Dealing with Sexual Frustration in a Relationship
We can all feel sexually frustrated for many reasons. Yet how we deal with sexual frustration in a relationship via our actions will determine whether the sexual frustration problem is short or long lived. In some instances, sexual frustration can become a catalyst to bring a couple closer together. However, in many cases sexual frustration experienced by one or both partners is an ongoing burden that continues to undermine their relationship long-term.
As a psychosexual relationship specialist I have dealt with sexually frustrating issues for thousands of clients. In this article I answer the most pressing issues people experience when facing sexual frustration in a relationship. As well as what to do to resolve these issues before they lead to mental health challenges or destroy your ability to connect with your partner.
What is the underlying cause of sexual frustration?
While feeling sexually frustrated can often be related to the lack of availability of a sexual partner, in a relationship the underlying cause of sexual frustration is often caused by an unresolved sexual dysfunction or emotional connection issue… or a partner’s unwanted sexual technique.
A lack of sexual compatibility between a couple is another major cause of sexual frustration. This can be due to a discrepancy in levels of sexual fantasy and their desire for participation, to an incompatible penis size, to resisting an unwanted technique during sex. All of these things can contribute to a partner having a low libido or reduced desire for sex.
Sexual frustration is often caused by an incomplete "safety based" sex education which doesn't teach the actual mental and emotional mechanics required for completing or delaying a sexual act. This results in the majority of people experiencing sexual frustration in a relationship due to sexual failure. With no relevant knowledge to reference a problem against, these sexually frustrating issues continue to cause tension and stress to all affected.
To end problems related to sexual tension and frustration in a relationship, it’s important to resolve the underlying issue:
Sexually frustrated woman in a relationship
From not being able to reach orgasm, to issues caused by vaginal dryness, a low libido due to that time of the month… or from her partner's unwanted sexual technique (usually derived from watching porn) to feeling emotionally disconnected from her partner, sexual frustration is often more of an emotional problem for women.
She may be frustrated by her partner ejaculating without warning, losing his erection hardness or not being able to ejaculate… especially if she has problems reaching orgasm herself. Many times her sexual frustration and concerns stem from misunderstanding why he is losing erection hardness or ejaculating early. Or why he insists on going hard and fast or is constantly changing position.
This reminds me of an interesting client scenario:
Some years ago, a marriage counsellor refered a couple to me who were suffering from sexual frustration. In their early thirties, the wife had lost interest in sex after the birth of their first child. She had problems reaching orgasm and this was exacerbated by her husband’s technique of hard and fast and constantly changing position. She felt disconnected from him during sex and thought he didn’t care for her experience.
Interestingly, from her husband’s perspective and based on the sex education he received from watching porn, he sincerely thought that his technique was what his wife and previous partners had wanted. His lack of real life sexual imprinting contributed to this couple experiencing more than 7 years of sexual frustration, as she didn’t know how to clearly communicate her needs and he didn’t know his learned sexual technique was the biggest issue.
Sexual frustration for males in a relationship
Many times, sexual frustration for males is caused by constantly thinking about sex and when he can next have it. This isn’t at all surprising considering that men produce 90% more testosterone than women. Men are hormonally driven toward engaging in satisfying sexual experiences.
Where female motivation in a relationship is primarily fuelled by the need and desire for a deeply satisfying emotional connection, men seek to experience an emotional connection primarily through sex.
Sexual frustration arises for a male in his relationship when he is unable to fully connect sexually. This may be due to a weak erection, premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation issue, his partner displaying a lack of interest in sex, or his partner not being interested in participating in sexual play such as talking about fantasies.
This often results in the male having to go solo and masturbate to relieve his needs.
In addition to this, his sexual frustration may be caused by his partner’s own sexual function issues. For example, when a woman struggles to reach orgasm, much pressure is put on her partner to fulfill her through foreplay and oral.
A male facing a sexual function issue is devastated by his inability to satisfy his partner as that often brings his greatest pleasure. Sexual intimacy can become a marathon event where both partners struggle to reach the end point. This is exacerbated when he has his own sexual function issue and is overwhelmed with trying to stay hard and in control of himself for the duration it takes to fulfill his partner.
The vaginal dryness experienced by 50% of women especially over the age of 40 is another cause of much sexual frustration for men and their female partners.
It’s important to note here, that the majority of male and female sexually frustrating problems can easily be resolved with the correct knowledge and technique.
Sexual frustration and porn in a relationship
While many women view porn as disgusting and unnecessary in a relationship, it can do wonders to enhance a relationship when used for the right reasons. Usually porn is an issue in a relationship due to the following reasons:
1. A partner views porn as being against their religious beliefs
2. Partners have a degree of sexual incompatibility (different desires and needs for fulfilment)
3. A partner is hiding the use of porn
Of course, there can be other factors involved but they usually relate to one of the above.
This was demonstrated a few years ago when I was approached by a couple who couldn’t solve their sexual frustration issue. In this case, the wife was sexually frustrated. She said she had an issue with her husband watching porn and she was at the end of her tether.
In his haste to calm her down, he had thrown out every bit of porn in the house including everything he could find on his computer. However, this simply made his wife more annoyed and frustrated. He was completely mystified. What else could he do?
Surprisingly, the actual problem was that she LOVED it when he watched porn. Not because she wanted to watch it with him (although sometimes she did) but because they always had great sex after he had been watching porn.
However, because she hadn’t clearly conveyed the reason for her disappointment, her husband had bent over backwards to try and appease her with the wrong action. This left both of them with an emotionally as well as sexually frustrating problem.
It’s important to note that some partners will turn to porn to try and resolve a sexual function issue. Sometimes they will use porn to get rid of their sexual frustration so they don’t have to disappoint their partner; sometimes they will use it to test if their sexual function problem is still there.
