How often do you hear no?

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How often do you hear no when you want sex?

147 women and 321 men have answered
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  • Men and women are surprisingly close on this. This is likely because women answering our surveys tend to be “sex positive”.
  • 51% of women ask for or initiate sex more than once a week.
  • The data here is not as simple as might seem initially. Some rarely or never ask because their spouse always beats them to it. Some have stopped asking, or ask less often because they are too hurt by repeatedly being told no. In the comments 7 women and 22 men indicated they have stopped asking, or ask less than they want because of being told no so often.
  • Frequency of female initiation was greater at 35-54 than for younger women.
  • Rates of male initiation were similar from 25 to 54. For those 55 and older frequency of initiating was down, but not a great deal.
  • This question did not ask about being told no, but about not having sex. The reason for this distinction is seen in the next question.


  • 49% of women have sex when they ask at least 90% of the time. Only 24% of men have sex this often when they ask.
  • A quarter of men, and 15% of women do not have sex 90% of the time they seek it.
  • Two thirds of the men and 42% of the women do not have sex at least half the times they seek it.
  • Related – In the comments, half a dozen men indicated their wife usually or always gets into sex once it starts, even though she had no interest when he asked.
  • For women not having sex when they sought it was very low for those under 25 years of age, but went up for each higher age group.
  • For men, not having sex 90% of the time they ask dropped for each higher age range from under 25 to 45-54. The 75% of the time answer increased for each age range, but not by as much as the 90% answer dropped. Overall having sex when they ask got better for men with age. This could be less refusal, less asking, or a combination of both.


  • 77% of men sometimes ask for sex, are told yes, but do not have sex because they think their wife is not really interested. 49% of women sometimes do the same.
  • 24% of men and 16% of women reject at least half the yes answers they receive.
  • Increased age meant less of this for women. Are they not asking, not sensing reluctance, or ignoring reluctance?
  • For men age had no clear effect on this one.

Women’s Comments:

  • My answer to #4 is deceptive. I desire sex much more often, but I hesitate to initiate because I’m afraid of getting shot down. We are in an awkward season where I usually go to sleep before anyone else in my family does, and my husband is extremely conscious of not wanting our teens to hear us. Most of the sex we have happens in the middle of the night, when he is confident that the kids are sound asleep. I usually don’t mind this, but I don’t want all our sex to be like that; I get much more satisfaction from “awake sex”.
  • My husband does have a heart condition and I believe that plays a small role.
  • When we don’t have sex it’s because we know the other person is exhausted. A lot of times we will do something just for the other person and not ask for anything in return. It took us many years of frustration and miscommunication and lots of not having sex for us to realize this and come together as a couple instead of just thinking about ourselves.
  • I am the much lower drive spouse due to abuse in my teenage years. Thankfully some therapy and DH have helped me have a much more positive attitude towards sex. I no longer see it as something dirty, but beautiful and enjoyable. Still working on the desire end of things, but it’s a work in progress.
  • My husband loves me, that I am sure, but he is never in the mood to have sex with me. It makes me feel so hurt that he can almost always say no. I don’t know why I still try.
  • I usually ask for/ initiate sex at least once a week or more, but that has decreased lately since I’ve been working 60+ hours a week. Just because I ask or initiate doesn’t mean I’m highly interested or ‘in the mood’. I have a low libido, but I’m always willing. Sometimes sex doesn’t happen after I ask because I’ll fall asleep waiting for him to come to the bed. Sometimes he knows I’d really rather be sleeping, and re-schedules it for me. Sometimes one or both of us is just too tired, busy, stressed, etc.
  • It gets old to initiate and get turned down, so I ask for it about 1/4 of the time I actually desire it!
  • My husband has forced me to live in a sexless marriage. I used to ask but got so sick of being rejected that I quit asking. My heart was immensely pained. I couldn’t handle it anymore. It hurt too much. He used to tell me that I “never” gave him the opportunity to initiate but that simply wasn’t true. Besides, he’s had plenty of time to initiate since I quit asking….and yet he has never initiated. I do love my husband and I desire him, but I have to pray my way through each day. He doesn’t want me. He typically rejects other forms of affection too. If I get a peck-kiss goodbye in the morning before work, I am to feel very fortunate. He never tells me goodnight and I am a burden if I seek him out to kiss him goodnight. And it is only a peck-kiss again, if I’m lucky.
