By Jamie Hergenrader; photograph by Gavin O’Neill
What’s causing your sex disconnect?
1. You want sex more often
Men greatly underestimate their partners’ sex drives, found a recent study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It also showed that if men thought their partners weren’t up for doing it, they wouldn’t attempt to initiate. Shocker: women do want sex! But we’re typically not as free with sexual expression, so men don’t pick up on our cues.
Synch up: You’ve gotta tell your guy directly that you want to get busy. Bring it up in a setting that makes sense – say, while watching a romantic movie. “The language we use to talk about sex can be sexy in itself,” says psychotherapist Dr Ian Kerner, so phrase it like a fantasy. (“I love morning sex with you. It would be so hot if we could do more of that.”) If it’s still not happening, explain what it means to you (e.g. you feel closer to him) so he knows it’s important to you and your bond.
2. He wants sex more often
“Men’s higher libidos are hardwired (more testosterone) and socially ingrained (they’re taught to pursue sex),” says Dr. Megan Fleming, a New York City sex and relationships expert. Another perk: it’s physiologically easier for them to get aroused spontaneously. All they need are simple signs, like seeing you step out of the shower and… Boom.
Synch up: Rejections like “Jeez, you’re always so damn horny” will build up over time. “The higher-desire partner’s sexual frustration can leave them feeling hurt, while the lower-desire partner feels pressured,” says Kerner. The solution: compromise on how often you want to do it and schedule romps. He’ll know you value sex with him and seeing Thursday’s 8pm “;-)” in your calendar will put you in a sexy mindset.
3. You have trouble reaching the big O
A mind or body block could lead to an O that’s MIA. Physically, many women can’t orgasm from intercourse alone (bring on the clitoral stimulation!). Mentally, the issue is twofold: you need to be focused enough on the sex, but not so focused that you’re geo-tracking when you’re going to come.
Synch up: Slow. Down. Pay attention to how he’s kissing your neck or caressing your inner thigh. “Our culture is so results-based, when sex is really about giving and receiving pleasure,” says Fleming. As for the clitoral action, ask your guy to reach down and show him how you like it by either guiding his hands with yours or using sexy verbal cues (“It drives me crazy when you start out slow and then get faster.”) Or take matters into your own hands…
4. He has trouble reaching it
A man’s ability to orgasm can change over time, says Kerner. Sexual novelty is key for some men to get and stay aroused, so if the sex you’re having has become routine, it might be harder for him to orgasm. Or if how you’re doing it conflicts with his masturbation style (say, he goes at it hard and rough solo, but you’re slow and sensual together), he might get used to his self-service approach.
Synch up: Schedule two or three 20-minute sessions per week to explore new turn-ons together, whether you do so by reading erotica, trying new positions or watching porn. Even if you don’t have sex, introducing those sensations into the bedroom could help your guy bust out of that rut to achieve orgasm, says Kerner. If he still can’t get there, he should talk to his doc to rule out any physiological problems.
5. You’re on new birth control
If your sex drive has taken a hit soon after going on the Pill (within four to six weeks of starting), that’s likely the culprit. Birth control pills can lead to a lower level of testosterone and for some women, that can mean a lower sexual desire, says gynaecologist Dr Michael Krychman.
Synch up: Talk to your gynae. She might suggest an IUD, like the Mirena, or a different type of pill that could have less impact on your hormones or, in some cases, she might suggest a testosterone supplement to counteract the effects of your current pill.
6. He’s on an antidepressant
Many commonly prescribed antidepressants are in the class of drugs known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can affect hormones and mess with desire. He could have trouble getting or staying hard or the meds can block or delay his orgasm, says Krychman.
Synch up: Experiment with the timing of sex. Getting your romp in before he pops his daily pill could up his chances of getting hard and getting off. If it’s interfering heavily, his doc can change his dose or prescription or adding a PDE5 inhibitor (meds like Viagra) to counteract the libido-lowering effects.
7. You were just promoted
So you’ve got more responsibilities and less time, which calls for you to take a look at your priorities. As caretakers, women juggle so many things for themselves and for others, so when you have a long to-do list, sex might fall to the bottom (that is, if it even makes the list).
Synch up: Ask your man to help. If you usually split kid duties equally, ask him to take on more of your share until you settle into your new role. And create a calming place to come home to. “You’re likely always going to have some amount of stress in your lives, so you need to build an environment that allows you to be sexual,” says Kerner.
8. He just lost his job
Men’s sexual performance and self-esteem are closely linked. “Our society teaches men to be performance-driven,” says Fleming. “His ability to perform at his job and in bed are tied up in his identity.” And that failure (at least in his eyes) is likely amplified if he’s the sole provider.
Synch up: “The foundation of arousal is relaxation,” says Fleming, so find ways to help release some of that tension, like going for a run. And in the bedroom, keep the intimacy humming without the expectation of sex to avoid making him feel pressured to perform. Give him a sensual massage or even just a long hug (at least 20 seconds) – contact can release oxytocin, which will boost your bond.