Signs That You're Sexually Frustrated (and How to Find Relief!)

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Signs That You're Sexually Frustrated (and How to Find Relief!)


With sex — as in life! — there are times when you might find that you’re not getting exactly what you need. Sexual frustration can be, well, frustrating at best; intrusive, distracting, and overwhelming at worst. And while sexual frustration can often be a sign of sexual dissatisfaction, it can also be a reflection of dissatisfaction with other aspects of your life, such as work, or of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Here, we’ll take a look at what sexual frustration is, why you may be experiencing it, and suggest some steps you can take to find relief.

What is sexual frustration?

Simply put, sexual frustration happens when the desires or expectations you have for your sex life are out of whack with the sex you’re actually having. This may be because you’re not having any sex at all, or because the sex you are having isn’t completely fulfilling. 

What are some signs of sexual frustration?

Feeling sexually frustrated is different from simply wanting sex — if you’re feeling horny or aroused, that’s not necessarily a sign that you’re experiencing dissatisfaction or frustration. Sexual frustration often presents itself as feelings of depression, grumpiness or agitation; you may be quick to anger or anxious, and find yourself picking fights with your friends, family members, or partner(s), if you have them. 

If you are partnered, you may find yourself asking for sex more often, or expressing anger or resentment towards your partner or partners for not being available for sex as often as you like. It’s important to remember that, even if you are experiencing sexual frustration, you should never pressure your partner or partners into sex. Moreover, sexual frustration is not always relieved simply by having sex, because it might be something you’re experiencing as a result of dissatisfaction with other aspects of your life. More on that in a moment…

Sometimes, people who are feeling sexual frustration might seek non-sexual outlets for their frustration, like overeating, drinking excessively, or taking drugs or other intoxicants. You might find yourself unable to sleep, may fantasize about sex often (which might be interfering with your day-to-day life and tasks), and may be jealous of other peoples’ sex lives. 

Why are you experiencing sexual frustration?

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing sexual frustration, and none of them are more valid than any others. You may be sexually frustrated because you aren’t having as much sex as you’d like to be having, or because you haven’t had sex or masturbated in a very long time. This might happen because you have been too busy, or because of physical issues such as chronic pain, a recent injury, or a physical disability that might make you feel self-conscious or depressed, which might result in a lowered libido. Sexual frustration can also occur when you aren’t having the kinds of sex you’d like to be having — if you and your partner or partners have been keeping things fairly vanilla, for instance, but you’d prefer to incorporate a bit of kink into your bedroom play. If this is the case, you may also be feeling embarrassment or shame about the type of sex you’d like to be having, which can exacerbate sexual frustration and also lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Sexual frustration can also happen if you are having plenty of sex or masturbating regularly, but if you’re finding it difficult to achieve orgasm. The difficulty or inability to have an orgasm might be a sign of underlying stress related to non-intimate aspects of your life, like work, your finances, or familial stresses. In fact, sexual frustration in general might be a reflection of non-sex-related stressors; if you find yourself feeling agitated, anxious, or depressed, you might find yourself wanting to engage in sexual activity less often. And, since sex and masturbation can provide natural stress-relief, not getting this relief might be leading to increased feelings of frustration.

How can I relieve sexual frustration?

It’s important to remember that feelings of sexual frustration — no matter the cause — are completely normal. But it might not be the case that relieving sexual frustration is a matter of simply masturbating or having partnered sex. 


1. Check in with yourself

The first step to take in relieving your sexual frustration is to assess your overall sense of mental wellbeing. If you are experiencing feelings of depression, agitation, anxiety or other forms of mental stress that are lowering your libido or making it difficult for you to have an orgasm, it’s important to consider how you might relieve these feelings. Talk to your partner or partners about your state of mind, and seek support from them, as well as from close friends and family members. If you regularly see a therapist, be sure to discuss your feelings of sexual frustration, as well as any other changes to your mental health that you’ve recently noticed. 

