So many people struggle to say yes to sex. It is not uncommon for someone to have little interest in sex on a daily basis, and they are frequently the lower desire partner for sex in the relationship. If asked if they ever feel a sex drive or think about sex during the day, they would say no. They do not experience a proactive, seeking drive for sex, what is commonly referred to as “libido.” When sex is initiated by their partner, these people often say no because they don’t feel like having sex at that moment and can’t really imagine getting in the mood. In fact, many of these people start avoiding any physical affection at all because they want to avoid being put on the spot and turning their partner down again. These moments of sexual initiation can become loaded with negative feelings and are often the source of distance or fighting between partners. Saying maybe is a new way to handle these moments.

Saying maybe opens up opportunity without expectation.

It is important to know that for many people, both men and women, desire for sex arises after sexual stimulation. If you are willing to enter into being sexual with a partner, your body often begins to respond to the sexual touch. You start to get aroused. That’s when desire for sex can kick in. This is a perfectly valid way of being, but you need to understand this and consider shifting the way you think about sex and sexual desire. Evoking this desire requires a willingness to engage in sexual contact. It is helpful to stop having a black and white/ yes or no response to sex and enter the grey area.

You can play in the space between yes and no.

I encourage couples that struggle with this dynamic to explore the grey area between yes and no. It starts with a willingness to engage in any sort of sexual encounter – kissing, touching, etc. It is important for both partners to let go of attachment to any particular outcome, to learn to enjoy the moment for what it offers. Go slowly, relax, and experiment with what it takes to connect with your partner and feel good about what you’re doing.  You may find that you or your partner actually need more information or more practice in what to do and how to do it in a way that will be pleasing. Willingness to enter a sexual space together and to explore, in this context, is not an agreement to end up having intercourse. And because it isn’t, there can be room to say yes to getting started.

There is always choice about what you are doing.

At each moment along the way, each partner has the choice about whether to continue, to turn up the heat or to dial it back. The important part is sharing a sexual moment together; it is less important what you actually do together. At some point, you may find the traditionally reluctant partner is actually aroused and interested in sex. Great! If not, you can collaborate on other endings that can feel satisfying.

It’s helpful to have and accept other endings than sex.

What to do if sexual intercourse does not end up as an option? There are more solutions to that than you can imagine. Some of them may require practice, patience or personal growth. You can consider anything from oral sex, manual stimulation, masturbation with your partner’s help or presence to just stopping and letting your arousal fade naturally. It is helpful to have a variety of ways to conclude a sexual encounter that work for both partners, even if this takes working through inhibitions. Practicing flexibility like this reduces a lot of pressure and creates the opportunity for your sexual relationship to thrive.

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