How to Tell Your Partner You're Not Sexually Satisfied

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

Most of us (if not all) have been there before. Our relationship is going great, they are the most thoughtful person out there, we’re having so much fun and feeling so loved and accepted!

But then comes the sex. And you see that they’re trying their best and really want to satisfy you, so you never tell them that, well…

They’re simply not doing it. “I’ll just guide them and it’ll be a lot better next time!”, you tell yourself. But then the next time rolls around and it’s not better. Time after time you’re left feeling unsatisfied, and what do most of us do when sex is bad? We lie to ourselves!

“Sex isn’t that important - what matters is that we love each other and that we have such a nice time together.”

But as much as we want to believe it, the truth is - we are sexual beings (around 99% of us, according to research). And once you realize that you’re not getting what you inherently need, the best thing to do is talk to your partner about it (and try mindfulness - more about that here). What will help you do so is getting into a healthy mindset, and it’s what this relationship blog is all about!

Telling Your Partner You’re Not Sexually Satisfied

We all know how difficult it is to get those words out of your mouth. We are practically conditioned to put our partner’s needs before our own, and in this case, their emotional well-being is put before our need for pleasure.

Now, in any healthy relationship, of course it’s important to worry about your partner’s feelings, but not at the expense of your own happiness. It’s okay if even that happens from time to time - for example, they’re preparing a very important pitch, and you want to talk about a serious issue with them, but you decide to wait two or three days until they’re in the clear.

But constantly putting their needs in front of your own isn’t the way to go. Yes, they may be hurt and their ego may be bruised, but if they truly love you and want you to be happy, they’ll be willing to work on what’s not working. And if they appreciate their own ego and image of themselves more than you and your needs, well… They don’t sound like a great partner, do they?

What’s stopping you from getting those words out are thoughts you may not even be aware of. Great news, though: we can change them together to something that will allow you to speak your mind!

The thought that’s stopping you might be something along the lines of:

I can’t possibly tell them they don’t satisfy me in bed! It would hurt them so much and I couldn’t bear that. That would make me such a horrible person!

Or, on a similar note:

Telling them sex is bad and I’m not sexually satisfied would be so awkward! I can’t possibly go through the awkwardness - I would rather stay in a relationship where I’m not satisfied than have to go through that discomfort.

Another thought that might be crossing your mind is:

And what if they get mad? What if they feel so bad that they decide to break up with me? I couldn’t take that, even if I’m not being satisfied!

One thing all these thoughts have in common is - they unmistakably lead you into unhealthy emotions such as self-downing and anxiety. And once you’re feeling all that, of course you won’t be too keen on having the talk.

So let’s challenge those thoughts together and see how much truth they actually hold.

Thought no.1: “Telling them they don't satisfy me would make me a horrible person.”

You and your partner are equals and deserve an equal amount of love and pleasure - that’s something you’ll hopefully agree with. But if they are satisfied both physically and emotionally, and you are satisfied in neither ways, how does that make you equals and how is that fair?

Now, you might say: “No no, I’m not satisfied sexually, but emotionally I am!” But if you’re feeling either self-downing or anxiety, that doesn’t sound like a great emotional state, does it? Your lack of physical pleasure is spilling over into the emotional sphere, which is perfectly normal - but it’s just an additional reason to tell them what you need!

Thought no.2: "Having the talk will be so uncomfortable."

I’m not gonna lie to you - most likely, it will. What will do you good here is remembering the benefits you could reap after going through the discomfort. Take a piece of paper and write down all the things that make having that conversation worth it - having a better sex life being just one! You could also bring your relationship to the next level honesty-wise, be even closer after that…

Yes, you need to go through the discomfort first, but it will be very much worth it.

Thought no.3: “If I do all that and they’re so mad/hurt they break up with me, I couldn’t take it!”

Now I can assume you’ve had some break-ups before, and since you’re reading this now: congrats! You survived! Just like you survived it before, you will survive it now. After all, are you certain you want to spend your entire life with a partner who can’t take criticism and cares more about their ego than your pleasure and happiness?

Now, if I’ve convinced you to go through with the talk, let’s practice what’s the best way to do it!

How To Tell Them

For the purpose of this conversation, you want to practice something called assertiveness. It means you’ll stand up for your rights and wants, but without appearing aggressive and demanding.

You start with stating how you feel, and focus on other people’s behavior, not their whole self! So instead of saying “you don’t satisfy me”, say “What you do in bed doesn’t satisfy me”. Next, give a proposal of what you want to try differently - otherwise, they’ll just be left confused and anxious!

“What I’d like is that you try doing X instead of Y.”

Another very important thing is to show empathy and understanding.

“I know this is an awkward conversation to have - trust me, I’m feeling very uncomfortable right now as well! - but I appreciate honesty and I hope we can always be open with one another. I love you and I enjoy our relationship so much, and I want to make it even better.”

The last thing to do is prepare for their potential reaction. They might be slightly shocked and just reply with “Oh, I see… I’m sorry you weren’t being satisfied. I want to try anything to make you feel good!” But they might also take it harder and ask you things like “Well why didn’t you say that before, now I feel like an idiot”, or “Well none of my previous partners had any complaints, so I don’t see what’s so wrong here!”

Be prepared for it - they’ll likely be dealing with their own unhealthy emotions once you lay it out in front of them. What’s important is for you to stay calm and assertive. Show them you understand their emotions and their surprise, repeat once more you’re not saying that to hurt them, but because you know it will improve your relationship, and that it’s a perfectly normal thing to not be sexually compatible with someone from the start. You don’t think any less of them and you love them the same, but you want to try something different.

And if after all of that and after some period of cooling down they remain defensive, angry, avoiding you… Then you have two additional choices: going to couples’ therapy, or deciding to end that relationship. Because you deserve pleasure just as much as they do, and you’re probably better off without someone (or something if you decide you're done dating for a while: who is always putting you in the second place, after their own ego!

© 2020 by Modern Coupling.