While this is not always the case, significant shifts in your mental wellbeing may be the result of external factors such as an increase in stress at work, financial worries, or trouble in your relationships (romantic, sexual, and otherwise). If you’re able to determine that there are aspects of your life that are having a negative effect on your mental health, try to consider how you might be able to reduce these stressors, or take steps to better manage them. This will look different for everyone: you might be able to take on fewer responsibilities at work, or to speak to a financial advisor — but you might not. Mindfulness exercises, physical activity, and making sure you’re eating regular, healthful meals may also help improve your mental state, but these steps might not all be options for you. Try to be kind to yourself, and incorporate self-care and stress-reduction strategies if and when you can. And, whenever possible, reach out to those who are close to you for support.

A lowered libido or an inability to engage in sexual activity, with yourself or with a partner, might be the result of a negative sexual experience or trauma. If you’re experiencing a lowered libido, this could also be due to feelings of discomfort or shame regarding your body, or your sexual preferences or desires. Here, too, it’s important to reach out to close, trusted friends and family members for support, and to discuss these feelings with a therapist or counsellor, if you use one. There are also a number of support resources online for individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, who are struggling with body image, or for those who feel uncomfortable with or ashamed of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual desires. Seek them out! 


2. Treat your body well

As we said, it’s not always possible to incorporate self-care and healthful/mindful practises into your regular routine. And that’s okay! But it’s important to remember that treating your body well, whether that means incorporating regular exercise into your weekly routine or simply eating a few more fresh fruits and vegetables than you ordinarily do, can have very positive effects on your mental health, which can in turn help relieve your feelings of sexual frustration. If you’re unable to hit the gym every night, don’t stress — try going for a walk around the block once or twice a week, or performing sitting exercises, like lifting hand-weights or using a resistance band. You might not be able to prepare your own meals at home, so consider making the occasional swap with your grab-and-go meals, like opting for plant-based options as often as possible — and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Try to avoid consuming too many intoxicants, as well, and if you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, consider seeking support from loved ones, or from harm-reduction organizations close to you. 

You should also try to get as much sleep as possible, and if your sleep routine is limited due to external factors like work or your living situation, try to make the sleep you are able to get as restful as you can. Avoid bringing your phone or laptop into the bedroom, and limit the amount of screen-time you have close to bedtime. Try not to eat within two hours of going to sleep, if possible. And don’t underestimate the power of an eye mask and a good set of earplugs. 


3. Manage your expectations

Everyone’s sexual experiences and sex lives are different! Feelings of sexual frustration may arise when you’re comparing your sex life to other people, or allowing portrayals of sex in the media or in pornography to dictate how much sex you think you “should” be having. Try to be mindful of how much sex, and what kind of sex, is necessary for you and/or your partner or partners to be having. 


4. Talk it out

When you’re feeling sexually frustrated, it can be easy to pick fights, or feel more combative or resentful towards your partner or partners. It’s important to let those who are close to you know that you’re experiencing sexual frustration, and why that might be, whether it’s because you aren’t having as much sex as you’d like, or because you’d like to try something new. If your partner or partners aren’t receptive to having more sex, or if they’re uncomfortable with a kink or scenario you’d like to explore, you shouldn’t pressure them — be open, honest, and receptive to their limitations, and discuss other ways you might be able to increase intimacy in your relationship with one another. 


5. Take some time to yourself

If masturbation is an option for you, and if your sexual frustration is simply a result of not having had an orgasm in a while… well, you can take care of that yourself! Consider bringing a new toy into the bedroom, such as a remote-controlled vibrator or male masturbator, which can be operated by you or a partner. 

All in all, don’t forget that feelings of sexual frustration are normal, and that they can be caused by a number of factors in your life — not just sexual ones! Take some time to check in with yourself, discuss things with your partner or partners, if you have them, and don’t feel any pressure to find relief ASAP. 


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Written By: Rebecca Tucker

Rebecca Tucker is a Toronto-based food, culture and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, Vice, Chatelaine and TVO, among other publications.