What to Do When You Want Sex But Can’t Have It

Everyone experiences a period in their relationship when they want sex but their partner isn’t feeling it. It’s not uncommon, and luckily there are a few things you can try to make it better!

Cosmo may have you believe that increasing sex drive is as easy as lime-flavoured lube and complicated new positions, but those are just quick fixes.

1. Take a break.

It’s a tough thing to say, but sometimes it’s actually good for you — and your partner — to take a break from sex. Your body is usually telling you that a break is needed, and it’s a sign that you need to focus on something else, whether it be work or personal projects. This can help you feel more energized and invigorated, which can then bring you back to a place where your desire for sex is once again restored.

Plus, this is also a great opportunity to talk with your partner about other things that make you feel close to them and that can create the same sense of intimacy as sex can. Just remember to be kind, compassionate and honest when talking with your partner about this topic if you think it will be difficult for them. And don’t spring it on them; be open and direct and try to find ways to connect together outside of the bedroom if you do decide to take a break. This will make them feel like you love and care for them and that the issue isn’t just about sex.

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2. Try something new.

If you’re feeling frustrated because your partner isn’t as horny as you are, try something new in the bedroom. It could be as simple as trying a new position or sex toy. Or it might be a more involved experiment. For example, if you find that his penis hitting your vulva creates pain or discomfort during doggy style sex, try shifting positions or propping him up with pillows.

You can also try making a bucket list of no-stress fun activities that you both want to try. “Doing non-sexual things together makes you focus on each other, which is another form of foreplay,” says sex coach Amy Levine. “Once you’re focused on one another, that can lead to sexual desires.”

If you and your partner are both struggling with low libido, consider getting some professional help. A sex and relationship therapist can help you navigate your feelings and find ways to connect with your partner sexually. They can also teach you how to be more mindful of your sexual needs. They can even give you tools that will increase your libido naturally.

3. Change your body image.

Many sex educators, counselors, and fat acceptance activists point to the fact that negative body image can significantly impact sex satisfaction. Women who feel shame around their bodies tend to have less satisfying sex and are less likely to initiate sexual activity.

This is often due to early family environment and inherited beliefs around body shame, such as being taught that certain parts of the body are not attractive, acceptable, or dirty. Changing those beliefs and learning to view them as just “bullshit” stories that don’t have to be your truth, can help you feel more comfortable in your body and more confident about engaging in sexual activity.

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This is a complex process and it doesn’t happen overnight, but taking small steps in the right direction can make a big difference.

4. Talk to your partner.

The most important step is to talk openly with your partner about your desire and your expectations for your sexual relationship. It’s better to do this when both of you are relaxed and have a little bit of time to devote to the conversation. Ideally, you should try to have this conversation away from the bedroom and other intimate spaces.

If you find that your partner isn’t interested in talking about sex as much as you are, don’t take it personally. As long as there aren’t other problems in the relationship (like emotional abuse or sexual harassment), a lack of interest is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

However, if your partner isn’t responding positively to your requests, it might be a good idea to seek professional help. For example, if your partner is refusing to engage in foreplay because they are experiencing pain during sex (also known as dyspareunia), it could be a sign that they need treatment for pelvic floor physical dysfunction or psychological trauma. A pelvic floor physical therapist or psychologist can help them identify and overcome their barriers to sexual intimacy.

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5. Don’t take it personally.

There are many reasons that people lose interest in sex, including medical issues, lifestyle factors, stress, and even the way they communicate with their partners. It’s not a reflection of your partner or the health of your relationship, and it certainly doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you.

For instance, a man’s lack of desire could be caused by his own low self-esteem, or maybe he’s tired of his job or his finances. If that’s the case, you can try talking to him about what he wants more from the relationship and reminding him of how much you love him.

Ultimately, it’s important to respect your sexual identity and never feel pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do. Just remember that a healthy relationship is about mutual empowerment, and you can’t have that if you’re being forced to do things you don’t enjoy. Hopefully, with some of these tips, you’ll be able to get your sex drive back. But, if not, don’t be afraid to take the time to focus on your other relationships — and your own mental and physical wellbeing.

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