Nobody wants to be in a position where they feel like the spark is slipping away from their relationship, but, sometimes, it's a harsh reality that we need to deal with. Human beings go in and out of passionate phases of life, and so, it always takes some long-term thinking and adjustment.
u/slylymessingup told us what was going on:
I [24M] feel like my [24F] girlfriend is no longer sexually attracted to me after Stoma surgery.
Me and my partner have been together for 10 months now. Everything was great between us sexually, emotionally and romantically, that is, until 3 months ago. I had an emergency surgery after perforating a bowel. The surgery was fairly unexpected and traumatic. The silver lining in this experience was her. She never left my side and helped me for the next several weeks in hospital and at home. She was my rock when I needed it most.
A stoma (a resection of my intestine to poo into a bag out of my stomach) is not a pretty experience and as such has put a major dent into my body image and general self confidence.
Prior to the surgery we would have sex very regularly, with her mostly initiating sex. Since the surgery, it has been very few times and always at my persistence.
I recently raised my concerns with her, asking if she was still sexually attracted to me. She maintains that she is just as attracted and has no issue with the stoma. Instead, she has just been very stressed with alot of things going on (career stresses mainly to my understanding) and has lost her sex drive.
I understand stress would do that, but the timing seems very coincidental. I also find difficulty in accepting her answer as I know she has a fairly high sexual partner count (in the 20's). A number that I was previously accepting of, just slightly daunted by. However, with my self-image issues and ongoing lack of intimacy, I've recently started to become insecure with the number. I hate myself for this fact. I fear that I might be acting resentful towards my partner and I know she doesn't deserve that.
I've recently been considering ending the relationship, as I don't like the person I am becoming towards her. I feel she would be better off without my insecurities and resentment in her life. I still love her, and regardless of my decision, always will love the person that she is. I just don't know that I can be with someone who I feel is sexually unattracted to me.
Am I overreacting? Any advice would be appreciated.
TL;DR Feel like my partner is no longer sexually attracted to me after surgery due to a lack of intimacy despite her denying it when raised with her. Unsure how to further approach the situation.
Here was some of the advice he got.
Your gf is probably still in nurse mode. It takes time to come out of that, and it's only been three months. Not only that, but having sex with a person recovering from major surgery is daunting, much more so when you've got a piece of medical equipment sticking out of you. It not an "Oh, gross!" thing, it's more of a "Am I going to hurt him? What if we accidentally pull it out? What if we tear something?" thing. Maybe put sex on the backburner for a few weeks and try to ease yourself back into couple mode- no-pressure cuddling, more dates, things you two did when you first started seeing each other. Like you said, she's got career stress on top of seriously injured bf stress, so don't take it personally that her sex drive took a hiatus.
It took my husband about six months to really be okay after I had major abdominal surgery, and I never took it personally because I knew that he wanted to make sure nothing happened to me like an internal stitch popping or my incision tearing open. Add to that the stress of possibly triggering my trauma response (I had almost died 6 months prior to the surgery) and it was the perfect storm of "what the f*ck do we do now?" for almost a year.
I rather wonder if you're displacing your discomfort with the entire situation onto your girlfriend, if you feel like if you just resumed your "normal" level of sexual activity the fear and the pain and the ickiness of it all would be more tolerable. However, that need for you is coming up against her need to not contribute any further to your pain or cause you any further medical stress.
It's terrifying sometimes, being the patient. You have to renegotiate your entire identity for a while. I ended up in counseling to deal with what had happened to me because I wanted to stop making everyone else in my life responsible for my recovery.
I think you might be projecting. Honestly you can't base how much sex you are going to have in a relationship on how much sex you had in the first 6 months. The beginning of relationships are fun sexy times where you generally have sex at a greater degree then you really keep up for life.
Are you not having sex enough or are you just upset because you noticed it's less and attribute it to the surgery?
