Giddy Presents The Naked Truth: How Do I Get My Partner in the Mood?
I'm an AASECT-certified sex therapist and a licensed professional counselor-supervisor based in Austin, Texas. I've been in practice for 14 years, including working in corporate settings, higher education and private practice.
If you have questions you want to be answered in future columns, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Privacy in all matters of intimacy is very important to me and any questions answered in this column will be entirely anonymous.
Enough about me, let's talk sex.
I try so hard to please my partner. I listen and I try to offer advice to her if she's talking about problems at work. I have dinner ready on time and make sure the kids are bathed, but no matter what, I can't seem to get her to want to have sex or even get in the mood. What more should I be doing?
Barry in Washington D.C.
In a partnership, it's always valuable to share domestic responsibilities when it comes to juggling kids, the house and making time to listen to each other. Your efforts seem amazing and I would not focus on what you are doing "wrong." But let me see if I can offer some perspective on how to focus on the missing sexual and romantic connection.
The first thing that stands out to me is blending the roles of partnering and parenting versus connecting as friends and lovers. We all give and receive love in different ways, so I would be curious about how your partner wants to receive love in a way she recognizes as feeling seen, heard, valued and sexy.
Sometimes the stresses of life take away the energy we would otherwise have for sensual connection and affection.
Perhaps feeling out what she needs each day through texts, calls and video chats could help. Any variety of check-ins will help you gauge how her day is shaping up. That keeps you both in the loop on how best to provide support for each other.
I should stress the goal here is to not set up expectations or obligations for sex later. This is purely intended to help rebuild your connection and bond.
Kids are great but they can be disruptive to your one-on-one time in conversation. Try to make the time and allow your talks to be more about listening than fixing or offering solutions. Always ask before providing feedback, which takes you much further than being a problem-solver in most cases.
Building sexual energy takes connection and genuine efforts of touch, smell and eye contact. Personally, I love getting my head massaged while lying in my favorite person's lap. It's sweet and romantic, very vulnerable, but I also want to know I can enjoy this without pressure or obligation for it to lead to sex.
The lesson here is that removing the expectation of sex and verbally asserting your intentions for this affection rebuilds a sensual connection and establishes healthy sexual energy.
With the caveat that I don't know the basic physical variables involved and I'm only addressing your context of wonderful efforts combined with the desire to be with your person, I would have to say it's less about "getting her in the mood" than learning who she is now and how both of you can connect in a meaningful organic connection.
Again, I'm not shy, so feel free to ask me anything. Remember, this will always be anonymous. If you have any questions about relationships, sexual activities or your partners, let me know. Tell me your first name and your state of residence so I can attribute your question. Please send me an email at email@example.com. We will always respect your privacy.