Living in a sexless relationship?
Many men experience a sexless relationship and yet very few men are talking about it. We wanted to break the silence and have an honest conversation about what it looks like to be in a sexless relationship, how common it is, and what to do about it.
So, we have taken one of our most popular podcast episodes – “Improve a Sexless Relationship” and have given you the transcription below so you can enjoy this episode in written format as well.
Doug Holt: Tim, what I wanted to talk about today was something that came up in a conversation that I’ve had, and you and I have seen this with a lot of men, especially high performing men it seems to happen too as well, or at least they’re willing to take down the masks, right, and talk about it.
But it’s being in a committed relationship, but it’s a sexless relationship. It doesn’t start off that way. Kind of the way this typically works and those listening to us, you know, maybe this lands for you, but they’re in a relationship, they love their partner, married or not. They love the person they’re with, but they haven’t had sex in a long time.
By a long time, let’s just say they’re having sex less than once every two weeks. I’ll call that a sexless relationship, but some people might be once every six months, and it’s not unlikely for a lot of men, especially high-performing men in business to be in these relationships where maybe they’re having sex with their partner once every three months, once every six months.
The question that came up to us was, “I’m in a sexless relationship. What do I do?” How would you respond to that?
Tim Matthews: Yeah, great question. I’d respond by saying I have sex every day. I mean I’d wear the mask and pretend. I’m human. You know, I’ve been there. What do we recommend that the guys do?
There are a few angles, isn’t there? The first one, I’m going to mention the angles and then let’s discuss them because I think you’ll agree with me on this.
The first angle isn’t always the relationship. Is it? Because you can be in a relationship with somebody and feel really attracted to them and really connected to them and have it all there, but just not have the energy to actually act on it because you’re too exhausted and too burnt out by your business. One of the angles is to look at your business and look at your energy from there.
The second angle, obviously, is you, the individual. You could have the business nailed down, the relationship nailed down, but for whatever reason, you can be a lacking passion for life, which ultimately then filters into obviously lacking passion in other areas too.
The third element we’ll definitely get in to discuss and look that would then be the relationship, because maybe you thrive in business, you’ve got things positioned and running in a way whereby you’ve got freedom in your life and you’re on fire there, and also you’ve got a lot of passion for life and you’re happy and fulfilled, but the partner you’re with, there’s just some disconnect in the relationship. In my opinion, it’s definitely going to be one of those three things that you got to look at and dissect and read into.
Doug Holt: That’s really fascinating and intense. Do you think that most of the men actually take the time to look at this or do you think they run away out of fear?
Tim Matthews: If I’m totally honest, without judging, I think a lot of men … I’m thinking about men we’ve worked with, one of two things have typically happened. Often these men are in marriages. Do you know what? My initial response, Doug, was going to be that it leads to one of two things. They either cheat or they just ignore it. In actual fact, a lot of the guys we tend to work with, Doug, don’t actually tend to go and have affairs, don’t actually tend to go outside of their marriage. What they will do is they’ll just kind of run from it and they’ll just ignore it, and they’ll just hide from it, and turn often to porn, or they’ll start to look at other women and fantasize about other women.
Usually, for a lot of the men, it then comes out in some other form, some arguments or some disconnect in the relationship occurs. Even then, this often isn’t spoken about.
Worst case, sometimes the couples even end up getting divorced, when you might not have had to get to that point if you as the man, first and foremost, was willing to be vulnerable in surrender to the fact that, do you know what? This is a sexless relationship, and what can I do to change this? What can we do to change this? Because it’s kind of a little, it can be a little bit of a hit on the male ego, can’t it? To actually realize and accept that, fuck, I’m not having any sex. Getting real with yourself about what can be quite a painful thing for some men, not all men, just some men. Even those men that it’s painful for, it doesn’t make them wrong, or bad, or weak, or anything. It’s just where they’re at.
Doug Holt: So true. Full transparency, which you and I share back and forth a lot, is I’ve been in this position as a married man, and I clearly identified the stages that you kind of go through. What it looked like for my wife and I, whereas very passionate lovers live together, work together, and you kind of, after a while you stop doing those things, you know? You swear you’re never going to, but you stop doing those things that you did when you first got together. Right? That’s a common thread that I’ve seen around, not only myself, from my standpoint, but also the men that we work with and talk to, is you turn in from this partner, this passionate love to roommates, right? You just kind of pass each other and then it’s kind of like, “Ugh, my roommate didn’t do the dishes. Ugh.”
