My friend Anna is confused. She’s just come back from date number four with a new man – alone.
There have been lingering kisses on the lips but no tongue action. He’ll hold her hand then put her in an Uber and send her home, ignoring her apparently obvious signals she’s up for more.
‘Why hasn’t he hit on me yet? What’s going on?’, she asks me desperately. ‘Is he gay? Does he just want to be friends? Doesn’t he fancy me? What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with ME?’.
Tracey Cox reveals the seven reasons he doesn’t want to sleep with you – from performance anxiety to trying to be woke – and what to do about it (stock image)
Women aren’t used to men not pushing them to have sex.
Men are supposed to be up for a legover anytime, anywhere and (lots assume) with anyone. It comes as quite a shock when the expected move doesn’t happen.
But most of the time, when a man doesn’t press you for sex, it’s not about you. It doesn’t (necessarily) mean he doesn’t desire you or like you if he’s not gagging to rip your clothes off.
These are the seven most common reasons why a man doesn’t appear to want sex – and only one of them is personal.
I’m going to give some suggested action plans on how to deal with each scenario but before I do, a quick word.
Just as women want their lovers to respect their boundaries, so do men. If he says he doesn’t want to have sex, accept it. Don’t pressure him, don’t ridicule him and don’t judge him.
She also reveals what woman told her when she asked if man ever knocked back sex
It could just be that…
1. He’s trying to be more woke
It’s scary out there for a man.
If he’s half decent, he knows about and applauds the #MeToo movement, where women call out men who’ve taken advantage of them.
He’s also taken on board the issue of consent and knows from his female friends that he should be waiting for ‘enthusiastic consent’ not just a whispered ‘Yes’.
He’s terrified he’ll misread your signals. ‘I’m at the stage now where I won’t make any sexual moves. I wait for her to initiate,’ one 27-year-old man told me.
Lots of women don’t feel confident enough to be the one to suggest sex – especially first time sex; others worry they’ll be judged for being too keen or make the guy feel emasculated.
What results in a stalemate: he’s too scared to make the move which makes you feel less and less sure he likes you, so give out less obvious ‘yes please’ signals.
What to do: Step up the flirting or initiate sex. Don’t be scared to make the first move. If that’s not your style, find something in the news that’s happened to do with consent or women’s rights and start a conversation about it. Once you’re chatting, ask his opinion on how he feels about it all. If it feels right, ask if that’s the reason he hasn’t made a move. Otherwise, say something reassuring like, ‘Well, I will well and truly let you know if I like or don’t like what you’re doing, so you don’t need to worry about mixed signals with me’.
2. He wants to take it slow
The more he likes you and thinks the relationship has legs, the more likely he is to postpone sex.
Women wait before having sex to show they are discerning with their lovers and to demonstrate that they don’t sleep around. (True, sex is so readily available to the younger generation, it has lost importance. But those old double standards still creep in when people meet someone they think they could become serious about.)
Men do the same. If they see a future, they’ll hold off on suggesting sex to show you this isn’t just a physical thing for them, they want more.
Religion and upbringing also play a big part in dictating when a guy will initiate sex. Generally, the more conservative and religious his family, the slower he’ll be to instigate.
What to do: Relax into it and stop trying to rush things along. Once couples start having sex, they rarely stop. Use this time to build erotic tension and enjoy the foreplay stage for as long as possible. Putting off having penetrative sex also means you’ll spend longer exploring each other’s bodies and discovering what you each enjoy.
3. He’s waiting for the perfect moment
If he’s a die-hard romantic, he could be busy orchestrating a carefully planned night or weekend which showcases the first time you have sex as the ‘event’ he wants it to be.
Does he plan your time together and like everything to be just perfect? Is he all about emotional connection and wanting to make sure you know he’s serious about you?
Timing is all important to him and sex will be a scheduled event.
What to do: This is a man who attaches a great deal of significance to when the first sexual encounter takes place so he likes to be in control of it. If you’re a fellow romantic, all you need to do is relax, sit back and wait for the moment to arrive. If it seems to be taking an awfully long time and it’s getting increasingly awkward, talk to him about it. It’s good to be direct about sex. Don’t be scared to say, ‘I can’t wait to have sex with you’ and see what he says. Follow it up with, ‘No pressure on when but just want you to know I find you really sexy’ to speed things up.
EVER HAD A GUY KNOCK BACK SEX?
Here’s what women told me when I posed the question:
‘I was having dinner outside at a restaurant with a girlfriend and this very handsome guy walked past and smiled at me.
‘Then he doubled back and asked if we’d like to go for a drink with him. He was gorgeous so I said yes and we went to a bar around the corner.
‘He was about 10 years younger than me but that didn’t seem to worry him – he kept saying how stunning I was.
‘After that, he asked me out on four different occasions but not once did he make a romantic or sexual move.
‘There were plenty of opportunities. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by initiating so I just gave up in the end.
‘I still don’t have any idea what that was all about.’
‘I always assume it means he’s got a few sexual issues going on. Maybe he comes too soon or has problems getting an erection. It’s nearly always that, right?’
