‘Is he not attracted to me anymore?’

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My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years, both mid-20s. He’s my best friend and everything about our relationship is fantastic – except for one area lately. For the past several months he has been completely uninterested in sex. After six weeks or so of trying to initiate and being turned down, I tried talking about it. He said he hadn't been feeling like himself (recent weight gain and the typical winter illnesses) so I decided to give him space and let him come to me when he felt ready. Two days later he initiated, but it felt like he only did to acknowledge the conversation.

Now, two months later, nothing more has happened and I don't know what to do. I'm frustrated to have to have this conversation again, especially because I don't even know how to organically bring it up without making him feel bad, or completely embarrass myself. I understand every relationship has ebbs and flows, especially in the bedroom, but I'm tired of feeling awkward, especially when we've always had the greatest chemistry. This may be more of a priority for me than him, and I understand that, but I don't know how else to make it clear that it's a priority we need to work on. Every other priority/issue we’ve run into we've been able to worth through together so easily. What makes this so different?

I'm a serial overthinker and have gone through all the options: Is there someone else? Is he not attracted to me anymore? Is there a larger issue he’s not telling me? Am I not doing enough? I've always been so sure that he is it. But now I'm starting to question whether or not this will be a recurring hurdle for years to come, and if it’s worth working through time and time again. I guess my real question is this: How do I get us back to what we once had, and is it even possible?

– The Frustrated Girlfriend

He said he wasn't feeling like himself and that something was off. What was the plan for changing that?

He might be dealing with mental health issues that are affecting his body (and vice versa). Weight gain can be part of that. Basically, it sounds like you need Part 2 of Conversation 1. He wasn't feeling right, but what about now? How is he doing? Please ask.

I am an enthusiastic overthinker, so I understand why you're asking whether this is somehow your fault, or if the sex drought says something terrible about the fate of the relationship, even after a great four years. Let me remind you that problems can be solved. Uncomfortable phases do pass. It's not all or nothing, and sometimes after you work through a problem (even multiple times), many things get better.

Tell him you still miss that part of the relationship, but that you don’t want sex to feel like an obligation. Explain that you're more worried about how this became normal. You want him to take care of himself and see a doctor if things aren't quite right. There's a lot of stress in the world these days (understatement); maybe he needs some help with that – starting with a visit to a doctor.

The next step is another conversation, this time ending in a plan for better health. You can say you miss the sex, but also make it clear you want him to feel good – more like himself. When that happens, everything else is easier to figure out.

– Meredith

Readers? How do you bring this up a second time? What was missed during the first conversation?