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Relationships chat with peer advisors
askTheSites online peer advisors, Suze, Serendipity, Patrick and Caroline answered your questions about heartbreak, sex drive and being single, in a live session.
**helen**: Hi everyone, go ahead and ask a question if you have one.
crazygirl: I have a problem which is nearly tearing my relationship apart. I've been with my man for four and a half years, and for the last three my sex drive has diminished. It's now at the point where we never have sex. I wish I wanted to but I don't. I've been to the doctor and been told there's nothing that can be done, and they don't offer counselling (I can't afford it).
Patrick: It sounds like you're still together. Do you have other moments for physical intimacy in your relationship? Like kissing and hugging?
crazygirl: Yes lots, I love to kiss and cuddle and have massages even, but just not sex.
Patrick: It's really great that you are both able to maintain physical intimacy through cuddles, massage and kissing. That's really important. It's really easy to lose these moments when sex becomes tricky.
Serendipity: Hey crazygirl, have you talked through how you've been feeling with your partner?
crazygirl: Yes, and he's very understanding but also he can't abstain from sex forever!
Suze: Loss of sex drive happens to a lot of people and can be a number of factors. Do you find that exercising makes a difference to your sex drive? Could it be a contraceptive pill that is affecting it?
Caroline: Could it also be your diet that's affecting your sex drive?
crazygirl: I have a healthy diet so probably not. I'd love counselling I but can't afford it :(
Caroline: It's good that you've been to your doctor, and as Suze said before, depending on your age we may be able to find some support for you where your doctor couldn't help.
Suze: Could you tell me your age and I will source some counselling options for you.
crazygirl: I'm 23 this week.
Patrick: If you keep up with kissing and hugging then chances are you'll be able to maintain good communication. Crazygirl - how does your partner feel about the situation?
crazygirl: He's understanding but increasingly upset that I won't sleep with him, and it's having an effect on his confidence - he doesn't feel good about himself anymore.
Caroline: It may help to keep reassuring him that he's still important to you.
crazygirl: He's definitely willing to work through it with me but it's definitely tough on him. He knows I'm important to him. Our relationship is so strong except for this one issue!
Patrick: It's normal for your partner to feel in some way responsible for the situation. This is why it's really important to keep moments for massage and other physical intimacy to reassure him and keep you together during this difficult time. You may also find TheSite.org's article on sex therapy useful.
Suze: Brook could be a good option for you. It's the only national voluntary sector provider of free and confidential sexual health advice and services for the under 25s. They offer free counselling so this could be very helpful.
crazygirl: Oh, I didn't know about Brook. All I knew about was Relate who charge for counselling. Thanks for that!
**helen**: I hope that helps crazygirl. We're gonna move on to dancingboy's question now.
crazygirl: Thank you :) xx
dancingboy: I have no idea what's happening, or how this works but here goes, my problem is I can't get someone out my head and I'm finding it really hard since we stopped seeing each other. Sorry if it seems lame in comparison to crazygirl's problem, but I've been struggling for months now and it's not the first time.
Serendipity: It's not lame at all.
Suze: Hi dancingboy. Is this someone that you're still hanging out with/friends with? It's not lame! It's all valid!
Caroline: It sounds like a tough situation. How long has it been since you stopped seeing each other?
dancingboy: We have no contact now (other than through a friend) which is strange coz we were close and getting on so well. We stopped seeing each other in February.
Serendipity: It can be really hard when you can't stop thinking about someone. I know it's really cliché but it does take time to get over someone.
Suze: It's a tough one, but distraction is the key. Sometimes just going out with friends and doing your usual social pursuits isn't enough, you might need a change of scene.
dancingboy: I know, but this has happened before with her two years ago, its more complex than it sounds on the surface. I have a hectic and great social life with friends etc but it doesn't stop her (and a particular image) entering my head 24/7.
Suze: When someone is stuck in your head, it's like a habit - you think about them all the time. The key is to break the habit.
Serendipity: Yeah, it's kind of like an addiction sometimes.
Caroline: So a change of routine sometimes helps to break the habit.
dancingboy: The background to it is a bit too long unfortunately. I've tried to break the habit but I feel addicted.
Suze: As we all know (especially smokers!) it's not always easy. Try this little exercise on a daily basis. Picture her in front of you - a very bright colourful vivid picture. Imagine her voice and things that remind you of her. Now that's the painful bit over...
Now imagine that the picture turns black and white and fades into a very small dot in the background. It's so small in fact that you can barely make it out. The sounds and colours have faded and you can just feel the painfulness fading away with it.
dancingboy: Every day?
Suze: Practise visualising her picture grainy and small and grey everyday, so that you're now in the habit of 'seeing' her in a different way. I appreciate that it sounds a bit bonkers, but the mind responds to practical assignments like this, it's about changing your view of something so that it's not as big or as important anymore.
dancingboy: I'm worried because we saw each other for a few months two and a half years ago and the same thing happened then, and lasted six months, but now its a lot worse because of one particular image!
"Gordon and Tana Ramsay reportedly have a rota for sex or romantic time so that they can fit in their relationship around their children and busy work schedule!"
Suze: Every time you have a thought of her, shrink it down and throw it far into the distance and remember that you are a great person with great friends and you can move forward without her.
dancingboy: Ta Suze, I'll give it a go.
