My partner and I still have sex. But is she only doing it out of kindness?

I’m a 33year-old man who has been in a relationship with a woman for the best part of two years. While we have had ups and downs during our relationship, we do still regularly have sex. At the start, the sexual intimacy was good – and we both initiated. But recently I’ve noticed less interest from my partner, while my libido levels have remained really high. It feels like my partner only engages to satisfy me.

People do sometimes go through the motions of lovemaking without really wanting to – they bypass their real feelings for some reason, such as wanting to stay in the relationship. If you are sensing this in your partner, it’s time to have a gentle and non-blaming talk with her. Perhaps you could ask her what else you could do to give her more pleasure. Ask if there is something hindering her sexual enjoyment, such as work stress or general anxiety. Perhaps she has a physical issue she has not yet disclosed.

It will be possible to rediscover your erotic connection, but only if you address it kindly and lovingly and take the time to learn what her current needs might be – and share your own. It would also be worth checking in with her about your relationship generally: is there something that is bothering her? Does she feel that there is parity between you or not? Perhaps she feels angry or resentful towards you for some reason (such feelings can drastically reduce desire). Preface any “why” question you might have with the expression: “Please help me to understand” so you do not make her feel judged or attacked. And listen very, very carefully to her answers.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to (please don’t send attachments). Each week, Pamela chooses one problem to answer, which will be published online. She regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

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