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My girlfriend wants to have sex daily and I do not. What to do?
April 11, 2010 11:39 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend wants to have sex daily and I do not. What to do?

I know this sounds silly, but my girlfriend wants sex every day and I do not always feel like having sex. I just don't. Some times I want to express intimacy without sex.

But as much as we discuss it, and as much as she says she "understands", she still presses for sex and when she doesn't get it says she feels "rejected."

I try to explain that if we have sex Friday and Saturday, but I don't feel like it on Sunday, then you really aren't being rejected, but she won't listen. In fact, every time I try to express how I feel about it, she starts to cry which I am beginning to suspect is a subtle form of manipulation to get me to acquiesce.

She says that I am rejecting her becuase I don't want to "be with her" when I don't think that being with her is absolutely reliant on sexual intimacy. I'm not sure what to think.



Gah. Don't know what to do. She is the love of my life but I can't keep having the same argument every two weeks for the rest of my life.
posted by Senor Cardgage to Human Relations (40 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are ways to get her off without vaginal sex. Stick to those things if you aren't totally down with having sex in a way that gets you off too.

Give some to be able to reject her sometimes. She might be the kind of person who cries just to get what she wants, but more likely you are rejecting her in a way that triggers her emotionally. You should be able to reject her offer to have sex without her exploding, and that is as much on you as it is on her.

If she needs vaginal sex super often the general Dan Savage advice is look into opening up the relationship just for sexual things, not emotional needs.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:49 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aside from a compromise position (maybe you could be up for something fun with your hands and/or mouth that isn't full-on intercourse, or maybe she would just like you to hold her while she masturbates), you may have to put things in some perspective for her.

Has she had many other lovers in her life? She's probably talked about it. It isn't statistically improbable that she has been with someone who had a higher sex drive than she did and ended up pestering her for sex. If you can find that out, ask her how she dealt with it at the time. It might be enlightening for both of you.
posted by adipocere at 11:50 PM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I meant sex in general. Meaning non-penetration as well.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:51 PM on April 11, 2010


IMO, she should not be pressuring you for sex after you already told her you are not in the moo for it right then. That's disrespectful. I also do not think her feeling rejected obligates you to have sex with her at all.

If it's not just that she's horny, if she really does feel so rejected anytime you are not in the mood for sex that it makes her cry, then I think therapy is needed.

That is not to say her sexual + emotional needs are not important, they are, but so are yours, and one should not automatically take precedence over the other. Once she has the fear of rejection issue addressed, you guys need to come to an agreement about how you both can get your needs met that is win-win.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:57 PM on April 11, 2010


I meant sex in general. Meaning non-penetration as well.

Then if she's really blowing up about having "sex Friday and Saturday, but I don't feel like it on Sunday" then you two need to compromise. Some weekends off, some weekends on.

You say that she thinks that "I don't want to 'be with her.'" Is there any other reason why she would think that, other than the fact that you sometimes reject sex?
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:58 PM on April 11, 2010


I have been in her shoes before. I'm a very sexually driven person, and I rely on the reassurance/communication of love that sex gives. It can be very hurtful if one perceives that one is being sexually rejected.

That said, you make it sound as if she is not communicating this in constructive ways, but instead going straight to the guilttrip place.


I'm having the interesting experience right now of being in the opposite position -- not wanting sex as often as my partner -- because of some maaaajor life stresses. He's being wonderful about it in ways I never was.

I almost never tell him that I don't want sex that day. Instead, I say something along the lines of, "That actually sounds wonderful, but I am not feeling horny at all right now. Can we take it slow, and are you okay with doing a lot of work to help me get there?" And I will make an active effort to be open to the idea of sex. It really works, the vast majority ofthe time. By the time we're actually having sex, I am thrilled that we are, and the contentment and closeness at the end is so ridiculously worth the temporary bit of "augh, now? Okay..." at the beginning.

