An assumption many of us make is that if our partner turns down our request or advances for sex, it must mean their feelings for us have changed. If the dynamic of sex wasn’t complicated enough, most of us tiptoe around the topic and rarely clearly communicate about it. Everyone is trying to spare each other’s feelings, and we end up being confused, frustrated or hurt.
So, let’s be clear – our desire to have sex with our significant other (and vice versa) does not have to correlate to how much we love them. More often than not, our lack of sexual interest is a byproduct of our fatigue, stress levels, overall health or busy schedule.
Sex is a tricky topic for most couples to navigate. For many, the subject is filled with vulnerability or insecurity, and any comment perceived as rejection can be perceived as hurtful.
Many people avoid talking about sex directly
Some of us tend to avoid direct communication about sex.
Instead, we lie and say we have a headache or feel bloated. Some may rush to bed quickly and pretend to be asleep when their partner comes. Some may watch another episode of Netflix to ensure their partner will be too tired come bedtime. And others have tried to change the topic – “oh, speaking of sexy time, have you seen the new photo such and such posted! It’s hilarious” – hoping the person will get the hint.
There are many ways we can communicate our lack of desire to have sex, and some forms of communication are more productive than others. The best way to express our lack of desire would be to say, “no” or “honey, I don’t feel like having sex right now” or “I am not in the mood.” But, if such statements make you uncomfortable, you should still aim to be as clear as you can be with your partner.
What to say to your partner about sex
- Has your libido dropped? If yes, why? It could be helpful to tell your partner you are noticing a change in your sex drive. Suppose the reason is that you’re working too much, the kids are stressing you out, you’ve been having digestion issues, maybe you are struggling with your self esteem or you feel unappreciated by your partner. It’s best if your partner can understand where you are coming from and potentially help you find a solution. It leaves less space for them to take it personally (if it’s not).
- What are you willing to do? Maybe all you want is to wrap yourself in a blanketand not talk to or touch your partner. But perhaps you would like to cuddle or kiss. Maybe you are in the mood for oral sex. Wherever you’re at, it can be helpful to let them know.
- Are you vocal about wanting sex as much as not wanting sex? Communication is key. Do you feel comfortable asking for sex (initiating), or do you usually wait and only respond to their invitation? Being equally vocal about wanting and not wanting sex can often make the topic of sex feel more safe and comfortable for both individuals.
- Can you foresee a time when you would want to have sex? “I am not in the mood right now, but my project will be done in three days, and we can celebrate then.” Or, “I had a tough day at work. Let’s have sex tomorrow.” Or, “It’s difficult for me to have sex when I am feeling upset. I need us to resolve the issue we are having before we are intimate.”
Honesty, boundaries, and communication are important components of a healthy sex life!
More on sex and relationships
What is ‘soft-launching’ a relationship? And is it right for you?
More:8 signs your significant other is having an affair
Many people take seductive selfies. Are the pictures empowering or desperate?
Triangulation:What is it and how do you stop it from ruining your relationship?
More:Is an open relationship right for you?
Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at [email protected].