In any long-term relationship, regardless of the love and commitment of the two people involved, sexual desire is going to ebb and flow. Experts assure us it’s normal and natural. Desire can be impacted by stress, hormones, illness or medications, foods we’re eating, alcohol intake, and a host of other human conditions or behaviors, and doesn’t automatically indicate trouble in the relationship.
If a man is not in the mood, it becomes quickly apparent to both parties. It’s just not happening, and so we return to our previous activities, quietly agreeing never to speak of it again.
Women, however, have a few options if the mood strikes our partner but we’re not feeling it at that moment. We can either confess our temporary loss of interest (often igniting a 20-minute debate about how we’ll undoubtedly change our mind “once we get into it”), choose to be accommodating and fake it, or we can claim the proverbial “headache.”
“Not tonight, dear, I have a headache” is the time-honored, classic get-out-of-sex card for women around the globe, primarily because it can’t be argued. Simply put, you can’t prove that she doesn’t. And “Do not,” “Do too,” bantered between the two of you for the next several minutes is fruitless and guaranteed to kill the mood even for the man who originally brought it up.
But what’s really behind the “headache”? If she never gets headaches at any other time and doesn’t have a brain tumor, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that there’s another explanation to her lack of enthusiasm for a quickie on the kitchen table.
Assuming you’re not a complete douche who thinks that midnight groping while she’s asleep or grabbing her boobs whenever she walks past you on her way to the laundry room constitutes foreplay, and that she didn’t have sex earlier in the day with someone else, doesn’t have any health issues and all is well in hoo-hoo world, and that if she did want sex, you’d be the default partner of choice, there are a myriad of reasons why she’d play the headache card, that don’t automatically indicate the permanent evaporation of her desire for your awesomeness.
1. She’s having a self-esteem meltdown, brought on by a day of swimsuit shopping and fluorescent lighting on her back fat and sudden-onset thigh cellulite, and even if you could talk her out of her clothes, she’ll come to bed wearing a burka. And FYI, all your “You’re beautiful to me” reassurances will only make it worse.
2. It’s only been three minutes since you started the massage you’ve been promising to give her for a week, and now you’re stripping your clothes off like a drunk sailor on shore leave, eager to “get this party started.” Sometimes a massage just needs to be a massage.
3. The fight you had last night isn’t over and she’s still pissed. Those stupid, quasi-rape scenes on TV where the couple is screaming at each other until he slams her up against the wall and goes all caveman until she finally submits with a sigh are fiction. If her comments to you indicate remaining hostility (“Dinner’s ready, Jackass”), back up and get your hands off of her lady parts.
4. Last night, you went out together and you paid attention to everybody but her. “But we see each other all the time” may be true, but ditching her at the door, then spending the entire evening yukking it up with two old football buddies and the big-breasted cocktail waitress with the cropped “With Love From Hooters” t-shirt is guaranteed to get your inconsiderate butt shoved to the opposite side of the bed for the rest of the night. And if she ever finds out you dated Hooter girl in college, any action you get will be solo for an undetermined length of time.
5. You’ve been in a crappy mood all day long and have been taking it out on her, even though you told her it “has nothing to do with her.” That’s swell, but at the end of the day, she’ll want nothing to do with you.
6. You’ve been watching football all day in your baggy sweats, drinking beer and eating chips, belching out the National Anthem before every game, and she’s just not turned on.
7. Everybody and their family goat has been wanting something from her all day long. Her boss needs her to work on Saturday, when the kids have piano and soccer (at opposite ends of town), the house looks like a war zone and your mother is coming for the weekend, laundry is piled up and the washing machine has inexplicably died, and the dog just puked on the couch. She just wants to be left alone. The best thing you could right now is bring her a bottle of wine and some chocolate. Then go away.
8. You waited until she was showered, dressed, made-up, and on her way out the door to give her “the wink.” Seriously, dude? You couldn’t have thought of this an hour ago?
9. You’re sweaty and dirty, and you smell bad. We’re thrilled that you’re feeling all pumped up from your great racquet ball game or installing the back deck, but take a shower first, m’kay?
10. She just walked in the door, everyone is hungry, her mother has called three times with instructions to call her back asap, her feet are throbbing from the heels she’s been wearing for nine hours, she’s exhausted and just needs a moment to breathe. “You can do all that later” isn’t helpful and will most likely result in her thinking about her To-Do list the entire time you’re busting your best bedroom moves.
11. You’re drunk and she’s not. While we love that you have a posse to go out with and watch endless months of sports bowls and playoffs over bottomless pitchers of beer, but coming home gassed at midnight with your drunk frisky on is just not foreplay.
12. It’s first thing in the morning and neither of us has brushed our teeth. Those TV shows where the beautiful couple wakes up and rolls towards each other for a long, slow “Good Morning” kiss? Again, fiction. Let us brush our teeth and pee. You, too. Then we’ll talk.
13. You only touch her when you’re horny. And you assume that any and all touching from her automatically indicates a spontaneous desire get naked and jump your bones. We like to feel attractive and desirable even with our clothes on. We’re funny like that.
14. She’s just not feeling it and doesn’t want to have to fake it.
15. You’re doing it wrong, and she’s afraid to tell you. And you haven’t asked.
So next time she claims a headache, ask if that’s truly the reason. Or go unload the dishwasher. You’d be surprised what turns us on.
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