Our sex life was great when our relationship was long-distance. Now we live together, everything has changed

Previously, we made the most of our time together, and both enjoyed having an open relationship – but now we have moved in together, I feel my partner is no longer physically attracted to me

I have enjoyed a long-distance relationship with my partner for five years. We are both male and used to enjoy a healthy sex life, often enjoying the time we were together, knowing we would not see each other for a few weeks. Sex seemed to be a reciprocal, affectionate adventure that occasionally included a third person to spice things up. We have since moved in together and now it seems that I am the one doing all the work. Most of the initiation and certainly all of the imagination, seems to be coming from me. I don’t feel he is attracted to me or interested in me physically any more. This weekend, he wanted to go out to a gay sauna, but I didn’t, so he went alone. Which would be fine if we were enjoying a healthy sex life, but we’re not. So the open part has now replaced our own intimate life. I feel that this is a significant change. He won’t talk about it, other than to say I am being insecure, hypocritical or unreasonable. To be honest, I have doubted myself because I too have enjoyed the benefits of the open relationship but only when they were the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. How do I reignite our own sex life?

Your disappointment at the lack of ease you are experiencing in segueing into this new phase is understandable, but, for now, you will have to lower your expectations. Such a significant change in a relationship typically requires time and careful negotiation. There is probably nothing wrong with your sex life itself – you just need to discuss your individual needs and desires and try to reach a workable understanding. Some couples are better off not living together, but it is too early to know if you meet that criteria. In addition, all kinds of extra issues arise in open relationships and you will have to tackle these one at a time. Be very specific in your negotiations: you could suggest for example, “Could we agree to take turns initiating sex?” Many relationships – of all types – fail when one partner feels the unspoken contract is an unfair one. And sexual interest can be lowered due to the accompanying underlying resentment. It would be best to address it, gently, as soon as possible.

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 [email protected] (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: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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