Not 'in the mood'
June 5, 2007 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm never 'in the mood' at the same time as my boyfriend and it's taken a serious toll on our intimate relationship. What can I/we do to get me in the mood? To help our sex life?

I'm a woman in my mid-twenties. My boyfriend (late twenties) and I have been together for almost three years, have lived together for two years. We are in the US.

I love sex. I believe it's important to a relationship. I understand that sex in a relationship changes after being together for a long time, but it has gone from almost every night to maybe once a week. We could go three weeks to a month without it sometimes. I am 100% positive that he's not cheating on me and I am not cheating on him.

These are the factors I see that contribute to the problem:
* Our work/sleep schedules are opposite - I go to bed without him because he's at work and he goes to bed about three hours before I get up. When he comes home from work and I'm asleep, he's sad because it's the middle of the night and he's got no one to spend time with. I try to wait up for him, but I have an 8-5 job and often get less sleep than I should.
* He tries to wake me up, but I'm just too tired!
* I've gained 40lbs in the past year and a half. I don't feel quite as sexy anymore and am less comfortable being naked.
* I don't want him to touch my nipples. It used to feel good, now it feels strange. My boobs are big, so he likes to touch them and I can't stand it. I'm self conscious about them and him touching them just calls attntion to them and makes me uncomfortable. It also makes me feel like he's only attracted to me because of them. I have told him this, but it makes him feel rejected and sad. I don't want him sad, so I let it slide. Which doesn't help the issue.
* Alcochol. Although one drink is a good way to relax a bit, being drunk to the point that he falls asleep while I'm going down on him is bad. He thinks this is mildly amusing. I think it's a relief sometimes and offensive at others.
* Snuggling is frustrating for him now. Because we have sex so little anymore, we can't snuggle in bed or on the couch without him wanting sex right away. I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard or having him try and grope me.

I feel like it's my fault because I'm the one saying no most of the time. I only seem to find myself in the mood when there is no time - like when we're leaving the house to meet friends for dinner or when I'm getting ready for work. Or when there's no way for us to be together - like in the afternoon when we're both at work. He and I have tried to talk about the issue, I know he's frustrated, which makes me upset because I want to see him happy. And it's me that's making him sad! I've always told myself that I'd never be the woman in the relationship that always says no, but here I am.

Porn is not an option - I have too many moral and jealousy issues with it. Sex toys have never interested me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I don't like porn either, at all, but I have discovered that there are certain categories of erotic fiction that can reliably get me going within a few minutes. Nobody's being exploited or even making money, and there's nobody to be jealous of except the author...which doesn't really make any sense. Google "asstr" ( text repository), do a little reading, and hopefully you'll find a genre you like so you can move into more specialized collections since that one is organized rather chaotically. Best of luck to you...your dueling schedules sound like a nightmare.
posted by crinklebat at 11:09 AM on June 5, 2007

"Saying no" because you are currently asleep is perfectly reasonable. He's sad because you won't spend time with him when everyone else he might hang out with is asleep? Well, tough for him. Sounds pretty inconsiderate of your feelings to insist you get up 3 hours early.

being drunk to the point that he falls asleep while I'm going down on him

How is this YOU "saying no"? Sounds like he is getting so drunk you can't have sex with him on a regular basis. He needs to cut down.

I only seem to find myself in the mood when there is no time

More quickies. Maybe you could go to sleep a bit earlier, and get up a bit earlier so you would have more time before work. This might interrupt his sleep, but he seems perfectly willing to try and wake you up in the middle of the night, so he shouldn't mind that.
posted by yohko at 11:20 AM on June 5, 2007

It seems like it is mainly a scheduling problem, and your self image issues are also creating a vicious cycle of you feeling unattractive and less sexual, and not trusting his attraction to you.

It seems like you need to hope that you can be on a similar schedule at some point, but until then you need to work on your self image issues, and try to raise your confidence while he is at work. I would strongly suggest exercising after work every day, and maybe finding new people to spend your time with, if you feel more attractive and you have a better social life your self image will improve and your sex drive will increase.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:22 AM on June 5, 2007

Do you have any days off in common at all? If so, schedule a standing "date" for the same time and day every week. Try it even if you think you will miss the spontaneity: it really isn't any different from dates you went on early in your relationship when you both knew the evening would end with sex. You can both bring your "A" game. And, if something comes up midweek, that's a great bonus...
posted by RussHy at 12:01 PM on June 5, 2007

Definitely agree with RussHy's suggestion of a standing date night (or day, as the case may be).

I also recommend the book 'The Great Sex Weekend' by Pepper Schwartz for more ideas on rekindling sex in a way that is positive and fun for both.
posted by happyturtle at 12:23 PM on June 5, 2007

OK so if you work 8-5 then you probably get up what? 6.30, 7? (not knowing your commute) which means he goes to bed around 3.30, 4, right?