  • Always too tired. Help!
  • Stopped asking more often because I was always getting turned down.
  • My requests have changed a lot in the past year since we were married. At first, I tried to initiate sex (ask, wear lingerie, try kissing, offer to do some position) 3-4 times per week, at a minimum (it was almost daily during the first couple of months). We never have had sex when I attempted to initiate. We have always had sex 2-3 times per month, according to my husband’s schedule. I have gotten a lot more accepting of this — but also means that I don’t ever initiate, and if I bring up sex, it’s only to confirm that we’re on for Tuesday, or whatever.
  • I’m very blessed by my sweet husband.
  • I’m the only female I know who has a husband who is uninterested in sex. He’s interested in porn but no sex with me.
  • The percentages are hard to calculate because I’ve learned not to ask so much because it only seems to cause tension and make him feel bad. Also, a LOT of your posts are geared toward women who are withholding sex and rarely address men who do the same thing, which is hurtful and presumptuous.
  • I have higher drive than my husband. But no matter how many times he tells me that it’s not personal – it is.
  • Hubby is 8 yrs older than me and has ex-wife issues still apparently because that’s his excuse for intimacy issues. I am a very sexual person and I love connecting with him like that but we have sex once a week if I’m lucky and if we do it’s all about him. Over all I am very unsatisfied and I’m tired of asking for sex and tired of wishing he wanted me. But I love him so I pray for us and try to not let unfaithful thoughts crop up.
  • He just tells me no and we don’t do it. He has a long commute and is very tired by the time we put our 2 small children to bed. My libido has finally picked up and it is hurtful to get told “no.” Even though I want it, I hate initiating ever single time.
  • Things are better now, but the first 10 years of our marriage were awful. He would NEVER initiate and I was refused 90% of the time when I initiated. The other 10% of the time he seemed like he was only agreeing to it out of duty and didn’t put much effort into it. After going to counseling, things are much better!
  • I did this based on pre-baby sex. Since baby I simply stopped asking or initiating. He could go months. Me, not so much.
  • It’s getting better. We used to MAYBE have sex once a week at the most, now it’s an average of twice a week. It’s still hard in the instances where we don’t have sex because he just doesn’t feel like it. Nothing even remotely sexual (not even cuddling) happens after the initial rejection.
  • I never really get a chance to initiate because of my husband’s high drive but I know that he would never refuse me. I can’t imagine why any husband would.
  • I have been shot down so many times that I now know, if I hint, ask, touch initiation, etc, it will not happen. A person puts themselves out there in a very vulnerable way when seeking sex. To be denied cuts to the core. Sex only happens when he wants it, his way. I have expressed myself to no end. I do not deny him when he wants sex, with the very rare exception of a physical pain issue on my part, but even then, I am willing to pleasure him.
  • It looks like we never have sex but that’s mostly because he does the initiating. He has expressed a desire for me to initiate more but right now I’m pregnant and my sex drive is nil. I have a hard time wanting it more than he already initiates which is about 2-3x/week. I hope to work on initiating more directly when I’m not pregnant because I tend to have a much higher sex drive then and I’ve learned that while it seems everyone else’s husband likes even just the simple flirting and I already sleep mostly nude I have to be more overt in my request for sex to make him feel I’m actually asking for it.

Men’s Comments:

  • I am blessed with a sex positive wife!
