Jenny Block asks: Is lesbian bed death real? And what can you do?


Ugh. The dreaded LBD. No, not the little black dress. I adore those. I’m talking about lesbian bed death. The phenom that sometimes seems as common as the urge to merge. (Cue the U-Haul.)

Things start off well enough. You meet a girl. You fall head over heels in love… or at least in lust. You can’t keep your hands off one another. The car. The kitchen. The guest room at your friend’s party. You’re always late and everyone always knows why.

You tell each other you can’t ever get enough and you will always want one another this way, always want to rip each other’s clothes off the minute she comes into view. And for the first few months, that proves to be true. You joke about losing jobs and friends and family to your new sole focus: having sex.

And then, without either of you really noticing at first, the sex begins to wane. You find yourself counting how many days it’s been. Soon you can’t remember when the last time was at all. You blame it on work or stress or how “busy” you both are. You talk about it and recommit to getting back to the sheets. For a while, it’s good… really good, actually. In fact, in some ways, it’s even better then it was at the start. You know one another, your bodies and what you like. You remember how good it felt to connect physically and intimately and sexually, to connect in a way that you don’t connect with anyone else.

And then it happens again. The wane begins. But this time it’s worse. There’s no sex at all to speak of and the kisses you share suddenly feel more like the ones your Aunt Susan gives you at the annual family reunion picnic.

It’s so easy to make a million excuses and let the new norm take over, especially when lesbian bed death is often regarded as a major issue in the lesbian community. But is it really? That’s hard to know for sure.

The term was coined by Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist from the University of Washington, in her book American Couples (1983). She argued that lesbians in committed partnerships engage in sex less than gay male or heterosexual couples and that the longer the relationship, the steeper the decrease in physical intimacy. The lesbian community has called bullshit on her claims throughout the years. But we all know or have been in a couple where this does indeed happen. My guess is that — as is most often is the case — the truth lies somewhere in between.

With most any couple, things cool off after the honeymoon period. Life takes over. Reality sets in. The “shiny effect” wears off. And that can be OK as long as both partners are happy and satisfied and things have not come to a complete halt.

But it can be too easy to get too comfortable in a relationship. Out go the cute jeans, in come the bedraggled sweats. Out go the nights on the town, in come the nights on the couch. Out go the sexy texts, in come the reminders to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.

We get back what we put out there. If we stop making an effort, if we stop looking at our partners with desire, if we let everything but intimacy with our partner take the front seat, it’s no wonder that our sex lives would end up slumped over and suffering in the back.

So if sex is no longer a part of the relationship, it’s time to talk. Having no sex at all in a romantic partnership is just not healthy (barring any medical or psychological issues that simply cannot be overcome). You’re no longer a couple. You’re roommates. This will likely not be the easiest conversation to have. But it’s a vital one. It’s imperative to ask your partner if she has noticed the loss, why she suspects that is, whether she is still sexually interested in you, and how committed she is to reviving your once hot relationship that has turned to ice.

Some issues that may arise include stress both in the relationship and outside of it, resentment toward one another over issues big and small, and no longer feeling that “crave” for one another.

Hopefully both partners will want to work on whatever issues there are and clear the air of any misunderstandings. Seeking the help of a professional might be the best move toward accomplishing that. Honest, open communication is the only real path to resolution.

The truth may be that the relationship is over. Or it may simply be that the couple let themselves drift apart and both partners actually want to come together but had no idea that they both felt that way. Hence the need for a true heart-to-heart. Maybe there is something all together different at play. But whatever it is, facing it is always better than ignoring it.

Relationships require care. When we cease to tend to them, we cease to truly be in them. If you’re not getting the intimacy you desire, tell your partner the truth about how you’re feeling. You deserve hot sex just as much as you deserve true love. And lesbian bed deserves to die.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2016.