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Help! My Partner is Too Tired for Sex

Written by Alice Child, Somatic Sexologist

Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex & Intimacy Counsellor Alice Child gives her top tips for what to do when one person is always too tired for sex.

Woman sleeping that is indicating partner is too tired for sex

This guide contains general advice only. If you need more tailored advice, please book in a session.

Understanding the rhythm of your partner's life can be a game-changer when it comes to intimacy.

Understanding why your partner might be too tired

Keep finding yourself in the mood for intimacy only to hear your partner say they're too tired? You're not alone - mismatched libido and low libido are some of the most common reasons I work with couples.

Between work, life, and all the little things that keep us busy, we all can get tired and sometimes have no energy or low desire for sex.

There are many emotional, mental, physical, and circumstantial factors that can affect yours and your partner's energy levels for sex or low libido.

These factors might be transitory, such as burnout at work or new parenthood exhaustion to longer term causes like chronic health conditions or mental health.

It’s also normal for many relationships to experience ups and downs in the frequency of their sexual activity. However, intimacy during periods of fatigue is still possible, with or without sex.

Read on for why you or your partner might be too tired for sex, how to manage it, and some things to try.

Why is my partner too tired for sex?

Couples stop having sex for lots of different reasons. Situational causes and sleep deprivation are not the only causes of exhaustion and low sex drive. There are many reasons why your partner may be be too tired. Here are some other common ones that people can experience:

  1. Mental health

Let’s face it: mental health issues can seriously zap libido and drain peoples energy. Struggles like depression and anxiety don’t just mess with your head; they can throw your sleep patterns into chaos and make the idea of sex feel overwhelming.

Plus, those natural feelings of joy and vulnerability that come with intimacy? They can be tough to tap into when you're wrestling with these challenges. If you think your partner may be dealing with this, acknowledge this hurdle with them gently and offer your support.

2. Hormones

Imagine you're on a rollercoaster. One moment you're at the peak, full of energy and ready to conquer the world, and the next, you're plummeting down, feeling exhausted and uninterested in, well, pretty much everything. That's what hormonal shifts can feel like!

For women, these hormonal shifts can happen during your monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.

On the flip side, for men, these changes can happen as they age or due to other medical conditions.

Hormonal shifts can really do a number on your partners (or yourself!) on mood, desire and energy.

3. Self-esteem & Self-image

Low self-esteem can be a sneaky reason behind feeling too tired for intimacy. If your partner feels uncomfortable about their appearance, they might avoid sex.

Similarly, self-image, which involves how we perceive our abilities and how we think others view us, can also impact energy levels. If your partner believes they lack sexual prowess or the ability to please you, they may shy away from sex.

Both of these things can easily lead to fatigue.

4. Lack of Emotional Connection

For many, an emotional connection is essential for enjoying sex. When they feel disconnected from their partner, their desire for intimacy wanes.

Keep reading on how to cope and work around these things.

5. Stress

Stress chemicals like cortisol have a negative impact on our sex hormones, leading to a decrease in libido and desire for sex. When we are stressed its therefore very common for sex to fall off the priority list.

What to do when your partner is too tired for sex?

Here are some tips for getting over your sexual dry spell and reconnecting even when life is feeling busy.

Tip 1: Remove pressure that you need to have sex frequently

Forget about some magic number for how often you should be having sex—there isn't one! Instead make quality intimacy and connection (inside but also outside the bedroom) your goal first.

Consent is always the most important thing - always respect a 'no' with love and respect. When you head a 'no', instead of getting upset or defensive, get curious of other ways you could connect instead.

'Thank you for telling me, is there anything else that would feel connective instead tonight? How about a massage?'

Letting go of expectations and pressure and finding an intimate middle ground that suits both of you can really lighten the load. This shift can pave the way for more meaningful and enjoyable intimacy, increase understanding of each other, and help you discover new ways to feel connected and intimate beyond the bedroom. So, take a breath and focus on what feels right for both of you!

Tip 2: Opening the lines of communication and understanding

Communication is key!

Try and sit down with your partner and have an open, honest talk about sex and how you are feeling. Make sure it’s a two-way street where both of you can freely express your needs and concerns without any judgment. Think of it as a heart-to-heart, not a blame game.

Also take this moment to understand and acknowledge their tiredness. Show some empathy and support; after all, you’re in this together! Understanding goes a long way in keeping the connection strong and is an important step towards realising what causes are behind their exhaustion.

Once you are both on the same page, you can work together to address it.

If you are struggling to this, try going to sex therapy to help bridge that gap.