‘Never. I would seriously worry if they did. Since when does a guy ever knock back sex?’
‘I thought it was really sweet when he said he wanted to wait a while.
‘We’re in our late 40s and not exactly nervous virgins. Thankfully, we did it a few weeks later.
‘Too long can turn it into a big thing that makes both of you really nervous.’
‘I’m used to guys trying it on as soon as they can. When this guy said he wanted to wait, I found it irritating.
‘I also found it presumptuous, him assuming I’d want to hang around that long.
‘It felt very controlling: I know you want me but you can’t have me.’
‘I’m happy to make the first move so, yes, I have been knocked by a few times.
‘One guy was religious, another guy said he was too drunk.
‘One guy left the minute I made it clear I was up for it – no idea why. Nerves I guess. I don’t let it get to me.’
‘It’s nearly always about them feeling threatened.
‘You seem more experienced and they’re worried they might be judged.’
‘I think most women are secretly insulted if a guy doesn’t hit on them after a few dates.
‘It’s alright for women to say no if it’s too soon but if a man does it, there’s something wrong with him.’
‘It turned out he was a virgin – aged 24. He said he just missed the moment and then was too embarrassed to own up to it so avoided sex.
‘We took it slowly and now we’re married with a baby. Well worth the wait!’
4. He’s stressed
What else is happening in his life? If he’s doing through a hard time and feeling worried or upset, sex won’t be on his radar.
Stress is the biggest libido killer there is. Depression is also linked to low libido (and anti-depressants drugs are a known libido flattener).
What to do: Destress his life as much as possible. Get him talking about what’s troubling him and help find solutions. Aim for sensual rather than sexual: offer up a massage or suggest you have a bath together. Be patient and let him know you understand he’s going through a rough time and that you’re there for him.
5. He’s nervous and/or has performance anxiety
Everyone gets a little nervous the first time they have sex with someone new. Not only do you have to get naked (what if they think I’m fat/my abs aren’t toned enough), you have to expose your genitals (am I big enough/do I feel too big) and hope that they don’t let you down at the crucial moment (what if I can’t get erect/don’t get wet).
This is less stressful for women because most of the vulva is hidden – and we can pre-apply some lube high into the vagina before sex to solve any lubrication problems which happen when we feel anxious.
Men don’t have that luxury: their penis is right there on display for you to clearly see and form opinions about.
Not only is he panicking about size, he’s worrying about performance: What if I don’t get an erection/lose my erection/orgasm too soon/can’t orgasm at all?
On top of all this, there’s having to showcase his sexual skills. Is his technique right? Are you enjoying what he’s doing? What if you don’t orgasm?
Is it any wonder some men are a jangling pile of nerves even thinking about the first time you’ll do it.
What to do: Take baby steps to build confidence. Don’t rush to penetrative sex, spend lots of time at the foreplay stage. Let him touch you, rather than reach down to grab his penis and wait for him to put your hand on him or to instigate he wants to have intercourse. Load on the sexual compliments as you go’ ‘That feels great’, ‘This is amazing’, ‘I’m so loving being so close to you’. If things don’t go as well as expected, pile on the reassurance and let him know you aren’t judging him. You’re just starting to get to know each other, of course not everything will go to plan.
6. He doesn’t have a high sex drive
Some people just aren’t that into sex. If he isn’t and you are, this is a red flag.
We all have a ‘sex personality’ which sums up how we think about sex, how much we want to have it and how we like to connect sexually.
If you’re an ‘energiser’ type – someone who loves sex and puts a lot of energy into making it adventurous and interesting – teaming up with some who is ‘detached’ isn’t a good idea. For them, sex is good but competing distractions often get in the way. ‘Disinterested’ types also don’t match well with you.
What to do: Make it clear you would like to have sex with him, just in case he hasn’t got the message, and see what he says. If he admits sex just isn’t important to him, be honest about how important it is to you. Is there room for compromise or a workable solution? If not, you might be better off moving on or just staying friends.
7. He isn’t interested in you sexually
OK, so this isn’t ideal. Maybe you read the signals wrong and you aren’t on his sexuality spectrum. Maybe he genuinely just wants to be friends and isn’t interested in a romantic relationship. Maybe he’s been hurt badly before and doesn’t want to risk it again or perhaps he doesn’t want sex with anyone and is asexual.
What to do: First make sure he knows that’s what you want. If you haven’t sent clear signals you want more, do it now. Be flirtatious, kiss him on the lips when you say hello or goodbye, let your touches linger, team them with lots of eye contact. If that doesn’t work, ask him outright. Say, ‘Listen I’m really attracted to you but you don’t ever make a move sexually. Are you interested in taking things further?’. It could be he is interested but didn’t think you ever would be.
If he isn’t, accept defeat gracefully and move on or move him into the ‘Friends’ pile. Above all, try not to take it personally. Even supermodels aren’t attractive to everyone!
Tracey’s new weekly podcast SexTok can be found on most platforms. You’ll find her books, products and lots of sex advice at traceycox.com.