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June 01, 2007

WHEN TURNING DOWN YOUR PARNTER’S SEXUAL ADVANCES REALLY IS A PROBLEM

My last post I wrote about the right to say no to sex in your relationship. This post is about the other side of that issue: the importance of also saying yes to sexual intimacy in your relationship.

Everyone has the right, and obligation, I believe, to participate in sex on a voluntary basis—always. No one determines whether or not you will be sexual, except you.

That said it’s also important to know that an important part of connection and intimacy is a healthy sexual relationship. So while you have the right to say no whenever you’d like, you need to know that if you are saying no more times than not, this will negatively impact your relationship.

I realize this can be a bit tricky to figure out, however, as with everything else in life, you have to find the balance. If on the one hand you are having sex to appease your partner, avoid a stink, or because you are feeling obligated or pushed into it, you are off. This is not healthy for either you or your partner.

If on the other hand, you are saying no to sex as a norm and are going weeks without being intimate with your partner, then you are on the other extreme. Chances are you need to warm up and let go of the idea that everything has to be just perfect in order for you to say yes. That’s not going to happen and in the mean time your relationship is fading away.

If you are the one often saying no then it’s time to look at what’s really going on.

Common excuses I hear include:
• “I’ve been with the kids all day and sex is the last thing I want; it feels like just another chore.”
• “I don’t feel emotionally close. When I feel closer then perhaps I’ll be more open to it.”
• “I’m tired”
• “I’m just not interested. I just don’t have the drive anymore.”

There are many more excuses out there however these are the most common I hear. In general, all or any of these excuses are fine—in moderation. If however, your common response to any advance is often one of these, they are not fine.

The fact is that most people are tired. Many people are stressed from children, and all couples go through periods where they are not feeling emotionally close. These do not make it okay to take sex off the table on going. They are legitimate for that night; they are not legitimate for the week, month, or year.

Instead of using these as a way out, use these as a wake up call to move in. Relationships take some TLC. Part of this means we need to make our sexual relationship with our partner a priority in our life. We do this by choosing to do so.

There will be times when you’re not exactly in the mood, yet you know you’re able to get into the mood fairly quickly. These times may be a good time to give it a try. There will be other times when you are clear that you don’t want to be sexual. These are the times that you say no without guilt.

The most important thing, I believe, is balance. Do not say yes because you feel pressured to do so or you’ll end up feeling resentful and it’s unhealthy. Also don’t get yourself into a pattern of always saying no unless all the stars are aligned in perfect order—that may never happen.

If you’re always saying no, it makes the yes much more difficult to say. It creates a pattern and distance in the relationship that one day will come back and bite you both in the backside.

Challenge: If you find yourself saying no to your partner’s advances most of the time, take a moment to check in with yourself to find out what’s really going on for you. If you need everything to be perfect in order for you to get in the mood—lighten up. If you have no desire—see your doctor to rule out a medical condition. If you don’t like how your partner makes advances—talk to him/her and express your needs in a relational way. Learn balance in this area and be careful not to fall too far on either side (yes vs. no).


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Sometimes it can be very difficult to find the time to be sexually intimate when you have a very busy schedule that includes work, family, travels, etc. When you come home and are constantly tired every day from working, studying, taking care of the house, and the kids, and the pets, and family members, and friends, and other responsibilities that may be in your life, finding time to be sexually intimate is a real problem.

In many major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, many couples are too tired for sex, and singles are too busy to seek out relationships. I actually know one person who is a super-busy workaholic, and he said more than once, that he has no time for a girlfriend - let's not even mention marriage, since that includes a hefty slice of intimate commitment, too.

I am a busy workaholic myself, working 3 jobs, attending school, plus familial responsibilities, travel, running my own business, and working with community service. Call me overworked, but at least I'm not lazy.

One cannot neglect one's responsibilities, and not pay the bills, and not be active with friends and family, but let's face it, sex can be tiring too. People are busy and active and hardworking. Finding the balance and making the time for intimacy can be very hard for many couples in this busy age.

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