What To Do When You're In The Mood For Sex & Your Partner Isn't

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If you've been in a relationship, you've probably had a situation where one person wanted sex and the other didn't. In fact, in relationships when one partner has a higher sex drive, this may happen often. This is not necessarily a cause for concern, though, as there are many ways to work around it.

First things first: While it may be frustrating to have to go without sex or resort to masturbation when you're craving that intimacy with your partner, it's important to never put any pressure or guilt on them. "Your partner is not required to meet your sexual needs," Astroglide's resident sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly, tells Bustle. "You do not want to pressure them. You need to find out whether they’re not in the mood and they want you to back off or they’re not in the mood but they welcome your efforts to help spark their interest."

Still, a partner's lack of arousal doesn't mean you have to abandon the topic of sex altogether. You can find other, healthier outlets for your sexual desire if you're willing to get creative. Here are a few things to try if your partner isn't in the mood for sex but you are.

1. Don't Take It Personally

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First of all, don't sulk or take the rejection personally — this will make both of you feel bad. "Rejection is a part of life, and learning to manage sexual rejection involves not taking your partner’s lack of interest personally and not shaming them," says Dr. Jess. "Consider the ways you manage rejection. Do you lash out at your partner? Do you engage in negative self-talk?"

Instead, encourage your partner to be honest with you about what they do and don't desire, and applaud them when they are. One gracious way to handle rejection is to say "thank you for taking care of yourself."

2. Learn From The Rejection

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Once you can get past the sting of the rejection, you can realize it's actually a learning opportunity for you, especially if there's a pattern to it, says Dr. Jess.

For example, maybe you're realizing that your partner mainly craves sex during a certain time of day or that they're more likely to be in the mood if you start flirting with them or sending them sexts in advance. You can also ask your partner when they tend to be most in the mood for sex so that you can work out a way for you both to be satisfied.

3. Masturbate

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When your partner doesn't want to engage in sex with you, solo sex is an obvious alternative. "Masturbating can be good for you and the relationship," says Dr. Jess — and you can even make it feel more like partnered sex.

"Rather than rushing through the experience for the sake of getting it over with, try treating masturbation as you do your partnered sex life and experiment with different toys, techniques, and positions," Dr. Jess suggests.

4. Give Them The Chance To Get Aroused

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If your partner isn't in the mood for sex at one given moment, that doesn't mean they can't be in a little while — you just need to make sure they're open to becoming aroused before trying to arouse them, and if they're still not in the mood after an initial attempt, you need to respect that.

"Many of us find that we’re not spontaneously in the mood for sex, and so we often need to experience arousal before we experience desire," Dr. Jess explains. "Each person is different, so you’ll need to talk about what helps to spark desire. Perhaps they want a massage, or perhaps they want to watch porn. Some people are responsive to dirty talk, and others find they are most in the mood when they feel loved. Experiment with different approaches to see where it leads."

5. Connect In Other Ways

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Just because you cannot have sex doesn't mean you cannot have intimacy. A few other possibilities including cuddling, making out, and exchanging massages.

"Ask them what they are in the mood for," Dr. Jess suggests. "That might sound sarcastic, so approach with tenderness: 'I want to be close to you. Do you want to snuggle and watch a show? Or are you in the mood to do something else together?'"

Discrepancies in sex drive are among the most common relationship problems, and they don't have to spell the end of the relationship. By expanding your definitions of sex, pleasure, and intimacy, you can reach a compromise that satisfies you both. In fact, the process of negotiating your desires and boundaries could even bring you closer.