As great as sex is (and let's just get that out of the way, first and foremost: sex is great), there can be times when you're just not feeling it. Sometimes, no matter how much you want to get it on, you're just too tired, or bloated, or sick to do the deed. But if you're constantly finding yourself turning down sex (or being turned down by your partner), then you might want to know what being too tired for sex means for your relationship. According to experts, there may be a deeper issue if you’re always feeling too sleepy for intimacy.
"It's not so much that being too tired itself is a problem," sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr tells Elite Daily. “It is what is going on underneath that will tell a couple if they have an issue brewing." It’s understandable if you’re not in the mood to make love, but Fehr says there may be a larger issue if someone claims they’re “too exhausted” for sex as an excuse for avoiding intimacy. If you suspect either you or your partner is simply using fatigue as an excuse not to have sex, then here’s what it could mean for your relationship.
If You’re The One Who’s “Too Tired” For Sex
Sex expert Lola Jean tells Elite Daily that you have to ask yourself, "Is being tired becoming a pattern? It is an excuse?" She explains, "Like any conflict, approach the situation honestly and without judgement or defense if it’s a matter you want to talk through and understand." It's important to remember that sex is intimate, and talking about it (and how often you want to have it) is crucial in any relationship.
So how do you approach this conversation with your partner? As sex therapist and social worker Danica Mitchell previously told Elite Daily, if you and your SO have a discrepancy in your sexual desire, then it’s important to express your sexual needs. "If you aren't a morning person and can't function until your second cup of coffee, it's likely very normal for you not to be your most sexual at this time," she said. "Let your partner know when you feel most available for sex and let them know times that likely won't be a turn-on for you, like right after a big meal, or while you are working from home." As she pointed out, telling your partner when you’re most likely (or least likely) to reciprocate will help them know when to initiate sex — and will hopefully save you from having to use the “too tired” excuse.
But it’s also possible the problem is bigger than just wanting to have sex less often. Licensed psychologist Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes suggests there may be underlying issues in your relationship, and you shouldn’t avoid opening up about it. She explains, “If your body is not tired, then you may be avoiding intimacy or something is going on with your hormones. If this is an ongoing issue, you need to talk to your partner about it.”
If Your Partner Is “Too Tired” For Sex
If your partner is the one who is always too tired, evaluate what they might mean when they're using it as an excuse not to have sex. "It could mean that they don't enjoy the sex they're having but can't or won't verbalize it to their partner," Fehr says. "It could be that sex hurts but they are ashamed to say it. It could be that your partner has some un-repaired or unresolved hurts, and it's a way to avoid facing intimacy." Basically, if it's just an excuse, then they could be hiding any number of feelings. Sadly, lying about being too tired “can be a way to punish your partner by withholding sex," according to Fehr.
If you feel confident that "I'm tired" is just an excuse, then it's time to talk it out. "Have a conversation with your partner from a calm, compassionate, and curious place — not blaming or accusatory," Fehr advises. "Be curious about them: ask them about their experience, what's it like for them, what they might want or need from you to have sex. Try to understand them. Then, tell them how you feel being in your position, what it feels like to be rejected, and what you want and need. Be understanding and also stand in your own truth."
Mitchell said there are ways to express your desire to have sex more often without causing offense. "Use 'I' statements and talk about the things you like and prefer," she said. "Gently guide in the right direction and be kind. And ask questions — if you have something you want to talk about, it's always good to open the door for the other person to express themselves so the conversation isn't one-sided. Their pleasure matters, too." If you want to avoid hurting feelings when it comes to your sexual frequency, simply explain to your partner what you need, because they won't know unless you tell them.
Also keep in mind that — as much fun as it may be — sex also requires energy, attention and presence. So, if true exhaustion is the only issue with you and your partner, then don't stress about it. "People who work long hours, have intense jobs that either require a lot of physical energy or attention or interacting with people and/or children, struggle with illness, or have internal stress that's taking up their energy (e.g., financial or relationship stress) may not have the energy they need to have sex," says Fehr. Before you worry that there's something wrong with your sex life, consider the fact that your partner may simply be stressed or overworked.
If The Problem Persists Unacknowledged
If you don't communicate about the lack of sex or the constant "I'm tired" excuse, then things could come to a head. "If a couple notices a pattern, and it is left unaddressed, then this can mean that the couple is growing apart," Fehr says. "When couples avoid speaking about what's going on for them and asking for support or what they need — enabling change or shift toward resolution — it's likely that there is an unresolved hurt or pain underneath. The more a couple leaves the issue unaddressed, the further apart they grow."
According to Fehr, someone’s sex life going stale is rarely a result of two people not being interested in each other. "Sex is a reflection of a couple's connection and intimacy, therefore when it wanes, it is usually because of a break in connection or trust,” she says. Acknowledging that lack of connection or trust can be uncomfortable, but if left unaddressed, your sex life and your relationship could suffer.
Whatever you do, Rhodes urges couples not to ignore the issue, saying: “Talk to your partner and come up with an action plan. This is a big issue that should not linger.” If you can’t find the answer on your own, she suggests you should “seek professional help if you can't figure out what is going on.” A sex therapist can help you two get back on the same page again so that “I’m tired” stops being your go-to excuse.
Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach
Lola Jean, sex expert
Danica Mitchell, sex therapist and social worker
Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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