At the beginning of a relationship, you’re getting to know each other and reveling in the joys of your newfound chemistry, but at some point later on, your sex life may diminish a bit in frequency. And while that’s totally normal, for some couples, this dip in desire is more noticeable than for others. If you feel like you’ve seen a significant decrease in the amount of sex you’re having with your partner, you may want to examine your relationship. According to one 2018 study, less sex in your relationship is most likely due to conflict you’re avoiding. Read on to find out how to fix it, and for more relationship red flags, If Your Partner Is Doing This, They’re About to Break Up With You.
The study, published by The Journal of Sex Research, concludes that “problems with sexual desire are strongly linked to problems with relationships.” The authors of the study point out that couples need to have realistic expectations and understand that sexual desire will ebb and flow throughout the relationship. However, if you’re having an abnormally lengthy sexual drought, then you need to address the conflict between you and your significant other, because it’s likely the root of the issue.
A worse mood-killer than conflict is avoiding conflict, according to the study. “The avoidance of conflict is a problem in a relationship, but engaging doesn’t negatively impact sexual desire,” said the study’s lead author, Kristen Mark, PhD. While avoiding conflict is a risk factor for diminishing sexual desire, engaging in conflict in a healthy manner can actually help your sex life.
“When you give yourself permission to show up to the conflict, state what’s on your mind, and engage in raw, honest expression, that’s intimacy. It’s risky, it’s raw. That mirrors what sex means. It needs that kind of risk,” Carolynn Aristone, MSW, founder and director of the Centre for Intimate Relationships, told SBS.
Avoiding conflict rather than just hashing it out can be stress-inducing, and stress is one of the biggest libido killers out there. “Stress and sex don’t mix,” says Jordin Wiggins, ND, owner and creator of Health Over All Inc. “Stress spikes cortisol, a very useful and important hormone for facing temporary stressful events … but our bodies don’t know the difference between life-threatening isolated stress, and long-lasting chronic stress—they just react the same way to all stress.”
The increase in cortisol as a byproduct of your ongoing unresolved conflict can take a serious toll on your body. “It impacts everything from digestion, to immune function, to body fat storage and the ability of your brain to process and react to sexual cues. You are fighting an uphill battle against your brain, body, and hormones when you are stressed because, when you are in a state of constant stress, you have more important things to worry about than getting turned on,” says Wiggins.
If you want to remedy your sex life, you will have to start with the foundational cracks in your relationship. If the disruption is being caused by a single issue, you should take the time to work through it. However, if multiple unaddressed issues are piling up on each other, it may be time to consider couple’s therapy. And if you’re looking for a more active sex life, Men With These 3 Personality Traits Have the Most Sex, Study Shows.