How to Turn Your Partner Down for Sex

July 28, 2017

There are plenty of perfectly normal reasons for not wanting to have sex when your partner initiates: you’re exhausted, you’re distracted, you have other things you need to do, you’re just not in the mood. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t very skillful at turning our partners down.

Even in the best of circumstances, getting turned down for sex stings. In a long-term relationship, getting turned down repeatedly can eventually lead to resentment. In some relationships, the resentment can grow to the point where it starts to destroy the relationship. The stakes are high. So it’s important for us to get it right.

A while back, I wrote an article about how to initiate sex in a way that will make your partner want to say yes. Today I’m sharing tips for turning your partner down for sex in a way that will actually bring you closer together, not tear you apart.

Acknowledge Their Initiation

Initiating sex always makes one feel vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there and asking for what you want. You’re also putting yourself in the position of being turned down.

When your partner initiates, take a moment to acknowledge the invitation. The initiation may feel bothersome to you in that moment if you’re not in the mood, but it’s important to appreciate their vulnerability. Don’t ignore their invitation or pretend you didn’t hear them. Just say something simple like, “I appreciate you asking” or “I’m flattered that you want me right now.” Then proceed to some of the other steps I’ve outlined below.

Don’t Mock Their Desire

Your partner is occasionally going to initiate sex at times when you can’t possibly imagine anyone being interested in sex. Maybe you just put the baby to bed and you have vomit in your hair and poo on your hands. Or maybe you just got back from a hard run and are sweating in places you didn’t even know you could sweat.

Try your hardest not to blurt, “You want to have sex NOW? Are you kidding?” Not only will your partner feel rejected, they’ll also get a nice side serving of humiliation.

Actually Consider Their Invitation

Even the most sexually compatible couples rarely want sex at the exact same time. There is an extremely high likelihood that you’re not going to be interested in sex the moment that your partner initiates. For that reason, it’s important to give yourself some time to consider whether or not you’d like to be intimate.

Here are a few ways to do that:

Ask yourself, “Am I open to seeing if I get turned on?” Or, “Am I open to connecting with my partner right now?” These questions make it clear that you don’t need to be turned on right in that moment. You just have to be open to the possibility of it

Give yourself more time. Say, “Give me ten minutes to finish up this email. Once I’ve got this off my mind, I’ll be able to see if I’m up for it.”

If you’re not sure, that’s not a problem. You can always tell your partner, “I’m not sure how I’m feeling. I’m down to start making out and see where it goes.” If you don’t end up getting turned on, you don’t have to keep going.

See If You Want to Do Something Else

Most couples get into routines (read: ruts) when it comes to sex. They do the same things over and over again. If your partner initiates with you, you probably think of the same old boring routine you always fall into, and it probably doesn’t sound particularly enticing.

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