What to do when you’re not happy with your sex life

It happens to most of us at some point

It’s totally normal to go through phases where your sex life doesn’t feel as satisfying as you want it to feel. That could be because you want more sex than your partner does, because they want more sex than you do, because you’re not having the kind of sex you want, because you don’t have the energy for sex, because things are feeling boring in the bedroom, or many other reasons.

Think about it this way: the average age at which people in the U.S. start having sex is around 17. If the average American lives to be around 77, that’s a good 60 years of having sex, which is…a really long time. It makes total sense that there would be ups and downs, but even so, it can be stressful to hit a downswing. Here are some things to try.

1. Accept that you’re going to have to talk about it…a lot

If things have been easy breezy in past relationships or in your current relationship up to now, you may not have had to do all that much talking about sex beyond consent and birth control/STI prevention conversations. As it turns out, sex can be really hard to talk about, especially if you’re not used to talking about it. But you’re going to have to do it anyway if you want things to change. Your sex life is not just going to magically fix itself, as much as you may want it to. There’s no getting around the fact that you will have to express what you want.

2. See a sex therapist

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—see a sex therapist! If your conversations aren’t going well or they haven’t been fruitful, this is a really good way to get on a better path. You can go with a partner, by yourself, or both. It can be super helpful to have a professional who’s used to navigating tricky conversations there to help guide you. They can also help you figure out the source of your dissatisfaction if you’re not sure what it is. Here are some tips on how to pick the right one for you and your partner. You can find one through the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).

3. Invest in yourself

Spend some time getting back in touch with what feels good for you. If you’re feeling upset about the sex you’re having (or not having) with a partner, it might feel hard to get in the mood for sex with yourself. But making sure your needs are met and reminding yourself that you deserve to feel good will set you up well for thinking (and talking) about sex with a partner.

4. Explore root causes

Things may not be exactly as they seem on the surface when it comes to issues around sex. What looks like your partner rejecting you, for example, may be coming from their own body image issues. Equally, you may actually not be in the mood for sex not because you’re not interested in them sexually but because you don’t feel the domestic workload is being divided evenly between you and your partner.

5. Keep an open mind

Just as the causes may not be what they seem, the things you can do to address the issue may not be what you expect them to be either. Keeping an open mind about both (and about the role you are playing in creating the issue) will help you get to a better place as quickly as possible.

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