My boyfriend and I have stopped having sex.
It happened one night as we were getting into bed. Instead of resting my head against the familiar thud of his heart, I rolled away, and felt the sink of indifference set in.
Writing about sex doesn't mean I'm impervious to sexual apathy. If anything, it makes me grimly cognisant of its inevitability.
I've never been backward about expressing my belief monogamy is a social construct, not – as we've been led to believe – an instinct.
Skyrocketing divorce and infidelity rates aside, there's an undeniable point in long-term relationships where what once felt effortless and euphoric evolves into predictability and tedium. Even the most zealous traditionalists would agree; sexual fidelity requires hard work.
What's rarely acknowledged in this discussion, is why a marked disinterest in sex so often manifests in women in monogamous relationships.
The archetypes of the prudish wife who "won't put out" for her sexually frustrated husband, and of men who have to bribe their girlfriends for birthday sex or blow jobs in exchange for taking out the garbage, exist for good reason. Women routinely lose interest in sex as our relationships stretch on.
At least, we lose interest in having sex with our partners. And that's key here, because the tapering off of sex is regularly misinterpreted as a decline in a woman's libido. After all, we're taught women aren't sexual beings, that we simply exchange physical intimacy for commitment with men.
We've become so convinced of this lie that the exploding female libido enhancement market is estimated to be worth well over $2 billion in the US alone. It's one of the many ways our culture gaslights women into distrusting our own bodies, and in turn, our desire.
Of course, the truth is far simpler than an inexplicable phenomenon whereby women's sex drives spontaneously vanish a few years after coupling up. There is no female libido epidemic, only a plague of misinformation around female pleasure.
When lockdown first took effect, vibrator sales increased by as much as 200 per cent in some regions. But as adult retailers reported a record boom, a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy found sex among couples had rapidly declined.
It doesn't take an expert to work out who was using all those toys.
Find me a woman who tells her husband "I've lost my sex drive" and I'm willing to bet you'll find a bedside drawer with a vibrator in it that's on a regular recharge cycle.
Though it's widely accepted as fact that men crave sex constantly and as such, are disadvantaged by monogamy – a "trap" whereby a woman attains their commitment through sexual trickery, then swiftly withdraws sex – this couldn't be further from the truth.
Ultimately, it's women who draw the short straw when it comes to long-term fidelity. Despite everything we've been taught, research suggests it's women, not men, who require high levels of sexual novelty in order to maintain our desire.
Studies also show we overwhelmingly double our domestic load when we enter into a live-in heterosexual partnership (particularly one involving child-rearing) – a sure-fire way if ever, to build the kind of mind-numbing routine and resentment ideal for extinguishing arousal.
And yet, we press on entering into sexual contracts we're physiologically incompatible with, telling ourselves our "libido is gone" and carrying the burden of guilt that we no longer desire the men we still have love for.
Perhaps because the truth is something we're not yet ready, or willing to accept: No amount of love can keep the fire of female desire alive. The reason all the stories we were told about women riding off into the sunset with their Prince Charming always ended after the wedding, was because the reality of what was to come didn't fit the fantasy.
Still, even as I write, resolute in this belief, I am in a monogamous long-term relationship. While I don't believe in a one-person-forever model (and this isn't news to my boyfriend), I'm not a total cynic. Sexual apathy can be the death knell to your relationship, but it can also be a warning sign something needs to change.
And according to science, it's not impossible to rekindle the spark. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who is best known for her viral Ted Talks on love, discovered a direct link between falling in love and an increase in dopamine in the brain; a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of exhilaration, energy, obsessive thinking and even loss of sleep and appetite. Fisher's studies suggested couples who do things that trigger the dopamine response can actually recreate those feelings.
Because dopamine is typically released when we're taking a risk or trying something new, activities like date nights, visiting somewhere neither of you have been before, and injecting novelty into the bedroom can all stoke the fires of desire again.
The truth is, sexlessness affects most couples at some stage – we just don't hear about it because it's shrouded in so much shame and misinformation. Which is all the more reason we need to address it, even if it's awkward, and even if it means rolling back to the other side of the bed and talking about it.