My girlfriends think I’m lucky having a husband who doesn’t want sex. It’s become a kind of joke when we get together. They don’t really understand why it bothers me, but it does. When we first got together we had more sex, but quite quickly we stopped.anonymous
Sexual frustration is something that most of us experience at one time or another
It may be that lockdown is making for more sexual frustration. Sex and sexual satisfaction have always been a complicated and delicate subject. Certain people have a simpler relationship between their sexual desire and their sexual satisfaction, but for a lot of people, things are not so simple.
Sexual satisfaction is a subjective experience
Our sexuality is individual. It is entirely normal for one partner to want more sex than the other partner. This is the same in same-sex relationships as it is in heterosexual relationships.
The development of our sexuality is complicated and sophisticated. It develops as part of our physical development. Sexual desire is an area of human need that probably develops behind food, water, housing, sleep and relating to others, but it is frequently involved in every aspect of us.
The way that we get pleasure, the way that we give pleasure, becomes part of our individual relationship with sex and sexuality. In relationships it is often a matter of luck as to whether we have a good sexual fit with our partner. It is quite possible that we can improve our sexual relationships and so reduce our sexual frustration.
She doesn’t want to have as much sex as me. I don’t think she really enjoys sex. She says it’s not me. She says that she’s never really enjoyed sex. She says she’s not that interested in sex but I find that quite difficult to take. Part of my sexual satisfaction is knowing that she gets sexual satisfaction from our relationship. I feel a bit frustrated that she doesn’t. I don’t know why it’s such a big thing for me, but it is.anonymous
- Men and women all experience sexual frustration it’s a kind of myth to say that it’s men who want more sex and get more frustrated than women.
Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis and sex
At the beginning of the 20th century when psychotherapy was developing and Freud’s ideas were dominant, sexuality was viewed as the key to human development, organisation, and understanding.
For Freud our problems always had a sexual component. Whatever we might have gone to talk to Freud about, it would inevitably have involved trying to understand the sexual wishes and desires that had got tangled up in our lives.
Psychotherapy now is less concerned with sex. But that’s not to say that sexual problems are not involved in all kinds of other problems.
- Because sex is such a fundamental part of human relating, it follows that when there are increases in sexual frustration other mental health problems may start to develop.
I didn’t know very much about sex when we got together. I certainly didn’t know what she would like or how to satisfy her. I didn’t know who to talk to about it. My friends all seemed very relaxed about sex. I wasn’t, I knew that in my relationship there was sexual frustration on both sides.anonymous
Our relationship with our sexuality is particular
For each of us, there may be reasons why sexual frustration becomes a problem.
- Sexual frustration may result from problems that are physical as much as they are emotional, mental, or social. It may be that we have complicated relationships with being satisfied during sex.
- Some of us may feel guilty about being sexually satisfied. There may be moral questions involved, issues that were part of the relationships we grew up with which cast shadows over our sex lives.
Sex often has a taboo quality to it, it may be that we are becoming more able to talk about sex and sexual frustration, and to think about the problems that sexual frustration relates to.
I had hoped that in time things would improve but they haven’t. It’s not exactly that I want to have sex every day or even every week. It isn’t an issue of quantity but of quality. I would like to feel that sex was mutually pleasurable. I feel very unhappy about it. She says I should let it go, but I can’t.anonymous
Sexual frustration; quality or quantity?
It isn’t necessarily to do with the amount of sex we have, more that there may be inequalities in our sexual relationship. You might feel that your partner is satisfied and you’re not, or the other way around.
It might be the case that you are having regular sex but still feeling sexually frustrated and not finding a way to talk about or solve the problem in your current relationship. Sexual frustration can become a problem that is very hard to overlook. Unless we find a way to talk about it it’s very easy for sexual frustration to become a reason a relationship will fail.
At first, I thought it was just to do with his work, I tried all kinds of things to get him interested. Or to find ways to talk about it, but nothing seems to work. I feel very unhappy about it. I think if we don’t find a way to talk about it the relationship may have to end.anonymous
One of the problems with sexual frustration is that often one partner is satisfied and the other is not. So one partner experiences irritability, perhaps problems sleeping, one partner starts to feel that they are not getting their needs met in the relationship, while the other feels fine about things.
- One of the complicating factors in a sexual relationship is that it is difficult to draw the line between one person’s idea of sexual frustration or satisfaction and excitement and another’s.
Probably the most helpful thing we can do when we are experiencing sexual frustration in our relationship is to talk about it. If you can’t find a way to sit down together and talk it through, then it might be worth seeing a couple’s therapist. If you feel that you would like to speak to someone on your own please contact me.
Talking confidentially in psychotherapy may be a route to relieving your anxiety. It may make it easier to start to talk to your partner.
Contact me to arrange a free 15-minute conversation to discuss how my work might be useful to you.
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