Or, if sex is just not in the cards for you at all, is there some other way you'd be comfortable fufilling her need for physical intimacy? Do you enjoy going down on her? Could you give her an extensive back/body massage while you watch a movie together?

Radical honesty is really what makes these things possible and rewarding with my current partner. I definitely recommend trying to have an honest but non-combative discussion on the subject. "I feel" statements, as hokey as it sounds, help.

Good luck! Sex is such a personal thing, and so ridiculously emotionally charged. It can be so very touchy (ha ha). But this is the love of your life, so you're going to find a way to make it work!
posted by socket wench at 12:00 AM on April 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


I had the exact same situation with my last ex, pouting and crying included. She's being selfish and manipulative and is probably deeply insecure.
posted by ryaninoakland at 12:03 AM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


when i was in a similar situation, i would just go ahead and have sex when i didn't really want to, with the caveat that she sometimes had to start me up (obviously a little work if i wasn't totally in the mood) and that i wouldn't necessarily come every time we had sex. i found once we got going it was pretty pleasurable even if i hadn't started out in the mood for it. knowing she wanted it every day meant i knew what was coming when we went to bed - so once it became part of our daily habit there wasn't really much to argue about! for the record i'm more of a 3-4 times a week kind of guy, i don't know if this would work if i had a once-a-week or once-a-month kind of libido. but i've definitely found, for myself anyway, putting out when i'm not in the mood isn't really that much of a chore, even if it seems like the last thing you want to to when you start out! once you get going it's hard to deny the fun.

also i'd cosign on adipocere's suggestion, that seems like good advice.
posted by messiahwannabe at 12:06 AM on April 12, 2010


It would be poisonous for the relationship for you to give in and have sex with her when you don't really want to. That is really the most important fact here and she really needs to understand that. If she wants to save the relationship, it is her responsibility to pull herself together and accept you for who you are (and 2 days out of 3 doesn't strike me an an abnormally low sex drive) and you should tell her that.
posted by creasy boy at 12:11 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your girlfriend may be wonderful, but this is seriously not cool behavior on her part. This isn't about her, but she's making it about her emotional worth and desirability. Which dismisses your boundaries and emotional and physical needs, because you have to drop them to put out this new fire.

You really need to talk to her about this in terms that are focused on you. If she tries to steer this back onto her and what it says about how you feel about her, you need to patiently and gently remind her that this isn't about her, but about you and your needs. If she can't learn to accept that, then there's a bit of a bigger self-centeredness and lack of respect problem going on that you need to address more globally.

Maybe this is selfishness, or possibly insecurity on her part, but it's simply not fair that what you want gets derailed by what she perceives as some symbol of how you feel about her. And that you can't convince her of this is just further refusal on her part to address your needs outside of what it means to her. You're not like her. You love differently. It's why you love her and she loves you. But she needs to accept when and where the differences don't always line up with her perfect picture of what love looks and feels like from moment to moment.

The good news is, these things are totally fixable. And it's also a really common thing to argue about, right up there with money and time. I think you'll get through it, just stick up for yourself and be clear about how your boundaries and needs aren't a reflection of your feelings for her. Good luck!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:12 AM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


But as much as we discuss it, and as much as she says she "understands", she still presses for sex and when she doesn't get it says she feels "rejected."

Perhaps you could agree on clear, predictable boundaries, so you both know what to expect?

i.e. instead of saying "some days I don't feel like sex, so sometimes when you ask I might say no" you could say "I'll promise you sex five days a week (without complaining), if you'll promise to take care of yourself on Monday and Thursday (without complaining)"

that way, on Monday and Thursday, she doesn't have to ask and get rejected, because she knows in advance what you've agreed on - that you can do it tomorrow.

In fact, every time I try to express how I feel about it, she starts to cry which I am beginning to suspect is a subtle form of manipulation to get me to acquiesce.