  • Not sure why she gets to have control……I have tried turning the table and asking for it as often as I want it with her not have a say like I normally don’t. It isn’t about me wanting sex, it is about my worth to her. Often times she ends up just saying FINE or well, don’t you want to?! I want her to want it, not do it because I want to….. of course I want to have intimate time her- dumb question. I want her time, I want her to desire me, I want to know that she thinks of me….. and on and on …. She won’t do it unless we are in the bedroom, never done it anywhere other than the norm, ( car, kitchen) she won’t wear the sexy things in the drawer that have been untouched for years if not even since honeymoon, won’t even light a candle, or take a shower together and if I do….. ” ALL I want is sex” . How about a random word of affirmation or a random flirting in the dark movie theater, a footsie flirt under the table at dinner, or that look across the room? She loves to seek snuggles from the kids but never even seeks to find me for a hug!? I go out of my way to hold her, kiss her on the forehead, cook , clean, make bed, bring home a good living and take kids to and from school, sitter and swim etc. We have a solid Christ centered home, very loving to each other in the way we work together but where is the attention for me? Both seem to like our technology but getting tired of me waiting in bed while she looks at facebook and then being too tired when she does finally come in from living room. End of rant, thanks for listening=) signed – want to know that I matter to her more than just a paycheck and a father.
  • The struggle is not her refusing, but me initiating. She has told me if you initiate, we would make love more often. 🙂
  • Maybe I shouldn’t be participating in this survey, but the reason that I said that I “never ask for sex” is that my wife makes sure I don’t have to, and sets the stage for sex very frequently, despite my handicapping condition.
  • We are currently in a 2.5 year drought. Unfortunately this is not even the longest celibate period we’ve had in our 24 year marriage. This will be resolved, one way or another, before the end of the year.
  • Our marriage has had tremendous improvements in the past 3 years and my wife is no longer a gatekeeper. She does still say no but I am much higher drive and it is only due to legitimate physical limitation. Also, it really isn’t much of a “No” anymore but rather “Lets hold off till *some time in the near future*”.
  • I ask for/initiate a lot less often than I’d like to, so I’m not sure that question gives clear data. If I ask more often, I hear “No” more. If I ask less often (once a week or less), she’s likely to say yes. Sometimes that is a reluctant yes, but if she’s willing to bless me anyway I don’t want to miss the opportunity. Also, interesting to consider: if I ask and she says no, there’s usually no expectation on her part that it should happen soon (i.e. the next night).
  • She doesn’t do “duty sex”, and I have asked her not to. If she’s not into it, I don’t want to do it. I would feel guilty at just taking when it wasn’t really being offered with a joyful heart. Her past abuse history also makes this touchy – I do not ever want to put myself in the position of having sex when she doesn’t particularly want it, placing me in a position similar to men who took advantage of and abused her in the past. Things are MUCH better than they were 10 years ago – she is fully present in the moment now when she would kind of zone out early in our marriage.
  • One caveat to this is she seems uninterested or doing it out of duty about 50% the time we have sex. Only at the beginning though. Getting her to bed is the challenge. Once she’s there and we get going her desire climbs quite quickly.
  • I would ask for sex more often, but even at the level of sexual interaction we have now, most of the time my wife is participating out of duty or obligation; her mind is somewhere else. She almost never asks for sex or initiates something herself. I feel like I am imposing on her all the time, but when I have backed off waiting for her to initiate some sexual time we can go for months with nothing. She is not an iceberg, when she gets aroused she seems to enjoy it, but she is very reluctant to talk about it.
  • I don’t initiate sex anymore. About a year in to my wife’s gatekeeping, I realized that the constant rejection of me initiating was putting an incredible amount of strain on our marriage, so I stopped. I told my wife that I could tell that my initiating turned her off, and told her I wouldn’t be doing so anymore. She was thrilled. Now, the only sex we have is when her hormones dictate, and this is nowhere near often enough. Still more often than when I was initiating though. Is it less fulfilling than when I could exert my God-given passion and pursue my wife openly? Sure. But I would rather live in a less sexually fulfilling marriage with a wife who is free than to be having my needs met and my wife feel as if she is under constant pressure to have “duty sex”.
  • She won’t say no because we are married. If she says no, I may go elsewhere for it.
  • I stopped initiating about a year and a half ago. It just got to painful being rejected all the time. So now we only have sex about once a week (as often as she wants it).
  • It gets disheartening over time when she does not put any effort into our sex life. Either the answer is no or it’s the same thing play by play. When you try to do something different or ask her to maybe even wear something sexy and the answer is always no. You just say ok and try not to rock the boat cause it’s not worth the same old fight!
