There is nothing more depressing than one partner being interested in a night of sweet, sweet lovemaking only to find the other half is feeling not so interested. As a woman, that rejection can be rather upsetting. But it is no raving hell for the guys either. Our society holds men up as being horndogs who want sex whenever and wherever they can get it. It has to be damaging to his sense of masculinity if he finds himself preferring to say no.
But never fear. There are things you can do
Don't freak out.
Low libido is not uncommon in men. 1 in 4 men (28%) surveyed in a 2012 study in the International Society for Sexual Medicine
reported a low sexual desire. One of the study's authors, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, also offers that 30% of women report being more interested in sex than their partners.
If you find yourself disinterested only occasionally, don't worry about it. Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, says that for men to be diagnosed as having low sex drive, they need to “have few sexual thoughts, fantasies, and little desire for sex for at least six
Nan Wise, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist and certified sex therapist, says that stress is the most powerful biological inhibitor of sex drive.
Wise says that men shouldn't try to power through this stress but should find activities that are more social and relaxing, less competitive. “Even simple things like breathing exercises or taking a hike with a guy friend can really make a difference,” she says.
Change your meds
Meds for depression or hair loss are not friends to your libido. Dr. Goldstein says that the FDA-approved drug for hair loss, Propecia, can not only lessen sex drive, but in some cases can even lead to “a permanent loss of sexual desire" (but another approved hair loss drug, Minoxidil, has no effect sexually).
The biggest pharmaceutical culprits are anti-depressants. “There are dozens of antidepressants with different side effects, and some affect libido more than others,” says Gail Wyatt, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Sexual Health Program at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “You need to really work with your doctor.”
Men are socialized to be strong, breadwinning, sexual dynamos. If any of those things suffer, it can be emasculating. “Competition is killing sex,” says Dr. Wyatt. “When you feel less of a man, you’re not as interested in sex. It’s time to redefine what makes you a man, and learn to be happier with less.”
Take the pressure off
Your manliness does not have to be defined by how hard your penis gets, the number of times a week you want/have sex or how long you last. What gives you those ideas in the first place, is porn. “When guys are exposed to porn, they think they should be rock hard really fast and last really long, and that’s just a myth and unfair,” says Dr. Brandon. “They get anxious about it, and then they lose an erection, and the next time they just avoid sex altogether.”
Sometimes you need to prime your engine a bit. “I advise my clients who want a stronger sex drive to masturbate, but not to orgasm, a few times a day, or watch a little porn, but don’t touch himself,” says Dr. Brandon. “This will trigger your body to want sex and get the body more primed and wanting.”
Ring that bell
Even if you have the hottest partner in the world, sex can still become boring. “I encourage men to fantasize more, and think about how they can bring elements of that into the bedroom with their partner to make sex more interesting,” says Dr. Brandon. You can't keep doing the same thing over and over without it becoming a formula. It is up to both of you to spice it up. Besides: “New experiences, especially ones that violate an expectation—like something novel, dirtier, risk taking—can release dopamine and ring that reward system,” says Dr. Wise.
Kiss and hug it out
One way to increase your interest is to kiss, with tongue, for a full 30 seconds. Give her a full body hug for 20. “The kiss stirs up the oxytocin—the cuddle hormone—which makes you bond to that person and want to be with them,” says Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up, Don’t Break Up
. “It’s a powerful hormone. And, with the 20-second hug—chest-to-chest—you will feel a rush almost like when you have a drink of wine.”
Just do it
Even if you don't feel 100% into it, do it anyway. “But, remember, ‘do it’ doesn’t have to mean intercourse,” says Dr. Wise. “Just be intimate. Set up time to play. It doesn’t matter if you get a hard-on or have penetration or have an orgasm. Just play and let go of the goal, and that will let go of the pressure.”