DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a 39 year old male. I am a research faculty at a prestigious university in the US. I have been married for 10 years, and have two beautiful kids. Me and my wife were lovers and married after ~3 years of courtship. The problem(s) began about year after our second child was born. My wife has been steadily losing interest in sex. We talked about this, and she said she was afraid of getting pregnant, so I had myself snipped. I have no regrets about that decision. But after everything she is just closed off. I have to almost beg to have sex. She said I am aging, and I do not have energy. I am sure on some level she is right. But I feel frustrated. I love her. She loves me, but the physicality in us seems to have ended. About 6 months ago we had a massive fight over this issue. Things were a bit better and then everything went back to being worse. Everytime I broach the subject I come across as a nymphomaniac. But truth be told, I think she is the sexiest woman I know. I do not know what to do.
At My Wits End!!
DEAR AT MY WITS END: Questions about sexless marriages are becoming one of the most common questions I get these days, AMWE and tends to be one of the most divisive topics I get. There is a lot of cultural expectation to tell the person with the higher libido to deal with it because hey, it kinda sucks to have no real interest and have someone pawing at you. But at the same time, this is unfair to someone who wants intimacy with their partner or to treat sex as something that is so unimportant that one should just be able to go without it… right up until they go looking for it elsewhere. Or suggesting that both partners work out an equitable exchange – less sex overall, but the lower libido’d partner giving the higher libido’d partner a helping hand or mouth on occasion.
And then there are the common answers of “well, high-libido-having-person,have you considered doing more $GENDERED_ACTIVITY_HERE, whether it be do more chores (for men, generally) or be more seductive (for women, generally) without considering the vast multitudes of reasons why people quit being interested in sex, all the while trying to tip-toe around answers like “they are just done with sex” or “they are done with sex… with you.”
Needless to say, the expectation to dance around the topic and get blunt makes things frustrating for everyone involved.
But let’s deal with your situation. Before I could give you an answer, I’d want to know a lot more about your circumstances because there more x-factors that affect libido than a loudmouth with a blog can account for. Childbirth, obviously, is a big one; not only does the actual, physical act of giving birth tend to kill one’s desire for sex for quite some time but raising the kid means that couples rarely have the time or energy for sex. To start with: dealing with a squalling ball of constant poop, piss and vomit means that you’re not going to be feeling terribly sexy at the best of times, and that’s without getting into issues like not having a full night’s sleep. When you get a couple hours shut-eye out of every 24, you’re not really going to be interested in doing anything horizontal besides napping.
Other issues like what medication your wife is on would make a difference as well. There are a number of drugs, especially SSRIs, that will absolutely crater your libido to nothing and neither love nor money nor Ryan Gosling stripped naked and dipped in cheese could create so much as a twitch in one’s nethers.
And then there are emotional issues. Not just things like depression but simply feeling neglected or taken for granted; when one partner feels like they’re left doing all the drudge-work or responsibilities for the family, it’s very easy to lose interest in sex. It becomes just one more goddamn chore, no matter how sexy one’s partner thinks they are.
It could be that she’s gotten bored of the sex you’ve been having, especially if it’s not necessarily the sex she wants to have. Or it could just be that she’s done with sex. It may never have been much of a priority for her and two kids later, she’s decided that was enough. Or, and I hate to say it, it could well be that she’s done with sex with you.
I’d also want to know how she feels about her lack of a sex drive. Is she upset about it? Or is this something that she’s ok with?
The varying reasons she has for not wanting to have sex leads me to believe that there’s another, bigger one lurking under the surface that she may not want to actually tell you. Not that her other reasons aren’t equally true but they’re less… confrontational… than what the real reason might be. And unfortunately, that reason may very well be something you can’t do anything about and your coming at her for nookie is just pissing her off because she doesn’t want to tell you how she really feels.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t think you’re the bad guy here. There’s nothing wrong with wanting intimacy and affection from your partner. There’s nothing wrong with wanting sex or wanting sex with your spouse. It’s an important part of making a relationship work. But getting the spark back means figuring out why it’s gone in the first place and just asking for a blowjob ain’t gonna do that.
The best thing you two can do is to get to a marriage counselor – preferably a sex-positive one who isn’t going to treat your sex drive as the problem – and dig into the underlying causes. But until you can determine the source, whether it be physical, neurochemical, emotional or situational, give your wife a break. Having more fights about why you aren’t having sex isn’t going to solve the problem and will only make things worse. Grab a Tenga, hop onto PornHub and take care of things on your own while you both figure things out. It’s an inconvenience in the short term, but one that may help ensure that you’ll have a long-term.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Hi Doc,
I’m very bummed out because women don’t like my photos…I have been putting them on photofeeler to get them rated for online dating and getting awful ratings. I realize that they aren’t professionally done, but I still don’t get how they can be THAT bad. I even think that I look good in them so I am very confused and it’s killing my self confidence!
Not So Hot Or Not
DEAR NOT SO HOT OR NOT:
This is the dating equivalent of “Doctor doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
Well, then stop doing that.
As with the joke, there’s an easy solution here dude: quit putting your pictures up on rating sites. You’re not getting an accurate representation of your actual attractiveness, you’re getting the opinions of bored people who have decided that the best use of their time is to dump on people who aren’t Instagram thirst-traps. Ignoring the fact that sites like that can be gamed really easily by assholes, there are people who will look for anything that isn’t 100% perfection and insist that this makes that person an unlovable troll. You can go through a dozen subReddits and find guys who swear up and down that they wouldn’t bang Megan Fox with a borrowed dick because of her thumbs or that Lupita Nyong’o isn’t hotter than rocket fuel because of her skintone.
Similarly, very minor things, from the way you look at the camera to the angle of the light and shadow on your face can utterly change how you come across in photos. Squinting, a less-than-flattering hairstyle, framing or an awkward pose can make you look night-and-day different from a photo taken five minutes later. If you check out the Tinder roundtable, you can see how much slight differences in photos affect how women feel about the person in them. Take a lesson from women: for every selfie they post, there’s about a dozen on the camera roll that never saw the light of day. Same with professional photographers: you’ll take a metric-assload of photos and discard all but the best. So don’t just treat your dating profile pics like a one-and-done.
Now that having been said, the quality of your photographs can affect a lot too. You may want to consider finding a professional photographer – especially someone who can do candid portraiture – to handle your main profile pictures and add the others in sparingly.
Photofeeler is a useful tool, but only to a limited degree. Don’t rely on it exclusively; you’d do well to also consult with friends whose opinions you trust who you can also trust to be honest without being cruel.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)