A Sex Therapist Explains If It's Normal To Sometimes Dread Initiating Sex
There may be weeks or months where you catch yourself wondering: Is it normal to never want to initiate sex? Sometimes, you have moments where you love your partner dearly (and might be able to show some PDA with ease), but you're consistently not in the mood to follow through on sexy times. Of course, every person is different, and if you've never been the one in your relationship who's always initiating sex, that might just be a personal preference. Still, it could be frustrating for you or your partner.
If you're not feeling frisky a whole bunch these days, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone's sex drive fluctuates over time. And just note: If you're not 100 percent into having sex, you shouldn't — if you can't give enthusiastic consent, that's a signal that you need to say no to sex.
Susan Segal, a sex therapist who's seen individuals and couples for about 35 years, says there could be a number of reasons why you're just not feeling it when it comes to initiating in the bedroom. Anything from your romantic and sexual histories to your body chemistry can be the reason you've been slow to get the ball rolling on sex. If you do find yourself being hesitant in the bedroom, there are a number of solutions you can look into that might be just the trick you need.
Your Relationship With Your Past
For one, Segal says, it could be your sexual history. Painful sex or traumatic events could be holding you at bay. In this case, speaking with a therapist to unpack unpleasant sexual experiences can go a long way.
A fear of being rejected might also hold you back from putting the moves on your partner. Have you ever been in a relationship where attempts to initiate sex were often shut down? If so, you still might be carrying those memories and concerns with you into this new partnership. Here, Segal recommends sitting your partner down and being explicit about what's up.
When addressing situations like this, Segal has a saying: "Sex goes on between your ears." That's to say, you should take the mental and emotional — not just the physical — elements of sex into consideration. Talk to your partner about what's going on inside that's causing a roadblock.
Your Relationship With Your Partner, Romantically
Another reason you might not want to initiate sex is because of unresolved beef. One roadblock can be a lack of intimacy or a lack of trust you have with your partner. Not wanting to take the reins on sex can also be a sign of unexpressed resentment. Anger doesn't always have outward signs. Sometimes, it looks like withdrawing.
"People, when they’re not expressing their anger, tend to be withholding," Segal says. "They don’t want to give the other person what they want. They don’t want to be close with that other person."
So ask yourself: Has bae done anything that just pisses you off lately? If the answer is yes, it's time to put on your grown-up undies and confront the situation head-on. Again, Segal recommends being upfront with your partner. Be honest. Say that you're feeling resentful and withdrawn, and give them the reason why. That way, there's a clear direction for the conversation, and you and bae can get to the bottom of the issue.
Your Relationship With Your Partner, Sexually
Sometimes, reluctance to initiate sex with your partner simply comes down to knowing that it's going to be boring — as harsh as that may sound.
“If someone’s going to do it — have sex the same way, all the time, which a lot of couples get into doing, like a habit — we get bored!" Segal says. "And even if each person is having an orgasm, it can still be boring."
For starters, one pro-tip Segal suggests is sharing your sexual fantasies with your partner. Often, it's something they can get in on or at least, get off to. But you'll never know if you don't take a leap a faith and talk to them about it.
“I suggest watching porn. I suggest making the fantasy — talking about them and acting some of them out. I suggest taking on different identities. I suggest carving out time for sex," Segal lists. "A lot of couples get in the habit of just not making the time."
Segal says some clients do turn their nose up at the idea of "scheduling sex." Because, of course, adding "have sex" to your iCal might not be the sexiest move you've done. But at the end of the day, as Segal points out: If you're not having sex with your partner (when you want to be) and this is what works, then that's all that matters. Even if couples have to take a raincheck sometimes, Segal says, it's a solid first step to finding their rhythm again.
Your Relationship With Your Body
Sometimes, the dread comes from lack of body confidence or body dysmorphia.
“If someone doesn’t like their body, they’re not gonna want to be seen naked. They’re not gonna really feel good about themselves," Segal says. "It can affect someone’s sexuality, even if they wanna have sex."
In this case, Segal tells her clients to “get in touch with their body.” Sometimes, that looks like exercising. Sometimes, that looks like unfollowing social media accounts that affect your self-esteem, or making a vow to yourself to not drag your body or anyone else's.
Another physiological reason could be low libido or low sex drive from hormonal imbalances. A specific diagnosis often will be hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Whether you're assigned male or female at birth, your levels of testosterone or prolactin might be the reason you're not in the mood in anymore.
Thyroid problems might be the root of these imbalances. The effects of hormonal birth control could also be to blame. If your reluctance toward initiating sex keeps up, Segal suggests talking to your doctor or getting blood work done.
Likewise, antidepressants can affect your sex drive, psychiatrist Grant Brenner told Elite Daily. If this might be the case, waiting it out sometimes works.
"Sometimes, when psychological and relationship issues improve for a couple, sexual satisfaction will improve as overall relationship quality improves," Brenner said. "This is important because it highlights that even with some degree of antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, couples may still enjoy healthy, active sex lives."
If waiting doesn't work out for you, Brenner recommended talking to your doctor, seeing a sex therapist, or, ultimately, switching medications to help address the issue.
Whichever combination of solutions you look into, it's important that you don't put too much pressure on yourself. Don't stress yourself out about how fast you can jumpstart your sex drive, how quickly fill up the intimacy gap, or how you're going to perform in the bedroom. What's most important is that you feel comfortable, safe, and satisfied with your partner and your sex life.