When it comes to why women don’t want sex, I could give you a laundry list of reasons. We’re tired, stressed, worried about our fertility, wondering if we’re ovulating, about to start our period, or considering the possibility of a pregnancy. This loop can often leave us feeling disconnected from our partner.
When you’ve spent years battling your body image, dismissing sexual advances from your partner, and even praying that not another person touches you today, all of this primes you to resist and resent sex, making it just another thing on your never-ending to-do list. Sex, once seen as an incredible opportunity for pleasure, has now become a dreaded chore.
Don’t get me wrong. These are all valid reasons why so many women aren’t interested in sex, especially those who are trying to conceive. But as someone who has worked with and spoken to thousands of women over my fifteen-plus years in this field, I’ve discovered that the reasoning is actually much deeper and more pervasive than most could imagine.
So, why don’t women actually want sex?
Because as women, we’ve received millions of micro- and macro-messages that we are too much. Too loud. Too bossy. Too demanding. That we take up too much space. At the same time, we're told that we are not enough. We aren’t thin enough. Pretty enough. Experienced enough. And in that process, we disconnect from what we think is holding us back: our body. Because we believe she’s the reason we’re perceived as too much and not enough, all at the same time.
When we disconnect from our bodies, we divorce ourselves from our sacred beauty. From our inherent wisdom and magic. And instead of finding our way home to her, time and energy are consumed with trying to belong. Not to ourselves, but to others. We look outside of ourselves for permission. We expect others to be in charge of our pleasure. We become slaves to the standards set by beauty culture. And whenever we walk by a mirror, we make sure to not stare for too long because we’re afraid that we will have to face just how unhappy and discontented we are.
If you want to disempower women, separate us from our source of power. Disconnect us from the realization that pleasure is our birthright. And make us think that other women are our competition, not our comrades.
My goal in the work I do is to encourage women to come back home to themselves. So they can realize they are enough. That they are the safe place they’ve been longing for.
When a woman realizes that she is the source of all of her happiness and pleasure, then she can tap into her power. And a powerful woman is a dangerous thing. Because she makes decisions from a place of pleasure, inspiration, and creativity, not out of obligation and guilt. She is not easily controlled or manipulated.
But getting to that point, of self-confidence and self-trust, can feel overwhelming. Considering all the progress that one needs to make can leave a person feeling paralyzed. This is why I believe so strongly in the strength of community. Of finding, even just one other person, to share your story with. Because when you do, you realize that you’re not as alone as society wants you to believe. You realize that your experiences and stories are like millions of others. And that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve just been made to feel that way so you will get distracted from your larger purpose.
How can you begin to rediscover pleasureful sex?
I always say that the first step is self-awareness. When you open your eyes to the messages you’ve been receiving, to the chatter inside your head, to the unrealistic expectations you put on yourself, then you have a starting point. It’s important that you don’t judge yourself for where you are. Instead, take an approach of curiosity and compassionately consider your circumstances.
2. Establish safety
Many women do not feel safe in their bodies or their environments. Most practitioners fail to address this essential piece before their clients begin to make changes. It’s why so many fail to maintain momentum. Because there is no safe foundation. Find a person (a friend, a professional, a partner) if you don’t feel strong enough to rely on yourself at first. Ideally, you (all of your mind, body, and soul) are that safe space. It’s OK if you’re not ready to be there for yourself quite yet. You will. I know it.
3. Pay attention
Get personalized women’s health content, tailored to your own unique experience.
Our best videos for you
Science-backed product recs
The desires you have are there for a reason. Pay attention to those. And I don’t mean just sexual desires. All your desires are for you! Connect with them.
4. Identify one thing
Find one thing that brings you pleasure (usually from something you desire). This could be any kind of pleasure, not just sexual. Something that feels a bit intoxicating. Something that draws you in and activates the deepest parts of you. Find a way to incorporate that one thing each day/week/month. And do it again. And again. And again.
Give yourself permission to pursue that thing that brings you pleasure. If you feel guilty every time you even think about doing it, it’s going to be difficult to incorporate it consistently into your life, let alone actually enjoy it. And if you’re not ready to give yourself permission, then take it from me. You have my permission (and support!) to pursue pleasure.
You see, I believe that a pleasured woman is a powerful woman, and a powerful woman can change the world. You are not broken. You are worthy of pleasure and deserving of incredible things. Here’s to more pleasure, ladies!
Courtney Boyer, M.Ed., M.S. is a relationship and sexuality expert and author of Not Tonight, Honey: Why Women Actually Don't Want Sex and What We Can Do About It. Courtney believes we can reclaim our power through our sexuality and she helps her clients to infuse passion and creativity into their lives by helping them uncover what's preventing them from connecting with their priorities and purpose. As her work in this field develops, Courtney is drawn to the emerging fields of epigenetics, neuropsychology, and energy work. She is trained in evidence-based methods like NLP, EMDR, IFS, and trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.