So my question is what are his actual work hours? Does he get up and go to work (thus finishing around... 11pm or so, and then mooching around for a few hours before bed) or does he get up and do fun stuff and then go to work and go to bed as soon as he gets home?

The reason I ask is because I used to work night shifts (11pm-7am) and the latter technique helped me stay connected with my sig. other, as well as my friends. I would get home from work at 8am and go straight to bed, sleeping until 4pm. Then I'd get up and by the time I was organised, my S.O would be home from work and we'd hang out until I went to work. Which allowed a good amount of time for totally doin' it. I'm aware that your hours are slightly different, but there has to be *some* overlap time, unless you're both ER doctors or something, which I don't think you are if you're keeping an 8-5 job.

To the actual sex thing: scheduling! (as mentioned above). Yes, it's not spontaneous, but sometimes just doing it is enough. You will feel so much better afterwards, both from the actual sex, and you will feel less pressure and good about yourself. That's rewarding, so you're more likely to want to do it again. Maybe the first few times will feel a little blah, boring, not-spontaneous, but you're setting yourself up a positive feedback loop. I guarantee after a few non-spontaneous sessions you'll be feeling a lot better, and actually feeling like some spontaneous stuff.
posted by gaspode at 12:25 PM on June 5, 2007

I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard

Really terrible attitude! Get over it.

or having him try and grope me.

This doesn't go together with the former, at all. This is something you have the right to ask, the former is not.
posted by Chuckles at 12:51 PM on June 5, 2007

From your comments about disliking his aggressive and immediate arousal, and your feelings of objectification, it sounds like you are simultaneously missing sexual intimacy and shutting down in sexual desire, which I totally, totally get. And boy is it a shitty feeling, when you come in to a relationship all hot and awesome and somehow find your honest and freaky sex drive buried under layer after layer of insecurity and guilt.

I personally feel that I have improved a great deal on that topic by essentially forcing myself to get in the game at times when I wasn't, strictly speaking, randy as a minx. Once the sex was underway, I find myself turned on by my partner's eyes meeting mine and all that other contact and sounds and stimulating stuff - - as if by magic! We grappled with that plenty of course: he would say he didn't want me to feel like I was obligated, or forcing myself, but I think I was able to explain that this was about retraining myself to not require all the pieces (physical arousal, mental arousal, emotional arousal, other types of feeling sexy) to be in place in order for me to get what I needed from our sex life: which was both sexual release and sexual intimacy with him. In a word: Try. Try, try, try it, you'll like it. Try a vibrator, it's get-off-every-time insurance. Orgasming as much as possible sort of helps you detect your body's rhythm. You may discover that you feel best about yourself coming once every two days, or some such peculiar pattern, and then you sort of learn about date night the biological way!

Also, I can speak from personal experience that becoming overweight is a bitch, and I actually know the nipple difference of which you speak well. Sometimes I felt so blobby, awkward to maneuver and broken and gross, it just didn't matter that he wanted to touch me anyway, I wanted to put my body AWAY. To me, that was an issue not for the shrink, but for the gym. Working out can make you feel so hot I never would have believed it. It was a little like cocaine. It's worth it and you can do it.

So. You should seriously consider your weight as a part of this problem, and he should seriously consider his job as part. Together, your priorities need to eventually match up in such a way that you flourish. If that means less sex, and more work, which for many couples it does, fine, get an IRA. If it means you're happy unemployed stoner fuckbunnies, more power to ya and buy a cat. There are many paths.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:11 PM on June 5, 2007 [9 favorites]

If you could synch your scheduling better, it would probably help. However, it also seems that you have some of your own issues that you could work on by yourself or with a therapist that would make you enjoy sex and your sexuality more.

Here are some things that jumped out at me as unhelpful, irrational thoughts. Note that I mean "irrational" literally and not synonymously with "bad" or "wrong" or even necessarily "false." But they are thoughts that you seem to accept as unchangeable facts when they are anything but.

I don't feel quite as sexy anymore and am less comfortable being naked.

You can work on this. Lots of people much more overweight than you have great sex and are found incredibly sexy by their partners.

I don't want him to touch my nipples. It used to feel good, now it feels strange. My boobs are big, so he likes to touch them and I can't stand it. I'm self conscious about them and him touching them just calls attention to them and makes me uncomfortable.

He obviously likes them. Every time he touches them, he's saying again that he likes them.

It also makes me feel like he's only attracted to me because of them.

Obviously he likes them, but why jump to the conclusion that they're the only reasons? Nobody dates a woman for three years just because they like her tits.

I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard or having him try and grope me.

It seems like you view him getting hard as an implicit request for sex, but he is not likely in voluntary control of his erections.

