How to Handle Sexual Rejection

Not long ago I wrote a post about how to ask for what you want in bed. What I didn’t address at the time is how shitty it feels when we do put ourselves out there, only to be turned down. It does happen sometimes. We’ve all been there. We work up the courage to voice our needs and are met with awkward silence, or in the worst case scenario, perceived judgement. It feels awful but that’s no excuse to wimp out.

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Is having mediocre sex and staying in your little emotional safety zone really better than taking a chance and maybe getting everything you’ve ever wanted? Trust me, it isn’t, but just in case you need them, here are a few suggestions for how to move forward when your big display of courage doesn’t go as smoothly as you would have liked.

Acknowledge Your Pain
When I was in my twenties, I used to do this thing when I came up against an embarrassing situation. I would try to wipe it from my memory by repeating the words, “This never happened.” It seemed to work really well at the time. I thought that I was effectively rewriting my experience, and that my shame and humiliation had magically dissolved into the ether. Yeah… the technical term for that is repression and it’s not good. All those swallowed embarrassments are going to need to surface at some point and it’s going to be a crazy shit show when they do. It’s way better to acknowledge your humiliations in real time and to allow yourself to feel the pain. Rip that Band-Aid off, and don’t let it consume you for too long.

Respect the Other’s Right to Refuse
It might feel disappointing to have your sexual requests denied, but it’s not the end of the world. We all have the right to pass on stuff we’d rather not do. Try not to force the issue, or make your partner feel obligated. If her unwillingness is a real deal breaker for you, be honest about that and move on if you need to. (This is mostly applicable to casual sex.) Just try to handle your exit in a sensitive and respectful way. Maybe you’re just not compatible and while that might suck, sometimes it’s just how it is. I’m sure there’s somebody out there who shares your notions of what makes for good sex.

Don’t Internalize Your Disappointment
If your self-esteem is low to begin with, you might find yourself feeling extra shitty after you’ve encountered a rejection. Try not to think of it as a reflection of how your lover sees you. She probably just doesn’t feel like doing that certain thing, whatever it might be. It doesn’t mean you’re a pervert or a loser, or any less desirable in her eyes. Maybe it’s not even about you. Maybe she’s tried it before with someone else and knows she’s not a fan? Maybe she’s got a headache? Whatever the reason, just try to relax and take it for what it is—your girlfriend’s right to say no.

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