You’re cleaning up the house, thinking about the bills you have to pay, the friend you haven’t called in weeks, and that oh-so-awkward conversation you had with your new coworker yesterday, when your partner appears, touching your waist and giving you a sexually suggestive wink.
Maybe sex seems like a fun and welcome distraction. In that case, great! Enjoy it.
But maybe you’re thinking something more along the lines of “Are you kidding me? You want sex right now? That’s certainly not happening!”
As I’ve written about previously, sexual rejection can be a difficult pill to swallow, particularly if one person is largely (or even entirely) responsible for initiating sex in a relationship.
But being the person who is rejecting sex doesn’t feel that great, either. Maybe we are annoyed that our partner initiated sex and clearly couldn’t read our mood or the situation.
And so we roll our eyes, criticize our partner’s timing and initiation strategy, or even push them away entirely. Or we might feel bad because we hate saying no and disappointing them, so we agree to have sex to make them happy.
The latest sex research suggests that — compared to going along with sex to avoid negative outcomes — turning down sex doesn’t necessarily hurt relationship satisfaction, as long as we do it in positive ways.1 Here are three approaches to keep in mind.
If you’re not in the mood for sex when you’re partner initiates it, one of the best things you can do is explain to them why you’re not in the mood.
That’s because many people naturally take sexual rejection personally. We can drive ourselves into a tizzy trying to come up with a reason why we’re being turned down, often landing on it having something to do with us (e.g., they don’t find me attractive anymore, they are angry with me, they don’t love me as much as they used to).
So if you’re feeling too tired for sex, say that. If you had a long day, and you’re distracted by the stress at work, share that. It helps your partner understand your inner world a bit better and shows that your lack of interest in sex isn’t a reflection of your lack of interest in your partner.
Or, if your lack of interest in sex has everything to do with your partner (e.g., you’re fighting or not getting along these days, and sex feels temporarily off the table), say that. It’s much more helpful to start that conversation (even if it’s difficult) than to let more tension build up with silences and misunderstandings.
Think about rejecting sex similarly to making social plans with friends. If we invite a friend out for a bite to eat, and they just say “no,” it can feel pretty jarring. We might wonder: “Are they saying they don’t want dinner tonight? Or are they trying to hint that they want to hang out less frequently? Maybe they don’t like me as much as they used to?” It feels unsettling, because we don’t have all the information, and so we are left to fill in the gaps.
On the other hand, if you invite your friend to dinner, and they say: “Sorry I really need to recharge and have a night at home tonight, but maybe could we try next week?” It clarifies that the “no” is just a “not right now.” You know where you stand, and there is a plan to spend time together again soon.
Likewise, when it comes to sex, a flat out “no” can feel pretty harsh. We similarly tend to wonder, how long is that “no” for? And should we ask again in an hour? A day? A week? Never? Are they trying to tell me something else by turning down sex?
But sexual rejection usually feels a lot more manageable when we’re given a safety net. Something like: “I’m not feeling it right now, but maybe we could try on the weekend, once my work deadline has passed? Or later tonight after I go for a run? Or in the morning before work, after I’ve had a good sleep?”
Just because you’re not in the mood for sex doesn’t necessarily mean you have to turn down other bids for connection and closeness.
We know from the research that women and men get so much more from sex than just physical gratification (like feeling loved and feeling safe). So perhaps sexual activity is off the table, but a nice cuddle, hand holding, a meaningful conversation, or even a game or activity you both enjoy might feel pretty good.
It might not be sex, but if your partner is reaching out as a way of feeling close, there are several different ways that this can be accomplished, even when sex doesn’t feel like an option. If there is some relationship-affirming activity you’re in the mood for that would make you feel good and closer to your partner, try suggesting that instead.
Rejecting your partner’s sexual advances with these three tactics doesn’t ensure there won’t be any conflict or that your partner won’t be disappointed you said “no” to sex. But that’s not necessarily the end goal. Differing preferences for desired frequency of sex is one of the most common challenges in relationships and a key area of sexual concern for many, many couples.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not conflict itself that hurts or strengthens relationships, but rather the way that couples manage conflict.
Most people don’t like feeling rejected (or being the one to do the rejecting), but offering a “no” that
1) provides an explanation,
2) suggests another time in the near-ish future, and 3) provides an alternative way to connect can help you let your partner down a bit easier.
People go through dry spells in the bedroom for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they’re busy, or maybe they’re single. Or they might just decide they want a break.
If that break goes on long enough, though, it can have an effect on your body and some parts of your life. But it’s important to remember that there’s no “right” amount for everyone. What’s key is that you find what works best for you.
If you don’t have sex with your partner often, that may make you feel less connected to them, which can mean you don’t talk about your feelings much or get a lot of support in managing day-to-day stressors.
