Have a question for The Kinsey Institute's Dr. Debby Herbenick? Send it in anonymously here.
My girlfriend just took a new job and it has totally killed her sex drive. The job is stressful and exhausting, with a lot of people needing her attention all day long. How can I help her de-stress at the end of the day so we can get back to a more regular sex life?
Sarah: As women are humans, and humans only have so much energy to dole out in a day, all I can recommend as an “action item” is trying to reduce her stress load where you can outside of her work, which might free up some mental and physical energy to get down. And nothing perks up a busy lady’s (or dude’s) day like coming home to done laundry, or an already-walked dog, a mopped kitchen, or any time-sucking minutiae of being a human. Let me restate this in less uncertain terms: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE AWESOME EROTIC POWER OF A CHECKED-OFF CHORE LIST. Second, like all humans, you should just talk to her about her day and stress and obligations. Freude wasn’t really that much of a genius, he just created an environment where it was OK for people to spill their guts, and just talking about things on your mind is enough to help lighten the load. Iron some of her power blazers, buy a bottle of wine, set aside some time to relax and talk (or not talk), and repeat until the transitional dust settles.
Dr. Debby: Hopefully this is just a transitional period. In adulthood (which is different than many people’s experiences as teenagers) the stressors of jobs and bills and family needs and student loans and making rent and everything else can leave little time for relaxation, which becomes an important part of foreplay for many couples. Try to let her chill when she comes home, giving her adequate time and space to relax before making plans with friends or seeing a movie or getting dinner on the table. It may be helpful for you two to talk about each other’s days, to exchange shoulder rubs or massages, or for you to offer to run her a bath after a particularly difficult day. If this persists over weeks or months, it may be helpful for you two to sit down and talk about these changes. After all, a super stressful job isn’t just bad for your shared sex life, but for her health and wellness too. Sometimes periods of time having a high stress job get us where we want to be and feel worth it; other times, they don’t. Definitely worth a conversation.