Any Reason to Have Sex If You’d Rather Not?

Saying “yes” to sex when you’d rather not can be a real problem, yet unexpected benefits may emerge. Typically, problems arise when women agree to unwanted sex that repels them and that runs counter to their values and damages their self-respect. But University of Texas, Austin researchers, who wrote Why Women Have Sex, found that sometimes women who lack initial interest can find sex rewarding in the end. 

As one woman put it,

When my fiancée needs to feel closer to me or release tension, I feel I owe it to him to have sex with him. Even if I’m not particularly “in the mood” at the time. He has done the same for me on numerous occasions. I feel that it’s a part of a healthy, loving, monogamous relationship to be able to see your partner’s needs and help them in any way you can. I never feel anything but the satisfaction of knowing that I have given to him all that I can, as he does for me.

And what starts out as “not really interested” can end in pleasure. As another related,

There have been instances where I have told my partner that I did not feel like having sex. On the occasions when I have had sex due to my partner’s insistence it has been because his insistence came in the form of foreplay (romantic kissing, petting, etc.), and I found that I had changed my mind about wanting to have sex.

Some women said they felt “extremely glad” afterward, or that it “boosted their confidence.” Many saw it as a healthy way by which partners can nurture each other.

Women who enjoy themselves, despite little initial interest, are typically not entirely against the idea beforehand. But whether mood turns to desire depends on her partner’s skill at foreplay, her bodily responses, and the extent to which she comes to experience pleasure, physically and emotionally.

Whether a woman feels happy after reluctantly agreeing to sex depends on her motivation, too.

Detrimental consequences often arise when the motive is avoiding negative or painful outcomes. Desperation, shame and remorse can arise when we go against our values, leading to feelings of self-betrayal and damaged self-respect.

But different circumstances can lead to positive outcomes. Was she seeking a positive experience? Did making her partner happy make her feel good? Does her partner do the same for her? Did she stay true to her values? If so, she likely felt good about the decision, creating a positive experience all around.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I agree with a lot of points of this article. I agree with the girl who stated that it helps her relationship if she can satisfy her needs and her partner’s needs. I think that this is an important part of a relationship. Should women say “yes” to sex every time? No. Women, and men, should only say “yes” to intimacy if they want. I do see the added benefits of women saying “yes” even if they are not “in the mood”. Everyone needs their needs met, and sometimes one of those needs is not having intimate relations. I can say for me, as a woman, sometimes not having sexual relations with my fiancé is the best way for me to take time out for me, however, other times it is essential to my well being. This is all based on personal choice, and I am glad that this article exposes another side to sex for women, that it’s okay to be sexual. I say; ladies-do what works for you!

    –Nicole McCalister

  2. Personally, I feel that as women, we have unconsciously submitted ourselves into society’s stereotypes of what we should be. Women should not have sex as often as we want to, we focus more on emotions and personality while males are supposed to be the carnal ones, wanting sex and nothing else. Such expectations have cause women to shun sex unnecessarily. What people don’t know or rather, not want to admit is that sex is enjoyable to everyone, regardless of gender. I agree with this article that sex can definitely be rewarding to a couple but I feel strongly against the fact that it is the “duty” of a woman to have sex when her partner wants to. Any person, male or female should only have sex when they want to. They can be persuaded to by their partners but they are in control of their own bodies themselves and should never resort to sex only to please their partners. Sex, while a union act, is also meant for oneself and women should never feel guilted into sex just because they have been cajoled by their partners. Saying yes is fine, but only for the right reasons.

  3. I believe that the real solution to this is that men need to understand that sex should be cherished more than abused. Some men still don’t understand the true concept of what is mandatory to conclude when in a relationship. As a male, the first time I’ve ever asked a girl to be my girlfriend gave me the initial thought to– ” I am now a step closer to getting her inside my pants! ” If men learned to keep it in their pants until the right moments, think before they act, I can guarantee this wouldn’t be a problem.

  4. This brings up alot of good factors that I do agree with it. Women on a pshycological level have just about the same amount of sex drive as men. I think mens is a little bit higher but it is still just about the same. The way that society has taught sex though is what may sometimes make some women feel shameful or self-betrayed after ward. Women as sometimes taught that sex is bad and to not have many sexual partners. It’s basically seen in a negative light when discussing sex with women. Yet when sex is associated with men, it really isn’t a big deal and having many sexual partners is not seen as a bad thing, maybe even a good thing. This way that society has shamed sex on women is what makes some of them say “im in the mood”, “I have a headache”, or “I just don’t want to”. This type of distance in a relationship can be burdenful and difficult for that relationship. A healthy amount of sex in a monogamous relationship isn’t bad and can most of the time help the closeness and bond between the two partners.