Caroline: Last time, what made you stop thinking about her? Or did it just gradually stop?
dancingboy: It stopped eventually but it wasn't anywhere near like this because it didn't involve my fantasy. I feel so frustrated by it all, and its affecting my ability to sleep and work etc.
nelly_bar: hmm, my relationship just began to vanish to barely any contact at the end, which has made it a lot easier to move on...not easy, but still easier than if we talked all the time and saw each other a lot.
**helen**: It sounds like Suze's suggestion is definitely worth a try - thanks for your question dancingboy. You may also like to visit our discussion forums for further peer advice. J
Megan: All my friends are getting boyfriends and are totally besotted, which I don't understand but can sort of understand if you know what I mean. But I don't have too much interest in getting a boyfriend, I mean I do like lads, I look at some and think wow I fancy him, but I never actually think oh I want to be in a relationship with him. I don't feel like I'm ready for a relationship but everyone around me is and I do feel pushed into it although I'm not going to. I'm a virgin and I do want to have sex, I really feel ready to. I don't want to just sleep with anyone, yet I don't want a relationship.
Caroline: You seem to know what you want though Megan, and that's good.
Suze: Hi Megan, when everyone around you is doing something it feels like the norm - so by default you feel like you should be doing it too.
Serendipity: Yeah, it sounds like you've got a good sense of who you are and what you want really.
Suze: Your first instinct is correct - if you don't fancy it, don't do it - listen to all your friends about their adventures with boys, then sit back and relax while you avoid all the relationship dramas! The best thing is when you actually meet someone you really want to date - it's totally worth the wait.
Serendipity: Relationships can be fun, but they're much better when it's one you actually want to be in.
Megan: So when will I want a relationship? Never? The time will come? That makes me want to bang my head against a wall!
Suze: Some people want a relationship just to have a relationship, others want a relationship with someone specific that they connect with. So when someone comes along that floats your boat you'll be surprised how differently you feel.
Patrick: When it comes to dating, things can be complicated because it's not all down to us - it also depends on the person we're dating. This film called 'The Things We Do for Love" by Alex Gollner has a bunch of people talking through just how complicated dating can get.
Suze: Also, you can meet people that you want to spend time with but on a more casual basis, it simply depends on how well you fit together and how you both feel at the time.
Megan: I know people say you'll feel differently and I'm sure I will but I don't know. I want to have all the same troubles and relationship problems as my friends go on about even if they are a pain in the arse and a lot of heartache. I guess I'm just feeling like I'm missing out on something - on the unknown!
Serendipity: Yeah, it's understandable. Keep going out with your friends, or even try new things and join clubs to meet new people.
Suze: Megan - well there's nothing like a bit of relationship drama to gossip about with your mates. Your time will come though, and believe me there'll be plenty of great guys, and probably a few pain in the arses too!
Serendipity: Yeah, and you'll begin to miss the single life.
Megan: Ah I guess so.
Caroline: Go out and enjoy yourself first, you'd be surprised at what happens and the people you meet!
**helen**: Thanks guys. I've got a question that came in via email. It's another one about sex drive...
**helen**: Ever since my partner and I had our first child, sex seems to have disappeared completely and even though we are still affectionate to each other our love life is gone.
Now our son is coming up to his second birthday it still hasn't returned. Originally the problem stemmed from it being sore for her, she had a small amount of trouble during labour and had stitches. After seeing the doctor and physio she was given the all clear, we had sex once and all went OK but any advances at the moment get an instant knockback.
I understand she is tired a lot as she looks after my son while I work and a lot stems from the fact he still doesn't sleep through the night and ends up in our bed. However, it is getting me down. I try to have a mildly romantic evening for ourselves after my son is in bed but she'd rather do something else. It's really frustrating for me as it's been a long time, and my confidence has shot to zero. What I can do?
Patrick: Hi there and thanks for your question. It's really common for routines around sex to change once a couple have a child. Looking after the child takes loads of extra energy and focus. One way forward can be to try and develop new routines for sex that fit with your new routines.
Serendipity: Talking to your partner might be a good idea as well. There might be worries that she's having that you haven't realised. For example, worries about the procedures she's had and feeling attractive etc. It'll be a chance for you to share your feelings with her also.
Suze: It is tiring looking after a child, and as a result the dynamic of your relationship has changed. A new routine would help - encouraging your child to sleep in his own bed is a start. Make sure your bedroom is your personal space for both of you. Create some sort of timetable that gives her more time to be herself again and not just a Mum. You may also find the BBC's article about how the demand of modern life can impact on our sex lives, interesting.
Patrick: It may be an opportunity to explore different ways of sexual play, e.g. keeping things shorter and more intense during times in the day when you've both got high energy levels.
Suze: Interestingly, Gordon and Tana Ramsay reportedly have a rota for sex or romantic time so that they can fit in their relationship around their children and busy work schedule!
Patrick: Boyfriend and girlfriend time...
Serendipity: it's obvious you care about her a lot, having made efforts with trying to be romantic. So try talking to her about how you're feeling, and perhaps you'll find a way to work through it together.
crazygirl: Wow sounds exactly like me - except we have no baby!
Suze: Finally, could you go away together, on a child-free weekend, somewhere where she can be pampered and remind herself of her life before motherhood?
**helen**: Thanks guys, time to wrap it up now. Hope you all found it helpful and thanks loads for your time advisors!
Serendipity: No worries, just hope it was useful!
dancingboy: Thanks folks
Caroline: Good luck with everything dancingboy and Megan.
dancingboy: Thanks Caroline, I'll try my best
**helen**: And don't forget everyone, if you'd like further support you can always askTheSite
Megan: Thank you everyone.