Illustration of a person holding a long entangled cilinder
Illustration by Marta Pucci

How to Deal With Sexual Frustration

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
12/23/2021
Last updated:
5/31/2022
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
12/23/2021
Last updated:
5/31/2022

TL;DR

  • Sexual frustration is the result of an imbalance between sexual need and fulfilment. It's a natural and normal thing and impacts most people from time to time.
  • Sexual frustration is not just about lack of sex per se, it can also be caused by a loss of emotional connection with a loved one. 
  • You might recognize that you are suffering from sexual frustration if you find yourself behaving differently with your partner, perhaps more critical of them or more irritable.
  • The key to overcoming sexual frustration in a long-term relationship is talking to your partner in an open and honest way about how you are feeling.
  • If you want to alleviate the symptoms while you try to find a solution, try things like exercise, meditation or masturbation.

 

When The Rolling Stones wrote '60s rock classic '(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction', were they riffing about their lack of sexual satisfaction? Who knows! One thing's for sure, their catchy lyrics will ring true for many sexual frustration sufferers across the globe.

What do we mean by sexual frustration?

Sexual frustration is often described as a response to not getting what you want sexually. It’s the result of an imbalance between sexual need and fulfilment. It’s natural, it’s normal and most adults with a healthy sex drive will probably experience sexual frustration from time to time.

But all of that doesn’t make it straightforward to either understand or do something about. And in terms of its impact on your relationships? Well that can be wide-ranging and sometimes pretty serious. Sexual frustration really can make you feel irritated, agitated and downright miserable (not to mention difficult to be around) if you don’t do something to address it.

Where does it come from?

Understanding where your sexual frustration stems from is half the battle.

Is it simply a lack of sexual activity? Has it been a long time since you had sex? Or is it about more than the physical? Have you lost the emotional connection with your long-term partner somewhere along the way?

It could be that your sex drive is higher than your sexual partner’s for one of a number of reasons. These range from stress levels, life changes like having children or changing job, or even medical issues or mental health conditions. If your partner regularly rejects your attempts to initiate sex, or seems unwilling to engage in physical intimacy, this can have a very real impact on your mental and even physical health. We often talk about how this can lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness, or guilt and shame. But sexual frustration can be a physical manifestation of this, even affecting enjoyment and quality of life.

It might be a temporary dry spell, or a longer-term issue, but either way this kind of Sexual Desire Discrepancy - otherwise known as mismatched libidos - can lead to a relationship breakdown if left unaddressed.

Sexual frustration, though, is not all about missing the act of sex. It can be a deeper desire for the sexual intimacy and bond that comes with that. Particularly if you’ve been struggling to make sense of a changing relationship and you’re feeling a little insecure about the way thing are.

It’s worth really trying to work out what’s at the heart of your sexual frustration as only then can you begin to resolve it.

How can you recognize sexual frustration?

Think about how you feel when you get frustrated in everyday life, perhaps when you have to wait ages to cross the road, or you have to hang on the phone for 30 minutes to talk to the bank. You probably recognize a little burst of anger bubbling up inside you, making you feel irritable, short-tempered and ready to snap.

With sexual frustration the symptoms can be similar. You might feel you walk around with a short fuse, filled with anger and aggression and ready to fly at anyone who looks at you the wrong way. You might find yourself acting unfairly towards your loved one, criticizing them, niggling at them or even making uncharacteristically unkind comments. Followed swiftly by feelings of guilt.

Of course, these feelings of frustration can stem from other areas of life – work or family relationships for instance. But if you find your thoughts keep coming back to issues within your relationship, to thoughts of sexual frequency or concerns about sexual compatibility, there’s a good chance sexual frustration plays a reasonable part.

We often find that people know in their gut that this is where it stems from. They perhaps just don’t know what to do about it.

What’s the best way to deal with sexual frustration?

With sexual frustration, it is very much a case of the cause determining the resolution. If your issue is purely about the lack of opportunity – someone in a long-distance relationship, for example - you may find that masturbation or soft porn can make a big difference. Of course, if you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important to be mindful of what’s appropriate and acceptable to you both. It may be that you can even involve your distanced partner and these kind of activities can serve as a temporary fix until you’re able to see your partner in person again.

The issue may be harder to overcome if it is due to a lack of interest or desire from your partner. Whether that’s because of sexual function issues, a mental health issue or something as yet undiagnosed. When you’re feeling agitated, being faced with an unknown challenge can seem insurmountable. Solo masturbation may go some way to alleviating symptoms, particularly at the beginning, but is unlikely to help you in the longer term. And finding yourself regularly doing this may actually cause greater resentment.

If you find yourself in this situation it’s vital you don’t just stew on it. It’s important to talk openly and honestly to your partner. Explain how you’re feeling and that you don’t feel that your sex life is fulfilling you at the moment. Try to avoid placing blame, even though you might feel things are unfair. The chances are your partner is aware that there is an issue and will be more open to discussing it if they are not made to feel it is their fault.

Try to consider things from your partner’s perspective. Has the amount or quality of the sex you’ve been having reduced still further since you’ve been struggling with the symptoms of sexual frustration? Could it be that your flashes of anger or irritation have created a scenario where you don’t feel like a safe partner. Feeling secure and emotionally attached is a necessary first step to rebuilding the lost intimacy. While it may seem difficult before the problem is resolved, getting your anger under control in your day to day life may be vital to stop the vicious spiral.

Have a conversation with your partner and discuss how best to rebuild the sensual aspect that’s been lost. If they’re receptive, helping your partner to understand your feelings may go some way to feeling like you’re starting to move forward.

Suggest trying the very first steps of our Blueheart program. Take the assessment - this can be done together or separately - and we’ll create a program that starts where you’re at. It may be you need to take it back to basics with some physical touch based exercises that take the pressure off intercourse and instead help you focus on reconnecting in the best possible way.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to issues of libido and sexual desire. That’s why it’s important you find some ways to keep those symptoms in check in the meantime. For the good of your own mental health as well as the health of your relationship.

A few quick tips when the sexual frustration strikes

  • Do some exercise to get rid of that pent-up energy.
  • Try meditation – apps like Headspace work brilliantly for quick and easy introductory practices.
  • Don’t rule out masturbation, it can be a useful way to ease some of the tension.
  • Play chilled out music to calm your emotions.
  • Make time for other activities you enjoy, like cooking or playing with the kids. If you can encourage a partner to do these alongside you, you may even begin to rekindle that connection – the first stage to getting back to where you want to be

We all suffer with sexual frustration from time to time, be reassured that it is a normal part of a healthy sexual relationship. The key is to communicate openly and honestly about it and help your partner to understand why it is important to you that you work to find a solution together. If your partner closes down the conversation, have a read of our article about how to cope with an emotionally unavailable partner. You may find some useful tips and advice to help you get the conversation started in the right way. And to get you heading back towards the satisfying sex life you know you deserve.

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