Making Love When You Don’t Feel Like It

Dear Neil: Would you write about the dilemma of having sex when you don’t feel like it?

I am in a relationship where my boyfriend has a much higher sexual appetite than I do. Since he gets upset and angry if we don’t make love, I find myself giving in and having more sex with him than I would prefer.

I’m mentally not there a lot, so the sexual experience for me is not usually all that special. His technique is okay, and he knows what to do, but I guess my itch doesn’t need to be scratched so often. But it is really important to him, and he does get sweeter, more loving and a lot easier to be around if I keep him happy.

I’d be interested in your comments.

Victoria, British Columbia

Dear Victoria: If a woman has sex when she’s not mentally, emotionally or physically present, she will be lacking animation and enthusiasm.  In contrast, if a man has sex when he’s not mentally, emotionally or physically there, he will often have trouble getting it up and keeping it up, and he’s likely to have to hurry the whole thing along before he loses his arousal entirely.

There are different dynamics in this regard for younger men versus older men, with younger men far more able, on the whole, to perform regardless of whether anyone shows up at all.

Either way, there is something terribly unsatisfying about having sex when you are too tired, preoccupied, distracted, angry, hurt, bored or otherwise not truly present for the experience.

The person with the lower libido in a relationship—male or female—always feels coerced and pressured by the person with the higher sexual appetite. Most intimate relationships deal with this issue at one time or another, and many people fight about this conflict on an ongoing basis. This is part of the push and  pull—your way or mine—scenario all healthy intimate relationships occasionally struggle with.

You have to decide if giving in and doing it for him will somehow violate or damage you, and that needs to be weighed against what the consequences will be for the relationship if he is turned down.

There is no clear cut correct answer for this question. Some people would say occasionally giving in to your mate is the price all of us, men and women alike, have to pay to make our relationships loving and reciprocal.

But others would say that it is destructive if you feel pressured into having sex when you don’t feel like it, because it can turn a close, loving and even magical event into an unpleasant chore and power struggle that can create distance and bad feelings.

How couples decide this one issue speaks volumes about power, control and dominance in their relationship as a whole.

Perhaps there can be a compromise that could make both of you happy and satisfied. Is there anything you would want from him in order to feel good about making love with him more often? Figure that question out, and then communicate it to him. Likewise, is there anything else that he might want from you that would allow him to feel okay about not making love with you as often?

Have an open and honest conversation with each other, and see if there is some way for both of you to feel honored and respected on this subject.

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