Are You Experiencing Sexual Burnout?
The important role positive experiences play in fuelling sexual desire in relationships is undeniable. Genuine fondness and admiration, emotional closeness and a full emotional bank account are pivotal in maintaining a healthy and thriving sexual connection. Examples of fostering an atmosphere of intimacy, where sexual desire thrives, include expressing affection, engaging in thoughtful gestures, and prioritizing quality time together. Imagine sexual desire as the cherry on top of a relationship where couples are genuinely fond of each other.
When fondness is weakened in a relationship, you lose sexual interest in your partner over time. However, many couples do not think about filling up their emotional bank account to increase desire. In addition, because providing sex in relationships has been drilled in many as their job, you may succumb to self-induced or partner-induced pressure to engage in sexual activities regardless of how you feel about it.
In these situations, sex is not motivated by genuine desire. Instead, you have sex with your partner out of obligation, fear of losing the relationship or getting into a fight over sex. This is what I call transactional sex. It is where sex is used in a transaction with something else “I give you sex so you do not fight with me”, “I give you sex, so you do not leave me”, I give you sex so you are nice to me”. Sooner or later, transactional sex leads to a depletion of authentic sexual desire and, eventually, sexual burnout.
What Is Sexual Burnout?
Sexual burnout is an experience that I have only seen in women in long-term relationships*. This phenomenon occurs when individuals engage in sexual intimacy despite lacking an authentic desire for sex with their partner.
I would like to acknowledge that sexual burnout is a valid and distressing experience. This phenomenon can impact both individuals and their relationships. It is when you experience the absolute absence of desire for sexual intimacy with a partner. Individuals experiencing sexual burnout often report a significant decrease in libido, so they might not even masturbate. Moreover, they might also start avoiding affection or any form of non-sexual touch with their partner. Over time, they might also start experiencing a sense of dread or anxiety around sex with their partner.
How to Overcome This Challenge?
I wish the answer was simple, but overcoming sexual burnout requires a concerted effort from both partners in couple therapy. When I work with clients suffering from sexual burnout, I advise against engaging in any sexual activities that they do not genuinely desire. Instead, we dedicate our efforts to addressing the vulnerable aspects of their relationship, particularly those that have led to a decline in genuine sexual interest. This helps couples to work towards co-creating more fulfilling sexual experiences that align with their values and authentic desires.
If you are experiencing sexual burnout and longing for a rekindling of desire in your relationship, please feel free to contact me.
I wish you all the best.
*Sex workers and individuals addicted to porn/sex might also experience sexual burnout in a different context.