This post is gonna give you WAY more than just your average tips of new things to try—this is a (certified? Professional?) sex therapist digging into WHY you’re not having sex.

Maybe you’re part of a busy couple that just cannot find the time or energy to have sex. Maybe you have the toys and the lingerie, but it just doesn’t feel like enough to get things going.

Check out my tips for shaking up your get-busy routine and start having more sex—today!

Ever had that thought during the day, “I want to have sex tonight,” only to find it’s suddenly bedtime, and no sex happened? Maybe there was a wash/rinse/repeat and this cycle continued for several straight days? You’re not the only one, friend. Between working at a sex toy store and my practice as a sex therapist, the question I have gotten the most over the years is, “How do I have more sex?”

Many articles will talk about trying new things which is wonderful for when you get to sex but how do you get there?

Think of your motivation to have sex (and honestly, your motivation to do anything else) as that game at the carnival where you hit the mallet, the little metal shoots up, and if you hit it just right, the bell rings. Success! There are things like strength and accuracy that help you get closer to ringing the bell just as energy and previous pleasure can get you closer to having sex. That being said, there are many things that can take away that momentum, usually distractions or anxiety.

Here’s the deal: if there isn’t enough motivation to move the metal up, you’re just not going to get your bell rung! Ask yourself the following questions to see if we can get that bell to sing.

Are you having the sex you want? Is your partner?

Are there moments where you think, “I wish my partner would do this”? Maybe you’ve thought about kinky or taboo sex? Maybe some of the moves that used to work are not working anymore? Both are more than ok–bodies and interests change. Being honest with yourself and your partner about this takes a lot of discomfort, but it will pay off in the long run. Have the tough conversations with kindness and openness. Give each other the free pass to bring something up that could have been attended to a long time ago–at least you’re talking about it now!

Are you making time (and room) for sex?

Here’s where I can flex my therapist “mind-reading” skills. If someone says they want to have more sex but cannot find the time, I ask, “Do you turn on your TV immediately?” If they mentioned a dog or child, I ask, “Does your [fur] child sleep with you?” People are shocked–how did they know? Listen, it’s a modern-day world where there will always, always be something to grab your attention, and if you allow that rewatch of The Office fill the nooks and crannies of your free time, your partner never will (ba dum tss). The same goes for the dog or kid that almost seems to be deliberately pushing you two off the bed. Carve out time and space for sex. Health educator Hannah shares:

I’m a big fan of to-do lists, and yeah, sex just goes on the list like anything else. In the same way I’d note “Put the potatoes in the oven” on a to-do list, I’d note “blow your partner.” It doesn’t make it a chore—it makes me notice it and prioritize it. Neither of those things are chores: I am very excited to eat potatoes, and I’m very excited to fuck. Plus, I cannot emphasize just how much I enjoy crossing things off my to-do lists. 

Is your pleasure a priority?

This is me, giving you permission to not have sex. What? Yes! Giving yourself space to not have sex can make you want to have it more. Forcing yourself to have sex when you don’t want it sets you up for not feeling really into having it the next time. There are plenty of reasons people are not having sex–and that’s ok! Talk with your partner about the ideal number of times you would like to have sex given your energy, schedule, and needs. There’s a good chance they may feel different, and that’s ok too! Sex is better when both people want to be there. When the sex is better, you’re more likely to have it. If someone needs more sexual stimulus than what the other partner can manage, talk about making time and space for solo play or a more low-key shared play. AJ, a colleague in mental health, does a variation of this in her long-distant relationship:

During non-scheduled nights he will often give me tasks that give us both pleasure (that may or may not mean he is participating) depending on how we are both feeling and what I need.

Is your anxiety killing the mood?

There are whole books about how you need to let go of your anxiety, but I want to highlight specific ways anxiety robs you of good sex. The anxiety can come from inside and outside the bedroom. The two biggest I see are poor boundaries about work life and negative body image. No matter the anxiety, the thoughts can fill your mind during sex and then you miss out on all the pleasure you could be having!

One of the best books about women’s sexuality, Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, explains sexuality as being the gas and brake pedals of your car–you can hit the gas for turn-ons all you want, but if the parking brake is on, you’re not going far. My simple (but not easy) suggestion is to focus on the moment and find some acceptance or peace with your body.

Look, I get that virtually all of us have something about our body we do not like, however, I would argue that virtually none of us have a fetish for someone who looks unconfident and feels distracted. My point is, confidence is sexy in ALL bodies! If your partner is there and wanting to have sex with you, don’t let anxiety fill your mind with questions about why. Mindfulness practices help with this, but so do sensory things that can ground you in the moment like candles, mood lighting, and lingerie (Note: not all lingerie is created equal–shop around for something that is cute and flattering–it exists, I promise!).

The reasons you’re not having sex today are important and they’re trying to tell you something. With anything you discover within yourself and your partner, remember to practice kindness!

The people quoted in this blog post were asked specifically for this article and gave permission to have their name and words shared.

Lauren Moore

Lauren Moore

Clinical Psychotherapist
Lauren Moore, MA, MEd is clinical psychotherapist in Northern Virginia specializing in non-judgmental sex and relationship therapy for couples and individuals. In a past life, Lauren was the inventory manager of a feminist sex toy store and still goes back to teach the kink classes. Lauren is non-binary, sarcastic, and like any true child of the 80’s, uses references that is almost always 10 years too late. Contact them to talk sex toys manufacturers, kink toys, crocheting, cars, movies, and/or food… mostly food.