Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Posted: 03 Aug 2011 06:15 AM PDT
Sex-Starved Gay Male Couples - The Untold SecretGay male couples feel a lot of pressure to remain sexually fresh, new, and exciting. That’s the popular stereotype. “All gay men love sex and have it a lot” trumpets the popular press. “If I were gay,” straight men joke, “I would be having sex all the time with my partner! Guys always want it!”
So gay couples think that other gay couples are enjoying all kinds of adventurous sex. After all, aren’t men, gay men in particular, supposed to be sexually open and alive? But this is often not the case at all.
Gay male couples in long-term relationships (LTRs) in my office complain that they haven’t been sexual for long periods of time—sometimes years. They tell me that they’ve agreed to get sex outside their relationship, or they are only sexual with each other when it involves a third man.
These partners question if they are really right for each other, if they’re unable to keep sex alive between just the two of them. I’m quick to reassure them this problem is more common than they think. It isn’t only gay couples’ for whom sexual activity tapers off after their initial “honeymoon” period. For both gays and straights, sexual excitement wanes after the first two or three years.
Romantic Love . . . This stage of love is only the doorway to the relationship with a new partner. In this stage, people often report feeling drugged. If originally depressed, they feel less so. If suffering from some addiction, they may experience diminished craving or feel entirely “cured.” But love’s a stimulant, too: People find they can suddenly operate on a lot less sleep; and a sluggish libido will ratchet up to match a partner’s higher sex drive.
New lovers feel an elation, exhilaration, and euphoria mostly due to their bloodstreams being flooded with chemical cousins of amphetamines such as phenylethalimine (or PEA), dopamine, norepinephrine—all natural stimulants and painkillers. So if they feel drugged, it’s because they are!
When first released, PEA is at its most potent, which is why you never forget your first love. PEA eradicates pain, lowers anxiety, makes the world bright and renewed—but above all, it heightens sexual arousal and desire for the beloved.
And the Power Struggle
In this, the second stage of relationships, conflict naturally arises and couples begin having difficulty communicating. Like romantic love, this universal stage is supposed to happen—and end, though it lasts longer than romantic love and doesn’t feel anywhere near as good. Worst of all, sexual interest in each other partner wanes, for gay and straight alike.
Being upset and angry with your partner and perhaps hurt, the last thing on your mind is showing physical affection.
Breaking up to make up
Many couples split up and make up—repeatedly, often in unconscious attempts to jump-start their romance. During a break-up, the fear, risk and danger all heightens PEA, which makes couples enjoy ecstatic sex. This “second honeymoon” is short-lived, naturally, and they soon return to less frequency and enjoyment.
Sexual Desire Discrepancy
Few partners are equals in libido. Typically, one wants sex more than the other. But at the start of their relationship, the “love drugs” make each want it as much as the other, with the partner with the lower sex drive experiencing an increase—again because of PEA. But when its effect wears off, he reverts to his naturally lower desire.
What happens after romantic love and sexual desire wane? Typically, each partner blames the other, not understanding why this physiological dynamic is occurring. They begin arguing, fighting and hurting each other—which really brings sex to a halt.
The problem with postponing sex for long periods is that you are creating a new behavioral template: The two of you become more like family, friends or brothers, but less like lovers. As a result, unfortunately, sexual anorexia can set in for any couple, gay or straight. 3218144797_069500

Sexual anorexia takes on many forms:
1. A pattern of resistance to any sexual topic or overture

2. Continuing that pattern of avoidance, even though he may know it’s destructive to the relationship and might drive his partner away

3. Going to great lengths to avoid his partner’s sexual contact or affectionate attentions.

4. Rigid or judgmental attitudes toward sexuality and the physical body—his partner’s and his own

5. Obsessing over sex and how to avoid it, to a point where it interferes with normal living

The sexual anorexic’s main goal is to find ways to separate intimacy and sex. Men and women alike can suffer from this disorder. Most initially feel out-of-sorts and keep silent about their apathy, lest they be judged negatively in today’s sexually-affirmative society.
I often see this affliction in gay male couples. They often break up, thinking that there is nothing they can do to fix their impasse. “If desire isn’t there anymore,” they assume, “that must mean it’s over.” But that’s not true.
[ continued tomorrow - Part Two: "Smart Things Gay Male Couples Can Do to Rekindle Their Sex Life" ]
Author's Bio - Since 1985, Joe Kort, MA, MSW has been specializing in Gay Affirmative Psychotherapy, Marital Affairs, Mixed Orientation Marriages, Sexual Addiction, Sexual Abuse, and Imago Relationship Therapy offering weekend workshops for singles and couples. He provides trainings to straight clinicians about Gay Affirmative Therapy around the country. Joe is the author of two books on gay male identity and relationships. His latest book is “Gay Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician: The Essential Guide.  An adjunct professor teaching Gay and Lesbian Studies at Wayne State University’s School of Social Work, he maintains a regularly updated website at


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