These little things start to add up, and you guys sit on the couch and watch TV, and you start sedating yourself through porn, but TV and get complacent. Then you go from roommates to just like friends. Then, the next stage is you go back to kind of like roommates that aren’t friends, and that kind of, you don’t even want to have sex with your wife, or your partner at that point, and they don’t want it to with you, because you’ve lost that passion, the dating, the dating aspect where there’s an aspect of chase and being chased. Those go both ways. Men tend to take the role of being the pursuer, right? But you know, a lot of men want to be pursued also. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems to be formulaic, right? That these stages start to happen.
Within these stages, what I see with high-performing men is that they tend to turn that energy and angst that they have and that kind of disassociation with their partner, they turn it towards business, they focus that energy and spend more and more time in their business, because it’s something that they can move the needle in and get some significance. Because as you said, and I can testify to this, that when we entered this stage in our marriage, where it became this, basically, just roommates for a little while and I didn’t want to have sex with my wife, frankly, what happened for me is I did feel lesser than, and I was able to, I took that energy of that lesser than and took it towards sports, being a very competitive athlete. Into sports, but then also into business and business as a sport to channel that energy before I realized that I was in this cycle and figure out a way out. So it was really eyeopening for me to go through the whole process as well.
Tim Matthews: One of the things as well that came up for me as you were speaking, Doug, and I was, again, thinking about my own experience and those stages of going from lovers, to roommates, friends, to roommates that don’t like each other, one of the things that sometimes gets overlooked is if you are seeing your partner through that lens, then it’s more often than not that you’re also seeing yourself through a different lens too.
Doug Holt: Yeah.
Tim Matthews: Because when you’re single, what do you do? You work out, you want to look good, you want to look sharp, you want to be a good catch, don’t you? You’re seeing yourself through that lens.
Then when you get with your partner, you’re also seeing her through that lens too. Then obviously things happen. Maybe complacencies and habits creep in, and you start to, first of all, see yourself differently without even kind of realizing it sometimes.
Then, ultimately, obviously, seeing her differently too, because it’s very difficult to figure to look at somebody and see them differently to how you typically would look at yourself and see yourself, you know?
Yeah, I totally relate as well with channeling that energy into the business and just hiding out there because it’s easy.
What we’ll do, well yeah, we, what I have done in the past is work harder and work longer so then you don’t really … You make excuses about the don’t you that, “Oh well, I’m just too tired to have sex.
There’s just not enough room in the day to have sex.” You kind of find ways and reasons for why it’s acceptable because you are, you know, you’re over there, you’re busy making money and she’s just busy, and you’re just both busy.
The reality is that there’s something deeper there. For me, so now what we’ve kind of covered, if we think about those three areas that I mentioned at the beginning, we started to talk about business a little bit there, haven’t we? But if I was to shift it a little bit and shift this conversation a little bit, one of the things that have been true for me is that my needs, my sexual desires have changed during the time that I haven’t been with my partner.
I don’t want to have the same old boring sex. I just don’t, you know? It’s not that I don’t love her, or whatever, but what is it the excites you about the fact of, you know, when you first sleep with your wife, or someone new, or even when, you know, why do people have affairs?
Sometimes, it’s not the only reason, but sometimes it’s that thrill of the chase. It’s the excitement, it’s the passion, it’s the newness. It’s that energy, isn’t it? It then becomes a case of, well, how can you then create that energy with your wife and your partner? Is it that you start to have some time apart and you start to just date one another again?
I’m kind of going off on a little bit of a tangent here with what I’m about to say, but I can’t remember which celebrity or business person or whoever, I can’t remember who it was, but I remember reading an interview from this person who was very happily married, very happily married for however many decades, and he actually had his own house.
They had a house in which the married couple lived, but they also had a separate house that either of them could retreat to, and go and stay some days on their own, and you know, whatever.
That obviously then created the space, didn’t it? Creates the space and maybe, you can then use that to kind of feel like you’re still dating one another. There’s still some freshness in some newness to the relationship, but yeah, for me, one of the big things is to be able to discuss when my sexual desires change, and be able to do that and then find a way to have my needs be met.
Because in all honesty, Doug, if I was to end the relationship with Emilia thinking that sex was the issue, and then going into a new relationship with another woman, I’d probably encounter the same thing after a certain timeframe, because I’d be relying on that, just the surface level of the new connection, the new energy to be the thing that’d get me through in the short term.
