Ever been sexually rejected by your partner?
If you’ve ever been in a relationship that’s lasted longer than six months, the answer would be yes.
I recently got this email from a reader, and I decided to answer it in a long-form article, as I know that others would benefit from it.
Here’s the letter, name removed for anonymity, and edited for brevity.
“My wife and I are in our late 30’s and have been together for over 20 years. We are each other’s only partners. We have been through many ups and downs as we grew together over the years.
I have taken a couple courses to better my self in the bed room. (Thank you!). Sex is as good as its ever been!
HOWEVER, we have different sex drives. I am a highly sexed individual. Her, not so much. This has been an issue since we were teens.
She feels constant pressure and I feel like she doesn’t want me. For over 20 years!
This isn’t every time. We have great sex, probably 1-3 times per week. But, a lot of the time I want her more often than that.
I AM DENIED OFTEN! It hurts.
This is what I need help with. Managing the denial.
I lay there burning up in my pitiful thoughts of not being enough. I used to go to a buddies and smoke some weed when we were younger. But, that isn’t an option anymore as I need my sleep. But, I can’t sleep. I toss and turn and wonder how pitiful it is to go jerk off.
The rejection is killing me and I don’t know how to handle it. She closes up and turns down my weak, predictable advances which are useless because I know she’s not in the mood to begin with. I know I don’t have a chance before I start.
I have shared my feelings about this many times over the years. She says I whine about it and sometimes she gives in. She seems to enjoy her self. Which makes me wonder why she didn’t just want to do it in the first place.
You can see how this hurts my self confidence. I read No More Mr. Nice Guy twice which was eye opening. I learned that I have been doing covert contracts and passive aggressive bullshit for many years without knowing it.
I am trying to master these habitual tendencies but it is a tough battle of self awareness, will power, and practice.
I talk to other coupes our age and they don’t have sex nearly as much as we do. Most of the time our sex/love making is great.
Am I unreasonable in wanting sex 3-4 times per week?
This dynamic has been our relationship for a long time. When I really want to mess around and get denied, I lay in bed suffering the same pain I have been for 20 years.”
I’ll keep this brief.
I’ve received this question countless times, from men AND women over the years. I’ve written an extended piece about mismatched libidos before, but I want to speak to this theme of sexual rejection specifically. And in this article, I’m going to be speaking to the context of men in heterosexual relationships.
There are several themes at play here, and they’re all equally relevant to the outcome that you want. So let’s dive in.
1. You have penetrated your partner before she was ready too many times, and her body doesn’t trust you fully as a result
Imagine if… every time you came home from work, feeling utterly exhausted, your wife immediately went into an hour long emotional dump of sharing with you about her day, no matter how much you subtly showed signs of not having the energy to listen to her. Or…
Imagine if every time you alluded to something sad, scary, or hard to talk about in your life, your wife bulldozed you with questions and aggressively pulled the information out of you, insisting that you share as many raw and vulnerable details you possibly could (because that’s the only way she can feel connected to you), even though it didn’t feel entirely comfortable for you to do so in the moment.
What I’m getting at here… is that each person in a relationship needs to have the full spaciousness and personal autonomy necessary to come to a situation with a full, 100%, body-level ‘YES’ in order for it to feel mutually satisfying and truly nourishing. In other words, you need to value mutual truth and connection more than you value your sexual release. Otherwise, you’re just steamrolling your bodies deepest desires and playing along.
So the first place I would encourage you to look at… is considering what percentage of your sexual encounters with your wife occur when she is a full and complete body-level yes to the situation. Not acquiescing… not just going along with things because she feels a bit guilty… but waiting until you are both a burning hot, absolute YES.
If your sense is that it has been months or even years since you felt like that has been the case, then more likely than not, you have been crowding her too much in your sexual relationship, and you need to back off to give her some breathing room for her desire to come back to full power. And in the meantime, start attending to your own sexual needs (which I’ll get to in point #4 shortly).
