why do women disconnect from intimacy?

Shared intimacy is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, whether it be a sexual or emotional connection.

So if it feels like it no longer exists in your partnership, you need to pay attention and figure out why and how to get it back if you want to stay together.

I recently posted on social media tips on reconnecting and regaining the level of intimacy you had before drifting into the doldrums. In this month’s blog, I explore why women, in particular, disconnect in the first place.

Hormonal changes as we age can partially be responsible for a dip in desire for intimacy, especially during perimenopause when unregulated fluctuations in hormone levels not only create physical symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep deprivation and dryness but emotional and mental ones as well.

I can picture many women nodding their heads when I say, some days, it can feel like you are the most unlovable person in the world. And on others, your partner is the most unlovable person in the world simply for breathing loudly whilst watching your favorite movie!

However, if hormonal changes were entirely to blame for lack of intimacy, the divorce/separation rate for women in their 40s and 50s would be 100%.

Women under the age of 40 also leave their partners because they no longer feel connected to their significant other, and their hormonal fluctuations are within the ‘normal’ range. Ergo, we cannot entirely blame an ageing endocrine system for ‘killing our relationship’.

It is also perfectly normal for relationships to experience times of low libido and connection. The problem arises when those times extend into weeks, months and even years of disinterest in your significant other, independent of cyclical hormone levels.

So if it is not physical changes that flip the switch from partner to just friends, what else drives the wedge between two people who love each other till death do us part?

Too busy to make time for each other

Life can get busy, especially if raising children or living through a pandemic where the need to secure financial security can leave little time/ money for date nights and long conversations.

The more time a couple spends apart, however, or neglect to set aside time to talk to each other on an intimate level, can create disconnection.

Love is not just a feeling; it is an action, and without stimulation, both partners can begin to forget why they got together in the first place.

Loss of trust and no longer feeling safe

No one likes to be let down or feel unsafe in a relationship. Disengagement from intimacy is a natural reaction to infidelity or emotional and physical abuse.

Regaining a woman’s trust requires a meaningful change in behavior from the person who has caused the pain.

To forgive, a woman needs to feel confident that it will not happen again. They also need to forgive, and that can only happen when they understand why the partner behaved the way they did and changes are made to prevent it from occurring again.  

Communication breakdown

Research has proven that women tend to be more verbal than men, and meaningful conversations increase the level of emotional and physical intimacy with a partner.

Disengagement is more likely to occur when the woman feels uncomfortable talking through things or experiences one-sided conversations. Relationship expert John Goffman talks about the presence of the “four horsemen of relationship doom” – criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.

The ongoing presence of any of the “horsemen” negatively affects intimacy.

Loss of respect and understanding

Women have reported feeling less enamoured with their partners when their opinions and beliefs are not respected or understood.

When decisions are made without their input or knowledge or treated less than an equal in the partnership, feelings of resentment and disengagement are common—Que Aretha Franklin singing R-E-S-P-E-C-T as the musical background to this paragraph. 

Change in values and goals

People change as they get older, and sometimes the rate of change is different between partners. Or the values and goals that once bound you together in intimacy now differ, and new connections have not replaced the old ones.

Women, in particular, are more likely to experience a change in their outlook on life as they get older and the children have left home, especially if they chose to stay home to raise the children and now the nest is empty are looking for a new challenge.

If no children are involved, sometimes it is dissatisfaction with their career that leads them to question their values and goals. It is a misnomer to believe that only men can experience a mid-life crisis or only occurs in middle age.

Whatever the reason for the change in values and goals, it is challenging to retain intimacy when one partner changes and the other doesn’t. Remember, you are both in the same ship called Relationship, and it is impossible to go in different directions without splitting the boat in half.     

When you experience intimacy with your partner, you are both stronger as a result, so feelings of disengagement for whatever reason should not be ignored.

I can help you and your partner, individually or together, and provide you with the tools and guidance to remove the barriers stopping you from having a fulfilling relationship.

Book a zoom or in-person meeting today and feel better tomorrow.  

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Ann Jay

Ann Jay is a Wellington Relationship Counselor who provides marriage counselling, couple's counselling, and relationship coaching for couples and women either in a relationship or single. Her goal is to help people create healthy, loving and fulfilling relationships and experience the love they deserve.