(Updated from 12/16/2020)
Nance was asked by Sarah Ashley of Pure Wow what to do if a partner doesn’t want to have sex. As an attorney and diversity trainer who is also a rape survivor, Nance encouraged Sarah to include a discussion of sexual assault in the article.
Too often discussions of partners who don’t want “intimacy” revolve around changing those partners’ minds. TV shows and movies reinforce these approaches, making sex a game that we must win to prove our value as human beings. This is very dangerous territory that can lead to stalking, sexual assault, or other criminal charges. If the partners work for the same employer, there could also be sexual harassment complaints for the employer to address.
“We must understand that sex is a normal, healthy activity for partners and that the lack of it can end relationships. Coaching on such issues first focuses on defining the conflict(s) succinctly. Then, clients can work on their responses to the lack of sex, rather than focusing on ‘fixing’ the partner,” Nance said. “We must stop viewing people we love as things to fix because when we do, we can only leave them with the feeling of being broken or defective. Instead, we must look at what we can control and where we have the most power: our actions.”
Regardless of the conflicts Nance and her clients work through together, they often explore the emotional, physical, and spiritual impact. This allows them to consider the full range of options for getting their wants and needs met, regardless of what is going on with the people around them.
In the context of sexual intimacy, this does not necessarily mean cheating or leaving the relationship. People are more complex than that, and each person’s solutions can be different. Plus, they will change over time, just as their relationships with their partners do. Nance is unafraid to discuss these issues, as necessary, for the clients to have the mutually loving and supporting partnerships they want.
From the position of a rape survivor, Nance asked Sarah to remind her readers that consent is always mandatory. “When a partner does not want sex, intimacy (including emotional intimacy in a given moment), dessert, or a cup of tea, respect their position. Ask more questions—with the intent to understand—but not simply to find a way around the “no”. That is not listening. That is manipulation. It is disrespectful and not something you do to people you love. Get the information you need to better understand your partner. Then, go off to better understand yourself and your response. This will not only strengthen your relationships with your partner and yourself, but it will also protect you from legal claims and more.”
Click here to read the full article and learn more about:
- Why this conflict isn’t resolved by convincing the partner to have more sex
- Asking questions, but paying attention to your intent
- The nature of building true intimacy