  • This morning I tried to cuddle up to her. As soon as it touched her she moved away. Then she said that was gross. So I moved away. I’m thinking this morning is over.
  • I don’t know that I ask for sex explicitly. Usually I can just tell if it’s going to happen if I start to “test the waters” and it happens virtually every weekend My wife knows that I “need” sex weekly so that’s the pattern we’ve adopted. I would like more spontaneity and variety but I’m pretty happy with what we have. My wife shows me the love she has for me by ensuring that our sex life is active and frequent and she adds interest by wearing some wonderful lingerie on occasion and blessing me with great foreplay, often for more than an hour before we both finish. We regularly use some toys which do add interest and virtually ensure my wife orgasm.
  • If there is a “no”, it is usually accompanied by, “didn’t we just do it?” I’d like a little more frequency. Still working on a good balance.
  • This has gotten a little better the last year, after many years. But for a long time it was sex every 5-7 days no matter how I felt about it (and I wasn’t happy).
  • I don’t ask as often as I used to, because she hated the pressure… but we’re in a place now that maybe I could ask more often… that’s a little scary though, because I don’t want to lose the ground that we’ve gained.
  • Wife is working on not saying no, but often she will just not answer me at all instead of telling me no.
  • Talk to your spouse on the sex subject .God made it for the both of you and it should be enjoyed as much as the two can handle. God said every day you are together and to not partake if one is sick or you are not together and this should be only a short time.
  • After 30 years of conversations, and significant therapy for me (she wouldn’t go) because I was tired of being depressed ( I lost half a decade), things are finally some better. Sex is still optional to her, though. Too many Daddy issues, and she won’t/can’t see them, nor deal with them.
  • If I didn’t initiate, it would never happen. She seems to enjoy it, but has no interest in starting it. She could go forever without sex. I can make it about 4 days.
  • Stopped asking 6+ years ago as she said no and always wanted to fight about it.
  • My DW has been trying to be better in her gatekeeping, that is, gatekeeping less often. That said, she is not interested in sex very often (once every 2 weeks or so seems plenty to her), and many of those times I feel that she is doing it out of duty. We get along very well, love each other greatly; but she just doesn’t seem to think sex is important. I often feel she is just doing it for me (out of duty), and that she would be fine without it. When we do have sex, she usually has two orgasms and sometimes three.
  • I am definitely the higher drive spouse. I also have some baggage from my past (porn use/addiction) that I’m trying to get over, but it’s created a stumbling block in getting to true intimacy and getting her to a place where she is more generous, open, trusting, willing in bed. What’s most frustrating to me is that I don’t feel desired/wanted/needed by her and I don’t feel she understands that regular sex with her husband should be a priority. Seems that kids, home, work, exercise, social time – are all a higher priority than sex. I think she wants more romance and non-sexual affection, but it’s harder to give when you’re so damned horny.
  • These types of situations are tough. Depending on whose perspective you’re looking at it from, it can make sense from both sides. My DW overworks herself (with mostly Godly work, mind you), then constantly complains about how tired or sick she feels. I don’t feel like I CAN ask because she’s already said “please don’t ask” through her complaints. Then, when she can sense I can’t stand another day without her, she musters enough energy to make a date with me. She seems to think that’s all I think about. From my perspective, I’m kept on the verge of sexual starvation all the time, so the occasional time I get some barely fills the reserve tank. I’ll have to admit, there have been many times that I just couldn’t take it anymore and ended up taking care of myself, only to have her offer in guilt later that same day. This situation also leaves me more vulnerable to sexual temptation. I can’t imagine having an affair, but I am definitely tempted to look at porn or fantasize about other women. I can guarantee my wife will never read these words (a sex blog is the least important thing in her life, right next to my sexual needs), so if you are a wife and are reading these words and any of this resonates with you, PLEASE stop. YOU are your husband’s only outlet for sexual relations. Don’t put him in the situation I am faced with each day.
  • I have lived in sexless marriage and just don’t ask anymore. On my wife’s behalf she was abused as a child and has not been able to resolve the issues.
