Your Partner Is in the Mood. You're Not. What to Do?
Illustration: Janet Sung

Your Partner Is in the Mood. You're Not. What to Do?

Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. For those times, consider the Off Day.

You’re a grown man. Your partner is likely grown, too. (I mean, they’d better be.) And depending on how long you’ve been together, that means you’ve settled into a groove when it comes to how often you two have sex. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or still swiping left and right, you’re clear on whether you want to have sex every day, once a month, or somewhere in between.

But here’s the catch: We live in a world where sex between cis-het men and women naturally follows the lead of the man. Sex usually begins when he’s fully aroused and ends at the finish line — his finish line. So, if you’re one of those men, when is the last time you approached sex with the singular aim of pleasuring her, wIth no thought to your own orgasm?

It’s probably been a while, if at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it in mind, even if you’re in a no-sex stretch. Think of it as an Off Day: You may not get the workout, but you still reap the benefits.

What does that mean? Well, you might not know. She might not know either. But finding out is definitely key to improving your sex life.

Start with a plan. Decide that the next time you know you’re not planning to have sex — maybe it’s a late night at the office, or just one of those days you’re not in the mood — you’ll make it an Off Day for you … and an On Day for her.

If it ends up leading to both of you becoming involved, that’s fine — but make sure she knows that the intent is to take her to her happy place, and you’re there to be the chauffeur.

Tell her the plan: Later that day, for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour (!!), it’s all about her. Her desires. Electronics powered down and lights low, ask her what she’d like to experience — something that might not happen that often when both of you are racing toward the finish line.

She may not give a concrete answer. But don’t think she doesn’t have one. Or that she doesn’t want to figure it out. Most women are taught to be shy and demure when it comes to pleasure. Even when we know what we want, it’s difficult to verbalize it. We’re more likely to know what turns you on than ourselves.

So, on Off Day, you may have to put in a little extra work. It’s a great opportunity to focus on just foreplay. Start with running down some foreplay options. Depending on her comfort level, you may want to use visual aids; it might be easier for her to say, “number three” (or just point at it) than to describe to you what form of nipple play she’d like to try. If she’s up to it, write out a few options on paper, throw them in a jar and have her choose one. Or, have her write out some options for you to choose and execute.

However you plan to get there, the object is to give your partner a block of time that is completely focused on her. If it ends up leading to both of you becoming involved, that’s fine — but make sure she knows that the intent is to take her to her happy place, and you’re there to be the chauffeur.

Remember, no judgment. And also remember that as women, we are not used to men focusing on us in bed. Sad but true: Even the best sexual partners rarely focus wholly on us. And because a lot of us are saddled with all kinds of sexual hang-ups as young women, we rarely focus wholly on ourselves either.

Striving to have a weekly Off Day that focuses purely on us will help our sexual identity become less centered on the other person — not to mention helping us feel more comfortable figuring out what turns us on, and increasing the quality of our overall sex life.

Think you’ve mastered the concept of the Off Day? Okay: quiz time!

Once or twice per week, you spend 30 minutes or so focused completely on your partner’s sexual gratification. This means that you:

  1. Cuddle up and binge-watch her favorite show
  2. Research sex toys, foreplay, and positions and figure out what she might like.
  3. Do everything in No. 2 ahead of time and put it in play now!

The answer is, of course, number 3. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. The Off Day isn’t about asking questions; it’s about giving answers.

Learning how to be sexually selfless takes time, patience, and practice. Culturally, it may be hard for a straight man to take the focus fully away from himself in bed. If you’re already there, congratulations — though I guarantee there’s always more you can do.

Remember, sex was originally a biological impulse for procreation. We learned a few million years ago that it also happens to feel good, and that each encounter doesn’t have to end with a baby. We’re still trying to figure it all out.

What we do know is that women warm up slower than men, our bodies are slower to lubricate, and we’re overall slower to achieve orgasm. So, on the day where you’re taking a break from sexytime, consider the Off Day to focus on your woman. We’ll feel no pressure to keep up, and no anxiety that it’ll end with us frustrated on the wet side of the bed.

I promise, it’ll make the On Days even better. For both you and her.