Are you setting the bar too high to say “yes”?

November 19,2019

How do you decide whether to say “yes” or “no” to your partner when they initiate?

If you’re like most people, when your partner makes it clear that they want to have sex, you feel like you have to be just as interested as your partner is in that moment in order to say “yes.”

But that sets the bar way too high…

Initiation and consideration mistake #3 –  Thinking you have to be turned on when your partner initiates

Even if you and your partner have almost identical sex drives, the chances that you’re actively going to want sex in the exact same moment that your partner actively wants to have sex are very low.

When you and your partner have different sex drives (like pretty much every couple), the chances that you’re going to actively want sex in the exact same moment that your partner wants sex are even lower. Practically non-existent.

And if you tend to have Responsive sex drive, this question is even worse, because you’re not going to mentally want sex until you’re already physically aroused. (Not sure what Responsive sex drive is? Click here for my free guide to the two sex drive types!) The answer to “Do you want to have sex?” is almost always going to be “no”!

Instead of expecting yourself to be wildly and magically turned on in the exact same moment your partner wants sex, think about whether you might be open to the possibility of getting turned on. Or curious about the possibility that you could get turned on.

I want to be perfectly clear here, because enthusiastic consent is of the utmost importance. I’m not saying that you should do whatever your partner wants, or that you should go against your own boundaries. It’s your body, and you and only you get to decide what you want to do with it.

I’m merely saying that we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be turned on in the exact same moment that our partner is turned on, and that if we feel safe and trusting in our relationship, we can think about whether we might be able to get there with a little time or attention.

And keep in mind that saying “yes” to the possibility of getting turned on doesn’t mean you can’t say “no” later if it’s just not happening for you.

Your action item for the week: 

The next time your partner initiates, tell yourself, “I’m not magically in the mood in the exact same moment that my partner happened to be in the mood. That’s normal! Am I curious enough to see if I can get there? What might help me get there?”


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!