Debunking the myth of ‘lesbian bed death’ – why this tired old concept needs to finally die out

picture depicting women who have sex with other women.

Lesbian bed death is one of those phenomenons that everyone who identifies as a lesbian or a queer woman has likely heard of, but – spoiler alert – it’s not actually real.

Lesbian bed death (or LBD) is another slang term that refers to the idea that lesbians and queer women in monogamous, long-term relationships end up becoming gal pals instead of gal pals, basically living life as roommates and friends sans benefits (aka sex) and are therefore not having any sex as they get older and more comfortable in their relationship.

It’s a popular phrase in pop culture, mentioned in countless TV shows and movies featuring queer people, such as Ryan Murphy’s 9-1-1.

The concept of lesbian bed death, which was coined by sexologists Pepper Schwartz and Phillip Blumstein in 1983, has been criticised by LGBTQ+ people, calling it a myth – not least because lesbians have been found to have more orgasms than straight women.

Additionally, studies showing that the numbers of people in long-term relationships having less sex grows as they get older and more established in those relationships – no matter your sexual orientation.

Despite Schwartz and Blumstein’s research, which came from a survey on American relationships, there is no scientific consensus that lesbian bed death is a real phenomenon. Generally, all relationships will likely go through periods of lower sex drives that can either be worked through or will lead to the end of the relationship, however unfortunate that might be.

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Relationship advice for straight, queer, or couples of any other orientation focuses on communication, getting creative in the bedroom, and reigniting the romantic spark in your relationship by going on dates, doing cute, romantic things, attending therapy, or all of the above.

The problem with lesbian bed death being treated as a pop culture reference rather than something normal that can ebb and flow throughout the course of our lives, is that it can increase anxiety about not having sex for short periods and make people feel like it is inevitable and they have no control over the situation.

Generally, what you need to know about lesbian bed death is that it is not more or less common for lesbian relationships to experience sexlessness. All relationships can experience it, and while it could happen to two lesbians, it doesn’t mean that it will.

The best thing to do is to check in with yourself and your partner about your desires, needs, and how you can work together to get what you both need from this relationship.