Lesbian sex life: ‘Avoid measuring your sex life by how often you do it’

Lesbian sex life: ‘Avoid measuring your sex life by how often you do it’


A lesbian reader is worried she’s not having enough sex with her partner. Dr Petra Boynton encourages her not to take a tally of the amount of times they ‘do it’ and offers advice



I am a 23 year old lesbian. My partner’s 22, we’ve been dating for five years. For the last two, sex certainly hasn’t been the same. We have sex once ever five months. She’s given up on asking so now we just don’t do it. I seem to never be in the mood and when we finally do it, it doesn’t last long and she says it feels like I’m faking it. It never used to be this way. I want to satisfy her and feel satisfied. She’s cheated on me before because of this. I don’t want her going to any other female for something I’m incapable of giving her. I love her with all my heart, I don’t want to lose her or feel like such a failure because I can’t fulfil my girlfriend duties.

You are not alone. Many people reading your letter will identify with your situation.

While mismatched libidos are a major reason people of all sexualities seek therapy, scientific studies of varying quality have suggested ‘lesbian bed death’ – where sex is infrequent or absent the longer you are together – is a unique and inevitable part of all long-term lesbian relationships.

Before this makes you more anxious, it’s worth noting much of this research used very narrow definitions of ‘sex’ and ‘pleasure’ and focused on older lesbian couples whose relationships were in crisis. It didn’t account for issues like parenthood that might explain a lack of desire. Or focus much on those in non-monogamous relationships, younger women, women who weren’t reporting relationship dissatisfaction, or bi and queer women.

So a more accurate picture is that lesbian relationships vary. In some sex never stops being important. In others loving companionship takes priority. Some lesbians are happily asexual.

A lack of sex doesn’t have to be an unavoidable aspect of long-term lesbian relationships. It only constitutes a problem if it is causing you (and/ or your partner) distress.

Unpicking a tangle

You’re unlikely to feel sexy, desired or cherished if sex is something you do to ‘fulfil my girlfriend duties’. Or if you feel inadequate, are afraid your partner will cheat again, or feel under scrutiny you might be ‘faking it’.

Vaginal dryness (as you say you experience in your longer letter) isn’t unusual and using a lubricant can help regardless of how aroused you feel. But being dry is more likely if you’re feeling anxious or not turned on. And can be another reason why you don’t want sex much.

I appreciate your girlfriend may feel unhappy and frustrated with the situation as it is, but are there things she could do to help you feel more nurtured, secure or sexual? Could any of her actions or behaviours be contributing to your lack of desire? Is it easy to talk about this?

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