Dear Luv Doc
I am a pediatric nurse who is dating a second-year resident at a large urban hospital. He routinely works 12- to 16-hour shifts, and when he’s off, his first priority is sleep. Like his job, my work hours vary from week to week, so it has been really difficult finding time to be together, much less do something interesting or fun. Usually when we do find time together, we “Netflix and chill,” and by that I mean we actually watch Netflix and chill. Our sex life is nearly non-existent. He is usually too tired to do anything but eat and watch some TV. I know it will not always be this way, but I had hoped it would get a little better by now. Any suggestions on how we can make more whoopee?
—Red Eyed

Well, Red-Eyed, it sounds like you are doing pretty well if your boyfriend is a second-year resident. Watching Netflix can be extremely taxing to someone who has been on his feet making tough, stressful decisions for the last 16 hours. Hopefully you’re only watching Adam Sandler movies, because anything more cerebral might be considered abusive.

It’s really tough when the person you’re dating is only operating at a fraction of their normal mental/physical capacity when you finally get to see them. I am sure you have had plenty of days where all you wanted to do was go home, eat some mac and cheese, and binge watch Parks and Rec. Who could even imagine having sex after that?

I also know that you’re not asking too much—or even asking for the world. You just want a little extra. Hopefully, your boyfriend will have it to give. At this time in his life, your boyfriend really doesn’t have much else to give. It may not be that he isn’t interested in sex; it might just be that the thought of initiating sex—or of doing it well—is too much of a mental strain. Hopefully it will not always be this way, but you have to work with what you’ve got, right?

Therefore, I recommend that you take the burden of initiating sex upon yourself. Even if you know your boyfriend fairly well, you cannot presume to know how tired he is or how his day went. You do, however, know how yours went and whether or not you have the energy to get things started. You (and he) might actually be surprised to find out that he still has a little Energizer® Bunny left in him, if properly prompted.

This is an instance where by helping yourself, you will truly be helping your boyfriend as well—even if it’s just to make it extra easy for him to fall asleep afterward.