I only seem to find myself in the mood when there is no time

What makes you think you have to be in the mood before you start? Can't you teach him how to get you in the mood?

Porn is not an option - I have too many moral and jealousy issues with it. Sex toys have never interested me.

Well, that's a big red flag for me. It sounds like you have some internalized views of sex that might tend towards the prudish which you might not be fully aware of.

Finally, there's always the possibility of medical reasons for lowered libido, especially if you're on the pill or depressed or something. Might as well check that out.
posted by callmejay at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2007

It also makes me feel like he's only attracted to me because of them.

Guys do not stick around for 3 years just because a girl has big boobs.

I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard or having him try and grope me.

I think you want to avoid it altogether, or only have it the way you want it. I agree with Chuckles that it's ludicrous to want snuggling as a prelude to sex ONLY IF HE DOESN'T GET HARD. This reinforces my belief in your desire to avoid sex: I only seem to find myself in the mood when there is no time. That's no accident, honey.

Porn is not an option - I have too many moral and jealousy issues with it.

Not an option for you, or him? It's not cool to deprive him of sex AND all his other (monogamous) outlets. Besides, if you're not always around, he's looking at it anyway.

My advice: therapy for your self-esteem issues. Then a trip to the lingerie store (sans boyfriend). Then a planned night of consensual debauchery, where he's agreed to do whatever it is you want him to do (within reason) before he's allowed to orgasm.
posted by desjardins at 1:21 PM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was going to chime in and say what Chuckles did, so let me elaborate. If he hasn't been having sex as much as he likes, then his getting hard when you cuddle is pretty understandable, and I don't know how you or he could stop it. This is affirmation that he's attracted to you and wants to be with you. It could be really flattering, if you let it: he's so hot for you that just a bit of cuddling gets his motor revving! Grrr, baby...

And while you can't control a physiological response of his, he can at least control his actions. So if you want more snuggling and intimacy before moving on to other fun stuff, tell him that; I bet he'd be happy to move slowly, especially if he knew what the end goal is.

And of course...can the schedules be sorted, somehow? If they're inflexible, so be it, but it seems like that's a major contributor.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 1:25 PM on June 5, 2007

If you're only in the mood when there ' isn't time' make the time and have a quickie. Be 15 minutes late for dinner, it's no big deal.

I think, as you get 'used' to sex again, you'll be able to get in the mood more often.

At least that's what they always say.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:50 PM on June 5, 2007

I don't read your comment as literally not wanting your boyfriend to get hard during "snuggling". You're asking for more foreplay which, if he wants to have sex, he would do well to pay attention to. He is as responsible for reading your sexual signals and you are his. He might note your lack of response to his style of "snuggling" - which might in this case mean "kiss, kiss, grab breast, kiss harder, grind package into thigh" - and change tacks, particularly if he's aware that your body image right now isn't the greatest. He might also try to bring flowers occasionally, rub your feet, make you a candlelight dinner, take the day off of work to spend with you, take you somewhere you've always wanted to go, anything other than pass out while receiving a blow job. Not exactly great for somebody's self-esteem, that, when they're already anxious about their forty pound weight gain and don't want their partner to come near their nipples.

Now, is he going to do any or all of that? Maybe. Only you can say with any certainty. My gut reaction is probably not.

The problem, as I hear it, isn't just about sex. It's about intimacy as much as the actual act.

I think you might want to reframe this whole thing. You are not depriving him of sex. You, too, need sex, enjoy sex, want to have sex with him, and there are negative factors weighing on both of you preventing you from enjoying a healthy sex life. Both of you need to sit down and talk about this seriously as adults without the assumption being made that there is something wrong with YOU that you need to fix and then get back with him. Both of you share this issue. Sex is mutual. You don't need to feel so guilty. THAT certainly isn't going to help matters as sex and guilt are oil and water.

I agree strongly with date night, or scheduled sex. No, maybe it's not the most romantic thing, but it's worked for us.

Talk to him about how you feel about your body. Seriously sit down and tell him, "I feel ugly because I feel fat and unnattractive. That makes me feel not sexual. This makes me feel guilty and I need your help with this." Tell him how you feel about your nipples. Tell him all of it. If he's sensitive to your body issues, which he probably will be since you've been together for a while and he loves you, it might make you feel closer to one another. No, it won't change your body image over night. But it may improve your intimacy with him and that might lead, quite naturally, to being physically intimate.

Do you guys have any time off together? If so, try to schedule a walk together, maybe half an hour, even if you have to wake up early or go to bed later to do it. It will help you drop a few pounds and you guys might start having really nice conversations. Again, intimacy building.

Oral sex and mutual masturbation are great. You don't even have to take your clothes off. Also seconding quickies - sex doesn't have to be a huge long production to be satisfying. And, again, you don't have to be completely naked to do it.

