Wanting Less Sex, But Still Want to Feel Close?

When was the last time you were at a gathering and someone said how relieved they were that their partner wanted less sex? These days you’re more likely to hear triumphant murmurs about someone having their vagina resuscitated, lubricated or lasered; or libidinous tales of 4-hour erections and stories about dating a 20-something tantra-teacher. In the face of this, who wants to admit they want less sex?

Yet in the awkward pause that follows these recitations—right after the giggling and just before the guzzling of Chardonnay and chomping of chips—we can glimpse the surface we are skating on. You can almost hear it: the shadow of sexual disempowerment uneasily gurgling to the surface: the unspoken longing for closeness and the pain of disconnection.

Huddle up people, let’s get the real conversation started!

Many of us have internalized the message that there is something wrong with us, we won’t be loved, or we will be hurt if we aren’t adequately sexual and sexy—whether we or our private parts are too pooped, our energy is elsewhere, or we don’t have the same sexual appetite as our partner. But who decides how much sex you have, and when and why you have it, should be you! Start by asking yourself:

* How much sex do you want or need? It’s a big question. Keep in mind we don’t need sex to survive. Fact: We have enough frozen sperm to repopulate the planet. As relational creatures, we do however need to feel loved, to feel close and to be touched. But sex by itself does not provide these things. Decide what you and your body need in relationship—emotionally, physically and for your soul.

* Next, maybe it’s time to redefine or realign your sexual values. Set aside what your partner wants, what your friends, parents or inner critic say, and what you’ve read (including this article). In this space of inner freedom, check in with your heart and body and see what feels good to you now (it might differ from the past or change in the future). Maybe it’s a time for you to channel your sexual energy in different ways: hand holding, massage, self-touch, art making, writing, dancing, whatever enlivens, opens and moves you!

Fun Fact: An ancient definition of Tantra is "Opening your body and heart using every aspect of life to get closer to the Divine!"

* Sex is sacred, not an obligation. This means it is set aside from the ordinary as an act of honoring and respect for yourself. You are the sovereign of your body, your sexuality, your heart and mind! You decide how much, how often, and under what circumstances sex feels right to you, regardless of another’s desires. As Niyasso Carter, a guest on my Real Time Relationship radio show, said: Trust what pleasures open your heart and are “health giving.”

* Renegotiate intimate needs in relationship: Pause, Prepare, Practice. If you’re in a relationship finding the courage to share where you’re at with your partner can be challenging. Before you share, use the 3 P’s so you minimize the likelihood of reacting to or blaming your partner. Pause: Sit with what’s true for you. Wait for it, this take courage and time, but it will come if you wait. Prepare: Center yourself in your heart and your longing, finding words that reflect your respect for yourself and your partner. Practice this heart-based conversation. Then, before sharing, ask your partner when a good time to delve into this vulnerable and sensitive material might be. You may be surprised at what you find! The truth shall set you free—many people find their partners have been struggling to discuss their needs as well!

Finally, remember that there are many ways we can create to feel close. See how many you can find that make your body open and your heart sing! See if you can find opportunities to engage the conversation with others, shifting the preoccupation with sex: What ways can they imagine?

This blog was featured in Hitched Magazine and Wellness.com.