Ultimately, however many months in, or years in, I’d come up against the same upper limit. Yeah, it’s such a key, the key part in my opinion. To be honest, it’s something that I’m still learning, always learning how to navigate, is how to express those new desires and then have them be met.
Doug Holt: Yeah, I agree with you. Again, this is one of those things where you and I could go off for hours, but you know, one of the things you talked about was how our sexual desire desires change. I think this is a tangent, but an important one to cover, because there’s really three types of sex that we have as couples, right? We have what’s called friction sex and this is what experts have boiled that down too.
There are not my own terms, but you know, as always learning from other people. Friction sex is contact sex, right? Feels good. You relieve stress, you relieve tension, and we all have that, it builds up and ugh, you just feel that good release. Within that stage of friction sex, the first stage, you always need variety, you always need to change things up. “We need sex toys, we need other partners. We need all kinds of fantasies, right?” Because that means the release.
The second stage that people fall into after friction sex is validation sex, right? This is where couples have been there for a while. I need to validate, if I don’t, having sex, I need to validate the I’m good enough, right? Connecting with my partner to seek validation, right? That’s the next sex, or sex driven by anxiety is another common one with business people, because it always comes with a demand for the relationship. Like this is what I’m needing to fulfill during the sex act. I need to feel connected to you. I need to feel that, you know, you love me, that I’m validated, that I’m a good enough man, et cetera, et cetera.
Now the third stage is the stage we’re all really wanting to get to. Trust me, the friction sex is what we think we want to be, but it’s really the third, and there’s a place for all of these a little bit. The third is connected to sex. It’s that feeling of openness, tenderness, kind of erotic feeling where, really, what we’re connecting to is our own desire rather than just our partners. It’s that kind of sex you have with your eyes wide open. You know the lights can still be on and that’s okay, we don’t have to do this in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and everything else, but you’re opening, you’re connecting, and you’re communicating.
Consciously or, sorry not consciously, but verbally or not verbally, you’re communicating what’s going on for you with your partner. It’s just a very safe space to be risky, and what I mean by that is you’re peeling back the layers and you’re showing who you really are, right? You’re showing your vulnerabilities, and through vulnerabilities and stories, right, that’s how we connect. We think that we connect in different ways, but it’s really the vulnerabilities that we share with each other that allow us to go to that deeper level.
That connected sex is that sex that, what I’ve talked to when I seek out people in my life that have been a longterm marriages that have been, you know, kind of role models for my wife and I, and that’s something we actively actually seek out are these role models that are down the path further. This is where they stay. This is their sweet spot where they share things, and not outside the bedroom, but they also share them in the bedroom. By being open and vulnerable, it’s always changing. You get that freshness. You get that newness without what we think of the friction sex where you have to bring in toys and everything else. Now you can bring them in with the connected sex. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are the three levels of progression in the relationship, in a sexual relationship.
Oftentimes what happens to married couples is you get complacent, either one person or both people, and I know talking to women as I’ve gone through all this relationship coaching and things like that, they often complain that the man becomes complacent. “I got her. Cool, now I’m going to get fat.” “I got her, now I’m not going to work out anymore.” To your point. Because you think, “Hey, I got the person. Now I no longer have to do those things that I did when we were just dating when it was easy for her just to leave. Now she’s here, I’ve caught her, and you start going back to really validation sex or friction sex, where you’re just doing it, right? You’re just having sex to get off, essentially. It’s masturbation with a partner, is the way that I would describe it.
Getting through those three levels is really important to say, “Hey, where am I now in my relationship? Where am I honestly now? Am I having friction sex?” You know, and I’m thinking, “Okay, we’ve got to try these 30 different positions before I have an orgasm.” Or, “Am I having validation sex?” And let’s be real, a lot of us go through that validation thing, where if we’re in a sexless relationship, we want to have sex just to even be validated that this relationship still has a connection.
Then the third again, is that truly connected sex and how do you get there? Tim, I think that’s something that’s so often overlooked because for some reason and in our society, you know, Western culture, we just assume sex is something everybody knows like, “Oh yeah, this is something that you should just know how to do.” And people don’t talk about it. It’s an odd, odd thing to me that we assume that everybody’s born an expert in the subject area. For some reason, this puritanic culture almost, it’s just not something that is talked about openly and honestly and people hide behind it.
