How You Respond To Your Partner’s Sexual Advances Can Predict Your Satisfaction, Says Study
When it comes to sexual arousal in relationships, there are often times when one person is in the mood and the other person is not. There can be several reasons – you might be resenting him due to some of his behaviours, there could be an underlying emotional tension or maybe you’ve not been feeling satisfied in bed. These need to be resolved before you can begin to feel sexual arousal again. However, it’s not always that way. Sometimes, you are just not in the mood. You could be focused on something else, you could be stressed, busy and tired! In that situation, your partner must respect your boundaries and not sexually coerce you. However, when it comes to sex, we are all a little sensitive! So it’s important to be sensitive to your partner’s feelings while telling them you are not quite in the mood.
Imagine, you are being all cute and romantic and your partner just gets irritated and walks away. That would make you feel so rejected and hurt. But if he kisses your forehead and tell you he’d like to sleep early, it will still reassure you of his love. When it comes to love, a little compassion goes a long way. And science is vouching for it!
It is common for couples to experience a mismatch in their sexual needs but it can often lead to one partner feeling rejected if it is not handled well. So is there a better way to reject your partner’s sexual advances? “We were interested in this topic as limited past research had looked at the impact of sexual rejection in relationships, especially in terms of the specific ways that romantic partners reject one another for sex,” said study author James J. Kim of the University of Toronto. “As couples regularly experience sexual conflicts in their relationship, it can be difficult to navigate situations where partners have divergent levels of sexual interest. We wanted to know whether there might be optimal ways that people can decline their partner for sex to help maintain the quality of their sexual relationship,” Kim adds.
In their two initial studies, the researchers identified a list of common sexual rejection behaviours. “We found four distinct types of behaviors that people use when rejecting their partner for sex, characterized principally by: reassurance, hostility, assertiveness, and deflection,” Kim told PsyPost.
The researchers then studied the perception of people who faced sexual rejection from their partners. The study found that people who perceived more sexual rejection had lower relationship and sexual satisfaction. However, there are ways to give your partner a soft landing! People whose partners used reassuring behaviours while rejecting sexual advances showed good relationship and sexual satisfaction. These behaviours include showing affection while saying no and being caring. Those people who experienced hostile rejection behaviour (being rude, dismissive, etc) had lower satisfaction.
“On days people perceived their partners as more reassuring in their rejection behaviors, they reported greater relationship and sexual satisfaction from the previous day, whereas on days when people perceived their partner as communicating their sexual disinterest in more hostile ways, they reported lower relationship satisfaction, but not significantly lower sexual satisfaction,” the researchers reported.
“Importantly, we found that conveying reassurance during rejection (e.g., letting your partner know you still love them or are attracted to them) helps to buffer against the negative effects of sexual rejection, and that this type of reassurance uniquely predicted higher relationship and sexual satisfaction in couples,” Kim told PsyPost.
According to the Risk Regulation Theory, rejection in combination with feeling accepted and valued by your partner makes you feel security. This helps in not setting your self-protection response in motion and thus, doesn’t make your walls go up!
“As these situations are highly sensitive and emotionally charged in nature, the current research revealed the importance of demonstrating responsiveness and positive regard when rejecting a partner’s sexual advances,” Kim and his team wrote in their study. “Indeed, we found robust evidence across studies that reassuring sexual rejection behaviors represent an important way couples may be able to maintain satisfaction when partners’ sexual interests are at odds.”
When it comes to rejecting sexual advances, it’s important to communicate the honest reason without being rude. If you are tired or stressed, say it. If it has something to do with your partner; if you are pissed about something they did two ago, say it. It will help you resolve issues and also help them not overthink. We can think all sort of things: Do they not love me? Am I not attractive to them? Communicating the real reason can avoid that.
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Secondly, you can connect in a non-sexual manner. When it comes to sex in long-term relationships, it is a way for couples to build emotional and physical intimacy. If you feel too tired to have sex, consider holding hands, hugging, cuddling and kissing.
The study, “When Tonight Is Not the Night: Sexual Rejection Behaviors and Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships”, was authored by James J. Kim, Amy Muise, John K. Sakaluk, Natalie O. Rosen, and Emily A. Impett.