I'm just not really into sex.
That's the lie women tell ourselves – and often our partners – when we're in sex-starved relationships.
Popular variations of this furphy include, "I have a low libido", "I've lost my sex drive", and "Sex isn't important to me".
I know this not just because I've told these lies myself, but because every day I hear from women who've managed to convince themselves their libidos have spontaneously vanished into thin air.
It's one of the most pervasive and bizarre myths in our modern culture: the idea it's completely natural for women to one day, seemingly out of nowhere, lose all interest in sex. And despite the fact it flies in the face of decades of research into women's sexuality, we insist on clinging to it.
The market for products aimed at boosting the allegedly broken female sex drive is estimated to be worth around $2 billion a year in the US alone. Convincing women our libidos need fixing is big business – especially given most of us would sooner swallow a pill than face the uncomfortable truth about why we're rolling to the other side of the bed.
It's certainly an easier proposition for men to digest. Sure, getting turned down for sex night after night might suck, but at least he can tell himself it's not his fault; it's just the way women are. We're wired for monogamy, not sex … right?
Except, the female vibrator market is exploding, the number of women having sexual affairs is on the rise, and the latest PornHub figures show we consume more X-rated content than men. Studies also indicate men routinely underestimate how much sex we want. Like, by a lot.
Given this, it's striking how many women believe they're simply not into sex.
"I lost my libido after I had kids," the same women who DM me to ask for vibrator recommendations will unironically inform me.
The reality is, libidos don't just go missing like unaccounted-for brownies in the shared staff fridge. You can't take your sex drive out for a walk and have it pull away from the leash and dash off into traffic.
And while it's true most women aren't capable of having sex in the first few months after birth, new mums' hormone levels usually return to normal within three months, including those responsible for triggering arousal and lubrication.
Additionally, in her research into post-partum sex, psychologist Sandra Pertot found 75 per cent of mothers didn't experience a loss in sexual pleasure post-birth, despite admitting their desire for their partners had waned.
In short, there's no lost libido epidemic going on. What we know from years of studies into the mechanics of female arousal, is women require vastly more novelty than men in order to maintain an interest in sex.
While a woman will almost certainly grow bored of routine nookie with her husband and begin developing an array of excuses as to why she's not in the mood, he's likely to be perfectly happy having the same kind of sex indefinitely; especially if he can get it regularly.
Likewise, there's a key – and often ignored – difference in the way men and women are turned on. Most of us are familiar with the fact male arousal works in a reactionary manner: an attractive, naked sexual partner is often enough to get a guy's blood pumping. However, very few women experience sexual desire in this way.
For the overwhelming majority of us, arousal occurs contextually. It doesn't matter if our partners look good and are pulling all the right moves in bed – if we're not relaxed, comfortable and in a good mood, we're not buying what they're selling.
It's for this reason date nights are such a powerful tool for re-sparking a woman's interest in sex with a long-term partner.
The elements of romance and novelty, along with time shared engaging in non-sexual foreplay like complimenting her on how good she looks, and holding hands and kissing, ensures she feels both relaxed and self-confident; a near-guaranteed formula for sex.
(Though, there is a clause: if the occasion comes with an expectation of sex to follow, all bets are off. Pressure amps up a woman's nervous system, thereby shutting down her ability to become aroused.)
There is nothing natural about a woman losing interest in sex with her partner. If anything, it's cause for concern.
However, the focus shouldn't be on "fixing" her sex drive – unless she has a diagnosed medical condition, a physical factor is rarely the reason she's brushing him off tonight. For most women, a decline in sexual desire for her partner simply means she's bored. And this can be easily rectified by reinjecting novelty into the relationship.
Ignore female sexual apathy though, and chances are high the relationship will suffer.
While sex needn't – and probably shouldn't be – the most important thing a couple does, it's typically the single factor separating a romantic pairing from a friendship or flatmate arrangement. (Which is why you'll often hear women confess, "We just felt more like flatmates in the end" at the conclusion of a relationship).
It's not that we're "not really into sex"; we've merely stopped desiring having it with our partners – and that's an important distinction to make.
Acknowledging this ignored truth, rather than allowing it to loom like an elephant in your bedroom each night, could make all the difference as to whether your relationship goes the distance.