Adopt a No-Blind-Drunk-Sex policy.

Good luck.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 1:53 PM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard

I can't speak to most of your post, except for this nugget from my experience. I love to snuggle. When I snuggle, I get hard. That doesn't mean that I want sex then and there. It just means that I feel good and my body feels good. It's automatic, an involuntary reaction. My partners (current and ex) have misinterpreted this, to our mutual distress.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:27 PM on June 5, 2007

I want to snuggle for a long time to get me in the mood, without feeling him get hard

One thing every girl needs to know is that guys don't have all that much control over their erections. If we did we wouldn't have them when we danced with some cute girl at a club.
posted by magikker at 4:49 PM on June 5, 2007

This may not be relevant to you but for a riduculously long time, I thought that I had to be "in the mood" to start having sex. The reality, in my relationship, is that if I'm willing to relax and go along with foreplay, I can go from a cold start to very interested fairly quickly. Sometimes I don't want to (eg. need to sleep) or I know that I'm really not interested. Other times, I know it's been a while and I push myself to say yes to foreplay knowing that it will probably work. Good luck.
posted by metahawk at 5:45 PM on June 5, 2007

If your guy is good for more than one round, my suggestion is, whenever you two start to cuddle a bit, get him off immediately, with a blowjob or a really nice hand job. Afterwards, let the cuddling commence. Gives him time to wind down then prepare for his round two, and gives you time to rev up for your round one. ;)

Also seconding metahawk's suggestion for ahh..."faking" it a bit in the beginning. I use the word "faking" very loosely. If you just aren't horny at a particular moment, but start to pretend you are, you might be surprised with how quickly your actual sexual appetite will kick in.
posted by Squee at 9:02 PM on June 5, 2007

Since repetition is the root of all learning, let me add my vote for quickies and date nights. You have plenty of other issues that these things won't solve (like your body image issues, his passing out during oral, and your schedule mismatches). But a combination of date nights and never (or almost never) saying no to a quickie will at least get you sex on a regular basis, and then you can solve the other issues over time. (If your nipples don't feel good when touched, can you wear a bra or camisole during sex? That way the touching is mediated by the fabric, at least, and your body is reshaped by the garment, which you sound like you might want.)

Neither date night nor quickies sound at all romantic, especially compared to the ideal kind of spontaneous-yet-sensitive sex that gets portrayed in some kinds of fiction a lot. But they are actually really great, in different ways. Date nights (pick the time of day for your scheduling preference) take the pressure off, and mean that you are definitely not "saying no" all the time -- there is one (or two or three or ...) times a week you are saying "yes." But you are also saying "yes" with conditions -- a defined time, where you can decide beforehand if the lights will be on or off; you can both have showers first, or whatever else makes things work for both of you, more or less scripted as you desire.

Quickies are kind of the opposite, but are equally important. They really can be very quick (the hotness of semi-illicit sex, often mostly clothed, can produce some fast orgasms), and won't make you unacceptably late. Our rule is that the barrier has to be pretty high to say "no" to a quickie -- deathly ill, family members in earshot, something like that. But they add so much pleasure, while taking very little time out of the day, and I think that they really help build intimacy. We've found that the person who starts by feeling kind of "ho hum" invariably starts feeling pretty good once things get going. And there is something really sexy (in that dirty-yet-snuggly kind of way) of looking across at your partner at the dinner party and knowing that an hour ago she was bent over the back of the couch with her frock around her waist, or he was arched across the bed making gasping noises. Sharing that look across the table, or while pushing the shopping cart around the grocery store, is really affirming as a partnership -- you are creating intimate space without actually taking effort.

Fundamentally, neither you nor he wants you to be in a relationship where you say "no" all the time. I and others have suggested ways for you to be able to say "yes" a lot more and "no" a lot less. But I suppose there is another possibility -- that your body is telling you that you really aren't that into him anymore, and that these problems are symptoms of a dying relationship, rather than minor issues that can be fixed with date nights and quickies. If that's the case, then be honest to yourself and move on to find another situation that works better for you. People change, their needs change, and not everything that is broken can be fixed.
posted by Forktine at 11:01 PM on June 5, 2007 [3 favorites]

I realize that you can't answer directly, since you posted this question anonymously -- but are you on hormonal birth control?

For some women, the BC pill can have a major effect on their libido. Something about some hormone combinations just kills it in some people. If this might be the case for you, you can ask your gyno about switching the type of pill, type of hormones in your BC, lower dose pills or something that's monophasic as opposed to triphasic. I've also heard that some women are really happy with the Nuvaring, which can cut back on a lot of hormonal issues that some women have with BC.

Just a thought.
posted by dryad at 10:40 AM on June 6, 2007

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