  5. Saying yes to sex when one doesn’t really want to is not always a bad thing. Of course, a woman shouldn’t do this every single time, but I would definitely agree that it can be good for a relationship. This is like an act of give and take in the relationship. Giving a little every once in a while can be a good thing. On top of that, it can totally be rewarding in the end. You may not be in the mood at first, but afterwards you may be glad you gave it shot anyway. Overall, I really think that saying yes to sex is an okay thing to do especially when you’re in a relationship.

  6. As the old sarcastic adage reads, “we’re married; we don’t have sex anymore”, lends itself to an unhealthy reality, in that many married couples see a dramatic regression in their sexual relations.

    It’s easy to say, “I just got home from a long day of work and I’m too tired right now”. This scenario doesn’t even include the “children factor”, which I suspect statistics will show, sexual relations deter even further.

    The last thing anyone wants is to have sex placed in the same category as mundane chores, e.g. taking out the trash, but ironically both are necessary. Sex is a healthy part of a relationship, as is intimacy, but both take work.

    Conceding to have sex when one is “not in the mood”, is a necessary requirement to support a well maintained relationship. Could you imagine a world where both parties in a relationship waited until their respective moods matched up on the same day, at the same time, in order to share intimacy, and furthermore, sex.

    In my opinion, a relationship entails components such as sharing and sacrifice. Couples do things for one another all the time, even mundane tasks such as driving to the car dealership to pickup one’s newly serviced vehicle, which happens to fall at the exact time a big football game is being broadcast.

    Overall, people in a monogamous relationship depend on the sexual component of their relationships and in order to maintain a healthy level of sexual activity, partners must be willing to have sex, even if the time isn’t perfect for one of the two.

  7. This is such a slippery slope.

    Okay, so there are a lot of times that my partner doesn’t do enough convincing (foreplay) to establish my arousal. But I never regret it because once we’re grooving it’s totally awesome.

    But! Where in that scenario could I possibly putting out the energy that it’s okay to continue even if one person isn’t interested? It might be a long shot, but I think it falls on the continuum of Very Wrong Deeds.

    I think the solution is more communication, more emotional connection prior to engaging, and more learning about oneself and the other.
    God, I’m such a woman.

  8. I totally agree with one the the person on this forum who said that in a relationship we must sacrifice for one another, meaning one should be able to concede to the other partner even when they don’t feel like having sex. I also agree with the author that sex may lead to pleasure filled experience even if one did not initially want it because I have personally experienced this considering the fact that I have no negative experiences associated with sex. However It is only reasonable to pass sometimes, but not all the time, since sex is part of marriage or a relationship. Some women deprive their husbands of sex by constantly saying no ,and this could push them to seek for it else where.

  9. In the blog, “Any Reason to Have Sex If You’d Rather Not?”, at first thought my answer would be yes. Yet, after reading this blog, I would have to say that it depends on the situation. I would agree that there are times you would say no. If you are guilted into, or saying yes to just avoid adverse consequence, or if you say yes because this is what is expected of you. Then saying yes could lead to negative affects on the women, There could be feelings of sadness, doubt, and unworthiness. I agree this could be detrimental to her self-esteem. On the other hand, saying yes because you understand your partners needs could be very positive. You are saying yes to your partner because you love him and want to make him happy. His happiness makes you happy. In turn he would do the same for you. This is built on mutual respect. Like the article says, “ Many saw it as a healthy way by which partners can nurture each other.” So, I would now say No. Only say yes if it is something you really want to do for yourself. Meaning, you want to make your partner and/or yourself happy. Never say yes, if you feel uncomfortable or coerced into it.

  10. That’s interesting. I feel that way about beer. Sometimes I don’t feel like drinking but people encourage me and want me to be as drunk as them and then once I drink a few beers I realize how good it feels and don’t regret my decision.

    Anyway, I don’t feel women should ever HAVE to have sex with their partners, but if they do I guess that could potentially show empathy and selflessness, wanting to make their lover happy.

    In some cultures, the women has to give sex to her husband anytime he demands it, which brings me to my main point, why would you want to make love to some one who doesn’t want to make love to you? Sex is a give and take kind of thing so I feel like if your partner isn’t having sex with you for the right reasons, that just takes alot of the fun out of it.

    I’m not surprised they felt better once they had sex. It’s sort of like beer. It’ll grow on you, if that makes any sense.

  11. That is absolutely absurd! Women have fallen for the “duty calls” routine. If women don’t feel like having sex they should not let themselves be used. Their are many other ways to make your lover feel better that doesn’t necessarily have to involve sex. I agree that women are just trying to make things better, but are you really doing him a favor by letting him use you? A man should feel privileged to be with you and he should respect you if you decide not to have sex with him. Like it says in the bible “good things come to those who wait”.

    • Well, it depends on whether the woman sees it as him using her, or nurturing the relationship. If the former, it will most definately be a negative thing.

      Thanks for your perspective.

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