When the desire for porn is miscommunicated (or not communicated) and therefore interferes with sexual and emotional intimacy in a relationship it can become a real problem.
What are the side effects of sexual frustration in a relationship?
Sexual frustration side effects can include health problems due to anxiety and stress, financial problems caused by seeking relief via porn, massage parlors and prostitutes; to infidelity and relationship breakdown when a partner eventually finds you out.
Sexual frustration is a common source of increased emotional tension in a relationship.
Many years ago, I treated a client who thought about sex all day every day to the point where he was spending several hundred dollars a week on “happy ending” massages because his wife couldn’t keep up with his desire for sex.
He loved his wife dearly and didn’t want to disappoint her, yet he didn’t know how to control his sexual urges and truly believed he needed to ejaculate to reduce the build-up of sexual pressure.
Until consulting with me, his addiction for a sexual release was destroying his relationship. Even more destructive than the act itself were the after effects of constant self-recriminations and increased self-loathing. His sexually addictive behavior catapulted him between anxiety with the fear of being found out, to being angry and irritable because he couldn’t control his body.
These effects of sexual frustration on his personality were undermining his partner’s overall desire to be with him and to connect sexually.
It’s important to also note that sexual fantasies can cause sexual frustration when a person’s partner doesn’t want to participate. I have treated many clients for sexual function issues that were caused by imagining fantasies that their partner didn’t want to participate in when engaging sexually with them.
Sexual frustration in a relationship often causes anger and irritability, disappointment, anxiety, hopelessness and despair. This can be in either or both partners as they struggle to feel connected and fulfilled.
Are there any health effects of sexual frustration?
Sexual frustration leads to all kinds of imbalances in life. A multitude of health problems can result from sexual frustration ranging from mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression to heart disease.
Ongoing ruminations about the problem and possible future consequences constantly trigger stress hormones which can have a cumulative effect. This can eventually lead to widespread inflammation which compromises your body’s entire ecosystem.
Does sexual frustration lead to depression in a relationship?
Sexual frustration and depression can surely be linked, especially in a long term relationship. This may be due to over-thinking the associated problems such as making poor decisions which have resulted in relationship breakdown or financial or personal loss.
Situational depression may even be caused by the realization that you are sexually incompatible with your partner.
Many couples due to religious beliefs don’t have sex until marriage and this can cause a myriad of problems, especially if they find out after marrying that they’re not sexually compatible.
Known as the love hormone, oxytocin brings people together and helps you to handle stress better. However, sexual frustration due to sexual incompatibility and or sexual dysfunction issues increases the release of stress hormones including cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked to depression.
Ongoing sexual frustration in a relationship can lead to depression in either or both partners due to their inability to feel emotionally and or sexually fulfilled.
For example, if one partner is mentally indulging in sexual fantasies during intercourse then they are not being present with their partner. Having a distracted mind leads to less oxytocin being generated between the couple because they’re not fully connecting. It can also lead to sexual dysfunction issues as well as their partner feeling disappointed and let down due to an overall feeling of disconnection.
Getting over sexual frustration in a relationship
To get over sexual frustration in a relationship you need to address the core issues. Many couples end up in a sexless marriage due to these issues which is hugely frustrating for the partner who needs sexual intimacy to feel connected.
It’s important to note that most women are generally not motivated by sex, so it isn’t always an obvious topic for her to bring up for discussion.
A woman may be more likely to define sex problems as being an emotional disconnection issue or lack of attraction or respect from her partner, or selfishness, rather than viewing the issue as a simple lack of knowledge of a mutually fulfilling technique.
I’ve treated many couples suffering with sex problems and women frequently report refraining from initiating sex when it has become too complicated to complete. Often this is because she doesn’t like to see her partner stressed, however she forgets that his body is still powered by testosterone and the need to sexually connect.
What she doesn’t realize is that avoiding sexual intimacy compounds his sexual frustration. It also increases the frequency of sexual dysfunction due to his increased feelings of pressure to perform.
As a woman, it’s important to understand that the longer a man goes without sex, the more sexually frustrated he generally becomes. This is going to result in less emotional connection and less desire for him to nurture your emotional needs. In addition to that, if he suffers from sexual function issues, when you two finally do have sex he’s going to be super anxious about his ability to perform sexually which may result in sexual failure.
From the male perspective, constantly ruminating about your inability to connect with your partner on a mutually satisfying level leads to ongoing feelings of anxiety, sexual frustration, tension and stress. This is increased tenfold when your partner has become part of the problem due to their lack of understanding.
From either perspective, please understand that complacency is one of the biggest killers of desire in a relationship. Regardless of the reason for your sexually frustrating problem, you need to take steps to resolve it now.
How to overcome sexual frustration in a relationship
Women are generally wired emotionally and have much lower levels of testosterone than men. Therefore, to nurture and increase her desire for sex, she and her partner must first address any emotional disconnection. This will help to regenerate feelings of emotional closeness.
Arguments, blame and criticism resulting from poor communication all prevent your ability to connect on an emotional and sexual level. It's important to upgrade your communication skills so you stop triggering each other.
If you're not experiencing happiness, desire and satisfaction when thinking about sex, chances are you are sexually frustrated or causing sexual frustration in your partner. This could be from your own sexual dysfunction issue or that of a partner, a partner's unsatisfactory technique, being in a generally unhappy relationship or your partner not being available to engage with you sexually.
Discussing your sexual wants and needs in your relationship is a priority. This is as much your responsibility as it is your partner’s and requires clear and honest communication. If either of you have a sexual function issue, discuss the importance of working together to get it resolved and seek help if needed to end the problem.
Related Blog Post: How to Stop Feeling Sexually Frustrated