Being only 7 months into a relationship and then needing to swap roles from fun-loving GF to supportive nurse GF is a big change for a relatively new relationship. Even for people who have been dating or married for years, this can be a very drastic change in the relationship. Give your GF some time adjust (or re-adjust) to your relationship.
As others have said, she may be worried about injuring you, especially after she spent so much effort helping you recover.
Finally, if what she said is true about her stress, consider that it may be time for you to be the one who's supporting and helping her through a difficult time. You've talked about what in the relationship is troubling you, but is there anything in the relationship that's troubling her? Have you asked her about whether there's anything in the relationship she'd like to address? Or if there's anything you can do to help her in her life? The relationship has been about your needs for a while, maybe it's time to address her needs.
If it's too personal you certainly don't have to answer this, but it might be something to keep in mind for yourself, but I imagine things have changed in regards to having sex in the practical sense?
Like for instance, you used to have sex when you woke up, but maybe now you need to prepare first? If things like that are different now it might be hard on her to find a new groove.
Also I can't speak for your gf, but on the partner count thing, that doesn't have to mean someone has a really high libido all the time.
Especially if it where short flings/one night stands having had multiple partners doesn't translate to having sex all the time. I mean 20 one night stands are just that, 20 nights of sex, if they're spread out over a few years, it's just not an insane amount of action.
Like if it's spread out over 5 years it's having sex 4 times a year, that's an amount people would post to deadbedrooms for.
Eh, you are totally projecting, but I am going to take the complete opposite opinion to everyone else. I do think that you should break up. Almost everyone goes through libido ups and downs at different times in life. Many women experience lower libido at different times in life due to many different factors, especially stress, caregiving, self image, and many other things you guys haven't had to deal with yet like pregnancy, childbirth, childcare, and so on.
It's a thing and it happens a lot. If you are going to lose your shit every time someone experiences a lower libido, take it personally, resent them, and pressure them for sex, then that's not a relationship you should be in.
Make sure you find someone whose libido doesn't lower in response to stressors or anything else.
My husband had an ostomy for a while, and it was a super difficult time for us. (not like our relationship was in danger, it was just hard) It is really hard to be the cheerful caregiver, even when you're super worried and feeling beat up yourself, and the person you would normally turn to during all of this is the one person you can't even let show that you're feeling even slightly overwhelmed by it all, because you don't want to make them feel bad. So the career stress might not be the real source of stress, but is just the easiest stress to blame for it all.
If you really care about her, give her time, do things for her, acknowledge that you being so sick was hard on her too, and how much it means to you that she stuck by your side and was such a huge source of support. If she normally has a higher sex drive, this will sort itself out in time, and the fact that she's still there means that she's in it for the long haul, and that she wants to make it work. Work with her.
Are you in therapy to deal with this traumatic experience?? It sounds like it's triggered a lot of negative thinking and ruminating in you and you'd be better served to deal with your internal issues before telling your gf she isn't meeting your needs and btw she totally extra needs to because she got around a lot before starting a relationship with you. All that insecurity would still exist if you left her, because it's in you.
Please don't chuck away the relationship. 3 months is not enough time, you are both still adjusting. Best thing to do is to talk to her and say, even though she says work is stressing her out, however the coincidence has your doubting yourself. It may also be that you are projecting your own insecurities onto the situation. Another explanation may be that deep down subconsciously, she is afraid of hurting you. No one will know until you have the conversation.
I think that you're getting in your own way OP. Have you considering going to counselling for your body-image issues? My boyfriend got his stoma when we were 22 and his self-image really struggled. He ended up getting counselling and it really helped. There are ebbs and flows in any relationship and I don't think you should end things with her because of this if she states the issues are from external factors.
Also how much have you too discussed your stoma? It's also possible that she isn't very educated on it and could be worried about hurting you during sex. etc.
I think that open communication and education really helped my boyfriend and I normalize his stoma so it wasn't an issue.