Your Partner Wants to Have Sex, But You Don't: What Do You Do?

A difference in sexual desire in couples is a fairly common problem. In these circumstances, the ideal is to identify some alternatives where both parties, effectively, win.
Your Partner Wants to Have Sex, But You Don't: What Do You Do?

Last update: 20 October, 2022

A fairly common situation that afflicts couples is a difference in sexual desire between the two. In fact, it’s pretty common to hear the words “My partner wants to have sex, but I don’t.” In these cases, the most important thing is not to avoid the difference, but to seek a balanced and fair solution for both parties.

We take a closer look at this phenomenon and propose a series of tips for the next time you find yourself in a situation where your partner wants to have sex and you’re just not in the mood.

How often should you have sex with your partner?

There’s no “one fits all” policy here. Everything depends on the individual circumstances of each couple.

However, according to a 2015 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, most happily married couples tend to have sex about once a week.

It’s important to mention that sex is good for a relationship. Indeed, a healthy amount of sexual intimacy, which may be different for each couple, strengthens the bond between you. It also helps you both to feel more satisfied and connected.

Clasped hands of a couple in bed

Five tips for when your partner wants sex, but you don’t

What happens when your partner wants sex, but you don’t? After all, you love them and want them to be satisfied, but maybe tiredness, stress, or worry are influencing your sex drive.

In these cases, saying “no” is an option, but it isn’t the only one. In fact, if your partner begins to seduce you, but you’re not interested, the ideal is to look for alternatives that prevent both of you from feeling uncomfortable or irritated. Here are some ways to do it:

1. Avoid pressure

First of all, your partner shouldn’t pressure you and neither should you pressure yourself. You should both respect each other’s needs and neither should oblige the other to indulge in sexual encounters.

If pressure and sexuality are combined, it usually results in reluctance as well as a feeling of being forced. In these circumstances, in the long run, sex will acquire a negative nuance that will generate even more rejection on your part.

2. Postpone it

Spontaneous sexual activity is always appreciated. However, sometimes it’s okay to postpone a sexual encounter, especially when the current circumstances don’t suit one of you.

If this is the case, you should be honest and ask your partner to postpone it. As a matter of fact, this kind of request can often add more excitement to the relationship, since anticipation tends to increase feelings of desire.

However, don’t suggest something that you’re not ultimately going to comply with, because it will make your partner feel bad. Therefore, make sure you have time to have sex with your partner. Something that could help you here is to think of it as an important appointment you simply can’t miss.

3. Find other ways to connect

Intimacy and sexuality contain a range of pleasurable elements. Nevertheless, if you don’t feel like making love, you can also try to connect with your partner in other ways:

  • Offer them a massage.
  • Prepare a special meal for them.
  • Take a bath together.
  • Have an intimate conversation.
  • Give them kisses and caresses.

In some cases, these activities and proposals can actually end up increasing the sexual desire of both of you, which may lead you to have sex. In fact, quality time and emotional connection pave the way for sexual arousal for many couples.

Woman talking to her husband in bed

4. Manage your desire

If your partner wants sex, but you don’t, it’s important that both of you keep in mind that your sexuality is your own responsibility. This means that if one of the two of you has less desire, you can find a way to work it out. For example, you could connect more with your own eroticism by reading more about it.

On the other hand, those who have a higher sex drive can seek ways to manage it. In fact, sometimes, the responsibility of meeting sexual needs is wholly placed on the couple, but this doesn’t have to be the case. There’s always something that can be done in this context, such as giving oneself pleasure.

5. Cultivate empathy

Speaking to your partner is of vital importance in order to understand their needs and expectations about sex. In addition, it’s the key to understanding and appreciating them.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try not to take anything personally, especially if they express frustration at being rejected. Often there’s much more going on inside than meets the eye. Therefore, you should ask yourself how they might be feeling or how you can help them.

Finally, if sexual incompatibility continues to cause problems of increasing intensity, the best solution is to visit a psychologist or sexologist.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Besoain, C; Sharim, D.; Carmona, M.; Bravo, D. & Barrientos, J.(2017). Sin conflicto y sin deseo: Las tensiones de la individualización en la experiencia de pareja de jóvenes chilenos. CES Psicología, 10(1), 109-128. Disponible en:
  • Moral de la Rubia, J. (2011). Frecuencia de relaciones sexuales en parejas casadas: diferencias entre hombres y mujeres. Estudios sobre las Culturas Contemporáneas, XVII(33), 45-76. ISSN: 1405-2210. Disponible en:
  • Sánchez, C.; Corres, N.; Blum, B. & Carreño, J. (2009). Perfil de la relación de factores psicológicos del deseo sexual hipoactivo femenino y masculino. Salud Mental, 32(1), 43-51. ISSN: 0185-3325. Disponible en:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.