Here’s what causes it and how to deal with it.

YOU MAY HAVE HEARED IT comments like this about certain (sometimes abrasive) people: “He’s such a jerk: he probably won’t get one.” Or maybe you noticed yourself channeling the Hulk in the middle of a dry spell. While we can’t be sure what’s really bothering other people, there’s some truth to the idea that sexual frustration can affect our day-to-day lives — and be super annoying. And these problems can happen to both single people and people in a relationship.

So how do you deal with sexual frustration? Here we’ll show you what sexual frustration actually is (there’s more to it than you might think), how it can affect your experiences and relationships, and how to deal with it.

What is Sexual Frustration?

When we talk about sexual frustration, we are not necessarily talking about being “deprived” of sex. In fact, sexual frustration is an imbalance between one’s sexual desire and what is actually happening, explains Saudia L. Twine, Ph.D., MFT, a marriage and family therapist and relationship coach based in West Bloomfield. Michigan.

It usually pertains to someone who is not completely sexually satisfied, adds Roger Libby, Ph.D., an AASECT-certified sex therapist in Seattle for individuals and couples. But, he says, “There are precursors to the frustration, and I think if you just focus on the frustration, you won’t solve it.”

What Causes Sexual Frustration?

Let’s list some common causes.

Lack of frequency.

This is a known cause of sexual frustration: when you don’t have sex as often as you’d like. (Shout out to anyone who’s been celibate, and to those whose libidos don’t match their partners.)

Certain situations with complacency.

While masturbation can be mood-boosting and have other health benefits (ahh), it can make you frustrated if you try to reach a high level of intensity on your own, but fail. For example, if you have a partner and use complacency to fill gaps in your sex life, you may not feel as satisfied with self-touch versus body contact with a partner, says Twine.

And there’s nothing wrong with watching porn, but it’s worth noting that simulated sex can skew your expectations of what sex is like in real life, leading to frustration when trying to connect in person with a partner.

A disconnection with intimacy.

People can connect with others sexually, as well as intellectually, emotionally, recreationally and socially, Twine notes. So if you or your partner misses another desirable area of ​​intimacy, the sexual side may feel less satisfying.

Other unfulfilled expectations.

Frustration can also set in if one person wants to have a certain type of sex, say fantasy, and the other doesn’t, says Twine. Hey, it’s happening.

Psychological problems.

Performance anxiety can also be a cause, Libby says, along with depression or anxiety, stress (such as at work), or feelings of guilt or shame about sex.

In addition, many people may have what is called “avoidant attachmentand can shut down if they run into problems, says Twine. (Sound familiar?) But if you don’t communicate, the body may respond in other ways, she says, so it can appear like you have a relational problem when you are really bothered by something else.

Health issues.

“If men don’t exercise, don’t sleep well, and don’t eat well, it affects them sexually,” says Libby.

And some men may experience mechanical issues, including problems due to medications that can affect arousal or climax, Twine explains. Certain medications – think some antidepressants and certain high blood pressure medications – can even cause delayed ejaculation, Mayo Clinic confirms. Some health conditions– such as hormone-related problems, certain infections, neurological disorders – can also lead to sexual problems. Being obese is also associated with decreased sexual function. In addition, after age 50, men may also begin to see a decrease in sex drive and other sexual side effects of aging such as erectile dysfunction, notes the National Council on Aging.

How can sexual frustration affect your relationships?

Feeling sexually frustrated can lead people to feel irritable in general. Some feelings associated with deprivation, especially if related to your health, can also lead to feelings of shame and guilt, says Twine, which can lead to relationship problems.

In addition, frustration can sometimes lead to tension that shows up not only in romantic relationships, but also at work and with friends. (Look, it’s not like you’re the boss real reason you dropped the ball on your conference call.)

And when it comes to your partner, if you have one, unresolved issues can lead not only to fights, but also to disconnects, says Twine.

Also watch out for feelings of bitterness and short temper, says Libby, who notes that a frustrated person can lash out and get angry. Just a note: feeling frustrated doesn’t justify being mean to your partner(s). If you’ve had the urge to lash out, keep reading to find out how to treat the underlying issues.

young man looking unhappy while lying in bed with his sleeping wife

Goodboy Picture Company//Getty Images

How do you deal with sexual frustration?

You will have to take the matter seriously. But you don’t have to have sex to fix it.

Go exercise.

Exercise can really lift your mood – for singles and couples. So release those endorphins, release some tension, and get yourself in better shape.

Get healthy.

Also make sure you eat well and get enough sleep (most adults ages 26 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours) to give yourself the best chance from a health perspective.

Masturbate more.

The intensity of your orgasms may vary if you are solo, but look: “A victory is a victory.” (Yes, we quoted TikTok, but this point is legit.) That’s because complacency also has benefits like boosting your mood, improving sleep and reducing stress-plus a whole host of other great pluses which does not require a partner. And porn and/or creating your own fantasies in your mind can help make the experience more enjoyable. In short, if you have the time and opportunity, a solo release could be just right.

Communicate with your partner (if you have one).

You heard it here: don’t avoid it. Go for a drive, or whatever feels good, and talk about sex and your relationship. Take time for the quantity, quality, and kind of intimacy you both want, says Libby. You might discover that you are both interested in role-playing games or using toysor something else.

Try some touching (if you have a partner).

For example, if you or your partner are dealing with a health problem that prevents sex, try the sensate focus technique, says Twine. This one series of moving exercises that you do one after the other, as a couple, can help you let go of expectations and judgments about mutual touch “and instead focus only on the sensory aspects of touch, such as temperature, texture, and pressure.” So you can be intimate and turn yourself on without (potentially frustrating) pressure to have sex, says Twine.

Contact a therapist.

When it comes to issues of sexual frustration or performance issues related to anxiety, guilt or shame, feeling out of control, trauma, or another psychological issue, seeing a therapist can help. Actually. Libby adds that a AASECT Certified Sex Therapist can be particularly helpful for issues directly related to sex.

If you have a couple and your one-on-one conversations aren’t helping, you can also hire a therapist. Some professionals might advise being aware of certain negative communication styles – and yes, we’re talking about that The Four Horseman: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and opposition identified by John Gottman, Ph.D. But Libby adds that certain sexual issues are (again) best discussed with a licensed sexologist.

Chat with your document.

Real talk: If you or your partner has a potential health or medication problem, you should talk to a healthcare provider. Even if you’re embarrassed, just try it. Your provider can help you determine a treatment or dosage that may work better, if appropriate.

In the future, also ask your provider about possible sexual side effects of new medications or supplements. And if you might have problems with alcohol or drug use, you guessed it: contact your provider or another trusted source for help. Because guess what? If you can get some improvement to your health, there could be a real benefit.

Key photo of Leslie Quander Wooldridge

Leslie Quander Wooldridge is a writer, editor, speaker and coach whose articles have reached tens of millions of readers; find her at

Here’s what causes it and how to deal with it.

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