  • I have been turned down so much that I’m getting tired of asking. Often she says not now (like on weekends), but by the end of the day, she is too tired or hurting. Play this out a hundred times or more, what does that tell me?
  • I am aware that if I want sex then I should initiate it but all the rejection that I’ve encountered has made me terrified to try. Honestly it hurts to be rejected and the constant ‘no’ that I get has made it to where I don’t even want to try, even if, in the slightest off chance she does say yes, but the pain of yet another rejection is too much to think about.
  • In the past she would complain that she was tired so I had everything done so she didn’t have to do a thing. Still nothing. As many times as I’ve tried I feel it’s no use. We’ve only had sex 5 times this year.
  • I am very blessed to have a sexually generous wife. And part of that comes from the influence of your ministry – which is why I’m a regular financial supporter!!! (And I hope you include this comment so others will get the idea!) 🙂
  • Wife takes prozac and I think it kills her desire
  • I wouldn’t call my wife a gatekeeper, but since she has a really hard time getting to know what turns her on, I wouldn’t say that sex is something she enjoys much. She likes the emotional intimacy, she says, but the physical, orgasmic aspect is completely lost on her. We’re working towards getting her comfortable with self-stimulation so she knows what feels good, so she can tell me what she likes. But it’s a LONG process… especially with 3 kids 4 and under. It’s tough to initiate on my own, then, knowing that she’s doing it out of duty, essentially. I want us to both experience pleasure and orgasm–knowing she doesn’t, really lowers my desire to initiate, and lowers my ability to perform.
  • She has in the past said yes because she doesn’t want me mad at her. Then the whole time I can feel her anger and resentment. Which only makes me angry having sex
  • My wife and I rekindled our sexless marriage about a year ago and the best thing to come out of it was her awakening that I’m not a sex crazed maniac, but that God just wired men this way. It also helped that I learned to be much more passionate with her, which really turns her on. We have both vowed to never turn our backs on our sex life again.
  • I would initiate more frequently but I am either fed up getting rejected or I have learned to “read” my wife and already know the answer. If she is complaining of ___ then it’s pretty clear she will say no.
  • We seem to have settled into a pattern — sex every weekend, at night, with the lights off. I would like more variety, different positions, different times of the day, different rooms, different methods (hand jobs, mutual masturbation, in the shower, etc.) but I’m a bit afraid of upsetting what is pretty good since I get the distinctive feeling that my wife feels that she is already giving me all she can.
  • It’s worse when she says I’m tired let’s do it tomorrow. You agree and when tomorrow comes it is forgotten about.
  • Maybe it’s a different survey altogether, but some interesting/helpful questions related to this might be “How often do you have sex?” “What percentage of your sexual encounters are initiated by you asking or proposing?” “What percentage of your sexual encounters are initiated by your spouse asking or proposing?”
  • The refusal is never verbal, it is a body language thing. If it was verbal it would sound much like, “You go ahead and do what you want, my brain and I will be somewhere else until you’re done”.
  • Even when she seems uninterested or “duty bound” when she says yes, she usually will get into gear once she gets warmed up. We rarely have one-sided sex despite her reluctance. Although she’s not in the mood when we start, I can normally increase her arousal during foreplay to get her going.
  • As an explanation for my answer on #4, I have quit asking for sex because after 14 plus years of being told no I’m tired of the disappointment I feel.
  • In almost 10 years of marriage, I don’t think there’s ever been a no.
  • I don’t want to have an affair but my urges are hard to control.
  • If you would have asked me in my 20’s I would have to say I was denied quite a bit. Porn use only exacerbated the problem.
  • It’s never a no it’s usually let’s make a date for later.
  • I seldom initiate anymore. I just got tired of excuses being made. So I may hint around that I am in the mood, but most of the time I wait for her to initiate. Just keeps me from getting upset at being turned down.
  • Most of the time I don’t bother with asking as she has made comments that she either is really tired or doesn’t feel well earlier in the evening and that Basically lets me know any attempt will be met with annoyance at best
  • Sexless marriage for 3 years 🙁
  • Who exactly is doing the initiating can be a bit blurry with us because we expect to have sex at least once every day.