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How To Get In The Mood When You're Not Feeling It

As women, we can sometimes feel obligated to please on demand.

Sex

It can be super-awkward talking to your bae about anything sexual, especially if it's a touchy subject like not being in the mood for sex. Staying on-ready can seem essential to keeping things fresh, and as women, we can sometimes feel obligated to please on demand.

Here are a few tips—from research and my own experience—to get through those moments when you're not in the mood:

Create A Mood Tracker

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Write down your feelings and document instances. I tried this and found that oftentimes I wasn't in the mood simply because of timing. I'm in a long-distance relationship, and due to differences in time zones, he'd get off work hours after I'd already been home and settled, so I'd be in sleep mode. I became more deliberate about scheduling time with bae or maybe getting an early nap in to stay up late at least one night a week with him.

If you review what you've written down and find that you're not in the mood due to unhealthy arguments, abuse, side effects of a medication, or simple indifference, you may need to seek help from a therapist or doctor or leave the relationship altogether.

Set The Mood With A Slow Jam

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Amp yourself up with music, films or anything that will boost arousal or confidence. Studies show that dopamine is released in the brain when we participate in activities that feel good to us. That same dopamine can contribute to attraction to your partner. I enjoy a good Sade, Janet Jackson, or Vybz Kartel (don't judge me) mix. Watch an episode of She's Gotta Have It, or light a great-smelling candle to get in the mood a bit more. Whatever gets you going, try it before getting started with bae. If it's something that both of you can enjoy together in order to pop things off, by all means, include bae and make it fun.

Be More Intentional About Foreplay

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Don't assume bae just knows how to get the party started, even if you've been in a relationship for a while. Tell bae how to get you in the mood, or take matters into your own hands and beat your partner to initiating sex. Play games that ask questions about positions, fantasies or preferences, or find ways to demonstrate how you like to be touched or handled before sex. For some, foreplay may have nothing to do with anything physical—maybe reading, engaging in debate, or enjoying your partner doing something useful turns you on—but be sure to take action and let bae know how to get you ready for intimacy.

Just Say "No"

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If all else fails, just flat-out tell bae, "No". Add an apology at the beginning to lighten the tone of what you're about to say but just be honest. You have the right to say "no", and you should never feel pressured to have sex or fake an orgasm. I was once recovering from fibroid surgery and had clearance from the doctor to have sex but still wasn't in the mood. I felt tired and just not myself for a while. I was straight-up with my man about how I felt, let him know I love him and asked for a bit more time. He totally understood, and a true partner who loves and cares about you will, too.

His patience with me actually made things that much more lit when we did have sex, and to be honest, it's what really consistently turns me on about my fiance—his patience, sense of self, trustworthiness, and his stance on sex. He truly believes (and shows through action) that my satisfaction, health, and happiness matters.

Featured image by Shutterstock.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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