What is Lesbian Bed Death? Facts & Myths You Should Know

You may have heard of “lesbian bed death,” or the idea that after being in a long-term relationship, same-sex female relationships lose their luster in the bedroom. You may be wondering, how is this any different from other committed relationships that lose their spark in the bedroom over time? The truth is that it’s not. Lesbian bed death is a myth. We spoke with several experts to talk about why this myth exists, and what same-sex female couples can do if they are facing legitimate issues in the bedroom. 

Why does this myth exist?

Lesbian bed death is a widely circulated myth—not only do straight folks think it’s true, but it’s even become a concern in LGBTQ+ communities. The myth is based on a lot of stereotypes: that women aren’t as interested in sexual intimacy to begin with as men are, and that if two women are together, they won’t have much to do without male genitalia involved, so they will run out of ideas and become bored. 

 “The easiest way to ‘erase’ lesbians and their existence is by denuding or inoculating their sexuality,” says Marcie Bianco, a contributing editor for Curve Magazine. “Like every myth, it has become appropriated by lesbians—sarcastically, bitterly.” Queer women have a long history of being erased, or having their sexuality looked down upon as lesser, something to be changed or fixed, or even as nonexistent.

Essentially, the myth is based on stereotypes, and it helps people think of same-sex female relationships as less equal to relationships with a man (or men) involved. The myth has roots in sexism and heterosexism, but unfortunately, has turned into a stereotype with wide social influence.

Related: How to Get What You Need & Want From Sex

What should you do if you're experiencing sexual difficulties?

Just because lesbian bed death is a myth doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen—it just means that it doesn’t deserve a special name. Lesbian bed death in its truest form is actually the same thing that may happen to many long-term relationships: one or both partners’ sexual interest wanes with time. This is fairly common, and chances are, you or someone you know will experience it.

Erin Faith Wilson, a writer for AfterEllen and The Adovcate, says that her straight friends have gone through the same thing from time to time. “I think changing sexual interests happens because things can get mundane and boring if you are constantly doing the same thing every time, which then can lead to not having sex at all,” Wilson says.

If you’re not going out of your way to experiment in the bedroom, this may be one reason why this is happening. Another? Because relationships naturally become more “comfortable” over time. People get to know one another and take intimate moments, both sexual and non-sexual, for granted. If you or your partner isn’t putting as much effort into surprising the other, setting up exciting dates or showing affection, it’s natural this issue would extend to your sex life as well.

There are also miscellaneous reasons your sex life could be dwindling or feeling stagnant, including big changes that have happened. If you or your partner has been going through a big physical, emotional or mental change—like getting a new job, having a child, moving or going back to school—this can definitely leave you without the time or energy to have as much sex as you'd like.

 “Stress, pregnancy, childbirth, child rearing, lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, other mental health concerns, physical health concerns, injury...you name it and it can affect your sex life,” says Lucy Hallowell, a writer for AfterEllen. “As you spend more time together there's other stuff you want to do or that you have to. There's only so long that you can put that other stuff off before there are ramifications.”

If one or both of you has been really busy lately, that could be a key reason that you’re feeling unsatisfied with your sex life.

What can you do if you’re facing this problem?

What should you do if you’re in a relationship with a woman and you’re facing this? Try out the same things your straight friends might try in a relationship. Any sexual intimacy advice that can be applied to male-female and male-male relationships can be applied to female-female ones, as long as it doesn’t require male genitalia to try (and even if it does, you can always experiment with sex toys).

If you and your partner both want to have sex more often, but you're still not, you might want to think about why it's not happening. “You need to consider why you are saying no, as well as be considerate as to what they want and need out of the relationship as well,” Wilson says. Are you interested in sex, but continually putting it off for work-related reasons? You might consider making more of an effort to say yes to something that you and your partner both want. You're not likely to regret saying no to another hour of studying or working years from now, but you may regret if you didn't spend enough time romantically with your SO. In other words, if you can try to make more time for sex and you do want to have more sex, do it. 

If there’s a legitimate reason you’re not having sex, like one of you is overly busy or not feeling well physically or mentally, you should bring it up. Make sure there is an open line of communication between you and your partner. If you haven’t been having sex because you took on a new project at work that will help you get a promotion, let your partner know that it isn’t a lack of interest in them that’s keeping you from having sex, it’s a lack of time.

“Schedule it. Go to sleep earlier. Put your damn phone down,” Hallowell says. Making time for your partner can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of overlapping responsibilities, but you need to make your relationship a priority. If you don’t nurture it, it won’t last, the same way you could expect to be fired for not showing up to work. 

If neither of you seems to be initiating sex, you might try figuring out why that is. Are you bored? Are you not as interested in sex as you used to be? If you’re bored or uninterested, you might consider playing to one or both of your desires. Talk about sexual fantasies and have a conversation about each of your “sex bucket lists”—things you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t. Consider buying a sex toy. trying new positions, exploring role-play, or watching or reading pornographic material together. If talking about it just the two of you isn’t going anywhere, you might also consider trying therapy to work through the issue. It’s also possible that sexual intimacy issues could be related to other relationship problems you’re having, so it may be more than just what you’re seeing on the surface. 

The bottom line: Lesbian bed death is a myth. Relationships between queer women are no different than other relationships, in that all can experience waxing and waning sexual interest. If you are going through a period where you’re not having as much sex as you want, or aren’t enjoying sex, the most important thing to do is communicate openly with your partner about what both of you want from a relationship, and reach a solution that works for both of you.