Sex & Relationships

7 Things To Do If You're In The Mood For Sex & Your Partner Isn't
by Suzannah Weiss and Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
If your partner isn't in the mood for sex, don't take it personally.
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You’ve been feeling frisky all week, and now that it’s Friday evening, you’re ready to get it on. You send your partner a suggestive text right when you get home, put on your sexiest lingerie set, and light some candles. Once they finally make it home, though, it’s clear the only thing they want to do is sit on the couch, eat tacos, and watch Netflix — a good night to be sure, but not the romantic rendezvous you’d envisioned. When you try to put the moves on them, they brush you off and make it clear they just aren’t in the mood for sex.

If you've been in a relationship, you've probably encountered a similar situation, where one partner wants to get hot and heavy and the other just isn’t feeling it. In fact, in relationships where one partner has a higher sex drive, this may happen often. The good news is, this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern as experts say there are many ways to work around it.

First thing’s 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 on them or make them feel guilty.

"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."

Besides, a partner's lack of arousal doesn't mean you have to abandon the topic of sex altogether. So here are a few things you should do if your partner isn’t in the mood for sex but you are.


Don't Take It Personally

When your partner says they aren’t in the mood, it’s normal to feel a little insecure, especially if it’s the first time it’s ever happened to you. But don't sulk or take the rejection personally — this will make both of you feel bad. According to O’Reilly, rejection is a part of life. “Learning to manage sexual rejection involves not taking your partner’s lack of interest personally and not shaming them," she says. "Consider the ways you manage rejection. Do you lash out at your partner? Do you engage in negative self-talk?" If so, you may want to self-reflect on why you respond the way you do. If you’re angry or upset because you haven’t had sex in a long time, have a conversation with your partner. Talk about why there’s been a lack of physical intimacy in your relationship and encourage your partner to be honest.


Respond Graciously

There may be a hundred reasons why your partner isn't in the mood. They could’ve had a bad day at work, maybe they’re dealing with family stress, or their favorite team lost the championship game, and now they just want to sulk for the next week and a half. Even though none of these things have anything to do with you, your partner still turned you down. So, how do you respond to that?

According to Christina Steinorth-Powell, licensed psychotherapist, graciously. For example, “That’s alright. Just let me know when you are because I’ll be interested,” or “I understand. Just know I’m here for you when you need me.” These types of statements take the pressure off your partner without laying a guilt trip on them. It also alleviates any feelings of obligation they may have, she says.


Be Playful And Give Them An Open Invitation

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If you know your partner is the type of person who feels guilty saying no, try keeping your response light and playful. That way, you’ll minimize the amount of pressure or stress they’re likely already feeling. “Let your partner know that you're going to play with yourself while you're in the mood, and invite them to come watch or join you if they're curious,” Piri Miller, sex expert and founder of sex toy company ComePlay, tells Bustle. This communicates to them that you’re OK, whether they decide to join you or not.



When your partner doesn't want to engage in sex with you, solo sex is an obvious alternative. Don’t be ashamed to take care of yourself, says O’Reilly. Use your toys, hands, porn, erotica, fantasy, or any other tools at your disposal. Sex doesn’t have to be partnered to count.

"Masturbating can be good for you and the relationship," she says — 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 in your partnered sex life, and experiment with different toys, techniques, and positions.


Learn From The Situation

Once you get past the sting of rejection, think of it as a learning opportunity. According to O’Reilly, you should try to make note of any patterns. 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 feel like getting it on if you start setting the mood with some raunchy texts beforehand. Everyone is different. Just because you like sex in the morning, it doesn’t mean your partner does too. You can also be direct and ask your partner when they tend to feel the most horny so that you can know what to expect going forward.


Give Them The Chance To Get Aroused

If your partner isn't in the mood for sex at one given moment, that doesn't mean they won’t be in thirty minutes — you just need to make sure they're open to becoming aroused before trying to put the moves on them. If they're still not in the mood after an initial attempt? You need to respect that and move on.

"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," O’Reilly says. "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."


Connect In Other Ways

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Just because you can’t have sex doesn't mean you can’t have intimacy — you could exchange massages, take a shower together, or have a makeout sesh. Maybe they’d be fine with oral, but not intercourse. "Ask them what they are in the mood for," O’Reilly 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.


Dr. Jess O'Reilly, resident sexologist at Astroglide

Christina Steinorth-Powell, licensed psychotherapist

Piri Miller, sex expert and founder of sex toy company ComePlay

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