What to do when your partner says no:
Open any lifestyle magazine or website and you are likely to find articles on topics like, “How to have GREAT Sex,” “How to Have Even MORE Sex,” and “How to Have Even MORE GREAT Sex!”
But what if your partner isn’t interested in sex with you? Or what if you are the one who wants to say no?
According to Dr. David Schnarch, author of Intimacy & Desire, ALL couples have an “LDP” (low desire partner) and an “HDP” (high desire partner).
These roles can change and don’t only exist in the bedroom. Today, you may be the LDP with intimacy, while your partner is the LDP on the topic of moving to a larger home.
Why low desire?
A variety of issues can cause people to have a lower libido — hormone changes, blood sugar swings, depression, weight gain, stress, fatigue, performance anxiety, erection problems, fear of pregnancy, and more.
What can you do about it?
1. Accept that mismatched libidos are normal.
Even the happiest couples have an LDP and an HDP.
When it comes to any desire, one will always want it more than the other.
For example, Susan and Chuck both want spaghetti for dinner, but Chuck wants it less because he hates to clean up afterward.
No need to place blame. No one is at fault. It’s just the way things are.
While it may feel more personal when it comes to physical intimacy, the fundamentals aren’t that different in sexless marriages or lower-sex relationships.
2. Identify and treat medical issues.
When men have unreliable erections, they are more likely to shy away from sexual activity. Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available, such as pills, penile vacuum pumps, injections, suppositories, and even implants.
When women have pain during intercourse, they may want to avoid intimacy. Pain often occurs when a woman feels tense or doesn’t lubricate adequately. Most need to feel emotionally engaged to fully enjoy sex, so participate in loving activities outside of the bedroom.
Go for walks, enjoy a weekly date night, send loving texts, and more.
When you are in the bedroom, set aside lots of time for foreplay, so she can relax and get in the mood.
Water-based lubricants, different sexual positions, and some medications can help as well.
3. Be compassionate.
If you are upset because your loved one has lost some of their sexual desire, they may also feel angry or frustrated.
So, use LEAP, an approach Dr. Wendy Satin Rapaport, PsyD, LCSW and I developed for our book, Approaches to Behavior:
L: Listen with sincere curiosity.
Sit at your partner’s level and use good eye contact. Let them share their feelings without interruption.
Carl Rogers, father of client-centered therapy, used to say, “I can testify that when you are in psychological distress and someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”
Actor Alan Alda just published a new book about communicating — If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? In a recent interview, he said that we can communicate empathy by mirroring what others say to us.
This technique helps people feel heard.
For example, if your loved one says, “I really hate this!” You can reflect their comment and respond with, “Yeah. You really hate this.”
Let your partner know that they aren’t alone. Many people have this problem and feel this way.
P: Positively reframe.
Help your loved one see the silver lining in their situation.
For example: “Your erection issues are upsetting, but they helped the doctor discover your heart disease. Now you can treat it and get even healthier.”
4. Take care of your partner.
Sexual activity doesn’t have to be a two-way street.
If you are less interested, offer to pleasure your partner. Give a back rub, foot massage and more.
Your loved one can return the favor when they are the LDP.
5. Take care of yourself.
If you want sex and your partner says no, pleasure yourself.
Be “master of your domain” (thank you, Seinfeld!) — grab some lubricant and have some private fun.
6. See a therapist.
If your situation becomes too stressful or your relationship becomes strained, seek the help of a mental health professional who can help you and your loved one deal with this more effectively.
This article was originally published at YourTango.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.