a relationship going, which can be exercised in its various permutations and combinations..

  5. “A lot of men get bummed out when their partners stop being porn stars after a few years.”

    This is a minority of men.

    Most men were NEVER married or are currently married to women who exhibited porn star sexual behavior…What most married men get bummed out over is a lack of sex. Period. Even more disheartening is being stuck with a woman who is so self centered as to not even give a damn about it. The porn star experience (whatever that might be) is a luxury for most married men.

    Just to clarify things…

    “Wolf tells men to keep wooing their lovers. Bring her flowers, take her dancing and tell her how gorgeous-sexy-beautiful she is. Let her see your lust.”

    Research clearly indicates that at best this has only a short term effect on female sexuality within marriage or long term relationships. I believe this is mentioned in Esther Perel’s book. So, I think this is a non starter. It is also mentioned in the book by Meston and Buss, “Why Women have Sex…….” Also many of the women in Daniel Bergner’s book, “What do Women Want?…….” dispels this notion as well.

    I think Perel has it right. Women simply grow bored with their husbands……The distance and mystery might work. But, it is a silly and pathetic way to live. I am sure while the two are apart, they are going to be having sex with others. It kind of like asking why do women always need new shoes when they have plenty to wear. Only women know the answer…

    Dr. Gottman’s approach is what I personally favor and had hoped for in my past marriage. He is an Orthodox Jew where I think this might work a bit better. There are just too many cultural and social impediments for this to work for our society at large. We live in an increasingly narcissistic society. Men and women alike view one another more like commodities with utilitarian value. Once the use value of the person has diminished, he or she is disposed of…

    You have this reductionist approach to this problem that causes you to miss the big picture. The big picture is growing de-socialization of America. It is the vast change in the financial relationship between men and women (a woman no longer needs a man for financial security). It is the sexual revolution along with the rise of hook up culture or casual dating or casual sex, or friends with benefits, serial monogamy, serial dating, or whatever…All of this matters!

    Here is where I really think you are totally wrong about this notion of sexual repression and patriarchy and its alleged negative effects of female desire. If that were true, then why are women more sexually available before marriage than after marriage? Yes, you argue they need more and more to get them aroused. But, it has nothing to do with this repression theory.

    Why can’t we just be honest and admit what is obvious: 1) maybe these women never found their husbands sexually attractive, 2) maybe these women have grown bored, 3) as Perel argues monogamy is just not well suited for women 4) perhaps monogamy and marriage are indeed ill conceived social constructs?

    Lastly, have you ever noticed that it nearly always women who fall out of favor with sex in marriage? Have you ever noticed that it women who tend to write extensively about how they have lost interest in their husbands? Rarely have I come across such from men. Though I did come across a piece last week on GMP where a whorish guy had written in to Alana Pratt complaining about the how his inexperienced new wife (a woman he chose and knew lacked sexual experience) no longer satisfied him……I cannot understand why these sort of people don’t marry other whorish people…Weird…I digress.

    Four years ago I asked Huffington Post blogger Cathy Meyer if she felt most women believed that sex could be a bonding experience for most men (btw, i do not believe women do)…Here is her reply,

    hp blogger Cathy Meyer on Oct 15, 2011 at 17:37:11

    “…………, some women are too selfish to ever understand the concept. Some women are ignorant of the role sex plays in the connection between a man and woman. Some women honestly believe that for men, sex is just sex.

    They would be genuinely surprised by the idea that a man connects emotionall¬y with his wife during the act of sex, that it is a emotionall¬y bonding act for men too. To women who are ignorant of this, there is no reason to step outside their comfort zone just so a husband can have sex for the “sake of having sex.”

    There needs to be more of an awareness on the part of women that sex means many things to men, not just one thing. Then you will see women putting more effort into that aspect of their relationsh¬ip with a husband.

    As for stepping out of their panties, it has been my experience via working with both men and woman on relationsh¬ip issues that neither is too quick to shed their undies.

    And, us women don’t drop our panties for “bad boys” or “good boys” we drop out panties for boys we are attracted to. If we get lucky those boys turn out to be good men who become good husbands.”

    I added this only to show how important it is to look at the big picture and not become reductionist in approach.

    Lastly, I want to say this…..Regardless of which approach is right or wrong and/or more accurate or less accurate, better suited or less suited, it does not bode well for men and marriage. Why? Because neither offers any real long term solution. Only Dr. Gottman’s approach is more likely sustainable because the parties in that particular relationship are already deeply committed to one another morally and spiritually.

  6. Valid points here, Georgia. I think every woman will agree to this more or less…

  7. I’m with Gottman on this one- the more open two people are two each other the more possibility for depth of feeling and sensation. By the same token, when a couple is shut to each other for whatever reason- that can make them less receptive and less connected in bed- the body can close up with makes pleasure a challenge.

  8. Nice post. I have read the similar post earlier too on your blog.

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