Tim Matthews: Where I was brought up in the UK especially, it’s very PC, and it’s very suppressed. If you look at it now, I mean Amelia and I were sat on the sofa the other day watching this dating show, and it was so bizarre. Because it was basically showing lots of different men and women and what their journey was like in today’s dating world with the dating apps. Obviously, there’s such a disposable mentality around people and around sex and around relationships. “I’m just going to swipe. I don’t like you.” Swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, swipe, and we were discussing about what it would be like to be single right now, because I came out, I was in a relationship for six to seven years, came out of that, I was obviously engaged to get married then and called it all off. Came out of that, and then within, you know, 12 months, I then met Amelia. Yeah, I went on dating apps a little bit at that time, but I really immersed myself in work and I wanted to be on my own.
Really, I went on dating apps at 10 o’clock at night when I got into bed to just kill 15 minutes, to just switch off, to be honest. That was really before they were really picking up pace. The thought of being single now and what it would be like, and the mentality of sex and dating and relationships is really quite scary and interesting at the same time. I think inevitably, it boils over into how we then show up in our relationship, or it can boil over into how we show up in our relationship and what we expect from our partner and from sex, especially with how women are portrayed in the media as well, whether it’s social media, whether it’s Instagram, all these different things where all you’re doing is seeing women that are airbrushed, or this, or that.
It warps the reality of what you, it does for me anyway, warps my reality of what I then ought to expect. It can be quite easy, my opinions, then take that level of expectation into the relationship and also filter your sex life through that lens too. Especially when you don’t have the knowledge and the awareness around what you just spoke about, Doug, the types of sex, combined then with, as men, how we’re taught to suppress our emotion and hide it and not speak our voice. We kind of then form all these judgments and make all these decisions without really gathering much information or speaking our voice, or we can’t anyway.
Doug Holt: Yeah. So true. So taking this full circle back to the original guys that we were talking about and we’ve had conversations, and really myself, gosh, six years ago, maybe at this point, something along those lines. To a man who is listening to this, or woman who, because we do get that, we get women that reach out to us because they want their husband to go through The Powerful Man, or their partner, to go through The Powerful Man program. To somebody listening to this that’s in a sexless relationship, what would you say, and I’ll share my opinion, but what would you say are kind of the first three or so action steps that they could be taking to move forward?
Tim Matthews: I’m going to use what we actually teach in the Activation Method because I think it’s so, so true. The first one would be to understand what your needs are, because often, you know, we ask the guys going Activation Method, well, “Are your needs being met?” There’s kind of like a blank stare often on their face. Which, you know, again, doesn’t make them wrong or anything, it’s just where they’re at. That blank stare comes from them not actually knowing what their needs are. How do you then become aware of what your needs are? Well, the eight compass questions I think are a great place to start, and that’s where you and your partner both answer eight questions, and I’m not going to go through them all right now.
Basically, the result of going through those eight questions is that you become very clear on what your needs are in the relationship, what it looks like for the relationship to be thriving for you both in and out of the bedroom. Because ultimately it’s only going to thrive in a bedroom if it’s also thriving outside of the bedroom too.
The second thing I would then say is the even breakdown. How that works is it’s four questions that you would go through at the end of the day, ideally over dinner. Those four questions basically create a space whereby you can ask and bring up any ways in which you may have annoyed one another in the day. You’re then checking on each other’s wins for the day, your goals, and basically asking a question that, “If every day was like this, would we be living our life to the fullest?” Now, it isn’t the exact wording, but basically the outcome of it really allows each person to be seen, heard, and appreciated and clears the air, which again goes to that solid connection.
Then, the third one is to always be speaking everything that you think and feel. Which I don’t know, you might be thinking, “What?” Surely I don’t want to be speaking everything that thinks and feel, but it’s really key to be able to communicate authentically to the woman that’s in your life so that you can, again, not be holding anything back, but also be able to create a space whereby there’s no resentment, there’s no guilt, there’s no shame, because all of these things will just block up the relationship and disconnect you. Of course, you get to communicate in a way whereby you’re being a victim, you blaming anyone, and you’re not pointing a finger. Quite the opposite, taking top ownership of what you feel and how things are going on. Otherwise, if you don’t do that, then things will build up, they will boil over, and arguments will ensue, and that’s why you tend to move from the whole, well you tend to start to become roommates, and then roommates that don’t even enjoy living together.
