not feeling horny

5 Reasons You’re Not Feeling Up for Sex (and Why There’s Nothing Wrong with You)

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The de-stigmatizing and normalizing of all types of partner sex – from casual encounters to keeping the spark in monogamy – has led sex educators and sexuality writers into another conundrum. While we love to see all kinds of folks getting their unapologetic freak on, we’re now left to deal with an unintended consequence: the idea that all people should be down for sex all the time, whenever a partner initiates. 

Truthfully, it’s just as “normal” to not want sex every minute of every day as it is to desire it constantly. While hormonal fluctuations, the aging process, and the quality of one’s partnered sex life are often to blame, there are plenty of other, less documented reasons that can cause a downfall in you or a partner’s arousal.

It’s easy to push blame on a partner or yourself, or start digging up relational problems when there’s a rejection to initiating sex. Oftentimes, though, the reasons are more simple and much less serious than you think.

Before you blow up an honest, gentle rejection into an argument, consider these 5 totally normal, not-at-all-unusual reasons that you or your partner aren’t in the mood at the moment. 

Reason #1: You’ve Just Eaten a Big Meal

Honestly, who ever decided that eating just prior to an evening specifically planned for sex was a good idea?

Going out for dinner is still one of the most popular ways to prep yourself for romance and flirtation, whether you’re married or on a first date. When you think about it, however, eating a hearty restaurant meal doesn’t exactly make for comfortable, pleasurable sex.

Picture this: Your stomachs are both absolutely swollen with all the oils, fats and sugar found in most flavorful dishes at restaurants, and that’s before you’ve even arrived back home. Once in the privacy of your bedroom, your clothes are off and you’re ready to dive into foreplay and oral. After trying a little deep-throating, though, your full stomach threatens to bring dinner right back up your esophagus. 

Moving on to penetrative sex isn’t going too well, either. Your bloated intestines make even the most usual of sexual positions uncomfortable. Those deep strokes you usually enjoy suddenly feel like they’re hitting a wall of digested food and excess air.

And need we say more when it comes to anal? Your bum area is likely the last place you’ll feel aroused when your digestive system is working hard – and mere hours away from sending you running to the toilet. 

Hey, we’re all for sharing a great meal with someone you love or think you might like! However, don’t feel like you missed out on a great lay if you and your partner would rather cozy up with a movie in sweat pants after gorging yourselves on gourmet food.

Reason #2: You’re Genuinely Just Tired AF

Saying you’re too tired to have sex has become something of an “excuse” to “get out of” sex, but we think that’s total BS. Feeling tired, exhausted, or ready to drift off to sleep the second you lay down are all very valid reasons to not feel horny. 

When you’re super tired, do you feel like working on a passion project, going for a leisurely walk outdoors, or chatting with a friend? If the answer is no, regardless of how relaxing or fun those activities might be, why assume you’d be able to adequately enjoy sex either?

When your partner says they’re too tired to engage in sex, believe them, and don’t try to convince them or manipulate them into doing it. 

Enjoying sex while simultaneously ensuring a partner’s pleasure takes energy. Rather obviously, you’re usually left sweating and panting for a reason. Sex is a great work out, even if you’re not going buck wild the entire time.

Similarly, when you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open, being touched or penetrated can feel annoying, uncomfortable, or downright irritating – pretty much anything but orgasmic.

The next time you or a partner would prefer sleep over sex, give it a rest, or suggest a lighter intimate activity instead, like a foot rub, hand massage, or gently stroking their hair while they drift off. 

Reason #3: You’ve Just Experienced Stress, Trauma or Anxiety

You might think this one would be obvious. Who can concentrate on sex when you’re overly stressed about work, just got into a fight with a friend or family member, or lost a loved one? 

But believe it or not, I’ve personally encountered far too many couples seeking advice online because their partner is expecting them to have sex after the death of a parent, loss of a job, or even undergoing major surgery. 

It’s all too easy for bystanders to shout into the void, “Just divorce/break up with them!” or “Just tell them no!” When you’re in similar shoes, however, you realize relationships are much more complicated than that.

To cut to the chase, get comfortable with the fact that you and your partner might have to forego sex for long periods of time, particularly when someone has experienced stress, trauma or anxiety

While some folks may even see a rise in desire during times of stress, don’t expect yourself or a partner to be one of these people. It’s much more likely that you’ll need to accommodate for a dip in arousal when times get tough.

Reason #4: You’re Still Sore From a Previous Sex Session

Sometimes no matter how much lube you used or how turned-on you were, penetration can leave you with serious soreness. Sure, some folks find this post-sex ache to be a little sexy, but for others, it can make any further touch a turn off.

Not everyone is up for rounds two, three or four in a single day, and that often goes double if anal was involved. Some of us need a good, long break in-between sex sessions, and that, of course, depends on the person.

You or your partner might need at least a full 24 hours before feeling ready to engage in penetrative sex again, or even longer. How often you full-on get it on is totally up to the two of you. 

No matter how much your paired-up friends may brag about how many times they can screw in 12 hours, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you if multiple sex sessions sound more like a chore – and a ticket to overly sore muscles – than pleasurable fun. 

When it comes to your daily desire, you do YOU, babe, and never force a partner or yourself to engage in sex when they’re in pain.

Reason #5: You’re Busy, Uninterested, Would Rather Do Something Else, or Just Flat-Out Don’t Feel Like Having Sex

No differently than feeling the random urge to have sex at literally any given point throughout your day, it’s totally valid and normal to not feel like having sex for any given reason. 

Maybe you’re in a rush to make dinner after a tiring day at work. Maybe you’re more excited to finish that new book you just bought. Maybe you’d rather go for a walk or hike to enjoy a warm, sunny day than stay indoors having sex. Or, simply, you’re just not feeling up for it.

Just as there are no bad reasons to desire sex with another consenting, adult partner, there are no bad reasons to not desire it from time to time. Both you and your partner’s respective libidos will change as you age and grow. Be prepared for it, don’t force anyone into having sex when they don’t want it, and make use of your sex toy collection and solo sex life when necessary, and you’ll be able to weather whatever sexual differences of opinion might crop up.

Sex is important for a lot of folks, and for others, it’s not important at all. What matters is that your connection to your partner extends beyond just sex, so when you’re not always on the same sexual page, your entire relationship doesn’t come crumbling down.

Appreciate the sex you do have, and be open to talking about how you can make it better for both of you for the future.