And sex makes your body release hormones, like oxytocin and endorphins, that can help you manage the effects of stress. Oxytocin has the added benefit of helping you sleep.
Research is in the early stages, but some studies have shown that people who have sex often are better at recalling memories. And there are signs that sex can help your brain grow neurons and work better in general.
Regular sex helps you feel emotionally close to your partner, which opens the door to better communication. Couples who have sex more often tend to say they’re happier than those who get less of it.
But it doesn’t have to happen every day — once a week seems to be enough. This seems to be true no matter your age or gender, or how long you’ve been in the relationship.
Regular sex can help your body fight off illness, so having it less often might lead to more colds and the like. In one study, college students who had sex one to two times per week were shown to have higher levels of a certain antibody (called immunoglobulin A) that plays an important role in your immune system.
If you’re a woman who’s gone through menopause, you have another reason to keep having sex. Without regular intercourse, your vagina can tighten and its tissues can get thinner and be more likely to get injured, tear, or even bleed during sex. This can be so uncomfortable that women with these symptoms avoid having sex, which can make it worse.
Changes related to menopause, such as vaginal dryness and irritation, can be treated with lubricants, moisturizers, or low-dose estrogen.
For men, how often they have sex may be linked to their chances of prostate cancer, but the evidence is mixed. Some experts think that sex might actually raise your odds, by possibly exposing you to sexually transmitted diseases that lead to inflammation.
But in one large study of almost 30,000 men, those who said they ejaculated more than 21 times a month on average had lower chances of prostate cancer during their lifetimes, compared with those who ejaculated four to seven times a month
When you’re in bed with your lover, the last thing you want to do is turn them off. Not everyone is clear on his mind on how to have sex which feels great. That said, here are a few common blunders that you should not commit..
Believe it or not, many people (and this includes women) don’t kiss their partner when they’re having sex. Why? Perhaps because the positioning doesn’t allow for it or they are too eager to climax and feel that it might break the rhythm. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that you make an effort to kiss your partner during the act – it will only add to the experience.
While many people enjoy an aggressive partner, biting any part of their body before they are aroused may lead to pain and discomfort (and might even lessen the chances of any further action ) or simply scare them off. So make sure your partner is fully excited before you bite their ear, shoulders, neck or any other part of their body.
Genitals are great, no doubt, but you should definitely pay attention to other parts of your lover’s body and focus for some time on their entire body – knees, wrists, back and stomach are highly erogenous zones for men as well as women. Gently caressing these areas will help excite your partner further; in turn, increasing the chances of them pleasuring you back.
Even if you’re a girl! It’s okay to lose yourself in the moment every once in a while and go crazy on your lover. But when you’re lying on top of them, you have to be careful not to drop your weight on them. Chocking them or hindering their ability to breathe will anyway kill the moment and any chances of some good action.
This one is especially for men. You need to have good control on your muscles to ensure that you can ejaculate at an appropriate time. Too soon and you may leave your partner unsatisfied; too late and it might leave your partner feeling as if they’re pumping iron at the gym.
To avoid this, spend a lot more time on foreplay (this will help men as well as women). If you take too long and can only ejaculate via manual stimulation, do your best to get your partner to orgasm and then they can return you the favour.
If you’re going to let go – and this applies even to women – whether during oral sex or intercourse, you need to tell your partner beforehand. Something as simple as “I’m going to let go,” will suffice. Your partner deserves to know.
Although some couples enjoy having raunchy sex, you’d be wise to talk to your partner before you engage in such behaviour. If you begin being nasty with your lover without knowing if they like it first, chances are the scenario won’t end on a happy note.
Do you like to hear it when your partner is having a good time? So pay them the same respect and speak up when you’re enjoying yourself. Something as simple as a little moan, or even saying something like, “that feels so good,” will encourage them and educate them further on your moan zones.
It may feel comfortable to you to pump away like you do at the gym, but you’ll quickly discover that most people don’t enjoy such an act. Mix it up a little bit; go fast at times, then slowly. Be creative and you’ll find yourself enjoying some variation too.
A lot of women are guilty of this. We have enough movies and examples that highlight how ladies fake orgasms. It’s true that the orgasm of a woman is still a big mystery for many but that does not mean it should be a fake one. The main reason being, the partner would, some day or the other, get to know this and he would definitely not like it.
There can be no bigger turn off than comparing a partner with an ex-lover during sex. No matter how wonderful sex life you might have had with an ex-partner, mentioning it while having sex is not going to help anyone.
Not everyone is well endowed when it comes to private parts. Laughing or cracking a joke about a partner’s private part may make him or her feel uncomfortable and it will only ruin the mood. Refrain from giving negative comments on private parts while having sex.