Sex

How to Talk to Your Partner About Having More Sex

This is what the discussion should look like.

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Originally Published: 
Couple touching foreheads in bed with light casting on them
Shutterstock/Elena Chevalier

So, you’re in a relationship, and want more sex than you’re currently having. You wouldn’t be alone. One 2015 study that tracked couple’s desire found four in five people in relationships dealt with differing levels of sexual desire within a single month. Additionally, low desire and desire discrepancy are the most common sexual issues that come up in couples therapy. In other words, this issue is not rare. Of course, that doesn’t make the question of “how to ask for more sex?” any easier to address.

Everyone deserves to feel sexually satisfied, and for those in relationships, we know sexual satisfaction is interlinked with overall relationship satisfaction. So if this is something that’s on your mind, know that it is worth bringing it up to your partner. There are also ways to approach this conversation—and the mutual efforts that need to come after it—with a sense of camaraderie, care, and curiosity.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to ask for more sex.

1. Open a dialogue

So, you want to talk about having sex more frequently. The first step is to directly bring it up to your partner. Let them know you’d like to set aside some dedicated time to have an open conversation about your sex life as a couple and how you’re both feeling about it. During this talk, tell them that you’ve been feeling interested in having sex more often, and ask them what they think about that.

They may very well be game, or you might learn about some barriers your partner is dealing with that’s making it harder for them to tap into their desires. Listen attentively, and consider how you can help them climb some of those barriers.

2. Approach the situation as a team

When faced with an issue such as differing levels of sexual desire, couples often fall into the trap of seeing it as “you vs. me”. I want sex. He doesn’t. But when you view each other as representatives of opposing sides, you turn the issue into a power struggle that one of you has to “win” and one of you has to “lose.”

Instead, think of yourselves as teammates facing a shared challenge. And importantly, don’t make the goal having sex a certain number of times per month. The goal should simply be to mutually invest the time and effort into co-creating a sex life that feels good for both people. Turn this part of your life into something you’re working on together.

3. Consider what can be improved for your partner

Even though you’re the one bringing up a need, it’s important to consider your partner’s needs simultaneously.

Remember, sex is something people do solely because it’s fun and feels good. If sex isn’t that fun or doesn’t feel that good for someone, then it’s no surprise they wouldn’t be that interested in it. So, instead of How do I get this person to have more sex with me consider reframing the question as How do I help my partner enjoy sex more, so they’re as genuinely excited to have sex as I am?

Are there things that would make your shared sexual experiences more enjoyable for your partner? Are there things they want more or less of in bed? Are there things that they like that you haven’t done in a while? Ask your partner.

There may also be some negatives of having sex that are outweighing the positives, which need to be addressed. If you can’t fathom what the “negatives” of having sex are, that’s another good one to ask your partner about and see what they bring up. From body anxiety to physical pain to just the stress of losing out on some precious downtime, it’s important to understand what those downsides might be and how you can find ways to alleviate them together.

4. Learn about your partner’s experience of desire

People may experience desire in different ways. Sometimes desire discrepancy isn’t about differing levels of desire (high vs. low) but rather different types of desire.

Some people have what’s known as spontaneous desire, wherein the desire to have sex can arise at any given time. Other people have what’s known as responsive desire, wherein the desire to have sex only arises after you’re already aroused or in a sexual situation.

In other words, a responsive person won’t ever really be randomly in the mood for sex; instead, there’s a certain set of contexts that, when in place, reliably put them in the mood. People who have the responsive model of desire are often under the impression that they just have a lower libido than others, when in reality, they just experience desire in a specific way.

What set of circumstances, dynamics, and contexts help trigger your partner’s sexual desire or allow for your partner to more easily access their desire? What makes sex appealing to your partner in a given situation? What makes sex unappealing to your partner in a given situation?

5. Remove the pressure

It’s important to never pressure your partner into anything. They need to be happy to have sex with you, not coerced or guilted into doing so. If there’s ongoing tension or resentment whenever you try to initiate sex, that’s a sign that there needs to be another sit-down conversation about what’s going on. What’s setting your partner off, and what needs to change to help make them more comfortable?

For relationships between men and women, it can sometimes help to remove the pressure to always make sex have to lead to or involve intercourse. Have some sexual experiences that just involve some deep making out, heavy petting, or maybe some oral. Don’t worry about having an orgasm every time. Just focus on creating moments for intimacy, eroticism, and fun without the pressure of it having to lead to a specific act every time. This will help your partner feel like she can wade into the waters of a sexual experience without feeling pressured to “follow through” every time. And when you remove the pressure of orgasms or intercourse, you also open yourselves up to a whole array of new, interesting, and pleasurable sexual experiences.

6. Keep initiating

Remember that your needs and desires do matter, and you’re allowed to ask for what you want from your partner and from your relationship. Your partner is also allowed to say no. Allow both of yourselves to remove the guilt from these actions, and focus on finding how to arrive on a mutual yes more often.

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