We all know that during the initial phase of a relationship, sex is very exciting and passionate. But what does sex look like in a long-term relationship?
It’s been reported that men tend to lose interest in sex before women in long-term relationships. I got an opportunity to discuss the topic in-depth with Dr. H, a licensed psychologist specializing in couples therapy, neurofeedback, and brain mapping. Here are his thoughts on the topic.
Why do men lose interest in sex?
Dr. H said, “Generally speaking, there are a lot of reasons why men can lose interest in having sex. Self-image issues later in life as men age, there can be life or marital stress involved, deviation from being couple centered, and then there are medical or biological issues like substance abuse or hormone issues.”
1. Low self-esteem
As we age, our body goes through many changes. Our skin loses its elasticity, our hair turns grey, and we may not look as attractive as we used to look in our 20s or 30s. Some men can’t cope with the new body image and might become self-conscious. Such men hesitate in getting naked in front of their partner/s because they might fear the judgment on their part.
2. Stress inhibits libido
Life brings a unique set of stressors that can affect your sex life. If there is unresolved anger or resentment between the couple, if the man feels involved in a family dispute, or if the health of a parent or the child is at stake, this leaves little or no room for sexual feelings.
Physical stressors such as chronic illness, obesity, malaise, insomnia, excessive alcohol and smoking, and general lack of fitness can interfere with sex life.
3. Low testosterone
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. Low testosterone levels can lower libido in some men, if not all.
If low libido is a problem, your doctor may start by testing your testosterone levels. And if it is low, the doctor will give you testosterone that your body is no longer making.
Most men will see their libido pick up within a few weeks of starting this hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone levels in men decline with age. It also decreases in men with type 2 diabetes and obese men. In fact, 35% of men over the age of 45 suffer from low testosterone levels or hypogonadism.
Male testosterone typically measures 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter in a blood test. Doctors may consider levels low if it is below 300, especially if you have symptoms of hypogonadism. This may include a decreased libido.
4. Emotional issues
Dr. H told us, “Emotions are intricately tied with sex, and most men don’t know that until later in life. Despite the common myth of men being macho and women being sensitive, men tend to be the more sensitive gender, especially when it comes to sex. Because you can buy some lubrication and make it seem that a woman is very aroused, but with men, this isn’t the case. They are either aroused or they are not. They can’t really fake it.”
Also Read: Been A While – Get Ready for Sex Again
5. Substance abuse
The use of marijuana, tobacco, and illicit drugs leads to a reduction in testosterone production.
According to a study, male drug addicts are more prone to decreased sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and delayed ejaculation. Erectile dysfunction and decreased libido were more common among heroin users. On the other hand, delayed ejaculation is common to all drug addicts.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause low testosterone levels and low libido in the long term.
6. Communication gap
Dr. H said, “As men age, they need the right kind of and more stimulation. Typically, as they get old, what has worked for them earlier might not work now. And they might have trouble advocating for themselves in what feels like a very intimate and vulnerable way because that requires admitting that they are having a problem.”
How to deal with this problem?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, the first question that must have popped up in your mind upon reading this is how to deal with it. Dr. H said, “The first step in dealing with it is to figure out the root cause. If the cause is medical, personal, or related to self-esteem, then that needs to be addressed accordingly.
But if the root cause is really in the emotional space, then men have to work to feel more vulnerable and opening up to their sexual partner or partners and explore what they need for increased arousal, stimulation, or excitement.”
How to prevent something like this from happening to you?
Ever heard, “Prevention is better than cure?” It is true in all scenarios. So what can one do to avoid ever being in such a situation?
“Working on that emotional connection and being couple-centered throughout the duration of the marriage is very important. So generally, it is very easy when you first get married if you don’t have any kids, even if you are starting a career, as long as you are working enough hours in a week that you still have time to devote to each other.
Once you have kids, or you have a career change, or there is a big stress in life like losing a job or a parent, it’s very easy for the couple to become ‘other-centered’ like ‘career-centered,’ ‘child-centered,’ instead of couple centered. So staying connected to each other and working on emotional intelligence and communication is probably the best way to prevent it,” Dr. H concluded.