I don’t know about you but I have felt this way many times in my marriage. I hear it a lot in sessions while coaching couples and often, I don’t think it’s completely understood. We know we don’t feel wanted, but why? What’s happening under the surface? Is there something going on with our partner as well? Let’s dive in.
It’s a two part scenario.
” I don’t feel wanted.”Internally, this partner feels shame, embarrassment, like something is wrong with them. They don’t feel important.
Externally, gender issues come into play so if it’s the woman that’s feeling this way, she starts thinking “He’s a man! He’s supposed to want sex all the time, isn’t he?” She starts thinking she isn’t good enough in bed, isn’t pretty enough, sexy enough, a good enough wife. If it’s a man that isn’t wanted, it becomes “I’m not a good enough husband. I’m supposed to be able to fix this. Why doesn’t she just tell me the problem? Am I not performing well enough in bed?” Both partners of either gender might even start thinking that there is someone else, assuming, and even going so far as to accuse their spouse of an affair.
Internally, “my partner just told me they don’t feel wanted. Do they not understand that I’ve been under so much stress lately? I’m overworked! I work all day and come home expecting to work some more!” It’s not that they don’t want you. It’s that they are overwhelmed and have a low libido because of external or possibly internal factors (hormones, diet, sleep factors, etc)
What can we do about it?
Have a conversation and take a deep look at your part in this scenario. If this is about how your sex life is going (or isn’t), look at your own performance. Many women enter into sex thinking that they have to say yes because societally we’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s our “womanly/wifely duty” but if we are agreeing just to agree without really being into it, watching the clock, the ceiling, thinking about how many loads of laundry we have, the kids will be home from school any minute, etc. that isn’t building connection.
As the man, agreeing or initiating without being emotionally connected, you’re not doing your wife any favors. At the same time, if you’re too focused on your performance and how it has to be perfect because that’s what you’ve been societally conditioned for, you’re not doing yourself any favors. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself!
Connection has to be the core focus of sex for it to feel fulfilling. If a woman doesn’t feel wanted and desired during, afterwards she will feel “slutty”, used, shameful. If a man doesn’t feel like she’s engaged, it feels shameful, like he’s not performing well enough, self-conscious. The big question here is: How are you showing up to the act?
Second question, how do you feel about yourself? If you’re feeling down, have low self-esteem, like that 5 extra pounds you gained at Christmas is definitely showing and you’ve started wearing leggings and your hair hasn’t been washed in more than 5 days or you’ve sat around in your holey underwear, haven’t showered or cut your toenails in 3 weeks well…are you attracted to yourself? Confidence is sexy! What do you need to do to create a reality where you feel sexy again?
Back to that conversation- this is kind of like a love languages thing. How does your partner feel wanted? It probably looks different than your way of feeling wanted. Speak their language.
Additionally, why don’t you want your partner right now? Are you stressed? Do you feel like your emotional connection is missing? Is there a lot of conflict in your relationship right now? How’s your sex drive as a whole right now? For the partner who isn’t feeling wanted- LISTEN more than you talk right now. See this from your partner’s point of view.
Sidenote here, it’s super common in sessions for me to hear “I’m always the one who initiates!” Sometimes the person initiating more frequently also feels like they’re getting shot down so they stop initiating. This leads to the other partner not feeling wanted. Drop the initiation scorecard! At the same time, if you don’t initiate, START! It’s not one person’s responsibility to initiate all the time. A key mantra to adopt is “I won’t shame you for saying no if you don’t shame me for asking.” Tom and Lisa Bilyeu shared that a few years ago and it’s been a game changer in my own marriage!