Present the agreement in such a way that it benefits both of you; that you're suggesting this to help the long-term sustainability of the relationship, because she's the love of your life and you want to establish a system that will last forever; and that it won't be easy for you to commit to such a schedule, but you're willing to because you know how important it is to her and you don't want to have to argue.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:32 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is my standard advice for sex stuff: take it off the table. No sex for a week/month/whatever. So you don't feel pressured every time you hug and she can't pressure you every time you hug AND it circumvents the 'but it's how I feel loved' whine too. I cannot stand that 'excuse' for pressuring your partner for sex - if you truly want to feel loved how the hell is having sex with a non-enthusiastic partner going to do that? Have you told her it makes you feel unloved when she begins pressuring you?
posted by geek anachronism at 12:53 AM on April 12, 2010


I will avoid the obvious comment about how, if the sexes were reversed, the advice would likely be different. Instead, I will offer this:

#1: When someone pressures you to do something you don't want to do, you have every right not to do it, and if that upsets the other person, they're not thinking of your needs, which is selfish.

#2: When someone wants to have sex with you more than you want to have sex with them, take a good hard look into why. It might be that your partner has specific turn-offs you don't realize are turning you off, or it might be an external force like stress from school, or it might be that you have a fundamental incompatibility (temporary or permanent.) Don't focus on the fact, focus on the root cause.

#3: It is easy to be a good partner in a good relationship when things are going well. The true measure of our relationships is when things go awry, how we discuss and cope and get things back on track. Pay attention to your feelings and intuition as much as to the fact of things, as a barometer for how your future relationship will play out.

Having said all that stuff: if I were you, I'd just sit her down in a non-sexy moment and say, "I love you. A ton. And I love having sex with you. A ton. But not all the time. Sometimes I need intimacy without sex, and I need it as badly as you seem to need sex every day. So we have a choice, to discuss this and compromise so that we're both happy -- or for you to keep pressuring me for more sex than I want to have, which is going to split us up. Do you love me enough to discuss this, or no?"

Is it an ultimatum? Sure. But a long-term relationship of any decency needs passion and communication, and just picking one is rarely going to work out.
posted by davejay at 2:59 AM on April 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


How often do you initiate sex? If she is doing most of the initiation she is putting herself out there for rejection nearly every day, and she may have become hypersensitive about it.

It's possible the reason she feels rejected is because she has gotten the impression that you are rarely really eager to have sex with her... she may feel like she's the only one who really wants it and on the days you "give in" you are just doing it to appease her. So she already feels a little unwanted even when you acquiesce, then when you actually do reject her, in her mind you've just proved you don't want her. Which makes her cry, not in a manipulative way but in a genuine "hurt feelings that were already close to the surface" way.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:03 AM on April 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


This is an issue that many couples have to deal with, one way or the other -- it's really quite common for one partner to have a stronger sex drive than the other, and the feelings of you describe harassment on one side and rejection on the other are just about textbook. Stereotypically the imbalance is the opposite of your situation, but in real life I suspect yours is just about as common; it's just that guys don't tend to talk about it.

The only solution -- as with most deep relationship issues -- is to talk it out.

every time I try to express how I feel about it, she starts to cry

This is your real problem. The sex is not the real problem. If you two can't learn to communicate with each other, you're doomed. And it's not just her crying: you clearly aren't open to her point of view at all, here:

if we have sex Friday and Saturday, but I don't feel like it on Sunday, then you really aren't being rejected

But she is. She's being rejected on Sunday. Which hurts, trust me. You're right that that doesn't mean you don't love her or want to be with her; but you're wrong that you're not rejecting her, because you quite literally are.


Find a moment when you're both relaxed and happy -- not during one of these episodes -- and talk it out. You need to understand that her feeling of rejection is real: it does suck for someone to say "no, I don't want to have sex with you." She needs to understand that your feelings are real too: nothing's more of a turn-off than feeling pestered for sex when you're not in the mood. You're both right. That's important to remember.

