Relationships Sex

What to do when you don’t feel like sex… but your partner does

“I just wish I felt in the mood.”

“I still love my partner, I just don’t feel the ‘urge’ anymore.”

“Is there some kind of pill I can take?”

“I enjoy it when we do do it, I just can’t make myself get started…”

I know the pain of different desire levels around sex too well – both from a personal and a professional perspective. 

I know that when I haven’t wanted sex for a period of time (and my partner has), I wondered if there was something wrong with me.  I felt guilty and wondered if our relationship was headed for the rocks.  I felt the pressure to ‘perform’ and suddenly like my body and my sexuality were under the microscope. 

When I’ve wanted greater intimacy with my partner, but he insisted on coming to bed late, or moving away from my advances I felt hurt and rejected.  I felt frustrated and wondered again what was wrong.  My hurt and frustration only seemed to make things worse for both of us. 

Wanting sex when your partner doesn’t is painful and frustrating for both of you – especially when it happens over and over again. 

It’s normal for desire levels around sex to be mis-matched in a relationship.  Very often, one partner has a higher sex drive than the other.  It’s now you manage it that will make the difference to your relationship. 

Not wanting sex doesn’t need to drive you further apart.

Here are 6 tips to help you keep your relationship happy and strong when you don’t feel like sex… but your partner does.

1.  Express how you’re feeling as best you can.

You may worry that turning down a request for sex will lead to an argument or tension.  It’s tempting to brush off your partner’s advance, pretend you’re asleep or give an excuse.  But in doing this, you move away from your partner and shut off from them.  What your partner wants is to feel intimate and connected to you.   Shutting off from them contributes to their feelings of frustration. 

Tell your partner what is going on for you emotionally. 

You may be feeling annoyed about something.  You may be feeling hurt or vulnerable yourself. You may be feeling guilty or anxious.  Let your partner know what’s going on for you internally.

Stay open with your partner  – be intimate and vulnerable with your words.

2.  Tell your partner how you feel about them.

When you turn down your partner’s initiation of sex, it’s likely they feel rejected and unloved.  They may also feel that you’re not attracted to them anymore.  These feelings can often lead to frustration and anger that really are just covering up their hurt and their deep longing to be connected with you. 

Tell your partner how you feel about them.  Do you still love them?  Are you still attracted to them?  What do you love and appreciate about them?  What do you appreciate about them wanting to be intimate and connected to you? 

Build trust and love by sharing how you feel about them.

3.  Be intimate in a way that you can be.

You probably don’t want to ‘give your partner the wrong idea’ or ‘lead them on’ by being physically intimate with them when you’re not in the mood for sex.  Sadly, for many couples, this means that they’re rarely physically intimate at all.  Hugs and kisses dry up.  You move away form their touch.  You might not even be naked in front of them anymore. 

You might not feel in the mood for sex, but you can still stay connected and intimate through physical touch in a way that is nourishing for you.

Be clear with our partner that you don’t feel like having sex, but tell them something that you would like to do with them.  Could you cuddle?  Swap a massage?  Kiss?

4.  Begin to work on your connection outside of the bedroom too.

  Often a lack of desire shows up problems in the relationship as a whole.  You might not spend as much time together as you used to, you might not feel as close as you used to.  Focus on your intimacy as a whole.

5.  Take care of yourself.

There are many reasons that you can choose to be intimate with your partner.  It doesn’t just need to be because you feel ‘in the mood’.  You can choose to be intimate because you want to be close with your partner or want to ‘give’ to them too.  But this will require a level of goodwill and generosity towards them.

You may feel just ‘too tired’ or like you don’t have anything to give to your partner at the end of the day when you get into bed.

Taking care of yourself will mean that you have more to give to your relationship and to your partner.  When you feel nourished, alive and ‘juicy’ you bring that to your relationship and your relationship can feel nourished, alive and ‘juicy’ too. 

6.  Take a look at your overall relationship and get help if you need to. 

Sometimes a lack of desire is symptomatic of other challenges going on in the relationship.    You may need to take a step back and look at what else is going on between you and where the relationship is going.  It can be challenging to break the cycles of your relationship and get things back.  Professional help really can make so much difference.   You really don’t need to struggle with this alone.

By Isiah McKimmie


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