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Is Your Male Partner Withholding Physical Affection or Sex? Helpful Advice From Women

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“I'm sick of myself for allowing him to hold my happiness in his hands by deciding when we're allowed to have sex. I feel rejected and ever-plummeting confidence.” If this statement sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many women report their current relationship as going through a sexual slump, and are baffled, asking, “Why won't he have sex with me?!”

How to Begin the Conversation, Communication Tips:

  • Don't talk to him about sex because that's far less important than asking him if he actually wants to be in this relationship.
  • The best approach depends on what the cause of his not wanting sex. He needs to be able to communicate his feelings and concerns.
  • Give him the "space" to let you know what he's thinking. "Space" means no guilt trips, listening without judgment, no interrupting, etc.
  • Talk about it together: what are you noticing different from when you two were having sex?
  • Are you both able and interested in meeting each other's needs (sexual and non-sexual)?
  • Ask him: "why aren't we having sex anymore"? This is an open-ended question where he can't answer yes/no and just leave it. He doesn't need to be pushed in a corner or made uncomfortable but your concerns have to be addressed or the relationship will (should) end.

Medical, Physical and Emotional Conditions:

  • Depression can do more than affect your sex dive -- it can effectively kill it. People who are depressed lose interest in things they love -- including sex.
  • Low libido in men (low sex drive is related to emotional distress, depressive disorders, weakness, pain, problems with body image).
  • Porn “addiction” or preoccupation.
  • Diabetic or other medical condition.
  • New job occupying his mind and is excessively stressed.
  • Worried about satisfying me to such an extent that he no longer wants to try.
  • Smoking and other drugs were more exciting and fulfilling.
  • He's a very emotional guy and his anxiety and stress gets in the way of wanting to be intimate.

Add a Comment27 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I don't understand this my husband is withholding sex for years now, I've been always eager to please, I love giving, I'll work at it but he still gives
me nothing. I never manipulated him, I love him with all my heart, I've giving up looking forward it as I always get knocked back. How do I fix this?

June 8, 2017 - 9:00am
EmpowHER Guest

I am a man that is withholding sex. The simple reason is I don't find my wife a turn-on anymore. There have been too many times when she turned me down, yawned during sex, found her iphone more interesting, lacked time or had another easy excuse.

I now equate sex with my wife with loneliness and rejection.

May 31, 2017 - 5:02am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Yes! I am also a male refuser, but I only became this way after years of rejection. I have successfully reprogrammed myself to disdain sex with my wife. it wasn't easy, but it was necessary for my own sanity and my own confidence.

June 7, 2017 - 5:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have been dating this guy for over 2 years and we've only had sex once and we were both drunk! He never told me until I broke up with him recently that it's hard for him to have sex with someone he loves. He only had sex with his ex of 4 years a couple times. But he is able to have sex if it has no meaning. I'm running out of patience and getting so frustrated but don't want to break up with him because of this but I don't know if I have a choice. I haven't had sex in basically 2 years! He just started therapy but I don't know how much longer I can wait. We are now not exclusive which is maybe not the answer but he doesn't want me to hook up with anyone or else he'll get upset. I feel like he is the one besides this thing he has, so confused.

October 26, 2016 - 5:27pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon!

Thanks for sharing your story! 

Your relationship is not a romantic one - it sounds like you are friends or room-mates that had sex once in the past two years. 

If this is his pattern, I agree that he really needs therapy. It sounds like you feel you have a great relationship other than sex. But this means you have a great relationship with a good friend. 

This may be how it's going to be. But hang on there if you feel it's worth the fight. But just remember that your needs are important too. 



October 27, 2016 - 1:05pm
EmpowHER Guest

You'll have to excuse me if I don't shed a tear for all you "poor women" who are being so disrespected by her mate withholding affection/sex as some sort of manipulation tool. I mean, isn't this EXACTLY WHAT WOMEN HAVE DONE FOR DECADES TO THEIR HUSBANDS?

Seriously, I always love seeing these stories where something is a serious problem when it's a woman suffering because a man is doing something that women have done to men for generations. It's the same thing on rare occasions when women have to pay alimony after a divorce... it all becomes some egregious affront to humanity when it's a woman suffering, nevermind that men have dealt with the same BS for as long as anyone can remember.

That aside, I've been the guy withholding sex in more than one relationship in the past, and TBH, the reason was ALWAYS-- EVERY SINGLE TIME-- that she demanded to be pleased (which obviously I succeeded at since they were the ones pawing at me, not the other way around) while she did NOTHING to please me. Obviously, this makes a guy feel infuriatingly disrespected-- she got physical pleasure, got to feel intimately and passionately desired, and got emotional fulfillment (which I actually enjoy giving), but I got to do all the work while being neglected, overlooked, and for the most part went completely unfulfilled by a minimal, robotic, and hollow effort that was completely devoid of any sort of passion on their part... sorry, but just being a set of body parts to look at and play with along with holes to stick things in isn't enough to keep him truly happy, ladies.

