No time, bored or simply can’t be bothered?
These are just some of the excuses we drag out to explain why sex isn’t on the agenda.
But which of these excuses are legitimate and which are thinly disguised avoidance tactics?
Even more importantly, how do you get past those sexual sticking points and get things moving again?
I’ve got a headache/feel sick
No-one feels like sex if they genuinely feel ill or have a headache.
Despite research that says orgasm can actually help muscles relax and provide relief for ‘cluster’ headaches (caused by tension), taking a tablet and having a bit of a lie down is still the most understandable and popular response.
But if you’re trotting out the old, “I’ve got a headache” line five nights in a row, with a perfectly clear head, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
What could I do to make sex better, so I’ll want to have it more often?
Is this a sex problem or a relationship problem? Am I avoiding sex or avoiding getting close to my partner because I don’t like them much right now?
I’m too busy
Seventy-five per cent of couples say lack of time is the biggest frustration in their sex life.
But most of us watch a minimum of 20 hours of TV per week (and that’s without even factoring in the time spent on social media).
Cut that back (yes you can) and it’s looking much healthier. So there is time for sex – but if time for each other really is limited, I’d heartily recommend you don’t shag all of it away. Sex and love are interdependent and you need to satisfy both sides to make either work properly.
So while sex should definitely get a look in, you also need to do whatever makes you feel close to your partner in that free time.
I’m too tired
If you’ve got one (two, three) children under two, working like a mad thing at work and juggling so many responsibilities you haven’t even got time to go to the loo, it might well be a time in your life when sex gets put on the backburner.
If you have valid reasons why there really isn’t any energy left for sex, talk to your partner and explain the situation.
So long as they realise it’s temporary and not gone forever, most partners are more understanding than you think.
But if you’re saying no to sex but managing to find the energy to stay out with your friends until midnight (and clean out the kitchen cupboards when you get back), you’re using it as an avoidance tactic and need to pinpoint why.
Are you feigning tiredness because you and your partner have seriously mismatched libidos?
If so, agree on a compromise of how often (and for how long) you have sex per month.
I don’t orgasm so what’s the point?
I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and assume you’re female, right?
(That’s not to say this doesn’t happen to men but it happens much less frequently.)
Fifty-six per cent of women have an orgasm every time they masturbate compared to only 24% of the time when having sex with a partner.
So it’s a common complaint – but it’s more easily fixed than you think.
The main reason why most women don’t orgasm with their partners is because they don’t speak up about what they need to make it happen.
How do you have orgasms solo? That’s your clue for having them with your partner.
The more passive you are in bed, the less likely it is to happen.
Turn things around: you be the one who’s deciding what’s happening in bed and you’ll up your orgasm rate instantly.
Technique is crucial here as well so it’s imperative you teach your partner exactly how to do what you like: what, when, where and for how long.
I’m having a fat day
If you’ve both just devoured a ten-course degustation menu and waddled home, you’re both going to head for the bed, lie on your backs and do nothing but digest. (One reason why I always think you should have sex before you go out for a romantic dinner!)
It’s also both acceptable and understandable if you lost your appetite for sex because you’ve put on some extra weight.
If you don’t feel great about your body, getting naked is hardly going to be your favourite thing to do.
Body image and how to deal with it is a huge problem for many, with a myriad of underlying issues and reasons.
For some, solving it is simply about focusing on how you’re feeling during sex, rather than how you’re looking.
Others tackle it by losing weight (that needs losing rather than conforming to society’s stick-think ideal), doing some research (google ‘body image problems’ and off you go) or talking to a good therapist.
(There’s also a chapter on body image in my new book, Great Sex Starts at 50 (out Feb 6) that works for everyone, not just people over 50!)
I’m tired of being hassled for sex
If you’re constantly being hassled for sex, you don’t get the chance to miss it.
It’s called ‘the seesaw phenomenon’: the more one person does, the less the other does. The more often they initiate sex, the less often you will.
But never getting the chance to be the one to say ‘How about it?’ is both tedious and demeaning.
Here’s what you do to fix this one: tell your partner you miss not being the one to initiate sex.
This alone – and I guarantee it – will have an extraordinary reaction.
‘They’re never the one doing the asking’ is one of the most common sex complaints with most people thinking their partner’s don’t initiate because they secretly don’t enjoy doing it with them.
Simply saying you’d like to be given the chance to will score enormous points.
As much as you’re sick of being asked, they’re sick of asking.
Make a pact that they stop making any sexual overtures for two weeks to give you the chance to approach them.
Wait for a bit, then – around day nine or 10 – pounce!
Even if your first approach is a bit forced – you’re not exactly frothing in the mouth but it might be OK – pretend.
Many a study has shown ‘pretending’ passion creates it. Power is a massive turn-on and if you’re the one who’s suddenly up for it and making all the moves, you’ll be surprised how turned on you’ll feel.
Humans are creatures of habit and like doing the same things in order.
We’re the same in bed: dealing up the same old stuff, every single time.
Knowing what’s coming next with sex works for some people but for the majority it doesn’t.
It’s bad enough only being allowed to make love to the same person, but to do the same thing over and over is sexual suicide!
Why do we do it?
Well, because it worked in the beginning – they liked it, you liked it.
Then there’s the fear attached to trying new things.
What if we try it and they don’t like it? What will we look like in that new position? Will we look silly/fat/desperate?
Get past this by making a pact to both come up with something new to try once a week for a month.
Try doing the opposite to what you always do. If you normally have romantic sex, try ‘filthy’ sex.
Move sex out of the bedroom.
Also look at the proportion of time you spend on what in your sex sessions and mix that up as well.
I can’t be bothered
Let me ask you a simple question: Do you expect your partner to be faithful to you?
If you do, then there’s one very good reason for shaking off that apathy.
It’s called honouring your side of the bargain.
If you’re in a monogamous relationship, it’s reasonable for your partner to expect sex from you on a reasonably regular basis.
Sex does one hell of a lot more than simply provide physical release and pleasure.
It keeps us connected to our partner, reduces depression, calms us, boosts our immune systems and even helps us stay young. (It lowers cortisol levels in the blood, which reduce stress and slow the ageing process)
Every time you have decent sex with your partner, your brain sets you up for more good times because it associate them with fun, intimacy – and orgasms.
The less sex you have, the less you miss it.
To get yourself out of the rut, consider scheduling sex sessions – it doesn’t work for all couples but it works for more than you think.
The reason why it works here is that it gives the sex-starved person (that’d be your partner) something to look forward to and the lower sex drive person (that’s you) time to get themselves aroused.
Advance warning increases anticipation plus you can plan what you’ll both do to make it interesting.