I Have Headache: How Sexual Rejection Can Be Good for You

I know, I know. Some of you out there are probably applauding that I am now finally giving you a way out of having sex with your dear ol’wife or hubby. Enough of this Dr. Kat nonsense about having better sex all of the time. No. What I am talking about are the realities of life and how even when you are randy and your partner isn’t how there is still some benefit we can take away from it.

sexual rejection

Perhaps it will help if I tell you what I am not talking about. I am not talking about a couple who has a long term pattern of sexual rejection, nor do I mean anyone who uses sex as weapon and denies having sex out of spite. What I am talking about is that we are human after all and there will be times when we simply don’t feel like doing the deed no matter how aroused we may or may not feel.

No one likes to hear the word “no”. Especially when it is attached to something as sensitive as their sexuality. “No” somehow feels like a judgment and many people “add meaning” to being denied sex – like they aren’t attractive enough or aren’t good enough to have sex with period. Most times when a partner says “no” it has nothing to do with the partner being “rejected”.  Just remember that generally hearing “no” is more about the person saying it than the person being told it. When this happens and you are the one who is left unrequited, and you are not sure what the “no” is about, you can simply check in by asking how your partner is and if there is anything that you can do to help them feel better. If the answer is “no” to that question too – perhaps it’s a timing thing — leave it at that. Don’t carry it with you like some burden and don’t project any negativity on to yourself as a result. “Let it be” as Sir Paul might say.

If your partner responds with an issue that you are involved in, well now you both have your lead in to address whatever issue might be on the table. This just opened an opportunity for communication. Take the opportunity to be truly present with your partner and not expect anything in return. These opportunities can help fortify your relationship in the long run.

Boundaries are a good thing. We are all separate individuals who have different desires and priorities. When you are in a long term coupled relationship there will be times that you aren’t both on the same page and that’s OK. Saying “no” occasionally – even when you just don’t feel like it – can create a sense of safety and caring in your relationship. Not getting frazzled by a “no”, can mean your relationship is on solid ground. It can also indicate that you have more depth to your relationship than just being about sex. Yes, sex is important but in a long-term relationship if that is all you have you will have bigger fish to fry sooner than later.

The occasional “no” should be welcome and seen as a sign of health in your relationship. That way you know that your partner isn’t going to “just do it” to make you happy. Your understanding without a lot of push and pull will also give your partner a sense of comfort in your relationship and a sense it’s OK to be exactly who they are how they are right now.  Besides, I always say you should make time for a little solo masturbation. “No’s” can be a little reminder for some “me” time too.

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 is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.

© Copyright Dr. Kathleen Van Kirk