Psychology
21 Aug 2018

Not tonight, honey

In a world overflowing with romance, passionate sex and enduring desire, the occasional lack of a sex drive can be a complicated and rather awkward matter.

Wysokie Obcasy
Alicja Długołęcka Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Not tonight, honey - NewsMavens
Couple holding hands. Pixabay

The following fragments are from an original article by Alicja Długołęcka which appeared on hellozdrowie.pl in 2015.

Sex? Not today.

What do we think when we hear this statement -- out of our own mouths or that of our significant other? Our first thought is that it must be a love crisis, a relationship burnout or a self-diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. As if being with someone should automatically deprive us of peace of mind and all other non-sexual needs. But do we always have to be in the mood for sex? The assumption that "we’re in love and always willing to have sex" can result in numerous complications, such as boring routine sex, fake orgasms, marital obligations, sacrifices, coercion and a whole range of other things that only serve to suppress the pleasure we should feel from making love. Perhaps it’s worthwhile instead to learn to say "no" and ungird our loins only when we truly feel like it? How can we say "no" to our partner without making them feel rejected?  

I’m a woman -- I can say "no"

First of all, we should always focus on "ourself" -- our state of mind or our physical disposition -- instead of blaming things on a partner, who "is not trying hard enough". This blame will be a person's first conclusion even if they don't say it out loud and that’s precisely why the message needs to be quick and clear. It’s not about conducting a deep self-psychoanalysis and reaching back to our early childhood, but about clarifying that "not today" doesn’t mean "never again".

We could explain that sex requires energy and that we don’t always have enough of it, so instead of saying "yes" and giving a mediocre performance, sometimes we prefer to take a rain check and wait for a better moment.

To put it simply, we are choosing "quality over quantity". And if such a scenario is not playing out in the bedroom in the middle of the night, we could try and suggest a different activity instead: going out, watching a new episode of our favourite TV series or making dinner together. If it takes place in bed, we can cuddle with our partner or give them a massage instead of turning our back on them and pretending to be sleeping. It could also be a good moment to talk about what we both like in sex and what potential improvements or variations we could introduce in bed in the nearest future (and make sure to keep our word).

What’s important here is to not leave our partner with racing thoughts: we need to make it clear that there will be no sex tonight but that everything is okay. Nor should we be racking ourselves with guilt and apologizing. We can learn to say "no" to sex in the same way we can say "no" to things in all the other spheres of our life. 

To sum it up, we need to share our feelings with our partner and propose an alternative form of entertainment, instead of rejecting them and leading them to believe that there’s a serious "problem" in our relationship (unless, there truly is one).

I’m a man -- I can say "no"

This is quite the opposite situation and a more complicated one too!

Guys have it harder here, because in our culture, sexual refusal from a man -- who is expected to be constantly keen and ready -- is associated with either impotence or an extreme lack of attraction for his partner.

It’s a highly unfair and brutal stereotype. A man, just like a woman, has an equal right to be in the mood for talking, cuddling, resting or doing something else other than having sex. What can he do to avoid feeling like a heartless monster and making his partner question his feelings and her own desirability? The solution -- although this requires some emotional courage -- is really simple... the truth! All he needs to do is explain to his partner why he does not feel like making love. By doing this, he proves that he trusts her, that he feels safe in her company and that he’s surely not rejecting her. A talk on the subject (and on different subjects), along with some caring attention and tenderness to build intimacy will certainly be healthier and more beneficial for the relationship than imposed sex out of obligation or out fear of our partner’s negative judgement.

The fundamental rule of the "not today" method is honesty the kind of liberating honesty that is based on trust. Building this trust through these "not today" scenarios will pay off when it comes to actually having sex. But this time, it won’t be sex resulting from guilt, but from a mutual and unforced desire -- just the way it’s supposed to be!

***

Translated from Polish by Martyna Kardach

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