Tip 3: Understanding the difference between sex and intimacy

While sex and intimacy often go hand-in-hand, they’re not the same thing. 'Intimacy' feels different to everybody but it's nearly always feeling close and connected.

Some people need connection to want sex. Other people want sex to feel connected.

If your partner is too tired for sex you may feel start to feel disconnected, so understanding different ways to be intimate can really help. By doing these things it can help you and your partner feel connected and closer whilst still respecting their consent. Things you could try:

  • Quality Time: Spend time together doing things you both love. It can be as simple as a walk in the park or phone free time..

  • Open Up: Share your thoughts, dreams, fears, and feelings. The more you share, the closer you'll feel.

  • Touch More with zero pressure: Physical touch doesn't always have to lead to sex. Things like sensual touching, kissing, cuddling, massage, sleeping naked together and showering together can enhance your connection and trigger desire.

  • Show Appreciation: Never underestimate the power of a genuine compliment or a simple "thank you." It shows you care and value each other.

Not only does this maintain connection, practising these other forms of intimacy can often lead to more frequent and meaningful sex as well.

Tip 4: Slow sex can be amazing

Who says sex needs to be hard and fast? If one or both of you are feeling low energy, there are lots of ways of having amazing, pleasurable, intense erotic experiences without increasing your heart rate.

Plus, going slowly increases anticipation, arousal, and desire. Take your time!

Things like sensual touching can help both people connect and trigger arousal in slower new ways.

Read my full article about the benefits of slow sex here.

Tip 5: Be in-tune with their schedule

Understanding the rhythm of your partner's life can be a game-changer when it comes to intimacy. There are many reasons why your partner might be experiencing low libido or fatigue, and being aware of these can help you navigate the timing of your advances.

Instead of trying to initiate sex when they're likely to be stressed, tired, or busy, pick moments when they're more relaxed. For instance, if your partner comes home late from work and is too exhausted for sex, try thinking whats one thing I can do to make their evening less stressful and more connective. Pick moments to initiate when they already seem relaxed such as in the morning or at the weekend.

Additionally, lightening their mental load can work wonders for libido. Help out with chores, run errands, or cook them a meal. Thoughtful gestures not only show you care but also help create a more relaxed and loving atmosphere, setting the stage for intimacy when the time is right.

Tip 6: Plan a sex-date

Sometimes, your schedules might be so out of sync that finding time for intimacy feels impossible.

Enter the intimacy-date!

While scheduling sex might seem mechanical or un-spontaneous at first, it can actually be a fantastic way for both of you to focus on intimacy and bridge mismatched libidos.

Remember, there's no obligation to actually have sex during this time block—think of it as a special date dedicated to building connection and prioritizing each other. If desire for sex builds for both of you - great! But that's not the only goal.

I recommend Pillow Play - my sex and intimacy games for couples. These are perfect for your next intimacy date because they are fun, intimate, and connective games designed to help you try new things.

Creating this safe and dedicated space can boost libido, increase your chances for sex, and bring you closer together. Once you get into the rhythm of it, you and your partner will likely look forward to these moments, knowing that everything else can be set aside to focus on each other.

Tip 7: Engage in techniques to spark erotic desire

Your partner may be experiencing tiredness when it comes to sex because they are struggling to trigger their desire and feel low libido.

This is a great opportunity for you to get curious about how to help them spark that erotic desire and find ways to turn them.

You can try:

All of these skills and many more are practised in Pillow Play (my online sex and intimacy games for couples!).

Tip 8: Masterbate and get your own needs met!

It's never okay to pressure your partner into sex if they've expressed that they're not in the mood. Never using your partner solely to meet your sexual needs.

If you're craving sex and your partner is simply too tired, try mixing up your own self pleasure with new mindful masturbation techniques. Self pleasure is a healthy way to satisfy your body's needs without putting pressure on your relationship.

Other ideas that might help you get some of your needs met:

  • Exercise - excellent option for achieving release/endophin hit

  • Scheduling a date night - great for feeling loved/wanted/connected

  • Booking in a massage - great for getting some physical touch

  • Meeting up with friends - great for enhancing your overall feeling of social connection & confidence

  • Mindful Masturabtion and enhancing your own self pleasure - eg buy a new toy or great new lube

These activities can help you manage your desires and take the pressure off your partner.

Tip 9: Talk to an expert

If you are worried about your partner and/or these issues have been going on for some time now, perhaps consider talking to a health specialist to get to the root cause of the fatigue. For more tailored support from me, Book a session here. 


Alice x

Alice Child - Somatic Sexologist, Sex Therapy & Sex Counsellor - helps people achieve happier and healthier sex lives through 1:1 sex coaching, couples sex counselling, hens parties, and workshops. Book a session here.

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