What do you do if you realize that their desire is already gone?
Find out with Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo and Reid Mihalko and http://www.ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: You’ve done your thing, and your partner is still not wanting to sleep with you, not wanting to connect that way. What do you do? This is Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com.
Reid: Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com. What would you do?
Cathy: I’ve worked with a lot of people, and one thing that I’ve noticed is a lot of them will … we have the option, when our partner isn’t being sexual with us, is to either be sexual … still continue our sexual relationship with ourselves. If we’re in an open relationship, be sexual with other people as well, or shut down, sexually. It can feel safer. It can feel … it doesn’t threaten the relationship as much, and make you feel like we’re never going to get that need met. I think there’s an undercurrent in our society for people to do that. For a long time, it was about the duration of the relationship, and the relationship needing to stay together for people to be financially stable.
Reid: So, you just shut down that wing of the mansion.
Cathy: Yeah, just block it off and let it fall apart. I think there’s a very strong tendency there. I love when you talk about Relationship 10x about, “What is your intention for the relationship?” Being very conscious about why you’re in the relationship. If you decide that for yourself, look at how important the sexual connection is. I know, for me, sexual connection is a very important part of a relationship. It makes me feel more connected, and it’s a really intimate way for me to be with somebody. I don’t know if I’d be in a romantic relationship with someone that I wasn’t sexual with. That could change, depending on the person, but that, I think it’s a time to sit down and figure out what you need out of the relationship. Then, perhaps, communicate that with your partner, Figure out where they’re at, and if they’re willing to work on it, or if they’re just done with that.
Reid: Yeah, I mean, the joke is, of course, sexless marriages are nothing new. People who stay together for companionship, because they’re best friends and whatnot, or because they’re co-parenting, the assumption is that an intimate relationship must have sex. It must have knock your socks off, knock over the end table kind of sex, or there something’s wrong. When, in reality, if the reason you’re together is for all these other reasons that never really included sex-
Cathy: For some people, that’s wonderful.
Reid: You might want to stay together. You’re really approaching it from the perspective of needs. If you have sexual needs, and there’s something about your current relationship where you’re not able to get them met together, whether it’s: somebody has an illness or … for whatever reason. The conversation in the relationship, then is about, “Well, I have these needs. I’d like to be getting them met. How can I get them met, because they’re my needs, or my responsibility, in a way that’s healthy for the reasons why we’re together?”
If one of the reasons that you’re together is for the sex, please understand, as we said in the first video, the kind of desire and libido and turn-on that you have when you’re madly in love, that’s a chemical high. That’s your brain chemistry doing that to you versus when that high has worn off, the connection and the libido and the lust and the desire that you have without the drugs, the brain drugs, it’s different, but it’s still accessible. For some people, maybe they just are disinterested in sex. That can be their thing. Doesn’t have to be your problem. If you want to have sex and intimacy in your life, and they don’t want to partake in it, now there’s a conversation about, “Well, why are the reasons that we’re together. Where does sex fit into this? I want to go get this need met that honors both of us. What do we need to do?” Sometimes the answer is we need to transition. Sometimes the answer is-
Cathy: For people that aren’t in the poly community, a lot of people call it transition, like when you end your relationship.
Reid: It means to break up or…
Cathy: Become friends as opposed to lovers.
Reid: Or just co-parents, or whatever that is. The challenges … this is a lot of conversation that you need to be having to figure out what’s a good fit. Most people didn’t inherit really great communication skill sets from the families they grew up in. You may want to bring in a third person who’s a trained listener and mediator. A therapist or counselor, something like that, to help midwife the conversations. You might want to go take a workshop and get better at communicating so you can actually have a real conversation about what you need to do. Sometimes you don’t need to burn everything down and get divorced or break up. Take baby steps.
Cathy: Just because one partner may not … I’ve worked with some clients where one partner didn’t want to have sex anymore, but also didn’t want her partner to go out and have sex with anyone else. You get to choose.
Reid: That becomes a deal breaker, because-
Cathy: For some people.
Cathy: It’s like, no, you don’t get to do that.
Reid: At some point, there may be a situation where you have to break up or transition a relationship. Again, if you’re really measuring the success on depth and honesty, not duration, then the integrus solution for some situations is, “Oh, we need to break up sooner than later.” And that’s a win. Whereas, staying together for 15 years, and both of you being miserable, that doesn’t seem like a win-win in today’s society. It’s not an easy question, and sometimes the answer’s simple, once it becomes clear, but that doesn’t make it easy.
Cathy: There’s one more video in this series. Come back, we’re going to talk about desire.
Reid: Desire! Leave your comments below. Or subscribe. Or do both!