You’re Partner’s Sex Drive On Again, Off Again? What Can You Do?

by Reid on October 26, 2017

Happy coupleHow can you take care of yourself when you’re partners sexual connection is on-again, off-again?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: Someone wrote in and said, “We have had this relationship with this woman on and off again, and the -“ 

Reid: Is it “we have had” or “I have had”? 

Cathy: This person wrote in, “I’ve been in a relationship with this woman -“ 

Reid: Oh okay. 

Cathy: “For over four years, and it’s …”

They have fabulous sex sometimes. The sex drive seems to come and go. 

Reid: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Cathy: One time they’re together and things are really great, and then it just kind of wanes, and they break up. Then they might get back together, and there’s no sex at all. They kind of have an on again, off again relationship with the sex drive being fabulous and really wonderful, and other times not being there at all. He’s wondering how he can take care of himself, and if this is … What he’s doing wrong, or what he could do differently so that they could have a better relationship. 

Reid: Okay, I’m Reid Mihalko from 

Cathy: This is Cathy Vartuli from 

Reid: You have all been submitting some really awesome questions. We’ve got to congratulate you. This is a good one. 

Cathy: It’s really vulnerable. I love that people are asking about these things ’cause these are the kinds of things that a lot of people don’t talk about, and it just kind of stays in the closet. When it’s in the closet it can fester and kind of, it’s harder to track, like, “Hmm, is this something I want to put up with? Is this something I can change? Is this normal? Does everyone go through it?” 

Reid: Well, what’s you advise? I’m curious to hear your thoughts. 

Cathy: I think that realizing sometimes sex drive does change, but from the way he described it, it sounds like it’s kind of black or white. There’s either a lot of sex that’s really good, or no sex. He’s tried talking about it, but it hasn’t really gone well. There’s not really a communication around it. I think deciding for yourself what you need out of the relationship. Like when he talks about, “What’s your relationship intention? Why are you in a relationship?” If this fulfills you in a lot of other ways, maybe it’s okay to put up with the on again, off again kind of thing.

I have some friends that I love that we don’t see each other very often, or I don’t know what they’ll be like when I see them, but they’re cool enough and fun enough that it’s like, “Okay. It’s part of the ride.” I have other friends that I’m like, “Hmm, no. You don’t bring enough to my life. You don’t …” What we are together isn’t valuable enough for me to want to have that much uncertainty in my own life. It’s not contributing to my life in a way I want to interact with. 

Reid: In regards to this question, do you see them less often, and when you see them it’s better? 

Cathy: Some of them. Some of them, I’m just like, “No. It was really fun while it lasted, and I don’t want to continue a relationship with you.” 

Reid: What are you telling to this person? 

Cathy: To figure out what he wants out of a relationship, and particularly out of this relationship. Is it fulfilling you overall? Is this person wonderful in many ways that leaves you feeling happy even though the sex isn’t good? Is it mostly a sexual relationship where it’s like, “Okay, no sex for six months. Okay. Why don’t you call me when you’re interested in sex, and we’ll see if we can hook up?” 

Reid: My advice … Thank you for that. My advice is it sounds like … Assuming from what you wrote it, that there’s a pattern where you get back together, the sex is good, then it wanes. You break up, and then nothing. Then when you get back together, the sex is good again. You have enough data to realize this is what we’re doing. It’s not working for you because you would like to not have to break up to get back to the good sex. If you are somebody who likes having off and on again lovers, or fuck buddies, then this is a fuck buddy relationship. 

Cathy: Yeah. You don’t see them as often. 

Reid: “Hey, let’s …” You can be intentional about it, “Let’s see each other for three weeks, and then not see each other for six months, and then see each other for three weeks, and then not see each other for six months because that’s what makes the sex and the friendship, the fuck-buddy-ship, work best.” You might be getting clear that, “Wow. Really what I want is a committed relationship where I can have good sex with somebody and a connection most of the time,” in which case, after a few conversations with this person, I would also reading Esther Perel’s book “Mating in Captivity”. For this specific situation, after reading that book, the both of you if you can, then having some conversations, what you might realize is, “Oh, we’re not actually a good fit to have a Relationship with a capital R. We shouldn’t have one.” In which case, these are perfectly nice people, but the way that you fit together, and what you want out of life isn’t a match. You’re not dating your species. 

Cathy: Yeah. Reid also has a great thing about when to break up in bad relationships. 

Reid: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Cathy: That’s worth looking at whether you’re wanting to end your relationship or not because just knowing how you could do it, and what you would look for as bottom-line is a really useful thing. Deciding what your bottom-line is around this, how much the sex and consistent sex matters, that could make a big different. 

Reid: Yeah. It sounds like they break up though, and then they get back together. 

Cathy: Right, but it might be … I don’t know the particular situation well, but at some point you might say, “This is the bottom-line. We’re not getting back together again.” There’s a boundary there. 

Reid: Take a look at the cycles, read the book, it’s a great book, and have some conversations. Then figure out if you’re actually … What you both want is similar, and if you’re a good fit because you could also both want the same thing, but still be a bad fit, and that’s probably why it’s not working. 

Cathy: Yeah. We hope this helped. Leave the comments below, and let us know what you think.

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