If she bursts into tears and you're not getting anywhere and it starts to turn into a fight, let it go for the time being -- but make it clear that you're going to need to keep talking through it once you've both calmed down. It's probably going to take a few tries.

Only when you both understand each others' points of view are you going to be able to make any progress on this.
posted by ook at 4:20 AM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Buy her a vibrator.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:45 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If you loved me, you'd fuck me"?

Nobody should ever be pressured into having sex when they don't want to be. That happening is a form of rape. The genders of the individuals are irrelevant.

It sounds to me like she needs some kind of therapy to a] learn that she doesn't need sex to feel good about herself and, more importantly, b] help her realise that manipulative behaviour like this is unacceptable and abusive.
posted by Solomon at 6:16 AM on April 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I do agree with you. It sounds to me like she uses sexuality to control and manipulate, to be honest, and I don't see how answers above that essentially tell you to engage in sexual activity even though you don't want to are appropriate. I can't imagine these folks would give you the same advice if the genders in your question were reversed, and I think that underscores why I think your GF's behavior is particularly unacceptable.

I don't know her, so I don't want to too forcefully criticize her. The way you describe her crying and her representing the frequency of your interest in sexual activity as rejection, seems manipulative. It may be for fairly innocent reasons - she may place too much of her self-worth into sexual attractiveness, and feel unable to express the need for affection without it. I recognize that people have varying sex drives - but I don't agree that one's crying, tantruming and whining their way into sex with their partner is a healthy expression of sexual appetite. It sounds more to me that she is having an emotional problem which she is representing as a sexual problem.

We all don't want to have sex sometimes. The idea that we can NEVER say no to our partner, or that every 'no' is a rejection of the partner, is what I would colloquially call "insane". I think you won't see progress about this issue until you both get on the same page that this is not actually about sex, and may be about self-esteem, confidence in the relationship, or myriad other issues.
posted by bunnycup at 6:31 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I try to explain that if we have sex Friday and Saturday, but I don't feel like it on Sunday, then you really aren't being rejected, but she won't listen.

She's probably not listening because you're totally discounting her feelings by telling her she's flat out wrong. That's just as uncool as the crying and whatnot that she's doing.

If you're really thinking about staying with this person long term, then it's not good for the relationship to be all "I know we have different opinions on this matter, but I'm not going to compromise because I think you're wrong."

In order for this to work, she's going to have to go without sex sometimes when she wants it, and you are going to have to have sex sometimes when you don't want to. That's a compromise that treats both partner's opinions as valid.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:00 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see how answers above that essentially tell you to engage in sexual activity even though you don't want to are appropriate. I can't imagine these folks would give you the same advice if the genders in your question were reversed

I would give that advice regardless of the genders. If the expectation is that your partner is not allowed to have sex with anyone else, sometimes you should have sex even if you're not in the mood. It's not going to kill you.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:19 AM on April 12, 2010


This is my standard advice for sex stuff: take it off the table. No sex for a week/month/whatever. So you don't feel pressured every time you hug and she can't pressure you every time you hug AND it circumvents the 'but it's how I feel loved' whine too.

Whatever you do, don't do this.

Your partner has a higher sex drive than you. Punishing her for it is ridiculous. No one in the relationship, not you and not her, should unilaterally have the final say on how many times you have sex. It isn't healthy. Her desire to have sex is just as valid as your desire to not have sex, and the sooner you accept this the better off you'll be. Now, this is not to say that you need to have sex when you don't want to, but it does mean you have to be kind about it.

I try to explain that if we have sex Friday and Saturday, but I don't feel like it on Sunday, then you really aren't being rejected, but she won't listen.

But you are rejecting her on Sunday. You really are. She feels like having sex on Sunday, you say no, that's rejection, no matter how justified. Stop approaching it as a rational, emotionless transaction, it clearly isn't one for her.

