The following is excerpted from online discussions.

Question: I'm finding myself the victim of one of my own relationship "absolutes." I've always believed, counseled others, and lived by the principle that if you can't honestly bring up an issue that you're having with someone, then you're not in much of a relationship.

But I can't seem to bring up the "drop-off" in our sex life with my boyfriend. And this is, without question, the best relationship of my life. Our level of intimacy is growing, we still have a fantastic time together, never argue, laugh all the time, etc. But in the last month, this very important part of our relationship has been seriously lacking.

To be fair, he's under a great deal of job-related stress, and I'm just getting my professional life back in order after a sudden layoff. I know these things are mitigating factors. I also know I can't allow this to go unaddressed.

But every time I start to say something, I clam up. I become irrational: I wonder if my drive is normal, I'm scared this will drive him away, I don't want to start a fight, I don't want him to think my primary interest is physical, I don't want to be called "oversexed" (something to which a former lover once alluded).

Do I have to adhere to my own ultimatum? Do I not have much of a relationship? And how do I broach the subject? Or do I just wait for this to work itself out?

Answer: Maybe you need to add another "absolute" to your quiver: that you absolutely shouldn't say something until you know what you're trying to say; whether you should say it; and what you hope to accomplish.

Obviously, we all know what you're hoping to accomplish, wink-wink. But it sounds like you don't have any idea yet if words would even be necessary, or appropriate, even if you did know which ones to say and when to say them. If this thing does resolve itself, a month will be a blip. You don't want to react at every blip.

Also, you certainly don't want to make someone you care about feel worse when he's already having a difficult time. Being judicious in your complaints is not a communication problem, it's kindness.

In fact, the whole point of living by certain guidelines is to live smarter, and sometimes that means improving those guidelines to reflect new situations and different things you've learned.

That said, if you do decide to wait it out and your month-long blip doubles or triples into a bummer, and you find that you still can't say anything, then you need to ask yourself if you're as comfortable as you'd like to be with this person.

Either way, whether you choose to tackle it now or wait, the answer is still just to say something and see what happens. ("I miss you" is an honest but delicate start.) The way to get comfortable is often to plunge into an issue and find that everything's still OK.

And the way to get out of a bad situation, unfortunately, is often to plunge in and find out things aren't going well at all.

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