2. When your partner isn’t in the mood, your mind adds layers of meaning that are completely irrelevant
If, when your partner isn’t in the mood for sex, your mind starts spiralling into a deeply familiar pattern of “I’m not enough” / “This means I’m not loved” / “I’m not a good enough of a lover for her to want me”, then that is your stuff and yours alone. And while it’s hard to see this as being the case in the moment, acknowledge that these habitual thought patterns are a CHOICE, and you can un-make that choice.
Just like you wouldn’t allow a stranger to verbally berate your children (I’m assuming you would likely intervene), you can similarly intervene when your inner critic wants to start making you wrong or spinning around thoughts that make you feel awful.
If you’re already being sexual regularly (and 1-3x per week absolutely qualifies as regularly), then you know that she’s attracted to you and wants to be sexual with you.
Watch out for the religious programming / societal messages / low self-worth / egoic thoughts that tempt you down the rabbit hole of sneaky self-loathing.
When your mind wants to spiral into its deeply familiar thoughts, you can simply opt-out. You can choose to cycle different thoughts through your mind. So instead of “I’m not good enough”, you can replace them with “My wife loves me, and I know she does. It makes sense that she’s tired. Raising three kids is hard work, and I’m so grateful for all that she brings to our family. I also remember that she kissed my face very lovingly this afternoon after lunch, which further reinforces how much she loves and appreciates me in her life.”
You get the point. Instead of taking the bait of your mind’s low-leverage bullshit thoughts… replace them reality-based thoughts that feel good to think. Rinse and repeat.
3. You equate their sexual availability with your self-worth
Your partner being sexual with you X number of times per week doesn’t equal how valuable, loveable, or worthwhile of a person you are. All it means is that that is the number of times they have the energy and desire to be sexual, with all of the other things going on in their lives. Their sex drive and your worth as a person are completely separate entities.
It’s not at all uncommon for an aspect of our psyche to equate our partner’s love with our parent’s love. And if there was a parent whose love and approval you received inconsistently, then you can project those unmet needs onto your partner (who has no chance of fulfilling those unmet needs, because our egoic, fear-based cravings are truly bottomless wells that cannot be quenched). So instead of allowing your fears and/or your inner little boy to reach across the bed from a place of ‘please remind me that I’m worthy’, remember that your worthiness lives within you and is not contingent on your partner’s sexual availability.
4. You need to take responsibility for meeting your own sexual needs, and release any stories you have about doing so
Your sexual needs are your responsibility. Just like your partner’s sexual needs are her responsibility.
While the desire to want to sexually connect with your partner is beautiful and real and important, she will not always be able to be the one who solely helps you in meeting your sexual needs.
My suggestion? Start supplementing your sexual needs by self-pleasuring more often. There is nothing pitiful, or wrong about self-pleasuring while in a relationship. In fact, you could see it (accurately) as an act of love, because you are attending to your own body’s needs, while actively taking pressure off of your wife so that she is not the only means of sexual release in your life.
If you have stories about what it means to self-pleasure while in a relationship, then you will continue to wallow in frustration and self-pity, while maintaining a sense of pressure between you and your partner because you aren’t (literally) taking manners into your own hands.
So, to summarize:
– Take pressure off of her by remembering that her libido doesn’t mean anything about you
– Start self-pleasuring more often
– Drop any stories you have about what it means to self-pleasure while in a relationship (because it doesn’t mean anything other than you are a considerate partner who attends to his body’s needs)
– When your mind starts to spiral into “I’m not good enough” thoughts, simply opt-out of those and replace them with reality-based thoughts that serve you and feed your self-worth and relationship with your partner
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy reading:
– 7 Things To Do If You Have A Higher Sex Drive Than Your Partner
– Supercharge Your Sex Life (video series for men)
– 5 Ways To Stay Attracted To A Partner You’ve Been With For Years
– The Spoiling Session: The Best Sexual Exercise For Couples
– 3 Exercises That Will Take Your Relationship To The Next Level