Her crying is a bigger problem, mainly because it says to me - as someone who's been there - that there's a distinct disconnect between how she perceives your "negotiations" and how you perceive them. She might be hypersensitive and insecure about her body, you might be brusquer than you need to be. You, in your mild annoyance, might come off as cold and incredulous. My partner, whom I love beyond belief, once jokingly told me that he would need a squirt bottle to hold me off, as if my sexual self was akin to a misbehaving puppy. He was joking, I knew that, and it still stung like hell.

There are compromises - and these are compromises that I have employed myself, as a woman who has a sometimes considerably higher sex drive than my partner - that can leave both of you feeling emotionally and physically cared for. Hold her while she gets herself off. Tell her how beautiful she is, how much you love her. Touch her skin, stroke her hair, kiss her neck. That's intimate for you and sexual for her.

Whatever you do, take her concerns seriously, she deserves to be listened to just as much as you do.
posted by lydhre at 7:24 AM on April 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


Just like you can't order her to always do the dishes, and she can't decree that all Christmas vacations will be spent with her family instead of yours, neither of you is entitled to unilaterally dictate the sex schedule. She is dead wrong for insisting that she gets sex every time she wants it, and you are dead wrong for insisting that she only gets sex when you feel like it.

If you don't want to have the same argument every two weeks for the rest of your life, sit down with her and make an explicit compromise where both of you give a little and get a little. Start with the assumption that both of your concerns are 100 per cent valid, and really spell out how the two of you, together, want your sex life to be.

If she's not amenable to compromise at all, drop her like a bad habit. At the same time, recognize you voluntarily accepted responsibility for her sexual satisfaction when you entered a monogamous relationship. You are going to have to be a giving partner rather than one who insists on exercising your inalienable right to say no.

If you need another way to think about this, be aware that refusing to compromise on sexual frequency (one of the most common issues in long-term relationships) means that you will only ever be happy with someone whose sex drive is precisely the same as yours. Do you really want to lose this relationship so that you can hit the dating market with that pinhole-narrow requirement?
posted by hayvac at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


It sounds like there's two things going on here, neither of which necessarily has to do with how many orgasms you give her, or how often.

It sounds, first off, like she wants to feel loved and accepted and cared for. This part is super-important, and I don't want to give it short shrift, but I don't have much to add on it. (FWIW I think lydhre's comment addresses it especially well.)

Second thing: it sounds like she might be genuinely worried about her ability to turn you on or get you off.

Look, there's this myth about male sexuality — and it is a myth, no doubt about it — that says that guys are always horny, always ready to go, come at the drop of a hat, and so on. And if she believes that, and yet finds that she can't always get you revved up, she's likely to start wondering if she's unworthy in some way, unattractive or un-feminine or unlovable or what have you. That sort of insecurity is really close to the surface for a lot of people — and, sad to say, it's especially close to the surface for a lot of women, since our culture really encourages women to feel that sort of body anxiety.

So in addition to finding ways to make her feel loved, I wonder if you can find ways to make her feel hot.

Now, that could involve something that gets her off. (Maybe you could watch her masturbate, as others have suggested — though if you go that route, you'll need to make sure you're being a good audience. There's a big difference between "Dammit, not now! Go jerk off or something!" and "Ooh, you're turned on again? Does that mean I get to watch you touch yourself? You know how much I love that...")

But it could also involve stuff that doesn't give either of you an orgasm. Take nudie pics of her. Let her catch you checking her out — even if it doesn't always make you want to screw right this instant, you do like looking at her, right? Make a special event out of the times you do have the energy for sex, and express anticipation when you don't. ("Boy oh boy, I can't wait until Saturday rolls around and we get to spend all morning in bed. That is still the plan for Saturday, right? Did you mark your calendar? Ooh, the things I'm gonna do to you....") If you can get her to go along with it, a certain amount of teasing works well with this sort of thing. What would happen if she spent Sunday through Friday flirting and hinting and not having sex with you, and you got to lust after her all week and jump her on Saturday? Would that be the right amount of sex for you and the right amount of attention for her?