So communicate with her, you say? Yeah, I tried that... they (i.e. MULTIPLE WOMEN from MULTIPLE RELATIONSHIPS) just fought tooth-and-nail to justify why they shouldn't have to put in more than that often not even remotely satisfying job they did... so that doesn't work. And that's all besides the fact that him telling the woman he's with that she's doing a crappy job just makes him feel like he's whining and begging to be pleased (not to mention feeling like a jerk), which no man wants to do. What's more, there's always the thought in the back of his head that if she does improve after he points it out that he's not happy and has started pulling away from her (i.e. the point where it's stopped being fun and worthwhile for him and has become more thankless work for him to do just for her default existence in his life), that she's only improving because she wants to keep the status of the relationship, or keep getting the pleasure he's been giving, not because she genuinely wants to please him and make him happy.

And you women all wonder why decent men (or at least those with a spine) have disappeared and/or don't want to court you, commit to you, or want you for anything more than pump-and-dump (and TBH, most good men don't even want you for that anymore... it's just not worth the effort for essentially the same thing he gets from masturbation-- i.e. a physical release with no emotional fulfillment)? Really?

Just to put this into perspective, I'm personally to the point now where even if I see a woman that most would consider extremely beautiful (for example, the models on Victoria's Secret commercials), all I can think about is how much of a selfish bitch she'd be when it comes to sex... and end up not feeling even passing attraction whatsoever anymore. Take that concept, and consider how I'm gonna feel about a normal, every-day, average woman... yeah.

One last sidenote just for good measure: Lingerie... LOL... what a joke... he gets to look at you all done up and put together for, what, 20-30 seconds... maybe a few minutes at most, before being demanded to snap into "please the woman mode" for a half-hour plus (usually more) while getting the same half-assed effort from you in the end? Sorry, that's a total cop-out, and you're just trying to short-cut it. Slapping on lingerie while still not putting quality effort into what you're doing to please him is like putting extra icing on a cake that's dry and tasteless. It's like putting parsley on a plate next to a steak that's not seasoned or properly prepared and has no sides, drink or dessert to go with it.

Just to make this clear, it's not your physical appearance that's the problem... it's the overall experience and lack of quality performance that you're bringing that's the problem... you can't just substitute lingerie/makeup/etc. for warmth, passion, attentiveness, and selflessly giving pleasure through proactive expressive physical contact (i.e. showing desire through action taken directly with him).

May 3, 2016 - 11:37pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

That is so unfair. If the women loved you and does her best to please you. You both should be giving and loving. That one guy cant have a emotional connection. He's a jerk.

July 17, 2017 - 1:00am
EmpowHER Guest

I wrote earlier about the problems in my relationship. Sense then I was forced to leave. My boyfriend of 4 years went farther then just abandon me in the bedroom. I was so caught up with not having any affection that I didnt notice that he was slowly pushing me out of his life even going as far as lying to his school mates & brother he had not seen for 5 years. None of them know who I am or that I was supporting him. On Christmas eve his brother invited a women for my boyfriend to date to dinner, I was not invited to dinner because his brother did not know I even existed. When I found out about it later that night we began to fight he called the police and said I was crazy and tried to hit him, I was forced out of the home that is in my name including the utilities, everything that I own is still there & because we had just moved there from out of state I had to go back to Arizona after not being there for over a year I did not have a place to stay and I still don't. This happened 1 month ago. He now has slept with 4 women that I know of in my bed that is still in my apartment and he brags about it daily on My space, Pof, Facebook & ashley Madison. So clearly my relationship had more problems then just intimacy I was just in love with him and blinded to the realization of what it really was.
But I have been left feeling un waanted, worthless, lonely & un loved on top of him holding my property threatening to throw it away if I try to come back & dealing with not having anywhere to live. I just keep telling myself some good has to come out of this I'm just waiting for the day it does.

February 12, 2016 - 4:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

When I decided after 25 years of marriage that we were going to become a "cuckold" couple, my husband balked at the idea. Since I began enacting this, which is my right as a strong independent woman, my husband began refusing to sleep with me despite my telling him I would divorce him and blackball him in custody court. All I want is to make him get with the program, and fulfill my needs as a woman. What is the best way for me to explain to him that he owes me this?

January 1, 2016 - 11:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

You should honestly kill yourself, that's the best thing for a woman like you.

July 16, 2016 - 2:49am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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