(sex)uality : when tonight is not the night
Have you ever had that moment, when you climb into bed next to your partner/casual-sex-partner (look, I don’t know what kind of relationship you may be in), and you’re kind of filled with dread because although you would normally jump at the chance to ravage their sexy body, tonight you’re just not up for it?*
Maybe you’re tired, or you genuinely have a headache, or you’re just not feeling sexy. Or maybe you just want to sleep on your own, or read a book, or eat a crumpet in bed. Regardless of the reason, often having to politely decline the offer of nookie is kind of awkward, especially if the rejection is taking place inside the confines of a new, or casual relationship.
Here are some of the reasons why not feeling like sex can be a bit weird:
1. If you’re in a casual sexual relationship, where you almost always have sex when you see each other, sex can feel like it’s a given in the situation, and saying no makes the whole dynamic feel a bit off.
2. If you’re in a long term relationship, and you love your partner, sometimes it makes you feel a little mean if you say no when they’re clearly revved up.
3. If your relationship is new, and you’re anywhere near as neurotic as I am, not feeling like sex can make you stress about your sex life, and what kind of precedent you’re setting.
Or, maybe I’m the only crazy one who thinks like this. Chances are, though, that you feel a little bad sometimes when you’re not in the mood and your sex partner is jonesing for some action.
Of course, we all know this is ridiculous. If you don’t want to have sex, then you don’t want to have sex – unless your partner is a total wanker, they won’t chuck a hissy fit and kick you out of bed.
Things are more murky when the terms of your relationship aren’t defined of course – if you usually only sleep together when having sex, it can bring up a whole lot of ‘where is this going’ kind of questions when sex is taken out of the equation.
The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to be really clear about the terms of your relationship. Maybe bullet points and lists of rules aren’t sexy, but they can save a lot of confusion and help avoid awkwardness.
Being on the receiving end of the sex-rejection can be more galling, of course. Sometimes, when you climb into bed ready for action and receive a regretful ‘Not tonight, darling’, you just want to stare at them in outrage, gesture at your body and say ‘You would refuse all of THIS?!’.
Remember not to take it personally – just as you often don’t feel like sex for reasons that have nothing to do with your partner, so it’s equally likely that they also have extenuating circumstances quenching their lust.
I guess what I’m saying here (and in fact, what I say every column) is that people are unique. Like genitals! Or snowflakes, I don’t know.
Rejection of the act is unlikely to be rejection of you, unless there are much deeper issues at hand. Sex is also not the most important part of your relationship (unless you’re in a casual sex relationship), and as easy as it is to conflate sexual desire for desire more generally, they are rarely completely entwined.
Negotiating the terrain of a sexual relationship is difficult at best, mind-boggling at worst. All you can do is be clear and listen carefully.
So next time you have a headache, or your partner has a headache, or you want to wash your hair/eat a crumpet or whatever it is, don’t feel bad about it! And the rest will probably make the next time you have sex EVEN BETTER.
*A Quick Note to the Author’s Boyfriend: This column isn’t about you. Don’t worry.
By Zoya Patel