You're gonna need some verbal communication too. I mean, if she really does feel like men are "supposed" to be sex-obsessed non-stop, then there's a conversation that needs to happen there so that the two of you can recalibrate your expectations of each other towards something more realistic. But it may be that, by doing non-sexual things to express your love and attraction for her, you can make that conversation go more smoothly, by making it clear that you mean what you're saying. Actions speak louder than words, but words carry a lot more nuance, so really you need both, you know?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think the "no sex for a fairly long while" thing could actually work, if your girlfriend is on board with the project.

The reason you'd go without for a while is not to punish her but instead to explore non-sexual ways of being intimate and loving. It seems like your girlfriend cannot understand the distinction between sexytimes and lovingness. (Is she particularly less experienced than you are? I used to be a bit like her when I was very new to the long-term relationship world.) The standard has been that sexytimes are a way for her to get reassurance that you love her, and she responds negatively when you don't want sex because she interprets it as you not wanting to express lovingness. If you both agree to take sex off the table for a while, then that will force both of you to find new ways to express lovingness without the sex.

But this is a plan that depends on her acknowledging that there is a problem in your relationship and wanting to work to fix it. It depends on her being able to understand the abstinence not as a "punishment" you inflict upon her, the way lydhre does, but instead has an experiment for the two of can work on together, as a team.

With that said, here are some other thoughts:

--Please don't assume that your girlfriend is crying in an attempt to manipulate her. Maybe she is, but... I am someone who cries painfully easily when it comes to disagreements with my significant other. He often resents it, as if I had some sort of control over the physiological response. But I don't. It just makes me more upset when my crying is taken as something I'm doing to him as opposed to just something that happens to me. If you need to confront her, please don't concentrate on her crying. (Even if she really IS consciously doing it to bother you, would she admit to it?) Concentrate, instead, on her words and attitude.

--It's possible that even she doesn't actually want sex all the times she initiates. If she does not understand the distinction between wanting sex and feeling love, and if she is so distraught at your refusals that it leaves her in tears, then it may be that she feels like she has to initiate in order to both express her love for you and be reassured that you still love her. This may, really, have absolutely nothing to do with libido and, instead, everything to do with insecurity.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


...is crying in an attempt to manipulate you...
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2010


This is super common. You might never fix it! But that's okay!

Grab Gottman's books and read the bits about imbalance in sex drives, and perpetual problems. Lots of people have perpetual problems. It can be ok.

That said she needs to cut it out with the crying. It is not cool.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2010


(On posting this I see Ms. Saint's good point that crying is not necessarily manipulative and want to second it--I make a horrendously pouty face when I'm upset and I can't help it, so I try to have important arguments in the dark so no one feels manipulated. Seriously.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


in real life I suspect yours is just about as common; it's just that guys don't tend to talk about it.

I had a girlfriend for several years (around college), on and off, who wanted to have sex all the time, which was wonderful and flattering and such. My sex drive was definitely lower, although it was just as much the need to get things done in a day even if I was as turned on as she was. She once said to me "We only have sex when you want to have sex, even when I don't want to have sex" to which I replied "When do you ever not want to have sex?" and she laughed and said "okay, fair enough." Then she jumped on top of me.

It turned out -- and it was kind of shocking to find this out, actually -- that she was missing a fundamental piece of sexual knowledge: she didn't know that guys need time to recharge after having an orgasm. From her perspective, every time I had an orgasm and then needed to recharge, I was actually just deciding I didn't want to have an erection any more. The amount of insecurity that came from this was a big issue for her, and it wasn't until we (finally!) talked about it that our sex drives equalized (mostly.)

So: talk!
posted by davejay at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this were reversed, and a woman were posting, that would be interesting. Explain it to her from the very reasonable point of view that no one should be pressured into having sex.

