There's no denying that sex is a great way to be close with your partner, feel connected, and (obviously) have some fun. But sex can also bring relationship problems to light in a way that's anything but romantic. There's something about the intimacy of the moment that has a way of stirring up emotions — especially if there are problems going on in your relationship.
It may be annoying, and it may take you out of the moment, but it makes a helluva lot of sense why this would happen. "During sex, we are at our most open and most vulnerable," says psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez. Having sex is sort of like letting down your proverbial walls, she tells me. All sorts of good stuff can come on in (connection, fun, closeness, etc.), but also a ton of bad stuff (toxic thoughts, relationship problems, past traumas, etc.).
If you have these types of uncomfortable thoughts during sex, don't ignore them. They may be a sign of personal issues you need to work through, or red flags pointing to problems in your relationship. If the latter is the case, talk to your partner ASAP and see if you two can figure things out. After all, sex should be fun and healthy — and so should your relationship.
1. "I'm not even the slightest bit turned on"
Sex can get a bit bland, especially if you two aren't putting in the work to keep things fresh. It should, however, still be physically enjoyable. So take note if you don't feel turned on in the slightest. "If your body doesn’t respond to theirs, it's usually a symptom of some larger issue — either with you, or with the relationship," says relationship expert Jack Murphy.
2. "I hope I look OK..."
While it's normal to feel the tiniest bit self-conscious during sex, you shouldn't feel wildly uncomfortable — especially with a loving partner. So it's a major red flag if you find yourself worrying about looking attractive, relationship expert Stefanie Safran tells me. As she says, "... it could point to your own self-esteem issues, or it could be a lack of trust in your relationship." Either way, it ain't good.
3. "It's weird that we aren't kissing"
Some people aren't into kissing, and that's OK. But since making out during sex is one of the more intimate things you can do, it may be a bad sign if your SO keeps turning their head. Do you find yourself wondering if they are checked out? Or upset? It's definitely worth asking before things get worse.
4. "They totally don't appreciate any of this"
If you don't feel loved/respected/safe/valued in your relationship, you might feel incredibly unappreciated during sex, clinical therapist Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW tells me. This may come in the form of resentment bubbling to the surface in those more intimate moments.
5. "I feel so uncomfortable"
Intimate moments can bring up painful memories from past traumas, Martinez tells me. So take note if you get upset during sex. While not necessarily your partner's fault, these types of thoughts can take a toll on your relationship. "Be open about the issue so that you can work on it together," she adds. A good partner will be supportive and will do what they can to put you at ease.
6. "I told them I don't like this position..."
If a certain sex position is hurting you (and you aren't down for that), or your partner keeps trying positions you've said you don't like, it can spell disaster for your relationship. Their lack of care for you during sex could mean it is just that — sex. Or, it could point to their total inability to listen. If you're trying to have a loving, long-term relationship, neither will be acceptable.
7. "OK, so what was on my to-do list?"
If you start running through your to-do list mid-sex, it may be that you're the one checking out of the relationship, expert matchmakers Janis and Carly Spindel tell me. Does your mind wander? Do you just go through the motions? It may be a symptom of your lack of commitment, and it may be worth investigating.
8. "Why is none of this about me?"
While it's normal to get swept up in the moment, it's obviously not OK for your partner to completely ignore your needs in bed. If they do this on the regular, it could be a sign that you're with a particularly selfish person. Have you noticed them being selfish in other aspects of life, too? If so, it's definitely something that needs to be discussed.
9. "Well, I guess it's time to fake it"
Most people have faked an orgasm, so it's not the end of the world if you do so occasionally. But if you make a habit of pretending to love sex with your SO — especially if they are your committed partner — it may be worth looking into. "You could be ... feeling self-conscious, or feeling judged," says Lauren Zander, relationship expert and author of "Maybe It's You." "These are all signs something is wrong."
10. "I wish they'd speak up..."
While you shouldn't read too much into a quiet partner (not everyone is loud or chatty in bed), the lack of communication during sex can be a bit revealing. Do you and your partner fail to express yourselves outside of the bedroom, too? If so, it's a topic worth bringing up.
11. "Did they really just say that to me?"
If your partner is rude in bed, it can be kind of sexy (depending on what agreements you two have made). But it can also be incredibly insulting — especially if their comments seem to be coming out of left field. When it comes to dealing with dirty talk, you both have to be on the same page, lest you feel like your partner is simply unleashing underlying resentment.
Because, like it or not, sex can be a place to do that. Intimacy brings things to the surface, so be sure to talk to your partner if things feel weird. It doesn't have to mean the end of your relationship, but it does mean you need to have a heart-to-heart.
Images: Unsplash, Toa Heftiba; Pexels (11)