In 1983, sociologist Pepper Schwartz coined the term "lesbian bed death," which is the idea that queer women eventually become so comfortable in their relationships that they stop having sex. Understandably, queer women aren't exactly thrilled with the term, because it furthers harmful stereotypes about women's (even straight women's) sex drives — namely, that they don't have one. And, the truth is, every kind of couple goes through bed death, it's just called something else.
Bed death by any other name is a dry spell or a sex slump, and most long-term couples (straight or gay) will go through it at least once, says Paulette Sherman, PsyD, a New York City-based psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out. "Couples fall into a dry spell for a variety of reasons. Sometimes sex wanes because partners start taking each other for granted, and they find themselves less attracted to one another," she says. Stress, depression, poor body image, fear of rejection, or fear of poor sexual performance can also affect your libido. And then sometimes, people are just too exhausted from work or kids (or both) to create time for intimacy.
For a lot of couples, going from hot and heavy to tired and timid sets off alarm bells. Carolynn Aristone, LCSW, an intimacy breakthrough specialist, sees many couples who come to her office worried that their sex slump equals impending doom for their relationship. "They think, What’s wrong with me, what’s wrong with us," she says. "It creates feelings of doubt, and the seed of rejection gets planted."
Aristone and Dr. Sherman have a four-step plan for any couple who wants to get over those feelings (and under each other again). Read on for their advice.