People have very diverse levels of sexual activity, and it's nice to try to find a compromise where you try to have a bit more than your usual, and she accepts less than hers. Cheerfully. It's not rejection, it's just your body's sexual energy level.

With a former partner, we had a policy of "If you can get me up, you can have me" which kind of worked.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on April 12, 2010


Pay attention to what Serene Empress Dork says. You don't say whether she's initiating or you're initiating when you do feel like having sex, but if she's suggesting it more often than you are, and you're rejecting her more often than she's rejecting you, that's probably where her hurt feelings are coming from. I've been in that position before, and it sucks.

Slight disparities in sex drives are definitely workable, but not if one person is constantly being the one to initiate things and get rejected. If you're usually not the one initiating, try coming on to her before she gets a chance to come on to you. If that means jumping on her as soon as you walk in the door, do that a few times. If she feels wanted more often than not, she'll probably be willing to take a day or two off if you explain that you just can't keep up (ahem).
posted by booknerd at 10:57 AM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Find a time when things aren't sexually charged and talk about this. Ask her how you can decline to have sex without making her feel rejected because that is not your intention. Let her know you love her lots and lots and the fact that you're not up for sex every single day has nothing to do with her. It's just how you are. Ask her how you can best communicate this with her in the moment, because you want her to feel loved and respected NOT rejected. It's really important to have this conversation outside of a time when she could be taking it personally. Don't have it right when there's a conflict about this!
posted by stoneweaver at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Speaking from the perspective of the lower-libido partner in a relationship — however you do it, please do find a way to talk about this with your girlfriend when things are reasonably calm.

There's nothing wrong with having a low libido (I get a bit testy when it's implied that there is), just as there's nothing wrong with having a high libido. However, if you don't discuss it with your partner and reach a compromise you can both live with, it can have really toxic effects on the relationship.

A lot of people have spoken up about what it's like to be the higher-libido partner and to feel like you're being rejected by your partner. It also sucks to be the lower-libido partner and start resenting your partner every time they touch you or verbally express affection. It's bad enough when they touch you and you just don't feel like responding sexually; it's really bad when they touch you and you get a gut-level feeling of "don't fucking TOUCH me, I know what you want because it's what you're always nagging and pawing at me for, back the hell off and leave me alone!"

That's toxic. That's really hard to get past. If you're not already there (which it sounds like you're not), please try not to get there. Lots of people have given good suggestions about ways and times to bring it up, so I won't reiterate any of that.
posted by Lexica at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2010


lydhre: Your partner has a higher sex drive than you. Punishing her for it is ridiculous. No one in the relationship, not you and not her, should unilaterally have the final say on how many times you have sex. It isn't healthy. Her desire to have sex is just as valid as your desire to not have sex, and the sooner you accept this the better off you'll be. Now, this is not to say that you need to have sex when you don't want to, but it does mean you have to be kind about it.

It has nothing at all to do with punishment. Nothing. It's about resetting some communication that's been missing the entire relationship - one should not need an orgasm to feel loved. One should not need to have sex with an unenthusiastic partner in order to feel loved by that partner. There are many many other ways to communicate love and it looks like physical expressions have become completely maladjusted because of sex. So take the sex away for a while (with full discussion by both parties) and focus on something else. Other ways to show love. Because if you only ever feel loved when you're engaged in sex, a long term relationship with all the ups and downs of that, will become awful and terrible. By taking sex off the table you take the 'rejection' off the table too and you can start working out ways of dealing with it. Otherwise you have a talk and suddenly you're back at the same junction saying the same things and having the same fights.

When someone never ever gets a chance to want sex (because their partner is always first in with the suggestion) it sets up a really bad way to relate.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:14 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoawhoawhoa, when did his girlfriend ever say "They only time I feel loved is when I'm having sex?"
posted by 23skidoo at 10:39 PM on April 12, 2010


She says that I am rejecting her becuase I don't want to "be with her" when I don't think that being with her is absolutely reliant on sexual intimacy.

