Letters from Japan: “Sex Isn’t Fun Anymore!”
Ask Hilary: Questions From Readers Answered
Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you'd like to ask Hilary? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Ask Hilary."
I’m an American woman. I’ve lived in Japan for seven years and have been dating the same Japanese man for four years—living together for two. We have a great relationship. We go out to events regularly, see movies together, we’re like any other couple.
During the last year, our sex life has gotten out of control. We go through these roller coasters of either having sex all the time or having none at all. Right now we’re in the middle of a month-long dry spell. Neither of us has any physical issues (perfect health checks this year!) we both work long hours like everybody else, but otherwise, we are fine.
When things are good, we both initiate and have no trouble functioning, but then it’s like we get tired of sex. For me, I start feeling like sex gets boring and I don’t want to be the one to initiate. Then I guess my boyfriend gets tired of initiating, and we just stop having sex. When we aren’t having sex we’re still close but then we get frustrated, have these huge fights, and then have make up sex, and start a new cycle all over again.
I’m tired of dealing with this. I know it’s not healthy, but when I talk to my married friends they say that it’s just normal for sex to drop off, or they tell me that in Japan sexless marriages are normal. I don’t want that, and I don’t think my boyfriend does either. How do I break this cycle? Is there something either of us can do to even things out again? – Sorta Sexless In Tokyo
Dear Sexless In Tokyo,
Judging from your email alone, it sounds like you both are attracted to each other and are capable of initiating and enjoying sex. But, you said that eventually “sex gets boring” and you don’t want to initiate, which means if your boyfriend doesn’t initiate it, it doesn’t happen. It sounds like you’re both getting stuck in the same old routine of sex—in other words, you have established a certain rhythm that is easy and satisfying in the moment, but gets boring quickly.
We go through these roller coasters of either having sex all the time or having none at all.
One way to resolve this requires two discussions: one with yourself and one with your partner. You’re the one that says sex gets boring—why or how is it boring? Is it not satisfying your physical needs, emotional needs, both, neither? What would make it more satisfying in whichever area is lacking? Do you have something you want to bring into the bedroom in terms of fantasy, toys, or positions that would fix the issue in the long term for you?
When you have figured that out for yourself, then it’s time to sit down with your partner and have a serious conversation about sex. I don’t know his side of the story, but it’s possible that he’s getting bored, just as you are. If so, then ask him the same questions that you asked yourself. Give him time to think about these things, too—this isn’t meant to be some quick interview. There might be something that he’s been looking to change up about your love lives too and deserves the same opportunity to sort out how he feels.
When you both have figured out what your sex life is missing, your next step is to work on bringing that missing element back into the bedroom.
This might take a while to figure out, and the discussion could even last over several days. That’s completely normal. It may also feel awkward because sex is a highly personal topic. Expectations and cultural beliefs about sex also differ widely between Japan and the US, so there are also some culture shock—so to speak—issues that might come up. You might want to read more about talking about sex in Japanese first too.
When you both have figured out what your sex life is missing, your next step is to work on bringing that missing element back into the bedroom. If it’s related to the physical act itself, why not try watching some adult videos together? There are literally thousands of free resources online that could help. If you both want to introduce toys into the bedroom, then why not visit one of Tokyo’s many sex toy shops together? Love Merci in Akihabara is a popular option, but there are also plenty of smaller shops near the love hotels in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro as well.
If you and your partner figure out what’s missing, you’ll both be better equipped to fix the problem. That way, you can stop that unsatisfying roller coaster from starting up once more.