This is one of the biggest conundrums of a low libido.

I need to feel close to have sex, he/she wants sex to feel close.

The ultimate stalemate.

But why?

Why we have sex

Why is this? Linked to who you are and how you’re feeling, are why you have sex, emotional withholding? Sometimes it’s not for desire, its to experience an emotional connection.

WHY do you have sex? Very linked to this! For pleasure/affection/both?

Gender roles

Often there’s a gendered divide in this sense, and it’s much to do with the way we’re socialised as people.

Some women may need to feel close to want sex (gaining intimacy before)

Some men may need to have sex to feel close (gaining intimacy after)

For men especially, physical connection through sex is so powerful because expressing themselves in other ways (being emotional) may not come as naturally to them. This is because of the way we condition men to express pain.

Their space to be vulnerable might be limited in everyday life/outside world, and lacking this intimate space to express themselves, as well as their interpretation of the rejection, might mean a devastating erosion of self-esteem.


However, for many women, there are hundreds of reasons before sex that we don’t feel close to our partners. 

This could be related to conflict, a lack of affection in the relationship, feeling taken for granted (e.g. doing more than their share of domestic chores), even how a mismatch in sex drive then creates more conflict.

Not feeling close to someone means we’re less likely to want to share our bodies with them, because sexual intimacy is about vulnerability.

When you feel good about yourself and your relationship its easier to be vulnerable.  

However, if there is unresolved tension, conflict, unhappiness, stress, we may choose to avoid feeling vulnerable as a self-protective measure.

And this *might* explain why women are shying away from sex if there feels an emotional chasm between her and her partner.

Women have an absolute right to NOT have sex. Especially if there are issues in the relationship. Being sexual with someone means offering closeness, nurturing them. If you don’t feel ready for sex, not wanting to share your body or affection with another, it means your body is sending you a message that as a couple you need more time trying to repair the distance.

But, if we’re interested in us WANTING to want sex, then we need to explore more about why we don’t, and what we can do about it.

bed bedroom blanket comfort
Photo by Burst on

So, the solution?

Really, how a couple goes forward with this is going to be individual to them and their relationship.

Figuring out why one partner doesn’t feel close is the first hurdle, and working out together what you can do to breach that gap is next.

This might involve:

Resolving hurt and conflict.

Often a lack of closeness is indicative of a lack of communication, issues around resentment or perhaps unresolved conflict.

These can be managed by talking more about how we feel, what’s bothering us and opening up to another.

It’s also about allowing ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable in our relationships so that we’re showing up as our true selves.

Learning how to compromise

If one partner is feeling taken for granted, under pressure, undervalued or unappreciated, it might be time to consider how you as a partnership can resolve this. Sometimes it’s about one partner stepping up help around the house (e.g. washing up more), sharing childcare, or allowing one partner space to be themselves and reconnect with who they are as an individual.

Increasing affection and intimacy 

Working on the levels of intimacy, trust and warmth between you are really important. Click here for more information and tips on increasing intimacy in a relationship.

P.S. Have you experienced this issue of not being close to have sex vs. having sex to feel close? How did you resolve it?