This is the bit that makes me think other methods of being with her don't cut it.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:01 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly, she expects a certain amount of sex in a relationship, but for all we know she could want to bone all the time BECAUSE she's so totally in love with him. Not everyone with a high libido is that way because they never learned how to find love except through sex.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:39 AM on April 13, 2010


geek anachronism:

You say it has nothing to do with punishment, yet the way you worded your suggestion is incredibly problematic.

This is my standard advice for sex stuff: take it off the table. No sex for a week/month/whatever. So you don't feel pressured every time you hug and she can't pressure you every time you hug AND it circumvents the 'but it's how I feel loved' whine too.


You've already set the baseline optimal state as the OP "not feeling pressured" and his girlfriend as not getting a chance to whine, and then proceeded to invent a motivation for her whining that justifies correcting her attitude towards sex: by withholding it.. So the OP, who wants less sex and on his terms, gets that. His girlfriend, who wants more sex, gets no sex and will probably feel that her desire for more sex is viewed by the OP as pathological.

Nowhere in the OP's post does it suggest that his girlfriend whines about feeling loved only when they have sex. You've created a specific problem and found a solution for it. All we know is that she wants more sex than the OP is willing to have, and that she takes his legitimate refusal as rejection.

They need to talk about how sex works in their relationship, by being understanding of each other's needs and desires. They do not need to recalibrate her hypothetical reasons for wanting sex until they are 100% sure that that is what the actual problem is.
posted by lydhre at 6:59 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


lydhre: You've already set the baseline optimal state as the OP "not feeling pressured" and his girlfriend as not getting a chance to whine, and then proceeded to invent a motivation for her whining that justifies correcting her attitude towards sex: by withholding it.. So the OP, who wants less sex and on his terms, gets that. His girlfriend, who wants more sex, gets no sex and will probably feel that her desire for more sex is viewed by the OP as pathological.

Sex is not something that one withholds for fun. If a person doesn't want sex, crying and pouting rarely induce the desire for sex. Neither are an appropriate or adult way of dealing with rejection.

And yes, the optimal state of a sexual relationship is neither party feeling pressured and both parties feeling satisfied. Pressure destroys satisfaction/enjoyment so I do think it's vital that the pressure be removed before dealing with the sexual mismatch. Because it isn't just the OP's girlfriend whose sexual needs are going unfulfilled. The OP's need aren't being met either.

And forgive me for thinking that the OP's girlfriend assuming he "doesn't want to be with her" because he doesn't want to have sex can be otherwise read as needing to feel loved through sex. And that she might need to explore other ways of showing love because sex isn't always possible and not always a good way to show love/caring/being with someone.

Note: I am not suggesting to stop having sex without talking about it first. The point is that talking about it leads to the crying and that short circuits discussion. By taking sex out of the relationship for a while you're allowing other methods of being with each other to become prominent - ways that hopefully don't make you feel pressured and fulfil both partner's needs.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:12 AM on April 14, 2010


It sounds more to me that she is having an emotional problem which she is representing as a sexual problem.

Me too, bunnycup.

Not that emotional problems are any easier to fix than sexual problems. You're going to have to talk this through, and hope she'll talk with you.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:05 PM on April 14, 2010


I SUSPECT that those who've referred to this situation as rape/abuse/etc may be overreacting. She shouldn't manipulate you into sex, but this sounds more like a person who simply wants sex more often than her partner does and isn't afraid to be honest about it. That's pretty common. I don't know of many relationships wherein both partners want exactly the same amount of sex all the time.

My advice is to take control of the situation by making more sexual advances when you ARE in the mood. If she sees you coming on to her, it may help to alleviate her feelings of rejection. Then, when you have to decline her advances later, she might take it a little better knowing that you are definitely interested in sex with her - just not RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

With that said, don't have sex when you don't want to. If that makes her cry, console her with your clothes on.
posted by leafeater at 7:50 PM on April 15, 2010


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