Sex

How To Tell Your Partner You Feel Unwanted & Undesired — Without Pushing Them Away

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Woman with sardonic smile talks to man

When the person you love stops showing an interest in you, either sexually or in other ways — it’s time to talk.

You both have wants and needs, and even if there isn’t always a perfect solution (because this is real life and not a rom-com from the '90s) — there's plenty you can do.

Here are 4 ways to break it to your spouse that you feel unwanted and need them to change.

1. Tell them how you feel without blaming them.

When it feels like you’re the one who’s not getting your needs met, you want to jump straight into the blame game

But even if that’s what you want, it might not be the best way to get what you want from your partner. 

RELATED: 75 Quotes To Give You Strength When You Feel Unwanted And Unloved

In fact, starting off the conversation with how your partner is disappointing you will more likely put them in defensive mode. And when they’re crossing their arms over their chest and walking away in a huff, improvement is less than likely. 

So, if you can, share how you’re feeling from an "I" point of view. This goes something like, "I’m feeling less close to you than usual and I’d like to talk about what we can do to change that."

2. Tell them how much you love them.

When you're feeling unwanted in a relationship and unloved, your first reaction may be to shield yourself from rejection by shutting down. This can include no longer hugging your partner or ignoring them when you’re irritated. 

While this reaction is completely understandable, if you really want to turn things around, it’s important to be open with your partner. 

This includes telling them how much they mean to you

This becomes especially important when sharing negative feelings about their behaviors and the relationship as a whole. They need to know you’re coming from a place of genuine care. 

It may seem obvious to you, you wouldn’t be angry and disappointed if you didn’t love them, right? But it might not be obvious to your partner or spouse. 

They might be stuck in a feeling of "I can never do anything right." And when you only share what they’re doing wrong, it creates a vicious cycle of disappointment and low self-esteem.

So, when sharing how you feel, make sure to include how important they are to you, that you’re only sharing this with them because you truly love them.

Tell them. you want to stay together but there are some needs that aren’t being met and you truly wonder how you can work together to solve them. 

RELATED: How to Tell Someone You Love Them in 5 Simple Steps

3. Tell them what you want.

Sometimes, you wish your partner would just get what you want them to do. Even if it would be lovely sometimes if they were mind readers, the fact of the matter is they aren’t — and neither are you (or me!). 

For this reason alone, telling them what you want is a necessity and giving them examples of how to fulfill your needs.

For example, if you want your partner to help out more around the house, let them know you specifically want them to start picking up the kid's toys before dinner or clean the bathroom once a week specifically.

Whatever it is that's making you feel unwanted, make sure to give them a detailed description of what they could do to make you feel wanted again.

It may be obvious to you and it may feel silly to have to tell them exactly what to do, but this really is the only way you can take strides towards change that mitigates you feeling unwanted in a relationship.

RELATED: 7 Things You Unknowingly Do That Make A Guy Lose Interest

4. Communicate with your body language.

When talking with your partner about sensitive topics, remember your body language. Non-verbal cues are just as important as verbal ones when getting your message across.

In fact, some argue our body language is even more important than the words we utter.

Non-verbal communication in a relationship that can cause a conversation to be less productive may look like:

  • Crossing your chest with your arms, signaling you don't want to let your partner in.
  • Avoiding eye contact in order to mask vulnerability and not show them you're hurt.
  • Scrolling on your phone while talking in order to decrease your anxiety.

While all of the above doesn't always have to be negative, you might be surprised what happens you take both your own non-verbal cues and your partner's, into consideration.

What is your partner telling you non-verbally? And likewise, what are you telling them? And what happens if you change your body language or make an effort to look into their eyes?

What if you hit gridlock while talking about feeling unwanted in a relationship?

Conversations like these don’t always go smoothly. If you find yourselves stuck in gridlock, take a break.

We often talk about not going to bed angry, but sometimes that’s exactly what you should do. If you’re both flooded with emotion it will be difficult, if not impossible, to have a productive conversation. 

When you get really angry, your fight or flight system is engaged, which means you might find it harder to see the nuances and details of your discussion. 

When this happens, you're more likely to hurt one another than actually solve things. If this happens, take a break and do something soothing — go for a walk, vent to a friend, or do some breathing exercises.

When you’ve both calmed down, you can resume the conversation. 

If you keep getting stuck in vicious cycles during conversations like these, you may want to consider couples counseling or marriage therapy. Getting help from a mental health professional may be what is needed in order to both get your needs and wants to be met. 

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RELATED: Why Love Isn't About Each Other, It's About Feeling Wanted

What to consider if you feel unwanted, sexually

So, you’ve had the conversation and told your partner you want them to initiate sex more. You’ve explained how much you love them and how sex makes you feel closer to them. But nothing changes. 

When it comes to sexual difficulties causing rifts in your relationship or marriage, you need to think about things differently. 

Because compared to picking up some of the housework or initiating platonic hugs, sex isn’t something you want your partner to "give" you to make you happy. 

Sex is a shared experience you want both parties to consent to and enjoy.

As a clinical sexologist, I’ve seen first-hand how having sex for your partner’s sake can turn sex from something you simply don’t enjoy or need to something you avoid completely. And it makes sense. 

Sexual difficulties like low or no sex drive, aren’t solved by having sex we don’t want to have.

More often than not, this results in sex that isn’t enjoyable, leaving an imprint in our minds and bodies that sex isn’t good for us, further causing our desire to plummet. 

So, if you're feeling unwanted in a relationship because of a lack of sex, get curious about why your partner has lost interest.

Are they extra stressed lately? Do they never orgasm? Do they feel ashamed about sex?

By having an open and honest discussion about sex, and getting curious about their low desire without blaming them for it, you’re helping your partner feel safe, loved, cared for, and appreciated.

It will get better.

Everyone experiences slumps in their relationship. For some, they feel unloved when their partner doesn't ask them about their day. For others, it's the lack of sexual intimacy that bothers them the most.

When feeling unwanted in a relationship, make a point to talk about it sooner, rather than later. Tell your partner how you're feeling, that you love them, and exactly what you want (without blaming them).

You'll be surprised how much of a difference that can make. 

RELATED: 7 Easily Avoidable Relationship Mistakes Men Make (That Cause Women To Lose Interest)

Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach who helps people create more sexual desire and intimacy in their relationships without wacky sex positions, lime-flavored lube, or pressure and stress-tactics. If you want to increase your desire, download her free resource The Desire Test

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This article was originally published at LeighNoren.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.