the bed is on fire

I’m In a Relationship, But I’m Not All That Happy

[From DEAR HON – Relationship Advice for Readers]

Dear Hon,

I’m in a relationship. 5-months, so far, and I’m confused. We say, “I love you” all the time, but I’m not all that fired up about her. I don’t know why exactly. We hang perfectly. We get along, like the same music, and movies. But our sex is odd. It’s just not working. Is that a deal killer? Or can I hope for some growth if I work on my side of the bed?”


Wondering Heart


Dear Heart,

This is a common issue. And, since you’ve only been dating for several months, it’s likely things will continue to evolve, hopefully, towards better. There is one piece of advice I give myself all the time.

“If you are waiting for the other person to change, you need to move on.”

In your case, things are new. Maybe the sex will continue to get more connected. Maybe the issues separating your passions will get illuminated over the coming months. You can definitely work on yourself. But, it’s got to be a two-sided effort. Even as a coach, I cannot take on all the load of improving and motivating my relationship into more connected ways of relating. If my partner is struggling, I need them to do their own work. And that usually means, outside of the relationship.

Sex is a complicated issue. We’ve all got issues. Some of us have wounds that are not easily understood or resolved. If there is a major disconnect during intimacy, this might point to some deeper emotional issues that are unresolved in your partner or yourself. Make sure you are keeping your side of the bed trauma-free. If you’re triggered or disassociating, go seek some outside help.

If your partner is the one experiencing the disconnect, you’ve got to stand strong and insist that they get the support they need from someone other than you. You are their lover, not their therapist. You are responsible for your actions, your words, and your honesty. You are not responsible to heal or fix your partner. If they are not taking the initiative, you can nudge them. If you talk about it openly it may help. It may also make things more difficult.

We want to show up in our relationships fully formed, fully empowered, and fully healed. If one of the partners is struggling or has less experience, it’s important to notice the imbalance, and yet not label it as “their problem” vs “your problem.” It’s a WE problem when things don’t sync up in love. In the bedroom, even the best communicators and friends can become frustrated and distant. It’s hard to navigate sex while having sex issues.

It might be a good idea to take a sex break. Enjoy each other. Spend time together. Let sex be something you’re both interested in when things settle a bit more.

Again, the real caution, however, is don’t wait around for your partner to change. Don’t expect them to read your mind and guess what you need. Tell them. If they are carrying heavy baggage, tell them you can’t be their sherpa.

You cannot change another person. And if you’re waiting to be happy, waiting for them to stop drinking, for example, you need to get support for yourself. Al-Anon is one of my favorite resources. I go to meetings when I’m feeling a bit off. Here’s what we learn in Al-Anon. Most of us join the program to “work on the alcoholic.” But, guess what? Al-Anon is not about the drinker. Al-Anon is about US.

I am addicted to emotional heat. I am not addicted to drama or toxic behavior. My sobriety is about emotional balance and stability. My love life has to find balance and equilibrium too. When my lover is out of balance, it’s all I can do to stay in my lane. I have learned that I cannot FIX my partner. Even as a coach, I cannot and will not coach them. We’ve got to relate on a level playing field.

It’s not about me (healthy) and her (trauma-troubled). Love is about me (healthy) and you (healthy) and together navigating a way forward into the future. Start with me (healthy). Demand her (healthy). Then set some goals and milestones for yourself both as an individual and as a partner.

Let me know how it goes.

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Series 1: Defining a Single Dad (man) and Lonely Confused and Lost (woman)


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John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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