Doug Holt: I love that and I think those are great action steps that can go right away, and we’ve seen them work with countless men. One of my favorites is the, personally, and my wife and I use, is the nightly check-in, right? Or check-out depending on what you want to say. That connection time at the end of the evening just to discuss and open-ended questions even, like “How was your day? Like what happened?” Because I, again, we’ve talked about this, but I see it as a common thread that all too often as we grow as people, as men, or as humans in general, we forget that our partner is also growing and is also changing and evolving, and their thoughts, their dreams, their fears, their desires are changing. Unless we ask them, oftentimes we just don’t know. We assume that the person that we started dating six years ago, three years ago, six months ago is the same. It’s just not true. At least you hope it’s not true, right?
You hope that as you’re growing, and anybody that’s listening to this show is on a path of growth, right? On somewhere in their journey, that their partner also is growing. If they’re not, then you know, that’s a sad thing. But you don’t know unless you ask and have those conversations. I think that’s so true. In the Activation Method, going through that with the men, we see a huge change not only in their business, right, but in their relationships. There are so many people that talk about this that how your business, and your money, and your finance is closely tied into your intimacy, and the level of intimacy you share with somebody else. I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’m not sure if you have Tim, but I’ve certainly seen it where when men up-level the level of intimacy they have with their partners. Now, this could be with women, this could be with another man, this could be with anything, right? But that level of intimacy that they’re having with a partner coincides with their success in so many different areas. Do you see that as well?
Tim Matthews: Yeah, for sure. Certainly. It’s just an absolute catalyst, isn’t it? Because, you know when you’re able to be intimate, by default you’re being vulnerable. When you’re able to be vulnerable, by default there’s no mask. When you’re able to take off the mask, then what happens in business is you go after, or rather allow yourself to create your biggest and best ideas. You’re a much calmer leader. You communicate in a much more grounded manner to your team. There are so many ways in which I could go on and talk about this. Yeah, it’s so, so true.
Doug Holt: Absolutely. It’s often an area that causes the most pain for us, yet we tend to hide from it, right? We don’t look at it. We look towards business. We look towards even our health, right? We can get on a scale and look at the weight and adjust it, but for some reason, and the reason being is that because it scares us the most because it’s the most precious, we hide from relationships. We don’t talk about them, right? It’s not cool to talk about, you know, “Hey, I’m having problems in my marriage, or with my partner.” No, we’d rather talk about, hey, it’s okay to talk about problems in your business. It’s okay to talk about weight. It’s okay for men to talk about all these other things. When it comes to their intimate relationships, for some reason in our society, it’s not okay to discuss it or talk about it. Therefore, as men, we’re stifled and we have to hide. That is something that just needs to change.
Tim, in wrapping up here, cause we’re, we’re coming to the time, and we’ll have many conversations about this, and I encourage the men to jump in to the Activation Method group and discuss some of these things that are coming up, and we’ll bring them to the table as well. But coming to an end, you know, you’ve given us takeaways to start right away through the Activation Method, things that are being taught currently. If a guy’s listening to this right here, right now, what’s the one thing they need to do?
Tim Matthews: Come clean.
Doug Holt: Boom, simple and powerful, man. Well done.
Tim Matthews: It’s true, isn’t it? Come clean about where you’re at and what’s going on and how you’re showing up because unless you do that, for as long as you want to choose to lie and deny and avoid and run from, you’ll continue to lie and deny and avoid and run from. Just come clean, you know, it doesn’t make you good, or wrong, or bad, or weak, whatever. Where you’re at is where you’re at. Just come clean.
Doug Holt: There it is. Come, clean guys. It is the scariest thing for many of us to come clean, to take off the mask, so to speak and expose who we are as men. As I describe it often, and Tim, I know you do too. To me, the definition of a real man is stepping into that fear. Most of the powerful men that we know, in fact, all of the powerful men we know have conquered that fear and step into it regularly. Now you step back into it.
So, gentlemen, as you’re out there listening to this, and Tim and I just having this discourse and sharing this conversation with you, and you’re involved in this as you’re listening to this as if there’s three of us here, is coming clean, be honest with yourself. Be raw and honest with yourself first, and then find a tribe of men who are growing as well, right? We encourage you to go, obviously, the reason The Powerful Man was started was to create this conversation, this place where men like you could go to, to have conversations that matter, take off the mask without judgment, and actually grow together and step into your power, step into that life that you deserve, that you know is there waiting for you. It’s your calling to claim it. That’s all you have to do.
Tim, as always, great talking to you and I’m sure you and I will throw some jabs left and right at each other jokingly at the end of this, but thank you again for so much information and sharing all that you have here. We’ll talk again in the next episode.
Last update of the article: 11/01/2019